On Removing a Trump Card: Flesh and Blood and the Reign of God -- By: Andy Johnson

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 13:2 (NA 2003)
Article: On Removing a Trump Card: Flesh and Blood and the Reign of God
Author: Andy Johnson


On Removing a Trump Card:
Flesh and Blood and the Reign of God

Andy Johnson

Nazarene Theological Seminary

This article reexamines the meaning of the phrase ‘flesh and blood” in 1 Cor 15:50 in light of two recent proposals (Martin, Asher) as to the reason why “some” in Paul’s audience are denying a future resurrection. While assuming these nuanced proposals cogently describe the assumptions of Paul’s audience, the article contends that Paul does not use “flesh and blood” to denote the particular “stuff” of which human beings are composed. Hence, contra these recent proposals, 1 Cor 15:50 does not exclude the possibility that the fleshly “stuff” of the human person is able to be redeemed/transformed and yet remain fleshly material capable of participating as such in the coming kingdom of God.

Key Words: Resurrection, flesh and blood, flesh, Kingdom/Reign of God, J. Asher, D. Marti , J. Jeremias, E. Teichmann, pneumatikos/psychikos, new creation, transformation

Introduction

1 Cor 15:50 has often been used as a kind of rhetorical “trump card” in the hands of those who argue that Paul holds to a more “spiritual” (i.e., less concretely material) concept of resurrection. Such interpreters use this verse to rule out the possibility that the fleshly “stuff” of the human person is able to be redeemed/transformed and yet remain fleshly material capable of participating in the coming kingdom of God as such. These readings take the phrase σάρξ καὶ αἷμα to refer to part(s) of the human being which are, by nature, ontologically problematic and incapable of participation in the reign of God / new

Author’s note: I wish to thank Howard Marshall, Phillip Quanbeck II, Dan Spross, and Robert Wall for reading earlier versions of this paper and making suggestions that have helped me clarify my arguments.

creation. They tend to locate the problem in fleshly existence per se rather than in the corruption that has entered into the whole created order through sin. The gist of this position was classically expressed by E. Teichmann, who argued that Paul expects the full annihilation (Vernichtung) of everything that belongs to the σὰρξ, with only pneumatic material remaining.1 In contrast to such readings, J. Jeremias argued that σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα is an idiom with which Paul refe...

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