For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
L Boettner Reformed Doctrine
1 Corinthians 15:22 is probably the one verse most often quoted by Arminians to refute Calvinism. There we read, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." The verse is, however, entirely irrelevant to their quest.
This is from Paul's famous resurrection chapter, and the context makes it plain that he is not talking about life in this age, whether physical or spiritual, but about the resurrection life. Verses 20 and 21 read: "But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the first fruits o them that are asleep. For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection of the dead." Then follows verse 22, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive"; and that he refers not to a regeneration or a making alive in this present world but to he new life which is given in the resurrection is made clear by what follows immediately in verses 23 and 24; "but each in his own order: Christ the first fruits; then they that are Christ's, at His coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even to the Father," etc.
Christ is the first to enter into the resurrection life, then, when He comes, His people also enter into their resurrection life. Then comes the end, that is, the end of the world, and the introduction of heaven in its fullness; and what Paul says is that at that time a glorious resurrection life will become a reality for all of those who are in Christ. This is possible because Christ is their federal head and representative. Through His power all of His people shall be raised to newness of life with Him. And this point is illustrated by the well-understood fact that the race fell in Adam, who acted as the federal head and representative of the entire race. What Paul says in effect is this: "For as all born in Adam die, so also all born in Christ shall be made alive." Verse 22, then, refers not to something past, nor to something present, but to something future; and it has no bearing whatever on the Arminian - Calvinistic controversy.
It was not the whole of mankind, which was equally loved of God and promiscuously redeemed by Christ. John's hymn of praise, "Unto Him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by His blood; and He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father," Rev 1:5, evidently proceeds on the hypothesis of a definite election and a limited atonement since God's love was the cause and the blood of Christ the efficacious means of their redemption. The declaration the Christ died for "all" is made clearer by the song which the redeemed now sing before the throne of the Lamb: "Thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation," Rev 5:9. The word "all" must be understood to mean all the elect, all His Church, all those whom the Father has given to the Son, etc., not all men universally and every man individually. The redeemed host will be made up of men from all classes and conditions of life, of princes and peasants, of rich and poor, of bond and free, of make and female, of young and old, of Jews and Gentiles, men of all nations, and races, from north to south, and from east to west.
A Hoekema Saved By Grace
We learn this from 1 Corinthians 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." Paul is not here discussing the resurrection of unbelievers; his only concern here is with the resurrection of believers - of those who belong to Christ (see v.23). Since Christ, who is our Head, was raised from the dead, we who belong to him will also be raised in the physical sense. But we shall be resurrected in Christ - in fellowship, in union with him.
We shall be eternally glorified with Christ. "When Christ, who is your life, appears," writes Paul in Colossians 3:4, "then you also will appear with him in glory." The future glorification of God's people, that is to say, will be a sharing of the final glorification of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 describes what will happen when Christ again returns to earth. The dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are still alive and are left "will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Future glory, in other words, will be nothing other than a continued unfolding of the riches of union with Christ. Much of what the future holds in store for us is left un-described in the Bible. But of one thing we can be sure; we shall be eternally in Christ and with Christ, sharing his glory.
Summing up, we could say that union with Christ has its source in our election in Christ before the creation of the world and its goal in our glorification with Christ throughout eternity. Union with Christ was planned from eternity, and is destined to continue eternally. This union, therefore, is what makes our life as Christians significant, happy, and victorious. We are pilgrims and strangers on this earth, but Christ lives in us forever.
Berkhof Systematic Theology
Passages closely related to 1Co 15:22, are those in which it is said that Christ died for all men: Rom 5:18; 2Co 5:14; 1Ti 2:4,6; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9; 2Pe 3:9. Naturally, each of these passages must be considered in the connection in which it is found. For instance, the context clearly shows that the "all" or "all men" of Rom 5:18, and 1Co 15:22 includes only those who are in Christ, as contrasted with all who are in Adam. If the word "all" in these passages is not interpreted in a limited sense, they would teach, not merely that Christ made salvation possible for all men, but that He actually saves all without exception. Thus the Arminian would again be forced into the camp of the absolute Universalist, where he does not want to be. A similar limitation must be applied in the interpretation of 2Co 5:14, and Heb 2:9, cf. verse 10. Otherwise they would prove too much, and therefore prove nothing. In all these passages "all" are simply all those who are in Christ. In the case of Tit 2:11, which speaks of the appearance of the grace of God, "bringing salvation to all men," the context clearly shows that "all men" really means all classes of men. If the "all" is not restricted, this passage too would teach universal salvation. The passages in 1Ti 2:4-6; Heb 2:9; 2Pe 3:9 refer to the revealed will of God that both Jew and Gentiles should be saved, but imply nothing as to the universal intent of the atonement. Even Moses Stuart, who believes in universal atonement, admits that in these cases the word "all" cannot be taken in a universal sense.
Matthew J Slick
Who are the ones who will be made alive? They are the Christians and only the Christians. First of all, to be "in Christ" is a phrase that describes a saving relationship between the redeemed and the Redeemer: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1, NIV) (See also, Rom 6:11; 12:5; 16:7; Co 1:2, etc.); second, those who are made alive at Christ's coming are the believers. We will be made alive with Christ: "By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also" (1Co 6:14, NIV); "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1Co 15:52, NIV).
The "all" that died in Adam were all that Adam represented: every individual who ever lived. Those "in Christ" are only believers. The "all" therefore can only be the believers, because it says "in Christ all shall be made alive." If all shall be made alive, then the "all" can only mean the believers because only believers are made alive in Christ. There simply isn't any biblically consistent alternative interpretation. But you might object and say that the first "all" refers to everybody, obviously. So why, then, doesn't the second do the same? Because the second "all" can't refer to everyone. Only the Christians are made alive.
It could be said that everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, will be raised; only the unbelievers are raised to receive damnation. This is true, but it does not fit here in this passage because it is speaking of those who are Christ's; that is, the believers. The "all" of these verses can only be the elect.