#44 – All Will Be Made Alive (1 Cor. 15; Rom. 5)

All Made Alive

In the last blog we saw how clear it is that God’s will and plan is to save all men.  It is not just wishful thinking, He actually intends to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat.  Just like us, even Christ’s disciples once questioned whether this was possible.  They remarked,

“’Then who can be saved?’  Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’” (Mark 10:26,27)

There is nobody for whom salvation is impossible.  God can accomplish anything b/c nothing is too difficult for Him (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17,27).

What we need to find now are some clear statements in Scripture that support this plan of His.  Ignoring the fact that “no purpose of God’s can be thwarted,” (Job 42:2) does Scripture confirm/prophecy about this plan of His being accomplished?  And the answer is an emphatic “YES!”

1 Corinthians 15

In 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 there is an unimaginably profound and clear discourse on this exact issue.  It concerns the plan by which “all things will be subjected to God in Christ.”  At the “end” of which “God will be all in all.”  We will look in more detail at all that that entails in a later blog, for now we want to focus on Paul’s statement that begins this little section of Scripture.  He states,

“[Just] as in Adam all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive.  But each in his own order (Greek = squadron).”  (vs. 22)

There is a specific language device being used here by Paul.  It is called a Parallelism.  Parallelisms are used all throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and the New.  A parallelism is where two lines are compared with each other.  Sometimes 1 statement or idea is repeated a second time with different wording as a kind of poetic form of emphasis; sometimes 2 related ideas or statements are compared with each other; and sometimes 2 opposing ideas are contrasted with each other.  There are literally thousands of instances of this in Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, we don’t have time or space to examine them in depth, but I’ll give you one as an example in order to better understand what we are working with.

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the Sons of Zion rejoice in their King.” (Psalm 149:2)

In this instance “Israel” and “the Sons of Zion” are referring to the same group, they are synonymous; and “his Maker” and “their King” are also synonymous.  This is one of the ways that the Hebrew culture expressed themselves and their mind poetically.

Paul, and indeed anyone who was from that culture or familiar with the Old Testament, would have been acutely aware of this type of poetic form.  Therefore when Paul compared Adam to Christ and the “all” who were affected by them, he would have presumed that everyone would understood instantly that both groups were synonymous, equal.

Unfortunately this is not true of our culture or mindset.  So for clarity’s sake I will point out the parallels.   Here in 1 Corinthians we have 2 items in the 1st line that are compared with 2 items in the 2nd line.  In the first line we have the 2 items of “Adam” and “all.”  In the second line we have “Christ” and “all.”  The first item of each line is paralleled; which would be “Adam” and “Christ;” and the second item of each line is also paralleled; which would be “all” and “all.”   So what Paul is communicating is that just exactly as all mankind died in Adam, in that same way all mankind will be made alive in Christ.  Christ is equal to Adam and the all in Christ is equal to the all in Adam.

So how many died in Adam? All.  How many will be made alive in Christ?  All.  Its the same group of “all.”  “BUT,” as Paul clarifies, “each in his own squadron.”  Not all men will be made alive at the same time, they will be made alive according to the grouping that God has designated them for.  Some are being made alive now, some in the age to come, and some at the end of the ages.  Which is why Paul ends this section here in 1 Corinthians with the prophecy that “at the end…God will be all in all.”

Unfortunately, the English wording here in vs. 22 is a tiny bit ambiguous.  To be clear the Greek IS clear, its our english translation that is slightly ambiguous.  B/c of this there will obviously be some who would try to contest this statement by claiming that it is only those who are in Christ who will be made alive instead of all mankind being made alive in Christ.  Can you see the potential ambiguity?  But to claim that the “all being made alive” only refer to those Christians who are presently in Christ contradicts the Greek grammar.   The statement is future tense – it refers to something yet to come.  But believers are made alive presently, so it cannot be referring to a future time when believers will be given life, b/c we have already received that life.

The ambiguity in the English also contradicts the extremely blatant parallelism device being used.    A clearer translation, and one which highlights the Greek conjunction being used, would be,

Just as every person died in Adam, in the exact proportion will every person be made alive in Christ.

