1Co 15:1-58. The
Resurrection Proved against the Deniers of It at Corinth.
Christ's resurrection rests on the evidence of many
eye-witnesses, including Paul himself, and is the great fact preached
as the groundwork of the Gospel: they who deny the resurrection in
general, must deny that of Christ, and the consequence of the latter
will be, that Christian preaching and faith are vain.
1. Moreover—"Now" [Alford and Ellicott].
I declare—literally, "I make known":
it implies some degree of reproach that it should be now necessary to
make it known to them afresh, owing to some of them "not having the
knowledge of God" (1Co 15:34).
wherein ye stand—wherein ye now take
your stand. This is your present actual privilege, if ye suffer not
yourselves to fall from your high standing.
2. ye are saved—rather, "ye are being
if ye keep in memory what I preached unto
you—Able critics, Bengel and
others, prefer connecting the words thus, "I declare unto you the
15:1) in what words I
preached it unto you." Paul reminds them, or rather makes known to
them, as if anew, not only the fact of the Gospel, but also with
what words, and by what arguments, he preached it to them.
Translate in that case, "if ye hold it fast." I prefer arranging as
English Version, "By which ye are saved, if ye hold fast (in
memory and personal appropriation) with what speech I preached
it unto you."
unless—which is impossible, your faith
is vain, in resting on Christ's resurrection as an objective
3. I delivered unto you—A short creed,
or summary of articles of faith, was probably even then existing; and a
profession in accordance with it was required of candidates for baptism
first of all—literally, "among the
foremost points" (Heb 6:2). The
atonement is, in Paul's view, of primary importance.
which I … received—from Christ
Himself by special revelation (compare 1Co 11:23).
died for our sins—that is, to atone
FOR them; for taking away our
sins (1Jo 3:5;
1:4): "gave Himself for our
sins" (Isa 53:5; 2Co 5:15; Tit 2:14). The "for" here does not, as in some
passages, imply vicarious substitution, but "in behalf of" (Heb 5:3;
1Pe 2:24). It does not,
however, mean merely "on account of," which is expressed by a different
Greek word (Ro 4:25),
(though in English Version translated similarly, "for").
according to the scriptures—which
"cannot be broken." Paul puts the testimony of Scripture above
that of those who saw the Lord after His resurrection [Bengel]. So our Lord quotes Isa 53:12, in Lu 22:37; compare Ps 22:15, &c.; Da 9:26.
4. buried … rose again—His burial
is more closely connected with His resurrection than His death. At the
moment of His death, the power of His inextinguishable life exerted
27:52). The grave was to Him
not the destined receptacle of corruption, but an apartment fitted for
entering into life (Ac 2:26-28) [Bengel].
rose again—Greek, "hath risen":
the state thus begun, and its consequences, still continue.
5. seen of Cephas—Peter (Lu 24:34).
the twelve—The round number for "the
Eleven" (Lu 24:33, 36). "The Twelve" was their ordinary
appellation, even when their number was not full. However, very
possibly Matthias was present (Ac 1:22, 23). Some of the oldest manuscripts and
versions read, "the Eleven": but the best on the whole, "the
6. five hundred—This appearance was
probably on the mountain (Tabor, according to tradition), in Galilee,
when His most solemn and public appearance, according to His special
promise, was vouchsafed (Mt 26:32; 28:7, 10, 16). He "appointed" this place, as one
remote from Jerusalem, so that believers might assemble there more
freely and securely. Alford's theory of
Jerusalem being the scene, is improbable; as such a multitude of
believers could not, with any safety, have met in one place in the
metropolis, after His crucifixion there. The number of disciples (Ac 1:15) at Jerusalem shortly after, was
one hundred and twenty, those in Galilee and elsewhere not being
reckoned. Andronicus and Junius were,
perhaps, of the number (Ro 16:7):
they are said to be "among the apostles" (who all were witnesses of the
resurrection, Ac 1:22).
remain unto this present—and,
therefore, may be sifted thoroughly to ascertain the trustworthiness of
fallen asleep—in the sure hope of
awaking at the resurrection (Ac 7:60).
