He is not here. He is risen!
By stressing the centrality of the resurrection, the Apostle Paul made eschatology the key to the understanding of his religious worldview. The resurrection not only authenticated Jesus’ messiahship; it demonstrated how the eschatological age had irrupted into the present. The implications of this are given detailed consideration in 1 Corinthians 15, with v12 providing the foundational insight into the Corinthian over-realised eschatological belief that there was no future resurrection because they had been baptised and were living the resurrection life already. Since the spirit represents the in-breaking of the end time in the present, there arose in Corinth a preoccupation with spiritual gifts. Paul counters this with both sarcasm, and by emphasising the ‘age to come’ dimension.
Despite the assurance of a present dimension of eschatological hope, it should not be overlooked that for Paul the final revelation of the eschatological age still lies in the future. The ultimate transformation of the world order, the final redemption of the believer (the granting of the resurrection body) and the final judgement are all events which are yet to be awaited. The present is conditioned by both the past (death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) and the future (the awaited parousia at the end of time).
Paul associates the parousia with a final judgement. He clearly states that the resurrection of Jesus constitutes the ‘first fruits’, implying that the resurrection of the believer is, as the full harvest, a future event. Paul also uses this image of the Holy Spirit, and in the risen Christ being the ‘firstborn from among the dead’. The resurrection defeated death, but there is a tension in Paul’s view of when this enemy was/is to be destroyed: was it accomplished on the cross, or is it something which is still to occur in the future, at the awaited parousia? If death and sin are interconnected (as Paul forcefully asserts in Rom 5:12), how is it that the Christian is exhorted to live a life in the present which is freed from the power and effect of sin, and yet be expected to await the deliverance from death as something future?
The power of sin has been conquered (Rom 5:14, 17, 21; 7:8-11, 13-25), but the consequence - physical death - remains, awaiting a future consummation. The Spirit is a ‘guarantee’ (2Cor 1:22, Eph 1:14), which is a financial term denoting the promise to pay a full balance based upon the initial handing over of a down payment. Thus the ultimate redemption is still to come. In the present the Spirit is simultaneously a portion of the life and power of the future age, and a sign pointing beyond the present, telling believers that the fulfilment of the messianic age has not yet arrived.
The resurrection of Jesus split history in two; it divided BC from AD. Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Nanak, et al., are dead and in their tombs. Jesus is alive! Hallelujah!