Because of the inseparable connection between the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of His people, all those who trust in Christ alone will certainly be raised on the last day and will receive resurrected physical bodies. Our resurrection won’t happen until Christ returns, for resurrection follows a set order: the resurrection of Jesus, the firstfruits of the resurrection of all His people, comes first, and then we will be raised at His return. In the meantime, Jesus is ruling and reigning, putting all things under His feet. Death will be the last enemy to be subjected (1 Cor. 15:20–26).
In today’s passage, the Apostle Paul elaborates on the reign of Christ by looking to the Old Testament. Paul quotes from Psalm 8, which reflects on the high place God gave to human beings as rulers over His creation. Originally, the Lord entrusted Adam and Eve with stewardship over the earth. He commissioned our first parents and their descendants to rule and reign over creation (Gen. 1:28). This mandate for dominion continued after the fall into sin (9:7), but our fallenness has made it impossible for us to rule and reign with the perfection God demands. Thus, the prophets looked forward to the coming of the new man, the last Adam, who receives and exercises the dominion mandate without any sin or flaw. Psalm 8 finds its truest realization in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been set “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph. 1:20–21).
Jesus is now bringing all things under His reign. Yet, the Father, to whom the Son will deliver the kingdom at His return, is not subject to the Son (1 Cor. 15:27–28). Note that the subjection of the Son to the Father occurs only as a consequence of the incarnation. The Son as the God-man submits to the Father, but the Son as very God of very God (John 1:1) is equal to the Father in authority. Augustine of Hippo says, “When the Scriptures say of the Son that he is less than the Father, the Scriptures mean in respect to the assumption of humanity. But when the Scriptures point out that he is equal they are understood in respect to his deity.”
When death is destroyed and the incarnate Son hands over His kingdom to the Father, then “God will be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). The sense here seems to be the restoration of creation to a point where only God’s authority is exercised. Right now, death has a kind of delegated authority over sinners. But when death has been destroyed, it will have no power or right to control us any longer.