1 1Crinthians 15B Our entry int chapter 15 f this letter gave us a clear-eyed view f the gspel Paul tld the church this was the message he received frm the Lrd and delivered t them The stry has never changed: Jesus died fr ur sins accrding t what Gd s wrd He remained dead fr three days Then resurrected t prve His pwer f death This message was the ne they heard and believed, if they didn t believe in vain And having believed, this was the message that saved them There is n ther message that ffers salvatin Having seen Paul begin his teaching n resurrectin in this way, we might ask why was Paul cncerned abut the church s understanding f the Gspel? The answer as we learned last week is that the resurrectin f Jesus bdy is central t the gspel itself If resurrectin isn t true, bth fr Jesus as well as fr us, then the hpe f ur faith evaprates Wh cares abut Jesus if He isn t a slutin t death? If death is the end f me, then why care abut Jesus claims r teaching? If dn t in Jesus resurrectin, then I haven t believed in the gspel This is Paul s cncern As the church rejects the ntin f resurrectin, they are revealing they have never truly accepted the gspel itself That s why Paul asked if they had believed in vain, which means t have never believed at all 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
2 1Crinthians 15B 2 f 13 S as Paul mves frward in chapter 15, he will re-establish fr the church the truth f resurrectin Beginning with the fact that Jesus wn resurrectin was affirmed by many eye witnesses, nt merely by Paul s testimny alne 1Cr. 15:3 Fr I delivered t yu as f first imprtance what I als received, that Christ died fr ur sins accrding t the Scriptures, 1Cr. 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised n the third day accrding t the Scriptures, 1Cr. 15:5 and that He appeared t Cephas, then t the twelve. 1Cr. 15:6 After that He appeared t mre than five hundred brethren at ne time, mst f whm remain until nw, but sme have fallen asleep; 1Cr. 15:7 then He appeared t James, then t all the apstles; I re-read the verses we cvered last week t set the cntext f Paul s testimny Because the resurrectin is a key element in the Gspel Jesus lives again, we re tld This was the message Paul delivered t the church, that their Savir was alive again Jesus death n the crss was nt the end f Christianity It was the beginning Because Jesus lives again Then, Paul reminds the Crinthian church that this reality didn t depend slely n Paul s wrd In fact, Jesus appeared t Peter first n the day f His resurrectin Luke tells us this in Luke 24:34 Then Jesus appeared t the rest f the 12 n the first night after He resurrected The twelve refers t the eleven Jesus selected plus Matthias, wh was selected t replace Judas by thrwing lts 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
3 1Crinthians 15B 3 f 13 This cnfirms that Paul did nt cnsider himself ne f the twelve Als, Paul was nt called t be an apstle until lng after this appearance All these men can jin Paul in testifying that Jesus truly was resurrected in the flesh Why des Paul mentin Cephas specifically? Yu shuld remember at the beginning f this letter hw Paul addressed the prblem f factins develping in this church Sme were saying they were f Paul r f Aplls And sme were saying they were f Cephas r Peter S fr thse in the church wh aligned themselves with Peter while rejecting the idea f resurrectin, Paul reminds them that their man Peter als testified that Jesus resurrected Then in v.6, Paul tells the church that at ne gathering Jesus appeared t ver 500 believers, shwing Himself t be risen and alive We have n ther mentin f this event in scripture But Paul mentins this appearance as if the Crinthian church wuld already knw f this event Since Paul is writing this letter nly abut 23 years after Jesus resurrectin, it s likely that the church was still familiar with the stries f Jesus appearances And it s als credible that many f thse 500 witnesses were still arund at this time as Paul says S that if anyne in the Crinthian church dubted Paul s testimny, they had many ther eye witnesses wh culd verify the claim f Jesus resurrectin Beynd the 500, Jesus appeared t His half brther, James, and t the rest f the apstles Ntice that Paul separates the twelve apstles in v.5 frm all the apstles in v Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
