A STUDY OF THE RESURRECTION CHAPTER – 1 CORINTHIANS 15
by Larry A. Smail
PAUL, THE APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES wrote the books of the Bible known as 1st Corinthians, and 2nd Corinthians. These letters were written by Paul to answer questions, and concerns (And to correct issues) from the Corinthian, Gentile Christians. This study will deal with their questions on resurrection, and to reaffirm the Gospel Message as preached by Paul.
Corinth was a seaport, at the time of Paul. The area was known for great commerce. Unfortunately, the seaport was known for extreme immorality, and pagan worship. Paul, after the church’s establishment, moved on to other areas to preach the gospel message. These people of Corinth were having difficulties in adjusting from their recent conversions from their past, pagan lifestyles. They needed help, and wrote to Paul for guidance.
Paul had preached to these Gentiles of the good news, or the gospel of Grace. Some Corinthians became believers of this gospel message which we will see shortly. However, they began to struggle with the truth. Jewish-Jesus believers, yet law-keepers, who often followed Paul, demanded these Gentile believers submit to Mosaic Law. This issue became a problem with Paul, so much, that he ended up confronting the apostles at Jerusalem. (You can read of this confrontation with Peter, James, John and the others in Acts 15, and Galatians 2. This Jerusalem Council occurred around twenty years after the cross, and resurrection of Christ. The apostles were still law-keepers, at this time. Most do not realize that fact!) Also, the Corinthian believers were still struggling over their past ways of life.
The people of Corinth were waiting for the second coming of Christ, as was Paul. Everybody hoped the second advent would be soon. However, during this wait, the people would see divisions erupt within their church. This often happens. Also, doubts were coming to be the norm due to the Jewish believers telling them they must follow Mosaic Law. They were doubting the resurrection of believers. I am sure pagan influences abounded.
Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians deals with resurrection questions.
1 CORINTHIANS 15, AND THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION
This chapter, immediately, has Paul reminding the Corinthians as to the purpose of the gospel of grace for salvation. This message has the words Paul always preached in his travels. He wrote: I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, and you have received, wherein you stand. In other words, this good news message was heard by these pagan Gentiles, and they believed the gospel message. Paul continued, by which you are SAVED if you keep in memory, unless you believed in vain. This simply states that because these Corinthians heard, and believed, the gospel they were saved. If they didn’t truly believe the gospel message their belief was in vain, and thus they were not saved.(Verses 1-2)
Beginning in verse 3, Paul continued that He had delivered this gospel just as he received the message from the RISEN CHRIST! (Galatians 1:11-12 records this revelation of Paul.) He wrote, I CERTIFY TO THE BELIEVERS THAT THIS GOSPEL I PREACHED DID NOT COME FROM MAN. HE DIDN’T RECEIVE THIS GOSPEL FROM MAN, AND HE WASN’T TAUGHT THIS GOSPEL BY MAN, BUT BY REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST!!!!! ….IMPORTANT WORDS!
Paul stated that he, RECEIVED THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE. (Old Testament Prophecies.) The following words are the Gospel of Grace for Salvation.
CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, AND WAS BURIED, AND ROSE AGAIN ON THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE!!!
THAT IS IT!!! BELIEVE IT WITH FAITH!!!
One is required to BELIEVE the above mentioned gospel for salvation! Note Paul doesn’t say someone is required to belong to any specific denomination; be baptized in water; tithe; be circumcised; or
observe special days, avoid certain foods…
TO BE SAVED ONE HAS TO ONLY BELIEVE WITH FAITH!
How does one know this is the way to being saved after the cross, and resurrection? See Galatians 1, where Paul rebuked the Gentiles at the Galatia church. Beginning with verse 6, Paul wrote that he was marveled, or astonished, these, once pagan, Gentiles had quickly removed themselves from Christ’s Grace to another gospel! He continued, stating the gospel they were following was actually NOT ANOTHER GOSPEL, BUT A PERVERTED GOSPEL. Again, the Jewish, yet law-keeping, believers of Christ had followed Paul demanding Jewish law had to be adhered to.
Paul wrote, “IF WE, OR AN ANGEL, FROM HEAVEN PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL THAN THE GOSPEL WE PREACHED LET THEM BE ACCURSED! WOW! This fact was so important that Paul repeated the words again!…A DOUBLE CURSE!
