Be sure to read part one of this series on Paul’s reference to “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15. While the majority of commentators insist that Paul must have been referring to the end of the Christian age, or “human history” there are numerous, powerful reasons for rejecting that view. Below is part two of some of those reasons.
“The End” Must Be Seen As The Fulfillment of the Hope of Israel
One of, if not the most ignored contextual factors in the interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15 is the undeniable fact that the end under consideration is the time of the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Israel. As we have shown, there is but one eschatological hope in scripture. The eschatology of Genesis and God’s promises to Abraham are conflated with the promises of Israel. Fulfillment is posited at the end of Israel’s history. Hebrews 11 proves this definitively, by showing the one eschatological hope encompassed Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, to Moses, and consummated at Zion.
Galatians 3 discusses the Abrahamic promises. Paul makes sure to say Abraham’s promises were not to be fulfilled under or through Torah, for then they would not be promises of faith and grace. However, those promises were to be fulfilled when “the faith” i.e. the New Covenant of faith and grace, would arrive (3:23-24).
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul draws from Genesis (v. 22) and the prophecies of Israel in his discussion of the resurrection. He has one resurrection, one hope in focus. Fulfillment of the Edenic promises– and thus, fulfillment of the Abrahamic promises– would be when Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13 would be fulfilled.
This point is particularly troublesome for amillennialists and postmillennialists who believe God’s Old Covenant relationship with Israel was terminated in the first century. If God was through with Israel in the first century, how can His covenant promises to her remain valid until the “end of the Christian age”? If His covenant promises to Israel remain valid, they remain His covenant people. This is inescapable.
Incredibly, in the lead up to my debate with Joel McDurmon, (held in Ardmore, Ok. July 2012) I asked him: “At what point of time, and in what event (events) were (or will) all (not just some, or most) but all, of God’s Old Covenant promises, made to Old Covenant Israel after the flesh, be completely fulfilled, (fully accomplished) and His Covenant relationship with her terminated / consummated?” Joel responded, “The short answer to what you’re getting at is: the physical, bodily resurrection of the dead.” (Y0u can order your copy of that debate here. You will be astounded at some of McDurmon’s claims– and admissions)!
This is just stunning. On the one hand, Dominionists argue, strongly, against the dispensationalists who claim that Israel remains God’s covenant people. (Gary DeMar claims that all of God’s Old Covenant promises to Israel are fulfilled). On the other hand, McDumon says Israel will remain God’s covenant people until “the physical, bodily resurrection of the dead.” This is no minor disagreement, folks. This is just a stunning division on a huge theological issue!
McDurmon is patently wrong. Paul said Torah and Old Covenant Israel were about to be cast out for persecuting the New Covenant Seed (Galatians 4:22f). So, Torah and Israel were about to be cast out, for persecuting the church in the first century. Yet, somehow, God’s covenant and His covenant relationship with them, will remain until “the physical, bodily resurrection of the dead” at the end of human history!
The point is, Paul never looks beyond the fulfillment of God’s promises to Old Covenant Israel in his discussion of the resurrection. This is exceedingly strange if in fact he taught the resurrection would be the fulfillment of New Covenant promises at the end of the New Covenant age. More to come!