4 1Crinthians 15B 4 f 13 This reminds us that there were mre than 12 men gifted as apstles in the early church, including men like James and Paul And it reminds us that n ne can be cnsidered an apstle unless he has seen the risen Lrd in the flesh Which is why apstles are n lnger present in the church The Lrd used these men t establish His church in the earliest days thrugh their testimnies In fact, the early church was established entirely n the basis f eye witness testimny backed by spiritual pwer thrugh the apstlic gifting The apstles and ther disciples f Jesus and thers wh culd testify frm a firsthand perspective f Wh Jesus was and what He did They preached His teaching They demnstrated His fulfillment f Old Testament prphecy And they reprted what they experienced when the resurrected Lrd appeared befre them We might wnder why did anyne believe their wrd in the first place? We might expect that many peple wuld dismiss their testimny as simply the rantings f a crazy sect f religius fanatics And many, many peple did cme t that cnclusin But sme believed by the pwer f the Spirit, as Jesus prmised Jhn 15:20 Remember the wrd that I said t yu, A slave is nt greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will als persecute yu; if they kept My wrd, they will keep yurs als. But as yu wnder at hw the church was funded n merely the testimny f a few men, dn t frget that this is still hw the church grws tday Nthing has changed, really Jesus fllwers take the message f Wh Jesus is and what He has dne, and we preach it t the wrld We t shw hw Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prphecy 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
5 1Crinthians 15B 5 f 13 And like the early church, we als have eye witnesses wh testify that Jesus truly died and resurrected Where d we this eye witness testimny? In the New Testament The NT writers are all apstles, fr that was the test required befre a writing culd jin the cann f scripture All NT scripture was authred by an apstle wh saw the resurrected Lrd And we have their eye witnesses testimny still tday in the frm f the Gspels and the letters Truly, we re in the same situatin that the early church fund itself in, bringing a message t the wrld that many will reject but sme will receive It s a message that must be accepted n faith in Gd s wrd Just as the early church grew n thse wh had faith in the eye witness testimny f men Christ chse t carry that message Tday the church grws n the basis f faith in the wrd f Gd, where these same testimnies have been recrded fr ur sake This is why Paul says elsewhere in Rmans 10:17 Rm. 10:17 S faith cmes frm hearing, and hearing by the wrd f Christ. Finally, Paul reminds the church that he als saw the risen Lrd 1Cr. 15:8 and last f all, as t ne untimely brn, He appeared t me als. 1Cr. 15:9 Fr I am the least f the apstles, and nt fit t be called an apstle, because I persecuted the church f Gd. 1Cr. 15:10 But by the grace f Gd I am what I am, and His grace tward me did nt prve vain; but I labred even mre than all f them, yet nt I, but the grace f Gd with me. 1Cr. 15:11 Whether then it was I r they, s we preach and s yu believed. In great humility, Paul describes himself as the the least f the apstles He says he was the last ne t see the risen Lrd, which is true Paul s experience happened while he was traveling n a rad frm Jerusalem t Damascus, Syria 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
6 1Crinthians 15B 6 f 13 This event ccurred many years after the earlier appearances But this was n less an appearance f the resurrected Lrd In fact, it s fair t say it was an even mre dramatic appearance than the thers Even thugh Paul is cnfident he was every bit as much an apstle as any f the thers, he als acknwledges his apstleship came in an different way Paul says in v.8 that he was untimely brn The phrase in Greek literally means abnrmally brn In fact, the phrase was used in Greek t describe a premature birth r even an abrtin By the cntext, Paul meant his cmmissining f an apstle came in a very different way than the first twelve Paul wasn t appinted by the Lrd in the early days f Christ s ministry as were the ther apstles Paul didn t spend three years walking with Christ befre His death And in fact, befre he was an apstle, Paul was the chief persecutr f the church S in these ways, Paul was certainly did nt have the typical entry int his apstleship Nevertheless, Paul says by the grace f Gd, he is what he is as an apstle By Gd s unmerited favr and nthing else Paul became the apstle wh then funded the Crinthian church His histry f disbedience, ignrance and hatred tward Gd s peple were verlked by Gd And in mercy the Lrd called Paul int faith and cmmissined him t accmplish great things Gd s mercy t Paul was als mercy t the rest f us Because when Gd cnverted a man like Paul, the Lrd gave the rest f us hpe indeed 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
