1 Corinthians 15

First Importance

Paul outlines the things of first importance for the Corinthian believers as he reminds them of the gospel by which they are being saved. The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ, and Paul wants to make sure that there is no confusion when it comes to the gospel and in particular the resurrection. Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. Christ was buried and was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures as well. Jesus' resurrection was witnessed by more than five hundred people at one time. He appeared to the apostles and to Paul who thinks of himself as the least of the apostles and unworthy because of his persecution of the church. Paul is a testimony of God's grace and power. Paul and the rest of the apostles preach the same gospel because there is only one gospel. The gospel is foundational, and the Church must hold fast to it. 

The First Fruits Of Those Who Have Fallen Asleep

Paul addresses the questions surrounding resurrection of the dead. Paul contends that if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not been raised and if that is the case the Christian message is useless. Paul lists the ramifications of Christ not being raised from the dead which are: his preaching was in vain, the Corinthians faith is in vain, Paul has misrepresented God, the people are still in their sins, death is the end, and Christians are the most pitiful of all people. These things are not true because in fact Christ has been raised from the dead and he is the first fruits of resurrection life. Jesus did not just come back to life. If that were the case, then he joins the list of others who were raised from the dead. Jesus is the first fruits of resurrection life, and that changes everything. Mankind is born in sin because of the sin of Adam and sin brings death so in Adam all die, but in Christ, all who believe shall be made alive to eternal life. Christ reigns and he has defeated the last enemy, death and there is a day approaching for judgment and when all will recognize and submit to his reign. Paul references baptism on behalf of the dead and then says that it is pointless to do so if there is no resurrection. Paul is willing to endure hardships and face dangers for the sake of the gospel which proclaims Christ's resurrection from the dead. Why concern oneself with they way they live if there is resurrection or life to come? Paul rebukes the Corinthians exposing their shame and demanding that they stop sinning. Paul anticipates some of the questions that will be asked, and he probably addresses some of the things already being said and follows a line of differing bodies and differing splendors to help explain the resurrection. The first Adam who was a man of dust was a natural living being from the earth. The second Adam, Jesus came from heaven, and our union with Christ makes his life our life, his death our death, and his resurrection our resurrection. Our resurrection life will resemble the resurrection life of Christ. 

Death Is Swallowed Up In Victory 

Paul declares the hope for our future when he explains that he is telling the Corinthians a mystery. Death is not then end, and those who belong to Jesus will be changed. Perishable bodies will be transformed into imperishable bodies fit for the kingdom of God. Christ has defeated the last enemy death so it is swallowed up in victory and its sting is removed because Christ has defeated sin and rendered its power through the law impotent. Paul blesses the Lord and gives thanks because those who are in Jesus Christ will gain victory through his life, death, burial, and resurrection. Paul calls believers to be steadfast, immovable, and abound in the work of the Lord because Christ has been raised from the dead, there is a life to come, and our efforts here are not in vain. Christ Jesus lives, and he reigns victorious.

Things To Consider:

  • How is the gospel distorted today?
  • Why must we hold to the things of first importance and maintain distinctions from those who do not?
  • Why did Christ die for our sins?
  • Why is the resurrection necessary?
  • How is Christ the last Adam?
  • How did Christ defeat death?
  • How does Christ render sin powerless?
  • Are you proclaiming the gospel?
  • Why is it resurrection or nothing?
  • What hope is to be found in a bodily resurrection?