1 Corinthians 15
The Risen Christ, Faith's Reality
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
[1 Corinthians 15 verses 3 and 4 were very familiar because they were Awana memory verses. But for years as I read those verses to help the kids remember them, I always assumed that by the "scriptures" they meant the Gospels. But this letter was written to the Corinthian church in AD 56 and probably pre-dated most if not all of the 4 gospels. The scripture he is referring to is Psalm 22 in verse 3, and Psalm 16 in verse 4. Which also answers the question I always asked myself when memorizing these two verses, why did he say "according to the scriptures twice"? The answer is, the death and resurrection were predicted in two different Psalms. If you wonder how we could be sure Psalm 22 foretold the death of Jesus, the answer is Jesus himself told us as he hung on the cross. When He said "MyGod, My God, why have you forsaken me", he was quoting from Psalm 22:1. So the gospel those at Corinth heard came by word of mouth from Paul himself, using the references to the Old Testament.]
5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
[Paul is dwelling on the resurrection of Christ, because he is writing to correct a misunderstanding in the church, whereby some had decided there was no resurrection of the dead. He hints that he is refuting this notion by referring to dead saints as "fallen asleep", as though fully expecting them to awaken in time.]
7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy 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 toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
[You can imagine Paul's displeasure that any follower of Jesus would deny the resurrection of the dead, after all the only Jesus Paul knew personally was the resurrected Lord. He still self deprecates as the last chosen apostle, since Jesus found him persecuting the church.]
The Risen Christ, Our Hope
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
[Paul uses an argument where you take the premise you want to refute, and follow it to the logical conclusion to let it invalidate itself.
- If the dead do not rise, then Jesus is still dead.
- If Jesus is still dead, then he is not God, and you are not saved.
- If we cannot be saved, then the witness is false, and the preaching is vain.]
The Last Enemy Destroyed
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
[Jesus is risen (remember 500 saw him alive), and his resurrection is the evidence of a larger resurrection of those who "sleep" in the Lord.]
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For "He has put all things under His feet."[a] But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
[There is an order to the resurrection of the dead. First Jesus, then the saints, then all the dead are resurrected for the final judgment. So as all die because of Adam, likewise all will rise because of Jesus, since he has even conquered death.]
Effects of Denying the Resurrection
29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"[b]
33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
A Glorious Body
35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain.
38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
[Some had reasoned that since the body decays, how can it be resurrected? Paul answers, the seed looks nothing like the plant it grows into. But when the seed breaks apart in the ground, then is makes a new body. So God will give us a new body as it pleases him.]
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind
of flesh[c] of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41
There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
[Paul further explains there will be a great variety of resurrected bodies. As fish, birds, animals and men are different so will our resurrected bodies. Further he contrasts the brightness of the planets, moon, and stars as another indicator of our uniqueness in glory.]
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being."[d] The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
[Do you see the beautiful picture of baptism is this description? We bury the man who knows sin, and raise the new man who knows God. If you read Genesis 2 Adam was formed from dust and made alive when God breathed into him the breath of life. The last Adam, born under the law, is Jesus and we are made spiritually alive through him. The Greek word for spirit is "pnauma" from which we get the word pneumatic, or air powered. Adam was born by the breath of God; we are born again by the Spirit of God. ]
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord[e] from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear[f] the image of the heavenly Man.
[Man was created in the image of God, but was corrupted when we chose to know sin (good and evil), rather than God. Jesus restores us to spiritual life, so we can once again know the living God. In the resurrection the physical will fall away, and in our heavenly bodies will achieve our full Christ-likeness.
Our Final Victory
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
55 "Death, where
[Today as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus let our joy be the confidence in our own resurrection, by the grace of God, and faith in his Son. The resurrection proves the deity of Christ, so we know our faith in not in vain, and our own resurrection is secure in him. Even death and the grave fall away when faced with the resurrection power of the Lord.
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live. – John 11:25]