The resurrection: Christ defeating all dominion and its misinterpretation

I am studying the classic text on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. I just found some great quotes from Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner’s commentary (The First Letter to the Corinthians [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010]).

Here is the particular text in 1 Corinthians.

Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet’.Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:24–28)

Ciampa and Rosner explain that the destruction of dominion implies the restoration of all of creation and its submission to the Father.

Verses 24–28 reflect the motif of a dominion gone astray and needing to be crushed so that the proper dominion might be restored. The general idea would have been familiar to anyone in the Roman Empire. Just as a Roman emperor would send out his leading general to put down seditious movements and rebellious vassal states and restore the emperor’s authority throughout the empire, God has sent Christ to subdue all rebellion and opposition, to destroy all the enemies of God’s kingdom, and to restore all of creation to its proper submission to the Father for his glory and the good of all creation. As Wright points out, this description of Christ’s role in reigning over all creation reminds us that Christ, “as the final Adam, the start of the renewed human race (compare Colossian 1.18b), is not only the model for the new type of humanity. He possesses the authority to bring it into being.” [N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, 342.] (pp. 768–710)

Remarkably the words translated dominion and authority in 1 Corinthians 15:24 are found in the ancient Greek version of Daniel 7:14, “and to him was given the dominion and the honor and the kingship, and all peoples, tribes, languages shall be subject to him. His authority is an everlasting authority, which will not pass away” (NETS translation of Theodotion’s version). (p. 769)

Ciampa and Rosner then say that an anti-imperial ideology is at work.

Clearly, by all dominion, authority and power Paul means all the competing, corrupted and perverted dominions, authorities, and powers that have been unleased through Adam’s idolatrous perversion of the reign given him by God in Genesis 1. An anti-imperial ideology is clearly at work here, as in the texts from Daniel cited above … The dominions which seems to hold sway in the political, religious and spiritual realms would all be destroyed in the face of the glorious appearance of the fullness of God’s kingdom. This would also apply to the tendency in every human heart to assert one’s own ultimate autonomy as a kingdom of one. No rebellious dominion, authority, or power may be allowed to stand if true, peace, liberty, and righteousness are to reign. It is in this environment that God’s oppressed and marginalized people may finally experience the freedom, righteousness and peace for which they have hungered and thirsted. (p. 769)

Later, Ciampa and Rosner tell us how 1 Corinthians 15 can, sadly, be used to support violence and oppression.

Unfortunately, this portrayal of God’s role in the world has too often served to underwrite violent and oppressive rule on the part of those who see themselves as agents of God’s kingdom. While Christians may well have significant concerns about the ideological criticism of Scripture itself, they must always be prepared to engage in the ideological criticism of interpretations and applications of Scripture lest it continue to be used for evil in the guise of righteousness, oppressing the weak and powerless for the sake of the agendas of the powerful. The validity of this theology and expression of political power is wholly dependent upon the infinite wisdom and righteousness of the one who destroys all other opposing powers and imposes his own kingdom on the world. When such a project is carried out (even on a lesser scale) by powerful (but not infinitely wise or righteous) human leaders and governments, whether under the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, or even modern empires, it is done in the name of righteousness and peace and often with a claim to divine (or natural) mandate. But it always ends up reflecting a parody of the perfect kingdom of righteousness and peace that could be established only by the infinitely wise and righteous King known for his self-sacrificial love for all his creatures, especially the weak and powerless. It is a sad irony that texts such as this one which speak of the ultimate condemnation of all empires but God’s have nevertheless sometimes come to empower those who falsely perceive themselves to be following a divine model suited to their own ambitions. (pp. 770-771; emphasis added)