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Explain 1 Corinthians chapter 15

Life and death; Judgment and eternal life.

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(All quotations from the New King James translation unless stated otherwise).

1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,

There is only one gospel which will save.

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

1 Corinthians 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

We need to hold fast to the end of our lives.

Matthew 10:22 ...he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

1 Corinthians 15:3,4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

The foundation of the gospel is that Christ died for us and God raised him from the dead on the third day.

Matthew 17:23 "and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up."

The proof of his resurrection lies in the number of witnesses.

1 Corinthians 15:5-10 ...and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Paul (previously called Saul) had persecuted the church until Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). The gospel that he preached he had received directly from Christ himself. He had received it independently of the other apostles but they all preached the same gospel.

Galatians 1:11-18 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ...15 But when it pleased God... 16 to reveal His Son in me... I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17... but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.

Galatians 1:1,2,7,9 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem... 2... and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles... 7... when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter... 9... James, Cephas, and John... gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

1 Corinthians 15:11,12 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

The Sadducees of whom was the high priest did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8), and it would seem that some were being influenced by a similar doctrine.

1 Corinthians 15:13-17 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.
16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

The resurrection of Christ from the dead was God’s witness that his sinless life and his sacrifice constituted an acceptable offering to redeem his brethren.

1 Corinthians 15:18,19 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

The life offered in Christ is on the basis that we give up this life in his service. If we give this life in service and there is no reward we are to be pitied.

Matthew 16:25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

We are ‘in Adam’ by birth; to be ‘in Christ’ we are born again by baptism and changing the way we think and live.

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."... 5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 15:23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

Christ constituted the firstfruits. Under the Law of Moses a firstfruits sheaf of the barley harvest was waved on the day after the Passover Sabbath (Leviticus 23:11). This was a pattern of Christ as the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18) . Fifty days later at the end of wheat harvest two loaves made with leaven were waved at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-16). This was a pattern of those who are Christ’s being raised at his coming being the firstfruits of the full harvest (Revelation 14:4).

1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

This is the end of Christ’s millennial reign over the nations. There will be a final resurrection and judgment and sin and death will be no more.

1 Corinthians 15:25,26 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.

Revelation describes the end of death and the need for graves in symbolic language.

Revelation 20:14 And death and hell (the grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

1 Corinthians 15:27,28 For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Here we see that the doctrine that Christ is an equal member of a triune Godhead is false. Christ as the son of God will always be subject to his Father. When all on the earth possess the divine nature, God will dwell in them and the earth will be filled with His glory.

1 Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?

There is no point in being baptised into someone who is dead.

1 Corinthians 15:30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?

There would be no point in the apostles putting their lives in jeopardy by preaching a gospel for someone who is dead.

1 Corinthians 15:31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"

Life is dependent upon resurrection from the dead; there is no life after death except by resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

He warns them not to be deceived by keeping company with those who do not teach the truth.

1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

Some do not know what God has promised to do.

1 Corinthians 15:35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?"

The resurrection from the dead was being undermined by questions as to how the dead will be raised and what kind of body they will be raised up with. The resurrection that Paul goes on to describe is that of those ‘in Christ’; he is not concerned with those who will be raised to condemnation.

1 Corinthians 15:36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.

Paul takes an example from sowing seed. The new growth germinates from the dying seed.

1 Corinthians 15:37,38 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.

What we sow in the ground is not in the form of that which God causes to grow out of the ground. Into the ground goes a seed; out of the ground comes a new plant. Each seed is unique and the plant which grows from it is likewise unique. Everything that God makes is designed for the purpose for which God makes it.

1 Corinthians 15:39-41 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.

Everything that God makes has its own unique glory; no two things are identical.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Paul contrasts the differences between the body sown at death and the body that is raised to life.
• Sown in corruption raised in incorruption.
• Sown in dishonour raised in glory.
• Sown a natural body raised a spiritual body.

The life of a natural body is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). The life of a spiritual body is by the spirit of God - the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The spiritual body possesses flesh and bones (Luke 24:39) but is not energised by blood.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

We will be made equal to the angels.

Luke 20:36 "nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

All who inherit the kingdom of God must have a change of nature including those who are still alive when Christ returns.

1 Corinthians 15:51,52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:53,54 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

Paul is quoting Isaiah 25:8

AV Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

1 Corinthians 15:55,56 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades (AV grave), where is your victory?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

Sin is all and any transgression of the Law of Moses and results in death.

Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We achieve victory over death because in Christ we have remission of sin and his righteousness is imputed to us by faith.

AV Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith... 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

If you want to come to grips with what the Bible really teaches, why not take the free online Bible study course available on www.thisisyourbible.com?

This course will give you a background in the major themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. As with everything we offer, there is no cost to you other than your time and effort. You will also have a personal tutor to whom you may pose questions either from the course itself or those questions which come to you as you read the Bible.

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith

 
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