1 Corinthians 15:26
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
15:20-34 All that are by faith united to Christ, are by his resurrection assured of their own. As through the sin of the first Adam, all men became mortal, because all had from him the same sinful nature, so, through the resurrection of Christ, shall all who are made to partake of the Spirit, and the spiritual nature, revive, and live for ever. There will be an order in the resurrection. Christ himself has been the first-fruits; at his coming, his redeemed people will be raised before others; at the last the wicked will rise also. Then will be the end of this present state of things. Would we triumph in that solemn and important season, we must now submit to his rule, accept his salvation, and live to his glory. Then shall we rejoice in the completion of his undertaking, that God may receive the whole glory of our salvation, that we may for ever serve him, and enjoy his favour. What shall those do, who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Perhaps baptism is used here in a figure, for afflictions, sufferings, and martyrdom, as Mt 20:22,23. What is, or will become of those who have suffered many and great injuries, and have even lost their lives, for this doctrine of the resurrection, if the dead rise not at all? Whatever the meaning may be, doubtless the apostle's argument was understood by the Corinthians. And it is as plain to us that Christianity would be a foolish profession, if it proposed advantage to themselves by their faithfulness to God; and to have our fruit to holiness, that our end may be everlasting life. But we must not live like beasts, as we do not die like them. It must be ignorance of God that leads any to disbelieve the resurrection and future life. Those who own a God and a providence, and observe how unequal things are in the present life, how frequently the best men fare worst, cannot doubt as to an after-state, where every thing will be set to rights. Let us not be joined with ungodly men; but warn all around us, especially children and young persons, to shun them as a pestilence. Let us awake to righteousness, and not sin.The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death - The other foes of God should be subdued "before" the final resurrection. The enmity of the human heart should be subdued by the triumphs of the gospel. The scepter of Satan should be broken and wrested from him. The false systems of religion that had tyrannized over people should be destroyed. The gospel should have spread everywhere, and the world be converted to God. And nothing should remain but to "subdue" or destroy death, and that would be by the resurrection. It would be:

(1) because the resurrection would be a triumph over death, showing that there was one of greater power, and that the sceptre would be wrested from the hands of death.

(2) because death would cease to reign. No more would ever die. All that should be raised up would live forever; and the effects of sin and rebellion in this world would be thus forever ended, and the kingdom of God restored. Death is here personified as a tyrant, exercising despotic power over the human race; and "he" is to be subdued.

26. shall be—Greek, "is done away with" (Re 20:14; compare Re 1:18). It is to believers especially this applies (1Co 15:55-57); even in the case of unbelievers, death is done away with by the general resurrection. Satan brought in sin, and sin brought in death! So they shall be destroyed (rendered utterly powerless) in the same order (1Co 15:56; Heb 2:14; Re 19:20; 20:10, 14). If death be an enemy, (as we usually judge), that also must be destroyed; and there is no other way to destroy death, but by the causing of a resurrection from the dead. So that the apostle proveth the resurrection from the necessity of Christ’s reigning until all his enemies be destroyed, of which death is one; for it keeps the bodies of the members of Christ from their union with their souls, and with Christ, who is the Head of the whole believer, the body as well as the soul. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. Not eternal death; for though that is abolished by Christ with respect to his own people, who shall never be hurt by it, and over whom it shall have no power; yet the wicked will always be subject to it, and under the dominion of it: but a corporeal one is here meant; which is an enemy, the fruit, effect, and wages of sin; the penalty and curse of the law; is contrary to human nature, and destructive of the work of God's hands: it is, indeed, through the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ, become the friend of his people; it is disarmed of its sting, and ceases to be a penal evil; it is the saints' passage to glory, what frees them from the troubles of this world, and is their way to the joys of another; but yet in itself is formidable to nature, and disagreeable to it: and it is the last enemy; it is so both in its rise and duration; it appeared as an enemy last; Satan was the first enemy of mankind, who attacked, tempted, and ruined the first parents of human nature, and all their posterity in them; and by this means, sin, the next enemy, came into the world of men; and, last of all, death, with its numerous train of calamities, either going before, attending, or following of it: and as it was the last enemy that came into the world, it is the last that will go out of it; for when the saints are rid of Satan, and clear of sin, they will remain in the grave under the power of a corporeal death till the resurrection, and then that will be "destroyed": for the saints will be raised to an immortal life, never to die more, and to an enjoyment of everlasting life, in the utmost glory and happiness; and though the wicked when they rise, they will rise to damnation, to shame and contempt, yet their worm will never die, nor their fire be quenched; they will always live, though in torment, there will be no more corporeal death, neither among the righteous nor the wicked; it will be utterly abolished: and thus the apostle, though he seems to digress from his subject awhile, by relating the several things which will either immediately or quickly follow the second coming of Christ; yet at the same time has it in view, and proves the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which must needs be, or death cannot be said to be destroyed, and by degrees returns to his subject again. The {l} last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