Paul, from 1 Corinthians 15: 5, added how Christ, in his resurrected body, appeared to Peter, and James, the other disciples, and over 500 individuals at one time. He wrote these words for emphasis as to the number who had witnessed Christ after the resurrection. Paul concluded as to his experience with, also, seeing the RISEN CHRIST!
Paul often wrote of his past life as a zealous Jew with authority to seek after the Jewish believers of Jesus Christ being their Messiah. Remember in Acts 8, Paul gave approval for the stoning of the Holy Spirit inspired Stephen! Paul wrote despite all the evil he committed to those Jewish believers, through GRACE he, too was changed! Anybody on this earth can be saved from any, and all past deeds no matter how terrible.
Paul was disappointed by the actions of these Gentile believers. Paul reminded them that Christ was preached as being RISEN, yet some do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
If resurrection isn’t possible then Christ did not arise from the tomb, and any faith of Christ’s resurrection is in vain! If Christ did not rise
from the grave then any faith towards that is worthless, and every person is still in their sins!. Those believers who had passed on in this faith are perished, too!
Paul said Christ did rise from death. Christ was the first-fruit to do so. Adam, the first man, failed to believe God, caused the events known as the curse, and death, to befall the world. Adam died. However, the second Adam, Christ allowed redemption for man along with the opportunity to eternal life, or resurrection, at his second coming. At this coming, Christ will usher in the Kingdom of God, and return the world to it’s early beauty. This will be after all enemies, including death are removed. At this time, Christ will be in control over of everything.
Paul goes to another issue at this time. The people in Corinth, were getting baptized on the behalf of others who had already passed away. Why would you do this act if you didn’t believe in resurrection? He added, why do I face potential harm daily. Paul is saying, why would I face everyday peril if I didn’t believe in resurrection? He dies everyday because of his faith, and belief in resurrection.
Paul mentioned fighting the beasts in Ephesus. This would be the beasts of opposition wherever he went. Just imagine the initial visit of Paul to any locale. He would be ridiculed everyday. However, some of the hearers would remain to listen with open minds! Some believed with faith!
Paul says if there is no resurrection do whatever you want while alive. Faith and belief will not matter if there is no resurrection. Go ahead and associate with bad company, and face ruin if you don’t believe in being raised! BUT, if you do believe, come to what is right, and tell others since many have no knowledge of God.
Paul responded to questions from the letter. The letter asked how are the dead raised? What kind of body will those resurrected have? Paul wrote what is sown will not live unless it dies, and what is sown will not resemble what sprouts up. Paul used agricultural wording to help describe the answer.
In simple terms, one can take a kernel of corn, or flower seed, and plant it. The result will be a stalk of corn, or a beautiful flower, but the result will be different from the dead seed that was sown. He used various kinds of wild-life, and celestial bodies to further demonstrate. The resurrection is the
The body that is entombed, like the seed that is planted, is dead, and will perish. However, the result of a believer’s death will be an imperishable resurrection. The deceased body is corrupt, dishonorable, and weak as in decay. The resurrected body will be raised in glory. There is the physical body, and there is a spiritual body. Paul compared Adam as the natural with Christ as the Spiritual.
Paul wrote that the flesh, and blood, and corrupt body can not enter into the kingdom of God. Paul added of a secret, or mystery to the people. Everyone will not die, but everyone will be changed at a time in the future. Paul hoped this event would happen during his life, as did the other believers. Those believers of the gospel who had already passed away will be raised, or resurrected with a glorious body. He continued, we believers of the gospel who are alive will be changed instantly! WOW!
That dead, and corrupted believer’s body of the grave will put on incorruption, and the living believers of the gospel will be changed to immortality! WOW AGAIN!
When this event happens, “DEATH WILL BE SWALOWED UP IN VICTORY!”
1 Corinthians 15 concludes with the often preached words beginning with verse 55.
“O DEATH WHERE IS YOUR STING. O GRAVE WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY”!
Paul thanked God for this victory. Those believers of the above-mentioned gospel with faith is what promises salvation! Paul told these Gentiles to not be doubtful, but be strong in faith knowing your faith will not be in vain!
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