Exposition of Daniel 12:1-13 Yahweh delivers the righteous, both living and dead

Daniel 12:1-13

1 At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people everyone whose name is found written in the book will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. 6 One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?

7 The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.

8 I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?

9 He replied, Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

11 From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.

13 As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.

Commentary

Recall that Daniel was an old man by the time he received this vision. He had faithfully served God, and, as we saw in his prayer in Daniel 9, he was deeply concerned about the fate of his people. In that prayer he hadn’t made excuses for their disobedience, but instead asked for mercy. He knew the Scriptures, and so he understood the promises God had made to Abraham, Moses and David. Daniel was standing firm because he trusted in the character of Yahweh. Because Yahweh keeps his Word, deliverance will eventually come for those who truly worship God.

The paragraph break for chapter 12 is unfortunate, because the angels vision of the future continues through Daniel 12:4. Further, verse 1 can be wrongly understood to refer to a point in time such as the moment that the Antichrist reaches his end (verse 45), but that is not correct. Wood translates During that time Michael … will stand up in order to make clear that Michael was fighting all during the tribulation for those under his care, the Jewish people.[1] Miller agrees that the time reference includes verses Dan. 11:36-45.[2] That difference in time will be vital to those involved.

The horrors of this period are called distress (Dan. 12:1), but need and helplessness bring out some other aspects of the final set of seven years that complete the enhanced punishment. When Jesus declared this time to be the greatest suffering in the entire history of Israel (Matt. 24:21), he was undoubtedly thinking of this verse. Only those inscribed in the Yahweh’s book will be delivered. As Paul tells the Romans, A person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code (Rom. 2:29). Merely being a Jew will not ensure deliverance!

Verse 2 is an astounding statement by the angelic messenger, who proclaims both the resurrection of the dead and everlasting punishment or reward for those who are raised. Here again we see the frequent biblical metaphor of sleep in relation to those who are physically dead (John 11:11-14). Multitudes will wake to enter everlasting life, the Old Testament counterpart to the eternal life mentioned in such New Testament verses as John 3:16. This verse stands in complete refutation of those whether atheists or adherents of naturalism who say that at death we simply cease to exist.

However, many others will wake to enter everlasting abhorrence,[3] a Hebrew word used only here and in Isaiah 66:24. Miller explains the gravity of this state by saying: Isaiah’s use of the term appears to explain the significance of the expression in Dan. 12:2. So shocking will be the fate of the lost that onlookers must turn their faces away in horror (or disgust).[4] The cost for clinging to rebellion against Yahweh is not only high, it lasts forever!

Verse 3 has an unusual verb that deserves attention. The phrase “those who lead many to righteousness” is based on a verb that is also used to describe the Messiah in Isa. 53:11b, which says: “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” This beautiful Messianic prophecy says that Jesus will justify many by using his knowledge, or insight, to point them toward righteousness. Daniel 12:3 says that we can and should do the same thing! The part only Jesus can do is: “he will bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11b), which is what he did for us all at the cross.

NIV does an exceptional job with verse 4. So does Miller when he explains what the angel wants done with the scroll:

In the ancient Near East the custom was to seal an important document by impressing upon it the identifying marks of the parties involved and the recording scribe. A sealed text was not to be tampered with or changed. Then the original document was duplicated and placed (closed up) in a safe place where it could be preserved.[5]

The angel knows that those enduring the events at the end will make an anxious and desperate search for both the prophecy and its interpretation, just as Nebuchadnezzar (chapter 2), Belshazzar (chapter 5) and Daniel (chapter 9) had done when confronted with events that urgently required a word from heaven. That is the meaning of verse 4b. May God grant them the understanding they need in that day!

Final instructions

At this time Daniel suddenly finds that angels stand on either side of the Tigris, and one has a question for the man clothed in linen (verse 6) who stands above the waters of the river: How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled? (verse 6b). Miller notes: “The fact that this knowledge is requested from the man in white suggests his superiority over the angels. . . . The angel’s question indicates that he was curious about these future events. It is interesting to observe there are things that even angels do not know but desire to learn (cf., 1 Pet. 1:12).”[6]

The angel’s question to Christ, as Miller[7] correctly identifies him, brings an amazing response: an oath is made by Christ concerning the answer (verse 7). Why does the answer come with an oath? A divine oath makes the following prophetic declaration unalterable.[8] What is that declaration? It is that three and a half years will be required for the Antichrist to break the power of the Jews. That time will bring an end to the rebellion of the Jews against God (Dan. 9:24) and end the seventieth seven-of-years.

Ever curious, Daniel asks, “What will happen after these things?” (verse 8b NET). We all wish that question had been answered! Yet, some cryptic yet important revelations remain. Not so cryptic is the statement that while some will be refined, others will continue their wickedness (verse 10a; see Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9, 11).

