What is meant in 1 Corinthians 15:22 by ” For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive?”

There has been much confusion about 1 Corinthians 15:22. Some claim this means that all will be saved. Others think that the ‘all’ is limited to those who are saved. Others think that this is in reference to the resurrection.

Let’s start with the text itself:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

While it is possible the context of the verse limits the second “all” to believers in Christ, as Matthew Henry did (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/15.html), I think there is a better understanding of this text.

We have to understand that this is about being resurrected for our judgement, thus it is about the righteous being saved from the effects of being judged for our own righteousness and the unrighteous facing judgement and then the destruction of death (in the lake of fire).

More specifically, this verse is speaking about the resurrection of the righteous (who HAVE eternal life) and the unrighteous for judgement.

This is easier to see when we look at the text in context. We see that Christ was raised first, the first fruits of those who are “asleep.” Then those who are Christ’s, then the end – the judgement where people are raised from the dead for judgement.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26

20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.  21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order : Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

We must recall that Paul said there is a resurrection of the righteous and the wicked.
Acts 24:15

and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

This is  the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked spoken of in Matthew 25:31-46, where we see “all the nations will be gathered before” Christ.

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats ; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right,’Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink ; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and youclothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink ? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels ; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink ; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they themselves also will answer,’Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

In Matthew 25:32-34 and verse 46, we see the righteous inherit the kingdom prepared for them, going into eternal life. These are the same people who we see in the resurrection of the righteous in Revelation 20:4-6.

4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw thesouls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand ; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has apart in the first resurrection ; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

These same righteous people who come to life in the first resurrection are the ones in 1 Corinthians 15:23 who are identified as “that those who are Christ’s at His coming.” These are the ones who will not be affected by the second death.

After the resurrection of the righteous, there is a resurrection of the unrighteous. This is part of “all the nations will be gathered before” Christ that we see in Matthew 25:32. More than that,  this is part of what is “the end” in 1 Corinthians 15:24. The “end” also includes where Christ judges the unrighteous and tells them to depart from Him and go to eternal punishment (as seen in Matthew 25:42-46), followed by the judgement., followed by the destruction of death (into the lake of fire). We see this in Revelation 20:11-15

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth andheaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened ; and another book wasopened, which is the book of life ; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake offire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not foundwritten in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

So no, 1 Corinthians 15:22 does not mean everyone will be saved. This verse is saying that everyone will be resurrected. The righteous will be resurrected first (to enjoy life with Christ), while the unrighteous will be judged and go to the eternal punishment of the lake of Fire.

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6 Responses

  1. A sort of a translation issue.

    “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. ”

    Render it:

    “For as all who are in Adam die, so also will who are in Christ be made alive.”

    The translators rendered it (mostly) word for word. Doing a somewhat more dynamic equivalence would add clarity. In fairness, the writer of the original text did not presume any adherents to universalism in his audience.

  2. Welcome back Job, Been praying for you.

    I like that solution as well.

  3. Genuine question:

    Why do you assume that Revelation 20:15 shows that the unrighteous will be cast in to fire? It doesn’t actually say that, although you may fee it’s implicit. It’s my understanding (from earlier in the passage) that the righteous AND unrighteous (i.e. everyone) are recorded in the book, and verse 15 says that only those who do not appear in the book (i.e. no-one) will go in to the fire. But if no one goes in to the fire, then doesn’t that mean everyone is saved?

    If you can help me understand, I’d be grateful.

    • The only people listed in the book of life are righteous people.
      Psalm 69:28

      May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

      People who worked in the cause of the Gospel have their names in the book of life.
      Philippians 4:3

      Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

      Those who worship the beast will not have their names in the book of life.
      Revelation 13:8

      All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

      Only the pure, those whoses names are written in the book of life, will enter the New Jerusalem.
      Revelation 21:27

      Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

      We see in Revelation that “books” were opened, and another book, the book of life, was opened. Each will be judged, but if one’s name is not in the book of life (the unrighteous), they will suffer the second death.
      Revelation 20:12-15

      12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

      So righteous people do not suffer the second death. But who are righteous people? Those who trust in Christ as their lord and savior. Christ is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

      John 20:31

      But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

      Romans 3:22

      This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

      Romans 6:8

      Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

      1 Corinthians 1:30

      It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

      Hebrews 9:27-28

      27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

      Only those who have faith in Christ before they die will enter into heaven and not suffer the second death.

      • The END was NEAR for THEM.. 1Pet 4:7; Heb 8:13. The old covenant world was passing away n the NEW, SPIRITUAL kingdom was being built.

        Bibles weren’ t printed for public use untill the 16th century.. God completed his work n rested.

        ‘There are some STANDING HERE who will not taste of death until they see me coming in my kingdom.’

        The bible is about covenant eschagology: flesh vs spirit. The fleshly, earthly kingdom with its headquarters in Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century.

        Christs’s enemies have been made his footstool. ISAIAH 66:6. They had ‘ power, dominion n authority’ in the temple.

        • Seeally,

          The purpose of this post was to show that NOT ALL would be saved.

          You mentioned 1 Peter 4:7, Heb 8:13 and then quoted Luke 9:27. There were some who would not die before seeing Christ come into His kingdom – meaning that they would see the ascension of Christ.

          I’m not sure what you are getting to.

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