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Hope for a Better Life
1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-14,20-23, 42-45
Background Reading: Mark 16; 1 Corinthians
Devotional Reading: Isaiah 53:4-12
Keep in Mind:
“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.” 1 Corinthians 15:19-20 (NRSV)
CONTRAST the first Adam and the last,
ANTICIPATE a new resurrected life different from the present one, and
EMBRACE the call to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Chris despite ridicule or resistance.
The Gospel is literally “good
news.” The equivalent Greek word, euangelion,
was used in relation to the announcement that Augusts Caesar was proclaimed
ruler over the Roman Empire and would bring peace and joy. The biblical writers used this word to announce
God’s grace and the coming of His kingdom in the life, death, and resurrection
of Christ. This is the substance of the
message the apostles preached. In the
Gospel’s bare essentials and how we can be forgiven and welcomed into God’s
Clarified (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NRSV)
1Now 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.
3For 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,
There were some
in the Corinthian church who did not believe in the resurrection of the
dead. Paul reminds them that he had
already preached the Good News to them and they had, or so it seemed, fully
accepted it. Before explaining the
foundation of the Gospel message, Paul asserts that the message he had given
them, and he received himself was valid.
He then explains the foundation of the Christian faith: (1) Christ died
for our sins. If this had not occurred,
eternal damnation would await us all, but God presented Jesus as the sacrifice
for sin (Romans 3:23). (2) Christ was buried. To ensure Jesus was dead, a rock was sealed
across the tomb and guards placed outside (Matthew 27:62-66). (3) Christ rose on the third day. Death needed to be conquered so that
salvation could be secured (2 Timothy 1:10).
Paul notes that the Scriptures supported what he says, and though Paul
does not indicate specific verses, his reference could include Psalm 69:9.
Isaiah 53:4-12; Hosea 6:2-3. Johan 1:17). And others.
1. How do you usually share the Gospel?
2. How do you interact with people who profess to be Christians, but do not hold strictly to core doctrines?
Witnessed (1 Corinthians 15:5-8, NRSV)
5and that he appeared to
Cephas, then to the twelve.
6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Paul refers even
more validity to the Resurrection by listing the witnesses. Peter and the Twelve saw the resurrected
Jesus (John 2:19-29). They had been
chosen to be witnesses (Acts 10:40-43).
More than five hundred of His followers saw Jesus, including Jesus’
half-brother James and other apostles (verse 6; Luke 24:33, 36-53). Perhaps a criterion for being an apostle,
from Paul’s perspective, was that one had to have been divinely chosen to see
the resurrected Christ. They were sent
out to preach the Gospel because they could personally testify to its
truth. Paul was the last witness. Although he had not lived and journeyed with
Jesus, he too had been chosen when Jesus appeared to him on the road to
Damascus (Acts9). The phrase “born out
of due time” refers to a miscarried or stillborn baby. In essence, Paul was someone who was
spiritually dead and therefore unfit to be an apostle because he had persecuted
believers. However, God, in His grace,
still chose Paul to be a witness. Paul
mentions this in response to those in Corinth who were questioning his
authority (1 Corinthians 9. Whether the
other apostles or Paul preached the Gospel, it was the same message that the
Corinthians had already believed.
Guaranteed (1 Corinthians 15:12-14, 20-23, NRSV)
12Now if Christ is
proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no
resurrection of the dead?
13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;
14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.
20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;
22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Paul refutes the
people’s belief that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul’s line of reasoning concludes that if
there is no resurrection, Christ did not rise, and their faith would be
useless. They would all still be in
their sin, condemned forever. However,
Paul reassures his audience that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. He continues to explain the benefit of this
fact. Jesus did not conquer death only
for Himself. He is the first of all who
have died. His resurrection ensures that
all who believe in Him shall have eternal life.
To illustrate this truth, Paul compares Jesus to Adam. Just as Adam brought death to all, Jesus has
brought eternal life for those who believe in Him. This was Christ’s purpose all along; the
Father sent Him so “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have
everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus
Christ was resurrected first so that all who belong to Him might be resurrected
1. Many see Christ as being foreshadowed as far back as Adam’s Fall (Genesis 3:17). What does this reveal about God?
Promises (1 Corinthians 15:42-45, NRSV)
42So it is with the
resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is
43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
45Thus it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Bible scholars disagree on the exact
nature of the Corinthian church’s doubts concerning the resurrection. Some argue that some Corinthians held that
there was no such thing as Resurrection.
Others think that the Corinthians held that Jesus Himself was not
resurrected. Still others believe that
the Corinthians were at odds about the status of the believers who had already
died and the ability of these believers to be raised from the dead at the
return of Christ.
Paul is emphasizing that the
Resurrection is not simply a tenet but the cornerstone of Christian faith. If, he reasons, Christ died for their sins,
but He was not resurrected, then they have not been justified, and Jesus’ death
was in vain. The heart of Paul’s
argument is that although human lives are subject to death and the body will
disintegrate, decay, and decompose—that is not the end of the story. They are also subject to the will of God, who
through His Son, Jesus Christ, will bring forth resurrection of the dead.
Therefore, after death, there is
continuity rather than a conclusion.
Next, Paul launches into the “mystery” of death that he obviously
believes plagues these believers. Because
of the sin of the first man, Adam, the “natural” bodies of all humankind are
subject to death. However, praise be to
God, because of the redemptive act of the “last Adam,” Jesus Christ, believers
now possess “spiritual” bodies. Paul
asserts that these bodies are “incorruptible”; they are no longer subject to
the laws of nature and the penalty of sin (i.e. death). If believers were only subject to the
inheritance of Adam, it would be fitting that we return to dust since it is
through Adam’s sin that mankind die.
However, through faith, believers are joined to Jesus Christ. The bodies of the believers, through their
faith I Him, now bear “the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49). It is these glorified “heavenly bodies” that
are subject to be resurrected. Part of
this glorious inheritance in Christ is the resurrection!
1. How does Christ’s bodily resurrection give us hope in this life and the next?
Many engage in frivolous activities attempting to
understand who they are. As believers,
the Resurrection has already determined our identity. How has the resurrection of Christ impacted
your life? How can you begin to value
your identity in Christ?
Lesson in Our Society
Jesus was executed when found guilty
of false charges during a trial that failed to follow due process. Resurrection on Easter morning, however, is
God’s first fulfillment of true justice for all. Even if we fail in a fight against a system
stacked against us, we know that God has the final word. Until that final word, we know we have the
Resurrection power of Christ on our side.
If He can conquer such an enemy as death, what can He not do? Meditate on ways the Resurrection motivates
us to work for justice with hope.
Daily Bible Readings
Monday: Women Find Jesus’ Tomb Empty – Mark 16:1-8
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