Difficult is the unraveling of the various time periods: 1260 days, 1290 days, and 1335 days. Since we already know that the last half of the seventieth seven-of-years lasts 3 and a half years (42 months of 30 days each = 1260 days), the difficulty lies in figuring out the other two numbers. We accept Wood’s suggestion: “A clue to as to [the additional 30 days that result in the total 1290 days] is found in Matthew 25:31-46, which describes a time of judgment by Christ immediately after he comes in power . . . . The purpose of the judgment is to determine those who will be permitted to enter into and enjoy the blessedness of the millennial period.”[9] The millennial period is a period of 1,000 years during which Christ rules on the earth as king (Rev. 20:2-3).

What then of the 1335 days (verse 12)? Miller suggests: “It has been reasonably suggested that this date is the official inauguration of the thousand-year reign of Christ on the earth. Wood thinks the additional forty-five days are needed to set up the millennial government.”[10]

In the final verse of the book, the promised resurrection is applied personally to Daniel (verse 13). It is my opinion that Daniel will rise to be posted as an administrator in the world-spanning government of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 19:17, 26a) during the millennium.

As for us, may we be faithful servants until we too join with Jesus, who said, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). Amen.

Copyright 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Leon Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973)315.

[2] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1994)313.

[3] HALOT, deraon, abhorrence, q.v.

[4] Miller, Daniel, 317.

[5] Miller, Daniel, 320.

[6] Miller, Daniel, 322-3.

[7] Miller, Daniel, 323.

[8] Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., “Does God Change His Mind?,”Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (October-December 1995), 387-99.

[9] Wood, Daniel, 328.

[10] Miller, Daniel, 326.

Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:53-58 Different views about death

1 Corinthians 15:53-58

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Greco-Roman culture inherited the views of Plato (429-327 B.C.) and Socrates (469-399 B.C.) about the body and death. Anthony Thiselton[1] reports that Plato and Socrates held an optimistic view about death as a release of the soul from the prison of the body, thus also revealing a negative view of the body. Socrates and other Greeks held that death was a harmless portal to a higher order of being. Shortly after tasting hemlock poison, Socrates probably changed his mind!

But that is not how Jesus viewed death. Oscar Cullman argues that the agony of Gethsemane as Jesus faces the prospect of death as a cruel God-forsakenness, as a sacrament of the wrath of God, should be kept before our eyes as a reminder of what deaths sting entails apart from the victory won by Christ.[2] We have already seen that the Bible reveals a positive view of the body as something created and endowed with life by God; at our resurrection we receive a transformed body, not some sort of bodiless existence.

The radical transformation of the body

Paul is trying to solve a particular problem in Roman Corinth and within other churches (1 Cor. 1:2) as well. So, while he writes about theology, he does so in a way that is intensely practical. Unfortunately, some English versions of the Bible make Pauls words more abstract, perhaps to make them feel more universally applicable. Here are two examples to compare:

(NIV) 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

(HCSB) 53 Because this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. 54 Now when this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

We have bolded the important words to demonstrate the difference between abstraction (NIV) something worded as a general principle to apply to everyone in general — and concrete application (HCSB) — something worded to point to each Corinthian to whom Paul is writing, and then applicable to Christians like us who are similarly situated. The Greek text of the New Testament uses four identical demonstrative pronouns (Greek touto meaning this) because Paul is drawing attention to his own physical body and that specific body possessed by each of the Corinthians. But, why should you care about such details?

Thiselton explains: [It] is entirely correct to underline the importance of the fourfold use of touto, this (twice in v. 53, twice in v. 54), as indicating clear continuity of identity (this body) even in the midst of radical transformation. The same identifiable, recognizable, and accountable identity is transfigured into a radically different form, but remains this created being in its wholeness.

During the resurrection of those in Christ, we do not become just anyone in general; we are still ourselves in a radically transformed condition, including our own changed bodies. This corruptible, mortal body becomes this incorruptible, immortal body. That is Pauls answer to the question of many as to whether we will recognize one another after the resurrection. We will!

We can further clarify these verses by saying that mortal means able to die, while immortal means incapable of dying. So, when Paul says, do not let sin reign in your mortal body (Rom. 6:12), he is speaking to a person who has trusted Christ but has not yet died. Similarly, Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit will also give life to your mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11). The Holy Spirit enables us believers, who are still able to die, to resist sin and to live for God.

When we who are in Christ receive our resurrection, death has finally been swallowed up in the victory Christ won through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:54b). Death cannot be victorious over us because we share the resurrection and victory of Christ. Accordingly, Paul taunts personified death in verse 55.

Verse 56 covers a lot of territory with a few words. David Garland explains, in part: Death gains power over humans through sin because sin demands capital punishment as its moral penalty (Rom. 6:23). The law, not only unable to arrest sin, spurs it on and pronounces death as its sentence.[3]

Verse 57 declares the only solution to the deathsinlaw triad of tragedy: the victory won on our behalf by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In 1 Cor. 15:58, Paul concludes his argument about the resurrection by giving commands to the Christians in Roman Corinth. These commands rest upon the certainty of their future resurrection: You know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). Knowing this, they can give themselves fully to the work of the Lord. Because Jesus has won the victory and ensured their resurrection, they must stand firm while that victory takes its final form.