Furthermore (and perhaps most importantly) it contradicts the whole context of the surrounding passage of Scripture.  The context, grammar and language device all confirm that the all who will be made alive in Christ is everybody; the same group of everybody who died in Adam.

The only other thing that would seal it’s clarity and dispel all doubt is if Scripture repeated this declaration elsewhere.  Well…guess what? (I’m sure you saw this coming) that is exactly what we find!  What’s more, Scripture not only repeats it elsewhere, it repeats it 7 times in one section! There is an entire discourse by Paul in the book of Romans dedicated to this exact subject.  Lets take a look!

Romans 5

Of all the manifold verses in Scripture concerning God’s plan to save all men, perhaps the most clear statement/statements is/are in Romans Chapter 5.  Paul has just finished the most eloquent presentation of the gospel in all of history, having concluded that we all stand condemned by the Law and yet by the grace of God we will be saved (justified) by faith and can now have peace with God through Christ (Romans 5:1)!  Why?  B/c while we were sinners and enemies of God Christ died for us! (Romans 5:6-8)

Paul then proceeds here in Chapter 5 of Romans to clarify exactly what it means that Christ died for all men.  In verses 12-21 Paul compares Adam’s fall to Christ’s restoration – just as he did in 1 Corinthians.  However, unlike 1 Corinthians, Paul says it multiple times here in Romans, using several different descriptions to say the same thing.  The gist of it is that since Adam (the First Adam) brought this horrid condition to all men, Christ (the Second Adam) has come to reverse it.  Christ’s effect on all men is exactly paralleled with Adam’s effect on all men…except in an opposite manner.  Lets take a look, I’m going to highlight some areas that we will need to examine afterwards.

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. “ (5:15)

This is an incredible verse and needs a bit of unpacking.

The Many

Paul speaks about how this free gift of Christ applies to “the many.”  So what exactly does “the many” refer to?  Some will try to argue that b/c Paul says “the many” instead of “all” that it’s proof that not all men will be saved.  In fact, there are even a few who have used this verse to argue that not everyone CAN be saved!  They try to explain this by stating that God created some men without souls and therefore they are incapable of receiving salvation.  This is held by a select few Calvinists in a poor attempt to make their “double predestination” doctrine not make God out to be so cruel and evil.  (Double predestination is the idea that irregardless of man’s choice God chooses some to be saved and chooses others to be damned)

That is NOT what Paul is saying here!  Its clear from our sister verse in 1 Corinthians that Paul is referring to “all.”  Nevertheless, lets see if the context here in Romans also supports this.  There are 2 ways to go about this.

First: notice that “the many” applies to those who died in Adam.  How many died in Adam?  All; just as 1 Corinthians said.  Paul had just previously declared that “there is none righteous…there is none who does good, no not even one.” (Romans 3:10-18)   Paul then declares that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  There is not a single soul who was not affected by Adam’s fall.  Therefore “the many” who were affected by Adam’s fall equals everybody – all.

Second: Paul reiterates in verse 18 what he says about “the many” in verse 15; and in his reiteration he qualifies it with the term “all.”  Lets compare them,

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.” (5:15)

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”  (5:18)

In the very next verse Paul switches back and refers again to them as “the many.”

“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” (5:19)

So we see that he uses them interchangeably.  Therefore “the many” means “all.”  This might seem somewhat confusing at first, but the key to understanding it lies in the fact that there are a LOT of people who have existed.  The force of the language here is that “everybody” is not a small number of people, but rather a large number of people, the world has become quite NUMEROUS;  a.k.a – “many.

Hebrew Parallelism and Repetition

Next we need to recognize that Paul is again employing a parallelism as he did in 1 Corinthians.  Paul’s statement about the many/all applies equally to both those who died in Adam and those that will receive God’s grace and free gift of life.  So how many died in Adam?  The answer is obviously – everyone.  Therefore IF Adam’s sin affected everybody in a negative manner, THEN God’s gift will affect everybody in a positive manner.

In an interesting side note; the Hebrew and Greek languages did not have italicization or bold fonts; when they wanted to EMPHASIZE something they simply REPEATED IT, often using various ways of saying the same thing.  Paul does this here in Romans chapter 5 by repeating this concept SEVEN times!  Everybody died in Adam and everybody is going to be made alive in Christ!

