Day of Christ

The return of Jesus will be the “Day of the Lord” when the dead are raised, the wicked are judged, and death will cease

Sun Rays - Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash
The coming of Jesus is not a major topic in Paul's letters to the Corinthians. But by addressing several problems, he touches on key aspects of Christ’s return, including its identification with the “
Day of the Lord,” the consummation of God’s kingdom, the resurrection of believers, and the cessation of death - [Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash].

Paul begins his letter by thanking God for His grace to the Corinthians, and he puts the proper perspective on spiritual gifts by referring to the expectation of Christ’s return.
  • (1 Corinthians 1:4-9) - “I give thanks unto my God at all times concerning you… That you come short in no gift of grace, ardently awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who will also confirm you unto the end, unimpeachable in the DAY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. Faithful is God through whom you have been called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

DAY OF JESUS CHRIST

Rather than overvalue spiritual gifts, believers must remember that they are still waiting for the much fuller glories that will be dispensed at the “revelation” of Jesus.

The term “revelation” translates the Greek noun apokalupsis, and it means “revelation, disclosure, unveiling” - (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10Luke 17:301 Peter 1:131 Peter 4:13).

Unimpeachable” translates a legal term applied to someone against whom legal charges can no longer be leveled (anegklétosStrong’s - #G410). Thus, on the “Day of Christ,” no one will bring charges against Christians in God’s court because He has “confirmed” them.

In Paul’s writings, the “Day of our Lord Jesus Christ” is synonymous with the “Day of the Lord” from the Hebrew Bible, the day when Yahweh delivers his people, judges His enemies, and brings the existing age to its conclusion. By adding “Jesus Christ” to the phrase, Paul focuses this ancient hope in him - (Amos 5:18-20, Joel 2:31, Philippians 1:6, 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10).

UNTIL THE LORD COMES

Paul deals with inappropriate attitudes in the Corinthian church. Some members are beginning to reject his teachings and apostolic authority. He responds by employing the image of household servants or stewards. As a faithful “steward,” Paul has been entrusted with the “mysteries” of God.
  • (1 Corinthians 4:3-5) - “With me, however, it counts for the very smallest thing that by you I should be examined, or by a human day. Nay! I am not even examining myself, for of nothing to myself am I conscious. Nevertheless, not hereby am I declared righteous, but he that does examine me is the Lord.  So then, not before the fitting time be judging anything until the Lord shall come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then the praise shall come to each one from God.

Paul is a servant of Christ and belongs to the Corinthians. But he is accountable only to the Master of the household, therefore, their evaluation of him is of no real consequence. Only the judgment of Jesus matters and his valuation will become evident when he arrives at the end of the age. Christians ought not to judge anyone before the proper time - “when the Lord comes.”

A few verses earlier, Paul speaks of the coming day of evaluation when each Christian’s work will be examined to see whether it was built on the proper foundation. Again, that will occur when Jesus comes on the “Day of the Lord” - (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).


DAY OF THE LORD

Paul must deal with a shameful incident that has brought the church into disrepute. A member is having sexual relations with his stepmother. While fornication is common enough in Greco-Roman society, to have sexual relations with one’s stepmother is beyond the pale even for pagans.


Rather than boast of their spirituality, he exhorts the Corinthians to “mourn” that such an egregious sinner was in their midst.

  • (1 Corinthians 5:4-5) - “In the name of our Lord Jesus, you being gathered together, and my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one as this to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.


The Apostle admonishes the church to expel this man so that his “spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.” The “destruction of the flesh” will become part of his remedial process.  By this, he means the destruction of what is carnal in the man as he is buffeted by the satanic forces that operate outside the believing community.


Daybreak - Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash
[Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash]

The result hoped for is the man’s repentance and salvation on the “Day of the Lord.” Once again, Paul associates the “Day of the Lord” with judgment, including that of believers. Final salvation and judgment will only be realized on that day, an idea found elsewhere in the New Testament.


