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The Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15)

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1 Corinthians 15

A summary of the gospel
Now I make known to you, brothers, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, wherein also you stand. 2 By which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
   3 For I delivered to you first of all that which also I received: That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he rose on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to above five hundred believers at once, of whom the greater part remain until now (but some have fallen asleep); 7 then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
   8 And last of all, as to the abnormally born, he appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who is unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than all of them. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Whether I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The crucial importance of Christ’s resurrection
   12 Now if Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Yes, we are found false witnesses of God. Because we witnessed of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised- 16 for if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain, you are still in your sins; 18 and therefore also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all people the most pitiable.
   20 But now has Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order. Christ the firstfruits, then they that are Christ's, at his coming. 24 Then comes the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign until He has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death. 27 For He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when He said all things are put in subjection, it is evident that He is excepted who did subject all things to him. 28 And when all things have been subjected to him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to Him that did subject all things to him, that God may be all in all.
   29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are people baptized for them?
   30 Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by that boasting in you, brothers, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
   33 Be not deceived. Evil companionships corrupt good moral habits. 34 Awake to soberness righteously, and do not sin. For some among you have no knowledge of God. I speak this to move you to shame.

The process of resurrection
35 But someone will say: How are the dead resurrected? And with what type of body do they come forth? 36 You foolish one, what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the plant body that shall later be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body just as it pleases Him; and to each seed a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly is one and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
   44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written: The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and only then the spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy. The second man is heavenly. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy, and as is the heavenly, such are they that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
   50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all remain asleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to fulfilment the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
   58 Therefore my beloved brothers, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.


15:2 Holding on to the true understanding of the Gospel is required for salvation. It is no bad thing to regularly remind ourselves of the basic teachings of the Gospel.

15:10 The idea of labour not being in vain recurs in v. 58. The connection teaches that Paul’s zealous labour in response to grace is not just to be admired from a distance; he is to be taken as our example.

15:11 Peoples’ faith is dependent to some extent upon the preacher; we can bring people to faith or leave them without faith and hope because we didn’t preach to them (Rom. 10:14).

15:20 Firstfruits- Jesus was the first person to rise from the dead and be given eternal life. When we are resurrected and given eternal life, we will be like the rest of the harvest. If Christ was the “firstfruits”, then men like Enoch and Elijah, indeed nobody before the time of Christ, was given eternal life at the end of their mortal lives.

15:22 All shall be made live- All those “in Christ” by baptism into His death and resurrection.

15:28 Christ will be eternally subject to God, and will give His Kingdom to God (v. 24). Christ wasn’t just less than God during His moral life; He will eternally be like this. Trinitarian theology can’t satisfactorily answer this.

15:29 Paul doesn’t support the idea of ‘baptism for the dead’- he’s saying that it’s inconsistent for people to do this in Corinth if they also deny the resurrection; because baptism symbolizes death (as we go under the water) and resurrection, as we come up out of the water (Rom. 6:3-5).

15:32 The colossal importance of the resurrection of the body at the return of Christ is effectively downplayed by those who wrongly believe in a ‘soul’ going to reward in Heaven at death. For us, we should live our lives in the context of knowing that we shall rise again, be judged, and by God’s grace live eternally in His Kingdom.

15:33 We may think we can be friends with bad people without being corrupted; but let us give Paul’s words their full weight.

15:38 We will be given a new body at the resurrection- we will live eternally in a bodily form. All existence in the Bible is bodily existence. But there will be a connection between who we are now, and who we will eternally be- when we die, our character is like a seed which is sown, to rise again in resurrection. The personality and character we develop in this life are therefore of huge and eternal importance.

15:41 There will be different levels of reward in the Kingdom, just as one star is brighter than another; some will rule over five cities, others over two (Lk. 19:19), in reflection of the fact that some people in this life bring forth more fruit than others (Mt. 13:8).

15:50 As we are still “flesh and blood”, we cannot fully now be in the Kingdom of God, neither is the church fully the Kingdom- because we must be changed at the resurrection before we can fully enter the Kingdom (vv. 51-53).