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1Corinthians 15 (web)

The Resurrection

Christ's Resurrection According to the Gospel

15:1 Now I declare to you, brothers, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand,

15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.

15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
15:6 Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep.
15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
15:8 and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.
15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who is not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God.

15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was bestowed on me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

15:11 Whether then it is I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.

The Problems with Rejecting
the Resurrection of the Believers

15:12 Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead,
how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised.
15:14 If Christ has not been raised,
then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain.

15:15 Yes, we are found false witnesses of God,
because we testified about God that he raised up Christ,
whom he didn't raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised.

15:16 For if the dead aren't raised, neither has Christ been raised.

15:17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.
15:18 Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

15:19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life,
we are of all men most pitiable.

15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead.
He became the first fruits of those who are asleep.
15:21 For since death came by man,
the resurrection of the dead also came by man.
15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits,
then those who are Christ's, at his coming.

15:24 Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God,
even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power.

15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
15:26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

15:27 For, "He put all things in subjection under his feet." (Ps 8:6)

But when he says, "All things are put in subjection,"
it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him.
15:28 When all things have been subjected to him,
then the Son will also himself be subjected to him
who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all.

15:29 Or else what will they do who are baptized for the dead?
If the dead aren't raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? (see note)

15:30 Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?

15:31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
15:32 If I fought with animals at Ephesus for human purposes, what does it profit me?
If the dead are not raised, then "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
15:33 Don't be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupt good morals."
15:34 Wake up righteously, and don't sin, for some have no knowledge of God.
I say this to your shame.

The Nature of the Resurrected Body

15:35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised?" and,
"With what kind of body do they come?"
15:36 You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive unless it dies.
15:37 That which you sow, you don't sow the body that will be,
but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind.

15:38 But God gives it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own.

15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men,
another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
15:40 There are also celestial bodies, and terrestrial bodies;
but the glory of the celestial differs from that of the terrestrial.
15:41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon,
and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.
15:43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.
It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.
15:45 So also it is written,
"The first man, Adam, became a living soul."
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

15:46 However that which is spiritual isn't first,
but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual.

15:47 The first man is of the earth, made of dust.
The second man is the Lord from heaven.

15:48 As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust;
and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

15:49 As we have borne the image of those made of dust,
let's also bear the image of the heavenly.

15:50 Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can't inherit the Kingdom of God;
neither does corruption inherit incorruption.

The Rapture

15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we will be changed.

15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality.

15:54 But when this corruptible will have put on incorruption,
and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen:
"Death is swallowed up in victory."

15:55 "Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory?"
15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the Lord's work,
because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Discussion Questions

vs 2 Have you ever had to take a stand on the gospel?
What is the relationship between people's salvation status and their holding firm to the word of the Bible?
vs 3-11 Why did Paul consider this information to be of first importance?
When you communicate the gospel, what do you consider of first importance?
vs 12-34 Why do you suppose some may have problems with the idea of a physical resurrection?
vs 32 If there was no after-life, what kind of attitude might people have towards life?
vs 35-50 What is the resurrected body like? (Xref Matt 22:30; Luke 24:39-43)
vs 51-57 What event is Paul describing in these verses? (xref 1Thess 4:13-18)
vs 58 What does it mean for you to give yourself fully to the work of the Lord?


Saving Faith Endures

1Cor 15:1,2 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. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

To take a stand implies there being opposition, such as the Philippians faced to whom Paul wrote, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved— and that by God." Php 1:27,18 Consider what opposition you are willing to face in the light of the gospel. How will you take a stand? Courage communicates convictions.

Now the faith that saves is the faith that endures, as Jesus said, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." Mk 13:13 How do we know we have come to share in Christ?  "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Heb 3:14 Of those who leave the faith, it is written, "if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19b

Such faith which does not endure is vain, being useless, of no saving value. Those who fall away from the faith "are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them." 2Peter 2:20b-21

Significant Gospel Facts

1Cor 15:3-7  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

Consider the content of these important truths. The gospel is propositional truth in light of historic facts as confirmed by eyewitness accounts.

