VIVIFICATION delivers from the presence as well as the power of sin and
of death; from their power first, and finally from their presence, and thus salvation is
made complete. The subject of these verses is vivification, or life in Christ Jesus,
extended to us by the impartation of the spirit of Christ by baptism in spirit (6:3-10).
God also is the Vivifier of our mortal bodies. This is in harmony with the declaration of
our Lord recorded in John 5:21: "For even as the Father is rousing the dead and
vivifying them, thus the Son also is vivifying whom He will." In verse ten Christ
vivifies our spirit, and in verse eleven God Who rouses Christ Jesus from the dead
vivifies our mortal bodies. The Son lives in the saint and the Father makes him His home,
so constituting him a temple of God. Where the Son comes, there also comes the Father
Nothing short of vivification can be an adequate salvation for the
death-doomed sons of Adam. Salvation must rescue man from the extremity of death. That
Christ is a Saviour Who is qualified even for this is shown in the claim that "the
Son is vivifying whom He will," and in the statement: "I am the Resurrection and
the Life." Resurrection alone would be insufficient, for though it is a great
achievement which demonstrates the power of God and of Christ, it does not confer that
life of Christ which He came to give, which the saints have from Him, and which brings
them into a higher relationship to God than Adam had by his creation. Resurrection alone
does not unite men to Christ and make them members of Christ and of the new humanity.
Spiritual life will not be given to unbelievers by means of their resurrection. That there
is a difference between resurrection and vivification is evident from the fact that saints
are vivified on believing, and those who will not die and be resurrected will nevertheless
be vivified. Christ as the Life, distinct from Christ the Resurrection, is presented in
The two verses take up the theme of life in Christ and show why the
disposition of the spirit is life. Our present status with regard to life in Christ is
first stated and then our future vivification. Notwithstanding that Christ is in us the
body is said to be dead, while the spirit is said to be life. Then this deadness and life
are respectively traced back to Christ's righteousness and Adam's sin. The first
installment of life is the vivification of the spirit; the completion of vivification
concerns our body. This is pledged by the indwelling of His spirit Who roused Jesus from
the dead, which is the measure of His power to us also who believe.
10. Now if Christ is in you is a favorable supposition, as the
one "if anyone has not Christ's spirit" was unfavorable. If, as I assume,
Christ is in you, this is your present status as to your body and spirit. Christ is
in all those who are in Him. This is unity of spiritual life. For one to have the spirit
of Christ is to have Christ. Two distinct personalities, His and mine, remain distinct,
but beneath personality He and I share one spiritual life. Just so beneath different
personalities all the sons of Adam are common sharers of his sin and death. But Adam is
dead and we may have no intercourse with him, while Christ is our living Lord with Whom we
may have most intimate fellowship. Each saint may say as truly as Paul that "Christ
lives in me." This is not an attainment of a class, but a union in which each saint
has a part (Gal.2:20; 2 Cor.13:5). Christ is present as our Resource and Sufficiency for
all that pertains to life, walk, and fruitfulness. The power of sin in the flesh which
perpetuates the image of fallen Adam can never be counteracted by resolutions, laws, or
ideals, nor even by the appeal of Christ's example. The energy of the new life alone is
sufficient to free from the power of transmitted sin.
There is a difference between the fact of Christ's presence and its
manifestation in one's walk. In some believers the manifestation of sin is more evident.
Then, too, the manifestation of Christ has its varying degrees, its advances and
declensions, its more and less. At times it is easy to doubt that Christ is in us, and
some suppose that Christ is not in all saints because Paul prays that "Christ may
dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph. 3:17). They ask, Why should Paul pray that
Christ may dwell in our hearts if He is already there? The truth is that in his prayer
Paul is asking for something more than that which all His members possess. All have Christ
in their spirit; not all have Christ in their heart. All are one with Him in life;
not all are one with Him in heart. Beyond the fact of vital union with Him which all
saints have there is a continuous and conscious occupation of heart with Him which some
saints lack. The realization of God and Christ is an experience attained on fulfillment of
certain conditions (Col.1:9,10). In Ephesians 3:17, the verb katoikeoo, dwell, is
used. It is a stronger word than that used in Romans 8:9,11, and it emphasizes the idea of
settling down into a permanent abode in contrast to a temporary residence. Christ is not
always entertained in the hearts of His saints. The heart may have other guests who occupy
it so exclusively that Christ has no permanent place. The heart is the seat of thought,
desire, affection. It is quite common to speak of those we love as dwelling in our heart.