7. seen of James—the Less, the brother
of our Lord (Ga 1:19). The
Gospel according to the Hebrews, quoted by Jerome [On Illustrious Men, p. 170 D.],
records that "James swore he would not eat bread from the hour that he
drank the cup of the Lord, till he should see Him rising again from the
all the apostles—The term here
includes many others besides "the Twelve" already enumerated (1Co 15:5): perhaps the seventy disciples
8. One born out of due
time—Greek, "the one abortively born": the abortion in
the family of the apostles. As a child born before the due time
is puny, and though born alive, yet not of the proper size, and
scarcely worthy of the name of man, so "I am the least of the
apostles," scarcely "meet to be called an apostle"; a supernumerary
taken into the college of apostles out of regular course, not led to
Christ by long instruction, like a natural birth, but by a sudden
power, as those prematurely born [Grotius]. Compare the similar image from childbirth,
and by the same spiritual power, the resurrection of Christ (1Pe 1:3). "Begotten again by the
resurrection of Jesus." Jesus' appearance to Paul, on the way to
Damascus, is the one here referred to.
9. least—The name, "Paulus," in
Latin, means "least."
I persecuted the church—Though God has
forgiven him, Paul can hardly forgive himself at the remembrance of his
10. by … grace … and his
grace—The repetition implies the prominence which God's
grace had in his mind, as the sole cause of his marvellous
conversion and subsequent labors. Though "not meet to be called an
apostle," grace has given him, in Christ, the meetness needed for the
office. Translate as the Greek, "His grace which was (showed)
what I am—occupying the honorable
office of an apostle. Contrast with this the self-sufficient prayer of
another Pharisee (Lu 18:11).
but I laboured—by God's grace (Php 2:16).
than they all—than any of the apostles
grace of God … with me—Compare
"the Lord working with them" (Mr 16:20). The oldest manuscripts omit "which
was." The "not I, but grace," implies, that though the human will
concurred with God when brought by His Spirit into conformity
with His will, yet "grace" so preponderated in the work, that his own
co-operation is regarded as nothing, and grace as virtually the sole
agent. (Compare 1Co 3:9; Mt 10:20; 2Co 6:1; Php
11. whether it were I or they—(the
apostles) who "labored more abundantly" (1Co 15:10) in preaching, such was the substance of
our preaching, namely, the truths stated in 1Co 15:3, 4.
12. if—Seeing that it is an admitted
fact that Christ is announced by us eye-witnesses as having risen from
the dead, how is it that some of you deny that which is a necessary
consequence of Christ's resurrection, namely, the general
some—Gentile reasoners (Ac 17:32;
26:8) who would not believe
it because they did not see "how" it could be (1Co 15:35, 36).
13. If there be no general resurrection, which
is the consequent, then there can have been no resurrection of Christ,
which is the antecedent. The head and the members of the body stand on
the same footing: what does not hold good of them, does not hold good
of Him either: His resurrection and theirs are inseparably joined
(compare 1Co 15:20-22; Joh 14:19).
14. your faith … vain—(1Co 15:11). The Greek for "vain" here
is, empty, unreal: in 1Co 15:17, on the other hand, it is, without
use, frustrated. The principal argument of the first preachers in
support of Christianity was that God had raised Christ from the dead
(Ac 1:22; 2:32; 4:10, 33; 13:37; Ro 1:4). If this fact were false, the faith
built on it must be false too.
15. testified of God—that is, concerning
God. The rendering of others is, "against God" [Vulgate, Estius, Grotius]: the Greek preposition with the
genitive implies, not direct antagonism (as the accusative would mean),
but indirect to the dishonor of God. English
Version is probably better.
if so be—as they assert. It is not
right to tell untrue stories, though they are told and seem for the
glory of God (Job 13:7).
16. The repetition implies the unanswerable
force of the argument.
17. vain—Ye are, by the very fact
(supposing the case to be as the skeptics maintained),
frustrated of all which "your faith" appropriates: Ye are still
under the everlasting condemnation of your sins (even in the
disembodied state which is here referred to), from which
Christ's resurrection is our justification (Ro 4:25): "saved by his life" (Ro 5:10).
18. fallen asleep in Christ—in communion
with Christ as His members. "In Christ's case the term used is
death, to assure us of the reality of His suffering; in our
case, sleep, to give us consolation: In His case, His
resurrection having actually taken place, Paul shrinks not from the
term death; in ours, the resurrection being still only a matter of
hope, he uses the term falling asleep" [Photius, Quæstiones Amphilochiæ,
perished—Their souls are lost; they
are in misery in the unseen world.
19. If our hopes in Christ were limited to
this life only, we should be, of all men, most to be pitied; namely,
because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial
and persecution, and, after all, are doomed to bitter disappointment in
our most cherished hope; for all our hope of salvation, even of the
soul (not merely of the body), hangs on the resurrection of Christ,
without which His death would be of no avail to us (Eph 1:19,
20; 1Pe 1:3). The heathen are
"without hope" (Eph 2:12; 1Th 4:13). We should be even worse, for we should
be also without present enjoyment (1Co 4:9).
