1 Corinthians 15 Commentary


1 CORINTHIANS - PROBLEMS OF A LOCAL CHURCH
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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • Now I make known 1Co 15:3-11 1:23,24 2:2-7 Ac 18:4,5 Ga 1:6-12 
  • which also you received  1Co 1:4-8 Mk 4:16-20 Joh 12:48 Ac 2:41 11:1 1Th 1:6 2:13 4:1 2Th 3:6 
  • in which also you stand: Ro 5:2 2Co 1:24 1Pe 5:12 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

LET'S REVIEW THE
GOSPEL YOU RECEIVED

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:1 (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

Robertson and Plummer - Having treated of various social, moral, ecclesiastical, and liturgical questions, the Apostle now takes up a doctrinal one, which he has kept to the last because of its vital importance. Calvin suggests that St Paul did not wish to treat of so momentous a subject until, by the rebukes and exhortations of the previous chapters, he had brought the Corinthians to a proper state of mind. There is here no trace of a question asked by the Corinthians: this subject St Paul starts himself, in consequence of information which has reached him. Thus the letter begins and ends in a similar way. At the outset he treated of a subject which had been reported to him (1 Cor 1:11), and he closes with one which again was suggested by what he had heard (1 Cor 15:12),—that there were certain people at Corinth who denied the doctrine of the Resurrection. Who these persons were we do not know.

Jack Arnold  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel) - 

Most of the Corinthian Christians were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy which taught that the body was a prison for the soul and at death the soul was set free from the body and passed on into eternal oblivion. Therefore, there were some who were questioning whether Christians would be raised bodily from the dead. The fact of Christ’s resurrection, while questioned by some, was generally assumed, for He was a unique case. In some ways we can be thankful for this serious doctrinal error, for had it not happened we would have never had this marvelous chapter on the resurrection. There are three basic points about this chapter that must be understood. First, as we have said, it is speaking about the resurrection of the body and not the immortality of the soul, for any Greek would admit the soul survived after death. The resurrection of the body is unique and peculiar to Christianity. Second, this chapter is dealing with the resurrection of Christians and not unbelievers. The Bible teaches that all men will get a resurrected body but some will be raised to eternal bliss and others to eternal destruction.

John 5:28-29  “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment

Third, the Apostle Paul is describing an event that will take place at the Second Advent at which time Christ will make a personal appearance on this earth. This chapter says nothing about the experience of believers between death and resurrection. Yet, the Bible seems to imply that the God-spirit of the Christian at death will go directly to be with Christ, waiting the final resurrection.

2 Cor 5:8+ we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Php 1:23+ But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;

Now I (present tense - continually) make known (gnorizo) to you, brethren (adelphos), the gospel (Good News - euaggelion) which I preached (euaggelizo/euangelizo) to you (in the past), which also you received (paralambano - took to your side, received with favor, "welcomed"), in which also you stand (perfect tense - took a stand and continue now in a state of standing)

1 Corinthians 15:2  by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  •  by which also you are saved  1Co 1:18,21 Ac 2:47 *Gr: Ro 1:16 2Co 2:15 Eph 2:8 2Ti 1:9 
  • if you hold fast the wor, 1Co 15:11,12 Pr 3:1 4:13 6:20-23 23:23 Col 1:23 2Th 2:15 Heb 2:1 Heb 3:6,14 4:14 10:23 
  • unless you believed in vain: 1Co 15:14 Ps 106:12,13 Lu 8:13  Joh 8:31,32, 44 Ac 8:13 2Co 6:1 Ga 3:4 Jas 2:14,17,26 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved (progressive sanctification) it is the power of God.

2 Thessalonians 2:15+  So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. 

Hebrews 3:6+ but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (aka Perseverance),

Hebrews 3:14+ For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (aka Perseverance),

John 8:31-32, 44-45, 58-59 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”.....44 “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me."....58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”(JESUS' CLAIM HE WAS YAHWEH, GOD!) 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

THOSE TRULY SAVED
WILL HOLD FAST TO THE END

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:2  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

By which also you are saved (sozo) - Are saved is present tensepassive voice (= divine passive) and thus could be rendered "you are being saved." Yes, salvation in respect to justification ("positional") is a once and for all completed divine transaction ("past tense salvation"), but believers are being saved daily, even moment by moment, and this ongoing salvation is the equivalent of progressive sanctification or so-called "present tense salvation."  (See Three Tenses of Salvation)

As Arnold says "Through every trial, every difficulty, every hurt and every blessing, God is presently saving the Christian, conforming him more and more to the image of Christ. He is saving us so that our time on this earth will be meaningful and profitable. The gospel does save us and is saving us right now. We need the gospel today as much as we needed it the day we were first saved. As Christians we must be constantly going back to the truths of the Cross - forgiveness, acceptance, righteousness, grace, love and mercy."  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

if you (present tense - continually) hold fast (katecho = "continue to believe") the word (logos) which I preached (euaggelizo/euangelizo) to you, unless you believed (pisteuo) in vain (eike - without effect, all for naught, thoughtlessly, without proper consideration) - They continue to hold fast to the end (of their life or this present evil age) because they have a supernatural power, the Spirit, within them, and it is He Who enables them to do supernaturally what they could never do naturally in reliance on their fallen flesh

Utley says the "if" is "a FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL sentence, which implies that they would “hold fast” to the truth of the gospel, which he preached to them, but it adds a note of contingency by a second “ei” (unless). This seems to parallel Jesus’ Parable of the Soils (cf. Matt. 13) and John’s discussion in 1 John 2:19 of those who were in the fellowship, but left. There were those factions in Corinth who by their actions, attitudes, and theology showed they were never believers! (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Arnold - Notice Paul adds a condition. He says, "If you hold firmly.” It seems he is saying it is possible to believe in vain. A person can have an emotional or intellectual superficial human faith that accepts the words of the gospel as a kind of insurance policy against going to hell, but the gospel has not penetrated into and changed that person’s life so there are new desires for Christ, new striving for righteousness, new patterns for living. There can be a mechanical conformity to Christianity that never sees any need for faith, for change, for dynamic, for  discipline, for Bible study, for prayer, for evangelism or for fellowship. This is believing in vain. Why? If a person has really met the resurrected Christ by faith, his or her life will be changed. Christianity is not facts, head knowledge, ritual or religion. Christianity is knowing and loving the resurrected Christ. It is holding fast to the truths about the death and resurrection of Christ. What then is Paul’s point? There is no gospel, there is no salvation apart from the resurrected Christ whom Paul will write about in the next nine verses and show how He appeared and changed people’s lives when they met Him.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

Related Resources:

1 Corinthians 15:3  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
 
(NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • I delivered : 1Co 4:1,2 11:2,23 Eze 3:17 Mt 20:18,19 Mk 16:15,16 Lu 24:46,47 Ga 1:12 
  • Christ : Mt 26:28 Ro 3:25 4:25 2Co 5:21 Ga 1:4 3:13 Eph 1:7 5:2 Heb 10:11,12 1Pe 2:24 3:18 1Jn 2:2 Rev 1:5 
  • according : Ge 3:15 Ps 22:1-31 69:1-36 Isa 53:1-12 Da 9:24-26 Zec 13:7 Lu 24:26,27,46 Ac 3:18 26:22,23 1Pe 1:11 2:24 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Galatians 1:11-12  For I would have you know, 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 I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 

SPECIAL DELIVERY
"HIGH PRIORITY"

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:3 (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

For I delivered (paradidomi) to you as of first importance what I also received (paralambano) - The Good News was "sent" by special delivery and was/is of special importance. 

Jack Arnold - The gospel Paul declared to these Corinthians was not based on superstition, or on evolution of religious ideas, nor did it spring up from unusual emotional circumstances. Neither did Paul get it from the other Apostles, but the gospel was given to him by the resurrected Christ Himself. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

That Christ (Christos) died (apothnesko) for our sins (hamartia) according to the Scriptures (graphe)  Note the beautiful little phrase FOR our sins where "for" is the preposition huper which in this context signifies in your place, as your Substitute. For example in Gal 1:4+ Paul writes the Lord Jesus Christ "gave Himself FOR (huper) our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age." (See also Eph 5:2+ Jesus "gave Himself up FOR [huper] us.", cf 2 Cor 5:14+ "One died FOR [huper] all", 2 Cor 5:15+ "He died FOR [huper]  all." 2 Cor 5:21+ = "to be sin onour behalf [huper].") In short, Jesus is alluding to His substitutionary atonement, His death in our place bearing our sins for us! Amazing grace indeed! 

Jack Arnold - He died for sin. He died as a substitution for our sins. Christ bore in His body our sins, our curse, our hell and our unbelief. He died in the sinner’s place. Multiple thousands of men have died as martyrs for good causes, but only one man, Jesus Christ, died for sin and sinners. At the Cross, Christ died for our failures, our weaknesses, our rebellion and our sinful lifestyles. He did it that we might be brought to God. Almost every humanistic philosophy or religion today accepts the fact that Christ lived and died as a mere man, but there is no good news in that the gospel is good news—the good news that Christ’s death accomplished something for us. It changed us. It delivered us. It set us free. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

The phrase according to the Scriptures  speaks of the many Messianic Prophecies in the Scriptures (term which almost always speaks of the OT Scriptures which is all that were written at this time.)

Related Resources:

1 Corinthians 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, ((NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • He was buried  Isa 53:9 Mt 27:57-60 Mk 15:43-46 Lu 23:50-53  Joh 19:38-42 Ac 13:29 Ro 6:4 Col 2:12 
  • was raised : 1Co 15:16-21 Mt 20:19 27:63,64 28:1-6 Mk 9:31 10:33,34 16:2-7 Lu 9:22 Lu 18:32,33 24:5-7 Joh 2:19-21 20:1-9 Ac 1:3 2:23,24,32 13:30 Acts 17:31 Heb 13:20 
  • according  Ps 2:7 Ps 16:10-11 Isa 53:10-12 Ho 6:2 Jon 1:17 Mt 12:40 Lu 24:26,46 Ac 2:25-33 13:30-37 26:22,23 1Pe 1:11 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Psalm 16:10-11+ For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.  11You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Isaiah 53:9+ His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 

Jonah 1:17  And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

Matthew 12:40+ for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (See Mt. 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9,22, 23; 20:18-19; 26:32; 27:63)

Mark 10:34+  “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” (See Mark 8:31; 9:1-10,31; 14:28,58)

Luke 24:46+ and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, (See Luke 9:22-27)

John 2:19-22+ Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken

Acts 10:40+  “God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible,

UP FROM THE GRAVE
HE AROSE

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:4  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

And that He was buried - This emphasizes the truth that Christ truly died (that He did not just "Swoon" - for more detail see John MacArthur's sermon refutation of theories of the resurrection). He was not buried alive, but dead! 

Arnold - Perhaps Paul mentioned the burial also as a challenge to the unsaved world to explain the empty tomb. For two thousand years, infidels and atheists have been trying to explain the empty tomb, and none of their explanations hold water. You could have never convinced  anyone who saw the death of Christ that He merely fainted in a swoon or fell into a deep coma. No, they knew Christ was dead, and without that death, the resurrection has no meaning.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

Buried (2290)(thapto) describes putting a corpse into a grave or tomb (to entomb) and encompasses all that has to do with burying a body. Virtually all the NT uses describe literal burial. Liddell-Scott - "to pay the last dues to a corpse, to honour with funeral rites, i.e. in early times by burning the body, Hom.: then, simply, to bury, inter, Hdt., Att." Thapto - 11x/11v -  buried(7), bury(4). Matt. 8:21; Matt. 8:22; Matt. 14:12; Lk. 9:59; Lk. 9:60; Lk. 16:22; Acts 2:29; Acts 5:6; Acts 5:9; Acts 5:10; 1 Co. 15:4

Gilbrant is used in classical Greek for all the activities involved in “burying someone,” including funeral rites, expenses, and even cremation. There are several examples in the papyri that connect thaptō with specific instructions for how a body must be buried (cf. Moulton-Milligan). Thaptō is used similarly in the Septuagint over 140 times (See below). Genesis 50:25,26 and Exodus 13:19 record how Joseph’s burial wishes included both Egyptian and Israelite rites. (Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource)

THAPTO in the Septuagint - Gen. 15:15; Gen. 23:4; Gen. 23:6; Gen. 23:8; Gen. 23:11; Gen. 23:13; Gen. 23:15; Gen. 23:19; Gen. 25:9; Gen. 25:10; Gen. 35:19; Gen. 35:29; Gen. 47:29; Gen. 47:30; Gen. 49:29; Gen. 49:31; Gen. 50:5; Gen. 50:6; Gen. 50:7; Gen. 50:12; Gen. 50:13; Gen. 50:14; Gen. 50:26; Num. 11:34; Num. 20:1; Num. 33:4; Deut. 10:6; Deut. 21:23; Deut. 34:6; Jos. 24:30; Jos. 24:33; Jdg. 2:9; Jdg. 8:32; Jdg. 10:2; Jdg. 10:5; Jdg. 12:7; Jdg. 12:10; Jdg. 12:12; Jdg. 12:15; Jdg. 16:31; Ruth 1:17; 1 Sam. 25:1; 1 Sam. 28:3; 1 Sam. 31:13; 2 Sam. 2:4; 2 Sam. 2:5; 2 Sam. 2:32; 2 Sam. 3:32; 2 Sam. 4:12; 2 Sam. 17:23; 2 Sam. 21:14; 1 Ki. 2:10; 1 Ki. 2:29; 1 Ki. 2:31; 1 Ki. 2:34; 1 Ki. 11:15; 1 Ki. 11:43; 1 Ki. 12:24; 1 Ki. 13:29; 1 Ki. 13:31; 1 Ki. 14:31; 1 Ki. 15:8; 1 Ki. 15:24; 1 Ki. 16:6; 1 Ki. 16:28; 1 Ki. 22:37; 1 Ki. 22:50; 2 Ki. 8:24; 2 Ki. 9:10; 2 Ki. 9:28; 2 Ki. 9:34; 2 Ki. 9:35; 2 Ki. 10:35; 2 Ki. 12:21; 2 Ki. 13:9; 2 Ki. 13:20; 2 Ki. 13:21; 2 Ki. 14:16; 2 Ki. 14:20; 2 Ki. 15:7; 2 Ki. 15:38; 2 Ki. 16:20; 2 Ki. 20:21; 2 Ki. 21:18; 2 Ki. 21:26; 2 Ki. 23:30; 1 Chr. 10:12; 2 Chr. 9:31; 2 Chr. 12:16; 2 Chr. 14:1; 2 Chr. 16:14; 2 Chr. 21:1; 2 Chr. 21:20; 2 Chr. 22:9; 2 Chr. 24:16; 2 Chr. 24:25; 2 Chr. 25:28; 2 Chr. 26:23; 2 Chr. 27:9; 2 Chr. 28:27; 2 Chr. 32:33; 2 Chr. 33:20; 2 Chr. 35:24; 2 Chr. 36:8; Ps. 79:3; Jer. 7:32; Jer. 8:2; Jer. 14:16; Jer. 16:4; Jer. 20:6; Jer. 22:19; Ezek. 39:14; Ezek. 39:15; Hos. 9:6;

Related Resource:

And that He was raised (egeiro) on the third day according to the Scriptures (graphe) - God promised it and He kept His promise. He always does. As Joshua said "not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed." (Josh 23:14) It is important to note that raised is in the perfect tense which describes a past completed action (Christ's resurrection on the third day) with the continuing state of His resurrection. Note also that raised is passive voice indicating the divine passive (Acts 2:24, 32+, Acts 3:15+, Acts 10:40, 41+, Acts 13:30, 34+, etc). This action by God the Father asserts His approval of Jesus’ life, teachings, and sacrificial, substitutionary death (cf Ro 4:25+).

The resurrection was the Father's approving "Amen" to His Son's "It is Finished (Paid in Full)!"

Utley - The NT often attributes the works of redemption to all three persons of the Godhead: (1) God the Father raised Jesus (cf. Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31; Rom. 6:4, 9; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:10); (2) God the Son raised Himself (cf. John 2:19–22; 10:17–18); (3) God the Spirit raised Jesus (cf. Rom. 8:11).

Related Resource:

Ray Stedman - That is the story of the gospel--three basic facts. These are not doctrines; these are not philosophies; these are not ideas that men have had about what God should be like.  These are simple, hard-nose facts that occurred in history that cannot be eliminated or evaded. There they are. These facts have changed the history of the world.  Our faith does not rest upon mere philosophy but upon facts that have occurred and cannot be taken away from us (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Of First Importance).

UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE
Daniel Thornton

Low in the grave He lay
Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose! (He arose)
He arose! (He arose)
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed
Jesus, my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose! (He arose)
He arose! (He arose)
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep his prey
Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose! (He arose)
He arose! (He arose)
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose! (He arose)
He arose! (He arose)
Hallelujah! Christ arose!


Question: What was the significance of Jesus being dead for three days?

Answer: There are several reasons it is significant Jesus was dead for three days before His resurrection. First, resurrection after three days of death proved to Jesus’ opponents that He truly rose from the dead. Why? According to Jewish tradition, a person’s soul/spirit remained with his/her dead body for three days. After three days, the soul/spirit departed. If Jesus’ resurrection had occurred on the same day or even the next day, it would have been easier for His enemies to argue He had never truly died. Significantly, Jesus waited several days after Lazarus had died before He came to resurrect Lazarus so that no one could deny the miracle (John 11:38–44).

A second reason it was important for Jesus to be dead for three days was to fulfill biblical prophecy. Jesus personally claimed He would be dead three days (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 27:63; John 2:19). Also, some point to Hosea 6:1–3 as a prophecy of the Messiah’s resurrection after three days: “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” This may also be the passage Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

The three days were significant in other ways as well. Jesus died on a Friday, Nisan 14, the day when the Passover lamb was sacrificed. His death represents the death of a perfect, unblemished sacrifice on our behalf. His resurrection on the third day took place on the first day of the week, illustrating a new beginning and new life to all who trust in Him.

So, why was it important for Jesus to be dead for three days before His resurrection? (1) So the unbelieving Jews could not deny that Jesus had truly been dead. (2) Because three days is what Jesus Himself prophesied. Aside from these two reasons, the Word of God does not explicitly state the reason for the necessity of three days between Jesus’ death and resurrection. GotQuestions.org


Related Resources:

1 Corinthians 15:5  and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • that : Lu 24:34,35 
  • Cephas : 1Co 1:12 3:22 9:5 Joh 1:42 
  • then : Mk 16:14 Lu 24:36-49 Joh 20:19-26 Ac 1:2-14 10:41 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

CHRIST TO CEPHAS
AND THE TWELVE

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:5  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

and that He appeared to Cephas (Kēphás), then to the twelve - Peter's restoration to full usefulness for his Kingdom work.

Jack Arnold - Paul in verses 5-8 gives eyewitness evidence the resurrection of Christ actually happened. He makes it clear that Christ appeared to Peter who was the leader of the apostolic band. Surely, Peter needed the resurrected Christ to appear to him. He was deeply hurting because he had denied his Lord three times and even cursed Him. Peter went out and wept bitterly when he realized what he had done. For he was suffering the pangs of guilt and self-anger. Perhaps it was for this reason Christ sought Peter out first. Christ healed his pains, his brokenness and his hatred of himself. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been there when Christ said, “Peter, it is I, your Lord, and I forgive you and love you and want you to continue to lead my apostolic band.” Certainly, the resurrected Christ changed a depressed and discouraged Peter to a forgiven, courageous and dynamic witness for Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

Related Resources: 

1 Corinthians 15:6  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • He appeared Mt 28:10,16,17 Mk 16:7 
  • are 1Co 15:18 Ac 7:60 13:36 1Th 4:13,15 2Pe 3:4 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:6  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

CHRIST'S GRAND
APPEARANCE

After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now (about 55-56 AD), but some have fallen asleep (euphemism for death of believers - koimao). 

Jack Arnold - Twenty-six years after the resurrection of our Lord, there were many eyewitnesses still living, and if the Corinthians wanted to, they could check these facts out with hundreds of people. 

Related Resource: 

1 Corinthians 15:7  then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;  (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:7  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary).

Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles (apostole)

Jack Arnold - The James mentioned here is most likely the half brother of Jesus, who was the oldest remaining son of the family that grew up in Nazareth. John tells us that Christ’s brothers did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. It must have been difficult to see Jesus was the Messiah because these brothers were so close to Him. While they must have seen Him as an exceptional person, they played games together, did chores together, played pranks on Him or whatever. It took some tall convincing for them to believe that He was the Son of God, the Creator of the universe. None of Christ’s brothers were truly converted until after the resurrection. That was when they became convinced Jesus was the Son of God. James must have had a fantastic conversion and in the Epistle of James he calls Christ “our glorious Lord” (Jms. 2:1). The resurrected Christ changed a skeptical blood brother to a believing, dynamic spiritual leader. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

Related Resource:

1 Corinthians 15:8  and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

A DIVINE 
MISCARRIAGE

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:8  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

And last (eschatos) of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also - Untimely born means "abnormally born which really means a miscarriage or an untimely birth. What he means is that he did not come to spiritual birth in the usual, proper way.  His salvation was unexpected, violent and abnormal. When the other apostles heard the Word they began to believe it. Gradually it developed in their minds and hearts until at last they laid hold of it by faith. In this way, their spiritual birth followed a normal pregnancy that could be observed developing. But Paul’s conversion was a miscarriage. It was abnormal, unexpected, sudden and definitely supernatural. This may be the reason Paul writes so much on the sovereign purposes of God in salvation, for he, more than any other apostle, had a conversion surrounded by supernatural phenomena." (Jack Arnold)

Related Resource:

1 Corinthians 15:9  For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.(NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • the least 2Co 11:5 12:11 Eph 3:7,8 
  • because Ac 8:3 Acts 9:1-19 22:4,5 26:9-11 Ga 1:13,23 Php 3:6 1Ti 1:13,14 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Acts 9:1-19+ Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.  10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.  Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,

PAUL THE LEAST
BUT THE GREATEST

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:9  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

For I am the least (elachistos) of the apostles, and not fit (hikanos) to be called an apostle (apostole), because I persecuted (dioko - zealously and hostilely pursued) the church of God - Least reflects his genuine humility that God would have saved such a wretch as himself! We are all in that same category -- "least!" We all deserved hell, but God gave us Heaven! Amazing grace indeed! Paul's radical transformation from persecutor of the Gospel to proclaimer of the Gospel is clear evidence that the Gospel is authentic and the resurrection was real and relevant. 

Jack Arnold -  If there was ever a dynamic conversion, Paul had it. This appearance of the Lord to him changed his whole life—from Saul of Tarsus to Paul the preacher, from religious profession to personal regeneration. He came hating and went away loving. He began that day the greatest Jewish evangelist and ended it the greatest Christian evangelist. Contact with the resurrected Christ changed his life, and this, in itself, is proof the resurrection happened.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Resurrection And The Gospel)

1 Corinthian 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • by 1Co 4:7 Ro 11:1,5,6 Eph 2:7,8 3:7,8 1Ti 1:15,16 
  • his grace 1Co 15:2 2Co 6:1 
  • but I Ro 15:17-20 2Co 10:12-16 11:23-30 12:11 
  • yet Mt 10:20 2Co 3:5 Ga 2:8 Eph 3:7 Php 2:12-13 Phil 4:13 Col 1:28-29 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

Philippians 2:12-13+  So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out (present imperative   see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) your salvation (AKA - progressive sanctification) with fear and trembling; 13+ for (GOD'S SOVEREIGN PROVISION) it is God Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. 

Philippians 4:13+ I can do all things (MY RESPONSIBILITY) through Him Who strengthens me (GOD'S SOVEREIGN PROVISION).

Colossians 1:28-29+ We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving (MY RESPONSIBILITY)  according to His power, which mightily works within me (GOD'S SOVEREIGN PROVISION)..

GRACE PILED 
UPON GRACE

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:10  (For the most part the notes below are not duplicated on the in depth commentary). 

But by the grace (charis) of God ("divine grace") I am what I am, and His grace (charis) toward me did not prove vain (kenos - empty, without success, futile, not without results); but I labored (kopiao - to the point of exhaustion, weariness following straining of all his human powers to utmost) even more (perissos) than all of them, yet not I, but the grace (charisof God with (sun/syn = intimate union with) me - God provided the grace, but Paul labored diligently. See this important principle which is all through the Scripture - The "Paradoxical Principle of 100% Dependent and 100% Responsible". (See the passages above)

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul uses three different terms for vain or worthless -  eike in 1 Cor 15:2, kenos in 1 Cor 15:10, 14, 48, mataios (worthless) in 1 Cor 15:17

Jack Arnold - Paul clearly understood he did not seek and choose God, but God sought and chose him for salvation and service. He deserved nothing, but God took him and made him the greatest Christian of all time. Why? Grace! Grace! Grace! Everything Paul was or did he attributed to the pure grace of God. Paul’s life should greatly encourage every non-Christian and Christian. We may have fouled up our lives and messed up everything to such an extent we may think God could never save us or use us. Paul persecuted the church and gave his consent to murder, yet God used him and He can and will use anyone who truly turns to Christ in humble repentance and faith. There is no sin God cannot forgive.

I Am What I Am - A few years before John Newton died, a friend was having breakfast with him. Their custom was to read from the Bible after the meal. Because Newton’s eyes were growing dim, his friend would read, then Newton would comment briefly on the passage. That day the selection was from 1 Corinthians 15. When the words “by the grace of God I am what I am” were read, Newton was silent for several minutes. Then he said, “I am not what I ought to be. How imperfect and deficient I am! I am not what I wish to be, although I abhor that which is evil and would cleave to what is good. I am not what I hope to be, but soon I shall put off mortality, and with it all sin. Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor yet what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was: a slave to sin and Satan. I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am!” - Source unknown

1 Corinthians 15:11  Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passages:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4  Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

ALL PREACHED
THE SAME GOSPEL

Whether then - could be rendered "therefore whether" and most commentators link this back to 1 Cor 15:8 which was the terminus of his description of the Gospel which emphasized Christ was seen alive by many witnesses. Most see 1 Cor 15:9-10 as a sort of brief digression in which he explains his status as it relates to the other disciples, that he may have been last but was not least because of the work of God's grace. 

it was I or they - He has just stated he had labored even more than all of them. Now he says "it matters not whether I was instrumental or they." (MIT) In other words it makes no difference who had preached. They all preached the same Gospel that included the truth of the resurrection of Christ. And so in light of the following passages, Paul is saying they all preached "Christ is risen, risen indeed!" Paul affirms that the Gospel he had received and delivered to the Corinthians was the same Gospel the original apostles had preached. And finally one other point is that Paul did not care who received the credit for the conversion of the Corinthians. 

Jack Arnold - It did not make any difference which apostle preached the gospel; it was always the same gospel: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,.. He was buried, and... He was raised on the third day.” The gospel was preached and the Corinthians believed it, and a basic part of that gospel is the resurrection of Christ. What Paul is saying is that no man, woman, boy or girl can really be a true Christian unless he or she believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (The Resurrection And The Gospel)

Vine - summing up the argument of the first part of the chapter, he identifies himself with the other apostles in the facts that all continually preached the same gospel with its foundation truth of the resurrection of Christ, and that the Corinthian believers once for all accepted it.

So we (present tense - continually) preach (kerusso - clearly proclaim) and so you believed (pisteuo "what you adhered to, trusted in, and relied on") - NLT paraphrase is accurate = "we all preach the same message." Paul says the Gospel (Christ died for our sins...was buried...was raised - 1 Cor 15:3-4) has inherent power and it made no difference who preached it because God's gives the power to believe. So you believed is in the aorist tense which speaks of a past completed act, in turn pointing to the fact that they had believed, Thus Paul is addressing believers in this section, which is significant because we see that some are skeptical about the resurrection. 

