In moments of honesty and clarity, we all know we are going to die.

Mortality is our destiny. It comes to us all. Death is the final inescapable reality of life.

In I Corinthians 7:31 Paul states plainly that,

the present form of this world is passing away.

The Greek word translated “form” is schēma. It means “everything that strikes the senses.” The external, tangible, material world is all schēma. Schēma is everything we perceive by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. All schēma is wearing down, running out; it is all approaching death.

It is curious that most of us spend so much of our lives obsessed with schēma. We think about schēma; we worry about schēma. We lose sleep over schēma. We want to figure out how to operate smoothly and effectively on the material plane of existence. We expend enormous amounts of energy scheming about how to make schēma work as well as possible.

The irony of obsessing about schēma is that Paul teaches that all schēma has one thing in common. It is all, Paul says, “passing away.”

The witness of the biblical text is uniform and unflinching. Material reality is “passing away.” Everything is dying.

Job 14:1-2

‘A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble,
comes up like a flower and withers,
flees like a shadow and does not last.

Psalm 103:15,16

As for mortals, their days are like grass;

they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.

James 4:14

Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

I Peter 1:24

For
‘All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower fall.

Other than in I Corinthians 7:31, the word schēma is used in only one other place in the New Testament. The second use of schēma is in reference to Jesus who is said in Philippians 2:7,8 to have

emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form (schēma),
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death.

Jesus had a human schēma and like every schēma that has ever existed, the schēma that Jesus took upon himself in the Incarnation also “passed away.” There came a time when the schēma of Jesus was no longer visible on this earth.

But Christian tradition holds that, although the schēma of Jesus died, the death of his schēma was not the end of Jesus. He

was buried, and…was raised on the third day. (I Corinthians 15:4)

The schēma of Jesus contained a life that could never die.

According to Paul that same life that was in Jesus, dwells in those who place their faith in him.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

If the living eternal power of Christ dwells in you, you surely cannot die.

In his death Jesus conquered death and entrusted to us that victory over death, that we too might know the life that “will never die.” As Jesus said to Martha,

everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:26)

In another dispute with those who were unable to grasp the presence of eternity manifest in Jesus, speaking of himself as bread, Jesus said,

the one who eats this bread will live for ever. (John 6:58)

Or, as he expressed it in the temple when confronted by those who challenged his identity,

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. (John 10:28)

 

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