20. now—as the case really is.
and become—omitted in the oldest
the first-fruits—the earnest or
pledge, that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our
faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. The time of
writing this Epistle was probably about the Passover (1Co 5:7); the day after the Passover sabbath was
that for offering the first-fruits (Le 23:10, 11), and the same was the day of
Christ's resurrection: whence appears the appropriateness of the
21. by man … by man—The
first-fruits are of the same nature as the rest of the harvest; so
Christ, the bringer of life, is of the same nature as the race of men
to whom He brings it; just as Adam, the bringer of death, was of the
same nature as the men on whom he brought it.
22. in Adam all—in union of nature with
Adam, as representative head of mankind in their fall.
in Christ … all—in union of
nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their
recovery. The life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the death
brought in by Adam.
23. But every man in his own
order—rather, "rank": the Greek is not in the
abstract, but concrete: image from troops, "each in his own regiment."
Though all shall rise again, let not any think all shall be saved; nay,
each shall have his proper place, Christ first (Col 1:18), and after Him the godly who die in
4:16), in a separate band
from the ungodly, and then "the end," that is, the resurrection of the
rest of the dead. Christian churches, ministers, and individuals seem
about to be judged first "at His coming" (Mt 25:1-30); then "all the nations" (Mt
25:31-46). Christ's own flock
shall share His glory "at His coming," which is not to be confounded
with "the end," or general judgment (Re 20:4-6, 11-15). The latter is not in this chapter
specially discussed, but only the first resurrection, namely, that of
the saints: not even the judgment of Christian hollow professors (Mt 25:1-30) at His coming, is handled, but
only the glory of them "that are Christ's," who alone in the highest
sense "obtain the resurrection from the dead" (Lu
14:14; 20:35, 36; Php 3:11;
see on Php 3:11). The second coming of Christ is
not a mere point of time, but a period beginning with the
resurrection of the just at His appearing, and ending with the general
judgment. The ground of the universal resurrection is the union of all
mankind in nature with Christ, their representative Head, who has done
away with death, by His own death in their stead: the ground of the
resurrection of believers is not merely this, but their personal union
with Him as their "Life" (Col 3:4), effected causatively by the
Holy Spirit, and instrumentally by faith as the
subjective, and by ordinances as the objective means.
24. Then—after that: next in the
succession of "orders" or "ranks."
the end—the general resurrection, and
final judgment and consummation (Mt 25:46).
delivered up … kingdom to …
Father—(Compare Joh 13:3).
Seeming at variance with Da 7:14, "His
dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass
away." Really, His giving up of the mediatorial
kingdom to the Father, when the end for which the mediatorial economy
was established has been accomplished, is altogether in harmony with
its continuing everlastingly. The change which shall then take place,
shall be in the manner of administration, not in the
kingdom itself; God shall then come into direct
connection with the earth, instead of mediatorially, when Christ shall
have fully and finally removed everything that severs asunder the holy
God and a sinful earth (Col 1:20).
The glory of God is the final end of Christ's mediatorial office (Php 2:10,
11). His co-equality with the
Father is independent of the latter, and prior to it, and shall,
therefore, continue when its function shall have ceased. His manhood,
too, shall everlastingly continue, though, as now, subordinate to the
Father. The throne of the Lamb (but no longer mediatorial) as
well as of God, shall be in the heavenly city (Re 22:3; compare Re 3:21). The unity of the Godhead, and the
unity of the Church, shall be simultaneously manifested at Christ's
second coming. Compare Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9; Joh
17:21-24. The oldest
manuscripts for "shall have delivered up," read,
"delivereth up," which suits the sense better. It is "when He
shall have put down all rule," that "He delivereth up the
kingdom to the Father."
shall have put down all rule—the
effect produced during the millennary reign of Himself and His saints
(Ps 110:1; 8:6; 2:6-9), to which passages Paul refers, resting
his argument on the two words, "all" and "until," of the Psalmist: a
proof of verbal inspiration of Scripture (compare Re 2:26, 27). Meanwhile, He "rules in the
midst of His enemies" (Ps 110:2).
He is styled "the King" when He takes His great power (Mt 25:34;
Re 11:15, 17). The
Greek for "put down" is, "done away with," or "brought to
naught." "All" must be subject to Him, whether openly opposed powers,
as Satan and his angels, or kings and angelic principalities (Eph 1:21).
