Paul and the Meaning of "Flesh and Blood" in 1 Corinthians 15 – #2

Be sure to read the first installment of this two part series on Paul’s comment that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom” in 1 Corinthians 15. In the previous article, I noted that in our formal debate, in July 2012, Joel McDurmon defined “flesh and blood” not as the human corpse as so many commentators do, but, as Israel under the law of Moses! This was simply stunning!

It is fascinating also that on FaceBook, an opponent of Covenant Eschatology took issue with my thoughts in these articles, calling me a heretic. Interestingly however, like McDurmon, he did not define “flesh and blood” as the human body, but as carnal man, man under sin. Without knowing it, this objector has– like McDurmon– falsified his own views of a future physical resurrection. In Corinthians 15 “flesh and blood” is equal to “corruptibility” and “mortality”– in other words, the “body” These terms are synonymous. So, if one defines “flesh and blood” as something unrelated to the human corpse, then , which, per both men, is not referent to the human corpse! So, by that very definition, they have excluded the “human corpse” from Paul’s discussion of the resurrection! This is what you call self-defeating logic.


The dilemma here is acute, of course. Joel tried to avoid the direct implications of this by affirming that the ceremonial praxis of Torah were removed by Christ, yet, the Law of Moses itself remains. (I must say that his desperation on this was amazing). I pressed him continually on this, and asked how he could change Jesus’: “not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the Law until it is all fulfilled” into, “some of the law will pass even though what that part of the law foreshadowed has not been fulfilled.”

Note here: I raised the issue of the Seventh Day Sabbath, and the indisputable fact that all of Israel’s feast days were Sabbaths. Further, those feast days, foreshadowed final salvation and the resurrection. Thus, until what the Seventh Day Sabbath and Israel’s feast day Sabbaths foreshadowed and typified became (or becomes) a reality, then those Sabbaths, all of them, along with the ceremonial sacrifices attendant with those Sabbaths, must remain valid. McDurmon admitted to believing that the Seventh Day Sabbath, and Israel’s ceremonial Sabbaths have been abrogated, and yet, he says that what they foreshadowed has not been realized! (Interesting side note: in my September 2013 formal debate with Steve Gregg, he likewise affirmed that Israel’s festal Sabbaths have been annulled, but, like McDurmon, says that what those Sabbaths foreshadowed is not yet a reality. This a huge problem for the futurist camp). Once again, this flies directly into the face of Jesus’ emphatic and undeniable words.

 Jesus said none would pass until it was all fulfilled. But McDurmon says many of the “jots and tittles” of the Law passed, without being fulfilled! McDurmon’s  position is the direct opposite of what Jesus said. McDurmon never offered an iota of proof or justification for perverting Jesus’ words. Be sure to get your own copy of the McDurmon -V- Preston debate book here.

Let me reiterate this critical point: You cannot affirm, as McDurmon did, that Israel after the flesh and that God’s covenant with her (i.e. the Law of Moses) will remain valid until a physical resurrection, without thereby logically demanding that all of Torah, every jot and every tittle, remains valid on Israel after the flesh until that resurrection. So, if Torah remains valid for Israel, then is Israel after the flesh justified by keeping the covenantal mandates? Further, does the Law of Moses remain today “a shadow of good things about to come” as Paul described it in the first century (Colossians 2:14-16; Hebrews 10:21f)?

But, if Torah, the Law of Moses, remains valid on Israel, then shouldn’t McDurmon and the Dominionists be highly supportive of modern efforts to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple? Should they not be supportive of Zionism and the Dispensational zeal to rebuild? After all, if you believe, as McDurmon claimed, that Israel after the flesh and her covenant with YHVH remains valid today, then should you not also be affirming her right to the Temple Mount, and the re-establishment of that Covenantal cultus?  Be sure to get a copy of my book From Torah To Telos: The Passing of the Law of Moses, for a refutation of the idea that part of the Old Covenant could pass while some of it remain. This is simply false, and leads today to false eschatology as well as eccelesiology.

Yet, McDurmon is on record as rejecting any need for, or Biblical support for, a rebuilt Jerusalem Temple! He says the Old Covenant Temple’s centricity was surpassed and abrogated, and that all modern attempts to rebuild a Temple for the re-establishment of Mosaic sacrifices is misguided. He is very much opposed tot he modern Zionist movement as a direct negative reflection on the work of Christ!

McDurmon claims that Christ’s New Covenant Temple has out-stripped and transcended any need for the literal, physical, Jerusalem Temple. But this is nothing but a self-contradictory smoke screen. If Israel and her covenant relationship with YHVH remains valid until the end of the current Christian age, it is undeniable that there is a Divine demand for the Temple and its cultus to be rebuilt. This brings us back to 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul was undeniably anticipating the fulfillment of God’s promises to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh (cf. V. 54-56).

