Chapter 15

Resurrection and the Gospel Message:
(Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
Paul reminds the importance of the gospel in this chapter. This is because the gospel by which we are being saved but also strengthened in our daily battle against sin by the gospel.  It is the ongoing strength that we need throughout the Christian life. Sinners need to hear the gospel and saints need to meditate on the gospel. Paul summarizes the gospel in terms of Christ's death for our sins, burial and resurrection.  Christ endured judgment on our behalf to save us according to the Scriptures.  Everything in the Bible ultimately points us to Christ and his atoning work on the cross. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is vital to the preaching of the gospel.  Christ's appearance to eyewitnesses confirms his resurrection. Therefore, we are not building our faith on myth or legend but on verifiable historical facts.  The Corinthian believers were saved yet some of them were skeptical about the resurrection of believers.  So Paul defends the doctrine of resurrection by saying that it is vital to the historical preaching of the Gospel. Paul received the gospel by direct revelation from the Lord (Galatians 1:12). The Corinthian believers were saved by grace through faith in Christ.  If they have not believed in the resurrection, their faith was in vain. The gospel is not merely the good news to get saved.  It is also the power of God for Christian living (Romans 1:17).  It is not only needed for evangelizing unbelievers, but also essential for Christian discipleship. The mission of the church is to preach the gospel and make disciples. The decision to believe Christ is the first step in the disciple making process.  It is wonderful to guide someone into a relationship with Christ but the great commission is to make disciples.  The discipleship involves helping people to grow in their relationship with Christ and equipping them to live a life that is fruitful and effective. Jesus made disciples by inviting them to be with him (John 1:39).  He modeled a life that we should imitate. In the gospel of Matthew, we see the strategy of discipleship (Matthew 28:18-20).  Mark gives the scope of it (Mark 16:15).  In the gospel of Luke we see the essence of discipleship (Luke 24:47).  John gives the source of the great commission (John 20:21). The gospel is not primarily about getting people out of hell into heaven, but about getting God out of heaven into people's life.  It is sad that today evangelism has become like inviting people to a cruise and has taken a back seat in the church. The life of discipleship requires ongoing growth in our understanding of Christ and his ministry.  
The Contents of the Gospel: 
(Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-11)
Paul summarizes the content of the gospel in verses 3 and 4. “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried and he was raised from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures”.  It was the fulfillment of what has been predicted in the Old Testament (John 20:9; Acts 26:23; Psalms 16:10).  Christ's resurrection was  confirmed by his appearance to many eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-7). They include “Peter, the twelve apostles, and the five hundred disciples, most of them are still alive”. Then Jesus appeared to James and last of all to Paul.  James was the half-brother of Jesus who was once an unbeliever (Matthew 13:55; John 7:5).  Paul considers himself the least of all apostles yet he too had the honor of seeing the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:9).   Paul says “I am the least of all the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church but I am what I am by the grace of God” (15:9-10). He worked harder than all apostles yet it was because of the grace of God. It makes no difference who preached the gospel to Corinthians, the important thing is that they got saved.  The gospel is the historical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).
The Risen Christ gives Hope: 
(Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
Paul has established the fact that resurrection of Christ is an essential part of the gospel            (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).  Paul asks “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:12).  It was hard for Corinthians to  believe that their body will be resurrected because they were influenced by the Gnostic idea that the physical body is a hindrance to true spirituality.  Therefore they thought that there is no such thing as bodily resurrection from the dead.  It implies that even Jesus has not been raised from the dead  (15:13). Paul presents the consequences of denying the resurrection in verses 13 to 19.  Paul’s logic is inescapable. 

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either.
If Christ was not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain.
Then we become false witnesses by testifying that God has raised Christ from the dead.
If Christ was not raised, our faith is useless and we are still in the condemnation of sins.
If Christ was not raised, all who have died believing in Christ have perished.
If we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are of all people most miserable. 
If Christ was not risen we are deceived and we become deceivers.  
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history. If Christ is not raised from the dead, his death does not have any power to forgive sin. Resurrection gives hope that believers will join Jesus for eternity with physically resurrected bodies. Unlike other religions, Christianity is based on the teaching of Christ's death and resurrection. Christ does not merely show us the way, the truth and life to God, but he himself is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Those who trust in Christ have eternal life. 
Resurrection and the future blessings: 
(Read 1 Corinthians 15:20-28)
Since Chris did rise from the dead, there are great blessings for those who belong to him           (1 Corinthians 15:20).  His resurrection is the ground of our faith, our fellowship and our own resurrection. Christ has become the first fruits of a harvest.  Someday the reminder of the harvest will be gathered. In Israel the first fruits always anticipated a harvest (Leviticus 23:9-14).  It gives hope that someday the remaining harvest will be gathered. In Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  It does not teach that there is a universal resurrection but each in his own order.  Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to him (1 Corinthians 15:23).   Christ was the first to experience the resurrection of the body from the dead to become the first fruit.  When Christ returns to rapture the church, those who died in Christ including the Old Testament saints will be raised from the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:14-19).  Christ will reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25).  Then the wicked will be raised from the dead. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).  After that the end will come when Christ will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father (15:24). In essence the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same but in person and ministry they are different. In the incarnate Son is obedient to the Father. When all things are subjected to the Son, he will present himself to God.  Then God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).  Thus the Father who gave his Son authority over all things will become supreme over everything. The believers who battle against sin and Satan have the blessed hope that their greatest joy awaits at the resurrection. 

