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1 Corinthians 15:11-19

11. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

11. Sire ego igitur, sive illi, ita praedicamus, et ita credidistis.

12. Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

12. Si autem Christus praedicatur excitatus a mortuis, quomodo dicunt quidam, mortuorum resurrectionem non esse?

13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

13. Si autem mortuorum resur-rectionon est, neque Christus resurrexit.

14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

14. Quodsi Christus non resurrexit, inanis igitur est praedicatio nostra, inanis et fides vestra.

15. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

15. Invenimur etiam falsi testes Dei, quia testati sumus a Deo, quod suscitaverit Christum; quem non suscitavit, siquidem mortui non resurgunt.

16. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

16. Si enim mortui non resurgunt, neque Christus resurrexit.

17. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

17. Si autem Christus non resurrexit, vana est fides vestra: adhuc estis in peccatis vestris.

18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

18. Ergo et qui obdormierunt in Christo perierunt.

19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

19. Quodsi in hac vita solum speramus in Christo, miserrimi sumus omnium hominum.

 

11. Whether I or they Having compared himself with the other Apostles, he now associates himself with them, and them with him, in agreement as to their preaching. “I do not now speak of myself, but we have all taught so with one mouth, and still continue to teach so.” For the verb κηρύσσομεν (we preach) is in the present tense — intimating a continued act, or perseverance in teaching. 3131     “Perseuerance a enseigner ceste mesme chose;” — “Perseverance in teaching this same thing.” “If, then, it is otherwise, our apostleship is void: nay more — so ye believed: your religion, therefore, goes for nothing.”

12. But of Christ. He now begins to prove the resurrection of all of us from that of Christ. For a mutual and reciprocal inference holds good on the one side and on the other, both affirmatively and negatively — from Christ to us in this way: If Christ is risen, then we will rise If Christ is not risen, then we will not rise — from us to Christ on the other hand: If we rise, then Christ is risenIf we do not rise, then neither is Christ risen. The ground-work of the argument to be drawn from Christ to us in the former inference is this: “Christ did not die, or rise again for himself, but for us: hence his resurrection is the foundation. 3232    La substance et le fondement de la nostre;” — “The substance and foundation of ours.” of ours, and what was accomplished in him, must be fulfilled in us also.” In the negative form, on the other hand, it is thus: “Otherwise he would have risen again needlessly and to no purpose, because the fruit of it is to be sought, not in his own person, but in his members.”

Observe the ground-work, on the other hand, of the former inference to be deduced from us to him; for the resurrection is not from nature, and comes from no other quarter than from Christ alone. For in Adam we die, and we recover life only in Christ; hence it follows that his resurrection is the foundation of ours, so that if that is taken away, it cannot stand 3333     “Si ce fondement est oste, nostre resurrection ne pourra consister;” — “If this foundation is taken away, our resurrection cannot possibly stand.” The ground-work of the negative inference has been already stated; for as he could not have risen again but on our account, his resurrection would be null and void, 3434     Billroth, when quoting the above statement of Calvin, remarks, that “Calvin seems to have deceived himself with the double meaning of the words which he uses — ’nulla ejus resurrectio foret;’ — these may mean either ‘ejus resurrectio non est,’ or ‘ejus resurrectio non est vera resurrectio,’ his resurrection is no real ressurection, and indeed only the latter suits his view of Paul’s argument.” It is justly observed, however, by Dr. Alexander, in his translation of Billroth, that Calvin may be considered to have “used the word nulla here in the sense of our null, void, useless,” his assertion being to this effect — that “if we rise not, then Christ’s resurrection becomes null.” See Biblical Cabinet, volume 23 — Ed. if it were of no advantage to us.

14. Then is our preaching vain — not simply as having some mixture of falsehood, but as being altogether an empty fallacy. For what remains if Christ has been swallowed up by death — if he has become extinct — if he has been overwhelmed by the curse of sin — if, in fine, he has been overcome by Satan? In short, if that fundamental article is subverted, all that remains will be of no moment. For the same reason he adds, that their faith will be vain, for what solidity of faith will there be, where no hope of life is to be seen? But in the death of Christ, considered in itself, 3535     “C’est a dire, sans la resurrection;” — “That is to say, apart from his resurrection.” there is seen nothing but ground of despair, for he cannot be the author of salvation to others, who has been altogether vanquished by death. Let us therefore bear in mind, that the entire gospel consists mainly in the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we must direct our chief attention to this, if we would desire, in a right and orderly manner, to make progress in the gospel — nay more, if we would not remain barren and unfruitful. (2 Peter 1:8.)

15. We are also found to be false witnesses. The other disadvantages, it is true, which he has just now recounted, were more serious, as regards us — that faith was made vain — that the whole doctrine of the gospel was useless and worthless, and that we were bereft of all hope of salvation. Yet this also was no trivial absurdity — that the Apostles, who were ordained by God to be the heralds of his eternal truth, were detected as persons who had deceived the world with falsehoods; for this tends to God’s highest dishonor.

