For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
Norman Geisler: “...as with John 5:21, this text is not speaking about salvation at all; it refers to the resurrection of all men. It affirms that by virtue of Christ’s resurrection ‘all will be made alive,’ that is, they will be resurrected. What this verse is saying is that not all are resurrected to salvation; some are raised to condemnation (John 5:21-29). That 1 Corinthians 15:22 is speaking of the resurrection, not salvation, could not be more evident from the context. It is introduced by these words: ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since dead came through a man, the resurrection of the dead come also through a man’ (vv.20-21). Indeed, the entire chapter is on the physical resurrection from the dead.” (Chosen But Free, pp.86-87)
Jesus will eventually abolish death: “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” (v.26) Since the context is about physical resurrection, verse 22 may be paraphrased: “For as in Adam all [physically] die, so also in Christ all shall be made [physically] alive.” Paul elsewhere stated: “There shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15) Jesus stated: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
Everyone gets a resurrection. Whether it’s a “resurrection
of life” or a “resurrection of judgment,” everyone gets a
resurrection, one way or another. Acts 24:15 states: “There
shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and
Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer: “When Paul said that ‘as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive’ (1 Cor. 15:22), he cannot in the second usage of the word all mean everyone in the world--indeed only relatively few are made alive in Christ. Such uses of the word all are frequent. Perhaps John meant that Christ was the propitiation for all in the world who believe, regardless of nationality or rank. Note such uses in other passages (Col. 1:6; Rom. 1:8; Luke 2:1).” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.186, emphasis mine)
Question: Are all in the world saved? Does this passage teach Universalism?
Answer: This passage does not teach universal salvation, but universal resurrection, since a “resurrection of judgment” is not for salvation.
Question: Is it correct to slide the word “all” in front of “in Christ” so as the infer that all Christians will be made alive? In other words: “For as all in Adam die, so also all in Christ will be made alive.”
Answer: If that’s what Paul intended, why didn’t he write it that way?
Question: Doesn’t 1st Corinthians 15:22 state that “all” are in Christ?
Question: How, in Christ, will “all” be made alive?
Answer: By the power ascribed to Adam, sin fell to all, and all physically die. By the power ascribed to Christ, life comes to all, and will be made physically alive, whether to a resurrection of life or to a resurrection of judgment.
In this passage, “in Adam” and “in Christ” are used to speak of what the power intrinsic to each. For instance, Romans 8:2 states: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” What’s intrinsic to Adam is the power to bring death, whereas what’s intrinsic to Christ is the power to reverse what Adam did. 1st Corinthians 15:45 states: “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” In Christ, all will be made physically alive. He will abolish death which was brought upon by Adam. (1st Corinthians 15:26)
Calvinist, William MacDonald: “This verse has sometimes been taken to teach universal salvation. It is argued that the same ones who die in Adam will be made alive in Christ, and that all will eventually be saved. But that is not what the verse says. The key expressions are in Adam and in Christ. All who are in Adam die. All who are in Christ shall be made alive, that is, only believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised from the dead to dwell eternally with Him. The all who shall be made alive is defined in verse 23 as those who are Christ’s at His Coming. It does not include Christ’s enemies, for they shall be put under His feet (v.25)….” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.1806, emphasis mine)
Notice that the verse does NOT say: “For as all in Adam die, so also all in Christ will be made alive.” Why slide “all” around in this verse? Challenge the Calvinists to believe in the Bible exactly as it is written, without playing shell games, in which readers are forced to watch the word “all” being shuffled around. Besides, verse 26 states: “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” This applies to everyone held by its power. Similarly, this does not teach universal salvation. It teaches a universal resurrection, some to a resurrection of life, and others to a resurrection of judgment, just as Paul stated: “There shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15) Adam brings death. Jesus brings life.