One of Napoleon's soldiers, who loved the general, was badly wounded. While a doctor was
probing his breast for the bullet, the soldier said, "A little further and you will
find the emperor." This is the language of love, understood by all lovers. That
Christ may occupy such a place in our heart is His desire. So He dwelt in Paul's heart,
and because He was there the saints were there also (2 Cor.7:3; Phil.1:7). So Peter
exhorted his readers to "hallow the Lord Christ in your hearts."
We are vitally united with Christ by baptism in spirit, but Christ
dwells in our hearts by an ever active faith. The arms of faith draw Him to our hearts as
the object of our supreme desire and affection. To this end Paul asks that we may be
"made staunch in the inner man," because our desire for Christ is fickle and
inconstant. We need spiritual strength in the inner man that we may turn from other
objects and cleave to Christ. "Thou, O Christ, art all I want" should express
our sincere longing. Because He is love He desires to be loved, yet He cannot thrust
Himself upon an unloving and inconstant heart. Unbelief sneers at this as mysticism.
"Mysticism is immediacy." It is heart to heart fellowship between God and man.
"Not every mystic is a Christian, but every mature Christian must be a mystic."
Christ in the heart banishes all doubt, He certifies His presence to our consciousness, He
determines our interests and our motives in study of the Scriptures. We see Him in our
heart as well as in the sacred page.
A passage similar to our text is found in John 14:23: "If anyone
should be loving Me, he will be keeping My word [note the conditions], and My Father will
be loving him, and We shall be coming to him and making an abode with him." Both
Father and Son come to dwell with those who in their love are obedient. This coming is
spiritual. As the Father and Son are distinct we should not, therefore, identify as one
the Spirit of God, the Father, with the spirit of Christ, His Son. By the former we are
made temples of God, by the latter we become sons as well as saints because we have the
life of Christ and are sanctified in Him.
The body, indeed, is dead because of sin. The word dead is
usually said to mean that the body is dying. Had the writer meant this, he would have
written mortal instead of dead. It is impossible to change a word of
inspiration without losing some truth. Dead in this clause is the antithesis of life
in the next. The subject is vivification by spirit. While the spirit has received the life
of Christ the body is dead because it is devoid of that life. Physically it is alive,
though on the way to death; spiritually it is dead. So Abraham's body was said to be
"already dead" as far as procreative power was concerned. So the body of the
saint is dead as far as life in Christ is concerned. A spiritual body is attained only by
change, or by resurrection, which involves a change. Should we die, our bodies will be
sown as soulish bodies, and roused as spiritual bodies (1 Cor.15:44,51; Rom.4:19). It is
dead because of sin. This is not personal sin, but that transmitted sin which
brought death, sin which retains its seat in our mortal body, and which can be put off
only in death. It is not resurrected. God does not patch up that which lies under His
condemnatory sentence, and which belongs to our old humanity. Apart from the fact that
sane habits and piety tend to promote health of body and mind, the bodies of the saints
are as subject to sickness and death as those of the unsaved. Many saints will carry down
to death the scars left by their former evil life! The saint's body is part of the old
creation which has been subjected to vanity, but his spirit belongs to the new creation.
Thus saints are bound to both creations, and they have the life and peace of the one and
the groaning of the other (8:23).
The words indeed...yet serve to show that the upper thought is
that the spirit is life because of righteousness. Though the body is dead, yet the
spirit is life. Vivification begins in our spirit and will also include the body. The
human spirit has received life. It may be asked how the living spirit can be given
life. Two kinds of life result from the gift of spirit. By spirit Adam became a living
soul in common with all other animals (Gen.6:17; 7:15; Job 27:3; Psa.104:30; Ecc.3:19,21).