So we have a devise called a parallelism used to connect the 2 concepts as equal, and then we have a device of repetition used to emphasize the main point that Paul is trying to communicate.  He is trying very hard to make sure we don’t miss what he is saying.

Greek Logic Formula

There is another devise being employed here that is much harder for the lay person to catch…unless you have been trained in Greek logic.  When Paul says, “the free gift is not like the transgression” he is employing a specific formula of Greek logic.  Its hard to even notice with the NASB’s translation here.  In the Greek it says, “the free gift is equal to the transgression but opposite.”  That is what the “not” means in that sentence.   The King James translates it in a way that makes it somewhat easier to catch, “not as the offense, so also is the free gift.”  Can you see it yet?  “Not as…so also”  The free gift is equal to what the offense isn’t.  Confusing I know…but bear with me, perhaps I can make it clearer.

The Greek logic formula goes something like this, “X is equal to Y in an opposite form.”  Or, X is equal in an opposite way to Y.  Very few people have need for such specialized logic, so we tend to miss its significance.   What Paul is saying here is that the “free gift” (X) is equal to the transgression (Y) but in a completely opposite way.

The equality is that 1 act by 1 man affects ALL MEN.  Adam’s disobedience (sin) affects all men and Christ’s obedience (righteousness) affects all men.  Paul had said in the previous verse that Adam was a type of Christ (5:14), and in other epistles he refers to Christ as the “Last Adam” or Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).   Christ is a type of Adam b/c His act affects all men just as Adam’s act did.

But Christ’s act is equal in an opposite way b/c while Adam’s act affects all men negatively, Christ’s act affects all men positively.  Adam brings/brought death to all men, Christ brings/brought life to all men.   Adam = bad for all, Christ = good for all.

Abounds Much More

Finally, what I want to point out here is that Paul heavily emphasizes that Christ’s work affects MORE than Adam’s!  If Adam’s sin affected all men, Christ’s work will affect more than all men!  (Hows that possible!?)  Or perhaps Paul is emphasizing that the grace brought to us through Christ is far greater than the sin and death that Adam brought.  Where Adam brought sin which increased, Christ brought grace which abounds MUCH MORE! (see 5:15,17,20)

Paul isn’t just giving us a mysterious off hand remark that leaves what he is saying open for debate; no, he is declaring it over and over and over in order to make absolutely sure that it gets through our thick, stubborn skulls!  Christ = FAR MORE than Adam!   God wasn’t joking when He called the Gospel Good News!

Lets look at the verses one more time,

“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.” (5:15)

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”  (5:18)

“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” (5:19)

The many WILL BE MADE righteous!  It’s not conditional.   There is no “if” you want to.  It’s a statement, a fact, a declaration – a done deal!  Either our theologians know something that Paul didn’t know, or Scripture really is declaring that all men will be made righteous!

On a quick side note, the “gift” that God says will abound to the many is the same “free gift” that Paul tells us just one chapter later is eternal life in Christ. (6:22)  It’s pretty cut and dry what Paul is teaching  – this eternal life will not only equal what sin accomplished; it will accomplish MUCH MORE than what Adam’s sin accomplished!  Which is why Paul says at the end of all this that “where sin abounds…grace abounds MUCH MORE!” (5:20)  That truly is amazing grace!

Conclusion

So there we have it.  2 sections of Scripture in which the context, grammar and language devices prophesy that all men will be made alive in Christ.  So far we have seen that Scripture teaches that God intends to save all men; and now we see that it also prophesies that in the end all men will be made alive.  If as Christ said, “the Scriptures cannot be broken,” then we are off to a good start!

In the next blog we will look at God’s oath He swore to save all men.

About Luke Kessler

Luke Kessler has a bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies (not that that matters to God) and spent some time as a missionary in Asia. It was there, through unique circumstances that God began to reveal His glorious plan to save all men. God brought his time of missions to an end and Luke now works in Construction on the Central Coast in California. He enjoys spending his free time studying God's Word and the signs of the times, and sharing what God has shown him every opportunity he has. If you can figure the following out, feel free to contact him by email (his Yahoo account spelled out so as to avoid spam is "luke" then "land" then the number "7") :)
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