1 CORINTHIANS 15 (1-28) Resurrection of the Dead Print E-mail

1 CORINTHIANS – CHAPTER 15- Resurrection of the Dead


Sunday Evening Service – May 5, 2013, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


As we come to chapter fifteen, we recall that Corinth was a Greek city.  The Greeks did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  The whole idea of Jesus’ resurrection was ridiculous to the Greeks.  They laughed at Paul when he declared Jesus’ resurrection to Areopagus (Air-e-op-a-gus) in Athens (Acts 17:32).


This skepticism was deeply embedded in the church at Corinth, robbing some of the believers of their hope. 


Gal. 1:11:  I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.”


Paul’s answer to their unbelief is uncompromising conviction and lucid reasoning.  This reasoning demonstrates the position of fundamental importance that the truth of the Resurrection of the Dead holds in the Christian faith.  Based on the historical resurrection of Christ, its denial not only relegates the Messiah to a martyr’s grave, but renders faith futile, sin triumphant and the hope of glory a pitiful myth.


In terms of positive truth, Christ risen from the dead gives assurance of human resurrection, the conquest of death, the subjugation of evil and daily empowering for Christian service.


The truth of the Resurrection from the dead is a foundation stone of the Christian faith. 


This is the apostle’s most comprehensive treatment of the resurrection of the dead.


1 Cor. 15:1: “Now brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand.  It is the gospel in which you are also saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.” 


The truth of the resurrection is so central to the gospel that to turn away from it is the same as rejecting the gospel itself.  Since their faith rests on the gospel as he preached it to them, to distort it in way would bring their salvation into question.


Anyone who relaxes his hold on the truth of the resurrection most likely did not have a genuine born again experience to begin with.


1 John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”


Salvation is a process which has three tenses:


Past tense ---have been delivered from the guilt of sin---We are covered in the Blood of Jesus.

Present tense ---are being delivered from the power of sin---Within the righteousness of Christ’s blood, we are being delivered from sin.

Future tense---will be delivered from the presence of sin—being conformed to the image of Christ.


1 Cor. 15: 3-7: “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (Isa. 53: 3-12);  that he was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures (Hos. 6:2); and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.  After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some are fallen asleep.  After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles.”


Christ died for our sins, was buried, then rose on the third day just as the Scripture said He would.  A fourth element is added when Paul says Jesus appeared to various people.  That which he received” would be the testimony of the eye-witnesses of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.


We can separate what he received from those who were eye-witnesses from the things he learned by direct revelation.  He spent three years in the Arabian desert where he was taught the truth of Romans, Ephesians, etc., by the Spirit of Christ (Gal. 1: 11-24).


This is the only mention in scriptures of 500 of the brethren all seeing the Lord at the same time.  Since most of them were still alive, there were plenty of eyewitnesses willing to testify right now. 


1 Cor. 15: 8-11: “Last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  but by the grace of God, I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon 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.  Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.”


There is a doctrine that because Paul uses the term, “Last of all” he means no more apostles will be personally appointed by Jesus.  I believe this to be an error in doctrine.  I believe Paul is saying “even to me also”.


 It is my persuasion that the only way any apostle is  appointed is by a visitation of Jesus.  Man does not have the authority to appoint or anoint anyone into any of the Five-fold Offices.  The Lord will use the Presbytery to confirm his appointments, but only Jesus sets His “Elect” into Office.  He is still  “visiting”, “calling”, “commissioning” and “appointing”.  He is “alive” and watching over His church.  He continues to be “present” in His “Parousia” until he hands over the kingdom to God the Father.


Paul may not have considered himself worthy in terms of merit, but in terms of results, he out performed all the other apostles put together.  I recall the vision I had last year of the twelve apostles standing in my study.  It was Paul who was standing first, then Peter.  It was Paul who stepped out and laid hands on me.


Paul never forgot that it was the grace of God that transformed him from a persecutor of the church to an on-fire apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul’s unworthiness only serves to enhance sovereign grace.  “I worked harder than them all” …signifies the character of the grace given; a divine enduement of power.  It was not Paul, but grace that worked.


I have lived along enough and walked in the Spirit long enough to understand that whatever measure of Grace we carry, that in spite of our weaknesses, the Lord will minister His Grace sovereignly through us as we yield to his will.  It becomes effortless on our part.  Jesus shows up, the Holy Spirit moves.  Our part is obedience.