Hunter & McShane -  The important thing was not who laboured most, but the sense of unity among the apostles. They all preached the same gospel, the only authentic gospel, which they had all believed. (What the Bible teaches – 1 and 2 Corinthians)

Hodge - This verse resumes the subject from which vs. 9, 10 are a digression. ‘Christ appeared to the apostles and to me; whether therefore I or they preached, we all proclaimed that fact, and ye all believed it.’ The resurrection of Christ was included in the preaching of all ministers, and in the faith of all Christians.

Jack Arnold - The question for you who are not Christians is not whether you believe Christ lived and died; many non-Christians believe that. Nor is it whether you believe He died for sinners and was raised from the dead, for many phony, professing believers give assent to that truth. The real question is whether you believe Christ died for your sins and that He was raised from the dead so you can share His resurrected life. Only when you, by faith, make this personal, believing Christ died for you individually and personally, will you be saved. You cannot be saved without believing Christ substituted for your sins, and you cannot be saved until you have committed yourself to the resurrected Lord  (The Resurrection And The Gospel)

Earlier Paul had told the Corinthians that "we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness," (1 Cor 1:23)

Preach (proclaim) (2784)(kerusso from kerux/keryx = a herald - one who acts as the medium of the authority of one who proclamation he makes; kerugma = the thing preached or the message) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald or act as a public crier - the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering.They could make no additions or subtractions from the received message (THINK OF THE GOSPEL!). Kerusso was used of the official whose duty it was to proclaim loudly and extensively the coming of an earthly king, even as our gospel is to clearly announce the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16+! The Imperial Herald would enter a town in behalf of the Roman Emperor, and make a public proclamation of the message which his Sovereign ordered him to give, doing so with such formality, gravity, and authority as to emphasize that the message must be heeded! (Think about this in regard to the Gospel of God instead of the decree of a man! Lenski adds a good word that "to preach is not to argue, reason, dispute, or convince by intellectual proof, against all of which a keen intellect may bring counterargument. We simply state in public or testify to all men the truth which God bids us state. No argument can assail the truth presented in this announcement or testimony. Men either believe the truth, as all sane men should, or refuse to believe it, as only fools venture to do”  Kerusso in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 1:23; 1 Co. 9:27; 1 Co. 15:11; 1 Co. 15:12; 2 Co. 1:19; 2 Co. 4:5; 2 Co. 11:4; Gal. 2:2; Gal. 5:11; Phil. 1:15; Col. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Pet. 3:19; Rev. 5:2

1 Corinthians 15:12  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? (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passage:

Acts 17:18+  And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.

Acts 17:32+  Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this (THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD -- SOME BELIEVED - see Acts 17:33-34+).”

Acts 26:8+ “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? 

1 Corinthians 1:23+  but we (present tense - continually) preach (kerusso - herald, proclaim) Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,

Hebrews 11:19+  He (ABRAHAM) considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him (ISAAC) back as a type. (See also  Why did God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? | GotQuestions.org)

THE DEADLY HERESY
CLAIMING "NO RESURRECTION"

The question Paul asks in this verse explains what prompted him to write this chapter on the resurrection.

Paul now proceeds in 1 Cor 15:12-19 to show the logical consequences that would follow if Christ truly had not been raised from the dead. 

Ralph Earle - After the introductory section on the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15:1-11), Paul deals in this chapter with two basic matters: (1) The fact of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:12-34), and (2) The nature of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:35-58). These are the two main divisions of this chapter.

Now if (first class condition assumed true that) Christ is (present tense - continually) preached (kerusso - heralded like a public crier, proclaimed), that He has been raised (egeirofrom the dead - This statement is a "recap" of the Gospel in summary form. Paul just stated in 1 Cor 15:11 that the Corinthians believed the Gospel which had as one of the basic truths the fact that Christ was raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. As he goes on to say it was not they they denied Jesus' resurrection, but they denied the resurrection of believers. Clearly if Christ was resurrected, it does establish that resurrection is possible. 

NOTE - Paul repeatedly (6 times) uses "IF" in his rhetorical argument for the resurrection - 1 Cor 15:12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19. Jack Arnold notes that "What Paul will do in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 is show the logical consequences of denying the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The “what if?” question is not just a twentieth century problem; it was also a first century problem which cropped up in the church at Corinth. In this section of Scripture, Paul’s whole method of reasoning is, “What do we give up if the resurrection is not true? He argues from a negative point of view, assuming certain false presuppositions to prove that Christ did rise from the dead and Christians, too, shall rise from the dead. Paul's argument demands concentration, but he devastates those who would say they are Christians and deny the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

Utley - The source of this denial of the resurrection probably had its origin in Greek philosophy, which thought the physical body was the source of evil. It is textually uncertain whether they were denying the resurrection of Christ or the resurrection of all believers.

Has been raised is egeiro which is used 19 times in 1 Corinthians 15 and in this verse is in the perfect tense referring to Christ's resurrection (1Cor 15:4, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 29) describing a past completed action with continuing/ongoing effect. In short it speaks of the permanent effect of Christ's resurrection! He has been raised and He remains raised. Or stated another way Jesus Christ lives today as our risen Savior! 

Jack Arnold - These Corinthians had wrongly concluded that there was no general resurrection of Christians at the Second Advent of Christ. It is not hard to understand why they would draw this conclusion if you understand Greek philosophy. The Corinthians had succumbed to the fact there would be no resurrection of Christians at the Second Advent because this is what the unbelieving Greek philosophers taught. They held that the spirit part of man survives after death in some eternal oblivion, but the body goes to the grave and turns to dust, never to be raised. These philosophers taught that the body was essentially evil and that it was a prison for the spirit When death came, the spirit was freed and liberated from the sinful body which was dead and forgotten. In one respect, a Greek could welcome death because it was the liberation of the spirit from the body. The idea of a literal resurrection of the body was offensive to the natural Greek mind. These Corinthian Christians had bought the reasoning that there was no bodily resurrection. They were not denying life after death but were denying bodily resurrection. Greek philosophers talked of the resurrection of the body as “the hope of swine.” It was ridiculous to think there was no resurrection of Christians even though Christ was raised from the dead. He was proof positive that bodily resurrection is possible. Christ had been seen by the Apostles, individually and collectively, by men and women, singly and in groups, and even by five hundred people at one time. He was obviously raised from the dead, and this, of course, would necessitate a resurrection of aft Christians because all share in his death, burial and resurrection. It was totally illogical to deny the resurrection of all Christians if Christ Himself was raised from the dead because He was the "first fruits” of all resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

Ray Pritchard - Evidently, some of the first-century Christians taught that at death the body is discarded and the soul goes to heaven. Certainly that’s what the Greeks in general believed. To them the body was the “husk” that contained the soul. At death you burn the “husk” and let the soul go free. (That’s one reason why some pagans practiced cremation and why Christians generally have opposed the practice. Cremation itself is not a sin since the body ends up as dust no matter how you treat it after death, but burial was thought to be a statement of faith in the coming resurrection of the body.) The real problem at Corinth was not philosophical but practical. Experience seems to argue against the resurrection. There are far more funerals than resurrections. As a pastor I am often asked to officiate at a funeral. No one has ever asked me to officiate at a resurrection. And if you judge by the visual evidence, it’s hard to believe that the dead will ever be raised. You can go out to the cemetery with a loaf of bread and a jug of tea and wait for someone to rise from the dead. We haven’t had any verified resurrections in 2000 years. Funerals we have aplenty. Where are the resurrections? (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Acorns to Oak Trees: How are Dead Raised?)

Related Resources: 

Robertson and Plummer - Paul has just shown how full and unanimous is the testimony to the fact of the Resurrection of Christ, and from that solid basis he now passes on (δέ) to the main question, using a current sceptical assertion as a text. It is one statement against another. On the one hand the declaration of all the Apostles, from the first to the last of them, and of many other eyewitnesses, that Christ has been raised and abides for ever as the Risen Lord (this is the force of the perfect ἐγήγερται throughout the argument); on the other the a priori dictum of certain cavillers, unsupported by any evidence, that there is no such thing as a resurrection of dead people. The latter position is analogous to the modern one; “Miracles don’t happen.” Which will the Corinthians, who long ago accepted Apostolic preaching, hold to now? (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Christ (Anointed One)(5547)(Christos from chrio = to rub or anoint, consecrate to an office) describes one who has been anointed with oil, one who has been consecrated. The majority of the NT uses refer to Jesus. Christos describes one who has been anointed, symbolizing appointment to a task. It is used here as the title "Anointed One" and is the Greek synonym for "Messiah." Christos is used in the Septuagint describing everyone anointed with the holy oil, especially the priesthood (Lev. 4:5+, Lev 4:16+) and it is also a name applied to those who were acting as redeemers like Cyrus. BDAG adds Christos signifies the "Fulfiller of Israelite expectation of a Deliverer" and was used in the Septuagint of the great messianic Ps 2:2+ describing the future day when "The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed (Hebrew = Mashiach/masiyahLxx = Christos)." Daniel 9:26+ gives us the incredible prophecy that after 69 weeks (483 years) "the Messiah (Hebrew = Mashiach/masiyahLxx = Christos) will be cut off," a specific prophecy of what would happen to Messiah and when it would happen. The Jews could have known and should have known (and some Jews have been saved when they read this prophecy) (See Luke 19:42+)

Christos in 1-2 Corinthians (NOTE 14 USES IN 1 CORINTHIANS 15) - 1 Co. 1:1; 1 Co. 1:2; 1 Co. 1:3; 1 Co. 1:4; 1 Co. 1:6; 1 Co. 1:7; 1 Co. 1:8; 1 Co. 1:9; 1 Co. 1:10; 1 Co. 1:12; 1 Co. 1:13; 1 Co. 1:17; 1 Co. 1:23; 1 Co. 1:24; 1 Co. 1:30; 1 Co. 2:2; 1 Co. 2:16; 1 Co. 3:1; 1 Co. 3:11; 1 Co. 3:23; 1 Co. 4:1; 1 Co. 4:10; 1 Co. 4:15; 1 Co. 4:17; 1 Co. 5:7; 1 Co. 6:11; 1 Co. 6:15; 1 Co. 7:22; 1 Co. 8:6; 1 Co. 8:11; 1 Co. 8:12; 1 Co. 9:12; 1 Co. 9:21; 1 Co. 10:4; 1 Co. 10:16; 1 Co. 11:1; 1 Co. 11:3; 1 Co. 12:12; 1 Co. 12:27; 1 Co. 15:3; 1 Co. 15:12; 1 Co. 15:13; 1 Co. 15:14; 1 Co. 15:15; 1 Co. 15:16; 1 Co. 15:17; 1 Co. 15:18; 1 Co. 15:19; 1 Co. 15:20; 1 Co. 15:22; 1 Co. 15:23; 1 Co. 15:31; 1 Co. 15:57; 1 Co. 16:24; 2 Co. 1:1; 2 Co. 1:2; 2 Co. 1:3; 2 Co. 1:5; 2 Co. 1:19; 2 Co. 1:21; 2 Co. 2:10; 2 Co. 2:12; 2 Co. 2:14; 2 Co. 2:15; 2 Co. 2:17; 2 Co. 3:3; 2 Co. 3:4; 2 Co. 3:14; 2 Co. 4:4; 2 Co. 4:5; 2 Co. 4:6; 2 Co. 5:10; 2 Co. 5:14; 2 Co. 5:16; 2 Co. 5:17; 2 Co. 5:18; 2 Co. 5:19; 2 Co. 5:20; 2 Co. 6:15; 2 Co. 8:9; 2 Co. 8:23; 2 Co. 9:13; 2 Co. 10:1; 2 Co. 10:5; 2 Co. 10:7; 2 Co. 10:14; 2 Co. 11:2; 2 Co. 11:3; 2 Co. 11:10; 2 Co. 11:13; 2 Co. 11:23; 2 Co. 12:2; 2 Co. 12:9; 2 Co. 12:10; 2 Co. 12:19; 2 Co. 13:3; 2 Co. 13:5; 2 Co. 13:14;

Raised (1453)(egeiro) means to rise (stand up) from a sitting or lying position (Mt 8:26, 9:5), to awaken from sleep (Mt 8:25), figuratively to "awaken" from death (rise up). Egeiro was used literally also to raise up or lift up a person either sitting or lying down. Figuratively egeiro was used to "raise up" a person from illness, thus restoring them to health. Figuratively as used in Romans 4:24, egeiro describes the bringing back of Jesus from the dead and thus raising Him or causing Him to rise. The idea of wake up from death is conveyed by egeiro because sleep was used as metaphor of death for believers (there is however no "soul sleep"). To raise up to a position as was David in Acts 13:22 (referring to his "promotion" to king). Egeiro is the verb Paul characteristically used when speaking of Jesus being raised from the dead (although his favorite noun for "resurrection" was anastasis). Egeiro in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 6:14; 1 Co. 15:4; 1 Co. 15:12; 1 Co. 15:13; 1 Co. 15:14; 1 Co. 15:15; 1 Co. 15:16; 1 Co. 15:17; 1 Co. 15:20; 1 Co. 15:29; 1 Co. 15:32; 1 Co. 15:35; 1 Co. 15:42; 1 Co. 15:43; 1 Co. 15:44; 1 Co. 15:52; 2 Co. 1:9; 2 Co. 4:14; 2 Co. 5:15

GLORIOUS DAY
(Casting Crowns)

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

How do some among you (present tense - continually) say that there is no resurrection of the dead - He is referring to the fact that the church members at Corinth were saying that believers would not be raised from the dead. While we cannot discern from the text (or context) whether they were denying the resurrection of Christ or of all believers, most writers feel it is the latter (believer's) resurrection they were denying. They apparently had been influenced by the Greek philosophers and possibly also the Sadducees who did not believe in a literal resurrection. 

Guzik - The Corinthian Christians just did not think carefully. Some of them denied the reality of resurrection, while believing in a resurrected Jesus. Paul shows how the resurrection of Jesus not only proves His own resurrection, but it proves the principle of resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Craig Keener has some background on Greek thinking regarding the resurrection - By contrast, this conception was difficult for Greeks to envision. Many Gentile intellectuals affirmed the soul’s immortality without a future for the body; some others denied any afterlife at all. Many tomb inscriptions lamented lack of hope for any afterlife. Even traditional Greek mythology viewed the afterlife as a shadowy semi-existence without a body, perhaps similar to the more ambiguous and perhaps figurative depictions of Sheol in the OT. Sadducees in Judea and undoubtedly many Diaspora Jews influenced by Greek thought did not think in terms of a resurrection, but they would clearly understand that the Galilean apostolic claim meant bodily resurrection. (NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible)

Kittel - Apart from transmigration, the Greeks speak of resurrection only a. as an impossibility, or b. as an isolated miracle of resuscitation. They have no concept of a general resurrection; the hearers in Acts 17:18 seem to think anastasis is a proper name (cf. 17:31–32). (TDNT- Abridged)

Steve Lewis -  the Greek way of thinking it would have been inconceivable that a person's earthly body would come back to life after death. When Paul met with the philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17:18-34+), he spoke of Christ's resurrection from the dead and most of the philosophers mocked him. • 
         1. The Epicurean philosophers taught simple materialism: there is no existence beyond death. 
         2. The Stoic philosophers taught that at death the soul was merged with Deity, and so there was a loss of individual personality. 
         3. The Platonist philosophers taught that the soul was immortal, but they denied the idea of a bodily resurrection.
           (1 Corinthians 15:1-34 Easter Before Christmas?)

Resurrection (386)(anastasis from ana = up, again + histemi = to cause to stand) literally means “to stand again" or "to cause to stand again" and most NT uses refer to a physical body rising from the dead or coming back to life after having once died. The resurrection is distinguished from belief in reincarnation, which usually involves a series of rebirths from which the soul may seek release. Resurrection has primary reference to the body. The resurrection is the central, defining doctrine and claim of the gospel for as Paul wrote "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain." (1Cor 15:14)

Related Resources:

TORREY'S TOPIC
RESURRECTION

  • Foretold by the prophets Psalm 16:10; Acts 13:34,35; Isaiah 26:19
  • Foretold by Himself Matthew 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; John 2:19-22

WAS NECESSARY TO

  • The fulfilment of Scripture Luke 24:45,46
  • Forgiveness of sins 1 Corinthians 15:17
  • Justification Romans 4:25; 8:34
  • Hope 1 Corinthians 15:19
  • The efficacy of preaching 1 Corinthians 15:14
  • The efficacy of faith 1 Corinthians 15:14,17
  • A proof of his being the Son of God Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33; Romans 1:4

EFFECTED BY

  • The power of God
  • Acts 2:24; 3:15; Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12
  • His own power John 2:19; 10:18
  • The power of the Holy Spirit 1 Peter 3:18

THE TIMING

  • On the first day of the week Mark 16:9
  • On the third day after his death Mark 16:9
  • On the third day after His death Luke 24:46; Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:4

THE APOSTLES

  • At first did not understand the predictions respecting Mark 9:10; John 20:9
  • Very slow to believe Mark 16:13; Luke 24:9,11,37,38
  • Reproved for their unbelief of Mark 16:14

HE APPEARED AFTER TO

  • Mary Magdalene Mark 16:9; John 20:18
  • The women Matthew 28:9
  • Simon Peter Luke 24:34
  • Two disciples Luke 24:13-31
  • Apostles, except Thomas John 20:19,24
  • Apostles, Thomas being present John 20:26
  • Apostles at the sea of Tiberias John 21:1
  • Apostles in Galilee Matthew 28:16,17
  • About five hundred brethren 1 Corinthians 15:6
  • James 1 Corinthians 15:7
  • All the Apostles Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9; 1 Corinthians 15:7
  • Paul 1 Corinthians 15:8

PROOF

  • Fraud impossible in Matthew 27:63-66
  • He gave many infallible proofs of Luke 24:35,39,43; John 20:20,27; Acts 1:3

WAS ATTESTED BY

  • Angels Matthew 28:5-7; Luke 24:4-7,23
  • Apostles Acts 1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 4:33
  • His enemies Matthew 28:11-15
  • Asserted and preached by the Apostles Acts 25:19; 26:23

SAINTS

  • Begotten to a lively hope 1 Peter 1:3,21
  • Desire to know the power of Philippians 3:10
  • Should keep, in remembrance 2 Timothy 2:8
  • Shall rise in the likeness of Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 3:21

SYMBOLIZES

  • Is an emblem of the new birth Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12
  • The first-fruits of our resurrection Acts 26:23; 1 Corinthians 15:20,23
  • The truth of the gospel involved in 1 Corinthians 15:14,15
  • Followed by his exaltation Acts 4:10,11; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:9,10; Revelation 1:18
  • An assurance of the judgment Acts 17:31

TYPIFIED

  • Isaac Genesis 22:13; Hebrews 11:19
  • Jonah Jonah 2:10; Matthew 12:40

1 Corinthians 15:13  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • 1Co 15:20 Joh 11:25,26 Ac 23:8 Ro 4:24,25 8:11,23 2Co 4:10-14 Col 3:1-4 1Th 4:14 2Ti 4:8 Heb 2:14 13:20 1Pe 1:3 Rev 1:18 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

LOGIC: NO RESURRECTION
IF CHRIST NOT RAISED!

Paul's first conclusion (consequence) if Christ's resurrection were not true. 

Paul will now proceed (1 Cor 15:13-19) to logically argue that the truth of the resurrection of all believers was absolutely crucial and to deny this foundational truth would have significant consequences. 

But if (first class condition assumed true for the sake of argument that) there is no resurrection (anastasis) of the dead, not even Christ has been raised (egeiro - see note on perfect tense) - This is not difficult logic. Paul is saying if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither was there any resurrection for Christ. If Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead, then there is not the slightest chance the saints will be raised. 

Hunter & McShane - Paul now proceeds to demonstrate the awful alternative if this false doctrine was true. The grim catalogue outlines how this teaching undermines the foundations of the gospel. Step by step he shows the futility of such a position, the slander on the character of God, the loss of present assurance and future hope, and the ultimate despair it produces. In some way they failed to see that to deny the resurrection of the body was to deny the resurrection of Christ, and if the latter were true the whole gospel was destroyed. This section reveals the pivotal position in christian doctrine that the resurrection of Christ holds in fact and preaching.. (What the Bible teaches – 1 and 2 Corinthians)

Explore the Bible - Paul resorted to a relentless logic to show how unreasonable it is to believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ and at the same time deny the bodily resurrection of believers. For the sake of argument, Paul assumed the false position of those who denied the bodily resurrection of believers. He then showed how following this kind of reasoning leads to impossible conclusions. 

Thomas Edwards - If their denial of the resurrection of the dead rests on a preconceived notion that it is impossible for dead men to come to life again, then it is impossible that Christ, who certainly died, can have risen from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Kistemaker - With the double negative in the two parts of this verse, Paul writes a conditional sentence that is contrary to reality. The clause if there is no resurrection of the dead contrasts the fact that there is a resurrection. But if the critics deny this fact, then Paul draws for them the inescapable conclusion that Christ’s physical body did not rise from the grave either. (1 Corinthians Commentary)

Jack Arnold - If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  To deny a general resurrection of all Christians is to deny the specific resurrection of Christ. If human bodies do not survive death as the Greek philosophers claimed, then Christ’s body did not survive death and there is no resurrection of Christ. It is impossible to argue that Christ rose but Christians cannot either -- both will be resurrected or neither will be resurrected. What do we give up if we deny the resurrection of Christ? We give up any hope of any life after death because, for the Christians, there is no life after death apart from the resurrection. The resurrection makes a difference!


Bob Utley on Paul's use of first class condition here - Obviously in this verse Paul is using it to heighten his literary argument, not asserting that Christ has not been raised! But the logic in these next few verses is powerful.

If Christ has not been raised then:

  1. there is no resurrection at all, vv. 13, 16
  2. our preaching is vain, v. 14
  3. your faith is vain, v. 14
  4. they are false witnesses, v. 15
  5. your faith is worthless, v 17
  6. you are still in your sins, v. 17
  7. those who have died have gone, v. 18
  8. we are of all men most to be pitied, v. 19

This theological issue of the resurrection of Christ is no minor issue either! He is alive or Christianity is a lie! This is a watershed doctrine!

1 Corinthians 15:14  and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • 1Co 15:2,17 Ps 73:13 Isa 49:4 Ge 8:8 Mt 15:9 Ac 17:31 Ga 2:2 Jas 1:26 Jas 2:20 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE GOOD NEWS
WOULD BE BAD NEWS!

Paul's second conclusion (consequence) if Christ's resurrection were not true - the good news would be bad news!

Robertson and Plummer - The sceptics still persist, and accept the denial of the antecedent: Christ is not risen. St Paul goes on to show what this denial involves, viz. (1) the falsification of Apostolic teaching and of Christian faith (14–17), and (2) the destruction of all Christian hope (18, 19). Thus by a reductio ad impossibile the denial is disproved. In short, the Resurrection of Christ is not an isolated fact or doctrine which can be accepted or rejected independently of other truths: it is the very centre of the Gospel.

Kistemaker - Paul continues writing a conditional sentence that contrasts incorrect teaching with reality. (1 Corinthians Commentary)

And if (first class condition assumed true for the sake of argument that) Christ  (Christoshas not been raised (egeiro - see note on perfect tense), then (logical conclusion) our preaching is vain (without content, of no purpose, fruitless, void of effect, to no purpose, characterized by "nothingness," absolutely void, imaginary), your faith also is vain (useless, empty, without foundation) - Paul's point is that if Christ has not been raised from the dead then the Gospel, with its foundation being Christ's resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-4), is a worthless, totally useless Gospel and to believe in such a Gospel is also worthless. In effect the "Good News" was really "Bad News" if the skeptics reasoning were correct. The idea is you remove the resurrection, there is nothing left of Christian theology! 

As MacArthur says "Apart from the resurrection Jesus could not have conquered sin or death or hell, and those three great evils would forever be man’s conquerors....If there were no resurrection, the hall of the faithful in Hebrews 11 would instead be the hall of the foolish. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, David, the prophets, and all the others would have been faithful for nothing. They would have been mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, afflicted, ill-treated, and put to death completely in vain. All believers of all ages would have believed for nothing, lived for nothing, and died for nothing."  (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Arnold -  The whole Christian life is a worthless, useless existential superstition and a meaningless deception if Christ be not raised from the dead. Faith would be vain. Christianity would be a religious game. Life would be reduced to grim, stark realities, with no hope. What do we give up if we deny the resurrection? We give up a living faith based on historical fact.  For all practical purposes, we give up Christianity. The resurrection does make a difference! (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

Preaching (2782)(kerugma where –ma means the result of <> from kerusso = to proclaim or announce in public) means not so much the act but the content or the result of preaching, that which is cried by the herald (kerux - an officer sent by a king or other high official to proclaim a message or announce good news) or public crier. It can have such senses as “news,” “declaration,” “decree,” “announcement,” etc. Kerugma - 8v - Mt. 12:41; Lk. 11:32; Ro 16:25; 1 Co. 1:21; 1 Co. 2:4; 1 Co. 15:14; 2 Ti 4:17; Titus 1:3

Vain (empty, futile, foolish) (2756kenos  means literally to be without something material and thus means empty or without content. It was used with this literal meaning (as in Mk 12:3 "they took him and beat him and sent him away empty handed"). More often kenos is used figuratively referring to things that lack effectiveness and thus are futile, useless, of no purpose or without result. Kenos is used to refer to endeavors, labors, acts, which result in nothing and thus are vain, fruitless, without effect and will not succeed. Kenos can refer to being devoid of intellectual, moral, or spiritual value.

1 Corinthians 15:15  Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.  (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • faults, Ex 23:3 Job 13:7-10 Ro 3:7,8 
  • we have Ac 2:24,32 4:10,33 10:39-42 13:30-33 20:21 
  • whom 1Co 15:13,20 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

APOSTLES WOULD HAVE BEEN LIARS
MISREPRESENTING GOD!

Paul's third conclusion (consequence) if Christ's resurrection were not true. 

Moreover ("more than that", "in addition", "what i smore") we are even (present tense - continually) found (heurisko - discovered) to be false witnesses ("lying about," "misrepresenting") of God, because (explains why they would have been misrepresenting God) we testified against God that He raised (egeiroChrist (Christos), Whom He did not raise (egeiro), if (first class condition assumed true for the sake of argument that) in fact the dead are not raised (egeiro) - Note his main premise is their belief that the dead are not raised. Found is heurisko which was often used of moral judgments respecting character and here conveys the idea of discovering or detecting in essence that Christianity was all a big hoax! If there were no resurrection (as the skeptics proposed) the apostles would have in effect been lying about the Good News that sin and death were defeated by Christ's death (1 Cor 15:55-57+), burial and resurrection. The apostles would have been deliberate liars and deceivers! And furthermore the entire group of witnesses in 1 Cor 15:5-8 would have been "pseudo" witnesses! They would all have need to corroborate their stories about the resurrection of Christ and would have all been liars and deliberate deceivers. That is the conclusion one would have to arrive at if there is no resurrection from the dead. What a difference the resurrection makes!

