THE death and resurrection of a human body as a thing distinct and separate from the intelligent being, is never mentioned in the Scriptures. We never read that Abraham's body died, nor that Jesus' body died, nor that any one's body died.
Being signifies existence, and there can be no being or existence without life and body both. Withdraw life, and the being or existence ceases, for life is but a power or principle, the same in the lower animals as in man--the difference in qualities between man and the brute consisting not in a different kind of life, but in a different kind of body.
Any being is properly called a soul or person. This is the Scriptural sense and usage of the word soul, so little understood; viz., Being (life and body combined). Thus we read of the creation of Adam--"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (ruach--the same breath said to be given to beasts, birds and fishes) and man became a living soul," (being.)--Gen. 2:7.
We cite a few illustrations out of a multitude showing the Bible usage of the word soul, showing that it signifies being. Lev. 5:2, "If a soul (being--person) touch any unclean thing he shall be unclean." Vs. 4, "If a soul (being) swear." Vs. 15, "If a soul (being) commit a trespass." Lev. 22:11, "If the priest buy any soul (being) with his money." Prov. 6:7, "If he steal to satisfy his soul (being) when he is hungry." Jesus said, "My soul (being) is exceeding sorrowful even unto death." Matt. 26:38, "Thou shalt love the Lord...with all thy soul" (being.) Matt. 22:37, The rich man said, "Soul (being, self), thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry. But God said...fool this night thy soul (being, existence) will (cease) be required of thee."--Luke 12:19. "For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul (existence, being,) or, What shall a [R276 : page 126] man give in exchange for his soul?" (being, existence.)--Matt. 16:26. How many illustrations of this Scripture are furnished us in every-day life: Men labor for wealth, to gain as much as possible of the whole world, only to find when they are rich that wealth has come at the expense of health. How many of those who spend their life in laying up earthly treasure, find that their very being--existence--has been sacrificed in gaining the wealth. Then what would they not give to get back again health, etc.? They lavish their wealth upon physicians, traveling, etc., but it is of little use: They made a poor exchange, when they gave their being for money. Some "purified their souls (beings --lived more purely) in obeying the truth."--1 Pet. 1:22. "The law of the Lord is perfect converting (changing) the soul" (Being). --Psa. 19:7. Other souls (beings) were subverted, turned from the truth by error. Acts 15:24, Other, unstable souls (beings, persons,) were beguiled.--2 Pet. 2:14.
With this view of the meaning of the word soul, viz., that it includes all being or existence (a combination of life and body), let us inquire--what dies--the principle of life, or the body? We answer, neither; the life principle is one which pervades all creation, just as does electricity. This principle of life pervades and is an essential element of all being, in tree, in fish, in fowl, in beast, in man, in angels, and in the fullest degree in God, who is its source or fountain. This principle cannot be said to die; though, if it be withdrawn from any creature to whom God has given it, that creature will die--cease to have being. Thus the breath of life is taken from beasts, birds, fish, and man. [R277 : page 126]
Neither can it be properly said that the body dies, since, separate from the principle of life, the body never had life, and consequently could not die. The body, without the spirit (of life), is dead, and that which is dead cannot die.
WHAT THEN IS DEATH--WHAT DIES?