The human spirit is God's gift to man by which the soul lives. But the spirit which Christ
gives is that of the last Adam Who is a vivifying Spirit. It makes the human spirit a
partaker of the new life, the life which is in the Father and in the Son. "Even as
the Father has life in Himself, thus also He gives to the Son to have life in
Himself" (John 5:26). The life Christ gives is as much superior to the life of the
human spirit as the divine is superior to the human, as Christ is superior to Adam (1 Cor.
15:45-49). The spirit is not only alive, but it is essentially life, Christ's life.
We might expect alive in contrast to dead. But while the spirit is life the
body is not said to be death, for the dead may be given life, but death is to be
abolished. There are various kinds of life--vegetable life, physical and soul life, and
spiritual and divine life. Christ sustains all, but between these differing kinds of life
there are boundaries which mark off one from the other.
The spirit is life because of righteousness. As the body is dead
because of Adam's sin, so the spirit is life because of Christ's righteousness. Life and
righteousness walk hand in hand as do sin and death. In the life of Christ inheres all the
value of what He is and of what He has suffered and achieved as the second Man.
Righteousness inheres in His life, so that when He imparts His life He imparts His
righteousness also. Righteousness is prominent in Romans. To those who believe the gospel
God reckons their faith for righteousness (4:24). Those who die with Christ are justified
from sin, which is a negative justification, acquittal, or non-imputation (6:7).
Meanwhile, the body is mortal and doomed to die. But when our spirit receives the
righteousness of Christ we are made positively righteous. This is the "justifying of
life" which will ultimately be given to all mankind The imparted righteousness is as
positive and actual as is Christ's. It fulfills the just requirement of the law, and makes
it possible for those who walk according to spirit to obey every precept in the epistles.
Mixed conduct is seen in saints because flesh and spirit, the dead and the living, exist
side by side in the same person. The verses following show us our duty with regard to
these forces. To obey the lusts of an unspiritual body is to allow sin to reign.
The world is weary of preaching. Truth is often lifeless and hackneyed.
There is no unction upon preacher or hearers. Languid audiences clamor for the stimulus of
novelty. Others look wistfully for a glimpse of Christ, for a demonstration of the power
of the evangel. Yet Christ is in every real saint, His life is "the power within us,
not ourselves, that makes for righteousness." "Testimonies" are often false
and farcical, but the testimony of a life that is spiritual and righteous cannot well be
gainsaid. Failing this, let us hold our peace lest we bear false witness.
11. The preceding verse promised nothing for the body as a result of
the indwelling of the Vivifier, and in this verse nothing is said as to rousing or
resurrection of the body. One who writes on this verse says, "The resurrection of the
saints is not in view at all in Romans." If that were so, it would be a striking and
serious omission, which would be inexplicable in a passage the subject of which is
deliverance from the law of death. Is the body to be abandoned to death as some assert? Or
is death to be abolished by universal vivification (1 Cor.15:22-26)? The deliverance of
the individual saint is consummated by the vivification of his mortal body, which will
take place when the Lord comes out of heaven. He then transfigures the body of our
humiliation, which is not the resurrection of a dead body (Phil.3:21). This is the proper
climax of the work of vivification.
The deliverance of our body is "adoption" for which we groan.
We repeat that it is simply incredible that an epistle which expounds the gospel which is
God's power for salvation should omit this most needed and crowning part of our
deliverance. Paul alone reveals the secret of the change of the living, and it is not
probable that he would ignore that expectation in Romans even though he has fully
expounded it in 1 Corinthians 15. This is the logical place to speak of deliverance of the
mortal body of those who will be living at the parousia, for after reading in verse ten
that the body is still dead one must ask, What, then, is to become of it? Our question is
satisfactorily answered by the statement that our mortal bodies also shall be vivified. So
we pass from the partial to the complete.
Now if the spirit of Him Who rouses Jesus from among the dead is
making its home in you is another favorable supposition. It raises no question that
the Spirit of God is in you. Assuming that you are saints, then the Spirit indwells you,
and then He Who rouses Christ Jesus from among the dead will vivify your mortal bodies
also. Jesus is the personal name of our Lord as a single human individual,
while Christ Jesus adds His official title, indicating His relationships to those
whom He saves. The personal name emphasizes the historic fact of the rousing from the dead
of the Man, which fact is the supreme manifestation of the power and glory of the Father.