25. must—because Scripture foretells
till—There will be no further need of
His mediatorial kingdom, its object having been realized.
enemies under his feet—(Lu 19:27; Eph
26. shall be—Greek, "is
done away with" (Re 20:14;
1:18). It is to believers
especially this applies (1Co 15:55-57); even in the case of unbelievers, death
is done away with by the general resurrection. Satan brought in
sin, and sin brought in death! So they shall be
destroyed (rendered utterly powerless) in the same order (1Co 15:56; Heb 2:14; Re 19:20; 20:10, 14).
27. all things—including death (compare
Eph 1:22; Php 3:21; Heb 2:8; 1Pe 3:22). It is said, "hath put," for
what God has said is the same as if it were already done, so sure is
it. Paul here quotes Ps 8:6 in
proof of his previous declaration, "For (it is written), 'He hath
put all things under His feet.'"
under his feet—as His footstool (Ps 110:1). In perfect and lasting
when he—namely, God, who by His Spirit
inspired the Psalmist.
28. Son … himself …
subject—not as the creatures are, but as a Son voluntarily
subordinate to, though co-equal with, the Father. In the
mediatorial kingdom, the Son had been, in a manner, distinct from the
Father. Now, His kingdom shall merge in the Father's, with whom He is
one; not that there is thus any derogation from His honor; for the
Father Himself wills "that all should honor the Son, as they honor the
Father" (Joh 5:22, 23; Heb 1:6).
God … all in all—as Christ is
all in all (Col 3:11;
14:9). Then, and not
till then, "all things," without the least infringement of the
divine prerogative, shall be subject to the Son, and the Son
subordinate to the Father, while co-equally sharing His glory. Contrast
10:4; 14:1. Even the saints
do not fully realize God as their "all" (Ps 73:25) now, through desiring it; then each
shall feel, God is all to me.
29. Else—if there be no
what shall they do?—How wretched is
they … which are baptized for the
dead—third person; a class distinct from that in which the
apostle places himself, "we" (1Co 15:30); first person. Alford thinks there is an allusion to a practice at
Corinth of baptizing a living person in behalf of a friend who
died unbaptized; thus Paul, without giving the least sanction to the
practice, uses an ad hominem argument from it against its
practicers, some of whom, though using it, denied the resurrection:
"What account can they give of their practice; why are they at the
trouble of it, if the dead rise not?" [So Jesus used an ad
hominem argument, Mt 12:27].
But if so, it is strange there is no direct censure of it. Some
Marcionites adopted the practice at a later period, probably from
taking this passage, as Alford does;
but, generally, it was unknown in the Church. Bengel translates, "over (immediately upon) the
dead," that is, who will be gathered to the dead immediately
after baptism. Compare Job 17:1,
"the graves are ready for me." The price they get for their trouble is,
that they should be gathered to the dead for ever (1Co 15:13, 16). Many in the ancient Church put
off baptism till near death. This seems the better view; though there
may have been some rites of symbolical baptism at Corinth, now unknown,
perhaps grounded on Jesus' words (Mt 20:22, 23), which Paul here alludes to. The best
punctuation is, "If the dead rise not at all, why are they then
baptized for them" (so the oldest manuscripts read the last
words, instead of "for the dead")?
30. we—apostles (1Co 15:9; 1Co
4:9). A gradation from those
who could only for a little time enjoy this life (that is, those
baptized at the point of death), to us, who could enjoy it
longer, if we had not renounced the world for Christ [Bengel].
31. by your rejoicing—by the glorying
which I have concerning you, as the fruit of my labors in the Lord.
Some of the earliest manuscripts and fathers read "our," with the same
sense. Bengel understands "your
rejoicing," to be the enjoyable state of the Corinthians, as
contrasted with his dying daily to give his converts rejoicing
or glorying (1Co 4:8; 2Co 4:12, 15; Eph 3:13;
Php 1:26). But the words,
"which I have," favor the explanation—"the rejoicing which I
have over you." Many of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate
insert "brethren" here.
I die daily—This ought to stand first
in the sentence, as it is so put prominently forward in the
Greek. I am day by day in sight of death, exposed to it, and
expecting it (2Co 4:11, 12; 1:8, 9; 11:23).
32. Punctuate thus: "If after the manner of
men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me? If
the dead rise not, let us eat and drink," &c. [Bengel]. If "merely as a man" (with the mere
human hope of the present life; not with the Christian's hope of the
resurrection; answering to "If the dead rise not," the parallel clause
in the next sentence), I have fought with men resembling savage beasts.
