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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,

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1. Now I make known to you. He now enters on another subject — the resurrection — the belief of which among the Corinthians had been shaken by some wicked persons. It is uncertain, however, whether they doubted merely as to the ultimate resurrection of the body, or as to the immortality of the soul also. It is abundantly well known, that there were a variety of errors as to this point. Some philosophers contended that souls are immortal. As to the resurrection of the body, it never entered into the mind of any one of them. The Sadducees, however, had grosser views; for they thought of nothing but the present life; nay more, they thought that the soul of man was a breath of wind without substance. It is not, therefore, altogether certain (as I have already said) whether the Corinthians had at this time gone to such a height of madness, as to cast off all expectation of a future life, or whether they merely denied the resurrection of the body; for the arguments which Paul makes use of seem to imply, that they were altogether bewitched with the mad dream of the Sadducees.

For example, when he says,

Of what advantage is it to be baptized for the dead?
(1 Corinthians 15:29.)

Were it not better to eat and to drink?
(1 Corinthians 15:32.)

Why are we in peril every hour? (1 Corinthians 15:30,)

and the like, it might very readily be replied, in accordance with the views of the philosophers, “Because after death the soul survives the body.” Hence some apply the whole of Paul’s reasoning contained in this chapter to the immortality of the soul. For my part, while I leave undetermined what the error of the Corinthians was, yet I cannot bring myself to view Paul’s words as referring to anything else than the resurrection of the body. Let it, therefore be regarded as a settled point, that it is of this exclusively that he treats in this chapter. And what if the impiety of Hymeneus and Philetus had extended thus far, 22    Iusques a Corinthe;”As far as Corinth.” who said that the resurrection was already past, (2 Timothy 2:18,) and that there would be nothing more of it? Similar to these, there are at the present day some madmen, or rather devils, 33     “Possedez d’autres diables;” — “Possessed by other devils.” who call themselves Libertines. 44     “The Libertines of Geneva were rather a cabal of rakes than a set of fanatics; for they made no pretense to any religious system, but only pleaded for the liberty of leading voluptuous and immoral lives. This cabal was composed of a certain number of licentious citizens, who could not bear the severe discipline of Calvin, who punished with rigour, not only dissolute manners, but Also whatever carried the aspect of irreligion and impiety.”Paterson’s History of the Church, volume 2. — Ed. To me, however, the following conjecture appears more probable — that they were carried away by some delusion, 55     “Par quelque opinion fantastique;” — “By some fantastic notion.” which took away from them the hope of a future resurrection, just as those in the present day, by imagining an allegorical resurrection, 66     “Vne ie ne scay quelle resurrection allegorique;” — “An allegorical resurrection, I know not of what sort.” take away from us the true resurrection that is promised to us.

However this may be, it is truly a dreadful case, and next to a prodigy, that those who had been instructed by so distinguished a master, should have been capable of falling so quickly 77     “Si soudainement seduits;” — “So suddenly seduced.” into errors of so gross a nature. But what is there that is surprising in this, when in the Israelitish Church the Sadducees had the audacity to declare openly that man differs nothing from a brute, in so far as concerns the essence of the soul, and has no enjoyment but what is common to him with the beasts? Let us observe, however, that blindness of this kind is a just judgment from God, so that those who do not rest satisfied with the truth of God, are tossed hither and thither by the delusions of Satan.

It is asked, however, why it is that he has left off or deferred to the close of the Epistle, what should properly have had the precedence of everything else? Some reply, that this was done for the purpose of impressing it more deeply upon the memory. I am rather of opinion that Paul did not wish to introduce a subject of such importance, until he had asserted his authority, which had been considerably lessened among the Corinthians, and until he had, by repressing their pride, prepared them for listening to him with docility.

I make known to you. To make known here does not mean to teach what was previously unknown to them, but to recall to their recollection what they had heard previously. “Call to your recollection, along with me, that gospel which you had learned, before you were led aside from the right course.” He calls the doctrine of the resurrection the gospel, that they may not imagine that any one is at liberty to form any opinion that he chooses on this point, as on other questions, which bring with them no injury to salvation.