But Jesus was also the Christ, the anointed second Man, the Head of the body and the King,
Who stands in such relation to men that what is done to Him shall be done in them. The
holy unction flows down from the Head to all His members. Thus His rousing is a pledge
that we, too, shall be as completely delivered from death as He. Paul frequently argues
from the resurrection of Christ to the deliverance of the saints (1 Thess.4:14; 1 Cor.15;
Eph.1:19,20). God will do as much for the members of the body as He did for Christ, and
the rousing of Christ is not only a pledge of this, but a pattern. After reading
"rouses from the dead" twice we should reasonably expect to read that God will
rouse your dead bodies. But it is not so written, although the majority of
expositors assume that to be what Paul meant. Their reason for so believing is that they
argue that the vivification must be correlative to the rousing. The deliverance which the
introductory statements would lead us to expect for our bodies must be of equal magnitude
to the rousing of Christ Jesus. They do not see that the vivification of the mortal body
is a change quite as great as rousing Jesus from the dead, for it will make us like Him,
with glorious and immortal bodies.
Instead of dead bodies Paul speaks of mortal bodies, and
instead of rousing he speaks of vivifying. There is a physical life where men are devoid
of spiritual life. It belongs to the old creation. This is the case with our mortal
bodies. Bodies may be dead physically as well as spiritually, in which case they are ready
for burial. When one dies he is no longer mortal, but dead. We do not read, It is sown a
mortal body, for men should not bury the mortal, but the dead. When enjoying their utmost
vigor men are mortal and condemned to die. There are two ways to escape from mortality.
One is by death, which consummates and ends mortality; and the other is by way of
vivification, in which this mortal puts on immortality.
The Greek word, zooopoieoo, is compounded of two elements,
LIVE-make, and means to vivify, or make alive. We get the word vivify from Latin, vivus,
alive, and facio, to make. It is to be preferred to make alive because it is one
word, and to quicken because it has not yet acquired a secondary meaning. We will give
every occurrence of this word, and it will appear that it is never used to describe
resurrection only, though it sometimes may involve it. It invariably means the making
alive of what is dead or mortal. Scripture gives examples of vivification in the
vegetable, physical, and spiritual realms. Never does it describe an accession or increase
of life already possessed. Indeed, the rule seems to be that, whatever the subject, it
cannot be vivified except it die. Our mortal bodies are proper subjects for vivification
because in contrast to our quickened spirit they are said to be dead. When vivified they
will become spiritual bodies.
Will vivify is a promise. Your spirit is life and your mortal
bodies also shall be vivified. Also is quite unnecessary unless need of such an
assurance exists because it has not yet taken place. We are vivified and justified in
spirit, but the body is dead, is mortal, and is under condemnation. When the sentence has
been executed the penalty will be exhausted. Then the body, too, may be given life that
will make it spiritual instead of soulish as it now is (1 Cor.15:44).
Such present applications of this text as are made by healing cults not
only weaken and change the meaning of the verb to vivify, but they cause men to lose sight
of the promised vivification of our bodies. There are very few, if any, of the saints who
most need it who experience such a physical renewal as would be remotely comparable to the
rousing of Jesus from the dead. Like Paul, many saints do their work in spite of lifelong
physical handicaps. The common lack of physical renewal leads the proponents of the view
to deny that God's Spirit dwells in all the saints. We quote: "The promised
quickening of the mortal bodies is conditional upon the indwelling of the Spirit of Him
Who raised up Jesus from the dead, and we cannot positively affirm that this spirit dwells
(that is, permanently abides) in every believer." Were such teachers immune from the
sickness and weaknesses which are common to other men we might give their testimony some
credence. Vivification is not healing, but it entirely removes the causes of sickness and
weakness by conferring immortality.
A great commentator asks his readers to "observe that Paul leaves
out of view those living at the parousia. Their change is not included in the expression zooopoieesei."
