Redemption of the Body

Down Payment

In 2 Corinthians 5:5 we read that the Holy Spirit was given as an earnest or down payment until the "redemption of the purchased possession" (Eph 1:14;4:30). The purchased possession, of course, is the body of Christ (Acts 20:28).

Paul leads up to this discussion about the earnest with 1 Corinthians 12. He discusses spiritual gifts and says everyone has a different gift. Then he goes into the idea of the one body (the church) and talks about how every individual Christian is a member of that one body.

Absence from the Body

This leads Paul into a discussion of another body, the body that he is at home in, waiting to be absent from it so he can be at home with the Lord. Notice that in verse 6 of 2 Corinthians 5 Paul says "while we are at home in the body," not "bodies." He continues to use the singular the same as he did when he talked about one body (the church) in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul was talking by inspiration. He had a reason to use the plural "we are" and singular "body."

What was the one body that Paul and those to whom he wrote were "at home" in and waiting to get out of? What is the body that is mentioned in Luke 17:37 and Matthew 24:28 to which the eagles would be gathered when Christ came to bring judgment in the lifetime of those to whom he spoke? Luke uses the word ptoma and Matthew uses soma, but both words mean a corpse.  (Adam Clarke says it is "the dead carcass. The Jewish nation, which was morally and judicially dead.") While in that body the Jews were subject to old covenant judgment. When they were no longer in that body they would be present with the Lord. They were eagerly looking forward to this.

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Paul's Continued Obedience to the Law

Remember that Paul continued to obey the Law of Moses even after becoming a Christian--because he was a Jew.

Acts 21:23  Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
25  As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

No, the apostles didn't make Gentiles be circumcised or keep the law of Moses (Acts 15). But Paul kept the law. And he was waiting to be relieved of that burden.

Seeing Face to Face

I believe these early Christians were longing for the end of Judaism, for the consummation of the marriage to Christ, when they would see face to face and no longer darkly as in a mirror. Until the Law was completely taken out of the way, they could not be married to Christ. They were waiting and hoping for the time when they would know their husband. What was in part would disappear. Paul said he would know even as also he was known (1 Cor 13:12). What does that word "know" conjure up? When a man knows his wife, what does that mean? It means he is intimate with her because he is married to her. When spiritual gifts (the earnest) ceased, I believe Paul was going to know as he was known because the wedding of Christ and the church would have taken place. The church would be redeemed.

Revelation 22:4 says "they shall see his face." The relationship of God and his children would be face to face, no longer through a glass darkly. Isn't that exactly what Paul said in I Corinthians 13:12? He said he would see God face to face when spiritual gifts ceased. John said that in the new Jerusalem people would see God's face. These passages have to be talking about the same time and the same event. So all we have to know is when spiritual gifts ceased--when they would no longer be needed because the redemption of the body had been completed. Then we will know when 1 Corinthians 13 and Revelation 22 took place.

Passing of the Prophets

Zechariah 13:1  In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
2  And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.

Daniel 9:24  Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

When the fountain was opened for sin, when reconciliation for iniquity was made, and when Christ was anointed, then vision and prophecy would cease. Paul said prophecy would cease when "that which is perfect" came and that which was "in part" was gone (1 Cor 13:9-10). This was, of course, when Paul would see "face to face."

Holy of Holies

When Christ returned in AD 70 (Matthew 24 and Luke 21 make it clear that he returned at that time to take vengeance on Jerusalem for the blood of all the righteous slain on the earth, Mt 23:35), he returned "without sin unto salvation" (Heb 9:28). He had left the earth and gone into the holy of holies. But according to the Law the high priest had to come back out of the holy of holies for anybody else to be able to enter the tabernacle or for sin to be removed.

Leviticus 16:17  And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

And I think that's what Hebrews 9:28 is talking about. Christ came back out. If he hadn't returned then we wouldn't know whether the sacrifice had been acceptable to God. And we certainly could not enter God's presence ourselves. In fact, the Bible is clear that the way into the holiest of all was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing (Heb 9:8). But the temple, the sacrifices, and all that pertained to Judaism were destroyed. Christ's sacrifice was accepted and complete. The old covenant was finished. Atonement was made, and Christ came out of the holy place and proved it.

Timing of the Redemption

Luke 21:28  And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

As this scripture shows, redemption was to come for that generation (Lk 21:32). And as Daniel 9:24 states, an end was made of sins, vision and prophecy were sealed up, and Christ was anointed. The purchased possession was redeemed. Prophecy ceased. Christ and God began to dwell with man, and men could see them "face to face" as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13.

1 Cor 15:55 where, O Death, thy sting? where, O Hades, thy victory?
56 and the sting of the death [is] the sin, and the power of the sin the law; (Young's Literal)

Once the Law was gone, the sin was gone. And if the sin was gone, the death was gone. "Sweet is the song I'm singing today. I'm redeemed! I'm redeemed!"

Tina Rae Collins
February 21, 2010