When he adds, which I preached to you, he amplifies what he had said: “If you acknowledge me as an apostle, I have assuredly taught you so.” There is another amplification in the words — which also ye have received, for if they now allow themselves to be persuaded of the contrary, they will be chargeable with fickleness. A third amplification is to this effect, that they had hitherto continued in that belief with a firm and steady resolution, which is somewhat more than that they had once believed. But the most important thing of all is, that he declares that their salvation is involved in this, for it follows from this, that, if the resurrection is taken away, they have no religion left them, no assurance of faith, and in short, have no faith remaining. Others understand in another sense the word stand, as meaning that they are upheld; but the interpretation that I have given is a more correct one. 88     It is remarked by Bloomfield, that “in ἐστήκατε (which means ‘ye have persevered, and do persevere,’) there is an agonistic metaphor, (as in Ephesians 6:13,) or an architectural one, like ἑδραῖοι γίνεσθε, (be steadfast,) in 1 Corinthians 15:58.” — Ed.

2. If you keep in memory unless in vain 99     “Our version does not express intelligibly the sense of ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκὢ ἐπιστεύσατε by rendering it so literallyunless ye have believed in vain. To believe in vain, according to the use of ancient languages, is to believe without just reason and authority, giving credit to idle reports as true and authentic. Thus Plutarch, speaking of some story which passed current, says, τοῦτο ἡμεῖς ἐ᾿ἴπομεν ἐν τί τῶν εἰκὢ πεπιστεύμενων — “this I said was one of those tales which are believed without any good authority.” (Sympos. lib. 1, quaest. 6.) The Latins used credere frustrato believe in vain, or temere(rashly.) Kypke takes notice that ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ, for except or unless, which has long been a suspected phrase, is used more than ten times by Lucian. It is also used by Plutarch in the Life of Demosthenes, volume 4.” — Alexander’s Paraphrase on 1 Corinthians 15. (London, 1766,) — Ed. These two expressions are very cutting. In the first, he reproves their carelessness or fickleness, because such a sudden fall was an evidence that they had never understood what had been delivered to them, or that their knowledge of it had been loose and floating, inasmuch as it had so quickly vanished. By the second, he warns them that they had needlessly and uselessly professed allegiance to Christ, if they did not hold fast this main doctrine. 1010     “Ce principal poinct de la foy;” — “This main article of faith.”

3. For I delivered to you first of all He now confirms what he had previously stated, by explaining that the resurrection had been preached by him, and that too as a fundamental doctrine of the gospel. First of all, says he, as it is wont to be with a foundation in the erecting of a house. At the same time he adds to the authority of his preaching, when he subjoins, that he delivered nothing but what he had received, for he does not simply mean that he related what he had from the report of others, but that it was what had been enjoined upon him by the Lord. 1111     “Que le Seigneur mesme luy auoit enseignee et commandee;” — “What the Lord himself had taught and commanded him.’: For the word 1212     “Le mot de receuoir;” — “The word receive. must be explained in accordance with the connection of the passage. Now it is the duty of an apostle to bring forward nothing but what he has received from the Lord, so as from hand to hand 1313     The Reader will find our Author making use of the same proverbial expression when commenting on 1 Corinthians 4:1, and 1 Corinthians 11:23. See volume 1, pages 150, 373. — Ed. (as they say) to administer to the Church the pure word of God.

That Christ died, etc. See now more clearly whence he received it, for he quotes the Scriptures in proof. In the first place, he makes mention of the death of Christ, nay also of his burial, that we may infer, that, as he was like us in these things, he is so also in his resurrection. He has, therefore, died with us that we may rise with him. In his burial, too, the reality of the death in which he has taken part with us, is made more clearly apparent. Now there are many passages of Scripture in which Christ’s death and resurrection are predicted, but nowhere more plainly 1414     “Il n’y en a point de plus expres, et ou il en soit traitte plus apertement;” — “There are none of them that are more explicit, or where it is treated of more plainly” than in Isaiah 53, in Daniel 9:26, and in Psalm 22

For our sins That is, that by taking our curse upon him he might redeem us from it. For what else was Christ’s death, but a sacrifice for expiating our sins — what but a satisfactory penalty, by which we might be reconciled to God — what but the condemnation of one, for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness for us? He speaks also in the same manner in Romans 4:25, but in that passage, on the other hand, he ascribes it also to the resurrection as its effect — that it confers righteousness upon us; for as sin was done away through the death of Christ, so righteousness is procured through his resurrection. This distinction must be carefully observed, that we may know what we must look for from the death of Christ, and what from his resurrection. When, however, the Scripture in other places makes mention only of his death, let us understand that in those cases his resurrection is included in his death, but when they are mentioned separately, the commencement of our salvation is (as we see) in the one, and the consummation of it in the other.