1 Corinthians 15:47

1 Corinthians 15:47  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Question: 1 Cor. 15:4747The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47). Does the expression, “the Second man is [the Lord] from heaven,” necessarily mean descent? That is, is it affirmed of Christ, as now on high, or of Him in incarnation? It is known that “the Lord” is expunged by the best editors. Is there any difference in meaning between “the last Adam” (ver. 45) and “the Second man?” W.
Answer: I do not, in reference to the question asked, attach any importance to the presence or absence of κυρις. Griesbach retains it; the more recent editors give it up, with several Uncials and other authorities. As to the question itself, I judge the ἐξ οὐρανου to be more characteristic than relative to any “descent” from heaven, but that character to be drawn from the place He came from: origin is universally used as characteristic. Race and kind are the same word, γενος. Thus the genitive (or really generic) case, and ἐκ, which express origin, are in very many (perhaps all) languages used as characteristic, and in force are adjectives. In Hebrew it is well known, as in Greek, in French, English, and other modern languages; so that it may be considered as belonging to the structure of the human mind.
This may be drawn from place or origin, or the material of which anything is composed. It so far differs from an adjective, that it is constitutive of character, not the character itself simply. Here we have’εκ γης χοικος. The former is the constitutive cause, the latter the actual character. But the cause was from origin; so with ἐξ οὐρανου. It is characteristic, but because of the place of origin. He has not ceased to be it now; but what is expressed is not what He is now, because gone to heaven, but His character because of His origin.
It attaches to His person. He is so now, because He cannot be otherwise; because His origin was such, He was so on earth. The full display of this is when He takes the place of the ἐπουρανιος; that gives the fulfilled consequent place, and, from the subject, is more than characteristic, though it be that. I judge, then, that ἐξ οὐρανου is character from origin, or the place the Lord belonged to, as ἐκ γης. Not that He came from, but that He was from, and of, and ever is. The result is, that the first is χοικος, the second ἐπουρανιος. This is on high, the natural, normal, and purposed place of one ἐξ οὐρανου, who is become a man. But still it is character and nature, though the ἐπι suggests a place, I think. Hence, there is for it an abstract consequence of conformity, not a statement of what will happen. As is the χοικος, so the χοικοι—as the ἐπουρανιος, so the ἐπουρανιοι. Then the form, not merely character and nature and time, is brought in. It is in the second case future. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall bear the image of the heavenly.” Thus origin, participation in nature and character abstractedly given, and then actual conformity in glory, are successively, each in its place, introduced. It will be seen that, without much affecting the question, what I have said tends to justify the omission of κυριος. If it be retained, I apprehend it should be read— “the Second man, the Lord, from heaven.”
Not that I desire to separate “the Lord” from “from heaven,” but to preserve the characteristic force of the latter.
As regards any difference in meaning in “second” and “last,” I think the Spirit of God means a different thing. “The second” contrasts Him with the first. It is not a modifying or sanctifying or setting right the first, but setting up a second (we cannot have both to continue together), One of and from heaven. “The last” declares that this is final and conclusive. There is no other afterward. If He be ἐξ οὐρανου, that is easily conceived. In these days, both these truths are of first-rate importance—the non-restoration of man, the first man, who is set aside and under condemnation, and a new man, a second man, is brought in; and then He who is made known is the last Adam, the One, and only One, in whom blessing is to be found. Men will own Christ, even infidels now, to set up the first Adam; they will with hardihood declare Him to be the excellent in His day, but that there is progress through increasing light. Scripture, which foresees all things, declares that He is a “second,” in contrast with the first; and that He is the “last,” so that there is and can be no progress beyond Him: the perfection in which God delights, and the center and end of all His ways, to which those who are to be blest with Him must be conformed.