Schlatter on false witnesses of God - Such a false witness would make his message a myth, a human composition which arises from human wishes; at the same time he would be claiming that his message was the word of God

MacArthur reasons that "If the apostles, the prophets, and the New Testament writers lied about the heart of the gospel why should they be believed about anything else? Why should their moral teachings be considered inspired and lofty if they so blatantly falsified their teaching about Jesus’ resurrection? All New Testament truth stands or falls together based on the resurrection. Not only that, but those witnesses would have testified, preached, and taught a lie for which they were maligned, beaten, imprisoned, and often martyred. Such self-sacrifice, however, is not the stuff of which charlatans are made. People do not die to preserve a lie.  (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Arnold - If the resurrection is not true, then Christianity is a pipe dream, a hoax, a mirage and a bunch of wishful thinking by deluded people. Take out the resurrection of Jesus, and there is nothing left on which to rest faith - only the decomposing corpse of an itinerant Jewish carpenter-turned rabbi (Prior, 1 Corinthians)..... In the Book of Acts, the Apostles declared the resurrection of Christ with great authority and power. Acts makes mention of the resurrection 145 times. it was the focal point of early church preaching. The message was, “He has risen; we have seen Him; He is Lord and Savior!” If the resurrection is not true, then the Apostles were the world’s greatest liars. If there is no resurrection, they cannot be considered trustworthy, honorable and sincere men, but deceivers. They are hypocrites who have led multiple millions into gross darkness and great error. God declared the resurrection to be truth and apart of His plan for this world. But if it did not occur, the Apostles were preaching against God’s plans and purposes. However, the Bible says God has declared the resurrection of Christ from the dead and the Apostles and all Christians are in accord with His plan and purpose in declaring to men the resurrected Christ.  This was the apostolic message.Isn’t it odd that many local churches call themselves St. Thomas, or St. Andrew or St. Mark, using apostolic names, and yet many who make up these churches deny the bodily resurrection of Christ? This is real irony. (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

1 Corinthians 15:16  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

PREPARATION FOR
PERSONAL TRUTH IN VERSE 17

Paul's fourth conclusion (consequence) (vv 16-17) if Christ's resurrection were not true.

For if the dead are not (present tense - continually, divine passiveraised (egeiro), not even Christ (Christos) has been raised (egeiro - see note on perfect tense) - It is so critical that Paul repeats what he said earlier in 1 Cor 15:13 not even Christ has been raised. In the next two verses Paul brings the consequences of their no resurrection skepticism "up close and personal." If Christ has not been raised, then it means He is still dead! It reminds me of Josh McDowell's chapter entitled What Good is a Dead Messiah? (Chapter 6 in Josh McDowell's classic "More than a Carpenter) Of course the answer is absolutely nothing, because a dead savior is not really a savior because He could not give life that he himself did not possess. This shows how far afield was the reasoning of the Corinthians! 

Related Resource:

1 Corinthians 15:17  and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • your 1Co 15:2,14 Ro 4:25 
  • you are Eze 33:10 Joh 8:21-24 Ac 5:31 Acts 13:38,39 Ro 5:10 8:33,34 Heb 7:23-28 9:22-28 10:4-12 1Pe 1:3,21 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passage:

John 8:21-24  Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Acts 13:38-39+ “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

SINNERS STILL DEAD
IN THEIR SINS

Paul's fourth conclusion (consequence) (vv 16-17) if Christ's resurrection were not true.

And if (first class condition assumed true that)  Christ (Christos) has not been raised (egeiro - see note on perfect tense), your faith is worthless ("a mere delusion," useless, futile, pointless); you are still (yet, even now, at this time) in your sins - In your sins is locative of sphere (cf Jn 8:24), so that they would still be under the control or dominance of their sinful nature (see Sin as a Principle) (cf 1 Cor 15:56+) and responsible to personally pay the penalty of eternal death (Ro 6:23+) for their manifold sins! Not good news! Paul had earlier stated that the Gospel was the good news that Christ died for (huper - as the Substitute Who atoned for) our sins (1 Cor 15:3+), but their skeptical beliefs concerning the resurrection would have negated that glorious truth. Worthless (mataios) conveys a sense of aimlessness, leading to no object or end! That's a good picture of our life if there were no resurrection!

Arnold quotes Prior - If he was not raised from the dead, he is not Lord of anything. If life here on this earth is all there is, it makes no sense to base our hope on the groundless promises of one who made empty assertions about eternity. If the Christian faith is thus based on an empty gospel and a fraudulent savior, “anybody is better off than the Christian.”  (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

Worthless (3152mataios from maten = groundless, invalid) (see related logomacheo) means vain, empty, devoid of force, lacking in content, nonproductive, useless, dead, fruitless, aimless, of no real or lasting value. Robertson says mataios is a stronger word than kenos in 1 Cor 15:14. This adjective describes an ineffectual attempt to do something or an unsuccessful effort to attain something. Mataios emphasizes aimlessness or the leading to no object or end and thus is used to describe false gods or idols in contrast to the true God (see below). 6v - Acts 14:15; 1 Co. 3:20; 1 Co. 15:17; Tit. 3:9; Jas. 1:26; 1 Pet. 1:18

Sins (266hamartia literally conveys the idea of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and arrow (in Homer some hundred times of a warrior hurling his spear but missing his foe). Later hamartia came to mean missing or falling short of any goal, standard, or purpose. Hamartia in the Bible signifies a departure from God's holy, perfect standard of what is right in word or deed (righteous). It pictures the idea of missing His appointed goal (His will) which results in a deviation from what is pleasing to Him. In short, sin is conceived as a missing the true end and scope of our lives, which is the Triune God Himself. As Martin Luther put it "Sin is essentially a departure from God." I would add "sin" is the middle letter capitalized and emphasized (the "big I").


Dave Guzik - We can follow Paul’s logic point-by-point:

  1. If there is no principle of resurrection, then Jesus did not rise from the dead
  2. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then death has power over Him and defeated Him
  3. If death has power over Jesus, He is not God
  4. If Jesus is not God, He cannot offer a complete sacrifice for sins
  5. If Jesus cannot offer a complete sacrifice for sins, our sins are not completely paid for before God
  6. If my sins are not completely paid for before God, then I am still in my sins
  7. Therefore, if Jesus is not risen, He is unable to save

1 Corinthians 15:18  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

ALL BELIEVERS 
 FOREVER IN THE GRAVE!

Paul's fifth conclusion (consequence) if Christ's resurrection were not true - we would rot in our graves!

Then ('furthermore") those also who have fallen asleep ("died believing") in (in Covenant union with) Christ (locative of sphere - en Christos) have perished (are lost forever) - Fallen asleep in the NT is virtually always a euphemism for a believer's death (Mt 27:52, Jn 11:11-12, Acts 7:60+, 1 Cor 11:30+, three times in 1 Th 4:13-15+). Perished is a horrible thought! Because the resurrection is true we can perish the thought of perishing forever! As an aside the God's Word Translation (a paraphrase) is not good here because it has "no longer exist" for perished, which implies the aberrant belief of  annihilationism. Paul is in essence saying they would go to Hell, into Eternal Punishment and be no better off than unbelievers! Note that by using the term fallen asleep Paul is not speaking of the false doctrine of .soul sleep.

Note the beautiful truth that although death normally speaks of a separation (think of family members who have died), the phrase in Christ means that this vital, mystical union believers experience with Christ is not altered or disrupted. It strikes me that in that sense Christ is right there with us as we pass through the valley of the shadow of death and is also waiting for us on the other side of the veil, all of which recalls the inseparable nature of our union as described by Paul in Romans 8:38-39+

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In Christ in Corinthians (Note 4 uses in chapter 15) - 1 Co. 1:2; 1 Co. 1:4; 1 Co. 1:30; 1 Co. 3:1; 1 Co. 4:10; 1 Co. 4:15; 1 Co. 4:17; 1 Co. 15:18; 1 Co. 15:19; 1 Co. 15:22; 1 Co. 15:31; 1 Co. 16:24; 2 Co. 1:21; 2 Co. 2:14; 2 Co. 2:17; 2 Co. 3:14; 2 Co. 5:17; 2 Co. 5:19; 2 Co. 12:2; 2 Co. 12:19;

Arnold - If Christ be not risen, then all of our loved ones who have gone on to be with the Lord (or that we thought went to be with the Lord), whom we had hoped to meet again, we will never see again. Our children, our parents, our relatives, our friends who have died have all perished if there is no resurrection. (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

Fallen asleep (2837)(koimao related to keimai = to lie outstretched, to lie down) means to cause to sleep, is the word from which we get our word cemetery (see note below) which it was the early Christians optimistic name for a graveyard. It meant a sleeping place. It really was a synonym for a dormitory, a place where people sleep. This metaphorical use of the word sleep is appropriate because of the similarity in appearance between a sleeping body and a dead body; restfulness and peace normally characterize both. The object of the metaphor is to suggest that as the sleeper does not cease to exist while his body sleeps, so the dead person continues to exist despite his absence from the region in which those who remain can communicate with him, and that, as sleep is known to be temporary, so the death of the body will be found to be. Sleep has its waking, death will have its resurrection. In short, death to the believer is a sleep for his body—a period of rest to be followed by a glorious day. See discussion of Soul SleepKoimao used in 18v - Matt. 27:52; Matt. 28:13; Lk. 22:45; Jn. 11:11; Jn. 11:12; Acts 7:60; Acts 12:6; Acts 13:36; 1 Co. 7:39; 1 Co. 11:30; 1 Co. 15:6; 1 Co. 15:18; 1 Co. 15:20; 1 Co. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:13; 1 Thess. 4:14; 1 Thess. 4:15; 2 Pet. 3:4

Have perished  (622apollumi  from apo = away from or wholly + olethros = state of utter ruin <> ollumi = to destroy) means to destroy utterly but not to cause one to cease to exist. Apollumi as it relates to men, is not the loss of being per se, but is more the loss of well-being. It means to ruin so that the person ruined can no longer serve the use for which he (it) was designed. To render useless. The gospel promises everlasting life for the one who believes. The failure to possess this life will result in utter ruin and eternal uselessness (but not a cessation of existence). Apollumi in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 1:18; 1 Co. 1:19; 1 Co. 8:11; 1 Co. 10:9; 1 Co. 10:10; 1 Co. 12:23; 1 Co. 15:18; 2 Co. 2:15; 2 Co. 4:3; 2 Co. 4:9


Question: What does the Bible say about soul sleep?

Answer: “Soul sleep” is a belief that after a person dies, his/her soul “sleeps” until the resurrection and final judgment. The concept of “soul sleep” is not biblical. When the Bible describes a person “sleeping” in relation to death (Luke 8:52; 1 Corinthians 15:6), it does not mean literal sleep. Sleeping is just a way to describe death because a dead body appears to be asleep. The moment we die, we face the judgment of God (Hebrews 9:27). For believers, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). For unbelievers, death means everlasting punishment in hell (Luke 16:22-23).

Until the final resurrection, though, there is a temporary heaven—paradise (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4) and a temporary hell—Hades (Revelation 1:18; 20:13-14). As can be clearly seen in Luke 16:19-31, neither in paradise nor in Hades are people sleeping. It could be said, though, that a person’s body is “sleeping” while his soul is in paradise or Hades. At the resurrection, this body is “awakened” and transformed into the everlasting body a person will possess for eternity, whether in heaven or hell. Those who were in paradise will be sent to the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21:1). Those who were in Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). These are the final, eternal destinations of all people—based entirely on whether or not a person trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation. Present-day defenders of soul sleep include the Seventh Day Adventist churchJehovah’s WitnessesChristadelphians, and others. GotQuestions.org

1 Corinthians 15:19  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • this Ps 17:14 Ec 6:11 9:9 Lu 8:14 21:34 1Co 6:3,4 2Ti 2:4 
  • hoped Eph 1:12-13 1Th 1:3 2Ti 1:12 1Pe 1:21 
  • of all 1Co 4:9-13 Mt 10:21-25 24:9 Joh 16:2,33 Ac 14:22 2Ti 3:12 Rev 14:13
  •  1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

WITHOUT HOPE BELIEVERS 
ARE LES MISERABLES

Les Miserables means "the wretched." 

Paul's sixth conclusion (consequence) if Christ's resurrection were not true.

If (first class condition assumed true for sake of argument) we have hoped in Christ (Christos) in this life (zoe) only, we are of all men (present tense - continually) most to be pitied (and miserable) - The first words in the Greek sentence for emphasis are "in this life." Hoped is perfect tense, hope beginning in past (when we believed) and continuing on in the present. The qualifier is the time phrase in this life only, referring to our temporal (and quickly passing) existence on earth. Paul is showing the consequences of failure to believe in the resurrection results in a short term hope (for there is no afterlife), not an long range hope. And if that is the case the conclusion is that are to be greatly pitied.  In striking contrast, hope is used in the NT hope with special focus on the return of Christ as our Blessed Hope (Titus 2:13+), a living hope (1 Pe 1:3+) with the promise that "when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is" (1 Jn 3:2).

A T Robertson on hoped in this life only - If our hope is limited to this life, we have denied ourselves what people call pleasures and have no happiness beyond. The Epicureans have the argument on us. Paul makes morality turn on the hope of immortality. Is he not right?

Vine adds that hoped in this life only "stresses the character of the persons and not the act of hoping; that is to say, if we are men that have had our hope in Christ in this life, and nothing more, the hope has no realization and is confined to this brief life." (Collected Writings)

Note that Paul does not just say pitied but most to be pitied using the comparative form as a superlative which describes the attribute of a person that is the highest in degree compared to other people. In essence Paul is saying if the resurrection is not true, we are far more to be pitied that even non-believers! "Without the resurrection Christianity would be pointless, and anyone who believes in it should be pitied. Without the resurrection, there would be no gospel, no salvation message to believe, no forgiveness of sins, and no hope of a meaningful life (either now or after death)." (Lewis)

MacArthur - To have hoped in Christ in this life only would be to teach, preach, suffer, sacrifice, and work entirely for nothing. If Christ is still dead, then He not only cannot help us in regard to the life to come but He cannot help us now If He cannot grant us eternal life, He cannot improve our earthly life. If He is not alive, where would be our source of peace, joy, or satisfaction now. The Christian life would be a mockery, a charade, a tragic joke. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Arnold - If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we an to be pitied more than all men. —A Christian is a person who has committed everything to the resurrected Christ. For Christ, he suffers; because of Christ, he denies himself; to Christ, he has given himself for service. Yet, if Christ be not risen, then He is not Savior or Lord. No one, therefore, is to be pitied more than a Christian because he or she has served, sacrificed and suffered for a Christ who does not exist. Christians would be the most duped and gullible people on the face of the earth. They have believed things that are not true and lived a life for no real purpose. Besides all that, the Christian has lost all that so-called worldly fun that he might have had in his lifetime if Christ be not raised. Christians are to be pitied if Christ is not raised, for, thinking they had the truth, they have been deceived. They must, therefore, return to a life of pessimism, despair and darkness. Without the resurrection, Christianity crumbles, and the Christian is left in utter despair. What do we give up if we deny the resurrection? We give up life with meaning, purpose, hope and excitement. The resurrection does make a difference!....I read recently about an elderly church-goer who heard a modern skeptic talk about the resurrection on a radio program. She concluded that everything she had believed about orthodox Christianity was unreliable, untrue or a hoax. She, in despair, committed suicide. (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

Hoped (1679elpizo from noun elpis = absolute assurance of future good) means to look forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial. To express desire for some good with the expectation of obtaining it.  

Pitied (1652)(eleeinos from eleos = mercy) means miserable, pitiful, pitiable, wretched, pertaining to one who is deserving of sympathy because of their pathetic condition. Only in 1 Cor 15:19, Rev 3:17+ (CHURCH AT LAODICEA) = "‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,". Septuagint - Dan. 9:23; Dan. 10:11; Dan. 10:19

Arnold summarizes this section - There is a positive as well as a negative logic to the resurrection of Christ. Since Christ is raised, then our preaching is not useless and empty, the Apostles are true witnesses who can be trusted, our sins have been atoned for and we are forgiven, death has not triumphed over our loved ones and we will see them again, and life has become meaningful and full of purpose. Furthermore, since the resurrection is true, then the Christian is the most envied person on the face of the earth, for when he or she dies there will be certainty that the soul and spirit go immediately to be with Christ and will return to unite with the resurrected body at the second coming of Christ Then the resurrected and glorified body will be with Christ for all eternity. This concept of resurrection can only bring hope, encouragement and anticipation of this blessed event, and the Christian can say, "O death, where is your victory? 0 death, where is your sting?”  Tertullian and later John Wesley made an observation about Christians. They said, “Our people die well.”If you do not believe in Christ, I need to warn you that you too shall be resurrected someday, but it will be a resurrection unto judgment and damnation. (Read Jn 5:28-29) (What If Christ Is Not Risen?)

1 Corinthians 15:20  But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • now 1Co 15:4-8 
  • the firstfruits Lev. 23:10-14+, 1Co 15:23 Ac 26:23 Ro 8:11 Col 1:18 1Pe 1:3 Rev 1:5 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages

Romans 8:11+  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 

Colossians 1:18+  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning (arche - related to word for firstfruits - ), the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

1 Peter 1:3+  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope (ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE OF FUTURE GOOD OF FUTURE RESURRECTION) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

James 1:18+  In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. 

Revelation 1:5+ and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood–

ff
Feast of First Fruits

RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
REPRESENTATIVE OF FIRST FRUITS

In 1 Cor 15:20-28 Paul begins to describe the theological arguments that support the doctrine of the resurrection. "Many people who reject the doctrine of the resurrection do not realize that this impacts other areas of their system of theology." (Lewis)

But now (in fact) - Praise God for this "but now" after all the "if" ("what if") clauses. Now is not so much temporal here as it is logical and a return to reality. Paul goes for the money so to speak in this section. He has been looking at the resurrection from the perspective of what would life be like if there were no resurrection. Now Paul looks at the positive truths that are associated with the resurrection.

But now - a few other famous "but now's" - Romans 3:21, Romans 6:22, Romans 7:6, Romans 11:30, 1 Cor 13:13, Gal 3:25, Eph 2:13, Eph 5:8, Col 3:8, 2 Ti 1:10+

Vine says but now "introduces a change from argument against a preposterous idea to triumphant vindication of facts." (Collected Writings)

Robertson on but now - It is the logical triumph of Paul after the reductio ad impossibile ("proof by contradiction") (Findlay) of the preceding argument.

In logic and mathematicsproof by contradiction is a form of proof that establishes the truth or the validity of a proposition, by showing that assuming the proposition to be false leads to a contradiction. Proof by contradiction is also known as indirect proofproof by assuming the opposite, and reductio ad impossibile. (Wikipedia)

Christ (Christos) has been raised (egeiro - see note on perfect tensefrom the dead - Has been raised is perfect tense indicating up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph over His foes! And He remains triumphant, for He is alive! And He is returning! Christ's resurrection is like earnest money you put down to buy a house assuring that you will later be able to purchase it. Christ's resurrection assures that all who are united to Christ by grace through faith will one day also experience their resurrection from the dead. 

THOUGHT - What day does this describe? Our modern name is Easter, but I much prefer the true Biblical name, First Fruits. Next "Easter" wish your family and friend a "Happy Feast of First Fruits." You might be able to engage is some edifying conversation instead of talking about dyed eggs and chocolate bunnies!  As Utley says "The first fruits in the OT were ripened sheaves of the barley harvest waved before the Lord in the Temple the day after the High Holy Sabbath of Passover Week, which would be Resurrection Sunday. They were given to show God’s ownership of the entire crop. This is an OT type for the promise of the resurrection of ALL Christ followers!"

Related Resource:

The first fruits (singular not plural -- as the "prototype") of those who are asleep (koimao) - NLT = "the first of the great harvest." In ancient Israel, the first fruits referred to the first installment of the crop which foreshadowed and in effect pledged the ultimate offering of the whole harvest to Yahweh. Those who are asleep in this context is synonymous with all who are believers in Jesus Christ. As noted above asleep in a Christian context means death, but it presents such a beautiful picture for the Christian. Death for a Christian is a holy triumph (2 Cor 5:8+), whereas death for an unbeliever is a holy terror (Heb 9:27-28+)

Ray Pritchard - The term “first fruits” means the first in a long series. If there are “firstfruits,” there must be “second fruits” and “third fruits” and so on. His resurrection is the “down payment” that guarantees that all who follow him by faith will one day be raised as well. I love the words of the Puritan author Thomas Watson: “We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds. Oh! how precious is the dust of a believer!” (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Acorns to Oak Trees: How are Dead Raised?)

First fruits (536)(aparche - discusses first fruits in Old and New Testament from apó = away from + árchomai = to begin) (see also the discussion First Fruits, Christ - As OT Prophecy of His Resurrection) is first of all an OT technical term used to describe the first portion of a grain harvest or fruit harvest or the first portion of an animal offering, as from one's herd. The first fruits represented the first portion of an offering (grain or animal) or the firstborn male (Ex 13:12-15+, Nu 18:15, 16+), all of which were to be set aside (considered holy) and considered as belonging specifically to the Lord. The first portion of the harvest was regarded both as a first installment and as a pledge of the final delivery of the whole and were offered to God in thanksgiving for His goodness in providing them. G M Burge explains that "The Greek term aparche had a wide currency stretching from the fifth century b.c. through the patristic period. It referred to the first produce or profits that might be given as a gift of thanksgiving. The recipient might be a person or, as in most cases, the Temple. Its use evolved so that any offering—even Temple taxes on the people—could be called aparche. (Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.InterVarsity Press) The word was used in various ways: a birth certificate, a certificate of authorization, a yearly offering for a god, or inheritance tax. First fruits (see dictionary discussions) is related to the Jewish term that refers to that which is set apart to God before remainder could be used. Under the Mosaic Law Israel was to bring the first fruits of the grain to the LORD and in this act they were acknowledging that all produce was God's. The first fruits of a harvest of grain was an indication of a greater harvest to come. Aparche 8v - Rom. 8:23; Rom. 11:16; Rom. 16:5 (first fruits = believers); 1 Co. 15:20; 1 Co. 15:23; 1 Co. 16:15; Jas. 1:18 ; Rev. 14:4

Related Resources:


Matthew Henry summarizes 1 Cor 15:20-34 - All that are by faith united to Christ, are by his resurrection assured of their own. As through the sin of the first Adam, all men became mortal, because all had from him the same sinful nature, so, through the resurrection of Christ, shall all who are made to partake of the Spirit, and the spiritual nature, revive, and live for ever. There will be an order in the resurrection. Christ himself has been the first-fruits; at his coming, his redeemed people will be raised before others; at the last the wicked will rise also. Then will be the end of this present state of things. Would we triumph in that solemn and important season, we must now submit to his rule, accept his salvation, and live to his glory. Then shall we rejoice in the completion of his undertaking, that God may receive the whole glory of our salvation, that we may for ever serve him, and enjoy his favour. What shall those do, who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Perhaps baptism is used here in a figure, for afflictions, sufferings, and martyrdom, as Matthew 20:22,23. What is, or will become of those who have suffered many and great injuries, and have even lost their lives, for this doctrine of the resurrection, if the dead rise not at all? Whatever the meaning may be, doubtless the apostle's argument was understood by the Corinthians. And it is as plain to us that Christianity would be a foolish profession, if it proposed advantage to themselves by their faithfulness to God; and to have our fruit to holiness, that our end may be everlasting life. But we must not live like beasts, as we do not die like them. It must be ignorance of God that leads any to disbelieve the resurrection and future life. Those who own a God and a providence, and observe how unequal things are in the present life, how frequently the best men fare worst, cannot doubt as to an after-state, where every thing will be set to rights. Let us not be joined with ungodly men; but warn all around us, especially children and young persons, to shun them as a pestilence. Let us awake to righteousness, and not sin. 

1 Corinthians 15:21  For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • by man came death 1Co 15:22 Ro 5:12-17 
  • by man came also Ro 6:23
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Romans 5:12-21+ Therefore, just as through one man (ADAM) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to ALL MEN (THE "SIN VIRUS" WAS PASSED ON), because all sinned (COMMITTING SINS PROVES WE WERE INFECTED WITH ADAM'S SIN VIRUS!) – 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him (ADAM A TYPE OF CHRIST - SEE TYPOLOGY) Who was to come.  15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one (ADAM), death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men (SEE Ro 4:25+). 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience (ADAM) the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One (CHRIST) the many will be made (DECLARED) righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 11:25  Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.

A TALE OF TWO MEN

For (gar) term of explanation. Paul elaborates on all who have fallen asleep and the story does not end there. He begin with the tale of two men. 

Since by a man (Adamcame death (thanatos) - There are actually no verbs in this sentence which makes the facts of death and resurrection that much more striking. Death was the judicial consequence of sin. This is a man named Adam for " just as through one man (ADAM) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Ro 5:12+)

Death (2288)(thanatos) is a permanent cessation of all vital functions and thus is the end of life on earth (as we know it). The separation of the soul from the body and the end of earthly life. Spiritual death is separation from the life of God forever by dying without being born again. The first use in the Septuagint is in a well known promise from God "you shall surely die (Lxx = thanatos apothnesko).” (Ge 2:17) followed by the second use in the deceptive lie by Satan “You surely shall not die (thanatos apothnesko)!" (Ge 3:4) Death is natural to humanity as part of the created world. Death is a result of Adam’s sin (Ro 5:12). Death is universal - no one can escape it. Thanatos in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 3:22; 1 Co. 11:26; 1 Co. 15:21; 1 Co. 15:26; 1 Co. 15:54; 1 Co. 15:55; 1 Co. 15:56; 2 Co. 1:9; 2 Co. 1:10; 2 Co. 2:16; 2 Co. 3:7; 2 Co. 4:11; 2 Co. 4:12; 2 Co. 7:10; 2 Co. 11:23; 

By a (God-Man, Last Adam) Man also came the resurrection (anastasis) of the dead - Adam's life brought death to all men. Christ's death brought life (potentially available) to all men as guaranteed by the resurrection of the dead. In context, this resurrection refers to the first resurrection in which only believers will participate. 

Related Resources:

1 Corinthians 15:22  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passage:

2 Corinthians 5:17+  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Acts 24:15+ having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Jn 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, (THERE GOOD DEEDS DID NOT SAVE THEM BUT DEMONSTRATED THEY WERE TRULY SAVED) those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. 

TWO MEN
TWO DESTINIES

For (gar) term of explanation. Paul elaborates on the significance of the resurrection of the dead.

As in Adam all (present tense - continually one after another) die (apothnesko) - The NLT paraphrase is in essence a commentary declaring "Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam." This is "shorthand" for Ro 5:12+. All means all without exception, except of course the last Adam, Christ Who was without sin so that He might die FOR our sins! (1 Pe 2:24-25+)

Utley - In Adam all humanity has been affected by sin (death). (ED: cf Ro 6:23+) In Christ, potentially all humanity can be affected by grace.

So also in Christ (Christos) all will be made alive - NLT = "everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life."  In Christ (locative of sphere) is a short but profound phrase describing all who are in the New Covenant with Christ, one with Him, in union with Him, identified forever with Him. The phrase will be made alive is the result of the truth that all believers in Christ will be resurrected bodily and live forever with Christ. Note the future tense and when we remember "hope" is absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future, we know that we can count on our being made alive in Christ. The passive voice indicates this "re-vivification" so to speak is the result of external, supernatural power (aka divine passive). 

