1 Corinthians Lesson 11 1 Corinthians 15:1 15:44

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1 1 Corinthians Lesson 11 1 Corinthians 15:1 15:44 Written about late 56 or early 57 AD In 1 Corinthians 13:1 through 14:40 (Lesson 10), Paul first put all the temporary spiritual gifts in perspective. Temporary gifts are those like tongues, prophecy, martyrdom, and giving. Paul s perspective was that if those temporary gifts were not exercised as a reflection of God s love in our hearts and souls, then they are nothing. Paul then went on to describe how God s love reflects itself in aspects of our behavior and thinking. This kind of love, which is like God s love, is patient, kind, not envious, boastful, or proud. It is not easily angered, or holds grudges. It delights in the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. It never fails. The temporary spiritual gifts will cease when Christ returns, or when we go to be with the LORD. However, the love of God in our hearts will never cease, along with faith and hope. Therefore, we can see that these are the greatest gifts, and these are the ones which are given to all and that we should cherish the most. Next, Paul spoke to the abuses that were going on in the church at Corinth related to the spiritual gifts. He emphasized that the purpose of spiritual gifts was for the edification of the Church and the communication of the Gospel to unbelievers. In that context, he pointed out that the way some people were speaking in unknown tongues; it was neither edifying to believers nor converting unbelievers. He pointed out the greater edification of preaching the word (prophesying) to believers and unbelievers alike in a language they understood. Paul laid out instructions for when tongues could be allowed, which would prevent useless disruption of the services. He also laid out instructions about how regular preaching was to be carried forth. Finally, Paul demanded that they respect the revelation that God had passed on to him. With that review we can start 1 Corinthians 15:1 1 / 20

2 1 Corinthians 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. The term brothers obviously refers to believers of both sexes In Acts 1:13-16 Peter addressed the whole group of 120 men and women in the upper room at Pentecost as brothers. Paul was reminding them of the gospel in which they first believed, which he taught them. Obviously, Paul was aware that some of them were now being taught a corrupted gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. The gospel Paul had preached was being corrupted. Any other gospel would not save. It is not enough just to believe. You have to believe the true Gospel that God has revealed. 1 Corinthians 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: 2 / 20

3 Here Paul reviewed the Christian two doctrines that were most important. These were not the only doctrines that Paul taught, but the ones which were critical to a saving faith. 1 Corinthians 15:3b that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, The first doctrine was that Christ died for our sins as had been promised and foretold by the Old Testament Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on [a] the third day [b] according to the Scriptures, The second doctrine was that having died for our sins and removing that charge against us, Christ was judged righteous and acceptable to the Father. Thus He was freed from the grave and raised from the dead. This had also been promised and foretold by the Old Testament. 3 / 20

4 1 Corinthians 15:5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. This resurrection was witnessed that first day by Jesus closest disciples. Paul does not mention in this account the women who saw Him that day. The term the Twelve was used collectively of the group of twelve that Jesus had chosen on the mountain. They were still referred to by that title, even when not all twelve were present, but only some of them. We know, of course, that at that meeting (Luke 24:36, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:14), neither Judas Iscariot (who was dead), nor Thomas (who was absent John 20:24) were there. 1 Corinthians 15:6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. This is the only Biblical account of this occurrence, which must have happened during the nearly forty days after His resurrection when Jesus went ahead of his disciples into Galilee. 1 Corinthians 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 4 / 20

5 The appearance to James, Jesus half brother, who later became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem for almost 20 years, also evidently occurred in Galilee. It was also in Galilee that Jesus also appeared to all the apostles, which evidently refers to the meeting when Thomas was finally present (John 20:26-29). 1 Corinthians 15:8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. Last of all means last of those listed here. From Revelation 1 we know that Christ appeared to the Apostle John in about 95 AD, over 40 years after this writing. There is no reason to suppose that He has not appeared to other Christians since. The word translated one abnormally born is the Greek word gijdt:" {ek'-tro-mah} which is literally one out of a wound (trauma). This word only appears in the New Testament this once. It has been taken by some to thus to refer to an abortion or untimely birth, but the inference seems shaky to me. Since Paul went on to show how he had became an apostle even though he was wounding the Church it seems likely that the intended meaning for the word is that he came out of the situation where he was wounding the Church. 1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 5 / 20

