The Last Adam as "a life-giving spirit" in 1 Corinthians 15:42-49
Simatele, Warren Suya
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In light of the conflicting views regarding the background, interpretation, and the time when the last Adam became a life-giving spirit, one objective of this study was to show that the OT, rather than any other historical interpretation, provided the background to Paul’s difficult passage. The study also sought to determine the meaning of the last Adam as a life-giving spirit, and the exact time He assumed this role. The third objective was to draw theological implications of the passage that impinge on the believer’s faith and practice today. Lastly, as one of its goals, the study suggested a literary structure for understanding the book of 1 Corinthians with the resurrection as the central message. A wide range of sources were consulted during the process of the investigation. Articles from various journals, theological dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, monographs, and other books that bear on the study invariably yielded relevant information which contributed to the development of the dissertation and ultimately to the conclusion reached. An exegetical study of the passage using the historicalgrammatical method was undertaken to achieve the goal. The actual sifting of the text used such literary devices as comparative frames, natural information flow, the use of the coordinating conjunction ἀλλα, key words and phrases (e.g. πνευμα, ψυχη, ζωή, πνεῦμα ζῳοποιοῦν, γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, and πνεῦμα ζῳοποιει), and intertexuality. The study identified seven arguments in support of the OT as the appropriate background of the text. The argument from grammatical parallels, the argument from theological continuity with the OT faith on life after death, and the argument from theological discontinuity with other historical interpretations supported the OT background. Other points in favor of the OT included the argument from Paul’s own historical background, the argument from his use of Scripture, the argument from the linguistic difference in the usage of some terms, and the argument from methodological differences between Paul and other historical interpretations. For the meaning of the last Adam as a “life-giving spirit,” the study spoke for the risen Christ. The grammar, the context, and other interpretive devices favored this view. However, it was recognized that there is a sense in which the Holy Spirit plays a role in the Pauline passage, especially in the transformation of hearts and the building up of the eschatological body of Christ. Creative energy as an option was completely rejected unless it is connected to a divine being. Finally, theological implications covered such themes as protology, anthropology, ecclesiology, missiology, and eschatology.