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|1st Corinthians 15
|1 Corinthians 15:1-58
Paul here summarizes the foundation of the gospel – Jesus Christ died, was buried, and was resurrected: according to the Scriptures. This was seen
by Peter (Cephas), the apostles (the twelve), approximately five hundred brethren at once (of whom many are still alive), James and then Paul. The
evidence is overwhelming. This is what he preached to them. This is what they believed. This is the gospel upon which they stand.
The humility of Paul is evident. His former life stood in contrast to that of the other apostles. He persecuted the church, even taking part in the
stoning of Stephen. Because of that he was greatly aware of the grace of God that had been granted unto him. But, it made no difference whether it
was him, or one of the other apostles, the story was the same.
If the preaching you believed, obeyed and continue to obey said that Jesus rose from the grave, how can you say there is no resurrection? It is
inconsistent. If there is no resurrection, then Christ was not resurrected. If Christ was not resurrected, then there is nothing to our preaching, and
nothing to your faith. In fact, you are saying that all the apostles (and the approximately five hundren brethren) are liars. If that is true, you have
not been forgiven of your sins. And, those who have died in Christ have perished.
If our only hope is the life we now lead, we are to accepting and following a false hope. We are miserable, and ought to be pitied.
But Christ rose from the dead, and became the first of those who would arise never to die again. As death was introduced by one man (Adam), so
the resurrection was introduced by one man (Christ) to transpire at His return. This will happen at the end of time, when Jesus delivers the
kingdom (church) to the Father, and “He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.”
If Christ now rules, if Christ now has all authority, if Christ now has all power, the event Paul speaks of here has not transpired.
Jesus will defeat all enemies. The last enemy he shall destroy is death. All things are under His authority, but that does not include God. When all
things are defeated, the Son will subject Himself to the Father, that God will be all powerful.
This passage is difficult, and has received almost as many interpretations as there have been commentators.
Some have held that there was a custom of baptizing living persons for the benefit of persons who had died
without baptism. Had that custom existed, Paul would have rebuked it. It did arise afterwards, as an abuse from
the misinterpretation of this passage, among the followers of Cerinthus, and, in our times, of Joseph Smith. I will
try to make clear its meaning: (1) All the Corinthians were baptized (Ac 18:8). (2) Their baptism was a "planting"
in the likeness of the burial of Christ, and in the "likeness of his resurrection" (Ro 6:4,5). They were in, and raised
from, a watery tomb. (3) Their baptism in the likeness of the death and resurrection of Christ was in hope of their
own resurrection from the dead through Christ's resurrection. (Huper Nekroon, for, or on account of the dead, with
the exception of resurrection from the dead.) But if Christ has not risen, and the dead rise not, this memorial and
emblematic burial has no meaning. "Why, then, are they baptized for the dead?" that is, for the sake of their own
resurrection from the dead. This interpretation harmonizes better with Paul's argument than any I have seen.
The People’s New Testament With Notes, B.W. Johnson
Why does Paul, his companions, and the other apostles face the danger which lay before them? For the same reason they are Christians, he faces
death daily. Why would he face the dangers like those at Ephesus, if not for the hope of the resurrection? One might as well “eat, drink and be
merry, for tomorrow we die.”
Do not be deceived into thinking this life is all there is. Doctrine which denies the hope of the resurrection corrupts the mind and soul. Allow that
hope to enliven your mind and soul to service to God – doing what is right in His sight. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes this, even among you.
That brings us to the question many ask, “What kind of body will the dead have? What will they look like?”
This is where Paul seems to almost lose his patience with them. When you plant a seed, it must die before it blooms. What comes forth is the same
seed, but it has changed. There is a difference in the light of the sun, the light of the moon and the light of the stars, and even the stars are
different in the amount of light they give.
The resurrection is the same way. It is the same thing, but different. The body that is buried is corruptible. The body that is raised is incorruptible.
The body that is buried is the contemptible flesh. The body that is resurrected is the glorious which will last for eternity. The body that is resurrected
buried a weak, frail shell. The body that is resurrected will be one of strength, endurance, and beauty. The body buried is a natural body. The body
resurrected is a spiritual body.
God made man a living soul in the beginning. He will make man an eternally living soul in the end.
As in the natural world, you have the seed and then the plant, so you have the natural man (the buried body) first, and then the spiritual man (the
Adam was made from the dust of the ground, so we are all dust. The second man is the resurrected Christ, so we shall be like him. We have been
like Adam, we shall also be like Jesus as He returned to heaven.
Now, pay attention. Flesh and blood, as we have now, cannot enter into heaven. Neither can that which is corruptible not corrupt.
I will now show you a mystery: not everyone will die, but everyone will be changed. It will only take the blinking of a eye when the trumpet sounds
on the last day: the dead shall be resurrected incorruptible, and those alive will be changed. Because the corruptible body must become
incorruptible, and the mortal must become immortal. When this happens, death will be swallowed up in victory.
Where is the sting of death? Where is the victory of the grave? “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” But, thanks to God,
through our Lord Jesus Christ sin has been wiped clean and death has been overcome for all.
That is why you should continue enthusiastically in your work for the Lord. Do not allow anything to dissuade you, or turn you aside. Plant your
feet in the truth, and in the hope of the resurrection “forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Your work is not useless, it
is not empty, the Lord will reward you.