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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.

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.”


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