Skip to main content

Who is opposed by God? 1 Cor. 15:32 and Isaiah 22

Sorry for my lack of posting these days. Numerous factors (including laziness) derailed my blogging. Hopefully I'll be back on the ball for a while.

A few weeks back I as reading Isaiah on the train in the morning and I read the source of Paul's quotation in 1 Corinthians 15:32, in Isaiah 22. The traditional interpretation that I've heard preached is that if there is no resurrection then we may as well party up because there's no hope for anything beyond this life. This is all we have. I'm not so sure that this is an adequate interpretation and reading the context of Isaiah 22 gave me a little different picture.
8 The Lord stripped away the defenses of Judah,
and you looked in that day
to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest.
9 You saw that the walls of the City of David
were broken through in many places;
you stored up water
in the Lower Pool.
10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem
and tore down houses to strengthen the wall.
11 You built a reservoir between the two walls
for the water of the Old Pool,
but you did not look to the One who made it,
or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.

12 The Lord, the LORD Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
“Let us eat and drink,” you say,
“for tomorrow we die!”

14 The LORD Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: “Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,” says the Lord, the LORD Almighty. (NIV)

When we situate the quotation in its original context, yes, the residents of Jerusalem are partying up because they have no hope. But that is what they're judged for. In fact I think you could even call it the last straw.

When you read the book of Judges (and elsewhere in the OT) you see the same pattern repeated: the people sin, God sends a foreign nation to judge them, the people cry out in mourning and repentance, and God saves them. In Isaiah, as well, the people sin, God brings them to the brink of destruction, but rather than turn, they party on. Their eating and drinking becomes the last straw, the, 'sin that will not be atoned for' (Is. 22:14).

I want to suggest that perhaps Paul is bringing along with him the entire context of the Isaiah passage when he quotes Is. 22:13. If the dead are not raised then Paul is misrepresenting God. God had not vindicated Jesus and will not vindicate his followers (though from a different period than Isaiah, this would be akin to the Jews trusting in Egypt to save them from Babylon). Under that scenario, Paul should have realized that the opposition he was receiving was opposition from God. God was trying to stop his preaching, but his continual pressing on in his sinful activity meant that judgment was coming and Paul's sin could not be atoned for. I think that this explanation may make it clear why Paul chooses to narrate his own trials immediately preceding the Isaiah citation. If the punishment was from God then Paul has abandoned the God of Abraham by preaching Jesus.

I hope that makes clear that the quoted phrase is not Paul's actual suggestion to the Corinthians. Rather it's used as a catchphrase to bring to mind the wider context of Isaiah 22. In this way Paul also turns the tables on the Corinthians who did not believe in the resurrection. In fact, Paul wasn't mistaken, and his trials were not God's punishment intended to bring him to repentance. Rather it was the Corinthians who didn't believe in the resurrection and had fallen into licentious living (here I'm in line with Hays and Fitzmyer) who were the true enemies of God and were in danger of falling into a state from which their sin could not be atoned for.


Popular posts from this blog

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:15-29

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! Fo…

Commentary Series Overview

When I write commentary reviews, one of my main goals is to assess how well the commentator hit the intended audience of the commentary and utilized the format of the commentary. This often necessitates cluttering up the post discussing issues of format. To eliminate that, I thought that I would make some general remarks about the format and audience of each of the series that appear in my reviews. Terms like liberal, conservative, etc. are not used pejoratively but simply as descriptors. Many of you are familiar with Jeremy Pierce's commentary series overview. If you don't see a particular series covered here, check out his post to see if it's reviewed there. I am making no attempt at covering every series, just the series that I use. Additionally, new series (such as the NCCS) have been started in the five years since he wrote his very helpful guide, so I thought that it might not be completely out of order to have another person tackle commentary series overviews. This…

Commentary Review: Daniel

In my opinion, Daniel is not the best covered Old Testament book as far as commentaries go. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon among Old Testament books. Though I've looked at them, I'm not going to review some of the older Evangelical Daniel commentaries (like e.g., Baldwin). They don't provide much that you can't get in either Longman or Lucas. If you're unfamiliar with the series that one or more of these commentaries are in check out my commentary series overview.

It was a very close call but my favorite commentary on Daniel is Goldingay's. While there were a few places where I disagreed with his interpretation, I found the commentary to be exemplary. If you're going to teach Daniel, especially the apocalyptic portions, you need a commentary that provides you with a lot of background material. Goldingay, while not as broad as Collins, certainly provides you with quite a bit. His exploration of the background to the apocalyptic symbolism is very helpfu…