He believes Paul is speaking of rousing of the dead because he looks for a resurrection
which is a "correlation with the rousing" of Jesus. "What is here said is
with reference to the case of their being already dead at the parousia." This author
contemplates a future when the now mortal bodies will be dead, and he ignores in this
verse the difference between resurrection and vivification. If "their change is not
included in the expression will also vivify," as this author asserts, we may
ask how they will be changed. They cannot be roused because they will not sleep, nor can
they be resurrected because they will not fall into the dust of death. All that remains is
vivification, by which the dying is made alive. We shall all be changed. That which is
sown in corruption shall be roused in incorruption, and that which is still mortal shall
put on immortality. Mortality is never predicated of spirit, soul, or a dead body. The
dead who are roused must be vivified in order to resurrection. Paul asserts that the seeds
which we sow are not vivified except they die (1 Cor.15:36). He declares that the rousing
of the dead and their coming with a body are analogous in some respects to a plant which
springs from a seed that dies and is quickened after it is sown.
When Paul refers to the snatching away of the living with the risen
dead at the presence of Christ he always speaks as if it were imminent and as though he
and his hearers might live till then. Thus he keeps the expectation ever before us. "We,
the living who are surviving," are those who expect the vivification of our mortal
bodies. When he anticipates death he says "He Who rouses the Lord Jesus will be
rousing us also through Jesus" (2 Cor.4:14). He did not positively assert that
he should live till the parousia, nor that he should die; but he presented both
expectations. In 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 he contemplates three conditions: a present
terrestrial tabernacle house, our mortal body, which may be demolished. Then there is a
building of God, a house not made with hands, eonian in the heavens, or our spiritual and
immortal body, for which we are groaning, longing to be dressed in our habitation which is
from heaven. The third condition comes between these two. It is the naked condition that
would result from the demolition of the earthly house before we were clothed with our
habitation which is from heaven. This we do not desire. We are not wanting to be stripped,
as we should be by the dissolution of the present tabernacle before we get our new home.
What we desire is that the mortal, the present terrestrial tabernacle in which we live,
shall be swallowed up by life so that we shall not know the naked condition, but be
dressed in our immortal body. Vivification gives to us the house not made with hands. When
this mortal puts on immortality it is swallowed up by life, or changed in an instant. The
same change from mortality to life is spoken of in Philippians 3:21 where the mortal body
is called "the body of our humiliation" which the Saviour Whom we await out of
the heavens will transfigure. Transfiguration describes the change from the condition of
humiliation that goes with mortality to that of glory which belongs to Him Who only as yet
Because of His Spirit making its home in you. Students of the
Greek text have given much attention to two different readings. Through His Spirit
asserts that the vivification is achieved by means of the indwelling Spirit. What seems to
be the genuine reading, because of His Spirit, asserts that the reason that God
will vivify is that the body is already His home. As He made the body of Jesus a temple so
He has made ours. His presence in the character of "Him Who rouses Jesus from the
dead" is both the reason and the pledge that He will do as much for us. Thus the
contrast between flesh and spirit, between the law of the spirit of life and the law of
sin and death, is brought to a conclusion. The salvation of God is shown to be an adequate
deliverance for those who have been subjected to sin and death.
A brief notice of each occurrence of the word zooopoieoo, to
vivify, will serve to show the difference between it and the word anastasis,
UP-STANDing, resurrection, which is a standing up again of that which is fallen. It is
instructive to note just what or who is said to be resurrected. Though the phrase
"the resurrection of the body" is found in the best known creed, it is not in
Scripture, which speaks of the resurrection of persons. We read of "the resurrection
of the dead," of Christ, of Jesus Christ, of the Lord Jesus. The verb egeiroo,
to rouse, to awake, to raise, is in some few occurrences used of bodily rousing. Usually
persons are resurrected or roused from the dead; bodies are said to be vivified,
transfigured, and roused (Rom.8:11; Phil.3:21; 1 Cor.15:44). Of course those who are
resurrected come with bodies. Christ is the Life to the dead. "The last Adam is a
vivifying Spirit," quickening whom He will. Thus He is a contrast to the first man
Adam, who became a living soul (1 Cor.15:44-49). The life which Christ imparts is His own.