You simply cannot, logically or contextually, admit that “flesh and blood” in 1 Corinthians 15 referred to “Israel after the flesh” and that “the law” that was the strength of sin was Torah, without positing one of a few absolute logical necessities, as just noted:

1.) If  “flesh and blood” was referent to “Israel after the flesh” and if Israel after the flesh remains God’s covenant people until the physical resurrection,  as affirmed by McDurmon, then as just noted, there is a divine necessity for the re-establishment of the Jerusalem Temple, priesthood, sacrificial cultus. You cannot divorce God’s covenant with Israel from the Temple and cultus. That temple and cultus, as expressed well by Kenneth Gentry:  “In essence the temple itself is a symbol: it symbolizes the covenantal relationship of God with His people. The heart of the covenant appears in the most important promise: ‘I will be your God, you will be my people.’ The temple is the special place where God dwells among His people.” (He Shall Have Dominion, 2009, 362, his emphasis).

2.) There is a Two Covenant reality: Israel has her covenant, the church has her covenant. This is the absolute logical necessity of McDurmon’s claims. He is undeniably on record as believing that Israel and her covenant will remain valid until a yet future physical resurrection. Thus, if he believes that the New Covenant has been established, and that Israel’s covenant is still valid, then of necessity, McDurmon ascribes to the Two Covenant Theology.

3.) If Israel and her covenant remains valid, then physical circumcision remains a divine mandate, and still serves as the covenantal sign between YHVH and Israel. A great deal could be said about this, but I will withhold those comments for now. Once again, it will not do for McDurmon, the Dominionists and the futurists to say circumcision is abrogated, but the covenant remains valid. This simply specious and false. There is not one
word of Biblical support for the Dominionist dichotomy of the Law of Moses, with some passing and some remaining.

Much more could be said on these things but this will suffice.

The bottom line is that McDurmon’s admissions in the debate are fatal to his paradigm.
He defined “flesh and blood” in 1 Corinthians 15 as “Israel after the flesh.”
He defined the flesh and blood discussion as a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New.
He defined “the law” that was “the strength of sin” as the Law of Moses.
He admitted that there was “a fulfillment” of 1 Corinthians 15 in AD 70.

These admissions leave him and his Dominionist brethren no ground on which to stand. He surrendered his futurism, and made arguments in full support of the (true) full preterist paradigm. Further, he has taken a position that would logically demand support of modern Israel and her covenant relationship, thus raising the issue of why McDurmon and American Vision are so adamantly anti-Zionist.

In the debate, I pressed McDurmon to provide the contextual, exegetical evidence and proof of anything beyond the admitted AD 70 fulfillment. We received nothing– total silence. You will have to read the book for yourself to grasp how feeble McDurmon’s arguments on 1 Corinthians 15 really were, and how fatal his admissions about that text are.

Be sure to get your own copy of the McDurmon -V- Preston debate. By the way, you might not want to trouble yourself trying to find the book on the American Vision website. Just this morning (10-24-13) I tried to find it, with no success. I did a search under “McDurmon” and in 18 pages of links, I did not find one link to the book. I likewise did a search for “End Times Dilemma” the name of the debate book. I received the message that nothing was found. I did a search without the quotes, and in three pages of links, the book was not listed.In addition, this morning, on my FaceBook page, a poster said he also had tried to find the debate book offered, and could not find it on the American Vision website.

In my search, I finally found one article referencing the debate, an article by McDurmon essentially suggesting that my willingness to debate him and other non-preterist had backfired in the proverbial mode of the briar patch and the tar baby. It was mostly ridicule of me and preterists, and promotion of McDurmon’s new book, with very little reference to the availability of the actual debate. (I will, in fairness, take note that this one article was written prior to the publication of the book, and that they offered the electronic version of the debate. It does not alter the fact that the debate book is hardly to be found).

Now, it is certainly possible that American Vision is in fact offering the book, somewhere on their site, but, my searches came up almost empty. (Literally, I did not find one distinctive, stand alone offering of the book. If they are offering it, the offer is buried somewhere. Maybe I am just not an efficient “searcher” but every mention of the debate was coupled with their offering of McDurmon’s book on the resurrection).

To demonstrate that they are not aggressively marketing and promoting sales of the book, they ordered a grand total of five (yes, five) copies of the book from me for resale, well over two months ago, and have not re-ordered additional copies. They very clearly are not actively promoting sales of the book. I think this speaks eloquently and powerfully to how “successful” American Vision thinks McDurmon was in our debate. They are not promoting sales of the book, and when they even mention it, it is to promote McDurmon’s book as a companion to the debate book. In other words, they don’t want you to read just the debate book, they want you to read McDurmon’s post debate book, Very revealing indeed!