Play the Man

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #199 “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity” (1 Cor. 16:13–14). Nearing the end of this epistle, Paul gives a small burst of ethical exhortations. This cluster presents an interesting juxtaposition. The first set in v. 13 is quite martial, and then in v. 14 the “battlefield” consists of doing everything in love. One of the things that armed forces do is post sentries. The first exhortation says to “stay awake, be alert, be watchful.” The second says that we are to defend our position, which we do by standing firmly in the faith. The third is an interesting stand-alone verb andrizomai, which literally means to “play the man,” The fourth says that we are to be strong, powerful. So then, what we are told to do here is to be alert, to stand courageously, to be masculine and strong. Where then do we take this? Paul says … [Read more...]

On Not Threatening the Minister

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #198 “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren. As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time” (1 Cor. 16:10–12). Paul now gives a series of exhortations concerning two of his fellow workers in the gospel. If Timothy comes to Corinth, they are to make sure that he can work there “without fear.” The reason for this is that Timothy is engaged in the work of the Lord, just as Paul was. If they received Paul, so also should they receive Timothy. What the threat to Timothy would be, what he might have to fear from them, is not mentioned. … [Read more...]

Effectual Door

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #197 “Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit” (1 Cor. 16:5–7). Paul’s tentative plan was to pass through Macedonia, which was northern Greece. After that he planned to go down to Achaia, where Corinth was, and spend a bit more time there. He did not want to pass through Corinth briefly, such that he merely saw them “by the way,” but rather wanted to stay with them for a while. If the Lord permitted it, he hoped to spend the winter there with them. It is important to note that even the travel plans of an apostle are surrendered to the providential designs of God. He will do this if the Lord wills it. “But I will tarry at … [Read more...]

Personal and Accountable

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #195 “And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me” (1 Cor. 16:3–4). In the previous verses, Paul had instructed the saints in Corinth to take up their collection Sunday by Sunday so that there would not have to be a last minute push. Their giving was to be part of their worship on the Lord’s Day, and their giving was not to be motivated by the duress of deadlines. Christian generosity is steady and deliberate, not momentary or panicked. When we come to his instruction here, we notice some additional principles. Paul writes ahead to have them take up their collections. He then tells them that when he arrives, they will appoint delegates to accompany their gift. The collection was for the saints in Jerusalem, and delegates from Corinth were going to … [Read more...]

Sunday Collection

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #195 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1–2). This passage contains one of the hints in the New Testament that reveals the practice of Sunday worship in the first century. Paul brings up the matter of a collection for poverty relief among the saints, telling the Corinthians that he had given the same requirement to the churches of Galatia, and he looks for them to do the same. Paul doesn’t want to start from scratch in taking up a collection, so he tells them to start collecting beforehand, week to week. He specifically says that this is to be done on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. If the money was to be “laid by” in the individual homes, then … [Read more...]

Flow Like a Torrent

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #194 “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:56–58). Death hurts the way it does because we are sinners and deserve to die, and death is as inexorably powerful as it is because of the law of God. The law is immutable because God’s character is unchanging, and death rides piggyback on the law. But through the gospel, God has devised a way to remove the sting of death and has executed a plan that overthrows the power of death—without overthrowing the law. Death is undone by resurrection, while law is not undone by resurrection—rather law is glorified and is revealed in its true character, which is that of … [Read more...]

Resurrection Practice

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #193 “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:53–55). As he leans toward the resurrection, Paul uses the language of “putting on.” In fact, he uses the same verb (endyo) that he uses elsewhere when telling the saints to put on Christ (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27). And all of this “putting on” amounts to the same thing. Putting on Christ is the same thing as putting on incorruption and immortality. And so it is that the daily acts of sanctification, the decisions to put on Christ, are all resurrection practice. Life smothers death. The corrupt has non-corruption put over top of … [Read more...]