In every occurrence, except two, vivification confers spiritual life. Inasmuch as dying
and soulish (psychical) bodies are to be made spiritual bodies, vivification is extended
to the body as well as to the spirit. There are vegetable and physical analogies to the
vivification of the body.
Vivification of the spirit sometimes precedes death and resurrection.
Some will be resurrected without spiritual life, in which cases there is resurrection
without spiritual vivification. Those who will never be resurrected, because they will not
die, will be vivified in body as well as in spirit. Finally, there will be a vivification
which will involve a resurrection from the dead for some.
Saints are made alive in Christ immediately on believing. This
spiritual vivification takes place before death. Our spirit is now life because of
righteousness. The first occurrence in the Greek Scriptures of the word vivify is very
instructive. It is found in John 5:21. It occurs in a discourse occasioned by the desire
of some Jews to kill our Lord because He healed an infirm man on the sabbath. He said,
"Greater works than these will He be showing Him." Then He proceeds to speak of
the greatest work, that of vivifying the dead. "For even as the Father...thus the Son
also is vivifying whom He will." If He can vivify even as the Father, surely such a
Person has authority to do the lesser work of healing even on the sabbath. Then He tells
how He vivifies the dead. "He who is hearing My word and believing in Him Who sends
Me has eonian life, and is not coming into judgment, but has proceeded out of death
into life." These will go out of the tomb to a resurrection of life because they
have heard the voice of the Son of God and live. Again, "The spirit is that which is
vivifying. The flesh is benefiting nothing. The declarations which I have spoken to you
are spirit and are life" (John 6:63). The word of life is received when men hear the
voice of the Son of God. This is so different from the law which promises life only to
those who do its commands. "If a law were given able to vivify, righteousness really
would be out of law" (Gal.3:12,21). Because the law does not give life it does not
give righteousness. Only those who have Christ's life are righteous. "For the letter
[the law] is killing, yet the spirit is vivifying" (2 Cor.3:6). In two cases the verb
to vivify is compounded with the word together: God...vivifies us together with Christ and
rouses us together" (Eph.2:5), and "in Whom you were roused together...He
vivifies us together jointly with Him" (Col.2:12,13). In both these cases
vivification and rousing are spiritual and are now ours because of our present union with
There is resurrection without spiritual vivification. If one has not
received spiritual life before his death, he will rise without it. If life and immortality
were the portion of all who will be resurrected, then all who die will be saved simply by
resurrection and would not be liable to the second death or subject to its authority
(Rev.2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8). "He who has not the Son has not the life," yet all
the dead shall be resurrected (1 John 5:12; 1 Cor.15:21; John 5:28; Rev:5,12,13).
Resurrection saves the unbeliever from the death to which he is doomed as a son of Adam.
The first death is the penalty for racial sin. The last Adam delivers from this death all
who die. The second death follows the judgment and is the penalty which will be inflicted
for the personal sins of those who have not been justified or pardoned.
For those who do not die there is physical vivification without
resurrection. Vivification will then be physical as well as spiritual. Those saints who
are alive at the parousia will be physically vivified. The soulish body will be made a
spiritual body without death, burial, and resurrection. This is the secret of change which
Paul revealed. Only the dead can be resurrected, but all shall be vivified. In the ages to
come many will never die. When Christ said, "I am the Resurrection and the
Life," He added, "He who is believing into Me, even if He should be dying, will
be living." To them Christ is the Resurrection from the dead. The next statement is
not so well understood. It is, "And everyone who is living and believing into Me
should by no means be dying for the eon." To these He is the Life, without
resurrection. Some have thought that this refers to those who survive till the Lord
descends from heaven. If this is so, the secret Paul revealed had been anticipated, in
which case it was no secret when Paul told it. Both in the kingdom and in the new creation
many will not die. When Christ says "for the eon" He is speaking of the
millennium, when only the wicked will die. He means that some shall live through that eon
when others are dying. But it is revealed that none will die in the last eon and that
before the consummation all shall be vivified. Throughout the eon death will be
circumscribed and limited to the lake of fire into which the wicked were cast at the great
white throne judgment. Many of the blessings dispensed to the ecclesia which is His body
are anticipations of new creation favors (1 Cor.10:11). The body of Christ really belongs
to the new creation and not to the millennium. Just as the pentecostal church had many
foretastes of the coming eon, so the saints who survive till the parousia will enjoy a
foretaste of the final eon when, without death or resurrection, men will be vivified, and
this is what Paul consistently teaches.