Heraclitus, of Ephesus, had termed his countrymen "wild beasts" four
hundred years before. So Epimenides called the Cretians (Tit 1:12). Paul was still at Ephesus (1Co 16:8), and there his life was daily in
4:9; compare 2Co 1:8). Though the tumult (Ac 19:29, 30) had not yet taken place
(for after it he set out immediately for Macedonia), this
Epistle was written evidently just before it, when the storm was
gathering; "many adversaries" (1Co 16:9) were already menacing him.
what advantageth it me?—seeing I have
renounced all that, "as a mere man," might compensate me for
such sufferings, gain, fame, &c.
let us eat, &c.—Quoted from the
Septuagint, (Isa 22:13),
where the prophet describes the reckless self-indulgence of the
despisers of God's call to mourning, Let us enjoy the good things of
life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of such
skeptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. "If men but
persuade themselves that they shall die like the beasts, they soon will
live like beasts too" [South].
33. evil communications corrupt good
manners—a current saying, forming a verse in Menander, the comic poet, who probably took it from
Euripides [Socrates, Ecclesiastical
History, 3.16]. "Evil communications" refer to intercourse with
those who deny the resurrection. Their notion seems to have been that
the resurrection is merely spiritual, that sin has its seat solely in
the body, and will be left behind when the soul leaves it, if, indeed,
the soul survive death at all.
good—not only good-natured, but
pliant. Intimacy with the profligate society around was apt to
corrupt the principles of the Corinthians.
34. Awake—literally, "out of the
sleep" of carnal intoxication into which ye are thrown by the
influence of these skeptics (1Co 15:32; Joe 1:5).
to righteousness—in contrast with
"sin" in this verse, and corrupt manners (1Co 15:33).
sin not—Do not give yourselves up to
sinful pleasures. The Greek expresses a continued state of
abstinence from sin. Thus, Paul implies that they who live in sinful
pleasures readily persuade themselves of what they wish, namely, that
there is to be no resurrection.
some—the same as in 1Co 15:12.
have not the knowledge of God—and
so know not His power in the resurrection (Mt 22:29). Stronger than "are ignorant of God."
An habitual ignorance: wilful, in that they prefer to keep their
sins, rather than part with them, in order to know God (compare
Joh 7:17; 1Pe 2:15).
to your shame—that you Corinthian
Christians, who boast of your knowledge, should have among you,
and maintain intercourse with, those so practically ignorant of God, as
to deny the resurrection.
35. How—It is folly to deny a fact of
REVELATION, because we do not know the
"how." Some measure God's power by their petty intelligence, and
won't admit, even on His assurance, anything which they cannot
explain. Ezekiel's answer of faith to the question is the truly
wise one (Eze 37:3). So
Jesus argues not on principles of philosophy, but wholly from "the
power of God," as declared by the Word of God (Mt 19:26; Mr 10:27; 12:23; Lu 18:27).
come—The dead are said to
depart, or to be deceased: those rising again to
come. The objector could not understand how the dead are
to rise, and with what kind of a body they are to come. Is it to
be the same body? If so, how is this, since the resurrection bodies
will not eat or drink, or beget children, as the natural bodies do?
Besides, the latter have mouldered into dust. How then can they
rise again? If it be a different body, how can the personal identity be
preserved? Paul answers, In one sense it will be the same body, in
another, a distinct body. It will be a body, but a spiritual, not a
36. fool—with all thy boasted philosophy
that which thou—"thou," emphatical:
appeal to the objector's own experience: "The seed which thou
thyself sowest." Paul, in this verse and in 1Co 15:42, answers the question of 1Co 15:35, "How?" and in 1Co 15:37-41,
43, the question, "With
what kind of body?" He converts the very objection (the death of
the natural body) into an argument. Death, so far from preventing
quickening, is the necessary prelude and prognostication of it,
just as the seed "is not quickened" into a new sprout with increased
produce, "except it die" (except a dissolution of its previous
organization takes place). Christ by His death for us has not given us
a reprieve from death as to the life which we have from Adam; nay, He
permits the law to take its course on our fleshly nature; but He brings
from Himself new spiritual and heavenly life out of death (1Co 15:37).