THOUGHT - Notice how a non-Berean (Acts 17:11+) reading of the second half of this passage can lead to a horrible heresy. Can you see how it might be misinterpreted? Note the phrase all will be made alive. If you just had that passage what conclusion might you draw regarding salvation of all mankind? As is almost always the case context saves us from a gross error. What is the truth of the context? Paul states that the "ALL" who will be made alive (or saved) are restricted to those who are in Christ, in the "Ark" so speak. When the "flood" of divine righteous wrath is poured out ALL those outside the "Ark" of Christ will perish eternally. (See Universalism)

Die (599apothnesko from apo = marker of dissociation implying a rupture from a former association, separation, departure, cessation + thnesko = die) literally means to die off (that is, to die and thus be away from this earthly realm). Apothnesko is a permanent cessation of all vital functions resulting in the end of life, with a separation of one's soul from their physical body  Apothnesko speaks of literal physical death (Ro 6:9+)  It is notable that as life was never meant to be merely existence, death which is the antonym of life does not mean non–existence. The important point is that to die does not mean one is annihilated as some would falsely teach. Everyone who has every been born will continue to exist, either in the presence of God or to experience conscious existence in separation from God (see 2Th 1:9+). Apothnesko in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 8:11; 1 Co. 9:15; 1 Co. 15:3; 1 Co. 15:22; 1 Co. 15:31; 1 Co. 15:32; 1 Co. 15:36; 2 Co. 5:14; 2 Co. 5:15; 2 Co. 6:9; 

Be made alive (2227zoopoieo rom zoos = alive + poieo = to make) means to revitalize, make alive, give life, quicken, vivify, reanimate, restore to life. Most of the NT uses refer to God's ability to give life to men, either by resurrecting them from physical death or by regenerating them from spiritual death. In 1Co 15:36 Paul uses zoopoieo figuratively to picture the sprouting of a seed in his defense of the doctrine of the resurrection. Zoopoieo - 10v - Jn. 5:21; Jn. 6:63; Rom. 4:17; Rom. 8:11; 1 Co. 15:22; 1 Co. 15:36; 1 Co. 15:45; 2 Co. 3:6; Gal. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:18

Related Resource:

1 Corinthians 15:23  But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • each 1Co 15:20 Isa 26:19 1Th 4:15-17 
  • those who 1Co 3:23 2Co 10:7 Ga 3:29, 5:24 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. 

Galatians 3:29+ And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 5:24+ Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

1 Cor 6:19-20+ Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
LEADS THE WAY FOR ALL BELIEVERS

But - Term of contrast. MIT (The Idiomatic Translation of the New Testament by W G MacDonald) sees it more as an explanatory paraphrasing it "It works this way."

Each (hekastos = each and every one) in his own order: Christ (Christos) the first fruits (aparche first of the harvest), after that those who are (belong to) Christ's at His coming - Paul gives the general sequence of the resurrection of believers, with Christ first and then each in his own order. As discussed in more detail believers will take part in one of the stages of what is referred to as the "First Resurrection." Only unbelievers participate in the "Second Resurrection" which will follow the Millennium (assuming you believe in the Millennium).

The Greek word for order is tagma found only here and meaning that which has been arranged in order. It was a military technical term denoting a body of troops (of varying numbers) which could be disposed according to the decision of the commanding officer. In this context tagma clearly refers to  the order in which  the events take place. Vine adds that "the word tagma, “order,” was generally used as a military term, of troops in order of rank. Here there are two orders, Christ, who has the preeminence in resurrection, and has already become the Precursor of those who belong to the second order, namely, those who are His and who are destined, in virtue of His resurrection (ED: SEE EXCURSUS BELOW), to experience the same power when He comes to bring them into His own Presence and into the place prepared for them.

Coming (3952parousia is a combination of two Greek words para = with, alongside + ousia = being (ousia is the participial form of the verb eimi = to be) which together literally mean to be alongside.  Most lexicons state that parousia is from pareimi (para = near, with + eimi = to be) which means to be present, to be nearby, to have come. Parousia then literally means a being beside or a presence. The word denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with. Parousia conveys the thought of an arrival (advent or coming) of a person to a place plus the idea of their presence at that place until a certain event transpires. Parousia means more than just coming but also includes the idea of “presence.” The word parousia has no English equivalent and therefore is often transliterated in writings. In secular Greek parousia was used as a technical expression for the arrival of a king or emperor or for the appearance of a "god."  See related study on Imminency, Imminent - Christ's Second Coming

EXCURSUS ON ORDER OF RESURRECTIONS
FIRST AND SECOND RESURRECTIONS

There are several  resurrection “events” which have transpired in history, each of which falls into one of two categorie. All but the last resurrection event make up the FIRST RESURRECTION. The point is that you want to participate in the FIRST RESURRECTION! The SECOND RESURRECTION is at the Great While Throne where all will be thrown into the Lake of Fire  

Related Resources

Order Which Timing Who Description Scriptures
1
First
The Third Day
Jesus Christ
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Mt. 28:1-7; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18; 1 Cor. 15:20
2
First
Shortly after Christ’s Resurrection.
A Few OT Saints
At the earthquake attending the crucifixion, graves were opened. Shortly after the resurrection of Christ, these saints were raised Mt. 27:50-53
3
First
Before the Tribulation.
Church
The resurrection of Church-age believers at the Rapture. Jn 14:3; 1Th. 4:13-18; 1Cor. 15:50-53
4
First
Middle of the Tribulation
Two Witnesses
God’s two witnesses will be raised after being killed by The Beast. Rev. 11:11-12
5
First
After Jacob’s Trouble or 
Great Tribulation
OT Saints
Old Testament saints will be resurrected to enter the Millennial Kingdom Da 12:1-2  Isa 26:19; 
Ezek 37:13-14
6
First
Beginning of Millennial Kingdom.
Tribulation Martyrs
The Tribulation martyrs will be resurrected so that they can rule and reign with Christ. Rev. 20:4-6
7
Second
End of Millennial Kingdom
Unbelieving Dead
At the end of the millennial reign of Christ, the final resurrection will consist of all of the unbelieving, wicked dead. They will be found guilty at the Great White Throne Judgment and cast into the Lake of Fire. Rev. 20:11-15

The First Resurrection
and the Second Resurrection

In order to better understand the Biblical nomenclature regarding the resurrection associated with the Rapture, it is important to give a brief summary of the two main categories of Biblical resurrections. In the interest of full disclosure, the chart below is predicated on a pre-tribulation rapture which of course not everyone agrees with.

In the gospel of John, Jesus taught there were two general categories of resurrection, one of believers and one of unbelievers…

Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds (good deeds do not save but are evidence of genuine saving faith in Christ - faith is the "root" and "good deeds" are the "root") to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)

Comment: From the following schematic timeline you will notice that the resurrection of unbelievers follows the last identifiable resurrection of believers by 1000 years, assuming one interprets the 1000 years of Revelation 20 literally.

In 1 Corinthians 15, the "Resurrection Chapter", Paul gives us the prototype for all subsequent resurrections of believers, explaining that…

now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

Comment: In Leviticus 23:10-14+, the first fruits of grain harvested were offered by the priests to Jehovah as a sign and a promise of a greater harvest to come. In the same way, Christ's resurrection as the "first fruits" assures that all those who have placed their faith in Him will be part of the first resurrection, which is the greater harvest of all believers, both OT and NT. The exception is those believers who are alive when Christ returns to Rapture the Church will not experience physical death and will not require bodily resurrection.

In Revelation 20, John uses the term first resurrection writing…

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. (Rev 20:6+)

Study the schematic timeline below and note that there are two general categories of resurrections. Then read the explanatory notes that follow.

THE TWO RESURRECTIONS

   

(3) FIRST Resurrection
The Two Witnesses
Raised at Mid-Tribulation
||
V

Saints from FIRST Resurrection
Experience the Millennium

(1) 
FIRST
Resurrection
Christ the First Fruits
On 3rd Day

(2)
FIRST
Resurrection
Believers at Rapture
Pre-tribulation

(4)
FIRST
Resurrection
a) Believers
Martyred in Tribulation
b) OT Saints
Preceding 1000 yr

(5)
SECOND
Resurrection
Non Believers
End of 1000 yr

THE
CROSS
GAP
2000+ Years
7 Years 1000 Years
  Church Age Tribulation* Millennium

*Note: The word "Tribulation" is never specifically used in Scripture to designate the last 7 years, Daniel's 70th week, but will be used in these notes because the term is so firmly entrenched in Christian jargon. Last 3.5 years is designated the Great Tribulation.

EXPLANATORY NOTES: The First Resurrection concerns only believers and is composed of several distinct "stages" at different times. Note that all believers (not just saints martyred during the Great Tribulation) will reign with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom. The Second Resurrection deals only with unbelievers and occurs in a single "stage" or as a one time event. Both the First and Second Resurrections refer to physical or bodily resurrection, not spiritual resurrection.

(1) The prototype resurrection forming the basis of the First Resurrection - Christ the first fruits of all subsequent resurrections of believers (1Co 15:20)

(2) The Second "stage" of the First Resurrection - Believers who have died during the Church Age will be resurrected at the time the Lord returns to Rapture His Bride, the Church. (1 Th 4:13-18+ 1Co 15:50-53, cp Jn 14:3)

(3) The Third "stage" of the First Resurrection - The two witnesses who are killed in Revelation 11 are raised and then went up to heaven (Rev 11:11, 12+)

(4a) The Fourth "stage" of the First Resurrection - After the Great Tribulation, believers who have been martyred will be resurrected to immortality (See notes regarding those who come out of Great Tribulation, some of which are undoubtedly martyred - Re 7:9,14+; ; see notes regarding saints martyred during the Great Tribulation - Rev 20:4-6+)

(4b) The Fourth "stage" of the First Resurrection - After the time of Jacob's Distress or Trouble (= the Great Tribulation), the Old Testament saints will also be resurrected (see OT descriptions of resurrection - Daniel 12:1, 2, 13+, Isaiah 26:19, Job 19:26)

What Biblical basis is there for placing the resurrection of OT saints at the end of the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob's distress? Jeremiah gives us a clue writing…

'Alas! for that day (not a literal day but a 3.5 year period that corresponds to the Great Tribulation) is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob's distress (at which time there is a horrible time of persecution of Jews by the Satanically inspired Antichrist, a "Jewish holocaust" the likes of which the world has never seen, but one that will be cut short by the return of the Messiah), But he (Israel, the believing remnant) will be saved from it. And it shall come about on that day (what day? the day of the Lord's return - see description beginning in Re 19:11+),' declares the LORD of hosts, 'that I will break his yoke from off their neck, and will tear off their bonds; and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves. (To reiterate, this day corresponds to the return of the Lord, who defeats the Antichrist and all Gentile powers arrayed against God, His saints and Israel) But they (this refers to those Jews who come to saving faith in the time of Jacob's distress - see Ro 11:25, 26, 27+) shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. (Jeremiah 30:7-9+)

Comment: Note that these passages {also Ezekiel 37:24+} indicate that David himself will be resurrected and will actually reign over the earthly Israel during the millennial age. David's resurrection follows the defeat of the Gentiles at the end of the Great Tribulation which supports the premise that this period is the time when OT saints are resurrected.

(5) The Second Resurrection - After the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom all of the unbelieving dead will be resurrected to stand before the Great White Throne judgment and since their names are not found written in the book of life, they will be cast into the Lake of fire, which constitutes the Second Death, eternal separation away from the glory of God. (Rev 20:11-15+)

1 Corinthians 15:24  then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • comes Da 12:4,9,13 Mt 10:22 13:39,40 Mt 24:13 1Pe 4:7 
  • the kingdom Isa 9:7 Da 7:14,27 Mt 11:27 28:18 Lu 10:22  Joh 3:35 13:3 1Ti 6:15 Eph 6
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Isaiah 9:7+ There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.

Daniel 7:14+ “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:27+ ‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints (DANIEL IS WRITING TO JEWS) of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’ 

Ephesians 1:20-21+ which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule (arche) and authority (exousia) and power (dunamis) and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 3:10+ so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers (arche) and the authorities (exousia) in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:11+ Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (arche), against the powers (exousia), against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

Revelation 20:11-15+ Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

THE KINGDOM OF MESSIAH
BECOMES THE KINGDOM OF GOD

This is an amazing prophetic passage teaching a truth about the future Kingdom that is taught no where else in the Bible. So hang in there as I try to break it down phrase by phrase. 

Then - then; is a very important time phrase to observe especially when studying prophecy as it often delineates a chronological sequence of events - don't overlook the  then's in prophecy! The NLT paraphrases then "after that." (Cf then in  Mark 4:17, 28+).

Comes the end (consummation) - This time phrase the end begs the question, when is the end? The context helps but does not completely answer the question. See the comment on the next clause. Vine says that end (telos "is here used of the last event in a succession or series. The series is mentioned in verses 25 to 28.

End (custom, outcome) (5056)(telos means an end, a completion, a consummation. The word termination is close but misses the essence of the meaning, because a process can be terminated without reaching completion or consummation, which is the essence of the meaning of telos. The idea of telos is that the various stages that are reached to go on to full development (eternal significance). Telos refers to a goal achieved, a result attained, a realization, an end-goal, a purpose fulfilled. The root tel- means reaching the end (aim) and is illustrated by an old pirate's telescope (pictures) which unfolds or extends one stage at a time to reach full-capacity (effectiveness). Telos in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 1:8; 1 Co. 10:11; 1 Co. 15:24; 2 Co. 1:13; 2 Co. 3:13; 2 Co. 11:15

When He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father - Another time phrase "WHEN" and this time is specifically stated as when Jesus hands over the kingdom to the God and Father. The question arises "What kingdom?" You answer depends on whether you interpret Revelation 20 literally or figuratively. I am a literalist and interpret John's 6 uses of "1000" as literal years and thus interpret this as the Millennial Kingdom or the Messianic Kingdom over which Messiah reigns. At the end of the 1000 years, the devil is unleashed for a short time, rebels one last time, is destroyed and cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:7-10+). Then (reading it literally and chronologically) there is an unusual passage Rev 20:11+ which says "Then (don't miss this then!) I saw a Great While Throne  and Him  (JESUS - cf Jn 5:22-23, 2 Ti 4:1+) who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them." They fled away and there is no place for them because this is the time when heaven and earth have been destroyed, Peter explaining that "the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10-13+). At that time the "Second Resurrection" of all unbelievers will occur as they stand before their Judge Jesus (Rev 20:12+) and they are judged according to their works and cast into the Lake of Fire and eternal punishment (Rev 20:11-15+). Notice that John follows with Rev 21:1+ which begins with "then" (then) and which fits perfectly with the chronological sequence after the first heaven and earth had been destroyed, for John records "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." Sin has been destroyed totally with the destruction by fire of the old heavens and earth and the sinners have been judged and depart from the New Heaven and New Earth. 

Hands over (delivers) (3860paradidomi from para = alongside, beside, to the side of, over to + didomi = to give) conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone, especially to give over to the power of another, in this context from God the Son to God the Father, which shows the hierarchy in the Trinity. Paradidomi in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 5:5; 1 Co. 11:2; 1 Co. 11:23; 1 Co. 13:3; 1 Co. 15:3; 1 Co. 15:24; 2 Co. 4:11; The use of paradidomi in 1 Corinthians 15:3 refers to the transmitting of or passing on of traditional instruction from Paul to the saints at Corinth. 

Kingdom (932basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia can also refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules. Basileia in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 4:20; 1 Co. 6:9; 1 Co. 6:10; 1 Co. 15:24; 1 Co. 15:50; 

When He has abolished (katargeo brought to an end, after He has destroyed) all rule (every ruler) and all authority and power - Abolished means brought to an end, destroyed and the aorist tense speaks of a completed action in the past. In other words Paul is so certain (and under the inspiration of the Spirit) that this future will occur that he uses the past tense! It is as good as done! Note the repetition of ALL meaning all without exception! Rule...authority...power is not specific but often refers to the evil forces (and evil people) arrayed against God. Their evil effect will be brought to an end forever and ever. Amen. The events in Revelation 20 describe the final destruction of the Evil One (Satan) (Rev 20:7-10+) and his evil subjects (Rev 20:12-15+). At that time all adversaries have been abolished and the Son hands over the Kingdom to the God and Father and we enter into eternity future in the New Heavens and New Earth. 

Rule (rulers) (746)(arche) primarily conveys the sense of primacy (state of being first and/or foremost) and thus in the context of time can refer to the beginning of something, but here it is in the context of rank, so the idea is "primacy" of rank. In this setting arche speaks of a position of power or an entity who possesses that power. And so in the present context arche speaks of angelic or transcendent powers, since they were thought of as having a political organization (See Eph 1:20-21+, Eph 3:10+, Eph 6:11+, Ro 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12;  Col 1:16; 2:10, 15) 

Authority (1849exousia from éxesti = it is permitted, it is lawful) means the power to do something and was a technical term used in the law courts, of a legal right. "Authority or right is the dominant meaning (of exousia) in the New Testament." (Vincent) Exousía refers to delegated authority and combines the idea of the "right and the might", these attributes having been granted to someone. Exousia is an important term in the Gospels. Many conflicts in Jesus' life and ministry turn on debates about authority or the idea that Jesus taught with an unparalleled authority (Mt 7:29; 8:9; 9:6, 8; 21:23-27; 28:18; Mk 1:22, 27; 2:10; 3:15; 11:28-33; Lk 4:32, 36; 5:24; 7:8; 20:2-8). Uses of exousia in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 1:18; 1 Co. 1:24; 1 Co. 2:4; 1 Co. 2:5; 1 Co. 4:19; 1 Co. 4:20; 1 Co. 5:4; 1 Co. 6:14; 1 Co. 12:10; 1 Co. 12:28; 1 Co. 12:29; 1 Co. 14:11; 1 Co. 15:24; 1 Co. 15:43; 1 Co. 15:56; 2 Co. 1:8; 2 Co. 4:7; 2 Co. 6:7; 2 Co. 8:3; 2 Co. 12:9; 2 Co. 12:12; 2 Co. 13:4

Power (supernatural) (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. Uses of dunamis in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 1:18; 1 Co. 1:24; 1 Co. 2:4; 1 Co. 2:5; 1 Co. 4:19; 1 Co. 4:20; 1 Co. 5:4; 1 Co. 6:14; 1 Co. 12:10; 1 Co. 12:28; 1 Co. 12:29; 1 Co. 14:11; 1 Co. 15:24; 1 Co. 15:43; 1 Co. 15:56; 2 Co. 1:8; 2 Co. 4:7; 2 Co. 6:7; 2 Co. 8:3; 2 Co. 12:9; 2 Co. 12:12; 2 Co. 13:4; 

1 Corinthians 15:25  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • Ps 2:6-10 45:3-6 Ps 110:1 Mt 22:44 Mk 12:36 Lu 20:42,43 Ac 2:34 Eph 1:22 Heb 1:13 10:12,13 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Psalms 2:6-12  “But as for Me, I (GOD THE FATHER) have installed My King (MESSIAH) Upon Zion, My holy mountain (TO BE FULFILLED IN MILLENIUM).”  7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You (MESSIAH) are My Son, Today I have begotten You.  8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.  9‘ You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”  10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. 11 Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling.  12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (See Psalm 2 - Why do the Nations Rage? Excellent)

Hebrews 1:13+ But to which of the angels has He ever said, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET”?  (QUOTING Ps 110:1)

For (gar) term of explanation Paul explains the transfer of the kingdom from the Son to the Father.

He (present tense - continually) must (present tense - continually) reign until He has put (subjugates, vanquishes, overpowers, subdues) all (no exceptions) His enemies under His feet - Note this is not a "maybe" but an absolute "must." He refers to Jesus ruling and reigning over His Messianic Kingdom for 1000 years. Why must He reign? It fulfills Messianic prophecy in Psalm 110:1 which says " The LORD (FATHTER) says to my Lord (MESSIAH): “Sit at My right hand Until I make Your (MESSIAH) enemies a footstool for Your feet.” Another reason Jesus must rule is because His Kingdom fulfills the promises to the nation of Israel. In short Jesus MUST REIGN in order that all the prophecies regarding the nation of Israel are perfectly fulfilled. Under is the preposition hupo which in this context speaks of Christ in a controlling position with His enemies submitted to Him. Often in warfare when a king conquered his enemy, he would place his foot on his neck symbolizing total and complete defeat of his enemy (pix). 

Must (1163) (dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei refers to inward constraint which is why it is often translated "must". Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place, and as stated above, conveys a sense of inevitability. To express the sense of necessity dei is translated "one ought", "one should", "one has to" or "one must". The TDNT comments that dei "expresses the character of necessity or compulsion in an event.  Dei in  1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 8:2; 1 Co. 11:19; 1 Co. 15:25; 1 Co. 15:53; 2 Co. 2:3; 2 Co. 5:10; 2 Co. 11:30; 2 Co. 12:1

Reign (become king) (936basileuo from basileus - a king) means literally to exercise supreme authority at a royal level, to reign over, to be king over (Rev 11:15, 17-+ of Jesus' reign in the Millennial Kingdom). Only other use in Corinthians in 1 Cor 4:8. 

Enemies (hostile parties) (2190echthros from échthos = hatred, enmity; noun = echthra = enmity, hostility) is an adjective which pertains to manifesting hostility or being at enmity with another, where enmity is a deep seated animosity or hatred which may be open or concealed or a "deep-rooted hatred." In the active sense echthros means to be hateful, hostile toward, at enmity with or adversary of someone. In the passive sense echthros pertains to being subjected to hostility, to be hated or to be regarded as an enemy. Echthros - 32v - Matt. 5:43; Matt. 5:44; Matt. 10:36; Matt. 13:25; Matt. 13:28; Matt. 13:39; Matt. 22:44; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 1:71; Lk. 1:74; Lk. 6:27; Lk. 6:35; Lk. 10:19; Lk. 19:27; Lk. 19:43; Lk. 20:43; Acts 2:35; Acts 13:10; Rom. 5:10; Rom. 11:28; Rom. 12:20; 1 Co. 15:25; 1 Co. 15:26; Gal. 4:16; Phil. 3:18; Col. 1:21; 2 Thess. 3:15; Heb. 1:13; Heb. 10:13; Jas. 4:4; Rev. 11:5; Rev. 11:12

1 Corinthians 15:26  The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • 1Co 15:55 Isa 25:8 Ho 13:14 Lu 20:36 2Ti 1:10 Heb 2:14 Rev 20:14 Rev 21:4 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57+O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O  DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Isaiah 25:8  He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. 

Hosea 13:14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight. 

2 Timothy 1:10+  but now (contrast "from all eternity" 2 Ti 1:9) has been revealed (phaneroo) by the (FIRST) appearing ( epiphaneia) of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who abolished (katargeo) death and brought life and immortality (aphtharsia) to light through the Gospel,

Revelation 21:4+  and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 

death
Death, the Grim Reaper

THE LAST ENEMY
DEATH

The last enemy (echthros) that will be abolished is death (thanatos) - This is a prophecy which will finally and fully be fulfilled in the New Heaven and New Earth (see Revelation 21:4+) But for now Death is personified as Christ's enemy and of course "he" is also the enemy of all mankind, for he takes the life of every person born (unless we are raptured).

Last (2078)(eschatos from ek = from, primarily as it relates to place) a noun which means last in time or space/place (most remote) (Acts 1:8+, Acts 13:47+). Eschatos can refer to the lowest status or "last place" (Mt 19:30) Eschatos as in the present passage means “last” in the sense of a final stage in a process.

Abolished (Brought to an end, done away with) (2673katargeo from kata = intensifies meaning + argeo = to be idle or inactive from argos = ineffective, idle, inactive from a = without + érgon = work) literally means to reduce to inactivity. The idea is to make the power or force of something ineffective and so to render powerless, do away with, put out of use, render entirely idle, inoperative, cause to come to an end. Katargeo in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 1:28; 1 Co. 2:6; 1 Co. 6:13; 1 Co. 13:8; 1 Co. 13:10; 1 Co. 13:11; 1 Co. 15:24; 1 Co. 15:26; 2 Co. 3:7; 2 Co. 3:11; 2 Co. 3:13; 2 Co. 3:14

1 Corinthians 15:27  For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • Ps 8:6 Mt 11:27 28:18 Joh 3:35 13:3 Eph 1:20 Php 2:9-11 Heb 1:13 2:8 10:12 1Pe 3:22 Rev 1:18 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Philippians 2:9-11+ For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

Hebrews 1:13+  But to which of the angels has He ever said, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET”? 

neck
Conqueror's Foot on Head of Enemy

ALL HEAVEN AND EARTH
SUBJECTED TO CHRIST

For (gar) term of explanation Paul explains why even the greatest of all enemies, Death, will be demolished by Christ, the Resurrection and the Life.

HE (God the Father) HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER (hupo often depicted by a king putting his foot on the defeated enemy's neck symbolizing total and complete defeat of his enemy) HIS (Christ's) FEET (including DEATH!)- Paul quotes from Psalm 8:6+ which ends with the prophecy "Thou hast put (Heb shith = put, set; Lxx = hupotasso) all things under His feet." Psalm 8:6+ originally spoke of the dominion that was delegated to man in Genesis 1:26, but here Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit extends the meaning and applies it to the universal dominion of Christ, even as he repeats in Eph. 1:22+ declaring "He (GOD THE FATHER) put all things in subjection under His (CHRIST THE SON'S) feet. Psalm 8:6 is also cited in Hebrews 2:5-8+, where it is  applied to Christ. One ancient writer said "Some will experience this subjection by way of torment, while others will experience it by way of a direct knowledge which is not 'through a dim mirror or an enigma,' as is the case now"

But when He says, "All things are put in subjection (perfect tense = permanence)," it is evident that He (GOD THE FATHER) is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him (CHRIST) - All things means all things without exception, except ONE! What is Paul saying? In context while all things in the heavens and earth will be placed under the dominion of the Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, there is one "exception," and that is God the Father. He will not be subjected to the Son, again emphasizing the hierarchy in the Trinity

Subjected (5293hupotasso from hupó = under + tasso = arrange in orderly manner) means literally to place under or rank under in an orderly fashion. Hupotasso was used as a military term arranging soldiers in the "best order, to accomplish the strategic objective; hence, 'to arrange under one's authority,' in order to execute a mission" In the active voice hupotasso means to subject, bring under firm control, subordinate. As an aside Biblical submission can not be inferiority because Jesus submitted to the Father every day of His life on earth (Jn 5:19, 30)! Jesus Christ, the second person of the eternal Trinity, modeled submission in His earthly ministry.  This provides absolute proof that submission does not mean inferiority or loss of dignity!

Evident (1212)(delos) is an adjective which means clearly visible and hence clear, plain, clear to the understanding or mind. Delos pertains to that which can be clearly and easily able to be known. 

1 Corinthians 15:28  When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • all things Ps 2:8,9 18:39,47 21:8,9 Da 2:34,35,40-45 Mt 13:41-43 Php 3:21 Rev 19:11-21 20:2-4,10-15 
  • then 1Co 3:23 11:3  Joh 14:28 
  • all in all 1Co 12:6 Eph 1:23 Col 3:11 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

THE ORDER OF
SUBJECTION

When all things are subjected (hupotasso) to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected (hupotassoto the One who subjected (hupotassoall things to Him - The NLT has a fairly good paraphrase "Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God's authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere." (1Co 15:28NLT)

So that (purpose clause) God may be all in all - I like the NLT rendering = "will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere." 

THOUGHT - Since God is to be all in all, may He grant us the Spirit enabled desire and power to continually, daily choose to bow down and worship Him now and forever and ever as our ALL IN ALL. In His Holy Name. Amen. Take a moment to worship Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who Alone is Worthy to be worshiped as our ALL IN ALL (play song). 

1 Corinthians 15:29  Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

A PUZZLING PASSAGE
BAPTIZED FOR THE DEAD

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? - One thing this clearly does not mean is that a live person can be baptized in place of a dead person resulting in salvation for that dead person! That is absurd but sadly is why is sometimes falsely taught! If personal faith is required for salvation (which it is), then this false belief is utter heresy! 