Resurrection and Suffering:  
(Read 1 Corinthians  15-29-34)
The hope of resurrection strengthens us to endure suffering and pain today. Our bodies which are made to live in a perishable world will be transformed for the imperishable world to come. This hope also strengthens us to devote our energy not to the temporary pleasures of this life but to wait for the promise that one day we will share in Christ’s glory.  In Corinth some were baptized on behalf of the dead. Paul asks “If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? (1 Corinthians 15:29).   Since Baptism symbolizes death and resurrection, it is meaningless to be baptized, if there is no resurrection of the dead.  This custom is not scriptural and not practiced in the church today. If there is no resurrection, there is no sense in suffering. Paul asks “If there is no resurrection, what value was there in fighting wild animals at Ephesus and facing death threat every day” (1 Corinthians 15:32). It gives only empty hope like “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die”.  Scholars suggest that here, Paul quotes the proverb from the Greek poet Menander “Bad company corrupts good morals”          (1 Corinthians 15:33).  To their shame, some in the Corinthian church questioned the doctrine of resurrection. Paul urges Corinthians to come to their senses and stop sinning (1 Corinthians 15:34).  Paul says to their shame that some of them don’t even know God.  Only when we embrace the doctrine of the death and the resurrection of Christ, we will find strength to endure hardship for the gospel.
The Nature of the Resurrection Body:   
(Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-49)
Paul gives his insight on the nature of the resurrected body here.  Someone may ask “How will the dead be raised?  What kind of body do they have?" (1 Corinthians 15:36). Paul answers these questions with an analogy from nature. Whenever a seed is sown in the ground it must die first before it can germinate.  A grain is sown, a plant is the result. God gives it a body according to the seed that was sown.  Diversity exists among the living beings in nature. There is a difference between the physical body and the resurrected body.  Our earthly body is perishable but the resurrected body is imperishable.  There is nothing glorious about a dead body but when it is raised it will be full of glory.  A weak body is buried now.  When it is raised it will be full of power.  A natural human body is buried now but when it is raised it will be a spiritual body  (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).  Our resurrection bodies will possess all the life giving power of God's Spirit (15:44).  It will experience the very same resurrection qualities that Jesus himself experienced when he rose from the dead (15:49). Paul contrasts the first man Adam with the last Adam, Christ.  The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life giving Spirit (Genesis 2:7; John 5:21).  First Adam gives physical life but the last Adam gives eternal life (Romans 5:14; John 5:26).  First Adam was made from the dust while second Adam came from heaven.  Every human being has an earthly body just like Adam’s but our heavenly bodies will be just like Christ’s glorified body (1 Corinthians15:49; 1 John 3:2).  Although believers will resemble Christ morally, they don’t look like him in their glorified body.  Each believer will have a distinct personality and be recognizable in heaven. As the earthly planets reflect different glory, believers will reflect different glory in their resurrected bodies.  In their glorified body they will be able to live a life that is free from sin and its corruption. This is our blessed hope. It is actually the path to eternal life. Do you have this blessed hope in Christ?
Resurrection and our Victory: 
(Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
Paul’s final attention turns to what happens to those who are living at the time of the second coming of Christ.  Paul says that now we live in a perishable body and it can’t inherit the kingdom of God.  This perishable body will change into an imperishable body that lives forever.  Paul shares a mystery that was revealed to him by God.  “We shall not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died in Christ will be raised imperishable. Then the living believers shall be transformed so that they will never die (1 Corinthians 15:52).  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality.  Those who are raised from the dead will shout the victory song “O grave, where is your victory” (1 Corinthians 15:55). The living believers who are changed shall shout “O death where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).  Paul thanked God who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57).  This is a reference to the complete victory we are going to receive when Christ returns. So, Paul exhorts believers that the victory that God has given us through Christ  should motivate  us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).  One day we will share the glory of resurrection. The promise of resurrection gives us energy and purpose to our daily life because we know that “Our labor in the Lord is not in vain”.  Do you have this confidence in Christ? 





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