1 Corinthians 15:52
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.
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(52) The last trump.—The trumpet was used to summon an assembly (Exodus 20:18; Psalm 81:3; Isaiah 18:3; Isaiah 27:13) or to sound a warning. The last trumpet is the one which concludes a series which have already been sounding at intervals in notes of warning to the nations (Psalm 47:5; Isaiah 27:13; Jeremiah 51:27). This verse states with reiterated emphasis that this change shall not be a protracted process, but a sudden and momentary alteration in the condition of our bodies.

15:51-58 All the saints should not die, but all would be changed. In the gospel, many truths, before hidden in mystery, are made known. Death never shall appear in the regions to which our Lord will bear his risen saints. Therefore let us seek the full assurance of faith and hope, that in the midst of pain, and in the prospect of death, we may think calmly on the horrors of the tomb; assured that our bodies will there sleep, and in the mean time our souls will be present with the Redeemer. Sin gives death all its hurtful power. The sting of death is sin; but Christ, by dying, has taken out this sting; he has made atonement for sin, he has obtained remission of it. The strength of sin is the law. None can answer its demands, endure its curse, or do away his own transgressions. Hence terror and anguish. And hence death is terrible to the unbelieving and the impenitent. Death may seize a believer, but it cannot hold him in its power. How many springs of joy to the saints, and of thanksgiving to God, are opened by the death and resurrection, the sufferings and conquests of the Redeemer! In verse 58, we have an exhortation, that believers should be stedfast, firm in the faith of that gospel which the apostle preached, and they received. Also, to be unmovable in their hope and expectation of this great privilege, of being raised incorruptible and immortal. And to abound in the work of the Lord, always doing the Lord's service, and obeying the Lord's commands. May Christ give us faith, and increase our faith, that we may not only be safe, but joyful and triumphant.In a moment - (ἐν ἀτόμῳ en atomō). In an "atom," scil. of time; a point of time which cannot be cut or divided (α a, the alpha privative ("not") and τομη tomē, from τέμνω temnō, "to cut"). A single instant; immediately. It will be done instantaneously.

In the twinkling of an eye - This is an expression also denoting the least conceivable duration of time. The suddenness of the coming of the Lord Jesus is elsewhere compared to the coming of a thief in the night; 2 Peter 3:10. The word rendered "twinkling" (ῥιπῆ ripē, from ῥίπτω rhiptō, "to throw, cast") means "a throw, cast, jerk," as of a stone; and then "a jerk of the eye," that is, "a wink" - Robinson.

At the last trump - When the trumpet shall sound to raise the dead. The word "last" here does not imply that any trumpet shall have been before sounded at the resurrection, but is a word denoting that this is the consummation or close of things; it will end the economy of this world; it will be connected with the last state of things.

For the trumpet shall sound - See the note at Matthew 24:31.

And the dead shall be raised - See the note at John 5:25.

52. the last trump—at the sounding of the trumpet on the last day [Vatablus] (Mt 24:31; 1Th 4:16). Or the Spirit by Paul hints that the other trumpets mentioned subsequently in the Apocalypse shall precede, and that this shall be the last of all (compare Isa 27:13; Zec 9:14). As the law was given with the sound of a trumpet, so the final judgment according to it (Heb 12:19; compare Ex 19:16). As the Lord ascended "with the sound of a trumpet" (Ps 47:5), so He shall descend (Re 11:15). The trumpet was sounded to convoke the people on solemn feasts, especially on the first day of the seventh month (the type of the completion of time; seven being the number for perfection; on the tenth of the same month was the atonement, and on the fifteenth the feast of tabernacles, commemorative of completed salvation out of the spiritual Egypt, compare Zec 14:18, 19); compare Ps 50:1-7. Compare His calling forth of Lazarus from the grave "with a loud voice," Joh 11:43, with Joh 5:25, 28.

and—immediately, in consequence.

This change will be on the sudden, in a moment; either upon the will and command of Christ, which shall be as effectual to call persons out of their graves, as a trumpet is to call persons together; or rather, upon a sound made like to the sound of a trumpet, as it was at the giving of the law upon Sinai, Exodus 19:16. We read of this last trump, Matthew 24:31 1 Thessalonians 4:16. There shall (saith the apostle) be such a sound made; and upon the making of it, the saints, that are dead, shall be raised out of their graves; not with such bodies as they carried thither, (which were corruptible), but with such bodies as shall be no more subject to corruption; and those who at that time shall be alive, shall one way or another be

changed, and be also put into an incorruptible state. In a moment,.... Or point of time, which is very short indeed; what a moment is, according to the Jewish doctors, See Gill on Matthew 4:8.