NET Note - Many suggestions have been offered for the puzzling expression baptized for the dead. There are up to 200 different explanations for the passage; a summary is given by K. C. Thompson, "I Corinthians 15, 29 and Baptism for the Dead," Studia Evangelica 2.1 (TU 87), 647–59. The most likely interpretation is that some Corinthians had undergone baptism to bear witness to the faith of fellow believers who had died without experiencing that rite themselves. Paul's reference to the practice here is neither a recommendation nor a condemnation. He simply uses it as evidence from the lives of the Corinthians themselves to bolster his larger argument, begun in 1 cOR 15:12, that resurrection from the dead is a present reality in Christ and a future reality for them. Whatever they may have proclaimed, the Corinthians' actions demonstrated that they had hope for a bodily resurrection

John MacArthur - A reasonable view seems to be that those who are baptized refers to living believers who give outward testimony to their faith in baptism by water because they were first drawn to Christ by the exemplary lives, faithful influence, and witness of believers who had subsequently died. Paul’s point is that if there is no resurrection and no life after death, then why are people coming to Christ to follow the hope of those who have died? (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

As Gotquestions.org says "Baptism for the dead is a practice that was common in the pagan religions of Greece and is still practiced today by some cults; but it doesn’t change a person’s eternal destiny, for that is determined while he lives (Luke 16:26+)" 

Here is the excerpt from Thomas Scott which is one of the 30 interpretations of this strange passage and it at least does seem to make some sense - The apostle refers to the case of those, who presented themselves for baptism, immediately after the martyrdom of their brethren, or at their funerals; as if fresh soldiers should enlist and press forward to the assault, to supply the places of those who had fallen in battle. Thus they professed their faith in Christ, and ventured the rage of their enemies, at the very time when others had been put to death for the gospel. But what advantage could they propose to themselves from such a conduct, if there were no resurrection? Or what wisdom could there be in so doing? For in this case, Christianity itself would lose the great evidence of its truth; even the immortality of the soul might be called in question; believers were yet “in their sins;” and they who died as martyrs had lost their souls, as well as their lives. This might show the Corinthian speculators how greatly their notions tended to discourage men from professing the gospel in times of persecution, and to make them afraid and ashamed to own the cause of Christ. If this were the case, why did Christians in general, or the apostles and evangelists in particular, live in continual and imminent danger of suffering and death, by their open profession of the gospel, and their zeal in promoting it? They could have no sufficient encouragement for so doing, if the dead should never arise.

If the dead are not raised (egeiroat all, why then are they baptized for them - The point as alluded to by Scott, is if there is no resurrection of the dead, then why should anyone believe and be baptized? 


Question:  What is baptism for the dead?

Answer: Baptism for the dead is a non-biblical practice where a living person is baptized in lieu of a person that passed away, as a means of making a public profession of faith for a person that is already deceased. We can, essentially, think of it as the practice of baptizing a dead person.

The practice has as its basis the misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:29: “Otherwise, what will they do, those being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not at all raised, why indeed are they baptized on behalf of the dead?” This is a difficult passage to interpret, but we do know by comparing it with the rest of Scripture that it does not mean that a dead person can be saved by someone else being baptized on his or her behalf, because baptism is not a requirement for salvation in the first place (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:28; 4:3; 6:3-4). The entire passage (vv. 12-29) is about the surety of the resurrection, not about baptism for the dead.

What was being baptized for the dead? It is a mysterious passage, and there have been more than thirty different interpretations put forward. 1. The plain meaning of the Greek in verse 29 is that some people are being baptized on behalf of those who have died—and if there is no resurrection, why are they doing this? 2. Either Paul is referring to a pagan custom (notice he uses "they," not "we"), or to a superstitious and unscriptural practice in the Corinthian church of vicarious baptism for believers who died before being baptized. 3. Either way, he certainly does not approve of the practice; he merely says that if there is no resurrection, why would the custom take place? The Mormon practice of baptism for the dead is neither scriptural nor sensible. Baptism for the dead is a practice that was common in the pagan religions of Greece and is still practiced today by some cults; but it doesn’t change a person’s eternal destiny, for that is determined while he lives (Luke 16:26).GotQuestions.org


Thomas Scott,  Baptized for the Dead - The expression baptized for the dead, has given occasion to a variety of ingenious conjectures and learned discussions. Some argue that [it] only means, ‘baptized in the name of one who certainly died, and who, “if the dead rise not,” ‘still remains among the dead.’ But the word rendered “dead” is plural, and all the labour bestowed to remove that difficulty is to no purpose. Others suppose, that the apostle refers to a practice, which, it seems, at one time prevailed in the church, of baptizing a living person in the stead, and for the supposed benefit, of one who had died unbaptized. But who can imagine, that so absurd and gross a superstition was customary, when the apostle wrote? Or that, if it were, he should sanction it?—

Beza, rather triumphantly, concludes that he has discovered and fixed the true interpretation; and that the apostle meant the washing of the dead bodies, among the Jews and Christians, before burial; (Acts 9:37.) which he thinks was a profession that they expected a resurrection. But the use of the word baptize, in such a connection, could hardly be expected; and the words will not bear that sense, by any fair interpretation.—

Hammond contends, that it means the profession of faith, concerning the resurrection of the dead, which was required of persons at their baptism, which represented, as he thinks, the burial and resurrection of Christ. ‘Why did they profess this, if they did not believe it?’ But this is far from satisfactory: for the peculiar circumstances of some persons, when they were baptized, seem evidently intended. ‘What this baptizing for the dead was, I confess I know not; but it seems by the following verses, to be something, wherein they exposed themselves to the danger of death.’ [says John] Locke.—

The following interpretation, however, suggested by Dr. Doddridge, who received it from Sir Richard Ellis, appears the true one. The apostle refers to the case of those, who presented themselves for baptism, immediately after the martyrdom of their brethren, or at their funerals; as if fresh soldiers should enlist and press forward to the assault, to supply the places of those who had fallen in battle. Thus they professed their faith in Christ, and ventured the rage of their enemies, at the very time when others had been put to death for the gospel. But what advantage could they propose to themselves from such a conduct, if there were no resurrection? Or what wisdom could there be in so doing? For in this case, Christianity itself would lose the great evidence of its truth; even the immortality of the soul might be called in question; believers were yet “in their sins;” and they who died as martyrs had lost their souls, as well as their lives. This might show the Corinthian speculators how greatly their notions tended to discourage men from professing the gospel in times of persecution, and to make them afraid and ashamed to own the cause of Christ. If this were the case, why did Christians in general, or the apostles and evangelists in particular, live in continual and imminent danger of suffering and death, by their open profession of the gospel, and their zeal in promoting it? They could have no sufficient encouragement for so doing, if the dead should never arise. (Thomas Scott, The Holy Bible . . . with Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations, and Copious Marginal References, Vol. , 1832, pp. 601-2)

1 Corinthians 15:30  Why are we also in danger every hour? (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • 1Co 15:31 Ro 8:36-39 2Co 4:7-12 2 Cor 6:9 2 Cor 11:23-27 Ga 5:11
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Acts 9:19-30+ and he took food and was strengthened.  Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” 21 All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” 22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.  23 When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.  26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. 30 But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you. 

2 Corinthians 11:23-27  Are they servants of Christ?–I speak as if insane–I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Romans 8:18+ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the  glory that is to be revealed to us (IN THE FUTURE TIME).

WHY RISK ONE'S LIFE
IF RESURRECTION NOT TRUE

Why does Paul now begin this personal testimony mentioning dangers and dying daily? John MacArthur has an excellent explanation noting that "it is an obvious truth, that unbelievers and hypocrites do not become martyrs. People do not die for something they hold lightly. They do not die for something about which they have doubt. They do not die for things they do not believe are worthy of life and death. People give their lives only for causes to which they are wholeheartedly committed. And one of those great realities is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who said, "Because I live, ye, too, shall live also." And millions of Christians have given their lives in living and given their lives in dying with the hope of that resurrection truth." (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Why are we also in danger every hour - Every hour might be a bit of hyperbole, but it did reflect the truth that Paul's life was always in danger! Paul's proclamation of the Gospel was a precarious practice. From the moment he was converted his opponents sought to silence him (see passages above). Now in his argument substantiating the truth of the resurrection, he uses his willingness to suffer danger for the Gospel as indirect evidence that the resurrection is true and it is worth dying for. And he was aware that his "near death experiences" were common knowledge among the saints at Corinth for from the very beginning in Acts 18 we read that "he settled there (IN CORINTH) a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.  But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat." (Acts 18:11-12+). Paul's logic would be something like this -- why would he be willing to face continual danger if the resurrection were not true which of course would mean that the Gospel itself was not really good news but at best "no news." Paul was not living for his life but the next life (what a pattern he gives for all believers!) He had earlier pointed out "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Cor 15:19) But he knew his hope in Christ would be fulfilled fully in the future (and that should motivate us also beloved).

THOUGHT -  The way Paul lived his life all-out for the gospel was evidence of the truth of the resurrection.. Most of us are so concerned about living comfortable lives here on earth that our lives give no evidence of the resurrection. Paul lived such a committed Christian life, people could look at him and say, “There is no way he would live like that unless there was a reward waiting for him in heaven.” (Dave Guzik)

William MacDonald - Secret plots were hatched against him in an effort to take his life. He could have avoided all this by abandoning his profession of Christ. In fact, it would have been wise for him to abandon it if there was no such thing as resurrection from the dead. (Believers Bible Commentary)

1 Corinthians 15:31  I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • I affirm Ge 43:3 1Sa 8:9 Jer 11:7 Zec 3:6 Php 3:3 
  • your "Some read, our." 2Co 1:12, 2:14,  1Th 2:19 1 Th 3:9 
  • die 1Co 4:9-13 Ac 20:23 Ro 8:36 2Co 4:10-11 2 Cor 11:23 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Acts 20:23  except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.

Romans 8:36 Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” 

2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;

2 Corinthians 4:10-11 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ (Christos) Jesus our Lord, I die daily - The NAS is not the best translation, for the phrase "I die daily" are actually the first words in the sentence, not the last words as the NAS suggests. I think the NET reading is much more accurate =  "Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as my boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord." (1Co 15:31NET) 

The statement about boasting is not easy to tie in with "I die daily".  Robertson and Plummer explain it this way writing that "Every day he goes about with his life in his hands. What assurance is he to give them for the truth of this strong statement? The estimation in which (as they know) he holds them. ‘As surely as I am proud of you,’ or, ‘I affirm it by the glorying in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ It is, however, not in any earthly sphere that he has this feeling, but in Christ Jesus our Lord. The full titles show how great the security is, and the ἔχω perhaps implies that he regards his exultation over them as a valuable possession. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

At first reading, one might think Paul is speaking of daily "dying to self" as Jesus had commanded of His followers (e.g., "take up his cross daily" - Lk 9:23+, cf Mark 8:34-35+) and there may be an element of truth in that interpretation. However, if we let the context guide the interpretation ("context is king" for accurate interpretation), we note that Paul has just stated he was hourly in dangerous situations and his point would be that on any given day the danger could culminate in his actual death. 

Guzik -  "It is important to understand that when Paul says, “I die daily,” he does not speak of his spiritual identification with the death of Jesus. He does not speak of the spiritual putting to death of the flesh. He writes of the constant imminent danger to his physical life. It is important and useful for Christians to daily reckon themselves dead to sin with Jesus Christ (as in Romans 6:11, Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord). But to use this statement I die daily to support that truth is wrong, because in context Paul is writing about the danger to his physical life." (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Godet - “Not a day, nor an hour of the day, when they might not expect to be seized and led out to execution”

Barton - Why should the apostles bother to put themselves in danger every hour, dying every day for the sake of the gospel message. To suffer and face danger for the sake of a message that only has “benefits” for this life would be foolish indeed. “I die every day” refers to Paul’s daily exposure to danger. Why would any sane person do this for the sake of a gospel that only ends in death, just like anything else?  This constant danger is as certain … as [Paul’s] boasting about the Corinthians. Despite all that Paul had to correct and rebuke in them, he genuinely loved the Corinthian believers and boasted of their faith. He could make that boast in Christ Jesus our Lord, knowing that Christ had saved them and that Paul had been their spiritual father (1 Cor 4:15+). (Life Application Commentary) (On "the boasting in you" see also G G Findlay Commentary)

Gordon Fee explains his boasting - Paul’s point could have been made by his simply adding v. 32b at this point. Instead, for their sake he elaborates on the continual dangers mentioned in the opening sentence: “Daily I die.” Taken as an elaboration of v. 30, this means something like “On a daily basis I face the reality of death.”...What follows comes as something of a surprise. It is a kind of oath, the first word serving as the affirming particle (= “I swear by”), and the next words serving as that by which one swears. Literally it reads “I swear by your boasting,” which he quickly qualifies as “(boasting) which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The NIV’s “I glory over you” translates the possessive adjective “your” plus the noun for the act of “boasting.” Although grammatically this could refer to their boasting in him, that fits neither the immediate context (especially the following qualifying phrase) nor the context of the letter as a whole. Rather, the possessive is here objective and refers to Paul’s “boast” in the Corinthians as believers,46 a “boast” that probably does not so much refer to his telling others about the Corinthians as to their very existence as the result of his apostolic labors (cf.1 Cor 9:2, 15–16). What a telling oath this is. To make sure that they understand the truth of his constant facing of death, he swears by that which is dearest to him, their own existence in Christ, which also came about by labors that had exposed him to such dangers. That seems also to be the point of the qualifying addition, “which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The boast is his, but it is not self-serving nor self-exalting. It rests completely on what Christ had done among them through his labors (cf. 1 Cor 15:9–10). Thus they are his boast; but for Paul that ultimately means boasting in Christ. (NICNT - 1 Cor) (Bold added)

1 Corinthians 15:32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • after or, to speak after, Ro 6:19 Ga 3:15 
  • beasts 2Pe 2:12 Jude 1:10 
  • Ephesus Ac 19:1,23-41 2Co 1:8-10 
  • what Job 35:3 Ps 73:13 Mal 3:14,15 Lu 9:25 
  • let Ec 2:24 11:9 Isa 22:13 Isa 56:12 Lu 12:19 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Luke 9:25+   “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

Ecclesiastes 2:24  There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.

Luke 12:19+  ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’

IF THERE IS NO RESURRECTION
LET'S PARTY!

If (first class conditional - assumed true) from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus what does it profit (benefit, advantage to) me? - This is somewhat difficult to interpret. Was Paul literally placed in a coliseum to fight with wild beasts? Or was he speaking in a figurative sense, alluding to the unbelieving Ephesians who sought to shut down his testimony against the great Artemis which brought lucrative business to the city (see Acts 19:23-34+)? So whether they were literal beasts or "beast-like" adversaries, clearly his point is that these were dangerous circumstances. Paul asks this question to further his argument for the resurrection, and here answers his own question.

If (first class conditional - assumed true for sake of argument) the dead are not raised (egeiro), LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE - His point is why risk his life if there is no resurrection, no "good news." In that case "Let's party!" Paul is quoting from Isaiah 22:13 which a statement describing Israel in a time when she was in rebellion, facing doom and had no desire to repent so "Instead, (LET'S PARTY!) there is gaiety and gladness, Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, Eating of meat and drinking of wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.” (Isaiah 22:13) Paul is saying that if there is no resurrection than their destiny was doom (like Israel in Isaiah 22), so one might as well have a good time before we die. Since we only go around once, let's grab for all the gusto we can get (to paraphrase a popular beer commercial from the past). They needed to add Daniel 12:2+ to the beer commercial! 

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt (SO MUCH FOR GRABBING FOR ALL THE GUSTO IN THIS SHORT TIME ON EARTH!!!).

THOUGHT - Something I often tell believers who are going through hard times when their unsaved friends seem unscathed -- This is as bad as it gets for us and as good as it gets for them!

Note that some say this is an allusion also to Isaiah 56:12. This reminds one of the sad words of Solomon "Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”  What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun? " (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)

ILLUSTRATION - The Greek historian Herodotus tells of an interesting custom of the Egyptians. “In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet was ended, a servant would often carry around among the guests a coffin, in which was a wooden image of a corpse carved and painted to resemble a dead person as nearly as possible. The servant would show it to each of the guests and would say, ‘Gaze here and drink and be merry, for when you die such you shall be.’ ” (MNTC- 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:33  Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • Be 1Co 6:9 Mt 24:4,11,24 Ga 6:7 Eph 5:6 2Th 2:10 Rev 12:9 13:8-14 
  • evil 1Co 5:6 Pr 9:6 13:20 2Ti 2:16-18 Heb 12:15 2Pe 2:2,18-20 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 Corinthians 6:9+ Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (planao in present imperative with a negative); neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

Galatians 6:7+ Do not be deceived (planao in present imperative with a negative), God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Ephesians 5:6+  Let no one deceive (present imperative with a negative) you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

STOP LISTENING TO BAD THEOLOGY
FOR IT LEADS TO BAD BEHAVIOR

Do not be (continually) deceived: - Paul gives a command, a present imperative with a negative (see our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey). It could mean either do not start being deceived but more likely means stop being deceived or led astray for the Corinthians were being led astray. Remember the context is the doctrine of the resurrection and the belief of some in Corinth (1 Cor 15:12+) that there is no resurrection of the dead. Therefore Paul implies with this command that the Corinthians were being led astray into this false belief.

Lenski - “Do not go on being deceived! Deception runs its course; do not be persuaded to enter on or to continue in this course.” As the passive shows, deception is communicated by deceivers. (Commentary)

Be deceived (led astray, misled)(4105)(planao from plane which describes "a wandering" and gives us our English word "planet") means literally made to wander and so to go (active sense) or be led astray (in present passage in the passive voice, like sheep in Mt 18:12-13). See various entities that can lead astray. The passive voice which indicates an outside force or influence.  Literal wandering is described in Hebrews 11:38+Spiritual wandering is described in (1 Peter 2:25+) In spiritual terms, planao means to be made to err from the right way, the highway of truth and holiness. Straying in the spiritual sense occurs when one does not adhere to the truth (James 5:19+) and/or forsakes the right way (see 2 Peter 2:15+Matthew Henry writes that "Man in this his degenerate state is of a straying nature, thence compared to a lost sheep; this must be sought and brought back, and guided in the right way, Ps 119:176. (See Spurgeon's Note) He is weak, and ready to be imposed upon by the wiles and subtleties of Satan, and of men lying in wait to seduce and mislead.

Bad (kakos) company (homilia) (present tense - continually) corrupts (phtheiro) good (chrestos) morals - "Bad company spoils noble character." As noted above the passive voice of deceived indicates some of the Corinthians were being led astray from the truth of the resurrection. In context the bad company would seem to be teachers or other wicked people who had the belief that there was no resurrection. In Corinth the bad company could have included the pagan philosophers who did not believe in the resurrection. So what is the association with good morals? The answer is simple - what one believes will affect how one behaves. If one does not believe in a resurrection, then one is far more likely to "eat, drink and be merry," which certainly has the tendency to corrupt good morals. Frankly, the morals of many of the Corinthians were already "borderline" (to be euphemistic), so it would not take that much to further corrupt them.

THOUGHT - The corollary is beware of bad company because you are not likely to bring them up to your level of more godly morality, but they will almost certainly bring you down to their level! Of course, we should witness to them, but not commune with them. There is a big difference. Friendship evangelism (see caveats) is possible without participating in their evil deeds or evil thinking. (Compare 1 Cor 5:10+)

Lenski - While homilia means “communications” and “conversations,” the term is here used to designate “associations” or “company” with a definite influence. If these associations are kakos, “good for nothing” and thus “bad,” they are bound to corrupt and to ruin manners that are χρήσθα (chrestos), “serviceable” and thus “good.” The adjectives are contrasts; the one means worthless, the other (chrestos) serviceable and thus full of worth. Paul intends to say in the present connection that association with deceivers who are full of skeptical ideas is bound to react hurtfully on the good ways of life (ethos) of Christians. Instead of letting the divine truth mold their manner of living they let the false and insidious ideas of their associates mislead them. Even one bad apple spreads rot among many others. He who rejects the resurrection cannot live and act like one who truly believes this divine reality  (Commentary)

MacArthur sums it up - People who think wrongly invariably behave wrongly. Wrong behavior comes from wrong thinking, from wrong beliefs and wrong standards. It is impossible to associate regularly with wicked people without being contaminated both by their ideas and by their habits. The context implies that the bad company was teaching the heretical theology that there is no resurrection of the dead, and that bad theology had corrupted good morals. Just as hoping in the resurrection is an incentive to obedience and holiness, so disbelief of it is an incentive to disobedience and immorality. As Paul has just pointed out, if there is no resurrection, we might as well eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. If death is the end, what great difference does it make what we do? (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Guzik -  It was bad enough that these associations had affected their thinking on an important matter like the resurrection, but this evil company could corrupt far more. This speaks to the vital need described in Romans 12:2: do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. By keeping evil company, the Corinthian Christians were being conformed to this world, and they needed to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Christians must let the Word of God shape their thinking, not the evil company of this world. Through much of this book, Paul deals with the moral problems of the Corinthians: envy, divisions, pride, immorality, greed, irreverence, and selfishness. How much of this came in because of they kept evil company? Their problem with the resurrection also indicated the source of many of their moral problems. Paul quotes from an ancient, secular comedy play, Thais, written by Menander. Though he was a pagan, Menander told the truth at this point, and Paul (more properly, the Holy Spirit) had no problem quoting a pagan who did tell the truth at a particular point. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Bad (evil) (2556kakos related word = kakia) is a word which basically denotes a lack of something so that it is "bad" or "not as it ought to be. Kakos means not meeting accepted standards of behavior, and thus worthless, bad or inferior. Kakos then speaks of lack of goodness, of a bad nature. (Note there is some repetition in this discussion, but hopefully this repetition will give you a good sense of the different nuances of this word). One of the more frightening uses of kakos (personal opinion) is in the phrase "inventors of evil" (Ro 1:30). Vine says kakos stands for "whatever is evil in character, base," in distinction (wherever the distinction is observable) from poneros, which indicates "what is evil in influence and effect, malignant." See Bible Dictionary discussion of evil - Evil. Kakos in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 10:6; 1 Co. 13:5; 1 Co. 15:33; 2 Co. 13:7

Company (3657)(homilia from homileo = converse, talk) means companionship ("homily"), communication.  Originally the word meant being together in company, companionship, but in the NT it means conversation  Eng. words homiletic = pertaining to the art of preaching; homily =a discourse; homilist =one who writes or delivers homilies. Only use in NT is 1 Cor 15:33. Lxx - Ex 21:10, Pr 7:21. 

Gilbrant This substantive, found in Greek literature from Thucydides (Fifth Century B.C.) onward, has two major usages in Greek literature. Its primary use is to denote communion with others. This can refer to a gathering of individuals or of a couple; in this latter sense it can denote sexual intercourse (see Exodus 21:10 in the Septuagint). It is also used to denote instruction or a lecture (cf. the English homiletics) or even practice.Its second major usage is to denote “association” or “company,” or in a collective sense, “fellow-sojourners” or “shipmates.” This rare term occurs in the New Testament only in 1 Corinthians 15:33 where Paul, quoting from Meander (Thais 218; see Orr and Walther, Anchor Bible, 32:336), reminded the readers they would be corrupted if they persisted in having evil persons as their company (companions).(Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource)

Corrupts (5351phtheiro from phthío or phthíno = waste, decay, wither, pine away) means to cause harm to in a physical manner or in outward circumstances. To shrivel, to wither, to spoil. It means to ruin or destroy something with the implication of causing something to be corrupt and cease to exist. To destroy by corrupting. To pine or waste away. To corrupt in the sense of degeneration. 8v in NT - 1 Co. 3:17; 1 Co. 15:33; 2 Co. 7:2; 2 Co. 11:3; Eph. 4:22; 2 Pet. 2:12; Jude 1:10; Rev. 19:2

Morals (2239)(ethos from  ethos = a habit, custom) is a noun which conveys the idea of a customary abode, haunt or habit such as the haunts of animals or men. Paul used it in 1 Corinthians 15:33 of the moral character or ethical conduct of a person. BDAG =  a pattern of behavior or practice that is habitual or characteristic of a group or an individual. the habit of purity 1 Cl 21:7. Charondas the lawgiver [V BC] champions the principle that good men would easily have their characters ruined by association with evil men....it is said of a tyrant: ‘he corrupted people’s morals through base speech’ Liddell-Scott - an accustomed place: in pl. the haunts or abodes of animals, Hom., Hdt. II. custom, usage, Hes., Hdt. 2. of man, his disposition, character, Lat. ingenium, mores, Hes., Att.; w= miaro.n h=qoj, addressed to a person, Soph. 3. in pl., generally, of manners, like Lat. mores, Hes., Hdt., Thuc. Only in apocrypha - 4 Macc 1:29; 2:7.21; 5:24; 13,27 disposition, character Sirach 20:26  manners, customs Sir prol.,35; bearings 4 Mc 5,24; to.as usual (as adv) 4 Macc 2:7 (4 Ma. 1:29; 4 Ma. 2:7; 4 Ma. 2:21; 4 Ma. 5:24; 4 Ma. 13:27; Sip. 1:35; Sir. 20:26)


Scripture teaches us that various things or classes of people can deceive a person including the following…

  • Signs, sorcery, pretenders coming in Jesus' name (Mt 24:4, 5+, Mark 13:5, 6+, Luke 21:8+),
  • False teachers (1Co 15:33+, 1 Jn 2:26+, 1 Jn 3:7+),
  • False Christs and false prophets (Mt 24:11+, Mt 24:24+, see note on Jezebel the false prophetess Re 2:20+),
  • Not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God (Mt 22:29, Mark 12:24+),
  • One's own self (evil flesh) ("self deception" 1Co 6:9+, Gal 6:7+, Titus 3:3+, 1 John 1:8+)
  • One's heart (synonymous with evil flesh - Hebrews 3:10+)
  • Evil men and imposters (2Ti 3:13-+),
  • The devil (Rev 12:9+, Rev 20:3+; Re 20:8+;Re 20:10-+)
  • Babylon (Revelation 18:23+)
  • The Antichrist's false prophet (Rev 13:14+, Re 19:20+)

Related Resources:


Question: How does bad company corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33)?

Answer: In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote of the false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth teaching that the resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t true. These people considered only their physical existence and denied life after death or the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:32). As a result, their moral outlook on life influenced the rest of the Corinthian believers.

Paul is telling us that in associating with false teachers, we will be adversely influenced by them. The truth is that false teachings do not lead to holiness. As such, it is critical that we are careful whom we form relationships with, especially those outside the church because unbelievers can cause even the strongest Christians to waver in their faith and adversely affect their walk with Christ and their witness to the world. This is why Paul tells us, “Do not be misled.”

Actually, this was the second time Paul warned the Corinthians not to be deceived (1 Corinthians 6:9). He cautioned them not to take up the lifestyles of corrupt people—those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul knew how easy it is for people to be influenced by such adverse teachings. If not checked at the very beginning, they could begin to adopt such perverted ideas and behaviors as normal. For this reason, Paul quotes a proverb by the Greek poet Menander: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). No doubt this proverb was well known among Greeks of this time.

The point Paul makes here is pertinent to all people in all ages. When we associate with or take delight in the company of people with worldly morals, we run the risk of mimicking their behaviors, their language, and their habits. Before long we are no longer of Christ, but of the world with its denial of absolute authority, its rejection of the Bible as the Word of God, and its ideology of relative morality. This is especially pertinent to young people who are generally easily influenced by their peers. Young people are desperate for the approval of others. So motivated are they by the need for acceptance that godly wisdom in decision-making can go out the window in the face of peer pressure. Therefore, it is crucial for parents of young teens especially to be on guard against the influence of bad company.