Though there is resurrection of those who have no spiritual life, a
physical vivification seems to be necessary in order to their resurrection. Vivification
may mean the impartation of vegetable, physical, or spiritual life to what is dead. God is
the Author of all life of whatever kind. He makes alive also what is dead, whether it is a
dead seed, Abraham's body, or the bodies of saints. God is vivifying ta panta, the
all, the universe (1 Tim.6:13). This may include vivification on lower levels than the
spiritual. Two such instances are given by Paul. Answering the double question, "How
are the dead being roused, and with what body are they coming?"
he shows there is an analogy between the vivification of the seed and vivification of the
dead body. The italicized words call attention to the fact that dead persons are roused
and that these come with a body. The questioner asks about the kind of body, and
Paul deals with the subject very fully. Seeds that are sown are not vivified unless they
should die. The seed is not resurrected, but vivified. Frequently when potatoes are dug
the dead seed potato is turned up along with the living ones. This would illustrate
resurrection without vivification, if such a thing were possible. The inspired
illustration of 1 Corinthians 15:36-38 is based on physical phenomena, and is given to
correct erroneous thinking. Primarily the saints are in view, but does not the
illustration explain also the resurrection of the wicked dead?
When Paul tells the secret of change it concerns flesh and blood, or
corruptible and mortal bodies. Understanding of our text depends on what is written in 1
Corinthians 15:35-49, where physical vivification is prominent. Dying (not mortal, thneetos)
seeds are vivified. There is as great a mystery about the germination of a seed as about
the vivification of a dead body, yet no intellect is staggered by the fact. "You are
not sowing the body that shall come to be...God gives it a body according as He wills, and
to each seed a body of its own." Supporting the idea of a changed body, he shows that
there are different kinds of flesh and different glories. Thus also is the resurrection of
the dead (plural). Then following the analogy of seed sowing, he says four times, "It
[the body] is sown...it is roused." In every case there is change of condition, for
you are not sowing the body that shall come to be, whether seed or a dead man. There is
vivification and change. The resurrected bodies of the wicked dead will escape the Adamic
condemnation. They are still soulish as Adam was before he Sinned.
What seems to be another example of physical vivification is seen in
the case of Abraham, in whom certain physical powers had become dead. He believed God in
the character of One Who is vivifying the dead. By faith in God's promise concerning a
multitudinous seed he experienced, along with Sarah, a vivification of dead physical
vitality. This was not a case of healing sickness or of giving strength instead of
weakness, nor of revival, but of making alive "his body already dead" (4:17).
That which is vivified is dying or dead--a seed, dead procreative power, or deadness in
the human spirit and in the mortal body. Vivification always involves a change from one
condition to another, from deadness to life. The identical person who fell asleep is
roused unchanged, but not with the identical body.
Christ the Vivifier was Himself vivified because He really died. A
question before the writer reads thus: "Does not 1 Peter 3:18 teach that Christ was
raised a spirit?" If He were "a spirit" in the last clause, was He "a
flesh" in the first? Let us read the Greek with the sublinear of the Concordant
Version: thanatootheis men sarki, BEING-(caused-to)-DIE INDEED TO-FLESH, zooopoieetheis
de pneumati, BEING-made-LIVE YET TO-SPIRIT. The to- before flesh and spirit indicates
that those nouns are in the dative case. This is indicated in translations by a
preposition. The Greek dative like the other cases has many uses. It indicates interest,
position, or means. There is the dative of interest or reference, the dative of location,
and the dative of the instrument or means. None of these uses would indicate that Christ
was raised a spirit. The instrumental dative means that Christ was put to death by means
of the flesh, with which Hebrews 2:14 agrees. He became flesh in order that He might die.
