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The Resurrection of Christ


Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

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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). Compare Ga 1:11.

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 saved."

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 Gospel (1Co 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 reality.

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 (Ac 8:37).

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; compare Ga 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 itself (Mt 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 againGreek, "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 Twelve."

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 their testimony.

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 dead."

all the apostles—The term here includes many others besides "the Twelve" already enumerated (1Co 15:5): perhaps the seventy disciples (Lu 10:1) [Chrysostom].

8. One born out of due timeGreek, "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 past sin.

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) towards me."

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 (1Co 15:7).

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 2:12, 13).

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.