1 Corinthians 15:51 – Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (NIV)
This passage has been the subject of much debate throughout the centuries. Some claim that these verses speak to an end-time event, a ‘rapture’, if you will. Other critics of the Bible say that Paul was looking for the return of Jesus in his lifetime, and since Paul was wrong about that event then everything else that Paul wrote should be disqualified. Others debate as to whether or not this passage speaks to ‘soul sleep’ – the idea that when we die we will stay dead until such a time when all who have ever lived and died in Christ will be raised. As for me, I really don’t try to wade into debates over what the text might say, I just want to understand what this text can tell me.
While there might be some things in this passage that make me wonder (and I, like many, have my own opinions), there are other things in this passage that speak to me loud and clear. First, this passage tells me that there will be an end to my mortal life. It also tells me that for those who are in Christ, there is something better waiting beyond this life. In fact, this passage tells me that what is waiting is victory, and that death will have no sting. This is comforting! No one looks forward to the moment of death, but we can certainly look forward to the victory that lies beyond.
Sin causes each of us trouble in this world. We all battle sin in one form or another. This passage tells us that sin – our enemy – will be defeated. While I believe that most of the teachings of Paul deal with living life here and now, in this passage Paul teaches us that there will be a reward after this life. This reward is our gift from Jesus, he paid for the reward. Our sin would keep us from receiving our final reward. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s Good Stuff!
Posted by Ramón Torres