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15. Resurrection of Christ and the Dead

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15Yea, 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. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If 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; for to morrow we die. 33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

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.

20. But now hath Christ risen. Having shown what dreadful confusion as to everything would follow, if we were to deny that the dead rise again, he now again assumes as certain, what he had sufficiently established previously — that Christ has risen; and he adds that he is the first-fruits, 4848     “Although the resurrection of Christ, compared with first-fruits of any kind, has very good harmony with them, yet it more especially agrees with the offering of the sheaf, commonly called עומר, omer, not only as the thing itself, but also as to the circumstances of the time. For first there was the passover, and the day following was a sabbatic day, and on the day following that, the first-fruits were offered. So Christ, our passover, was crucified: the day following his crucifixion was the Sabbath, and the day following that, he, the first-fruits of them that slept, rose again, All who died before Christ, and were raised again to life, died afterwards; but Christ is the first-fruits of all who shall be raised from the dead to die no more.” — Lightfoot.Ed. by a similitude taken, as it appears, from the ancient ritual of the law. For as in the first-fruits the produce of the entire year was consecrated, so the power of Christ’s resurrection is extended to all of us — unless you prefer to take it in a more simple way — that in him the first fruit of the resurrection was gathered. I rather prefer, however, to understand the statement in this sense — that the rest of the dead will follow him, as the entire harvest does the first-fruits; 4949     “The first-fruits were by the command of God presented to him at a stated season, not only as a token of the gratitude of the Israelites for his bounty, but as an earnest of the approaching harvest. In this sense he is called the first-fruits of the dead. He was the first in order of time, for although some were restored to life by the Prophets, and by himself during his personal ministry, none came out of their graves to return to them no more till after his resurrection; and as he was the first in respect of time, so he was the first in order of succession; all the saints following him as the harvest followed the presentation of the first-fruits of the temple. The interval is long, and the dreary sterility of the grave might justify the thought, that the seed committed to it has perished for ever. But our hope rests upon his power, which can make the wilderness blossom as the rose; and we wait till heavenly influences descend as the dew of herbs, when the barren soil shall display all the luxuriance of vegetation, and death itself shall teem with life.”Dick’s Theology, volume 4 — Ed. and this is confirmed by the succeeding statement.

21. Since by man came death The point to be proved is, that Christ is the first-fruits, and that it was not merely as an individual that he was raised up from the dead. He proves it from contraries, because death is not from nature, but from man’s sin. As, therefore, Adam did not die for himself alone, but for us all, it follows, that Christ in like manner, who is the antitype, 5050     “Le premier patron de la resurrection pour opposer a la mort d’ Adam;” — “The first pattern of the resurrection, in opposition to the death of Adam.” did not rise for himself alone; for he came, that he might restore everything that had been ruined in Adam.

We must observe, however, the force of the argument; for he does not contend by similitude, or by example, but has recourse to opposite causes for the purpose of proving opposite effects. The cause of death is Adam, and we die in him: hence Christ, whose office it is to restore to us what we lost in Adam, is the cause of life to us; and his resurrection is the ground-work and pledge of ours. And as the former was the beginning of death, so the latter is of life. In the fifth chapter of the Romans (Romans 5) he follows out the same comparison; but there is this difference, that in that passage he reasons respecting a spiritual life and death, while he treats here of the resurrection of the body, which is the fruit of spiritual life.

23. Every one in his own order. Here we have an anticipation of a question that might be proposed: “If Christ’s life,” some one might say, “draws ours along with it, why does not this appear? Instead of this, while Christ has risen from the grave, we lie rotting there.” Paul’s answer is, that God has appointed another order of things. Let us therefore reckon it enough, that we now have in Christ the first-fruits, 5151     “Les premices de la resurrection;” — “The first-fruits of the resurrection.” and that his coming 5252     “Quand il viendra en jugement;” — “When he will come to judgment.” will be the time of our resurrection. For our life must still be hid with him, because he has not yet appeared. (Colossians 3:3, 4.) It would therefore be preposterous to wish to anticipate that day of the revelation of Christ.

24. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered. He put a bridle upon the impatience of men, when he forewarned them, that the fit time for the new life 5353     “C’est a dire, de la resurrection;” — “That is to say, of the resurrection.” would not be before Christ’s coming. But as this world is like a stormy sea, in which we are continually tossed, and our condition is so uncertain, or rather is so full of troubles, and there are in all things such sudden changes, this might be apt to trouble weak minds. Hence he now leads them forward to that day, saying that all things will be set in order. Then, therefore, shall come the end — that is, the goal of our course — a quiet harbour — a condition that will no longer be exposed to changes; and he at the same time admonishes us, that that end must be waited for, because it is not befitting that we should be crowned in the middle of the course. In what respect Christ will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, will be explained in a little. When he says, God and the Father, this may be taken in two senses — either that God the Father is called the God and Father of Christ, or that the name of Father is added by way of explanation. The conjunction et (and) will in the latter case mean namely. As to the former signification, there is nothing either absurd, or unusual, in the saying, that Christ is inferior to God, in respect of his human nature.