Copyright 2014 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William. B. Eerdmans publishing Company, 2000) 1300.

[2] Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1300, quoting O. Cullman.

[3] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003) 746.

Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:44b-52 Like the man from heaven

1 Corinthians 15:44b-52

[44a It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.] 44b If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Gordon Fee explains Pauls starting point in 1 Cor. 15:44 by saying: Paul now applies the analogy of the differing kinds of bodies from vv. 39-41. Thus, instead of describing how the body is sown, the two adjectives natural (Greek psychikos) and spiritual (Greek pneumatikos) are used with the noun body (Greek soma) to describe its present earthly and future heavenly expressions respectively.[1] This will allow him a way to bridge the conceptual gap between the two different spheres of existence. He does so by using two steps that would have been understood and accepted by his first-century audience:

1. He connects the Greek adjective psychikos (NIV natural) in 1 Cor. 15:44 to a related Greek noun psyche(NIV being, ASV of 1901 soul) in the Greek translation of Genesis 2:7, the creation of Adam. Newer English versions say that Adam became a living being and older English versions say living soul. In this verse, Adam receives both a body and an earthly life.

2. Adam is used as a representative of all humanity; his name means mankind. The people of Roman Corinth were very comfortable thinking in representative/corporate terms rather than the radically individualistic thinking which characterizes our own culture.

Verses 45-49 resume the discussion about Adam and Christ that began in 1 Cor. 15:21. Verse 45 refers to them as the first man Adam and the last Adam, meaning Christ, the founder and firstborn of the new creation. While Adam became a living being, Christ is a life-giving Spirit — capitalizing the word Spirit in agreement with NLT, HCSB, Thiselton and Garland. There is a huge difference between living and life-giving! In this context, life-giving refers primarily to resurrection of those who have died in Christ.

Anthony Thiselton reminds us that Adam is no ideal human; he stands for all that is fallen and destructive. Adams fall into sin set the pattern for all who descended from him and made the cross of Christ the utterly necessary ground of all our hope. The cross brings reversal, not merely degrees of improvement. Christ does not offer a return to Eden for a re-try; he brings us the promise of a new creation. Paul does not devalue the physical, which is Gods gift, but the natural is bound up with human sin and bondage, and there is no hope of full salvation without transformation by an act of the sovereign God.[2] That is why Christ died and rose again.

Verses 47-49 provide the theological logic for the transformation we will undergo in being resurrected. To aid our understanding of the second man is of heaven (1 Cor. 15:47), Thiselton says, Heaven is not a locality as such, but the realm characterized by the immediate presence and purity of the living God in and through Christ and the Spirit.[3] He also quotes a telling slogan: It is not that in heaven we find God, but that in God we find heaven.[4]

Garland does an outstanding job of explaining verses 48-49: If humans take the shape of the first Adam sown with a body made from dust that goes back to dust, then Christians will take the shape of Christ in their heavenly existence, who is from heaven and has a spiritual body. The last Adam, then, sets the pattern for all who will be resurrected and given a spiritual body for their new celestial habitat.[5]

It is in this way that Jesus says to us: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the one portal that takes you from this realm of existence to that greater realm of eternal life with God. It is only those who are joined to Christ, those in Christ, who will rise in the likeness of the same resurrection he has already had. We must ask: have you given your allegiance to Jesus so that you will have this resurrection?

For now, we are like the Corinthians were then; we are vulnerable, fragile and fallible as human beings who have borne the image of the earthly man (1 Cor. 15:49a). Yet the Holy Spirit has come to live within us and has begun the transformation that makes us more like Christ, that guides us toward bearing the image of the man from heaven.

Verse 50 speaks in terms that are meaningful first to Jews and then to those of Greco-Roman origin. The idea that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God is pitched for Jewish ears; flesh and blood refer to our current physical existence. Nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable makes better sense to Greco-Roman Christians. Keep in mind that the physical decay bound up with the word perishable was even more obvious to the ancients than it is to us with our nice refrigerators.

The clause we will not all sleep (1 Cor. 15:51) makes use of the standard metaphor that Christians fall asleep, whereas unbelievers die. The we who will not all sleep (in death) quite simply refers to those Christians who will be living when Christ returns. But, regardless of whether Christians are alive when Christ comes or have fallen asleep, we will all be changed. The transformation that God provides for us in Christ is so powerful that it does not matter whether we are alive or dead when he comes.

Just how long is the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:52)? Thiselton informs us that the crucial word is used outside the New Testament [to] denote the rapid wing movement that causes the buzz of a gnat or the twinkling of a star.[6] We are talking about fast!

The last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52) signals a mighty act of God and signals the passing of the present order of reality. This is one alarm that no Christian will sleep through! In that moment God will give us a body like that of Christ — an act that defies description.

Copyright 2014 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

 


[1] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) 785.

[2] Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William. B. Eerdmans publishing Company, 2000) 1284.

[3] Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1287.

[4] Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1287, footnote 138.

[5] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003) 737.

[6] Thiselton, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1295.