So, what are we to do? Paul provides us the answer at the very end of chapter 15: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). As parents, we stand firm against ungodly influences that may corrupt our children. As Christians, we stand firm against those who would corrupt our walk with Christ. As church members, we stand firm against false teaching and watered-down gospel presentations that lead others astray. In all things, we are “self-controlled and alert” because our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). GotQuestions.org

1 Corinthians 15:34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • Become sober-minded Joe 1:5 Jon 1:6 Ro 13:11 Eph 5:14 
  • stop sinning Ps 4:4 119:11  Joh 5:14 8:11 
  • some have no knowledge of God 1Co 8:7 Ro 1:28 1Th 4:5 
  • I speak this to your shame1Co 6:5 Heb 5:11,12 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AROUSE YOURSELF AND
STOP SINNING

Become sober-minded as you ought - "Sober up in the right way" (Lenski) After the previous negative command, Paul now gives a positive command in the aorist imperative calling for immediate obedience to come out of their dazed, deceived stupor! As you ought means in essence the "right way," the way that is right in the sight of the Lord. Paul's point is that those who doubted the resurrection from the dead thought they were thinking rightly (and acting rightly) when in fact they were spiritually "drunk" and they even "assailed the believers as people who are being carried away by foolish and fanatical notions because they actually believe such an impossible doctrine as the resurrection." (Lenski - commentary)

Robertson and Plummer - Once for all shake off your drowsiness in a right spirit, and do not begin to sin,’ i.e. do not let yourselves drift into evil courses by dallying with false opinions; or, ‘Get rid of your stupor with a righteous resolve, and cease to go wrong’ in bad company. The strong metaphor, ἐκνήψατε, implies that they were already in a grievous case. He addresses them, says Chrysostom, as if they were drunk or mad. It is possible that these sceptics claimed to be sober thinkers, and condemned the belief in a resurrection as a wild enthusiasm. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Lenski goes on to add that "It is the way of all rationalists and all skeptics to pose as clearheaded, sound, and sober thinkers and to charge true believers with blind acceptance of “dogmas” that are nothing but narcotics. Our present-day scientists are often arrogant in their superiority. They alone know the facts, they alone do straight and sober thinking, they alone are right, and woe to him who dares to challenge their claims! Against this pseudo-soberness and pseudo-saneness Paul launches his little adverb δικαίως. Here, too, this derivative of δικαιοῦν retains its forensic meaning, for “rightly” means rightly in the judgment of God and not merely in my own judgment. The Pharisees claimed: “We see!” John 9:41, and proceeded with mighty assurance “to justify themselves,” Luke 16:15; but the judgment of God declared them wickedly and wilfully blind and cast them out. So Paul commands the Corinthians to be sober in the true way that God approves. He is rightly sober who sees and believes the divine realities as God reveals them, and who does all his thinking so that every thought accords with these realities. And this man does not need to wait for the divine verdict that he is rightly sober; that verdict is recorded in a thousand places in Holy Writ.  (Commentary)

Become sober-minded (1594)(eknepho from ek = out + nepho = be sober) means to sober up from a drunken state (as in Lxx - Ge 9:24, 1 Sa 25:37, Joel 1:5). In this solitary NT use eknepho means to rouse oneself out of a state of stupor (sinful stupor in this context). Come to your senses is the idea. Sober up from your sinful stupor! Used 5x in Septuagint - Gen. 9:24; 1 Sam. 25:37; Joel 1:5; Hab. 2:7; Hab. 2:19

Ought (1346dikaios from the adjective dίkaios which means being in accordance with what God requires) means manifesting right conduct, waking morally upright outwardly or in a right way which is in accordance with what God requires. It's a more general description of observable “rightness” in all aspects of life. It is conduct that cannot be condemned. Dikaios pertains to what is just or right in a judicial sense. In the present passage dikaios pertains to the quality of one's ethical behavior which is with integrity, and conforms to rectitude. 5v in NT - Lk. 23:41; 1 Co. 15:34; 1 Thess. 2:10; Tit. 2:12; 1 Pet. 2:23

And stop sinning ("do not go on missing the mark!") - Paul deals first with their belief (become sober-minded) and now commands this to be shown forth in their behavior of cessation from sinning. Stop sinning is a present imperative with a negative  (see need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey) which means stop an act or action which was in progress. What was their sin? In context it has to be failure to believe in the resurrection and presumably passing this false doctrine on to others, which would be sinning! But we know from the rest of Corinthians that their heterodoxy had led them to heteropraxy. In other words their failure to believe the resurrection in effect "energized" their manifold sinful behavior (quarrels, immorality, etc, etc).

THOUGHT - What we belief affects how we behave! If you are not regularly in the Book renewing your mind (cf Ro 12:2+), you are risk for you are placing yourself in a vulnerable position in which you will begin to buy into the lies of the world (Satan's lies are subtle and seductive - just read Genesis 3+!). You need to heed Paul's warning to become sober minded, to believe rightly, so that you will behave rightly! Life is short. The resurrection is real. Eternity is long! Live like you believe these truths.

Lenski - There is, then, a kind of thinking and of reasoning that seems to be sanely sober and is yet wholly wrong because it goes on missing the mark, namely the true mark set by God for all our thinking, the realities about God, his will, his work, etc. This is the worst kind of sinning, for it affects not only our conduct but corrupts the very heart, the source of all conduct. “Sober up rightly!” Paul calls to the Corinthians, and go on hitting instead of missing the mark.  (Commentary)

MacArthur- The Greek historian Thucydides reported that when a deadly plague came to Athens, “People committed every shameful crime and eagerly snatched at every lustful pleasure.” They believed life was short and there was no resurrection, so they would have to pay no price for their vice. The Roman poet Horace wrote, “Tell them to bring wine and perfume and the too short-lived blossoms of the lovely rose while circumstance and age and the black threads of the three sisters fate still allow us to do so.” Another Roman poet, Catullus, penned the lines: “Let’s live my Lesbia and let’s love, and let’s value the tales of austere old men at a single half penny. Suns can set and then return again, but for us when once our brief light sets there is but one perpetual night through which we must sleep.” Without the prospect of a resurrection, and of the accountability it brings, there is no incentive for doing anything but what we feel like doing here and now. If behavior has no reward or condemnation, it is uncontrollable. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Sinning (verb) (264hamartano  literally means to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize). Hamartano means to act contrary to the will and law of God. To commit a wrong. To be in error.  emphasizes loss which always results from missing God's mark or targetnaturnat      , His good and acceptable and perfect will (Ro 12:2). Hamartano means to err (err is from Latin errare = to wander or to stray!) which means to wander from the right way, to deviate from the true course or purpose and so to violate an accepted standard of conduct. To err is to miss the right way. To err means to deviate from the path or line of duty. To stray by design or mistake. To err is to stray from God and/or His commandments.

For (gar) term of explanation. Paul explains why he is giving them such stern commands and it was because some were ignorant of God! 

Some (present tense - continually) have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame - Robertson and Plummer = "‘It is to move you to shame that I am speaking to you in this manner." (cf 1 Cor 6:5+) NLT - "For to your shame I say that some of you don't know God at all." (1Co 15:34NLT) Paul is calling them out, stating plainly that some of those holding to the false belief of no resurrection of the dead had no knowledge of God.

Vine says  "agnōsia, “no knowledge,” is not agnoia (mere ignorance), but reprehensible ignorance, a failure to take in knowledge through observation and practical experience (the same is used in 1 Pet. 2:15). Denial of the truth of resurrection on the part of some in the assembly was giving evidence of that kind of ignorance. Of only some was this true. Yet the whole assembly was affected, for it was the entire company whom the apostle sought to move to shame. They were priding themselves in their wisdom and intelligence; yet by the spread of this error in their midst they displayed their culpable inability to recognize the character and power of God. (Collected Writings)

Robertson and Plummer - Ἀγνωσία is not ἄγνοια, ignorantia, the absence of knowledge, but ignoratio, the failure or inability to take knowledge. These Corinthians had no power of appreciating God’s existence or presence, His nature or will. It was indeed a bitter thing for Corinthians, who prided themselves on their intelligence, to be told that as regards the knowledge of God they were more purblind than the heathen. Paulus ignorantiam Dei illis exprobans, omni prorsus honore eos spoliat (Paul, an ignorance of God unto them, to denounce, in stripping them from every species of honor, - Calvin). Their inability to recognize the power and goodness of God was shown in their dogmatic assertion that He does not raise the dead. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Lenski - he says that “some have ignorance” like a disease that is afflicting them spiritually. Thinking that by denying the resurrection they are displaying great γνῶσις or “knowledge,” they actually display ἀγνωσία, “ignorance,” the opposite of knowledge. Their coin is counterfeit, Rev. 3:17, 18. They are to blame for this ignorance which they carry around with them and which they try to sell to others as knowledge.  (Commentary)

No knowledge (56)(agnosia from a = not + gnosis - knowledge) means literally "not knowing" and so to not have information about— want of knowledge, ignorance. To not be acquainted with something. It is ignorance, especially denoting a lack of knowledge of God and of spiritual discernment. As uses by Paul and Peter, agnosia is not just intellectually ignorant but willfully ignorant which has moral implication. Uses in the Bible -  Job 35:16; 1 Co. 15:34; 1 Pet. 2:15

(Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource) Essentially there are two basic definitions of agnōsia in classical Greek: (1) “ignorance” (the opposite of gnōsis, “knowledge”) and (2) “unknown,” i.e., “obscure” (Liddell-Scott). This especially pertains to ignorance about general matters; thus, it parallels “uneducated, untrained” (Bultmann, “agnoeō,” Kittel, 1:116). The force of agnōsia closely follows agnoia, “ignorance.” Bultmann notes its lack of technical force and its apparent absence in Stoic writings and Philo. However, both terms become important in the later “dualistic Gnostic language of Hellenism” (ibid., 1:118). In Gnostic writings agnōsia comes to denote a “lack of knowledge” sufficient for salvation of the soul. Thus men are “entangled in agnōsia before they receive revelation” (ibid.). Agnōsia appears only in the later writings of the Septuagint; only one of these texts is canonical (Job 35:16). “Without knowledge” is the literal translation of the Hebrew bᵉlî-dha‛ath. From the immediate context “knowledge” here probably concerns knowledge about God (Job 36:3,4). The Wisdom of Solomon expressly associated agnōsia with the “lack of knowledge” of God common to men who refuse to acknowledge God, despite the evidence (cf. Romans 1). The usage in 3 Maccabees is entirely without religious significance (5:27). Only two occurrences of agnōsia (cf. agnoia [51]) are attested in the New Testament; one in 1 Corinthians and one in 1 Peter. “Ignorant of God” is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 15:34. Paul viewed this as “out of one’s senses,” and he expressly tied it to “sinning.” To Peter agnōsia was related to a state outside of God (1 Peter 2:15). Thus those pagans— “foolish men” (aphrōn [871])—must silence their “ignorance” (agnōsia) in the face of the good works of the believers. Their willful ignorance was a direct consequence of their being “pagans”— outside of God (cf. 1 Peter 1:14,18; 4:2ff.).

1 Corinthians 15:35  But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • How Job 11:12 22:13 Ps 73:11 Ec 11:5 Eze 37:3,11  Joh 3:4,9 9:10 
  • with 1Co 15:38-53 Mt 22:29,30 Php 3:20-21 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Philippians 3:20-21  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Who will transform (metaschematizo) the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

TWO QUESTIONS:
HOW AND WHAT KIND?

Do you recall the last words of the Apostle's Creed? -- "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (the true Christian church of all times and all places) church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,  and the life everlasting. Amen. (Indeed, "Amen!")

Ray Pritchard comments "The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead runs against the whole tenor of contemporary thinking. It asks us to believe that bodies now resting in the grave will one day come back to life. If you ponder that thought, it is truly hard to believe." 

In this last section 1 Cor 15:35-58 Paul deals with the nature of the resurrected body. As Robertson and Plummer says "we have three subdivisions; (a) The Answers of Nature and of Scripture, 1 Cor 15:35–49; (b) Victory over Death, 1 Cor 15:50–57; (c) Practical Result, 1 Cor 15:58." 

Utley has a different suggested arrangement of the following section - Paul uses a series of illustrations that show the continuity, and yet difference, between the physical body and the spiritual body.  (1) seed vs. mature plant, v. 37   (2)  human vs. animal flesh, v. 39   (3) heavenly body vs. earthly bodies, v 40 (4) night lights vs. Sun light, v. 41  (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Robertson and Plummer go on to say "Plato in the Phaedo, and Cicero in the Tusculan Disputations, argue for a future life; but resurrection is beyond their view. Does St Paul confuse the resurrection of the body with the immortality of the soul? Only so far as those with whom he is arguing confused the two. According to current ideas, to deny the possibility of resurrection was coming very near to denying any real life beyond the grave. The body was commonly regarded as the security for the preservation of personality. If the body was never to be preserved, the survival of the soul would be precarious or worthless. Either the finite spirit would be absorbed in the Infinite Spirit, or its separate existence would be shadowy, insipid, and joyless. St Paul shapes his argument to meet both classes,—those who denied the resurrection of the body, but allowed the survival of the soul, and those who denied both. Christ, in refuting the Sadducees, treated the two doctrines as so closely connected that to admit immortality and deny resurrection was illogical. Christ argues from the Living God, as St Paul from the Risen Christ. The continued relation of the Living God to each one of the patriarchs implied the permanence of their personal life. The continued relation of believers to the Christ who has been raised in the body implies the permanence of their bodily life.(1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Utley explains Paul's technique of asking using questions - This is Paul’s use of a literary technique called diatribe (See "Diatribes in Religious Speech"). This question/answer format is also seen in the OT in Malachi and in the NT in Romans and 1 John. The subject of the literary work is carried forward by a dialog between the writer and a supposed objector. Here the argument is moved on to a slightly different theme. First, some of the factious groups denied the resurrection of Christ and thereby the resurrection of all believers. Now Paul addresses those who question the form of the resurrection body.  (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

But someone will say - Paul moves further in his defense of the doctrine of the resurrection and imagines someone saying "Okay, let's assume the doctrine is true. What does the resurrected person look like?"

Robertson paraphrases it "Granted that historical testimony and natural fitness are in favour of believing that Christ rose again as an earnest that we shall be raised, is our bodily resurrection possible? Can we conceive such a thing? We cannot be expected to believe what is impossible and inconceivable." 

How are the dead raised (egeiro)? And with what kind of body do they come? - "But some one is sure to object, Is it possible for the dead to be raised? Why, with what kind of a body will they come back" (R & P) Part of this type of question might come from the fact that everyone knew when you put a body in the grave, it begins to decay, or as the Bible itself says "dust to dust." (Ge 3:19+). And what about bodies buried at sea? Or what about a person who was cremated? Or what about a person donating part of their body (say a kidney) to another person? How could these bodies be raised? What would they look like? "In verses 36–49 Paul answers the questions of verse 35 in four ways: (1) he gives an illustration from nature, (2) he tells what kind of body resurrection bodies will be, (3) he contrasts earthly and resurrection bodies, and (4) he reminds them of the prototype resurrection, in which they already believed." (MacArthur MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Thomas Constable has an interesting comment - This objection to the resurrection has to do with the reconstruction of the body out of the same elements that it formerly possessed. Obviously it would be impossible to reassemble the same cells to reconstruct a person after he or she had been dead for some time. This is the primary problem that Paul solved in the rest of this pericope. For example, if someone died at sea and sailors buried him, a fish might eat his body. The atoms and molecules of his body would become part of the fish. If a fisherman caught and ate the fish, its body would become part of the fisherman's body. If the fisherman died and an undertaker buried him in the ground and someone eventually sowed wheat over his grave, the fisherman's atoms and molecules would go into the wheat. A third person would eat the wheat and so on. How could the first person's body ever come together again? (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Spurgeon - “Truly it is never a pleasant sound, that rattle of the clay upon the coffin-lid, ‘Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes,’ nor to the farmer, for its own sake, would it be a very pleasant thing to put his grain into the dull cold earth; yet I trow no farmer ever weeps when he sows his seed.”....“Dear friends, if such be death—if it be but a sowing, let us have done with all faithless, hopeless, graceless sorrow … ‘Our family circle has been broken,’ say you. Yes, but only broken that it may be re-formed. You have lost a dear friend: yes, but only lost that friend that you may find him again, and find more than you lost. They are not lost; they are sown.

Utley on what kind of body- One source of the conflict concerning a resurrected body comes from the negative view of the physical body in some schools of Greek philosophy. The Greeks often viewed the material as evil (gnosticism) and even worse, the physical body as the prison-house of the eternal divine spark or soul within all humans. This cultural/philosophical background came into direct conflict with Paul’s Hebraic (Pharisaic) background of the affirmation of a physical, bodily afterlife." (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Robertson - The Talmud shows that the Rabbis believed that the particles of the body which died would reunite at the resurrection and form the same body again.

Chrysostom asks, Why does not the Apostle appeal to the omnipotence of God? and replies, Because he is dealing with people who do not believe

MacArthur has an additional note - Part of the problem some Greeks had may have been traceable to a false view of resurrection taught by many rabbis of that time. By misinterpreting such passages as Job 19:26 (“Yet from my flesh I shall see God”), they concluded that resurrection bodies will be identical to earthly bodies in every way. The writer of the Jewish apocryphal book of Baruch wrote, for example, that “the earth shall then [at the resurrection] assuredly restore the dead; it shall make no change in form, but as it has received so shall it restore.” To Gnostics, that view made resurrection seem even less desirable and possible. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Hodge - How it is possible for life to come out of death, and, What is to be the nature of the body after the resurrection. The latter difficulty was the main one, and therefore to that the most of what follows refers. The great objection in the minds of the Corinthians to the doctrine of the resurrection was evidently the same as that of the Sadducees. Both supposed our future bodies are to be like our present ones. Our Lord’s answer to the Sadducees, therefore, is the same as that which Paul gives to the Corinthian objectors. The future body is not to be like the present. To reject a plainly-revealed and most important doctrine on such grounds as these is wicked as well as foolish, and therefore the apostle says in the next verse "You fool!" (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Jack Arnold -  Now I ask you how John Wycliffe will be raised from the dead? His body was in the grave for twelve years and was then exhumed and burned as a body of a heretic and his ashes scattered over a river which took them out to the North Sea.  Will Wycliffe be raised? Yes! Surely all this is impossible with man but not with a sovereign, supernatural, miracle working God. The Sadducees asked Christ a skeptical question about the resurrection, and He answered, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). Nothing is impossible with God. How are the dead raised? By God in supernatural power. (The New, Resurrected Body)

Ray Stedman - For twenty centuries now the skeptics of all ages have asked these same questions. Of course, they amplify them by imposing various obstacles they see. They say, for instance, "We can understand, perhaps, that a body that has been carefully embalmed and placed in a grave might possibly be brought back to life, but what about those that have been destroyed? What about all the people that have been cremated?" . . .These questions always arise when unbelief faces this question of the resurrection of the dead. "How can it be?" That is what some of these Corinthians were asking. The clear implication was, "It cannot be; it is impossible." The Greeks, of course, were teaching that it was a good thing, an advantage, to lose the body. The body was a prison-house, they taught, where we are limited and restricted. The Oriental religions, on the other hand, were teaching that many bodies were needed in a process of salvation, that you return to earth many times. Their question would be, "Which body is raised from the dead? Is it the 'cow' body you once had, or the 'gorilla' body you may have had, or the one you are walking around in now?" Reincarnation would, for them, pose an entirely different question concerning the resurrection of the body. (The New Body - What is it Like?)

Body (4983soma is literally the body of man or animals and could be living (Mt 5:29f; 6:25; Mk 14:22; Lk 11:34; Ro 4:19; 7:24; 8:10, 13; 12:1; 1 Cor 5:3; 6:20; 11:24, 27, 29; 15:44; 2 Cor 5:6, 8, 10; Gal 6:17; Col 2:11; Heb 13:3; Jas 3:3) or dead (corpse Mt 27:52, 58f; Lk 17:37; Jn 19:31, 38, 40; Acts 9:40.). The word soma was used by Homer (about ninth century B.C.) for a dead body. But beginning with Hesiod (eighth century B.C.) it came to be employed for living bodies, whether of animals or men. In the present context soma also speaks of plant and seed structure using body. In order to gain an answer to the question in 1 Cor 15:35 Paul speaks of bodies of plants (which are different in kind from the ‘body’ of the seed which is planted). Paul also uses soma for celestial bodies in 1 Cor 15:40 and finally for a natural human body and a resurrection body in 1 Cor 15:44. Paul uses soma 9x in this section so it is clearly a key word - 1 Co. 15:35; 1 Co. 15:37; 1 Co. 15:38; 1 Co. 15:40;

ILLUSTRATION - There were two lawyers, Mr. Ebbison and Mr. West, who on one occasion were talking about the Christian faith. Neither believed it for both were Deists. They did not deny the existence of God but the providence and activity of God in creation. They decided, as objective and intelligent lawyers, to discredit Christianity. They agreed that to do this they would have to disprove two things in the Bible, two historical facts. They would have to disprove the conversion of the Apostle Paul and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Each of them chose one of these topics to disprove and went on his way, agreeing to meet the other a year later with his findings. They subjected the facts to the best of legal and scientific procedures. When they came together again, Mr. West asked Mr. Ebbinson if in fact he had written his book. Ebbison said, “Yes, I have. I have taken the alleged fact of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and scrutinized it as an objective lawyer and have concluded it is a historical event. And I have been converted myself to Christianity, for I have received the same Christ that Saul received.” Mr. Ebbinson then said to Mr. West, “Have you written your book?” He replied, “Yes, I have. I have taken the facts about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and have sifted through the evidence, and I have concluded that it was an historical event and I have come to know this resurrected Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.”

1 Corinthians 15:36  You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passages: 

Luke 11:40+ “You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

Luke 12:20+ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’

John 12:24  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Acts 26:8+  “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? (Comment - especially since we have the evidence of "resurrection" surrounding us in nature!)

Daniel 12:13+ But as for you (DANIEL), go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” (WHEN CHRIST RETURNS THIS PRESENT AGE IS ABRUPTLY BROUGHT TO AN END).

 

 
Sown Seed Dies then Germinates

THE ILLUSTRATION
OF A SEED

Robertson and Plummer - People ask how the body that dies and the body that is raised can be the same. Nature itself shows that there is no necessity for their being the same. The seed and the plant that rises from it are so far from being the same, that the one must die in order that the other may live.  This is the answer to the first question, and it is given with a severity which implies that the objector plumes himself on his acuteness. But he is not at all acute." (ED: Instead Paul says he is a fool) (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

You fool (aphron)- Literally the Greek says Fool! One version (Easy to Read Version) says "These are stupid questions!" As Hodge says fool is "An exclamation both of disapprobation and contempt. (Lk 12:20) Robertson adds that their "question (in 1 Cor 15:35) may seem to be clever, but it is really very foolish, and daily experience answers it. The seed which you yourself sow can have no new life given to it, unless it dies."

This is surely a bit of Pauline irony, as he sarcastically refers to the “wise” Corinthians as "fools!” They  are not using their understanding. They were fools for considering death the end of existence and to in effect exclude God from consideration (that is the essence of what a "fool" does in the Bible, men like Nabal 1 Sa 25:25)! If they were truly wise, they would know that death of a seed (its planting) was not the end of its existence but the beginning of a new existence (the plant that grows from the seed). And so Paul's first point is that there must be death before there can be new life and he proceeds to illustrate this truth with the analogy of a seed that is planted ("dies") but then grows into a new plant ("life"). 

Ray Stedman on you fool - Why did he say that? It is a normal question, almost everybody asks it, and yet Paul immediately brands it as a foolish question. The reason, of course, is evident in what he says next. It is foolish, he says, because everywhere around you are examples of what is happening in resurrection. He is referring to the normal process of plants growing from seeds or bulbs that are placed in the ground. They die, they lose their consistency, and out of them emerges another kind of body which is yet identical to the seed that was placed in the ground....Easter, therefore, always falls in the midst of the awakening of earth from its death in winter and the coming to life again of things that once were dead. Thus Paul is pointing out that we have ample evidence in the processes of nature itself to believe in a resurrection of the body. Nature teaches us two obvious lessons. (The New Body - What is it Like?)

That which you sow (speiro) does not come to life (zoopoieo) unless it dies (apothnesko) - Notice Paul says "you" pointing to the Corinthians themselves, who had surely sown seeds. Now Paul reminds them that although the sown seed falls into the ground and dies, death is not the end of the seed, but it gives life when the new plant comes up. 

Thomas Gray speaks of death in “Elegy written in a Country Churchyard”  (take a moment and slowly read the lengthy poem pondering Gray's profound prose).

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Arnold - Apparently he did not have much patience with people who said they believed in God but did not see Him as a supernatural working God. He used an illustration from nature, from the vegetable kingdom. Death is a necessary process in resurrection. Far from being an obstacle, death is essential to resurrection.

Robertson - Only by dissolution of the material particles in the seed is the germ of life, which no microscope can detect, made to operate. The new living organism is not the old one reconstructed, although it has a necessary and close connexion with it; it is neither identical with the former, nor is it a new creation (John 12:24). Dissolution and continuity are not incompatible; how they are combined is a mystery beyond our ken, but the fact that they can be combined is evident, and death setting free a mysterious power of new life is part of the how. 

Hodge - Fool! says Paul, a seed cannot live unless it does die. Disorganization is the necessary condition of reorganization. If the seed remain a seed there is an end of it. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit, John 12:24. The seed is as much disorganized, it as really ceases to be a seed when sown in the ground, as the body when laid in the grave. If the one dies, the other dies. Death is not annihilation, but disorganization; the passing from one form or mode of existence to another. How then can the disorganization of the body in the grave be an objection to the doctrine of a resurrection?

MacArthur- Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Before Christ could bear the fruit of salvation for us, He had to die. Likewise, before we can participate in the fruit of His resurrection, or bear fruit in His service, we too must die. “He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal” (Jn 12:25). When Jesus was crucified His earthly body died; it ceased to exist as an earthly body. Just as with growing crops, there had to be an end to the old before there could be a beginning of the new. In the case of men, one body will die to give life to another. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Stedman: Nature teaches us two obvious lessons. First: Death is a necessary part of the process. Far from being an obstacle to resurrection, death is essential to it. You can put that in the form of an axiom: Nothing that has never died shall ever be raised from the dead. Obviously if it is going to be raised from the dead it has to die. Therefore, death is not an obstacle to resurrection. It is an ingredient of it and necessary to it. To balk at the fact that people die and the body loses its ability to function and its form and consistency as a body, ought never to be any hindrance to believing that life will emerge from it. The body must die just as the seed must die. The second lesson that nature teaches us is this: The body that emerges from the seed that dies is different from the one that was planted. Put a grain of wheat or a kernel of corn into the ground and what comes up? Another grain of wheat or another kernel? No! What comes up is a green stem which does not look at all like what you put into the ground. Nevertheless it is tied to it; it is continuous from it; it has an identity with it. There is an undeniable tie with that which you put into the ground, and yet it is not the same; it is the "same" without being similar. Now, if you had never seen that process before, would you have believed it if somebody had said that that is what would happen? You would have looked at him as though he were mad and said, "How can that be?" because you can put almost anything else into the ground and that will not happen. It is one of those miracles that is so familiar to us that we miss the miraculous part of it. But Paul says it happens so frequently there should therefore be no struggle with believing in the resurrection of the dead. (The New Body - What is it Like?)