(l) The conclusion of the argument, which is taken from the whole to the part: for if all his enemies will be put under his feet, then it will necessarily be that death also will be subdued under him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 15:26. More precise definition of the ἄχρις οὖ, by specification of the enemy who is last of all to be brought to nought. As last enemy (whose removal is dealt with after all the others, so that then none is left remaining) is death done away (by Christ), inasmuch, namely, as after completion of the raising of the dead (of the non-Christians also, see on 1 Corinthians 15:22) the might of death shall be taken away, and now there occurs no more any state of death, or any dying. The present sets it before us as realized. Olshausen imports arbitrarily the idea that in ἔσχατος there lies a reference not simply to the time of the victory, but also to the greatness of the resistance. To understand Satan (Hebrews 2:14) to be meant by θάνατος, with Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 373, and others, following Pelagius, is without warrant from linguistic usage, and without ground from the context. As regards the personification of the death, which is done away, comp. Revelation 20:14; Isaiah 25:8.1 Corinthians 15:26. ἔσχατος ἐχθρὸς καταργεῖται ὁ θάνατος: “(As) last enemy death is abolished”—in other words, “is abolished last among these enemies”.—ἔσχατος is the emphatic part of the predicate; and καταργ. (see 1 Corinthians 1:28) is in pr[2385] tense, of what is true now in God’s determination, in the fixed succession of things (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:13). Death personified, as in 1 Corinthians 15:55, Isaiah 25:8, Revelation 20:14. If all enemies must be subdued, and death is last to fall, then“the end” (1 Corinthians 15:24) cannot be until Christ has delivered His own from its power and thus broken Death’s sceptre.—This ver. should close with a full stop. Καταργεῖται ὁ θάνατος is the Christian counter-position to the Ἀνάστασις οὐκ ἔστιν of Cor[2386] philosophy; the τινὲς of 1 Corinthians 15:12 say, “There is no resurrection”; P. replies, “There is to be no death”. The dogma of unbelief has been confuted in fact by Christ’s bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:13 ff.); in experience, by the saving effect thereof in Christians (1 Corinthians 15:17); and now finally in principle, by its contrariety to the purpose and scope of redemption (1 Corinthians 15:21-26), which finds its goal in the death of Death. Hofmann makes τὸ τέλος in 1 Corinthians 15:24 adverbial to 1 Corinthians 15:26 (“at last,” cf. 1 Peter 3:8), with the ὅταν clauses as its definitions and the γὰρ clause parenthetical: “then finally, when etc., when etc. (for etc.), as last enemy death is abolished”. His construction is too artificial to be sustained; but he sees rightly that this ver. is the climax of the Apostle’s argument.

[2385] present tense.

[2386] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.26. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death] Cf. Revelation 20:14. Death shall be the last of all, because (Romans 6:23) it is the ‘wages of sin,’ and must continue to exist until sin has come to an end. Then what we know as death, the separation of soul and body, the dissolution of the complex nature of man into its constituent elements, shall henceforth cease to be.1 Corinthians 15:26. Ἔσχατος, the last) A pregnant announcement. Death is an enemy; is an enemy, who is destroyed; is the enemy, who is destroyed last of all; last moreover, that is, after Satan, Hebrews 2:14; and after sin, 1 Corinthians 15:56. For they acquired their strength in the same order; and Satan brought in sin, sin produced death. Those enemies have been destroyed; therefore also death is destroyed. It may be said, Does not the same principle hold good as to all the enemies alike? for in so far as all the others have been destroyed, death has been also destroyed, 2 Timothy 1:10, therefore inasmuch as death remains, the other enemies still remain, and therefore death is not destroyed last. Ans. Christ, in so far as He formerly engaged with His enemies, first overcame Satan by His death; next sin, in His death; lastly death, in His resurrection; and in the same order, in which He destroys His enemies, He delivers believers from their power. Again, it may be said, how is death destroyed last, if the resurrection of the dead precedes the destruction of ALL RULE?” Ans. The resurrection is immediately followed by the judgment, with which the destruction of all rule is connected; and the destruction of death and hell immediately succeeds this. The order of destruction is described, Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:14. Moreover the expression ought to be taken in a reduplicative sense. The enemies will be destroyed, as enemies. For even after all this, Satan will still be Satan, hell will still be hell, the goats will still be accursed. They will indeed be first destroyed, before death, the last enemy; not that they may altogether cease to be, as death shall; not that they may cease to be what they are called, namely Satan, hell, accursed; but that they may be no longer enemies, resisting, and able to oppose, for they will be completely subdued, rendered powerless, taken captive, visited with punishment, put under the feet of our Lord. The destruction of ALL RULE ought not to be reckoned as the destruction [i.e. annihilation] of enemies; moreover the destruction of the power of our enemies according to Revelation 19:20 is accomplished even before the destruction of death, which the destruction of ALL authority and of ALL rule straightway follows. The good angels are also then to obtain exemption from service.—ἐχθρὸς, enemy) Death, an enemy; therefore it was not at first natural to man. Those, who denied the resurrection, also denied the immortality of the soul. The defence of the former includes the defence of the latter.—καταργεῖται, is destroyed) The present for the future.—ὁ θάνατος, death) Hell is also included in the mention of death, so far as it is to be destroyed, 1 Corinthians 15:55.Verse 26. - The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. This rendering might imply that other enemies should still exist, though Death should be the last who would be destroyed. The original is more forcible, and implies, "Last of enemies doomed to annulment is Death;" or, as in Tyndale's version, "Lastly, Death the enemy shall be destroyed;" or, as in the Rhemish Version, "And at the last, Death the enemy scal be distried." The present, "is being annulled," is the praesens futurascens, or the present of which the accomplishment is regarded as already begun and continuing by an inevitable law. Death and Hades and the devil, "who hath the power of death," are all doomed to abolition (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:14).
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