The Resurrection of Christ
15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
The Resurrection of the Dead
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.
Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
The Resurrection Body
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Mystery and Victory
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Truly, Paul writes of some of the deepest foundations and hopes of Christ and belief. Jesus died for our sins, He rose again, He will come back. It is the belief system that separates from other religions of today and is the ultimate hope to which we cling. For Paul, he speaks personally a moment as to the grace he received from Jesus as he ruthlessly persecuted the early church. Looking back at the path he was on and the path he is at this writing it was nothing more than an undeserved grace.
“By the grace of God I am what I am…”1 Corinthians 15:10
Consider a moment our own state and life of which Jesus has given such hope and grace; such calling to us who were so lost. It is more than humbling when we look back at the destructive path we were on, yet somewhere He broke through that mindset and called us to Him. Oh, where would we be if this had not happened? Where would we rest if He had not brought such undeserved grace and mercy? It is something to consider. By the grace of God, I am where I am today.
But Paul’s diligence through his spelling so much deep truth of who Jesus is and what He did brings a challenge at the end of these thoughts. Yes, He speaks of Christ’s return but also encourages the reader that we all have work to do. Just as we were broken and lost, so many others are too.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”– 1 Corinthians 15:58
It’s a serious call to not give up. After 57 verses explaining this grace of Jesus, His resurrection that has brought such hope, nothing we do in this life in leading and working with the broken is in vain. I know there are times it feels that way, right? There are times we give and give and wonder what difference it makes.
In particular, if we don’t see any change taking place; let’s say we don’t see the results – we’re apt to want to move on or give up. Paul’s admonishment and really a good wake up call for all of us is to not let the tangible overrule the Heavenly perspective of what the Spirit of Christ is doing. If Jesus conquered the grave and yes, if He has the ultimate victory – this should not affect the way we live right now and how we interact and lead, regardless of what effect we see it having.
Discouragement comes easily – I know that personally. But discouragement comes when I take my eyes off of Jesus and why I’m doing what I do and instead rest upon what I see. Often what I see does not show what the Spirit is doing beneath.
Do not give up. Do not cease to work for Him in the field He’s placed you. It is not in vain. Be immovable.
1 Corinthians 15 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
1 Corinthians 15 is a critical chapter that supports the evidence of Jesus Christ as well as His death and resurrection. Paul records an ancient oral tradition, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
A lot of people do not realize that the book of 1 Corinthians is widely accepted by skeptics as a legitimate book attributed to the apostle Paul. Those who do not accept it as divine still believe it is historical and it was written by Paul. No serious or credible scholar rejects this truth. Factually-speaking, everything comes together in this chapter. Think of it as three roads coming together at the same destination. (1) Paul’s personal encounter with a risen Jesus… (2) The Gospel predicted by Scripture… (3) The eyewitness testimony of Peter, James, and the apostles… (v. 7)
Paul writes that he “delivered what he received,” meaning, he took what he believed to be the Gospel events and compared them with what the disciples had witnessed firsthand.
Galatians 1:18-20 GNB It was three years later that I went to Jerusalem to obtain information from Peter, and I stayed with him for two weeks. 19 I did not see any other apostle except James, the Lord’s brother. 20 What I write is true. God knows that I am not lying!
Galatians 2:2 GNB I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure.
The reason all this is so critical is because Paul sums up the facts of his investigation. They are overwhelming.
- The risen Christ appeared to over 500 witnesses at one time.
- The risen Christ appeared to Peter and the other apostles.
- The risen Christ appeared to James (his half-brother and formerly a skeptic like Paul) who converted and became a church leader.
- Later, the risen Christ appeared to Paul on Damascus Road.
If we calculate the dates of all these events, we can conclude that Paul (an eyewitness of the risen Christ) compared his testimony with Peter and James (eyewitnesses to Jesus’ earthly ministry and of the risen Christ) approximately 5 years after Jesus died on the cross! Paul writes in verse 6 that some of the 500 witnesses are still alive. Anyone who was reading this account at the time could go investigate for themselves and talk to these people (5 years later) to see if they really did see a risen Jesus. The evidence is staggering.
This is why the resurrection of Jesus has such a strong foundation. There is no other reasonable explanation that can account for all the eyewitness testimony and credible documentation. Only God the Father could orchestrate such a solid collection of evidence that still speaks to lost souls today!