The expression, false witnesses of God, we may understand in two ways — either that by lying they used the name of God under a false pretext, or that they were detected as liars, in testifying what they had received from God. The second of these I rather prefer, because it involves a crime that is much more heinous, and he had spoken previously as to men. 3636     “Et aussi il auoit desia parle du deshonneur qui en reuindroit aux hommes, c’est a dire aux Apostres et autres prescheurs;” — “And besides, he had spoken previously of the dishonor that resulted from it to men — that is to say, to the Apostles and other preachers.” Now, therefore, he teaches that, if the resurrection of Christ is denied, God is made guilty of falsehood in the witnesses that have been brought forward and hired by him. 3737     “Comme subornez;” — “As it were hired.” The reason, too, that is added, corresponds well — because they had declared what was false, not as from themselves, but from God.

I am at the same time well aware that there are some that give another rendering to the particle κατα The old interpreter renders it against. 3838     In accordance with this Wiclif (1380) renders the words thus — “We haw seide witnessynge agens God.” — Ed. Erasmus, on the other hand — concerning. 3939     Raphelius adduces two instances of Ταῦτα μὲν δὴ κατα πάντων Περσῶν ἔχομεν λέγειν — being employed by classical writers in the sense of concerning. “And these are things that we may affirm concerning all the Persians.” — (Xen. Cyrop., Book 1 page 6, line 33.) ‘ ̔Ο κατα τῶν τεχνῶν καὶ ἐποστημε̑ν λέγειν εἰώθαμεν ταυτὸν καὶ κατα τὢς ἀρετὢς φατέον ἐστίν “What we are accustomed to say in reference to the arts and sciences, may also be said in reference to virtue.” — (Plutarch, chapter 4.) Bloomfield suggests that the Apostle probably employed κατα in the “very rare” sense of concerning, “as wishing to include the sense — to the prejudice of — which falsification would occasion, inasmuch as it would almost imply a want of power in God to raise the dead, for the Gentile philosophers denied it.” — Ed. But, as it has also among the Greeks the force of ἀπό, (from,) this signification appeared to me to be more in accordance with the Apostle’s design. For he is not speaking here of the reputation of men, (as I have already stated, 4040     See p. 19. ) but he declares that God will be exposed to the charge of falsehood, inasmuch as what they publish has come forth from him.

17. Ye are yet in your sins For although Christ by his death atoned for our sins, that they might no more be imputed to us in the judgment of God, and has

crucified our old man, that its lusts might no longer reign in us, (Romans 6:6, 12;)

and, in fine, has

by death destroyed the power of death, and the devil himself, (Hebrews 2:14;)

yet there would have been none of all these things, if he had not, by rising again, come off victorious. Hence, if the resurrection is overthrown, the dominion of sin is set up anew.

18. Then they who are fallen asleep. Having it in view to prove, that if the resurrection of Christ is taken away, faith is useless, and Christianity 4141     “La profession de Chrestiente;” — “The profession of Christianity.” is a mere deception, he had said that the living remain in their sins; but as there is a clearer illustration of this matter to be seen in the dead, he adduces them as an example. “Of what advantage were it to the dead that they once were Christians? Hence our brethren who are now dead, did to no purpose live in the faith of Christ.” But if it is granted that the essence of the soul is immortal, this argument appears, at first sight, conclusive; for it will very readily be replied, that the dead have not perished, inasmuch as their souls live in a state of separation from their bodies. Hence some fanatics conclude that there is no life in the period intermediate between death and the resurrection; but this frenzy is easily refuted. 4242     It is mentioned by Beza in his life of Calvin, that before leaving France in 1534, he “published his admirable treatise, entitled Psychopannychia, against the error of those who, reviving a doctrine which had been held in the earliest ages, taught that the soul, when separated from the body, falls asleep.” — Calvin’s Tracts, volume 1 page 26. — Ed. For although the souls of the dead are now living, and enjoy quiet repose, yet the whole of their felicity and consolation depends exclusively on the resurrection; because it is well with them on this account, and no other, that they wait for that day, on which they shall be called to the possession of the kingdom of God. Hence as to the hope of the dead, all is over, unless that day shall sooner or later arrive.