6 Paul was acutely aware of the mercy and grace of God in giving him the commission of going to the Gentiles. The word translated apostle is the Greek word ἀπόστολος {ä-po'-sto-los} which literally means one sent forth. In the Greek culture, it was applied to someone sent forth with orders and a commission. Paul s commission was given to him personally from Jesus Christ in Acts 26:16-18 Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. In significant ways, Paul s recognition of his total undeservedness allowed the grace of God to work more powerfully in him than even the Twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 6 / 20

7 However, both Paul and the Twelve all taught the same foundational doctrines about the death and resurrection of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? This brought Paul to the heresy that was obviously plaguing the Corinthian church. They were denying the promise of the resurrection. Some in Corinth were attacking this doctrine. We know the prevailing attitude toward resurrection of the Greek intellectuals in nearby (to Corinth) Athens from Acts: Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, We want to hear you again on this subject. Also, one of the main sects of the Jews, the Sadducees, did not believe in the Resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23). Thus, the attack on the resurrection could have been originated by either or both sides. 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. Paul points out, that if there is no resurrection, and then Christ also was not resurrected. Without the Resurrection of Christ, then the Christian faith is useless. 7 / 20

8 1 Corinthians 15:15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. Furthermore, Paul and the apostles would then have to admit to being liars. 1 Corinthians 15:16-17 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Repeated for emphasis. 1 Corinthians 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 8 / 20

9 Those who have fallen asleep are those believers who had already died. 1 Corinthians 15:19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. Why? Because, without the hope of the resurrection, Christians were enduring persecution (1 Corinthians 4:9-13) for nothing. 1 Corinthians 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Jesus was the first to be raised and given a resurrection body and thus was the first fruits. This was the significance of the fact that He was raised on the day of the Old Testament Feast of the Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:5-15). 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead 9 / 20

10 comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. This gives us an insight into God s plan. The sin of Adam, who was a man and the father of the human race, had to be paid for by a man, the uniquely born Jesus Christ. We have to ask: Why did God set it up that way? He made the rules. Why did He pass the sin nature down through the human father at birth? Couldn t He have made it easier on Himself to save the world? I personally have to conclude that He made it hard because He wanted to demonstrate the price He was willing to pay to bring His creatures to Himself. This was so they could understand the depth of His love. 1 Corinthians 15:23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Later in the chapter (verses 51-52) we find that when he comes refers to the Rapture of the Church when He will call His Church home. 1 Corinthians 15:24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 10 / 20

11 Jesus will hand over the kingdom after He has reigned for a thousand years. 1 Corinthians 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. At that time, Satan will be finally thrown into the Lake of Fire. 1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. At that time, all who have rejected a relationship with God and His mercy will be judged and thrown into the Lake of Fire. Until that time, they will be held in the chambers of Hell. This includes the fallen angels and unsaved humanity. This was confirmed in the Revelation to the Apostle John in much more detail nearly forty years later: Revelation 20:7-15 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 11 / 20

12 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth Gog and Magog to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. [c] Since the Book of Revelation was not written by John until nearly 40 years later, one has to wonder where Paul got this revelation. Perhaps it was in the vision he described in 2 Corinthians: 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know God knows. And I know that this man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 1 Corinthians 15:27 For he has put everything under his feet. [d] Now when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, 12 / 20

13 who put everything under Christ. This seems to be aimed at Greek students of philosophy that want to argue the most obvious points. These were like the people I have heard who argue that if God cannot sin, He cannot be all powerful. 1 Corinthians 15:28 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. This will happen in the eternal state. I don t think any of us has any way to imagine what that will look like, except that it will be beyond anything we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). 1 Corinthians 15:29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? Paul returns to his argument for the importance of resurrection. It seems evident here that a 13 / 20