7 1Crinthians 15B 7 f 13 And the mre yu reflect n what Gd culd accmplish thrugh a man like Paul, the mre reasn yu have t serve Christ despite yur weaknesses Yu and I may nt be the mst talented r well-trained servants f Christ We may have cme t faith late in ur lives r simply waited a lng time t live up t ur faith We may be saddled with physical limitatins, financial limitatins, emtinal baggage, and self-dubt We may have a past that includes great sin and shameful behavirs But I believe Paul s example exists just s Gd can remind us that such things are nt barriers t Gd s grace Our life befre Christ des nt dictate ur usefulness t Gd Our talents r strength are nt limitatins t Gd s pwer wrking thrugh us Our reputatins as unbelievers went t the grave with Jesus S that we can serve Him in a new life Rm. 6:4 Therefre we have been buried with Him thrugh baptism int death, s that as Christ was raised frm the dead thrugh the glry f the Father, s we t might walk in newness f life. And this is what Paul did, fr he says Gd s grace given t him wasn t in vain Because Paul made the mst f the pprtunity the Lrd gave him Paul labred mre than any ther apstle, Paul says He started late but ran faster Which is clearly evidenced bth by Paul s jurneys and his writings, which frm the bulk f the New Testament cann Remember, there were many apstles, sme f whm yu have never heard mentined We dn t even knw their names 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
8 1Crinthians 15B 8 f 13 And thers we may knw by name, like Matthias, yet we see n recrd f their wrk recrded in scripture Perhaps sme f them are missing frm scripture because they didn t wrk very hard in their appinted ffice Perhaps they were nt as diligent r dedicated t the task the Lrd appinted I can t say what s true in the case f the apstles, but I can say that we face a similar chice in ur walk with the Lrd We can take the grace given t us and make the mst f it Or we can be the ne wh causes Gd s grace t be given in vain The ne wh squanders the pprtunity the Lrd gave us t serve Him Clearly, we shuld seek t imitate Paul s example S Paul s pening argument in favr f resurrectin is that many eye witnesses testified t the reality f Christ s raising frm the dead This brings us t Paul s secnd argument in supprt f resurrectin, an argument frm lgic 1Cr. 15:12 Nw if Christ is preached, that He has been raised frm the dead, hw d sme amng yu say that there is n resurrectin f the dead? 1Cr. 15:13 But if there is n resurrectin f the dead, nt even Christ has been raised; 1Cr. 15:14 and if Christ has nt been raised, then ur preaching is vain, yur faith als is vain. 1Cr. 15:15 Mrever we are even fund t be false witnesses f Gd, because we testified against Gd that He raised Christ, whm He did nt raise, if in fact the dead are nt raised. Paul nw beings t demnstrate that the Crinthian s view n resurrectin was self-cntradictry with their Christian message First, Paul asks the questin if the heart f the Gspel message itself claims that Jesus resurrected, then hw can the Church als preach that there is n such thing as resurrectin If we hld that there is n such thing as a dead bdy cming back t life, then by necessity we wuld be saying that Christ s dead bdy was never resurrected either 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
9 1Crinthians 15B 9 f 13 And if Christ was never resurrected as ur Gspel message claims, then ur preaching is in vain Once again, the wrd vain means empty r amunting t nthing In ther wrds, if Christ didn t actually rise frm the dead, then then the is preaching a wrthless message t the wrld Mre imprtantly, if the message the church is preaching t thers is wrthless, then the church s faith is als empty and wrthless Our faith in smething is nly as sund and valuable as the bject f ur faith If we place ur faith in smething that is wrthless, then ur faith is itself wrthless I think many unbelievers g thrugh life assuming that generic faith will save them That even if they happen t place their faith in the wrng thing r wrng persn, Gd will nevertheless give them credit fr the sincerity f their faith It s very fashinable these days fr peple t describe themselves as spiritual And fr peple t talk abut faith in abstract terms, as in I m a persn f strng faith, withut ever defining the bject f their faith But blind faith is nt saving faith, accrding t scripture And neither des sincerity Yu can be sincerely wrng and die in yur sins That is the pint Paul is making here he pints ut that they cannt simultaneusly claim faith in Christ while at the same time denying the very bject f that faith Christians have faith in the death and resurrectin f Jesus Christ Because we find ur hpe in believing that just as the Sn was raised frm the dead, s shall we T reject the resurrectin is t reject Christ 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