Transformation in an Instant

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #192 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:50–52). Paul here uses “flesh and blood” as a shorthand way of talking about our bodies in this fallen world. He is not referring to our materiality, but rather to the fact that our material bodies will decompose in the grave. After His resurrection, our Lord referred to His “flesh and bone” (Luke 24:39), dismissing forever the idea that the resurrection body is in any way ghostly or immaterial. We can see that Paul is not rejecting the material resurrection through how his parallelism works. He says that … [Read more...]

The Body as Battery

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #191 “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:45–49). The difference between the Adams is not that one had a body and the other did not. The first man Adam had a body dominated by his living soul; the quickening agent of the last Adam’s body was the Spirit. The first Adam had a spirit, but his body was animated by his soul. The last Adam has a soul but His body was dominated by the quickening Spirit. The first … [Read more...]

You May Be a Soul Man Now . . .

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #190 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42–44). Just as there are variations in glory between different objects at the same time, as between the sun and moon, so also there are variations in glory between the same object at different times. The trajectory of history is foundational toward greater glory. The human body now is subject to corruption, and is therefore sown in corruption. It is place in the ground to rot. It is also placed in the ground to sprout and grow—cemeteries are, as my grandchildren put it, grave gardens. It is sown in corruption, but raised with much greater glory, the glory of … [Read more...]

Glorious Inequality

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #189 “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:40–41). Paul’s point here is to emphasize that God loves variations in glory, and that this love is not going away after the resurrection. If you look at the sky, you will see that celestial glory differs from terrestrial glory, although both are glorious. If you look at the sky, you will see the glory of the sun, and if you look at the night sky, you will see that the moon’s glory differs from that of the sun, and the glory of the stars differs from both sun and moon. God loves inequality, but it is inequality in degrees of glory. This is how he prepares us for the next thought. Man … [Read more...]

Animals and the Resurrection

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #188 “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Cor. 15:35–39). The skeptic can make no sense of resurrection. What kind of body could the dead have? The whole thing seems nonsensical. But the existence of a second body is no more marvelous in principle than the first one is. Paul rebukes the folly that cannot see that the human body is seed. First he notes that in order to be fruitful, a seed must die first. The second … [Read more...]

Virtue as Team Sport

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #187 “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Cor. 15:33–34). The word rendered here as communications is homilia, which in other translations is rendered as company. Bad or evil company corrupts good customs, morals, or habits. The word there for manners is ethos. Another way of putting this is that moral stupidity is contagious, and that a person is more vulnerable to such contagion in crowds. He who walks with the wise will be wise, and a companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov. 13:20). Practical virtue is a team sport. So is vice. Paul begins his exhortation on this point with a reminder not to “be deceived.” It is very easy for us to think that our character is more impervious to outside influence than it actually is. We like to think that we can … [Read more...]

Christ or Cocaine

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #186 “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:30–32). Paul then advances another argument for the resurrection of Jesus. The apostles were witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus, and they understood that resurrection to be a guarantee of their own resurrection. It would therefore make no sense for them to establish a fraudulent faith that did nothing but jeopardize their health and safety if they knew that the dead were not raised. By putting this argument forward, Paul is confirming a standard argument for the resurrection of Jesus, which is the fearlessness of the apostles—in contrast to their behavior prior to the crucifixion—in … [Read more...]

Baptism for the Dead

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #185 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (1 Cor. 15:29). This now brings us to a cryptic argument that Paul advances in favor of the resurrection, an argument that he advances in his famous aside about baptism for the dead. There are (at least) several ways to take this. First, the heretical group in Corinth that was disputing the resurrection of the dead (and who made this section of the letter necessary) could have been a group that was also practicing baptism for the dead. Paul doesn’t say “we” are baptized for the dead. He says that “they” are. And so Paul’s mild rejoinder to them is this—what kind of sense does that make? If the dead are not raised, then why bother getting baptized for them? A second view is that advanced by R.L. Dabney, which is that this “baptism” refers to the … [Read more...]