37. not that body that shall be—a
body beautiful and no longer a "bare grain" [Bengel]. No longer without stalk or ear, but clothed
with blade and ears, and yielding many grains instead of only one
[Grotius]. There is not an identity of
all the particles of the old and the new body. For the perpetual
transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a
hidden germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward
changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the
germ remains the same. Every such germ ("seed," 1Co 15:38) "shall have its own body," and be
instantly recognized, just as each plant now is known from the seed
that was sown (see on 1Co 6:13). So Christ by
the same image illustrated the truth that His death was the necessary
prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of
the regeneration of the many who believe (Joh 12:24). Progress is the law of the spiritual,
as of the natural world. Death is the avenue not to mere
revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection
and regeneration (Mt 19:28; Php 3:21). Compare "planted," &c.,
38. as it hath pleased him—at creation,
when He gave to each of the (kinds of) seeds (so the
Greek is for "to every seed") a body of its own (Ge 1:11, "after its kind," suited to its
species). So God can and will give to the blessed at the resurrection
their own appropriate body, such as it pleases
Him, and such as is suitable to their glorified state: a body
peculiar to the individual, substantially the same as the body
39-41. Illustrations of the suitability of
bodies, however various, to their species: the flesh of the several
species of animals; bodies celestial and terrestrial; the various kinds
of light in the sun, moon, and stars, respectively.
flesh—animal organism [De Wette]. He implies by the word that our
resurrection bodies shall be in some sense really flesh, not mere
phantoms of air [Estius]. So some of the
oldest creeds expressed it, "I believe in the resurrection of the
flesh." Compare as to Jesus' own resurrection body, Lu 24:39; Joh
20:27; to which ours shall
be made like, and therefore shall be flesh, but not of
animal organism (Php 3:21) and
liable to corruption. But 1Co 15:50
below implies, it is not "flesh and blood" in the animal sense we now
understand them; for these "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
not the same—not flesh of the same
nature and excellency. As the kinds of flesh, however widely differing
from one another, do not cease to be flesh, so the kinds of bodies,
however differing from one another, are still bodies. All this is to
illustrate the difference of the new celestial body from its
terrestrial seed, while retaining a substantial identity.
another of fishes … another of
birds—Most of the oldest manuscripts read thus, "another
FLESH of birds … another of
fishes": the order of nature.
40. celestial bodies—not the sun, moon,
and stars, which are first introduced in 1Co 15:41, but the bodies of angels, as
distinguished from the bodies of earthly creatures.
the glory of the celestial—(Lu 9:26).
glory of … terrestrial—(Mt
6:28, 29; 1Pe 1:24).
41. one glory of … sun … another
… of … moon—The analogy is not to prove different
degrees of glory among the blessed (whether this may be, or not,
indirectly hinted at), but this: As the various fountains of
light, which is so similar in its aspect and properties, differ
(the sun from the moon, and the moon from the stars; and even
one star from another star, though all seem so much alike); so there is
nothing unreasonable in the doctrine that our present bodies
differ from our resurrection bodies, though still continuing
bodies. Compare the same simile, appropriate especially in the
clear Eastern skies (Da 12:3; Mt 13:43). Also that of seed in the same
parable (Mt 13:24; Ga 6:7, 8).
42. sown—Following up the image of
seed. A delightful word instead of burial.
in corruption—liable to corruption:
corruptible: not merely a prey when dead to corruption; as
the contrast shows, "raised in incorruption," that is, not liable to
43. in dishonour—answering to "our
vile body" (Php 3:21);
literally, "our body of humiliation": liable to various humiliations of
disease, injury, and decay at last.
in glory—the garment of incorruption
15:42, 43) like His glorious
4:21), which we shall put on
(1Co 15:49, 53; 2Co 5:2-4).
in weakness—liable to infirmities
in power—answering to a "spiritual
15:44; compare Lu 1:17, "Spirit and power"). Not liable to the
weaknesses of our present frail bodies (Isa 33:24; Re 21:4).
44. a natural body—literally, "an
animal body," a body moulded in its organism of "flesh and blood"
15:50) to suit the animal
soul which predominates in it. The Holy Spirit in the spirit of
believers, indeed, is an earnest of a superior state (Ro 8:11), but meanwhile in the body the
animal soul preponderates; hereafter the Spirit shall predominate, and
the animal soul be duly subordinate.
spiritual body—a body wholly moulded
by the Spirit, and its organism not conformed to the lower and animal
20:35, 36), but to the higher
and spiritual, life (compare 1Co 2:14; 1Th 5:23).
There is, &c.—The oldest
manuscripts read, "IF there is a natural
(or animal-souled) body, there is also a spiritual body."
It is no more wonderful a thing, that there should be a body fitted to
the capacities and want of man's highest part, his spirit (which we see
to be the case), than that there should be one fitted to the capacities
and wants of his subordinate part, the animal soul [Alford].
