Romans 1:4 (1 Corinthians
15:1,12-22,45; 2 Corinthians 5:14-18).
"Declared to be the Son
of God with power by the resurrection from the dead."
The word 'declared' or
'designated' there is the verb horizo, i.e.,
"horizoned the Son by resurrection".
In resurrection Christ is
declared or made the horizon or frontier of a new creation (2 Cor
5:17). This is positively stated in 1 Corinthians 15:12-30, and
that chapter or part of the letter should be read in that light.
When we refer - as we so often
do - to resurrection, we usually and almost entirely have in mind
the idea of power, i.e., "the power of his
resurrection". It is in this connection that the matter is
mainly referred to in the Bible, and essentially so, for it is
here that the uniqueness and exceedingness of Divine power is
displayed. But there is another aspect which governs the
power-factor, it is the character-aspect. Resurrection means a
kind of person who comes into being thereby. For the power and
life of resurrection to be continually effective the risen ones
must correspond to the Risen One in the deepest reality of their
being. There is a "like as" in this matter, and a
"so also" (Romans 6).
This brings us to the
particular significance of the two Corinthians letters.
The first reveals a painfully
disgraceful state of things amongst the Christians there. The
word which could rightly cover so much of the first letter is the
word 'shame'. The word which is so much in evidence in the second
letter is 'glory'. The turning-point is Christ in resurrection.
This is the inclusive and predominant thing. Indeed, it would
appear that the Apostle brought this very matter forward as the
answer and solution to the problem of that shameful state. Note
the approach by the Apostle to this situation. It was by nailing
the Corinthian Christians down to the name of Christ.
in Resurrection the Great Corrective
In no letter is
the name of Christ so continuously introduced and reiterated as
it is in First Corinthians. It occurs no fewer than nine times in
the first nine verses.
This gives the
name a comprehensive application to all that needs dealing with.
but it can be instanced in a particular way in relation to the
making of names into rallying points. e.g. "I am of
Paul", "I am of Apollos", "I am of
Peter", "I am of Christ" (in a partisan and wrong
Paul will have none of it as to
his own name, and, while not being rude and discourteous to his
brother apostles, he equally rejects their names as focal points
of partisanship. It is important to note that Paul designates the
Gospel as the Gospel of the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1).
To understand the Gospel is to
understand the meaning of resurrection as that of "a new
creation". The great basic statement is: "If any man be
in Christ, there is a new creation", but being "in
Christ" means being in Christ risen, in resurrection, and
Christ in resurrection implies or postulates a new order of man -
"not after the flesh, but after the spirit" (2
This is why the Bible is a book
Bible a Book of People
The people imply living
experience; not doctrines, forms, orders, systems, techniques,
things. All these can be found in the Bible, but there they
have to do with living people. God is not interested in things in
themselves; e.g., places, names, systems, etc. He may use them as
instruments, and then - as history overwhelmingly shows - He may
discard them: "God is not the God of the dead, but of the
If God raises up something to
serve a special purpose, and that purpose is discarded, lost, or
abandoned, the instrument may have a measure of life for a time,
like the branch severed from the tree, but its days are numbered,
its continuance is in increasing limitation; man will be put to
it to keep it going. Its remaining tenure will be the history of
human effort to maintain it. The world has very many examples of
such things, places, and names, which once had a name rightly and
truly for life, power, faithfulness, but today are either merely
shells or organizations. Like the churches in Asia their great
former testimony has gone. The Lord leaves to its own resources
that which ceases to fulfil the purpose for which He exercised
His power of resurrection. God has but one interest, it is His
Son in resurrection: its meaning, and then its power.
The two Corinthian Letters
circle around two representative men, or two types of men.
1. The Natural Man.
This is the man on the
pre-Calvary side, conditionally. This man - as Paul shows - may
be positionally in Christ, but conditionally he is
not living according to his position. He is a
contradiction to the meaning of resurrection in Christ.
This failure to understand the
meaning of resurrection-ground is drawn in dark lines in First
Corinthians. The word 'natural' is 'soulical' - the man of soul.
The soul is the human ego, or selfhood. This man is ego-centric,
Paul focuses this condition
very largely upon the 'mind' or 'judgment' (1 Cor. 1:10; 2:16).
This is connected with:
(a) "The things of the
Spirit of God", and it is categorically stated that this
man, not living in the meaning of resurrection, is totally
incapacitated as to understanding or 'judging' those things.
(b) Fellow believers.
This man only judges others
after the flesh. His estimate of them and his conduct toward them
is a wholly uncrucified one: he judges as other men do.
(c) The World.
The standards of the natural
man are those of worldly-wisdom, the wisdom of the world, and it
can be so false as to have dictated the crucifying of the Son of
Likewise the natural man's
ideas of power are entirely those of this world; the idea that
human strength, strength of soul, will achieve Divine ends. This
is wholly false and deceptive, and Paul has no compromise with
this false idea. He gives a large place to weakness and
dependence upon God. He knows that God has said: "By
strength shall no man prevail", and, "Not by might, nor
by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord...". He also
knows the terrible history of the Satan-energized human soul and
how Satan originally made his link with man by means of his ego.
Egoism brought Satan's downfall, and is always his hallmark upon
his instruments. Power-politics is the mark of this world's
policies, and is proving to be its doom.
(d) The Lord's Servants.
The natural man as in Corinth
appraises the Lord's servants wholly on human and natural
grounds. "Paul", "Apollos",
"Cephas" are not appraised for their spiritual value,
but because of human likes or dislikes, approval or disapproval.