In the twinkling of an eye; these two the Jews not only put together as here, but make one to be as the other; so they say (k), , "a moment is as the twinkling of an eye". This phrase, as the twinkling of an eye, is frequently used in Jewish writings (l), to signify how speedily ard suddenly anything is done, and which is the design of it here; and the apostle's meaning is, that the change upon the bodies of living saints will be so quick, that it will be done in a trice, before a man can shut his eyes and open them again; so that it will be as it were imperceptible, and without the least sensation of pain; this may also be referred to the resurrection, which will be quick, and done at once; though it seems rather, and chiefly, to respect the change of the living; what follows, indeed, favours the other sense also; for all will be quick and sudden, the coming of Christ, the raising of the dead, and the change of the living:

at the last trumpet, for the trumpet shall sound; or "by the last trumpet", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; that is, by means of it, through the sounding of that:

and the dead shall be raised incorruptible; free from all frailty, mortality, and corruption, when the trumpet shall sound:

and at the same time also,

we shall be changed; the saints that will be found alive; the apostle speaks in the first person, because of the uncertainty of Christ's coming, and of the blowing of the last trumpet, he not knowing but it might be in his time; what this last trumpet will be, is not easy to say; it can hardly be thought to be a material one: the Jews (m) have a notion, that a trumpet will be blown at the time of the resurrection of the dead, as at the giving of the law on Mount Sinai; which will quicken the dead, as they say it then did; and that this will be blown by Michael the archangel (n): it seems very likely to be the same with the shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 all which may be no other than the voice of Christ; at the hearing of which, the dead will rise; but whether this will be an articulate one, as at the raising of Lazarus, or is only expressive of his power, which will then be put forth, is not material, nor a point to be determined: and what if by all this should be meant some violent claps of thunder, as at Mount Sinai, which will shake the whole earth; and when almighty power will be put forth to raise the dead: since such are by the Jews (o) called the voices of the son of David, and are expected by them, a little before his coming? This is called the "last" trumpet, not so much with respect to those that go before, much less to the seven trumpets in the Revelations, of which as yet there was no revelation made, but because there will be none after it; see:

"And the trumpet shall give a sound, which when every man heareth, they shall be suddenly afraid.'' (2 Esdras 6:23)

(i) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 11. fol. 202. 3.((k) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 2. 4. Eeha Rabbati, fol. 54. 4. (l) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 2. 2. Sabbat, fol. 34. 2. Zohar in Gen, fol. 38. 4. & 39. 1. & 65. 4. Caphtor, fol. 75. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 77. fol. 67. 4. (m) Targum. Jon. in Exodus 20.18. & Kettoreth Hassammim in ib. Abarbinel. Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 11. 4. (n) Abkath Rochel, p. 138. (o) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 97. 1. & Gloss. in ib. Vid. Megilla, fol. 17. 2.

In {e} 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.

(e) He shows that the time will be very short.

1 Corinthians 15:52. Ἐν ἀτόμῳ, ἐν ῥιπῇ ὀφθ.] A double, because a thoroughly designed and extremely exact description of the suddenness of the ἀλλαγησ., which is meant wholly to exclude even the possibility of those still alive having first, perhaps, to die at the Parousia, in order to come into the resurrection-lif.

ἄτομον, what is indivisible, an atom (Plato, Soph. p. 229 D), is here a little indivisible point of time. ἐν ἀτόμῳ· ἐν ῥιπήματι, Hesychius. Comp. the phrase, current in Greek writers, ἐν ἀκαρεῖ (Lucian, As. 37; Alciphron. iii. 25).