10 1Crinthians 15B 10 f 13 Mrever, Paul says in v.15 that if the testimnies f resurrectin are nt true, then all the apstles are false witnesses These men were universally lying abut the resurrectin, because all say that Jesus died and was resurrected They all testified that Jesus rse frm the dead But if the entire cncept f resurrectin is false, then we have n chice but t cnclude that all the apstles were frauds and liars If s, then why d the Crinthians care abut anything Paul r an ther apstle says cncerning Christ and Christianity? Why bther with any f it if yu believe that the crnerstne claim is nthing but a lie? Imagine yu were n a jury hearing testimny frm a witness in a trial when yu learned that a key detail in a witnesses testimny turn ut t be a lie Wuld yu trust anything else this witness said? N Likewise, Paul says the church is taking a self-cntradictry stance cncerning Paul s testimny The church is willing t accept Paul s wrd that Jesus was Lrd That the Gspel saves them frm sin and that they have becme children f Gd by faith And yet they believe resurrectin is impssible, which means Paul was lying when he testifies that Jesus resurrected C.S. Lewis made a similar bservatin abut thse wh say Jesus the man was a gd teacher r even a prphet f Gd, yet they dn t believer His claims t being Gd in the flesh That is a mutually self-cntradictry stance, which C.S. Lewis summed up in his bk Mere Christianity with the phrase liar, lunatic r Lrd Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic r He was truly Lrd He can t be merely a gd teacher, because He claimed t be ne with Gd 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
11 1Crinthians 15B 11 f 13 He can t be a gd rle mdel r prphet because He tld peple that unless they fllw Him, they will nt see the Father The nly sensible stance we can take is that Jesus was a liar r a lunatic...r He was truly Wh He said He was: Lrd This is the dilemma facing the church in Crinth They cannt reject resurrectin as a cncept while still embracing the Gspel They cannt fllw Paul and Aplls as leaders in the church while simultaneusly thinking they are lying abut key facts They cannt say they believe in the Gspel while rejecting its surce f hpe S Paul brings this chain f lgic t its inevitable cnclusin 1Cr. 15:18 Then thse als wh have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 1Cr. 15:19 If we have hped in Christ in this life nly, we are f all men mst t be pitied. If resurrectin isn t pssible, then thse believer wh have already died in Christ have perished Paul uses a euphemism fr death: sleep T sleep in the cntext f a discussin f resurrectin is a reference t dying Paul asks what wuld it mean fr thse believers wh have already died if resurrectin never happens It wuld mean that these peple will never again live They were allwed t live nce, but then they have perished The Greek wrd fr perish is apllumi, which means t be utterly destryed T cease t exist at all In ther wrds, withut the prmise f resurrectin, we wuld have t cnclude that ur present life n earth is the nly life we have And if that were true, then the hpe we have been given in Christ is an earthly hpe nly 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
12 1Crinthians 15B 12 f 13 The benefits f placing ur trust in Jesus cannt extend past the grave, and s what gd are they at all? Adpting the Christian viewpint means placing yurself in a psitin f suffering It means self-denial in an attempt t bey the Lrd It means hardship And it ges n further than that, then f what value was it? Paul says if it were true that we perish when we died, then we are the mst pitiful f all men n earth While the rest f the wrld at least gets t enjy their brief life n earth, we wuld be suffering fr the sake f Christ but t n reward Fr scripture tells us that the rewards f ur service t Gd cme in a future time n earth But we can nly enjy thse future mments if we re alive again t experiencing them Jesus made this same bservatin during an encunter with the Sadducees, which was a religius sect within Israel that als rejected the ntin f resurrectin As Jesus was addressing there challenge t Him cncerning resurrectin, He answered them this way Luke 20:37 But that the dead are raised, even Mses shwed, in the passage abut the burning bush, where he calls the Lrd THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. Luke 20:38 Nw He is nt the Gd f the dead but f the living; fr all live t Him. Jesus reminded the crwd that Gd made a cvenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacb That cvenant prmised these men they wuld inherit the land f Canaan ne day But all these men died withut having received thse prmises in their lifetimes 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
13 1Crinthians 15B 13 f 13 Therefre, the nly way Gd can remain true t His prmises is if these men live again ne day And in that future day, the Lrd will finally fulfill His prmises t them t give them the land And then they will enjy the inheritance Gd prmised S Paul has cncluded his crrectin f the church fr their flish thinking n the matter f resurrectin Next, he begins his teaching n the true understanding f resurrectin Including n the way it happens and why it must happen And als, the timing fr when it will happen t every believer in Jesus Christ 2014 Verse By Verse Ministry Internatinal ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.