One historic fact, a fact denied by Islam, is that Jesus died on the cross. But it's not just the historic fact of his death one must accept, but the propostional truth concerning this fact - namely that he died for our sins, in accordance with God's plan for salvation laid out for us in the Old Testament such as Isaiah 53:5,6 "he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Likewise Peter says, "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." 1Peter 3:18 Indeed "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins" 1John 2:2a

His resurrection from the dead affirmed this gospel truth. Thus whenever the gospel is preached, so is the resurrection, as Paul preached to the Athenians in Acts 17. "He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:31 Likewise Peter preached, "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." Acts 2:22 And he goes on to speak of the resurrection.

But unlike other religions, like Islam, that also may claim miracles, but which are merely alleged being done in secret, Jesus miracles and his resurrection were affirmed by multitudes of eyewitnesses. And this is part of the gospel. In fact the gospel of Luke starts off, "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word." Luke 1:1,2 And in his introduction to Acts Luke writes, "After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3

Paul's Gracious Conversion

1Cor 15:8,9 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 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.

Paul writes of himself, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."1Tim 1:12-16

There are those who grow into the faith. But others like Paul, who is a precedent for those who would come to believe in Christ, come to faith suddenly, dramatically, in repentance from their former lifestyle of sin, the Lord pursing them into the faith. This speaks of the grace inherent in the gospel. The least likely person can not only be saved, but used effectively by the Lord in his service.

As for details concerning the history of Paul's conversion see Acts 22:3-21 and Acts 9:1-31

The Effect of Grace

1Cor 15:10,11 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. Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The grace of God is meant to have a impact on a person's lifestyle.What effect has the grace of God had on you? The degree to which a person realizes God's grace towards them is the degree to which they will love God by working for Him. For "he who has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47 But while faith produces work, but love produces labor, and hope inspires endurance, as it is written, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Th 1:3 That is, while faith will have its effect, love intensifies a person's works. For it's one thing to go to work, but another to go into labor. How hard we work at the ministry is a measure of our revelation of God's grace towards us.

Now there are heretics who pit Paul against the Twelve claiming Paul preaches a different gospel. He doesn't. Luke, his traveling companion wrote the gospel of Luke. Mark, who wrote the gospel of Mark served  him to the end. (2Tim 4:11) Peter affirmed Paul's writings as scripture in 2Peter 3:1, and Peter defended him against the cult of the cult of the circumcsion in Acts 15. Both the content of their material and the relationship between Paul and the others as recorded in Acts and elsewhere in the New Testament affirms the common fellowship they had in the gospel.

Paul's Hard Work

But Paul worked harder than them. For example while the Lord had commissioned the twelve to go into all the world, they stayed in  Jerusalem until persecution finally drove them out. Peter acknowleged the God had chosen him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles saying, "Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe." Acts 15:7, and yet later he turned over that responsibility to Paul. "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews." Gal 2:9 In fact after the Twelve declared, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables." Acts 6:2, even though the Lord had done so, we read little of the apostles in the book of Acts, and the New Testament letters are dominated by Paul's writings. Likewise when it comes to getting paid for ministry Paul writes, "Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas (Peter)? ...  If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ." 1Cor 9:5,12 Paul worked for a living. He wrote to the Ephesian elders, "You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak" Acts 20:34,35

And Paul declares to the churches, "We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Col 1:28,29

Affirmation of the Resurrection

1Cor 15:12-14  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? 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.

Among Jews, the Sadducees didn't believe in a resurrection, some had no doubt influence the Christian community along these lines just as the cult of the circumcision had. "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all" Acts 23:8

Also when Paul preached the gospel to the Greek philosopher, "when they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered." Acts 17:32 Greek philosophy later infilitrated Chistian theology to become Gnosticism. One idea of Gnostism, that held by the Docetists, was that physical things are innately sinful, which is why they had trouble accepting the idea that Jesus, as a physical man, was sinless. Thus they proposed that Jesus was not a physical man, but a ghost of some kind. They denied a resurrection because they held that which is physical with contempt.

Even today there are alleged Christians who believe only in a non-corporeal resurrection.- that the body is not raised. But Christ's body was gone from the grave. He rose in corporeal form. The resurrection will be a real historical event which cannot be mistaken for some vague existentialistic feeling.

