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Hope for a Better Life
(Resurrection Hope)
1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-14,20-23, 42-45

April 12

 

Background Reading: Mark 16; 1 Corinthians 15
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)

Lesson Aim:

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.

Background

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 kingdom. 

Lesson Commentary:

Resurrection 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?

 

Resurrection 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.

Resurrection 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 as well.

1.     Many see Christ as being foreshadowed as far back as Adam’s Fall (Genesis 3:17).  What does this reveal about God?

 

Resurrection 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 imperishable.
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?

2.     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
Tuesday: Saul Meets Jesus on Damascus Road
– Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: Free Gift of Grace and Hope
– Romans 5:12-17
Thursday: The Dead in Christ Will Rise – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Friday:
All Things Under God’s Control – 1 Corinthians 15:24-28
Saturday: Victory Through Our Lord Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
Sunday: All Are Made Alive in Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 12-14, 20-23, 42-45


 


Sources:

Achtemeier, Paul J. Harper's Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.

Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

Brown, Raymond E., S. S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S. J.; Roland E. Murphy, O Carm. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Dummelow, J. R., M.A. Rev. The One Volume Bible Commentary. New York: The Macmillan Company Publishers, 1961.

James Orr, M.A., D.D., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Edition, Parsons Technology, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa 1998.

Keck Leander E., The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary Volume IX: Acts, Introduction to Epistolary Literature, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, New York: Abingdon Press, 2015

Morris, William, ed., Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981.

Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.): The Pulpit Commentary: 1 Corinthians. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004

Strong, James, Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, Electronic Edition STEP Files, QuickVerse, a division of Findex.com, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska. 2003.

Vine, W.E. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Edited by Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr., Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.