45. so—in accordance with the
distinction just mentioned between the natural or animal-souled
body and the spiritual body.
it is written—(Ge 2:7); "Man became (was made to become) a
living soul," that is, endowed with an animal soul, the living
principle of his body.
the last Adam—the LAST Head of humanity, who is to be fully manifested
in the last day, which is His day (Joh 6:39). He is so called in Job 19:25; see on Job
19:25 (compare Ro 5:14). In
contrast to "the last," Paul calls "man" (Ge 2:7) "the FIRST Adam."
quickening—not only living, but
making alive (Joh 5:21; 6:33, 39, 40,
54, 57, 62, 63; Ro 8:11). As
the natural or animal-souled body (1Co 15:44) is the fruit of our union with the
first Adam, an animal-souled man, so the spiritual body
is the fruit of our union with the second Adam, who is the quickening
3:17). As He became
representative of the whole of humanity in His union of the two
natures, He exhausted in His own person the sentence of death passed on
all men, and giveth spiritual and everlasting life to whom He will.
46. afterward—Adam had a soul not
necessarily mortal, as it afterwards became by sin, but "a
living soul," and destined to live for ever, if he had eaten of
the tree of life (Ge 3:22);
still his body was but an animal-souled body, not a
spiritual body, such as believers shall have; much less was he a
"life-giving spirit," as Christ. His soul had the germ of the Spirit,
rather than the fulness of it, such as man shall have when restored
"body, soul, and spirit," by the second Adam (1Th 5:23). As the first and lower Adam came
before the second and heavenly Adam, so the animal-souled body comes
first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body (that
is, that in which the Spirit predominates over the animal soul).
47. of the earth—inasmuch as being
sprung from the earth, he is "earthy" (Ge 2:7; 3:19, "dust thou art"); that is, not merely
earthly or born upon the earth, but terrene, or of
earth; literally, "of heaped earth" or clay. "Adam" means
the Lord—omitted in the oldest
manuscripts and versions.
from heaven—(Joh 3:13, 31). Humanity in Christ is generic.
In Him man is impersonated in his true ideal as God originally designed
him. Christ is the representative man, the federal head of redeemed
48. As is the earthy—namely, Adam.
they … that are earthy—All
Adam's posterity in their natural state (Joh 3:6, 7).
they … that are heavenly—His
people in their regenerate state (Php 3:20, 21). As the former precedes the latter
state, so the natural bodies precede the spiritual
49. as—Greek, "even as" (see
we shall also bear—or wear as a
garment [Bengel]. The oldest manuscripts
and versions read, "We must also bear," or "let us also bear." It
implies the divine appointment (compare "must," 1Co 15:53) and faith assenting to it. An
exhortation, and yet implying a promise (so Ro 8:29). The conformity to the image of the
heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, in part,
and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and
50. (See on 1Co 15:37;
1Co 15:39). "Flesh and blood" of the same
animal and corruptible nature as our present (1Co 15:44) animal-souled bodies, cannot
inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore the believer acquiesces gladly in
the unrepealed sentence of the holy law, which appoints the death of
the present body as the necessary preliminary to the resurrection body
of glory. Hence he "dies daily" to the flesh and to the world, as the
necessary condition to his regeneration here and hereafter (Joh 3:6;
Ga 2:20). As the being
born of the flesh constitutes a child of Adam, so the being
born of the Spirit constitutes a child of God.
cannot—Not merely is the change of
body possible, but it is necessary. The spirit extracted
from the dregs of wine does not so much differ from them, as the
glorified man does from the mortal man [Bengel] of mere animal flesh and blood (Ga 1:16). The resurrection body will be still a
body though spiritual, and substantially retaining the personal
identity; as is proved by Lu 24:39; Joh 20:27, compared with Php 3:21.
the kingdom of God—which is not at all
merely animal, but altogether spiritual. Corruption doth not
inherit, though it is the way to, incorruption (1Co 15:36,
51. Behold—Calling attention to the
"mystery" heretofore hidden in God's purposes, but now revealed.
you—emphatical in the Greek; I
show (Greek, "tell," namely, by the word of the Lord,
4:15) YOU, who think you have so much knowledge, "a
mystery" (compare Ro 11:25)
which your reason could never have discovered. Many of the old
manuscripts and Fathers read, "We shall all sleep, but we shall not all
be changed"; but this is plainly a corrupt reading, inconsistent with
4:15, 17, and with the
apostle's argument here, which is that a change is necessary
Version is supported by some of the oldest manuscripts and Fathers.
The Greek is literally "We all shall not sleep, but," &c.
