1 Corinthians 15:53-57
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.…
The apostle presents this —
I. AS A CONTRAST BETWIXT WHAT MAN NOW IS AND WHAT HE WILL BE.
1. Twice over the apostle affirms the change from corruptible to incorruption, and from mortal to immortality; first as a matter of necessity, then as a matter of fact. Four times over, also, he uses the same word, translated "put on," which means, to "go into," as into a place of covering or shelter; and hence to go into one's clothes, to attire, to array one's self or others in garments, ornaments, or the like (2 Corinthians 5:2).
2. Death, then, is a mere "unclothing" of the man, and if there is any propriety in the analogy the "unclothing" leaves him in possession of the full integrity of his being: he has simply stripped off his garments, and for a season laid them aside. It is still competent for him to resume them, or to array himself in different attire; and on reinvestment he cannot be other than he was before. Very great may the change be betwixt the "clothing" before death and that which is "put on" at the resurrection, but the language of the apostle implies that its use and purpose in both cases are the same.
3. Then, again, the apostle informs us, twice over, that that which in the one state is corruptible and mortal, becomes in the other state incorruptible and immortal. The thing is the same in both states, but placed under different conditions. At present it is organised matter, liable to decay, injury, and dissolution; but that same organised matter will be found in a state of "incorruption" and "immortality."
II. AS A VICTORY OVER DEATH AND THE GRAVE.
1. The words mean properly "unto victory"; the idea being that the process of extermination goes on like a battle that is waged until a triumphant victory is secured — that is, "aye and until" death is totally abolished. Death at the resurrection is destined to be cast, like a stone, into an abyss, so profound that it never will be brought up or appear again.
2. Death is compared to a venomous reptile which has wounded its victims and introduced into their body its deadly poison. Dissolution, it is true, does not immediately follow the implanting of the sting, but there is pain and anguish, and death ensues in due course of time. And then comes the victory of the grave, or Hades. Like a resistless conqueror, it lays hold of those whom death has prostrated, consigns the body to the house appointed for all living, and the soul to the mysterious condition of disembodied consciousness. Well may this be called a victory, for nothing can be conceived of as a more complete overthrow of human hopes and desires; but introduce the idea of resurrection and it is plain the victory passes over to the other side. The conqueror is despoiled of his triumph; and from being a victim, sin-ruined and dying man, restored to that high standard of corporeal life for which he was originally designed, is in his turn a conqueror, all the more distinguished and glorious that his triumph lasts for ever.
III. AS A BOON FOR WHICH GRATITUDE OUGHT TO BE FELT AND THANKS RETURNED. Gratitude is the appropriate sequel of benefits bestowed and appreciated. But to realise to the full the emotion of gratitude of which the apostle here speaks, we must actually close with and appropriate the glorious boon. This is the office of faith. None are excluded from the offers of the gospel: all are invited to partake of its blessed privileges; and however great and precious these privileges may be, so far as the present world is concerned, the actual consummation is the resurrection of the body and a portion in the kingdom of God. When the wilderness journey was over, and the wars of the settlement in Canaan at an end, how gladsome would every household be and every heart in Israel as they sat down each one under his vine and fig-tree, and none to make them afraid! But this was only a type of far more glorious things to come, when the epoch of sorrow and death is over, and the entire company of God's redeemed enters upon the long-promised inheritance.
(J. Cochrane, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
WEB: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.