The resurrection of Christ is a basis for belief in the gospel. Disprove the resurrection and you would have disproved the gospel. Every time the gospel is preached in the New Testament, the resurrection is mentioned. Peter spoke of it in the first Christian sermon. "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact." Acts 2:32 All the enemies of Christ had to do was produce a body to disprove Christianity. They could not even deny Christ's public miracles. Yet they were in charge. All they had to do was produce the body.

The physical nature of the resurrection is part of the gospel. It is not a reincarnation as the Hindus believe, nor a merely spiritual resurrection. Your body matters.

No Resurrection, No Salvation

1Cor 15:15-18 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. 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. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

 "Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection." Acts 17:18b Paul believed that "there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." Acts 24:15

The gospel is not just about who Christ was or what he taught. It is also about the historic facts of the death, burial and resurrection, of which a large portion of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are devoted. It is like no other religion in this respect - founded upon historic fact - the fact of miracles, affirmed by a multitude of eyewitnesses, which the hostility of the religious elite could not suppress. One cannot be called a Christian if they deny the resurrection of Christ.

But if Christ wasn't raised, then the gospel is false. If the gospel is false, then Jesus did not atone for sin, and as such there is no provision to escape the wrath of God, and those who have died have gone to hell.

Living Only For This Life?

1Cor 15:19  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Job declared, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;  I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"Job 19:25-27

If some have become Christians just to improve their lives, then they have a misconception about what Christianity is all about. In presenting the gospel, some today often include promises which are not part of the Biblical message - promises that you will be prosperous and everyone will think well of you - promises that everything will go well in your life.

Is your life viewed as pitiful by those who live only for this life? "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2Cor 4:18 As such  the grace of God "teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope— the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" Titus 2:12,13 And  "If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." 1Tim 6:8

King David writes, "Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword, With Your hand from men, O LORD, From men of the world who have their portion in this life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.  As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." Ps 17:13-14 (NKJV)
For those outside the faith, this life is the closest they'll get to experiencing heaven, and for the rest, this life is the closest we'll get to experiencing hell. Therefore don't seek for happiness and satisfaction in this life as the worldly do.

The Firstfruits

1Cor 15:20  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

For those in the faith, the New Testament uses the phrase "fallen asleep" to refer to believers who have died, as Paul also used in verse 18. For it's not really death, seeing as Jesus said, "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5;24 Today sometimes people refer to death as "crossing over". In a sense, believers "cross over" at the point of conversion. Death is not a tragedy for Christians, but rather it's viewed as the time God puts his children to bed. In fact  "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." Ps 116:15

"firstfruits" have Biblical significance in that it was the firstfruits of the harvest which belonged to the Lord. "Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase"Pr 3:9 Likewise it was firstborn son which belonged to the Lord. "Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal." Ex 13:2 Furthermore the firstborn of their domesticated animals Israel was to sacrifice to the Lord, just as Christ, the firstborn Son, was sacrificed and became the firstfruit of the resurrection.

Adam/Death Christ/Life

1Cor 15:21,22 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Paul talks about the analogy between Adam and Christ in more detail in the second part of Romans chapter 5. However some tend to deviate from the context and read certain theologies (i.e. Calvinism/Augustinian theology) into such analogies which are not really supported by the context. Paul is talking about physical death. And it doesn't say, "in Adam all sinned". It says, "In Adam all die". God does not hold people accountable for things they have no control over, like what someone else did thousands of years before they were born. That would be contrary to God's judicial nature as portrayed in His command, "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin." Deut 24:16 For this to be the case, the guilt of sin cannot be inherited. However, the temptation to sin (i.e. the sinful nature) is a different matter.

Adam's descendants experienced death because of Adam's misbehavior. Not that they were reckoned guilty because of his misbehavior. For even Christ was a descendant of Adam, according to the genealogy record in Luke 3:38.  And "who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh" Rom 1:3 Christ died. "Yet was without sin" Heb 4:15b

Paul's point is with regards to the physical body. All of Adam's people physically died. So also all who belong to Christ will be physically raised from the dead.

The Order of the Resurrection

1Cor 15:23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Just to dispell some misconceptions, "the firstfruits" refers to Christ himself and not to some category of special saints. The plural throws some people, but notice again verse 20 "Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." Christ himself is the firstfruits. He is the tithe - the firstborn to be dedicated to God.

Secondly the resurrection occurs when Christ returns. This dispells the misconception that some have the Christ returned in 70ad. But check any Christian grave sites  and you'll the bodies are still there. Likewise, as I'll mention later concerning verse 45, there are some who are under the misconception that Jesus was the Holy Spirit. In that case "Jesus" returned in Acts chapter 2. Sorry, no resurrection there either. And this is just one evidence against such misconceptions. Jesus return will be a visible event that no one can mistake.

That is, "the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1Th 4:16,17 For "at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Mt 24:30,31 I comment on this further in verses 51,52

The preceeding was the resurrection of the righteous - the first resurrection. "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." Rev 20:5,6

A Transition of Kingdoms

1Cor 15:24-26  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (Ps 110:1) The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

During the Millenial Kingdom, Christ will be defeating his enemies. During that time, "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Mt 13:41,42

And  "when the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 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." Rev 20:7-10

"Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Mt 13:43

Thus there are three dispensations to the kingdom of God. Pre-Millenial (also kinown as the Church age - in which we are living), the Millenial, and then the Son hands the Kingdom over to his Faither in the post-Millenial Kingdom in which "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  Re 21:4

The New Jerusalem

1Cor 15:27,28 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 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.

What about Chrsit's reign will end? In the New Jerusalem there will no longer be his need for mediation. There will be nor more need for dispensing justice, having disposed of evil. In the dispensation of the New Jerusalem - the new heavens and earth - God and the Lamb will reign together.

(New Jerusalem)
Rev 22:3-5 "No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

Formerly God could not show himself for as he said, "no one may see me and live." Ex 33:20 And "without holiness no one will see the Lord." Heb 12:14 But having purged creation of sin and death, God will reign together with the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.

 "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Rev 21:3

Baptized for the Dead?

1Cor 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?

This verse is one which heretics would grab hold of to derive ideas and applications which are contrary to sound doctrine - doctrine well established in the New Testament. When a person comes to faith in Christ, the Lord has ordained that such people are to be baptized. You cannot be baptized by proxy, dead or alive. You who believe in Christ, if you have not been baptized, then get baptized. No one can do it for you.

Now in his book "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament", Robertson comments, "This passage remains a puzzle. Stanley gives thirteen interpretations, no one of which may be correct. Over thirty have been suggested. ... Tertullian tells of some heretics who took it to mean baptized in the place of dead people (unsaved) in order to save them."

What Paul could have meant was, by way of ellipsis,"what will those do who are baptized for [the resurrection of] the dead?", much as people are baptized for the forgiveness of sin "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." Acts 2:38 St John Chrysostom (AD 347-407) made note of this in his commentary on this verse. That is, that people are baptized with a view towards their physical resurrection from the dead. Else such baptism is in vain. But the particular phrasing and the Greek words used don't lend themself easily to this interpretation. The word "for" in "for" the dead and "for" them in this verse is "uper" which means "on behalf of"

But if the heretics denying the resurrection were also involved in the heretical practice of baptism on behalf of others who had already died, in this case Paul would have simply been pointing out a logical fallacy in their reasoning - their hypocrisy in doing that which they themselves should reckon vain by their own heretical beliefs, and was not endorsing such a pratice itself.

Why Make the Effort?

1Cor 15:30-32 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day— I mean that, brothers— just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 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."

Why "fight the good fight of the faith." 1Tim 6:12a, if it's just about this life? Why "take hold of the eternal life to which you were called" 1Tim 6:12b if there is no eternal life?

Our battle is in three arenas - the world, the flesh, the devil.

The World
The world pressures us with temptations outwardly. But "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:17 The persecutes the saintss. Thus Paul asks, "pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith." 2Th 3:2

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Rom 12:2 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

The Flesh
The flesh works evil in us. "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh (sinful nature)." Rom 7:18

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Col 3:5

The Devil
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph 6:12 "and do not give the devil a foothold." Eph 4:27

As for the phrase "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.", it comes from Isaiah 22:12-14 which says, "The Lord, the LORD Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! "Let us eat and drink," you say, "for tomorrow we die!" The LORD Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: "Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for," says the Lord, the LORD Almighty."

God has made no provision of atonement for people who don't respond to the gospel message in repentance from sin. And "everyone must die once, and after that comes judgement." Heb 9:27

Bad Company

1Cor 15:33,34  Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 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.

Pr 13:20  "He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Earlier in Corinthians Paul spoke of disassociating oneself from sinful Christians. "I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."" 1Cor 5:11-13 Chose your friends carefully, for you will become like them.

As for the some who are ignorant of God, Paul is referring to some in the Christian community. Else why would it be to their shame? There are some who call themselves Christians but are under misconceptions as to what constitutes a Christian. Many are Christians simply by tradition, having little idea about what the Bible actually says. They may think that it's just about this life. They may just have wanted to befriend some Christians. And while it's good to draw in seekers, the message should not be modified to accomodate their worldly point of view, nor any heresies they introduce go uncritiqued. Else "Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some." 2Tim 2:17,18  False Christians often taken advantage of the gullible both in business and in doctrine.

How are the Dead Raised?

1Cor 15:35-38  But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

Don't be misled by some who claim that the resurrection body will be the same as that which we have now. "The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question." Mt 22:23 (I guess that's why they were so sad, you see?) They asked about marriage in the resurrection if a man had more than one wife due to being widowed a number of times. But Jesus said, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." Mt 22:30 Likewise young muslim men commit suicide and commit mass murder at the false promise of having sexual relations in heaven with multiple virgins. The Biblical concept of the resurrection is characteristically different than the Islamic concept of resurrection - as much as the Biblical Jesus is characteristically different than the Islamic version of Jesus.

Marriage is a shadow which will be done away with when the light comes. Marriage was designed to represent the relationship between Christ an his church. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.  This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church."Eph 5:31,32 Likewise "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming— not the realities themselves." Heb 10:1a "These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." Col 2:17

Look at a tree and then look at the seed from which it came. Same DNA. Common origin, but significantly different. Such is the difference between the body which is planted and that which is raised. The body will be like that of Jesus at his resurrection. He could eat, but he didn't have to. He could vanish, walk through walls, change his appearance and yet was not a ghost, as some are under the misconception days, as he said, "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." Luke 24:39

And by the way concerning "planting", Christian's generally do not chose to be cremated but buried as Jesus was, as that is more in keeping with the picture the Bible gives of death and resurrection. The body is treated with respect rather than burned. While burning is more symbolic of hell-fire and God's wrath. But it matters not from what state the body is to be raised. "For dust you are and to dust you will return." Gen 3:19 And from that dust you will be raised.

Different Kinds of Flesh

1Cor 15:39-41  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 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.

What is flesh but one's outward manifestation. In a sense Jesus was the "flesh" of God in that "no one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known." John 1:18 "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being," Heb 1:3 However there are those fleshly, earthly-minded, the naturalists, who think the flesh is all there is. Not so. Jesus was born with same human nature as our. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity" Heb 2:14 He did not become a different person upon his resurrection. He just took on a different outward manifestation. And likewise for Christians. 1John 3:2a "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him."

I don't know how well Paul realized the truth of his statement "star differs from star in splendor", only seeing them with one's eyes. Yes some are brighter than others, but with modern instrumentation and the science of astrophysics, today we recognize a greater diversity among the stars. I get the sense that such will likewise be the case concerning alot of issues of eschatology, such as the resurrection. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" 1Cor 13:12 Now we're given bits and pieces, probably because we don't need to know the whole picture of the future in order to accomplish the mission. But when it comes, I suspect it will be much greater and more diverse than Christians have anticipated. Though there's no need to get side-tracked speculating on the details of which we are not given at this time.

Sowing and Reaping

1Cor 15:42-44  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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

And remember that while the seed looks different than the tree, "a man reaps what he sows. He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Gal 6:7,8 Indeed while Paul speaks here of the resurrection of the righteous, there will also be a resurrection of the wicked. "I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." Acts 24:15 Each will reap what they have sown.

