Sleuthing Scripture – Part 2 Decoding Scriptural Teachings

The Holy Bible, I Corinthians* 15: 51 – 56

Behold, I show you a mystery:  We shall not all sleep, but all be changed.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?

The sting of death is sin°; and the strength of sin is the law.


* Corinthians:  Paul is writing to Christians in Corinth and addressing their questions about what they have been taught.

° Sin:  Error, mistake. Literally, “to miss the mark.”

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Well, we certainly have some code! Paul is telling the Corinthians that he is speaking in code when he says that he is going to show them a mystery.

In verse 51, assuming the translation is accurate, he says “show.” He does not say that he is going to “tell” them a mystery, or “write” one. So that’s the first clue. What is this mystery about, what is its theme?

He then says, “We shall not all sleep.” What does he mean by “all” and by “sleep,” and who is “we”? Is he referring to this group in Corinth as “all” or are we to take “we” to mean everyone at large? Or something else altogether? Does it imply that not everyone will “sleep” but that some will? Will those who “sleep” not be be changed? Will those who do not sleep be the only ones to be changed? Now, what does “changed” mean?  You can’t get past the first verse of this example before we are confronted with several mysteries to sleuth out. What fun!

You have six verses here to play with and to discuss. I would consider this a homework assignment, but I think that might spoil the fun, though I am hoping that you will take me up on this challenge and enjoy it.

I look forward to reading your thoughts. Do have fun!

Durga Ma

P.S. Don’t forget the footnotes.

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3 thoughts on “Sleuthing Scripture – Part 2 Decoding Scriptural Teachings

  1. Pingback: Giver of Grace | Mystical Tidbits

  2. carolprakriti

    Hello Everyone: I am still pondering the first two verses. If he is showing them a mystery then he must be giving them some sort of direct experience, perhaps a transmission of energy or insight. I know sleep is just a state of consciousness, and it seems that often “mystical” or “supernatural” experiences seem to happen when in a trance state, hovering between sleep and waking. Maybe this spiritual change will happen for all of the disciples, at different states of consciousness. Could that be what he is saying? I don’t know. This fundametnal change of understanding he seems to say will come instantly, like a dawning and from that moment, the wheel of birth and death will be over. Physical death means nothing then and death’s sting is left only for those who stay on the wheel, over and over. Anyway, these are my initial thoughts on these enigmatic verses.
    Love, Prakriti


    1. Dear Prakriti — Yes, at one level, I do think that Paul is suggesting unconsciousness, or ignorance (as opp. to enlightenment) with the word “sleep.” I also think he is telling his disciples what they can expect at the end of their sadhana: the corruptible (the mortal body), will become incorruptible (immortal), and THAT is the “change,” and that although it will have been a long ride, when this change comes, it will occur at the speed of thought, “in the twinkling of the eye.” This will happen the last time one hears the trump, the trumpet, which I believe is a parallel to the Eastern conch, which represents the cochlea of the ear that picks up sound and is symbolic, in yogic scripture, of the call to meditation. In this case, this is the last meditation, for it has served its purpose. I have looked at your reply under Meditation Experiences, and will leave further comments there. — Love, Durga Ma


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