PMT 2014-055 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As Christians we recognize the resurrection of Christ as of enormous significance in the Christian worldview. Paul dogmatically states: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17). Clearly for him, Christ’s resurrection is foundational to our hope of salvation.

In this article I will deal with just one of the redemptive-historical effects of Christ’s resurrection: the eschatological resurrection of believers. Christ’s resurrection not only secures our present redemption for glory (Rom. 4:25; 10:9-10) but our future resurrection to glory (Rom.8:23).

Unfortunately, a new gnosticism is infecting the church: Hyper-preterism. One major feature of Hyper-Preterism is its denial of a future physical resurrection of the believer at the end of history. As we shall see, this contradicts a major result of the resurrection of Christ. Before I demonstrate this, I must briefly summarize the argument for Christ’s physical resurrection, which is the effective cause of our own future resurrection.

The Scriptures teach that Christ was resurrected in the same body in which he died: The very body in which he died was raised from the dead, just as he prophesied (John 2:18-19, 21). As such, it miraculously attested to the truth of his divine mission on earth (Matt. 12:39-40). This is why the tomb and his burial clothing were found empty: His physical body had departed from them (Matt. 28:6; John 20:4-11, 15). The gospels present the resurrected Christ in a material body that could be touched and handled (Luke 24:39), which still had the wounds of the cross (John 20:27; cf. Rev. 5:6), which could be clung to (John 20:17; Matt. 28:9), and could eat food (Luke 24:42-43; John 21:11-14). Christianity has always affirmed the corporeal resurrection of Christ as a prominent feature of its high supernaturalism.

When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyperpreterism
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com 

But how does that speak to the issue of our resurrection? In that my space is limited I will simply provide an abbreviated commentary on 1 Corinthians 15 which speaks directly to the point and is a favorite passage for Hyper-Preterists. They gleefully point out that Paul speaks of a “spiritual body” (v. 44) and argues that “you do not sow the body which is to be” (v. 37).

The Corinthian Context and Problem

Before surveying this chapter we must be aware of a major underlying problem in this church located in the Greek city of Corinth: A mixture of a quasi-gnostic philosophy (highlighting higher knowledge and denigrating the physical realm) and an exorbitant pride rooted in pneumatic-eschatological claims.

Indeed, Paul opens his letter by referring to their pneumatic gifts (1:7; cp. chs. 12-14) and the matter of a Greek concern for “knowledge” (1:18-25; cp. chs. 2-4, 8-10). These issues almost invariably lie behind the particular problems he addresses. For example, their sexual immorality was rooted in their unconcern with issues of physical morality (1 Cor. 6:13, 15; “the body doesn’t matter! what’s the problem?”) and their denial of legitimate sexual relations in marriage (1 Cor. 7:1-4; ” we are above physical relations”). And their charismatic abuses are quite well-known (1 Cor. 12-14). They even revolted against local social conventions and boundary markers in disregarding public decorum in dress (hair style) by their “eschatological women” (1 Cor. 11; see Gordon Fee’s commentary). These women asserted that since the eschaton has come, then the resurrection is past — consequently, they are like the angels in heaven who have no need of marriage nor differentiation from males (based on Matt. 22:30).

Fortunately, Hyper-Preterists do not promote immorality, yet their doctrinal outlook has remarkable parallels to the Corinthian paradigm. But I must move quickly to the problem at hand, showing that Hyper-Preterism strikes at the vitals of our holy faith through flawed exegesis.

Introducing the Problem and the Solution

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul focuses on a denial of the resurrection of the body. In the first part of his argument for the resurrection (vv. 1-34) he repeatedly expresses his concern for its necessity: “if the dead are not raised” (15:12, 13, 15, 16, 29, 32). To dispel all doubt about our resurrection he links Christ’s resurrection to ours (as elsewhere: Rom. 8:1; 1 Cor. 6:14; Phil. 3:21). As we will see, this linkage powerfully affirms the physical resurrection.

Foundational Errors of Hyperpreterism (CD)
by Ken Gentry
Conference lecture carefully focuses on key aspects of the hyperpreterism. Deals with Luke 21:22, Eccl 1:4, the resurrection, and more. Very helpful introduction to the issues.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

In the second part of his response (vv. 35-57) Paul adapts his argument for the resurrection to the pneumatic-eschatological theology of his audience. He rebuts them by responding to their spiritual pride regarding “knowledge” and “gifts.” He argues that they themselves have not yet received the full spiritual blessings of redemption (and neither will they in a few weeks, as per the ludicrous Hyper-Preterist A.D. 70 scheme). They will not attain the fullest expression of the Holy Spirit until “the end” (v. 24a), at the consummation (v. 24b-28), following upon the resurrection of the dead (vv. 21-23). Effectively Paul not only corrects their present dismissal of the importance of the material order, but affirms their future eternal materiality in a physical body!


Tagged: ,


  1. Patricia Watkins May 7, 2014 at 11:27 am

    In following the line of reasoning of the full-preterists, I have noticed that they point out what they perceive as a lack of proof in the OT for a physical resurrection of our bodies. “The hope of the fathers” that Paul spoke of in Acts they do not connect with a bodily resurrection, since they do not think there are any direct references to it in the OT.

    Is it possible to use Hannah’s testimony in I Samuel 2:6 as proof, even though she is not speaking prophetically? Also the Job 14:10-14 passage – could it not be used as proof of the “change” spoken of in I Cor 15:51-52 ?

  2. Kenneth Gentry May 8, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Yes. The OT does not have as much to say about the resurrection, but it is clear it holds to a physical resurrection. Not only from these passages, but others. Even though Dan 12:1ff is speaking of a metaphorical resurrection, the metaphor of resurrection would have no meaning apart from the expectation of a physical resurrection. There are other texts as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: