CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION – BOTH CHRIST’S AND CHRISTIANS – 1 Corinthians 15

When darkness falls upon the day of life, when death has come, and when people gather around a grave, then it is that they turn to this immortal chapter, where are recorded the title deeds of man’s highest hope, the Christian gospel’s promise of eternal life.

Light from 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen dispels the darkness surrounding the grave; its message reassures the sorrowful, redefines the meaning of life itself and writes upon the tomb the blessed words, “Asleep in Jesus.” It speaks at every funeral.

Apostolic power and inspiration charge every word of this chapter with everlasting significance, which has been neither dimmed nor eroded by the passing of nineteen centuries.

Even the mysteries of it, which people may not fully understand, have power to quicken the human spirit and rekindle the fires of faith.

The dimensions of this heavenly message are so vast that finite man may neither completely comprehend nor intelligently deny it; thus leaving every man the moral option of trusting the Father’s promise or turning to the blackness of total despair.

It is the voice of God the Father of mankind that speaks to people here; and, for all who listen, it promises that nothing can harm the Father’s child, that there is no need to fear, and that even life’s sorrows, infirmities and sufferings are not without purpose, and that none of life’s labors are in vain “in the Lord.”

Practically all of this chapter is devoted to teaching concerning the resurrection:

I. The dead will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:1-34).

A. The resurrection of Christ proves it (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

1. The Scriptures foretold it (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

2. Eyewitnesses attested it (1 Corinthians 15:5-11).

B. To deny the resurrection is absurd (1 Corinthians 15:12-34).

1. If the dead rise not, it would mean Christ did not (1 Corinthians 15:13).

2. It would follow that preaching was useless (1 Corinthians 15:14).

3. It would mean faith was worthless (1 Corinthians 15:14).

4. It would mean that the apostles were liars (1 Corinthians 15:15).

5. It would deny all possibility of salvation from sin (1 Corinthians 15:16-17).

6. It would mean that the righteous dead were lost (1 Corinthians 15:18).

7. It would mean all believers in Christ were to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19).

8. It would mean that even the rite of baptism for the dead, as practiced by the heathen, was absurd (1 Corinthians 15:29).

9. It would mean that sufferings and privations of the apostles were vain and useless (1 Corinthians 15:31-34).

C. An illustration of the reasonableness of the doctrine of the resurrection (introduced parenthetically, as often in Paul’s writings) (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

1. But now hath Christ been raised up (1 Corinthians 15:20). Paul could not wait until the conclusion of his argument, but dogmatically declared the truth of the resurrection.

2. As death came to all through one person (Adam), it is fitting that the resurrection should come through one (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

3. The order of the resurrection is given (1 Corinthians 15:23-28).

II. Regarding the nature of the bodies that shall be raised up (1 Corinthians 15:35-41).

A. It is like grain that is planted (1 Corinthians 15:36-38).

B. It is like different kinds of flesh (1 Corinthians 15:39).

C. It is like different kinds of celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40-31).

D. It is described as:

1. Incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:42).

2. Glorious (1 Corinthians 15:43).

3. Powerful (1 Corinthians 15:43).

4. A spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44).

5. It is like the risen body of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45-50).

III. What shall become of those who remain alive at the Second Advent? (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

A. The answer is that they shall be changed in an instant, and thus participate in the resurrection just like others.

IV. The practical application of the doctrine of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).

A. It places the Christian in a position of strength, the great victory already having been won (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

B. All of the Christian’s energies should be devoted fully to the service of God, being assured that his labor is not in vain “in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

While it may be questioned that this chapter is more important than any other part of this epistle, it is nevertheless true that the sacred Scriptures have attained some kind of a climax in the verses of this chapter.

It is rather tragic that the Corinthians required that someone remind them of the fundamental facts of the Christian gospel, at a time so soon after they had heard it, obeyed it, and were enjoying the blessings of salvation derived from it.

As Charles Hodge declared, “Certain false teachers at Corinth had denied the resurrection.”

There is no profit in trying to identify these false teachers.

Satan always has an advocate in every community; and those of Jewish background could have been contaminated by the Sadducees, while those of Greek origin could have cited a hundred of their philosophers who despised any such doctrine as the resurrection of the dead (Acts 17:32).

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 they that are Christ’s, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.
1 Corinthians 15:22‭-‬26 ASV

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