ἐν τῇ ἐσχ. σάλπιγγι] at the last trumpet, while it is sounded (by an archangel). See Winer, p. 361 [E. T. 482]. Comp. ἐν αὐλοῖς, Pindar, Ol. v. 45. Paul might also have written: ἀπὸσάλπιγγος, Polyb. iv. 13. 1. Regarding the subject-matter, comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and Lünemann and Ewald on that passage. The last trumpet is that sounding at the final moment of this age of the world. It does not conflict with this statement, if we suppose that Paul conceived the second resurrection also (1 Corinthians 15:24) to take place with trumpet-sound, for ἐσχ. has its temporal reference in αἰὼν οὗτος. De Wette (so, too, in the form of a suggestion, Vatablus; and comp. previously, Theodoret of Mopsuestia) thinks of the last among several trumpet-signals, against which, however, is the simple, not more precisely defined σαλπίσει γάρ which follows. This, too, in opposition to Osiander, van Hengel, Maier, and Hofmann. To understand, with Olshausen, who follows older expositors (τινές even already in Theophylact), the seventh trumpet, Revelation 8:9, with which, along with the trumpets of Jericho, Hofmann also compares it, is to place it on the same level with the visions of the Revelation, for doing which we have no ground, since in 1 Thess. too, l.c., only one trumpet is mentioned, and that one taken for granted as well known. It is true that the Rabbins also taught that God will sound the trumpet seven times, and that in such a way that the resurrection will develope itself in seven acts;[94] but this conception, too, was foreign to the apostle, seeing that he represents the rising as an instantaneous event without breaks of development. It may be added, that the trumpet of the Parousia (see, already, Matthew 24:31) is not to be explained away, either with Wolf and others: “cum signa apparebunt judicii jam celebrandi,” or, with Olshausen (comp. Maier), of a startling work of the Spirit, arousing mankind for a great end. Comp., too, Theophylact, who understands by the σάλπιγξ the ΚΈΛΕΥΣΜΑ and ΝΕῦΜΑ of God ΤῸ ΔΙᾺ ΠΆΝΤΩΝ ΦΘΆΝΟΝ; as in substance also Usteri, p. 356, Billroth, Neander, Hofmann.[95] As regards the phrase in itself, we might compare the Homeric ἀμφὶ δὲ σάλπιγξεν μέγας οὐρανός, Il. xxi. 388, where the thunder (as signal for the onset) is meant. But the connection gives us no right whatever to assume a non-literal, imaginative representation. On the contrary, Paul has in fact carried with him the conception of the resurrection-trumpet (resting upon Exodus 19:16) from the popular sphere of conception, attested also in Matt. l.c. (comp. 4 Esdr. 6:24), into his Christian sphere,[96] as he then himself adds forthwith by way of confirmation and with solemn emphasis: σαλπίσει γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead (the Christians who have already died up to that time) shall be raised incorruptible, and we (who are still alive then) shall be changed. The paratactic expression (instead of ὅτε γάρ, or some other such form of subordination) should of itself have been sufficient to prevent the divesting the ΣΑΛΠ. ΓΆΡ. of its emphasis by regarding it simply as an introduction to what follows in connection with ἘΝ Τ. ἘΣΧ. ΣΆΛΠ. (Hofmann); comp. Kühner, § 720, 4; Winer, p. 585 [E. T. 785]. A special attention is to be given to the ΣΑΛΠΊΣ. Instead of ἩΜΕῖς ἈΛΛΑΓ., Paul might have written ΟἹ ΖῶΝΤΕς ἈΛΛΑΓΉΣΟΝΤΑΙ; but from his persuasion that he should live to see the Parousia, he includes himself with the rest.[97] Comp. on 1 Corinthians 15:51. Van Hengel is wrong in referring οἱ νεκροί to those now (when Paul wrote) already dead, and ἡμεῖς to those now still alive, of whom a part will then be also dead; ἀλλαγ. can apply only to the change of the living.

σαλπίσει (sc. ὁ σαλπιγκτής) has become in its use just as impersonal as ὝΕΙ, ΝΊΦΕΙ, al. See Elmsl. ad Heracl. 830; Kühner, II. p. 36, and ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 17. The form σαλπίσω instead of ΣΑΛΠΊΓΞΩ is later Greek. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 191.

[94] “Primo sono totus mundus commovebitur; secundo pulvis separabitur; tertio ossa colligentur … tuba septima vivi stabunt pedibus suis.” See Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. II. p. 929.

[95] Lenge in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 708, thinks of a revolution of the earth. which will be the signal of the advent of Christ. Osiander holds that the victory over the last enemy (vv. 25, 27) is pointed at. According to de Wette, it is generally the apocalyptic figure for solemn, divinely-effected catastrophes.

[96] The recognition of this form of conception by no means implies that a dogma is to be made out of it.

[97] As in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ff., to which passage, however, this one does not stand in the relation of a further advance of development, or more thorough liberation from Rabbinical reminiscences (Krauss, p. 172); for the two passages agree in substance, and they supplement each other. The incapacity, too, of the flesh for inheriting the kingdom forms the necessary presupposition for 1 Thessalonians 4:17. And the restoration of all is not taught even in our passage, ver. 54 f., where the final shout of triumph of the redeemed (ver. 26 f.) is heard.1 Corinthians 15:52-53. The necessity for change, negatively declared in 1 Corinthians 15:50, is now reaffirmed positively, as a necessity lying in the nature and relations of the changed: “For this corruptible (perishable) is bound (δεῖ: cf. 1 Corinthians 11:19) to put on incorruption (imperishableness), and this mortal to put on immortality”. The double τοῦτο speaks, as in 2 Corinthians 5:2, Romans 7:24, out of P.’s painful self-consciousness: cf. 2 Corinthians 4:10, Galatians 6:17.—τὸ θνητὸν and τὸ φθαρτόν (concrete, of felt necessity: ἡ φθορά, 50, abstract, of general principle) relate, as in 1 Corinthians 15:42 ff., to the present, living body of the ἡμεῖς, not to the dead body deposited in the grave. The aforesaid “change” is now represented as an investiture (ἐνδύσασθαι) with incorruption and immortality; the two ideas are adjusted in 2 Corinthians 5:4, where it is conceived that the living Christian will “put on” the new, spiritual body “over” (ἐπ-ενδύσασθαι) his earthly frame, which will then be “absorbed” (καταποθῇ) by it.52. in a moment] The literal meaning of the word here used is, that which is so small as to be actually indivisible.