We answer, the being dies--ceases to have being or existence. Death is the dissolution, or separation of the things which, combined, constitute being,--namely, life and body. Thus when the spirit of life returns to God, who gave it (all nature is his reservoir of life), then the being is dead, and soon the body will return to the dust, "from whence it was taken." We see clearly, then, that not the body, but the being--called in Scripture soul-- dies. Let us notice some instances in which this is stated in so many words: Job 31:39, (marginal reading,) "Cause the soul of [R277 : page 127] owners thereof to expire"--(dissolve, die.) "Their soul dieth in youth, etc." Job 36:14, margin, "To deliver their soul (being) from death and to keep them alive in famine."--Psa. 33:19. "He spared not their soul (being) from death" (dissolution.)-- Psa. 78:50. He keepeth back his soul (being) from the pit" (death.)--Job 33:18. "He shall deliver his soul (being) from the grave."--Psa. 89:48. All souls (beings) are mine...the soul (being) that sinneth it shall die."--Ezek. 18:4. It was the soul (being) of Jesus which was given for our ransom. "Thou shalt make his soul (being) an offering for sin"...."He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." "He hath poured out his soul (being) unto death."--Isa. 53:10-12. But, (Acts 2:31,) "His soul (being) was not left in hell," (hades--the condition of death.) He was raised to being again, but a being of a higher order --having a grander than human form or body--"Put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit." And now we come to the point--What will be raised up, in the resurrection? The body, says some one. Not so; I answer, it is the BEING that God promises to raise up. It once existed, and lost existence, and is to be raised up to existence or being again. Men can resurrect a body from the tomb (that is, bring a body out of a tomb to the surface); but only God's power can resurrect or bring to existence again a being who has died. We see then that resurrection means the restoring of being. Now, "with what body do they (these beings) come" (into being again)? is a question asked by Paul.--1 Cor. 15:35. [We have seen that being is made up of two elements--body, and spirit of life; hence, if restored to being, they must have some sort of bodies provided them.] Paul proceeds to tell us, that, while each must have a body, yet in the resurrection all beings will not have the same kind of bodies. He says that there are two general sorts or kinds of bodies--the earthly or natural bodies, and the spiritual--heavenly bodies. There are perfect illustrations of these two kinds of bodies: Adam was the head of the earthly, human family, and a pattern of the perfect human being. Christ Jesus, at his resurrection, was the first born from the dead to the perfect new nature, the spiritual, and he, "thus born of the spirit, is spirit."--John 3:6. His is a sample or illustration of a perfect spiritual being.
All humanity belongs to one of two classes: either they are natural men--the ADAMIC SEED, or they have been begotten of the spirit through the word of truth and have given themselves up to Christ, that the will of God might be done in them; this is the newly begotten man; he belongs to the SPIRITUAL SEED. [R277 : page 128] Now, says Paul, "God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him and to every seed his own body." That is, those who have, during the present life, become partakers of the divine nature, must needs have a divine form--a "spiritual body," "like unto Christ's glorious body," while those who have not thus changed nature would have no change of body. When again brought into being, they will have natural, human bodies.
The resurrection, which some will have, to spiritual conditions of being--with spiritual bodies--is in Scripture designated as special, by calling it "the first resurrection," first in importance --chief. It is also frequently designated by the article THE (very noticeable in the Greek text; but less so in our English translations); for illustration--notice the following instances, (Luke 20:35,) "They that shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and THE resurrection neither marry nor are given in marriage." Again, Paul always taught that there would be "a resurrection, both of the just and the unjust," yet he says: If by any means I might attain unto THE resurrection.--Phil. 3:11, (the first--to spiritual condition and being.) Again he designates this resurrection to spiritual being as "his resurrection," because Jesus was the first one so raised to spiritual being. "That I might know him, and the power of HIS resurrection (i.e., that I might be raised as he was raised). Then follows an account of how he might attain to that glorious resurrection to spiritual being, viz., "knowing the fellowship of his sufferings and being made conformable unto his death."--Phil. 3:10.
None will attain to this chief resurrection, except they consecrate themselves entirely to God's service. "We beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies (and all their powers, talents, reputations--all) a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service."