Fool (878aphron from a = without + + phren = understanding, means originally meant diaphragm and was regarded as the seat of mental and spiritual activity, then mind or understanding -- see another study on aphron - click here) is literally a lack of sense, reflection, understanding or reason. Aphron is one who does not use his rational powers. The aphrōn hates knowledge, but loves haughtiness (Proverbs 1:22).10v - Lk. 11:40; Lk. 12:20; Rom. 2:20; 1 Co. 15:36; 2 Co. 11:16; 2 Co. 11:19; 2 Co. 12:6; 2 Co. 12:11; Eph. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:15

Sow (4687speiro from spao = draw out, pull) literally means to scatter (seed) and the opposite of reaping or gathering. Speiro is used figuratively to describe the sowing of the "seed" of the Word of God, the Gospel (="the word of the kingdom" - Mt13:19, cp Mk 4:14 15, 16, 18), "the ideas and precepts that have been implanted like seed in their hearts, ie, received in their hearts (Mk 4:18)."  In 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 he presented resurrection truth in these terms. The burial of the body is, by analogy, like the planting of seed; it must decay before it brings forth new, incorruptible life. Speiro - 1 Co. 9:11; 1 Co. 15:36; 1 Co. 15:37; 1 Co. 15:42; 1 Co. 15:43; 1 Co. 15:44; 2 Co. 9:6; 2 Co. 9:10

1 Corinthians 15:37  and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.(NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Easy to Read - These are stupid questions. When you plant something, it must die in the ground before it can live and grow.

seed
Seed Sown Yields a Different Body

PAUL'S ANSWER TO 
THE SECOND QUESTION

Paul is answering the hypothetical question And with what kind of body do they come? (1 Cor 15:35)

Ray Pritchard: Paul uses the analogy of the seed to correct two common errors: (1) That the resurrection body will be identical to the one that was buried (Ed: Difference is illustrated in 1 Cor 15:37).  (2) That the resurrection body will be completely unrelated to the original (Ed: Continuity is illustrated in 1 Cor 15:38)....No, it (RESURRECTION BODY) will be me but a whole new me, vastly improved by God. I am to my resurrection body as the acorn is to the oak tree. That’s what John meant when he said, “What we will be has not yet been made known” (1 John 3:2+). Today I’m just an acorn, tomorrow I will be a mighty oak tree. You can’t tell by looking at me what I will be (and I can’t even imagine it myself) but there are enormous powers resident in me that are placed there by the power of God. Today those powers are mostly latent but one day they will be fully displayed. Today I’m a nut, tomorrow I’m an oak tree. (I said that on purpose because it made me smile to think of it but it’s just as true of you as it is of me.) And this revolutionizes our view of death. I know from sad experience how difficult it is to stand by the casket of a dear friend or family member and feel the overwhelming power of death staring you in the face. It’s as if death is alive and is laughing at us and saying, “You fool! You believed all that Jesus stuff and you thought you would live forever. But I have the last laugh. Your friend is dead and you’ll never see him again. And what’s more, you’ll be dead soon and all your hope will be gone.” I have felt it and almost heard that voice in my ears. But then I consider what Paul is saying. Death is like planting the seed in the ground. If you never plant the seed, you never reap the harvest. Write it down in big letters. If you want to be raised from the dead, you have to die first. No one will ever be resurrected who wasn’t already dead. Which means that death (which seems so fearful to us) is actually the necessary first step to the resurrection. And that’s why death has lost its sting and the grave has been robbed of its victory. Through Jesus Christ death now becomes the doorway to immortal glory. The passage may seem dark but there is light shining on the other side....One Bible teacher suggests that in the resurrection we will have 500 senses compared to our current five. We can’t prove that today but it is consistent with the image of the seed and the harvest.  (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Acorns to Oak Trees: How are Dead Raised?)

And that which you sow (speiro) , you do not sow the body (soma) which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else - As with the previous verse Paul again uses the plural pronoun "you" which draws the Corinthians into this sowing and they would be aware of how the sown seed differed from what grew up. As the Common English Bible paraphrases it "What you put in the ground doesn't have the shape that it will have, but it's a bare grain of wheat or some other seed." The point is that what is sown (seed) does not look like the final plant. What you plant does not have the same body it will have when it germinates. You plant an acorn but what comes up eventually is a huge oak tree. This was true of the "planting of Jesus in the ground" (so to speak), for when He arose from the grave, His body was different than His human body had been, for it was not subject to the laws of the old body, the limitations of conditions of time and space, not touched by exhaustion and pain. For example He could appear and disappear at will and do so without even being initially recognized (Lk 24:15, 31+) and could pass through unopened doors (Jn 20:19). 

MacDonald - Is the plant the same as the seed? No, the plant is not the same as the seed; however, there is a very vital connection between the two. Without the seed there would have been no plant. Also, the plant derives its features from the seed (ED: as taught in 1 Cor 15:38). So it is in resurrection. 

Alan Redpath - You cannot explain how God does all that, but you believe in the “resurrection” of the grain because you see it. Because you cannot see it, don’t dismiss the fact of the resurrection of the body from the grave, from the ocean, from the crematorium, from anywhere, for God is omnipotent, and with Him all things are possible.

Stedman - The body that emerges from the seed that dies is different from the one that was planted. Put a grain of wheat or a kernel of corn into the ground and what comes up? Another grain of wheat or another kernel? No! What comes up is a green stem which does not look at all like what you put into the ground. Nevertheless it is tied to it; it is continuous from it; it has an identity with it. There is an undeniable tie with that which you put into the ground, and yet it is not the same; it is the "same" without being similar. Now, if you had never seen that process before, would you have believed it if somebody had said that that is what would happen? You would have looked at him as though he were mad and said, "How can that be?" because you can put almost anything else into the ground and that will not happen. It is one of those miracles that is so familiar to us that we miss the miraculous part of it. But Paul says it happens so frequently there should therefore be no struggle with believing in the resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:35-49 The New Body: What Is It Like?)

Constable points out that Paul illustration of the difference between the seed planted and the final plant "is so obvious in nature that we can understand Paul’s sharp retort in verse 36 ("Fool"). A fool in biblical literature is someone who excludes God from consideration. That is exactly what the Corinthians were doing when they failed to observe what God did in the seed that they sowed in their fields. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Zeisler: Here Paul is testifying to the fact that although humans are planted in the ground when they die, they will be raised very different beings indeed. Bodies may be burned or suffer decay, but what was planted will not be the same as what will be raised. Yet there is continuity, however. The one who was buried will be the one who will be raised. Wheat seed will produce wheat. What you are right now, everything you are becoming inside, all of the changes which God is making in your character, will be there upon your resurrection. You will be raised, but not with the same body. In the resurrection, you will be gloriously different. (1 Corinthians - Physical Fitness Forever)

Alan Redpath - The illustration Paul gives is that of a simple grain of wheat. He invites us to look at it. First take it in your hand, and then plant it in the ground. What happens to it? It dies. But soon you will see a green shoot, and it unmistakably comes alive again, not the same grain you put in, but another plant. Yet by some amazing miracle, that new plant has come out of the grain that you put in the ground. The two are distinctly different, but they are absolutely connected. The grain which is put into the ground dies, but is quickened into life, for there would be no coming again into life except first that grain has died. As Jesus said, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). The mystery of the resurrection of the body is not greater than that. If you say that because there are mysteries you cannot understand you refuse to believe the resurrection of the body, then logically you have to say, “I don’t believe in harvest, because I don’t understand the process.” Look at that bare grain you are putting into the ground, and then in a few months look at the harvest. A new life, a new plant, but out of the old grain that has been planted into death. You can only explain the miracle of its growth if you put God behind it, and say in the words of verse 38: “But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.” All the harvest fields of the world are eternal witness to the work of God who takes hold of death, brings it to life, gives it a new body, and produces the harvest. (The Road to Heaven)


Incredible? By M.R. De Haan

Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead. —Acts 26:8

If Jesus did not rise from the dead and there is no future day of resurrection for us, then life loses all its meaning. If this life is all there is—just a few years of alternate crying and laughing (mostly crying) and then darkness—with Paul we can say, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Resurrection, however, is not an incredible, irrational idea. We can see illustrations of resurrection all around us in nature. For example, Egyptian garden peas that had been buried for 3,000 years were brought out and planted on June 4, 1844. Within a few days they had germinated and broken the ground. Buried for 3,000 years—then resurrected. That’s amazing! Why then should it be thought incredible that God should raise the dead? That was the surprised question of Paul to King Agrippa (Acts 26:8). If God could take some dust and breathe life into it to create a man (Gen. 2:7), why would anyone think it incredible for this same God to raise someone from the dead? Yes, it is most credible that Jesus would arise. It would be incredible if after the miraculous life He lived He had remained in the grave. Hallelujah! Christ arose! —M. R. De Haan, M.D. (founder of RBC Ministries) (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE
  With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
  He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
  And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
—Lowry

Only a living Savior could rescue a dying world.

1 Corinthians 15:38  But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passage:

1 Corinthians 3:7+ So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth."

Job 14:14 “If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes. 

DISTINCTNESS
YET SIMILARITY 

In verse 37 Paul used the illustration of a seed to a plant to show that the body that dies will be distinct from the body that is resurrected. Now in verse 38 he again uses the seed illustration to show that despite the distinctive aspects of the resurrection body, there would still be similarity (or continuity). 

Paul continues answering the question And with what kind of body do they come? (1 Cor 15:35) He has just illustrated the resurrection body with a seed that is planted that grow into a plant that is different in appearance than the seed. The implication is that this would be true with the resurrection body. And yet despite the fact that the final growth looked different from the seed sown, the final plant and the seed are still related. In other words a wheat seed that grew into a plant did not grow into a barley stalk but a wheat stalk. So too the resurrection body though different, would still be related to the person who had been "planted." 

As Goins says "there is a continuity, and that's the point of verse 38...To each of the seeds a body of its own." The seed changes radically, but it does continue the same life form. A wheat seed doesn't turn into a barley plant, and a kernel of corn doesn't turn into flax. The identity of the seed continues into the full-grown plant. In Jesus' post-resurrection appearances in his resurrection body, none of his disciples and followers recognized him until he chose to reveal himself to them. But once he told them who he was, they did recognize him. They saw the wound in his side and the nail prints in his hands. They knew his face. The promise for us is that we will have some kind of continuity of our personhood, our personality, our unique individuality, after death.

Robertson and Plummer point out that "This is the important point. Neither the seed itself, nor the sower, provides the new body; ‘but it is God that giveth it a body exactly as He willed, and to each of the seeds a body of its own,’ i.e. the right body, the one that is proper to its kind. Therefore to every buried human being He will give a proper resurrection-body." The use of soma of vegetation reminds us that the illustration has reference to the human body: and καθὼς ἠθέλησεν, as in 12:18 (not καθὼς θέλει, or καθὼς βούλεται, as in 12:11), shows that God does not deal with each case separately, just as He pleases at the moment, but according to fixed laws, just as it pleased Him when the world was created and regulated. From the first, vegetation has had its laws κατὰ γένος καὶ καθʼ ὁμοιότητα (Gen. 1:11, 12), and great as is the variety of plants, the seed of each has a body of its own, in which the vital principle, to be brought into action by death and decay, resides.

But God (present tense - continually) gives it a body (somajust as He wished (that He has planned for it), and to each of the seeds a body (somaof its own -  The new body is not given by the seed, but by God.God's sovereign power gives the seed a body in accordance with His good and acceptable and perfect will. Paul's point is that just as God gives the seed the "body" He desires, so too He will give each believer a resurrection body just as He desires. The clear implication is that that resurrected body would not be the same type of body that died but it would be a body of the same person (but of course, glorified and sinless, so different in a good way.)

Lenski - Paul is not delivering a biological lecture. He is constructing a simple analogy which all of his readers are able to understand whether they are scientific biologists or not. A dying results in a quickening and a new life—we see it in the seed which we plant. God’s creative act is back of what we see and not a will or an arrangement of ours. What goes into the ground is a bare seed, what comes out is a beautiful plant. God is responsible for this marvel: “God gives it a body.”....A seed of wheat produces a plant of wheat and no other species of plant; and so does every other kind of seed. In the resultant plant every seed gets “a body of its own,” always the one God originally designed for it, the one God now gives it. The vast world of nature demonstrates this in endless succession. “Great oaks from little acorns grow” and not great elms or beeches, nor little currant or raspberry bushes. The simple analogy is thus made secure against misunderstanding: seed and body go into the ground—new living forms result; but in both cases with a marvelous change that is due entirely to God’s almighty will and power. To be sure, what is said concerning the seed is fitted closely to what is meant regarding the body.

GilbrantThe man sows; the seed dies; the plant is raised by the power of God. It is an ordained rising; so shall it be with the resurrection of the body. God gives continually the proper body to each seed.

Hodge - What is deposited in the earth is very different from that which springs from it. Every seed produces its own plant. The product depends on the will of God. It was determined at the creation, and therefore the apostle says that God, in the continual agency of his providence, gives to each seed its own appropriate product, as he willed, i. e. he originally purposed. The point of this is, if God thus gives to all the products of the earth each its own form, why may he not determine the form in which the body is to appear at the resurrection? You cannot infer from looking at a seed what the plant is to be; it is very foolish, therefore, to attempt to determine from our present bodies what is to be the nature of our bodies hereafter.

W E Vine adds that God "determined every detail of the differing species in nature, and He has determined the condition of the resurrection body, with the glory and power which God has prepared."

Hunter & McShane adds that "At creation God willed and planned what should be, and in the processes of nature everything conforms to the plan. The divine volition has seen to it that every seed produces a body according to its genus or family; this is the emphasis of the expression "seed after his kind" (Gen 1:12). The operation proceeds with regularity, but each family exhibits a tremendous number of varieties. Even with a single variety each seed has its separate individuality given by God. So the teaching is clear. Personality will continue, but the body possessed will be altogether different from the present body. Paul now develops this idea, for he knows that just here lies the difficulty with so many in their understanding of these things.(What the Bible teaches – 1 and 2 Corinthians)

1 Corinthians 15:39  All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

PAUL SHIFTS ILLUSTRATION
FROM "BOTANY" TO "ZOOLOGY"

McGee - Now he moves from the area of botany to zoology.

As an aside Paul deals a "death blow" to evolution. The flesh of men is separate and distinct from the flesh of fish. There is no progress of one type of flesh to another. Evolution is a Biblically indefensible lie from the pit of hell! 

MacDonald - To illustrate the fact that the glory of the resurrection body will be different from the glory of our present bodies, the Apostle Paul points out that all flesh is not the same kind.

All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish - God gives each type of flesh its own distinctive quality. The animal kingdom points out the differences n bodies. Each of these bodies have been specifically designed by God for specific functions - some hibernate (beasts), some fly (birds) and some swim (fih). God is able to design flesh for whatever purpose He desires. Clearly, in light of these vast differences in flesh in God's creation, it is indisputably clear that God is able to design a body that is perfectly suited for the environment in which He places it (land, air, water). By analogy it is clear that God has the ability to create a resurrection body perfectly suited for the environment of Heaven and for eternity!

Constable explains the differences in flesh this way - A body can be genuinely fleshly and still subsist in different forms for different environments. The fact that there are different kinds of bodies among animals should help us understand that there can also be different kinds of human bodies. Some human bodies are mortal and some are immortal. Some are corruptible and others incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Hodge adds "If even here, where the general conditions of life are the same, we see such diversity in animal organizations, flesh and blood appearing in so many forms, why should it be assumed that the body hereafter must be the same cumbrous vehicle of the soul that it is now?" 

John MacArthur - I have read that there are some six hundred octodecillion different combinations of amino acids. An octodecillion is 10 to the 108th power, or 1 followed by 108 zeros. Amino acids are the building blocks of all life. Not only does each type of plant and animal life have a distinct pattern of amino acids, but each individual plant, animal, and human being has its own unique grouping of them. No two flowers, snowflakes, seeds, blades of grass, or human beings—even identical twins—are exactly alike. Yet each is completely identified with its own species or kind. Those two facts make one of the strongest scientific evidences against evolution. No matter what we may eat, no matter how specialized or unbalanced our diet may be, and no matter what our environment may be, we will never change into another form of life. We may become healthier or more sickly, heavier or lighter, but we will never be anything but a human being and never any human being but the one we are. The biological codes are binding and unique. There is no repeatable or demonstrable scientific proof that one form of life has changed or could change into another. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Related Resources:

1 Corinthians 15:40  There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

ILLUSTRATION OF THE CELESTIAL
AND TERRESTRIAL BODIES

There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies (soma), but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another - Paul's point is to emphasize the marked difference between heavenly and earthly bodies (everything that lives on the earth) just as there were differences in flesh in v39. And so heavenly bodies shine but earthly bodies do not literally shine. However they have ability to speak and think and thus have a glory of their own. 

Paul Apple - God Grants Each Type of Creation its Own Unique Glory. 

Vine - the basic idea in the word doxa, glory, is that of manifestation. The glory of God is the manifestation of His Being. His character and His acts. As to the inanimate things here mentioned, the glory of the sun, moon and stars is the manifestation of their nature in their differing degrees of splendor and beauty. As to the stars, their differences in luster and brilliance are endless, and in this they testify to the infinite wisdom and inexhaustible power of God their Creator.The point in all this is not that there will be differing degrees of glory in the bodies of the saints in the resurrection, but that God, Who has arranged all things in nature in the differing degrees of glory, has power to bring about the state of glory to be manifested in the raised bodies of believers. Differences in degrees of glory in their glorified bodies is not in view. This is confirmed in what follows.

Robertson and Plummer - The God who made these myriads of differences in one and the same universe can be credited with inexhaustible power. It is monstrous to suppose that He cannot fit a body to spirit. Therefore we must not place any limit to God’s power with regard either to the difference between our present and our future body, or to the relations between them. He has found a fit body for fish, fowl, cattle, and mortal man: why not for immortal man? Experience teaches that God finds a suitable body for every type of earthly life and every type of heavenly life. Experience cannot teach that there is a type of life for which no suitable body can be found.

Glory (1391doxa rom dokeo = to think) in simple terms means to give a proper opinion or estimate of something. Doxa is a manifestation of light radiance, brightness, splendor. A manifestation of God’s excellent power glory, majesty (Ro 9.23, Lk 2:9, Acts 7:55, Ro 1:23) Glory is something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration. It describes renown, a thing that is beautiful, impressive, or worthy of praise. It follows that the glory of God expresses all that He is in His Being and in His nature, character, power and acts. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really is. To be where God is will be glory. To be what God intended will be glory. To do what God purposed will be glory. Doxa in 1-2 Corinthians - 1 Co. 2:7; 1 Co. 2:8; 1 Co. 10:31; 1 Co. 11:7; 1 Co. 11:15; 1 Co. 15:40; 1 Co. 15:41; 1 Co. 15:43; 2 Co. 1:20; 2 Co. 3:7; 2 Co. 3:8; 2 Co. 3:9; 2 Co. 3:10; 2 Co. 3:11; 2 Co. 3:18; 2 Co. 4:4; 2 Co. 4:6; 2 Co. 4:15; 2 Co. 4:17; 2 Co. 6:8; 2 Co. 8:19; 2 Co. 8:23

1 Corinthians 15:41  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passages:

Mt 13:43+ (SUN) “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Daniel 12:3+ (STARS) “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

THE DIFFERENCES OF THE 
GLORY OF CELESTIAL BODIES

There is one glory (doxaof the sun, and another glory (doxa) of the moon, and another glory (doxaof the stars  - The key word in this passage is clearly glory (doxa)! The best exposition of this verse is to go outside your house on a cloudless night and gaze up into the sky where you see that the differences to which Paul alludes are breathtaking and should cause us to be filled with wonder and awe at the greatness of our God (Play Indescribable and you will see some pictures of celestial glory).. And while we can look at the moon at night, no one can gaze at the sun in its brightness less they be blinded. These differences are all the result of the work of the infinitely wise Creator, which prepares us for Paul's conclusion in v42. 

For star differs from star in glory (doxa) - Our future resurrection bodies will differ from our present, just as one star differs from another. This is quite a comparison when you think about it. Today we build huge telescopes to look at the glory of the stars, but it seems that one day our bodies will have a similar awesome, incredible, eternal glory! O what a future every believer has to look forward to experiencing forever and ever. Amen. 

Robertson and Plummer - the differences in light and lustre are endless. It is legitimate to apply these differences in the heavenly bodies to possible differences in the glories of the risen saints, and it is not impossible that the Apostle had this thought in his mind (MOST WRITERS DO NOT THINK THAT WAS PAUL'S INTENT). But his main argument is that God, who made all these known differences and connexions, may have made differences and connexions between our present and future bodies which are quite beyond our comprehension. Immense differences there are certain to be. 

Alan Redpath - He is teaching that the difference that exists here will exist forever in the glory. A human personality is not wiped out by disaster; it is preserved forever, with all its distinctions and differences. Just as we have differed in appearance here, so we will differ there. That is why we will know one another when we get to heaven.

R C H Lenski - Paul is not writing about the differences that will appear between the saints and the fact that some will shine in greater glory than others. This difference is referred to in other passages of Holy Writ, it is not mentioned in this verse.

Pulpit Commentary agrees with Lenski - The point of the illustration is the difference between the earthly and the resurrection body; not the supposed differences between the saints themselves in glory. This is not a question under consideration, and St. Paul, as we have seen, is not in the habit of mixing up half a dozen different questions in the same immediate argument. St. Augustine says of the saints, "Their splendour is unequal; their heaven is one." This may be very true, but to deduce it from this verse is to press into the argument an illustration used for another purpose.(1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

William MacDonald has an interesting comment on the glory of the resurrection body - Most commentators agree that Paul is still emphasizing that the glory of the resurrection body will be different from the glory of the body which we have on earth at the present time. They do not think that verse 41, for instance, indicates that in heaven there will be differences of glory among believers themselves. However, we tend to agree with Holsten that “the way in which Paul emphasizes the diversities of the heavenly bodies implies the supposition of an analogous difference of glory between the risen.” It is clear from other passages of Scripture that we shall not all be identical in heaven. Although all will resemble the Lord Jesus morally, that is, in freedom from sin, it does not follow that we shall all look like the Lord Jesus physically. He will be distinctly recognizable as such throughout all eternity. Likewise, we believe that each individual Christian will be a distinct personality recognizable as such. But there will be differences of reward granted at the Judgment Seat of Christ according to one’s faithfulness in service. While all will be supremely happy in heaven, some will have greater capacity for enjoying heaven. Just as there will be differences of suffering in hell, according to the sins that a man has committed, so there will be differences of enjoyment in heaven, according to what we have done as believers.

Charles Hodge - The apostle does not mean that as one star differs from another star in glory, so one risen believer will differ from another. This, no doubt, is true; but it is not what Paul here says or intimates. His object is simply to show the absurdity of the objection founded on the assumption that the body hereafter must be what it is here. He shows that it may be a body and yet differ as much from what it is now as the light of the sun differs from a piece of clay. He

1 Corinthians 15:42  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable [body]; (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • is 1Co 15:50-54 Da 12:3 Mt 13:43 Php 3:20,21 
  • perishable body, Ge 3:19 Job 17:14 Ps 16:10 49:9,14 Isa 38:17 Ac 2:27,31 Ac 13:34-37 Ro 1:23 8:21 
  • raised an imperishable body 1Co 15:52-54 Lu 20:35,36 1Pe 1:4 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Luke 20:35; 36+  but those who are considered worthy (NO ONE IS WORTHY OUTSIDE OF BELIEF IN THE WORTHY ONE CHRIST JESUS) to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

Romans 8:20-21+  For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption (phthora) into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

2 Timothy 1:10+  but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality (aphtharsia) to light through the gospel,

THE RESURRECTED BODY
PLANTED PERISHABLE, RAISED IMPERISHABLE

So also is (It is the same) is the resurrection (anastasis) of the dead -  Paul now applies the preceding remarks so that just as the heavenly bodies differ from earthly bodies, so too the resurrection body will differ from the present (natural) body. Note that Paul is speaking only of the resurrection of believers here, not unbelievers. The preceding illustrations from nature, botany, zoology and astronomy, have prepared the reader for Paul's direct answer to the second question in 1 Cor 15:35 of what kind of body the resurrection body will be.

R C H Lenski - We who see all of this variety in the creatures which God called into being and placed before our eyes (1 Cor 15:39-41) ought to have no difficulty as to the form and the character of the bodies which God will bring forth from the graves at the resurrection. 

Robertson and Plummer - Hitherto the answer to the second question (1 Cor 15:35) has been indirect: it now becomes direct. The risen body is incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual. It is quite obvious that the corpse which is ‘sown’ is none of these things. It is in corruption (even) before it reaches the grave ; it has lost all rights of citizenship (atimia), and, excepting decent burial, all rights of humanity; it is absolutely powerless, unable to move a limb. 

It is (present tense - continually) sown (speiro)  a perishable (ruined, corruptible) body, it is (divine passive and present tense - continually)  raised (egeiroan imperishable body - Sown is a metaphor which fits with Paul's previous illustration of literal sowing of plant seeds. Continuing this analogy the human body is like a "seed" sown into a grave. In the grave the body undergoes decomposition and decay. But even before the grave the body is subject to corruption, Paul explains that "our outer man is (diaphtheiro in the present tense - continually)  decaying." (2 Cor 4:16+) In the grave of course the body is dead and  continues to decay. But this prepares it for the divine miracle of arising with a different body, one that is imperishable. no longer subject to deterioration, but able to forever retain its original glorious state. It will experience no sickness, pain, disease, etc! The imperishable body will be permanent, durable, eternal, never growing old, never becoming tired, never becoming weary, forever and ever. Amen!  

Ray Pritchard on a perishable body - Today our bodies are perishable, dishonorable, weak, and natural. If you want proof, just consider the five Bs of middle age: Baldness, Bifocals, Bridges, Bulges, and Bunions. Nothing works right. Our bodies wear out, slow down, decay, sag, groan, and even begin to smell bad. We brag about our strength but a tiny microbe can kill us. Sooner or later we grow old and our bodies begin to break down. Eventually they stop working altogether. No amount of Vitamin C or Siberian Ginseng can change that fact. At best, we can only slow down the aging process; we cannot delay it forever. (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Acorns to Oak Trees: How are Dead Raised?)

As Spurgeon says "“The righteous are put into their graves all weary and worn; but as such they will not rise. They go there with the furrowed brow, the hollowed cheek, the wrinkled skin; they shall wake up in beauty and glory.” Hallelujah!

MacArthur - Death, of course, rapidly accelerates decay. Martha objected to Lazarus’s tomb being opened, because “by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). The purpose of embalming is to retard deterioration of the body as long as possible. But even the remarkable Egyptian mummification could not prevent deterioration, much less restore life. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Matthew Poole - “There is nothing more uncomely, unlovely, and loathsome than a dead body; but it will not be so when it shall be raised again, then it shall be a beautiful, comely body. We shall rise in a full and perfect age, (as is generally thought) and without those defects and deformities which may here make our bodies appear unlovely.” 

Trapp has in interesting note that there were Three glimpses of the body’s glory seen -- in Moses’ face, in Christ’s transfiguration, and in Stephen’s countenance.” 