in the twinkling of an eye] Some MSS. read ῥοπῇ for ῥιπῇ, i.e. the downward motion of the eyelid (literally, the inclination of the scale), for the rapid movement suggested by the word twinkling. The latter suits the context best.

at the last trump] Some have referred this to the last of the seven trumpets in Revelation 8-11. See especially Revelation 10:7. But this cannot be, since the visions recorded in that book had not yet been seen. It must therefore mean the trumpet which will sound on the last day. Cf. St Matthew 24:31 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

and we shall be changed] The we is emphatic; therefore the Apostle here expresses once more his belief that he will be alive at the coming of Christ; for, “since the last times were already come, the saints expected that day from hour to hour.” Calvin.1 Corinthians 15:52. Ἐν ἀτόμῳ, in a moment) Lest it should be considered hyperbolical, he adds a more popular phrase, in the twinkling of an eye. An extraordinary work of divine omnipotence! Who then can doubt, but that man even at death may be suddenly freed from sin?—σάλπιγγι, at the trumpet) The full description of the trumpets is reserved for the Apocalypse; yet some things may be gathered from Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, concerning the last trumpet; and this epithet is expressed here, as one that takes for granted the trumpets, that have preceded it; either because the Spirit has inspired Paul with an allusion, which anticipates the Apocalypse, or because Scripture long before teaches, that some trumpets, though not definitely enumerated, are before the last. Isaiah 27:13; Jeremiah 51:27; Zechariah 9:14; Hebrews 12:19; 2Es 5:4 : or especially in relation to the trumpet at the ascension, Psalm 47:6, comp. Acts 1:11 : for one may be called the last, where two only are referred to, 1 Corinthians 15:45; not to say, where there is only one [sounding of a trumpet], without another following, Revelation 10:7.—σαλπίσει γὰρ) for the Lord [Engl. V. the trumpet] shall sound by His archangel, 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The trumpet was formerly used on feast days for the purpose of assembling the people.—καὶ) and immediately.—ἄφθαρτοι, incorruptible) Strictly speaking, one would think, that they should have been called immortal; for incorruptibility will be put on by means of the change, 1 Corinthians 15:53; but incorruptibility includes immortality.Verse 52. - The trumpet shall sound. The Lord, he says, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "shall descend from heaven with... the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." The trumpet is, of course, only a natural symbol. It is also found in rabbinic writers, and in the Old Testament (Zechariah 9:14), as well as in Revelation 11:15. We shall be changed. The dead shall be changed by resurrection, the living by transition, into a glorified body. St. Paul, dealing with the essence of the question as it bore on the difficulties of his readers, says nothing here

(1) of those who will arise to judgment, or

(2) of any intermediate condition.

As to the former question, he scarcely ever alludes to it with any definiteness, but seems with deliberate choice to contemplate the final and absolute triumph of good (Romans 8:19-23; Romans 11:30-36). To the intermediate state he does not here allude. He is here only speaking of death and glorious resurrection. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 he says all that he has to say on this latter question. It was not prominent in the minds of the early Christians, who, as Calvin says, were awaiting the return of Christ "from hour to hour." Moment (ἀτόμῳ)

Only here in the New Testament. Atomos, from ἀ not and τέμνω to cut, whence our atom. An undivided point of time. The same idea of indivisibility appears in ἀκαρής (not in the New Testament), from ἀ not and κείρω to shear; primarily of hair too short to be cut, and often used in classical Greek of time, as in the phrase ἐν ἀκαρεῖ χρονοῦ in a moment of time.

Twinkling (ῥιπῇ)

Only here in the New Testament. Originally the swing or force with which a thing is thrown; a stroke or beat. Used in the classics of the rush of a storm, the flapping of wings; the buzz of a gnat; the quivering of a harpstring; the twinkling of the stars. Generally of any rapid movement, as of the feet in running, or the quick darting of a fish.

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