19. But if in this life Here is another absurdity — that we do not merely by believing lose our time and pains, inasmuch as the fruit of it perishes at our death, but it were better for us not to believe; for the condition of unbelievers were preferable, and more to be desired. To believe in this life means here to limit the fruit of our faith to this life, so that our faith looks no farther, and does not extend beyond the confines of the present life. This statement shows more clearly that the Corinthians had been imposed upon by some mistaken fancy of a figurative resurrection, such as Hymeneus and Philetus, as though the last fruit of our faith were set before us in this life. (2 Timothy 2:17, 18.) For as the resurrection is the completion of our salvation, and as to all blessings is, as it were, the farthest goal, 4343     This statement as to the resurrection is strikingly in contrast with the celebrated sentiment of Horace. (Epist. 1:16, 79.) “Mors est ultima linea rerum;” — “Death is the ultimate limit of things.” Heathen philosophers denied the possibility of a resurrection. Thus Pliny, Hist. Nat. L. 2, c. 7, says — “Revocare defunctos ne Deus qidem potest;” — “To call back the dead is what God himself cannot do.” the man who says that our resurrection is already past, leaves us nothing better to hope for after death. However this may be, this passage gives at all events no countenance to the frenzy of those who imagine that the soul sleeps as well as the body, until the day of the resurrection. 4444     Pareus, in commenting on this passage, adverts in the following terms to the tenet above referred to — “Nequaquam vero hinc sequitur, quod Psychopannychitae finxerunt: animas post mortem dormire, aut in nihilum cum corporibus redigi. Perire enim dicuntur infideles quoad animas, non physice, quod corruptae intercant; sed theologice, quod viventes felicitatern coelestem non consequantur; sed in tartara ad paenas solae vel cum corporibus tandem detrudantur;” — “By no means, however, does it follow from this, according to the contrivance of the soul-sleepers, that souls sleep after death, or are reduced to nothing along with the body. For unbelievers are said to perish as to their souls, not physically, as though they corrupted, and died, but theologically, because, while living they do not attain heavenly felicity, but are at length thrust down to hell for punishment, alone, or along with the body.”Ed. They bring forward, it is true, this objection — that if the soul continued to live when separated from the body, Paul would not have said that, if the resurrection were taken away, we would have hope only in this life, inasmuch as there would still be some felicity remaining for the soul. To this, however, I reply, that Paul did not dream of Elysian fields, 4545     Described at great length by Virgil. (AEn. 6, 637-703.)Ed. and foolish fables of that sort, but takes it for granted, that the entire hope of Christians looks forward to the final day of judgment — that pious souls do even at this day rest in the same expectation, and that, consequently, we are bereft of everything, if a confidence of this nature deceives us.

But why does he say that we would be the most miserable of all men, as if the lot of the Christian were worse than that of the wicked? For all things, says Solomon, happen alike to the good and to the bad. (Ecclesiastes 9:2.) I answer, that all men, it is true, whether good or bad, are liable to distresses in common, and they feel in common the same inconveniences, and the same miseries; but there are two reasons why Christians have in all ages fared worse, in addition to which, there was one that was peculiar to the times of Paul. The first is, that while the Lord frequently chastises the wicked, too, with his lashes, and begins to inflict his judgments upon them, he at the same time peculiarly afflicts his own in various ways; — in the first place, because he chastises those whom he loves, (Hebrews 12:6;) and secondly, in order that he may train them to patience, that he may try their obedience, and that he may gradually prepare them by the cross for a true renovation. However it may be as to this, that statement always holds good in the case of believers It is time, that judgment should begin at the house of God. (Jeremiah 25:29; 1 Peter 4:17 4646     Calvin, in commenting on 1 Peter 4:17, when speaking of judgment beginning at the house of God, says: Ideo dicit Paulus, (1 Corinthians 15:19,) Christianos sublata fide resurrectionis, omnium hominum miserrimos fore: et merito, quia dum alii absque metu sibi indulgent, assidue ingemiscunt fideles: dum aliorum peccata dissimulat Deus, et altos torpore sinit, suos sub cruets disciplina multo rigidins exercet;” — “Hence Paul says, and justly, (1 Corinthians 15:19,) that Christians, if the hope of a resurrection were taken away, would be of all men the most miserable, because, while others indulge themselves without fear, believers incessantly groan: while God seems to let the sins of others pass unnoticed, and allows others to be in a torpid state, he exercises his own people more strictly under the discipline of the cross.” — Ed. ) Again,

we are reckoned as sheep appointed for slaughter.
(Psalm 44:22.)

Again,

ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
(Colossians 3:3.)

Meanwhile, the condition of the wicked is for the most part the more desirable, because the Lord feeds them up, as hogs for the day of slaughter.

The second reason is, that believers, even though they should abound in riches and in blessings of every kind, they nevertheless do not go to excess, and do not gormandize at their ease; in fine, they do not enjoy the world, as unbelievers do, but go forward with anxiety, constantly groaning, (2 Corinthians 5:2,) partly from a consciousness of their weakness, and partly from an eager longing for the future life. Unbelievers, on the other hand, are wholly intent on intoxicating themselves with present delights. 4747     “Es voluptez et delices de ce monde;” — “With the pleasures and delights of this world.”

The third reason, which was peculiar, as I have said, to the age of the Apostle, is — that at that time the name of Christians was so odious and abominable, that no one could then take upon himself the name of Christ without exposing his life to imminent peril. It is, therefore, not without good reason that he says that Christians would be the most miserable of all men, if their confidence were confined to this world.


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