UNTIL HE COMES

Paul next mentions the “coming” of Jesus in his discussion on proper behavior during the Lord’s Supper, especially in consideration of his impending arrival in glory.

  • (1 Corinthians 11:24-26) - “And giving thanks, he broke it and said: This is my body, which is for you. This do in remembrance of me. In the same manner, the cup also, after they had taken supper, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, this do as often as you may be drinking it in remembrance of me. For as often as you may be eating this loaf, and the cup may be drinking, the death of the Lord do you announce until he comes.”


In his explanation, Paul combines the commemoration of Christ’s death with the promise of his return.


By eating the bread and drinking the wine, the church proclaims his death “until he comes,” linking the two events, and both are essential to his gospel message.


AT HIS COMING

Paul also responds to those who deny there will be a future resurrection, and he argues for it from the past resurrection of Jesus.  If there is no future resurrection, then “not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, void is our proclamation, void also our faith.”

  • (1 Corinthians 15:22-28) “For just as in the Adam all die, so also, in the Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own rank. Christ, a first fruit, after that they who are Christ’s at his arrival. Afterward, the end, whensoever he delivers up the kingdom to his God and Father, whensoever he brings to nothing all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. And the last enemy, death, is to be destroyed, for he put all things in subjection under his feet. But whensoever it shall be said, all things are in subjection, it is evident that it means except him who did put into subjection to him things. But whensoever have been put into subjection to him all things, then the Son himself also shall be put in subjection to him who put in subjection to him all things, that God may be all things in all.”


Thus, Paul lays out the general order of events on the day when Jesus “arrives” from heaven, on the “day of Christ.” He is the “first fruit of those who have fallen asleep” – the first participant in the larger resurrection, and therefore, his past resurrection is inextricably linked to the future resurrection of believers.


Since death came into existence through a man, Adam, so “through a man,” Christ, will come the raising of the dead. Just as “in Adam, all die,” so in Christ, all will be made alive. His followers are waiting to be raised at his arrival on the “Day of Christ” - (1 Thessalonians 1: 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8).


Paul provides the key as to when the resurrection will occur. First, he correlates it with the “arrival” or parousia of Jesus. Second, he specifies that it will mean nothing less than “the end” of death.


All this will occur after Jesus “delivers up the kingdom to his God and Father, whenever he brings to nothing all rule and all authority and power,” including the “last enemy” – Death. His purpose here is not to describe the coming of Jesus in all its details but to substantiate his argument for the future resurrection.


BOASTING ON THAT DAY

Paul refers to the “Day of our Lord Jesus” in his first and second letters to the Corinthians, the day on which all believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ - (1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

  • (2 Corinthians 1:13-14) - “For no other things are we writing to you than what you are reading or even acknowledging. I hope, moreover, that throughout you will acknowledge, according as you have also acknowledged us in part, that your theme of boasting are we, even as you also will be ours in the day of our Lord Jesus.


On that day, Paul expects the faith of the Corinthians will become his “boast,” and vice versa, the mutual evidence of his and their faithfulness, and the grounds for their vindication before Christ’s tribunal. Paul expresses a similar sentiment to the church at Thessalonica - (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20).


And thus, in his Corinthian correspondence, Paul refers frequently to the “Day of the Lord Jesus,” whereas the Old Testament spoke of the “Day of Yahweh,” the time of deliverance for the people of God, and the day of destruction for His enemies – (1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5, Philippians 1:6, 1:10, 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1).


And the Apostle affirms key aspects of that event. First, he expects only one future coming of Jesus. Second, his “arrival” will occur on the “Day of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the “Day of the Lord.” Third, it will include the examination and judgment of the righteous. Fourth, he will “arrive” after he had subjugated all God’s enemies. And fifth, his coming will include the bodily resurrection of the dead and the cessation of death itself, the “last enemy.”


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