I Corinthians 15:24-26 (Responding to an IO Proof Text)

In this post we will respond to one of the proof texts (I Corinthians 15:24-26) which the Israel Only movement often uses to make their case that [1] only natural Israel was ever part of God’s redemptive narrative and [2] this narrative ended in AD 70. This post features an explanation of how IO proponents use that text along with a response.

Israel Only (IO) PROOF TEXT

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (I Corinthians 15:24-26).

IO’S CLAIM ABOUT THIS TEXT

Jesus stopped reigning in AD 70. Once His enemies were under His feet and the end came in AD 70, He didn’t need to reign anymore. No one has entered the kingdom of God since AD 70.

Source: Preterist Perspectives Discussion & Debate group, Facebook (Jan. 12, 2019)

“The kingdom was delivered and presented to God as a bride. It was presented to God as His portion, as His inheritance, and the kingdom was Jacob (Luke 1:31-33). So if the kingdom was Jacob (Luke 1:31-33), and if we know that Jacob would stand forever – which is what the text says – and if we know that all Jacob was saved, forgiven, and completely renewed or redeemed by the coming of the Lord per Romans 11, then how can anybody be a part of that today? That kingdom was delivered as a completed kingdom – fully cleansed, fully forgiven, fully washed, fully saved (that’s what the ‘all Israel saved’ thing is) by the coming of Jacob’s redeemer” (2:58 – 3:45 mark).

Source: Jason DeCosta, “How Was the Kingdom ‘Delivered to God’?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVx1Y-vch_s, January 9, 2019

RESPONSE

I Corinthians 15:24-26 is not the only text which speaks of Christ’s reign and the kingdom of God. Let’s look at another text which is parallel in time to this one, consider the meanings of “deliver” and “until” in I Cor. 15, and look at other texts concerning the reign of Christ and entrance into the kingdom of God.

A Parallel Text: Revelation 11:15

Revelation 11:15 is another text which is parallel in time to I Cor. 15:24-26. It describes what happened at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the same time as “the end” in I Cor. 15:24.

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”

This took place at the end of the great tribulation of AD 66-70 during the Jewish-Roman War (as IO proponents would agree). At that point the kingdom of God was in the hands of the Father AND the Son. It became a co-regency shared between the Father and the Son. That wasn’t the end of Christ’s reign. He was just getting started. With the seventh trumpet as the starting point, the text says, “He shall reign forever and ever!” Other texts which speak of Christ’s unending reign over His kingdom include Daniel 7:14, 27; Luke 1:33; Hebrews 1:8-12; and II Peter 1:11.

Does “Delivers” Mean “Stops Ruling”?

In I Cor. 15:24, the Greek word for “delivers” is the word “paradido.” Although this word can mean “surrender,” it’s not always used this way. For example, just 21 verses earlier Paul said, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…” (I Cor. 15:3). Here the same Greek word is used, but it’s clear that Paul did not surrender the gospel in the sense of letting it go or abdicating it. He shared the gospel with them. Likewise, when Christ “deliver[ed] the kingdom to God the Father” (I Cor. 15:24), He shared the rulership of this kingdom with His Father – as Rev. 11:15 confirms.

In Matthew 25:31 we see that, when Jesus was to come in His glory with His holy angels, He would at that time “sit on the throne of His glory.” This took place around AD 70 (as again IO proponents would agree). This is not a picture of Christ giving up His throne, but rather it’s a picture of Him taking His seat on that throne. In John’s description of New Jerusalem, which came down from heaven when the old heaven and earth passed away (Revelation 21:1-2, 9-11; Hebrews 13:14), we see that “the throne of God and of the Lamb” would be in it (Revelation 22:3). So both Rev. 11:15 and Rev. 22:3 show the Father and the Son reigning together beyond AD 70.

No Further Entrance?

There is nothing in the text of I Corinthians 15:24-26 which suggests that further entrance to the kingdom would be denied once the kingdom was delivered to the Father. That text goes on to say that when all things were made subject to the Son, “the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (verses 27-28). This was about authority and not about shutting the doors to the kingdom.

The shaking of heaven and earth, and the removal of all that could be shaken, resulted in the saints receiving an unshakable kingdom (Hebrews 12:25-28; Daniel 7:18, 22, 27; Luke 21:31). The kingdom is equated with New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22-28), and the gates of that city would “not be shut at all by day (there is no night there),” but would remain open to nations, kings, and those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:24-26).

“Until” Does Not Necessarily Mean “Termination”

We can also note that the word “until” does not necessarily mean the termination of something. For example, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (I Timothy 4:13). Can we reasonably conclude that once Timothy was visited by Paul, Timothy was to never give attention to reading, exhortation, or doctrine again? Of course not. Likewise, all enemies being put under the feet of Christ (I Cor. 15:24) didn’t mean that He would no longer reign. According to Scripture, there is no end to the reign of Christ.

Conclusion

I Corinthians 15:24-26 does not speak of the end of Christ’s reign, and it also does not say or imply that there would be no more entrance into God’s kingdom. Rather this text speaks of the beginning of a co-regency between the Father and the Son, as do Revelation 11:15 and Revelation 22:3. According to Scripture, Jesus reigns forever and His kingdom has no end.

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