14 practice of a baptism for the dead had been done in Corinth. This practice is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture and we have absolutely no idea what it was. My best guess is that a living believer was baptized on behalf of a dead believer who had not lived to understand the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies in Jesus. This would have been done ceremonially, like all water baptisms to signify what was done actually in the spiritual realm. It was probably done to comfort the loved ones of the dead believer. It certainly did not confer salvation on dead unbelievers. However, its practice in Corinth made Paul s point that central to the Christian faith was hope for a resurrection after death. 1 Corinthians 15:30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? Paul s own life demonstrated his deep faith in a resurrection. Why else would he endanger his life? 1 Corinthians 15:31 I die every day I mean that, brothers just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. What did Paul mean by I die every day? I think he was referring to a death to sin which he later wrote of in Romans: Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 14 / 20

15 1 Corinthians 15:32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Paul, who was writing from Ephesus, was only supposing this could happen. We know from the Acts 19 account of Paul s stay in Ephesus at that time that this did not happen. What Paul is saying is that if all there is of this life is what humanity sees, and then we should follow the philosophy of the Epicureans, whose main tenet was Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. Although this paraphrases what Proverbs 13:20 says, it is a quotation of the Greek poet Menander. Evidently Paul was referring to the fact that some of the Corinthians were maintaining close friendships with godless people who were corrupting their knowledge of the Gospel with Greek philosophy and denying the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God I say this to your shame. 15 / 20

16 Those believers needed to distance themselves from people who were corrupting their faith and thus leading them into sin. Everything that does not come from faith is sin {Romans 14:23b). 1 Corinthians 15:35 But someone may ask, How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come? Paul refers to another question about the Resurrection which seemed to have troubled the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 15:36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. Paul is somewhat incredulous of the problems the Corinthians have with understanding what an omnipotent God can do. However, to help them out he makes an analogy to a seed. 16 / 20

17 1 Corinthians 15:37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. A seed of wheat is just the remnant of plant that died after the previous harvest. It is not the leafy plant, but just a hard dry seed. 1 Corinthians 15:38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. However, God, in His magnificent design, allowed the hard dry seed to regenerate a whole new plant or body. 1 Corinthians 15:39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 17 / 20

18 Now Paul drew attention to types of fleshy bodies. They are of many varieties. 1 Corinthians 15:40-41 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. God s variety in creation is also shown in the heavens. 1 Corinthians 15:42a-44a So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. God s power and imagination of design in nature will also be shown in the resurrection of the dead. Our resurrection bodies will be of a design that we cannot comprehend with our natural senses. 18 / 20

19 1 Corinthians 15:44b If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. [a] There is no preposition on [b] This is a phrase that causes some confusion in the chronology of the last week. Just in the account where Jesus challenged His disciples to say who they thought He was, Matthew, and Luke report (Matthew 16:21, Luke 9:22) that Jesus said He would rise the third day, and Mark reports (Mark 8:31) that Jesus said He would rise after three days. The Gospel of Matthew has three statements about when Jesus said He would rise. In Matthew 12:40, Jesus made it clear that He would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. In Matthew 20:19 He said He would rise the third day. In Matthew 27:63 the Pharisees remembered that Jesus said After three days I will rise again. Evidently, the phrase, the third day can be understood somewhat like the English sentence, It is three days and he hasn t come. We would understand that to mean that all three days have passed. In all the passages of Scripture that speak about the third day, in the Greek there is no preposition on as in on the third day, although the NIV supplies an on for every third day passage. The on was omitted from the King James, which can be depended on to be literal. However, in the passages which speak about after three days (Matthew 27:63, Mark 9:31, Mark 8:31, Mark 10:34) there is always the preposition :gj" {meta} which means after. [c] In other words, regardless of his good deeds, he will be condemned. The book of works cannot contain a list of sins, because Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world, and they are no longer an issue. 19 / 20

20 [d] Psalms 8:6 20 / 20

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