So shall you be among those who shall be in THE first resurrection, for "blessed and holy are all they that have part in THE FIRST resurrection: on such the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a thousand years."--Rev. 20:6. We can know little about the perfection, and grandeur, and powers of those who shall become spiritual beings, except that they will be "like unto Christ's glorious body."--Phil. 3:21. As the apostle says: It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him."--1 John 3:2. What an answer is this to those who claim that nothing is real, but a flesh-and-bone body! Who would insist that Jesus, after his resurrection, [R277 : page 129] was the very same flesh and bones he was before he died? Was that a glorious body? No, that was the body he took for the suffering of death--but being put to death in the flesh, he was quickened by the spirit, "a life-giving spirit."--1 Cor. 15:45. Now he is the express image of the Father's person. Is the Father and Creator of all things simply a great man? Nay, verily, "God is a spirit." "It doth not yet appear, what... but we shall be like him." Away with that grossness of materialism, which can realize nothing higher than the natural, human plane! Let us take Paul's account. There are human natural bodies and there are spiritual bodies. Both will be glorious, but the glory of the human, earthly, (terrestrial,) is one thing, and the glory of the spiritual, heavenly, celestial, is quite another and quite a different thing.--See 1 Cor. 15:40. The restored world of mankind shall be indeed glorious men, like the perfect head of the human race, but that glory will not compare with "the glory that shall be revealed in us," who have given up the human nature and become partakers of the divine nature, into the perfection of which we hope soon to be ushered. Like the earthly one (Adam) such will they be also that are earthly (human)--Like the heavenly one, (Christ, when "born from the dead,") such will they be also that are heavenly (now begotten to the heavenly nature by the word of God through the spirit, then to be born into the perfection of that being), vs. 48.
Paul gives us a slight account of the great change from natural to spiritual, which awaits those who have part in THE first resurrection: Vs. 42informs us, "Thus is THE resurrection of THE dead: It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body." [Diaglott.]
ORDER IN RESURRECTION.
All of God's works and plans are full of order: It has well been said--Order is heaven's first law. While there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust, and all shall be made alive, and while some shall be made alive as perfect spiritual beings, and others in the likeness of the earthly one, Adam, yet there are times and seasons and orders for all this, as Paul says: "But every man in his own order, Christ the first fruits-- (Jesus the head and we the "members of his body"--yet "all ONE body"--The head raised one thousand eight hundred years [R277 : page 130] ago, the body very soon, we trust,) afterward they that are Christ's at his (parousia) presence--the "great company."
These are the first orders and include all of those who are of the spiritual family, but there are others--every man in his own order--and when all of these orders are complete (Paul mentions only those in which the church's interest centered), when all have been brought to life and perfection either on the human or spiritual plane (except those who die the "second death"), "then (at the end of the one thousand years reign of Christ and the saints) cometh the end," "when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power." For he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet--"The last enemy that shall be destroyed (during that one thousand years reign) is death" (Adamic) in all its forms; sickness, and pain, as well as the tomb,--"Then the end" will have come--the end of sin on earth, the end of the great work of ransoming mankind and bringing them into full harmony with their Creator. Then --the Son shall deliver up the kingdom--dominion of earth to God even the Father; that God may be all--and his will done in all.--See vs. 23-28.
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THE first clause of this verse, viz.--"the rest of the dead lived not again, until the thousand years were finished,"--has been the cause of much confusion and error among Christians. It is out of harmony with the teachings of both the Old and New Testaments, inasmuch as it places and fixes the resurrection of all except those who have part in the "first" (or resurrection to spiritual being) beyond and after the Millennial (one thousand years) reign of Christ and his Bride, while all other Scriptures assert that all the families of the earth are to be blessed during that reign; that it is for this purpose of blessing all mankind, Jesus "takes his great power and reigns;" that the period of the reign is the "Times (years) of Restitution spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets," which are due to commence not at the end of the one thousand years, but at its beginning-- at the second coming of Christ.--Acts 3:19-21.
The Scripture we have just been considering (1 Cor. 15:23-28) asserts most positively that it is during and not after his reign (one thousand years) that Christ will put down all enemies and [R278 : page 131] destroy the last enemy, death (Adamic). If death is destroyed during the reign, how would it be possible for any to be held by it until after the thousand years were finished?