By "spiritual body" he doesn't mean a ghost. For Jesus in his resurrected state denied being a ghost, but rather having flesh and blood and being able to eat things, as I noted previously. "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. ... They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence." Luke 24:39,42,43 Such will be the bodies of the resurrected saints. They will be incorruptible, no longer having sin dwelling in them; neither being subject to the processes of decay and death. Nonetheless one might be mistaken for a ghost as Jesus was. Similarly Jesus speaks of the resurrected saints being as angels. Mt 22;30 But at times the Bible speaks of angels and spirits as different entities. (Acts 23:8,9) But these kind of distinctions will become clearer upon the resurrection.

Jesus is not the Holy Spirit

1Cor 15:45-49 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

Iin saying "the last Adam, a life-giving spirit", remember that Jesus, in his resurrected state denied being a ghost. He didn't become a "spirit" (which is the same word in Greek). Some heretics claim that Jesus became the Holy Spirit, of which some translations refer to as "the Holy Ghost". But first of all  the Bible, and Jesus in particular, spoke of the Holy Spirit as a separate person from himself, even after his resurrection. And secondly, as I noted previously, Jesus, in his resurrected state denied being a ghost. And thirdly the Holy Spirit who dwells in the Church today has never manifest himself as Jesus did in his resurrected body. (And one could go on and on making more points along these lines)

Paul is referring to Jesus' resurrected body - a body of flesh and bones, which was nonetheless incorruptible, glorious, and powerful. It was not subject to natural law. It was not a natural body which decays and dies, but a spiritual body. But as from Adam came death to his offspring, analogously through Christ comes life to his offspring.

"As is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven." Jesus said, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it." John 17:16  Or as John says, "in this world we are like him." 1John 4:17b This is the case both for the present and future. Our present state is much like Jesus's earthly state, and likewise our heavenly state will be as Jesus is presently.

The Perishable shall Perish

1Cor 15:50  I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Here Paul is not referring to the Millenial Kingdom. which has an end to it as it transitions into the kingdom of the New Jerusalem. The Millenial Kingdom does have people of flesh and blood, even sinners, as well as resurrected saints. Note what it says of the end of the Millenial Kingdom. "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 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." Rev 20:7,8 The Millenial Kingdom is no paradise.

But the kingdom which follows will be incorruptible, sin having been removed. Sinful flesh cannot exist in such a place. But again as a point of interpretation, Jesus in his resurrected state claimed to have a body of flesh and bones, yet being incorruptible it was not of the same kind Paul is referring to in this verse of which he characterizes as corruptible, referring to the corruptible bodies in which we presently live.

The Rapture

1Cor 15:51,52 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

The mystery Paul is referring to here is what has become known as the Rapture. It's most explicitly taught in 1Thess 4:15-17 "According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Now given Paul's emphasis on the order of events here - the resurrection occuring prior to the rapture, it would seem to imply some measurable time period between the two. Else if they occurred simultaneously, why say "will certainly not precede"? In fact as I've worked out a timing scheme for the end times events, reference all relevant verses, I calculate that there will be about 45 days between the two events. See  Paul's statement "twinkling of an eye" is a figure of speech referring to the time it takes to change one's state from the corruptible flesh to a glorious body.

"At the last trumpet" is to be taken in the context of which end times events are referred. i.e "This is the last hour" 1John 2:18, "Yes, I am coming soon." Rev 22:20. In fact the phrase "the day of the Lord", which is often referred to in scripture, covers a whole series of events often alluding to the entire Millenial reign. For "with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" 2Peter 3:8

The Sting of Death

1Cor 15:54-57 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is alluding to Isa 25:8  "he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken." Of which is also alluded to in Rev 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." And Paul also alludes to Hosea 13:14 "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?"

There are many who don't presently realize the real sting of death. Some think it's just an end to one's existence. But the real sting of death is the eternal condemnation which follows it, which is a consequence of falling short of God's standards. Thus "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord." 2Th 2:8,9 But thanks be to God for the grace given by Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospel for those who believe. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" Acts 16:31  "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2

Stand Firm and Labor

1Cor 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

"As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain." 2Cor 6:1 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Col 3:23,24

Consider yourself commissioned for the Lord's work.

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel. without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved— and that by God." Php 1:27,28

"The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:17

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Aug 15,2020