Paul had a bad time with these natural-minded Christians because
they allowed any features which they did not like in him to
eclipse his great spiritual values. This is a common fault of
Christians who do not know what it means to be "raised
together with Christ", although they may be well-versed in
the doctrine, as such.
The ruination of the Church
today lies largely in this very direction. Christendom at large,
and many a local community of Christians is wrecked and ruined by
this failure to make as much as is possible of the spiritual
values present, and to know as much after the spirit as can be.
This brings us to the opposite.
The spiritual man, or the man
after the Spirit, is the man who is truly on the after-side of
the Cross. Not ego-centric, but Christ-centred is this man. Here
we are at the very heart and core - not only of the two
Corinthian letters, but - of Christianity itself.
Resurrection - A Spiritual Order
Upon this fact and its meaning
the dispensations completely changed. If Christianity today is
not what it was right at the beginning; if its impact and
effectiveness is less than in its first decades; if it is lacking
in authority, so that the world no longer regards it as something
to be reckoned with seriously, the loss can be largely traced to
failure to recognize the nature of this dispensational change.
The tragedy of the Corinthian lapse has, for the same reason, become
the tragedy of so much Christianity today. The error of the
Corinthians was to exalt the natural man instead of to recognize
that he was displaced. The natural man may be learned, - as the
world calls him - 'wise'. He may be in power. He may be
successful. He may have great natural ability, influence, and
prestige. But with all, he may not account for anything
This crisic change did not come
first to be intimated by Paul. Jesus Himself was always speaking
of a coming change in what He called "that day", and He
clearly and emphatically indicated what the change would be. It
was implicit and explicit in His words to Nicodemus in John 3,
but in John 4, to the woman of Samaria, He was most definitely
explicit. Said He, "...the hour cometh, and now is, when,
neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall men worship God.
God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in
spirit and in truth."
but" marks a transition and a change. To Nicodemus it was
"that which is born of the Spirit is spirit". To
Sychar's woman it was "in spirit and in truth".
The "neither... nor"
indicated the past system of fixed localities and orders, which
is now set aside. The "hour" which has come is the day
of the Spirit. The "whosoever" of John 3:16 in relation
to salvation leads on to the "wheresoever" of Matt. 18.
Neither Israel nor Jerusalem exclusively, but
"whosoever" and "wheresoever" govern the new
day of the Spirit.
With the resurrection of Christ
and Pentecost a new spiritual order was constituted, an order of
essentially spiritual men and women, with spiritual capacities,
consciousness, and abilities. The embargo resting upon the
natural man is removed, and "he that is spiritual judgeth
all things". The darkened mind and understanding of
Corinthians 4:20-24* has been released and enlightened; "God,
who said, Let light be, has shined into our hearts...": the
"veil" (2 Corinthians 3, 4:6) has been taken away; the
"second man", the "last Adam", "the
life-giving spirit" has given birth to a "new
creation" race of men.
Behind the Corinthian
conditions we see the incursion of the results of the first
Adam's fall, Cosmic and earthly strife, confusion, dissension,
rivalries, factions, enmities - these are Satanic in origin, and
Satan ever pursues his original quest for an open door by the
soul of man to reproduce these evil works. They have become so
elemental, constitutional, inherent in human nature that
"Christ crucified" and "Christ risen" is the
This represents the overthrow
of an entire régime, to make way for an utterly new one.
The character of this new order
Absolute Sovereignty of the Holy Spirit
This is implied in 1 Cor.
2:10-16, where we have "Spirit" five times;
"spiritual" and "spiritually" four times. It
is definitely stated in 2 Cor. 2:14-3:17,18 margin.
Christ had taught it, i.e.,
John 3:8; John 16.
it, chapter 2; 10:17.
Paul was a supreme example of
it. His teaching concerning the Spirit issued from what had
happened to him. He called this event in his history a being
"apprehended". He conceived that he had been brought
under arrest, perhaps like a fugitive slave. Hence he continued
to speak of himself as "the bondslave of Jesus Christ",
and as "bearing in his body, branded, the marks of Jesus
It was for Paul, as for the
whole Church, a meeting with and union with Christ risen that
led to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit always
waits upon such an apprehension. Resurrection is the Spirit's
work, and is His ground of every new beginning. There may have
been all the teaching of Jesus: there may have been the
commission: there may have been the work of the Cross, so far as
Christ was concerned; but all was in suspense. Forty days marked
a period of inaugurating and establishing a new spiritual
régime. Everything was to be new and different. In their
apprehension and knowledge of Christ: in their relationship to
one another: in their influence in the world: in their authority
among men, and so on; the resurrection constituted an entirely
We shall later see what this
meant as to the individuals to whom Jesus appeared during that
period, for it is in them that the effect of this changed
relationship is so clearly seen.
There is a sense in which - in
most ways - the end of the phase of Christ's earthly life has to
have 'failure' written over it - failure in the world: failure in
Israel: failure with His disciples: the failure of His teaching:
the failure of His works and of His claims. These latter failures
especially were due to the natural and earthly level or horizon
within which they were living. It was in themselves that He was
"straitened"; their spiritual bondage and mental
limitation. The Forty Days were not only the evidence of His
resurrection, but of the change which the resurrection makes.
This, as we have said, is
demonstrated in the cases of His contact during that period.
In our next chapter we shall
take up these instances.
* We are unsure exactly what reference the author was intending here, presumably 2 Corinthians 3 & 4 which he went on to quote from.