Now, thank God, we can see clearly the cause of this inharmony --(probably because now is the due time--the book of Revelations has not been until recently understood). While every word of God is good, not so every word of man, and we now find that the above words of Rev. 20:5--"The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished"-- are man's words and not God's.
During the "dark ages" of Papacy's reign came the "great falling away" (2 Thes. 2:3,) from about the year 300 to 1600 A.D. During that carnival of heresy several portions of the Bible were so altered as to appear to give support to Papacy's teachings--(this was in the early part of her reign, for afterward she endeavored to destroy the Scriptures under the pretence that she--the church--through her ministers was a higher authority.)
The finding in recent years of two very ancient MSS. reveals to us several interpolations of words and verses which we earnestly hope the new version (soon to be published) will omit, they being not God's words, but man's.
These interpolations (not very numerous) are of a more or less serious character, the following being probably the most important, viz., the portion of Rev. 20:5, now under consideration; and John 21:25; and the words "For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. Amen"--in Matt. 6:13; also the words "in heaven the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three agree in one; and there are three that bear witness in earth"--parts of 1 John 5:7,8.
It may not be generally known that Papacy had succeeded in destroying nearly all Greek copies of the New Testament. After "The Reformation" had made the words of Jesus and the apostles to be once more reverenced and esteemed among believers, as of greater authority than "the voice of the church," our present "authorized version" (authorized by King James of England,) was published in the English language A.D. 1611. At the time of its arrangement and publication, but few Greek MSS. were known to exist, and only eight were used in the preparation of the "Latin Vulgate" from which it was translated, and none of those were older than the tenth century. Since then some six hundred and sixty MSS. have come to light, among them two very ancient ones written between the third and fourth centuries--the "Vatican MS. No. 1209," and the [R278 : page 132] "Sinaitic MS." (the latter--the very oldest--was found complete A.D. 1859). These MSS. are especially valuable because written before such gross errors had crept into the church and the "falling away" had reached its climax.
It is by the light shed by these ancient MSS. that we are enabled to separate between the Word of God and that of men, and to learn that the texts referred to (and some others) are interpolations and not a part of the divinely inspired Scriptures.
As to the motives and errors which may have led to these unwarranted interpolations of the text, we may be able to offer a suggestion, viz., the last mentioned (1 John 5:7,8) was probably intended to give authority and sanction to the doctrine of the "Trinity." As to the interpolation in Matt. 6:13, and Rev. 20:5, we may each be able to offer a reason, when it is remembered that Papacy claims that it is now the reigning kingdom of God--that the Millennial (one thousand years) reign of Christ and his saints over earth has been fulfilled by Papacy's reign as--Mistress of the world. As we understand it, their claim is that since 1793 A.D. is the "little season" in which the devil is loosed (Protestantism being his agency for deceiving), a fulfillment, they claim, of Rev. 20:9.
Holding this error, is it surprising that they wanted something added to the prayer--"Thy kingdom come"--so as to make it appear to justify the thought that it had already come? This is the thought conveyed in the words added--"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Amen."
With this teaching, that the Papal dominion constituted the reign of Christ over the nations, yet possessing no power to resurrect the dead, is it strange that they desired to have some Scripture say that "The rest of the dead lived not again until the one thousand years were finished"? (The first resurrection they spiritualized.)
From our standpoint we recognize the Papal system as being the counterfeit of the true church which in due time shall be exalted to "power over the nations," not to bind men with chains of ignorance and superstition, but to bless all the families of the earth. When the true King shall--"take to himself his great power and reign" then we can truly say, "Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever."
The words, "The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished"--are not found in any MSS. written previous to the fifth century, and if we notice the connections in which they are found, we will see that they are as [R278 : page 133] much out of harmony there as we have just seen it to be incongruous with the general teachings of other parts of the Bible. The succeeding clause of the same verse is by this interpolation forced to say that "this (after the one thousand years) is the first resurrection." Now read verses 4-6, omitting the interpolated clause, and we have harmony and sense--"They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years: This is the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years."