He was vivified by means of spirit, as we shall be. It was not His spirit alone which was
vivified, but that which was put to death--He. Though He was resurrected and
roused, there is no mention of it here.
"Resurrection of the dead is through a Man also, for even
as in Adam all are dying, thus also in Christ all shall be vivified." Here Christ is
the Resurrection and the Life also. There may be resurrection without vivification, but
complete vivification must include resurrection for all those who have died. That this is
so is made evident by the fact that as a result of vivification the last enemy, death,
shall be abolished. The three classes of those who are vivified and the times of their
vivification are clearly distinguished (1 Cor.15:20-26). The results are the abolition of
death of all kinds; the abrogation of all sovereignty, authority, and power. This does not
result in anarchy, for all will be subject to the Son in a subjection so loving that the
exercise of authority and power would be superfluous. As Christ will subject Himself to
God, so all His creatures will also be subjected to the Father that God may be All
[plural, everything] in all. This is brought about by Him Who is a vivifying Spirit. He
does not say I procure, but I am the Resurrection and the Life. Death of no kind can
survive before the vivifying energy of the last Adam.
There are other interpretations which excellent expositors give. The
present writer does not deny their truth. And there may even be an apparent difference
between this interpretation and a comment in the notes of the Version. This is superficial
rather than fundamental, for both writers accept both the aspects presented. There is
still much light to break forth from the inspired Word, and when it is found it will
probably appear that apparent differences were only different facets of one diamond. For
instance, it is not easy to say how much "the earnest of the spirit" includes.
Nor should we arbitrarily decide what is figurative and what is literal. Some positions
are held tentatively till more light dawns. The inexhaustible Word furnishes first the
fundamental and indisputable truth by which men live, truth which permits no question or
modification. Then there are other things for the apprehension of which few or none have
sufficient spiritual strength. Each saint has his own apprehension of Christ, and all are
more or less segmentary. So also our apprehension of truth is so imperfect that we should
always expect more and be open to receive it.
By what means does Christ impart His life to His members? What future
deliverance is included in our salvation? Does resurrection give a complete salvation?
What is the body said to be in verse ten? In what sense is it dead? In what sense is the
spirit said to be life? Whence is this life?
Is Christ in all men? Is He in all saints? Is Christ always manifest in
those who are united to Him? Is there something more than union with Christ? Does Christ
dwell in every heart? Because of what is the body dead? How many men are involved in this
death? Because of what is the spirit life?
Are our mortal bodies of use to God? Can they be made instruments of
righteousness? Where does verse ten leave us with regard to our body? What expectation for
the body does verse eleven present? Does God even now make His home with us? What does
Paul argue from this fact?
Does any part of us belong to the old creation? What does vivify mean?
What other words may be used for it? What is the significance of "also" in verse
eleven? Is a mortal body a corpse? Is it proper to speak of a corpse as "mortal
What does God pledge to us by rousing Christ Jesus? Does this verse say
anything of rousing or resurrection for us? Will those who are living when our Lord
returns be resurrected? Will they be vivified? What change will vivification make at that
time? Must all who are Christ's be vivified? Will any others be vivified? How is death to
What does vivify mean in the following verses? (John 5:21; 6:63;
Gal.3:21; 2 Cor.3:6; Eph.2:5; Col.2:13) Is there a present vivification? Will resurrection
give Christ's life to the wicked dead? Are they said to be vivified when they are judged?
Can those who are alive at the parousia of Christ be resurrected, or roused? Is there then
a vivification which does for them all that is done for those who die? How many
resurrections are there? How many eras of vivification? (1 Cor.15:22-26) Can our salvation
be complete without a vivified body?
Who is the Vivifying Spirit? What is His relation to all mankind? Has
any other man power to give life? What did Adam give? Is the last Adam the Vivifier of
What will happen to the mortal body when the Lord returns, according to
2 Corinthians 5:1-4? What does Philippians 3:20,21 declare? Is the body of our humiliation
a corpse? What is it that humiliates? Will our bodies be annihilated or be made glorious