When he shall have abolished all rule. Some understand this as referring to the powers that are opposed to Christ himself; for they have an eye to what immediately follows, until he shall have put all his enemies, etc. This clause, however, corresponds with what goes before, when he said, that Christ would not sooner deliver up the kingdom Hence there is no reason why we should restrict in such a manner the statement before us. I explain it, accordingly, in a general way, and understand by it — all powers that are lawful and ordained by God. (Romans 13:1.) In the first place, what we find in the Prophets (Isaiah 13:10; Ezekiel 32:7) as to the darkening of the sun and moon, that God alone may shine forth, while it has begun to be fulfilled under the reign of Christ, will, nevertheless, not be fully accomplished until the last day; but then every height shall be brought low, (Luke 3:5,) that the glory of God may alone shine forth. Farther, we know that all earthly principalities and honors are connected exclusively with the keeping up of the present life, and, consequently, are a part of the world. Hence it follows that they are temporary.

Hence as the world will have an end, so also will government, and magistracy, and laws, and distinctions of ranks, and different orders of dignities, and everything of that nature. There will be no more any distinction between servant and master, between king and peasant, between magistrate and private citizen. Nay more, there will be then an end put to angelic principalities in heaven, and to ministries and superiorities in the Church, that God may exercise his power and dominion by himself alone, and not by the hands of men or angels. The angels, it is true, will continue to exist, and they will also retain their distinction. The righteous, too, will shine forth, every one according to the measure of his grace; but the angels will have to resign the dominion, which they now exercise in the name and by the commandment of God. Bishops, teachers, and Prophets will cease to hold these distinctions, and will resign the office which they now discharge. Rule, and authority, and power have much the same meaning in this passage; but these three terms are conjoined to bring out the meaning more fully.

25. For he must reign He proves that the time is not yet come when Christ will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, with the view of showing at the same time that the end has not yet come, when all things will be put into a right and tranquil state, because Christ has not yet subdued all his enemies. Now that must be brought about, because the Father has placed him at his right hand with this understanding, that he is not to resign the authority that he has received, until they have been subdued under his power. And this is said for the consolation of the pious, that they may not be impatient on account of the long delay of the resurrection. This statement occurs in Psalm 110:1

Paul, however, may seem to refine upon the word until beyond what the simple and natural meaning of the word requires; for the Spirit does not in that passage give intimation of what shall be afterwards, but simply of what must be previously. I answer, that Paul does not conclude that Christ will deliver up the kingdom to the Father, on the ground of its having been so predicted in the Psalm, but he has made use of this quotation from the Psalm, for the purpose of proving that the day of delivering up the kingdom had not yet arrived, because Christ has still to do with his enemies. Paul, however, explains in passing what is meant by Christ’s sitting at the right hand of the Father, when in place of that figurative expression he makes use of the simple word reign.

The last enemydeath We see that there are still many enemies that resist Christ, and obstinately oppose his reign. But death will be the last enemy 5454     “It may not be improper to remark that there is an inaccuracy in our common version, which so vitiates its application that it does not seem to sustain the conclusion to which the Apostle had arrived. It was his purpose to establish the perfection of our Savior’s conquest, the advancement of his triumphs, and the prostration of all enemies whatever beneath his power. Now to say that ‘the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,’ by no means affords a proof of this position. Though death might be destroyed, and be the last enemy that shall be destroyed, it would not thence appear but that other enemies might remain not destroyed. But the proper rendering is, ‘Death, the last enemy, should be destroyed.’” — R. Hall’s Works, (Loud. 1846,) volume 6. — Ed. that will be destroyed. Hence Christ must still be the administrator of his Father’s kingdom. Let believers, therefore, be of good courage, and not give up hope, until everything that must precede the resurrection be accomplished. It is asked, however, in what sense he affirms that death shall be the last enemy 5555     Ultimum vero seu novissimum hostem cur vocat? Chrysostomus putat, quia ultimo accessit. Primus fuit Satan, solicitaris hominem ad pecca-tum. Alter voluntas hominis, sponte se a Deo avertens. Tentius pecca-tum. Quartus denique mors, superveniens peccato. Sed baud dubie Apostolus novissimum vocat duratione, respectu aliorum externorum hos-tium Ecclesiae, quos Christus in fine abolebit omnes. Postremo et mor-tem corporalem pellet, suscitando omnes ex monte: ut hoc mortale induat immortalitatem;But why does he call it (death), the latest or last enemy? Chrysostom thinks, because it came last. The first was Satan tempting man to sin. The secondman’s will, voluntarily turning aside from God. The thirdsin. Then at length the fourth — death, following in the train of sin. There can be no doubt, however, that the Apostle calls it the last in respect of duration, in relation to the other external enemies of the Church, all of which Christ will in the end abolish. Last of all, he will drive away the death of the body, by raising up all from death, that this mortal may put on immortality.” Fareus in loc. — Ed. that will be destroyed, when it has been already destroyed by Christ’s death, or at least, by his resurrection, which is the victory over death, and the attainment of life? I answer, that it was destroyed in such a way as to be no longer deadly to believers, but not in such a way as to occasion them no uneasiness. The Spirit of God, it is true, dwelling in us is life; but we still carry about with us a mortal body. (1 Peter 1:24.) The substance of death in us will one day be drained off, but it has not been so as yet. We are born again of incorruptible seed, (1 Peter 1:23,) but we have not yet arrived at perfection. Or to sum up the matter briefly in a similitude, the sword of death which could penetrate into our very hearts has been blunted. It wounds nevertheless still, but without any danger; 5656     “Mais c’est sans danger de mort;” — “But it is without danger of death.” for we die, but by dying we enter into life. In fine, as Paul teaches elsewhere as to sin, (Romans 6:12,) such must be our view as to death — that it dwells indeed in us, but it does not reign


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