Paul says it doesn’t matter who preaches the gospel, since there is but one gospel and the same Spirit works through all those He chooses.


He then returns to his original point---the resurrection of Jesus is central to the one gospel---and it doesn’t matter whether it is preached by Peter or James or any of the other apostles.  Paul is saying, “There is common ground among all the apostles, for we all preach that Jesus died, was buried and rose again.”


He is now ready to move into an exciting teaching on the resurrection of the dead.


1 Cor. 15: 12-15:  Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how is it some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen?  If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is also vain.  Yea, and we are found false witnesses, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ up from the dead.  We would be guilty of giving false testimony about God, if indeed the dead do not rise”.


The apostle states the resurrection of Christ cannot be challenged.  Too many Spirit-filled witnesses have testified to its truth.  Thus the resurrection is a rock solid fact.  If one person can be raised then all people can be raised. 


If Christ was not raised, then no believer will ever be raised.  This would mean that Jesus was still dead and all gospel preaching was a ridiculous sham. 


1 Cor. 15: 16-19: (paraphrased) “Now if the dead are not raised, simple logic demands that Christ was not raised either.  If Christ was not raised, your faith is meaningless and you are still under the condemnation of sin.  In that case, all those who have died clinging to Christ are utterly lost.  Even worse, if it is for this life only that we have hope in Christ, then our hope doesn’t go beyond the grave.  This would make us the most pitiable, most pathetic people on earth.”


Paul is arguing with simple logic.  If Christ has not been raised, simple logic requires that He is still dead.  This makes their faith totally pointless, for then it would be placed in a dead man.  Since empty faith cannot bring forgiveness and eternal life, this would mean they were still in their sins with the wrath of God still abiding on them.


With this logic, Paul brings the error of unbelief in the resurrection to its absurd conclusion.


Now he shifts---the apostle enumerates the glorious consequences of Christ’s being risen from the dead.  Man will surely rise, as surely as all must die.  It is a matter of order. 


1 Cor. 15: 20-23:  Ah, but the truth is Christ did rise from the dead, the first fruits of the whole harvest of dead believers.  Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  Every man in his own order; Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.”


There is now a triumphant ring in the apostle’s voice as he speaks of Jesus’ resurrection.  Without one spec of doubt in his mind, he says…”Ah, but Christ did rise…”  He is just the first of many more to follow.  In the grain harvest, the first sheaf was brought to the priest that he might consecrate it to the Lord (Lev. 23: 10, 11).  That first sheaf was symbolic of the harvest coming behind it.  The first sheaf is symbolic of the Christ.


By one act of disobedience Adam brought condemnation and death to all those born of him.  Jesus, by His one act of obedience (the cross), brought righteousness and life to all those born of Him.  Thus one man is the source of death, the other the source of life.


Man has no choice when it comes to being born into the natural family of Adam (human).  But it is clearly man’s choice whether or not he is born again into the supernatural family of Jesus.


In Romans, chapter 5, Paul devotes a lot of space to show how God’s wisdom used the sin of Adam to bring a curse on the world.  There was God’s genius in that.  For if one man could make all men sinners, then it would only take one man to make righteous all those In Christ.


If it were otherwise, every man would need a separate savior. 


Paul makes it clear that all those in Adam were consigned to death, whereas all those in Christ are consigned to eternal life.


15: 24-26:  Then comes 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.  He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”


Rev. 20: 11-15:  I saw a great white throne, and Him that say on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works.  The sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.  Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”


Jesus conquered death when he rose from the dead.  This is why the truth of the resurrection of the dead has to be so clearly stated.  In Rev. 20:9b-10; “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.  The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are… Just as Paul prophesied and John is shown later in vision, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  The devil, the beast and the false prophet are cast down before Death.


The human program all finished, Jesus will present the completed Kingdom to God. 


1 Cor. 15: 27-28: (Paraphrased)  “He (God) has put all things under Christ’s feet.  But when He says, all things are put under Him, it is manifest that God is excepted, which did put all things under Christ.  It is obvious that doesn’t include God Himself.  After all, it is God’s power that brings everything into subjection to Jesus.  Then, when everything is in complete subjugation, the Son will surrender Himself back to the Father that God may be all in all.”


To be continued….


Taught by:  Pastor Carolyn Sissom

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.


Scripture from KJV—I entered into the labors of F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary-Paul W. Marsh and C. S. Lovett’s Lights on 1 Cor.  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of those who I entered into their labors.

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