‘As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will become alive again’, writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:22. It is very important for us to understand the meaning of the word ‘all’ in this verse. It is a great promise, that God will make dead people alive again. However, we need to know who can claim the benefit of this promise.
Of course, the usual meaning of ‘all’ is ‘everyone’. Paul has already explained that both slaves and free people can claim the benefit of God’s promises (7:22). God saves both rich and poor people alike (1:26). God’s promises are for both men and women, and for both old people and young people. They are for people from every nation (1:24).
However, Paul has insisted that God does not save everyone (1:18). God only saves people who believe in him (1:21). They have confessed their evil deeds to him and they have invited him into their lives. Only those people have the right to receive life that never ends (John 3:16-18).
So, let us study what Paul means by ‘all’ here. First he says ‘in Adam, all die’. He means that death affects all people because of their relationship with Adam. Whoever has been born into the family of Adam will die. Every person comes from the family of Adam, the first man.
The meaning of ‘all’ in the second part of the verse must be similar. ‘In Christ, all will become alive again’. It is a promise to all people who have a relationship with Christ (Mark 3:31-35). The people who trust in Christ are born again into his family (John 1:12; John 3:7). So, all people who belong to God’s family have the benefit of this wonderful promise.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.