The putting off of the corruptible body for an incorruptible by an
instantaneous change will, in the case of "the quick," stand as
equivalent to death, appointed to all men (Heb 9:27); of this Enoch and Elijah are types and
forerunners. The "we" implies that Christians in that age and every
successive age since and hereafter were designed to stand waiting, as
if Christ might come again in their time, and as if they might be found
among "the quick."
52. the last trump—at the sounding of
the trumpet on the last day [Vatablus] (Mt 24:31; 1Th 4:16). Or the Spirit by Paul hints that the
other trumpets mentioned subsequently in the Apocalypse shall precede,
and that this shall be the last of all (compare Isa 27:13;
Zec 9:14). As the law was
given with the sound of a trumpet, so the final judgment according to
12:19; compare Ex 19:16). As the Lord ascended "with the sound
of a trumpet" (Ps 47:5), so
He shall descend (Re 11:15).
The trumpet was sounded to convoke the people on solemn feasts,
especially on the first day of the seventh month (the type of the
completion of time; seven being the number for
perfection; on the tenth of the same month was the atonement,
and on the fifteenth the feast of tabernacles, commemorative of
completed salvation out of the spiritual Egypt, compare Zec 14:18, 19); compare Ps 50:1-7. Compare His calling forth of Lazarus
from the grave "with a loud voice," Joh 11:43, with Joh 5:25,
and—immediately, in consequence.
53. this—pointing to his own body
and that of those whom he addresses.
put on—as a garment (2Co 5:2, 3).
immortality—Here only, besides 1Ti 6:16, the word "immortality" is found.
Nowhere is the immortality of the soul, distinct from the body,
taught; a notion which many erroneously have derived from heathen
philosophers. Scripture does not contemplate the anomalous state
brought about by death, as the consummation to be earnestly looked for
5:4), but the
54. then—not before. Death has as yet
a sting even to the believer, in that his body is to be
under its power till the resurrection. But then the sting and power of
death shall cease for ever.
Death is swallowed up in victory—In
Hebrew of Isa 25:8,
from which it is quoted, "He (Jehovah) will swallow up
death in victory"; that is, for ever: as "in victory" often
means in Hebrew idiom (Jer 3:5; La 5:20). Christ will swallow it up so
altogether victoriously that it shall never more regain its power
(compare Ho 6:2; 13:14; 2Co 5:4; Heb
2:14, 15; Re 20:14; 21:4).
55. Quoted from Ho 13:14, substantially; but freely used by the
warrant of the Spirit by which Paul wrote. The Hebrew may be
translated, "O death, where are thy plagues? Where, O Hades, is thy
destruction?" The Septuagint, "Where is thy victory (literally,
in a lawsuit), O death? Where is thy sting, O Hades? …
Sting" answers to the Hebrew "plagues," namely, a poisoned
sting causing plagues. Appropriate, as to the old serpent
(Ge 3:14, 15; Nu 21:6). "Victory" answers to the Hebrew
"destruction." Compare Isa 25:7,
"destroy … veil … over all nations," namely,
victoriously destroy it; and to "in victory" (1Co 15:54), which he triumphantly repeats. The
"where" implies their past victorious destroying power and sting, now
gone for ever; obtained through Satan's triumph over man in Eden, which
enlisted God's law on the side of Satan and death against man (Ro 5:12, 17,
21). The souls in Hades being
freed by the resurrection, death's sting and victory are gone. For "O
grave," the oldest manuscripts and versions read, "O death," the second
56. If there were no sin, there would be no
death. Man's transgression of the law gives death its lawful power.
strength of sin is the
law—Without the law sin is not perceived or imputed (Ro 3:20;
4:15; 5:13). The law makes
sin the more grievous by making God's will the clearer (Ro 7:8-10). Christ's people are no longer "under
the law" (Ro
57. to God—The victory was in no way due
to ourselves (Ps 98:1).
giveth—a present certainty.
the victory—which death and Hades
("the grave") had aimed at, but which, notwithstanding the opposition
of them, as well as of the law and sin, we have gained. The repetition
of the word (1Co 15:54, 55) is appropriate to the triumph
58. beloved—Sound doctrine kindles
steadfast—not turning aside from the
faith of the resurrection of yourselves.
unmovable—not turned aside by
others (1Co 15:12; Col 1:23).
the work of the Lord—the promotion of
Christ's kingdom (Php 2:30).
not in vain—as the deniers of the
resurrection would make it (1Co 15:14, 17).
in the Lord—applying to the whole
sentence and its several clauses: Ye, as being in the Lord by faith,
know that your labor in the Lord (that is, labor according to His will)
is not to be without its reward in the Lord (through His merits and
according to His gracious appointment).