Perishable (5356)(phthora from phtheíro = to shrivel or wither, spoil , ruin , deprave, corrupt , defile, to destroy by means of corrupting, to spoil as does milk. The basic idea of phthora is not a sudden destruction owing to external violence, but a dissolution brought about by internal decay. It describes decomposition which brings to mind the picture of loathsome decaying matter replete with maggots and other macabre microbes!  Phthora - 8v - Ro 8:21; 1 Co. 15:42; 1 Co 15:50; Gal. 6:8 = "the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption"; Col. 2:22; 2 Pe 1:4 = "having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust"; 2 Pe 2:12; 2 Pe 2:19 = "they themselves are slaves of corruption"

Imperishable (861)(aphtharsia from a = not + phthartós = corruptible from the verb phtheíro = to corrupt, shrivel, wither, spoil by any process, ruin , deprave, defile, destroy) is a state of not being subject to decay or death - immortality, incorruptibility (state of being free from physical decay), perpetuity. It describes that which is not subject to decay and control by sin. Aphtharsia defines the state of not being subject to decay, dissolution or interruption. It speaks of an unending existence, of that which is not capable of corruption. Aphtharsia indicates immunity to the decay (cf "sin") that infects all of creation. Aphtharsia - 7v - Ro 2:7; 1 Co. 15:42; 1 Co. 15:50; 1 Co. 15:53; 1 Co. 15:54; Eph. 6:24; 2 Ti 1:10

1 Corinthians 15:43  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • dishonor Da 12:1 Mt 13:43 Php 3:20,21 
  • weakness Job 14:10: Ps 102:23 2Co 13:4 
  • in power 1Co 6:14 Mt 22:29,30 Mk 12:24,25 2Co 13:14 Php 3:10
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Daniel 12:3+ “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Matthew 13:43+  “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Philippians 3:20-21+  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

COMMENT: NOTE THAT LAST STATEMENT - The omnipotent Lord Jesus Christ can subject everything (no exceptions) and He will be able to supernaturally bring about the transformation (metaschematizo) of dead corpses to death conquerors! 

Romans 8:29-30+ For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Futuristic or proleptic aorist is used here to describe an event that has not taken place yet is seen as already completed! That is how certain we are to receive our future glorified resurrection bodies!)

Colossians 3:4+ When Christ, [who is] our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory

1 John 3:2+ Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

PRESENT DISHONOR, FUTURE GLORY
PRESENT WEAKNESS, FUTURE POWER

It is (present tense = continually) sown (speiro) in dishonor (without dignity), it is raised (egeiro) in glory (doxa) - The continual sowing of dead bodies in funeral after funeral is (or should be) a constant reminder of the curse of death pronounced by God when He declared "By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Ge 3:19+, cf Eccl 3:20, Ps 104:14-16) Raised is present tense indicating all believers will continue to be raised in glory. Raised is in the passive voice ( = divine passive) which indicates the resurrection is from an outside Source, which of course is God. 

MacArthur on dishonor - The creature that was made perfect, and in the very image of his Creator, was made to manifest his Creator in all that he did. But through sin, that which was created to honor God became characterized instead by dishonor. We dishonor God by our inability to take advantage fully of what He has given us in His creation. We dishonor God by misusing and abusing the bodies through which He desires us to honor and serve Him. Even the most faithful believer dies with his body in a state of dishonor, a state of imperfection and incompleteness. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Pulpit Commentary on dishonor "The awful and intolerable indignity of dust to dust."

Kistemaker has an interesting comment - The dissolution of the human body when committed to the grave is the ultimate humiliation for humans who were crowned with glory and honor to rule God’s creation (Ps. 8:5b; Heb. 2:7b, 9). They will receive that exalted rank again when they are raised to newness of life. Paul writes that Christ Jesus will transform our humiliated bodies to conform them to his glorious body (Phil. 3:21).

Charles Hodge on raised in glory - It is raised in glory, i. e. in that resplendent brightness which diffuses light and awakens admiration. It is to be fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Son of God, Phil. 3:21+.

Goins: This contrast addresses value or potential. We know that as sinful men and women we are dishonorable. At the fall our potential for pleasing, serving, and glorifying God was drastically reduced. Genesis tells us we were created in the image of God, designed to reflect his glory and perfection, created to honor him. But we know that sin is at work in us now. Even though we've been redeemed from the penalty of sin by Jesus Christ, we still struggle with fleshly patterns of sinful rebellion. Even the most faithful follower of Jesus Christ knows that his body, his intellect, his emotions, and his will are in a sense dishonorable or imperfect or incomplete. We live in a fallen, flawed world, and we reflect that fallenness. But we will one day be raised in glory, to use Paul's phrase. When we get to heaven we won't be sinful anymore.

Alan Redpath on dishonor and weakness - By the grave we have seen the corruption of the human body. No matter how ornate the funeral, and no matter how great an attempt may be made to take away some of the sting by something of fragrance, nevertheless at the graveside we know that there is dishonor. We have witnessed weakness, for as the body is put into the ground the processes of decay are already setting in and the body has to be hurried away.

Dishonor (819atimia from átimos = without honor from a = negative + time = Honor, respect, reverence, esteem) is a noun which describes that which is literally not honorable, not worthy of respect, reverence or esteem. Atimia was sometimes used of loss of the rights of citizenship. A corpse has no rights!

It is sown in weakness, it is raised (egeiro) in power - A corpse in the grave is the epitome of weakness. "The weakness which belonged to it in life, is perfected in death." (Hodge) The resurrection body will have supernatural power "with energy, endowed, it may be, with faculties of which we have now no conception." (Hodge)

Robertson Word Pictures on weakness...power - Lack of strength as shown in the victory of death. Death can never conquer this new body, “conformed to the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21).

MacDonald - With the coming of old age, weakness increases until death itself strips a man of all strength whatever (ED: AT AGE 75 I CAN ATTEST TO THE TRUTH OF THIS STATEMENT!) In eternity, the body will not be subject to these sad limitations, but will be possessed of powers that it does not have at the present time. For instance, the Lord Jesus Christ in resurrection was able to enter a room where the doors were locked. (Jn 20:19)

MacArthur - We are not told what that power will entail, but it will be immeasurable compared to what we now possess. We will no longer have to say that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Anything our heavenly spirits determine to do our heavenly bodies will be able to accomplish. Martin Luther said, “As weak as it [the human body of believers] is now without all power and ability when it lies in the grave, just so strong will it eventually become when the time arrives, so that not a thing will be impossible for it if it has a mind for it, and it will be so light and agile that in an instant it can float here below on earth or above in heaven.” (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Vine - Every believer will have a body possessed of incorruptibility, glory and power. 

Weakness (769astheneia  from a = without + sthénos = strength, bodily vigor) means literally without strength or bodily vigor = want of strength = lacking strength. It expresses powerlessness as those are who are without strength. Literally astheneia refers to bodily diseases or ailments (Lk 5:15, 13:11, 12, Jn 5:5, 11:4, 28:9). 23v - Matt. 8:17; Lk. 5:15; Lk. 8:2; Lk. 13:11; Lk. 13:12; Jn. 5:5; Jn. 11:4; Acts 28:9; Rom. 6:19; Rom. 8:26; 1 Co. 2:3; 1 Co. 15:43; 2 Co. 11:30; 2 Co. 12:5; 2 Co. 12:9; 2 Co. 12:10; 2 Co. 13:4; Gal. 4:13; 1 Tim. 5:23; Heb. 4:15; Heb. 5:2; Heb. 7:28; Heb. 11:34

Power (Miracles) (1411dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. Dunamis in 1-2 Corinthians -  1 Co. 1:18; 1 Co. 1:24; 1 Co. 2:4; 1 Co. 2:5; 1 Co. 4:19; 1 Co. 4:20; 1 Co. 5:4; 1 Co. 6:14; 1 Co. 12:10; 1 Co. 12:28; 1 Co. 12:29; 1 Co. 14:11; 1 Co. 15:24; 1 Co. 15:43; 1 Co. 15:56; 2 Co. 1:8; 2 Co. 4:7; 2 Co. 6:7; 2 Co. 8:3; 2 Co. 12:9; 2 Co. 12:12; 2 Co. 13:4; 

1 Corinthians 15:44  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Complete Jewish Bible -  " When sown, it is an ordinary human body; when raised, it will be a body controlled by the Spirit. If there is an ordinary human body, there is also a body controlled by the Spirit."

NATURAL BODY TRANSFORMED
TO SPIRITUAL BODY

it is (present tense = continually)  sown a natural body, it is (divine passiv and present tense = continually)  raised (egeiro) a spiritual body. If there (present tense = continually) is a natural (psuchikosbody, there (present tense = continually) is also a spiritual body - The natural body is suited for our short life in this present world, but the resurrection body will be a spiritual body suited for the world to come. At first glance spiritual body sounds like a contradiction in terms for we normally think of a "spirit" as something without real form, certainly something without "flesh on the bones." That is not what Paul is describing here. The truth is that this resurrection body is to be a very real body, but a body that is no longer under the sway of the fleshly desires or impulses that drive the natural body (and drives us crazy at times when we capitulate to its fallen desires!) No, the spiritual body is one dominated by the spirit, which many take to also be a reference to our spirit dominated by the Holy Spirit, so that the spiritual body will never again have either the desire or the capacity to fulfill those insatiable lusts of the flesh! I can hear some of you reading this note shouting "Hallelujah! Thank you Lord!" And I echo "Amen!"

Vine has an interesting note on natural body - In 1Cor 15:44 natural (psuchikos) might be translated "soul governed." The natural body is subject to the laws and conditions of the soul; it is an organism by which, through the soul, the self is expressed and developed and enters into relation with others.

Vine adds that the resurrection body will be spiritual body that "will be entirely controlled by the spirit, and will be the perfect instrument and expression of its will, and this because it will be completely animated and empowered by the Spirit of God."  Pulpit Commentary adds the natural body "means a body only animated by the psyche, or natural life."

Ray Pritchard - our new bodies will be imperishable (indestructible), glorious (beautiful beyond all imagining), powerful (with abilities beyond our wildest dreams), and spiritual (made for intimate relationship with God). We will be raised with a body that is suitable for our new life. It will last forever with no decay, no wear and tear, no limitations, and no failures or defects of any kind. There will be no physical or mental or emotional handicaps. We will have bodies that are eternally alive. One writer says, “I expect to outlive the stars.” So do I! (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Acorns to Oak Trees: How are Dead Raised?)

Robertson and Plummer - The former (natural body) was by nature subject to the laws and conditions of physical life (ψυχή), the latter will be controlled only by the spirit (πνεῦμα), and this spirit will be in harmony with the spirit of God.

Bruce Barton on spiritual body - Paul did not mean that this will be “spiritual” as opposed to physical or material, for that would contradict all that Paul has just written about resurrected bodies. Believers will not become “spirits.” Instead, “spiritual” refers to a body that suits a new, spiritual life, just as our present bodies (Greek psuchikon) suit our lives as “souls” (psuche). Each believer will no longer have a natural body, like Adam, designed to live on this earth; instead, each will have a spiritual body, like Christ had after his resurrection (15:48–49). (Life Application Commentary)

Hunter & McShane adds that "The expression "spiritual body" seems a paradox. How can a body be spiritual? It does not mean a body composed of spirit, but a body which expresses spirit. Just as the present body expresses the life of the soul, so that body will express the life of the spirit. It should be said that the prototype of the resurrection body is seen in the body of the Lord Jesus after He rose from the dead. (What the Bible teaches – 1 and 2 Corinthians)

Luke describes Jesus' post-resurrection appearance to His disciples

While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst (cf Jn 20:19-20) and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." (Luke 24:36-39+)

Ryrie comments - The evidences that Jesus' appearance was not as a spirit's: (1) the scars in His hands and feet, (2) His tangibleness in being handled, and (3) His ability to eat (Lk 24:43; Acts 10:41). 

John describes Jesus in Heaven writing 

And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain (NET = "that appeared to have been killed"), having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. (Rev 5:6+)

Comment - Note the phrase "as if slain," clearly indicates that John saw the slain Jesus. Tony Garland (commentary) writes slain is "perfect passive participle: “of animals, especially when killed as a sacrifice slaughter, slay; metaphorically, of Jesus’ atoning death as the Lamb of God.” By His one-time sacrifice, sin was rendered powerless to prevent those who trust in Him from right-standing before God (Heb. 9:26). It has been said, “the only man-made thing in heaven will be the scars of the Savior.” Isaiah informs us, “His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men” (Isa. 52:14). Heaven and earth will pass away and the former things will pass (Rev. 21:1+, 4+), but will the scars of Messiah ever be erased? (ED: I SAY ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR THEY ARE THE SIGN OF THE COVENANT IN HIS BLOOD WHICH WILL ENDURE ETERNALLY) For they serve as a testimony of His love, His resurrection from death (John 20:20, 27), and His identity as Redeemer (Luke 24:30-31).

Vincent on Natural body - A natural body (σώμα ψυχικόν). See on 1 Cor 2:14+. The word ψυχικόν natural occurs only twice outside this epistle; Jas. 3:15; Jude 19. The expression natural body signifies an organism animated by a ψυχή soul (see on Rom. 11:4); that phase of the immaterial principle in man which is more nearly allied to the σάρξ flesh, and which characterizes the man as a mortal creature; while πνεῦμα spirit is that phase which looks Godward, and characterizes him as related to God. “It is a brief designation for the whole compass of the non-corporeal side of the earthly man” (Wendt). “In the earthly body the ψυχή soul, not the πνεῦμα spirit is that which conditions its constitution and its qualities, so that it is framed as the organ of the ψυχή. In the resurrection-body the πνεῦμα spirit, for whose life-activity it is the adequate organ, conditions its nature” (Meyer). Compare Plato: “The soul has the care of inanimate being everywhere, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms appearing; when perfect and fully winged she soars upward, and is the ruler of the universe; while the imperfect soul loses her feathers, and drooping in her flight, at last settles on the solid ground—there, finding a home, she receives an earthly frame which appears to be self-moved, but is really moved by her power; and this composition of soul and body is called a living and mortal creature. For immortal no such union can be reasonably believed to be; although fancy, not having seen nor surely known the nature of God, may imagine an immortal creature having a body, and having also a soul which are united throughout all time” (“Phaedrus,” 246). (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Vincent on spiritual body - Spiritual body (σώμα πνευματικόν). A body in which a divine πνεῦμα spirit supersedes the ψυχή soul, so that the resurrection-body is the fitting organ for its indwelling and work, and so is properly characterized as a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Distinguish two types of bodies in 1Co 15:44

  1. psuchikón = body governed by the soulish, natural, fallen instincts
  2. pneumatikón = spiritual, governed by divine quality in man, the spirit.

Pastor Brian Bell's poem for his gravestone...

“Plant me in the earth
but tis only for a spell,
for soon to bloom forth
is the new Brian Bell!”

Benjamin Franklin (who was a Deist, not a true believer) wrote...

    The body of
    B. Franklin, printer,
    (like the cover of an old book,
    its contents torn out and
    stripped of its lettering and gilding)
    lies here, food for worms.
    But the work shall not be lost;
    for it will (as he believed)
    appear once more,
    in a new and more elegant edition,
    revised and corrected
    by the Author. . .

Natural (5591psuchikos from psuche = soul) is literally "soulish" and pertains to the natural man versus the spiritual nature of man. In Biblical usage this adjective relates to “the life of the natural world and whatever belongs to it, in contrast to the supernatural world.” Psuchikos is that which pertains to the soul, a physical body which is suited to earthly life and is subject to sin. Hiebert says "the term does not refer to the gross lusts of the flesh but rather relates to the powers and endowments of unregenerated human nature, man as he is in Adam." Psuchikos means soulish, with affinity to natural sinful propensities, the person in whom the sarx, the flesh, is more the ruling principle even as psuchikós and psuche is for the animalistic instincts. Psuche is the nonphysical element which makes one alive, conscious of the environment, and is to be distinguished from pneuma or spirit, which is a distinctive of man as the element of communication with God. Vine adds that psuchikos "literally signifies belonging to the soul (psuchë), man; it describes the man in Adam and what pertains to him." (1 Cor 2:14). Cleon Rogers adds that Psuchikos means "soulish, pertaining to the soul or life, pertaining to behavior which is typical of human nature, in contrast with that which is under the control of God’s Spirit (1Cor 2:14). It describes the natural man who does not possess the Holy Spirit. It pertains to the natural life of men and animals alike; unspiritual (James 3:15) In Jude 1:19 psuchikos means worldly-minded. The word implies that these men follow their natural lusts and appetites without restraint or control." BDAG says psuchikos pertains "to the life of the natural world and whatever belongs to it, in contrast to the realm of experience whose central characteristic is pneuma (spirit)."

Spiritual (4152pneumatikos from pneuma = wind, spirit <> in turn from pneo = to blow) is an adjective which means pertaining to the wind and then relating to the realm of the spirit referring to the inner, invisible sphere of a human being. Note that whenever you see an "-ikos", "-ika" or "-ikon" ending on a Greek word, it means characterized or controlled by. And so pneumatikōs means to be controlled by or characterized by the Spirit. Almost 50% of the uses are in 1 Corinthians. As Barclay says "the man who is pneumatikos is the man who is sensitive to the Spirit and whose life is guided by the Spirit." Vine has an interesting note that pneumatikos "always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power...the purposes of God revealed in the gospel by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:13 , and the words in which that revelation is expressed, are 'spiritual,' 1 Corinthians 2:13....The spiritual man is one who walks by the Spirit both in the sense of Galatians 5:16 and in that of Galatians 5:25, and who himself manifests the fruit of the Spirit."  Pneumatikos refers to Jesus (1Cor 15:47), but primarily is used of impersonal things - law (Ro 7:14), gift (Ro 1:11), blessing (Eph 1:3), songs (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16), food (1Cor 10:13), understanding (Col 1:9 - as given by the Spirit). Believers are a spiritual (pneumatikos) house and offer spiritual sacrifices (1Pe 2:5). Pneumatikos - total 26x in 21v - Rom. 1:11; Rom. 7:14; Rom. 15:27; 1 Co. 2:13; 1 Co. 2:15; 1 Co. 3:1; 1 Co. 9:11; 1 Co. 10:3; 1 Co. 10:4; 1 Co. 12:1; 1 Co. 14:1; 1 Co. 14:37; 1 Co. 15:44; 1 Co. 15:46; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 1:3; Eph. 5:19; Eph. 6:12; Col. 1:9; Col. 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:5. 

Vine goes on to add that ""According to the Scriptures, the 'spiritual' state of soul is normal for the believer, but to this state all believers do not attain, nor when it is attained is it always maintained. Thus the Apostle, in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 , suggests a contrast between this spiritual state and that of the babe in Christ, i.e., of the man who because of immaturity and inexperience has not yet reached spirituality, and that of the man who by permitting jealousy, and the strife to which jealousy always leads, has lost it. The spiritual state is reached by diligence in the Word of God and in prayer; it is maintained by obedience and self-judgment. Such as are led by the Spirit are spiritual, but, of course, spirituality is not a fixed or absolute condition, it admits of growth; indeed growth in 'the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,' 2 Peter 3:18 , is evidence of true spirituality." 

Guzik writes that  On all counts, the resurrection body wins!

      •  Incorruption triumphs over corruption
      •  Glory triumphs over dishonor
      •  Power triumphs over weakness
      •  Spiritual triumphs over natural
 

Characteristics of the Resurrection Body

Description or Characteristic

Earthly Body

Resurrection Body

1. Ability to sustain
(1 Cor 15:42)

Perishable:
Subject to deterioration and finally death and decay.

Imperishable:
Incapable of deterioration; the 2nd law of thermodynamics will no longer apply.

2. Value and potential for honoring and glorifying God. life over time. (1 Cor 15:43a)

Dishonor:
Characterized by disgrace, shame, and indignity.

Glory:
Characterized by excellence, honor, splendor, brightness, and blessedness.

3. Physical ability to carry out one's intended purpose. (1 Cor 15:43b)

Weakness:
Fragile, feeble, liable to sickness and infirmity, lack of ability to restrain corrupt desires.

Power:
Inherent strength or ability; capable of the highest service before God without weariness.

4. Intended sphere of existence. (1 Cor 15:44)

Natural:
Limited to life in the fallen, earthly realm

Spiritual:
Suited to life in an eternal and heavenly realm.

5 Basic orientation, tendency, or focus. (1 Cor 15:45)

Adam-like:
Tending downward toward sinfulness and deterioration.

Christ-like:
Tending upward toward righteousness and holiness.

Source: Steve Lewis


Question - Will we be able to see and know our friends and family members in Heaven?Will we know each other in Heaven?  (Watch associated video)

Answer: Many people say that the first thing they want to do when they arrive in heaven is see all their friends and loved ones who have passed on before them. In eternity, there will be plenty of time to see, know, and spend time with our friends and family members. However, that will not be our primary focus in heaven. We will be far more occupied with worshiping God and enjoying the wonders of heaven. Our reunions with loved ones are more likely to be filled with recounting the grace and glory of God in our lives, His wondrous love, and His mighty works. We will rejoice all the more because we can praise and worship the Lord in the company of other believers, especially those we loved on earth.

What does the Bible say about whether we will be able to recognize people in the afterlife? King Saul recognized Samuel when the witch of Endor summoned Samuel from the realm of the dead (1 Samuel 28:8-17). When David’s infant son died, David declared, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). David assumed that he would be able to recognize his son in heaven, despite the fact that he died as a baby. In Luke 16:19-31, Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man were all recognizable after death. At the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were recognizable (Matthew 17:3-4). In these examples, the Bible does seem to indicate that we will be recognizable after death.

The Bible declares that when we arrive in heaven, we will “be like him [Jesus]; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Just as our earthly bodies were of the first man Adam, so will our resurrection bodies be just like Christ’s (1 Corinthians 15:47). “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:49, 53). Many people recognized Jesus after His resurrection (John 20:16, 20; 21:12; 1 Corinthians 15:4-7). If Jesus was recognizable in His glorified body, we also will be recognizable in our glorified bodies. Being able to see our loved ones is a glorious aspect of heaven, but heaven is far more about God, and far less about us. What a pleasure it will be to be reunited with our loved ones and worship God with them for all eternity. GotQuestions.org

Related Resource:

1 Corinthians 15:45  So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • The first 1Co 15:47-49 Ge 2:7 Ro 5:12-14 Rev 16:3 
  • living Joh 1:4 4:10,14 5:21,25-29 6:33,39,40,54,57,63,68 10:10,28 Joh 11:25,26 14:6,19 17:2,3 Ac 3:15 Ro 5:17,21 8:2,10,11 Php 3:21 Col 3:4 1Jn 1:1-3 5:11,12 Rev 21:6 22:1,17
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries 

Related Passages:

Romans 5:12-14+ Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 

TWO PROTOTYPES: ADAM FOR NATURAL BODY
JESUS FOR RESURRECTION BODY

Paul is still addressing the question in 1 Cor 15:35 "And with what kind of body do they come?” and in this section he will teach that the resurrection body of the Lord Jesus Christ is the prototype for the believer's resurrection body. 

So also it is written - Written is grapho in the perfect tense indicating written down on record in the past and remaining on record, denoting  the abiding authoritative character of that which was written (i.e., “it stands written”). Written is in the passive voice which is the divine passive for it was the Holy Spirit Who prompted/inspired Moses (cf 2 Peter 1:21+) to write this truth down for generations to come that they might understand that Genesis is God's Word and it still stands.

Creationist Dr Henry Morris comments that  "Paul here quotes Genesis 2:7, again confirming the historicity of the special creation of Adam and, therefore, of the Genesis record of creation as a whole." (Defender's Study Bible)

Moses wrote

Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living (Hebrew - chay; Lxx = zao in present tense) being (Hebrew = nephesh; Lxx = psuche)

The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL (psuche) - In simple terms God breathed a soul (psuche) into the first man Adam, who in turn gave natural life to the entire human race. In short, every human being is descended from Adam. Because we bear Adam's image and have been "infected" with his "sin virus," (Ro 5:12+) we all are destined to die twice, physically in this life and spiritually forever in the next life. 

Dr Henry Morris comments "This is a clear affirmation that Adam was, indeed, the first man, thus refuting the various quasi-evolutionary theories involving pre-Adamite men.

David Guzik - The first perfect man, Adam, gave us one kind of body. The second perfect man, Jesus the last Adam, can give us another kind of body

Ray Stedman - Paul says there are really only two men who have ever lived in all of history, and both of them he calls "Adam." There is the first Adam and the last Adam. Do not call him "the second Adam" (ED: HOWEVER SEE PAUL'S DESIGNATION "THE SECOND MAN" IN 1 Cor 15:46) because that would allow for a third and a fourth and a fifth. There are only two -- the first Adam, and the last Adam, Jesus. The only other human being to head up a race is Jesus. The first Adam, Paul says, was made a living soul. He had a body made from the dust, and into that body of dust God himself, a Spirit, breathed a breath, and the joining together of spirit and body produced another phenomenon called the "soul," the personality. It is the presence of a spirit in a body that creates the soul and allows a person to function as a human being with mind, emotion, and will. That is what the first Adam was. Now, in the fall, the Holy Spirit that dwelt in the human spirit of Adam was withdrawn, and the human spirit was as though it was lifeless and dead. Man, therefore, was governed by his soul, the highest part of his being, which can feel and touch and taste and reason and think, but it has no contact with anything beyond and above. It is "dead in trespasses and sins," ( Ephesians 2:1+). We were all born that way. Every human being is a son or daughter of the first Adam by nature.

The last (eschatos) Adam became a life-giving spirit - Last Adam is a rabbinic expression used for the Messiah. Paul's point is clear that through the first Adam we receive our natural bodies and through the last Adam we will receive our spiritual resurrection bodies.  While Adam gave natural life to all mankind, Jesus gave supernatural life or spiritual life to all who would believe in Him. Those who believe in Jesus bear His image and are destined to die only once, but then live forever. 

John alludes to the last Adam's power as a life-giving spirit...

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes." (John 5:21 )

Paul adds these words about Christ as a life-giving spirit...

Romans 8:2+ For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.....11+ But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 

Pulpit CommentaryChrist is "a quickening," i.e. a life giving, "Spirit," here mainly in the sense that we shall only be raised by "the power of his resurrection" (John 5:24, 25), but also in the sense that his Spirit dwelleth in us, and is our true Life. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Glenn Spencer - The first Adam was given the breath of life. Christ, the last Adam, has the power to give life.

A T Robertson Word Pictures - Christ is the crown of humanity and has power to give us the new body.

Stedman comments then "came a last Adam. Jesus, a life-giving Spirit, came, and as a Spirit he indwells, by faith, our human spirits when we receive him, when we open up our life to him. He regenerates our human spirit, and he is now, from that vantage point within us, beginning to impart life to the soul again, to recapture the mind, the emotions and the will and bring them back under subjection to his Lordship. So we begin to experience in our life, right now, the joy of being once again in right relationship with the God who made us. He is a life-giving Spirit, and he is waiting to impart life to the "earth suit" as well and to make it into a "heaven suit," designed for the heavens."  (1 Corinthians 15:35-49 The New Body: What Is It Like?)

In Romans Paul contrasts Adam with Jesus writing

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Ro 5:17+)

Dr Henry Morris comments on the last Adam.  The "last Adam," was the Lord Jesus. As in Romans 5:12-19, the divinely inspired apostle showed Adam to be a contrasting type of Christ. Both were true men, yet their bodies were formed directly by God without genetic inheritance from human parents. Adam was the first man made a living soul, the federal head of the human race; the Lord Jesus was the first begotten from the dead, the captain of our salvation, the first man made a life-giving spirit. Adam brought sin and death into the world; Christ brought everlasting righteousness and eternal life.

Thomas ConstableThe natural body is physical, the product of Adam who received life from God (Gen. 2:7). That life resides in a body characterized as "soulish" (i.e., alive with material and immaterial components). It eventually dies. However the resurrection body is spiritual, the product of Jesus Christ, the second Adam, who gives new life. That life will inhabit a body that will never die. Paul called it spiritual because it is ready for the spiritual rather than the physical realm. Moreover it comes to us from a spirit being, Jesus Christ, rather than a physical being, Adam. One can assume full "spiritual" existence, including a spiritual body, only as Christ did, namely by resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15 Commentary)

Soul (5590)(psuche or psyche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. However the discerning reader must understand that psuche is one of those Greek words that can have several meanings, the exact nuance being determined by the context. It follows that one cannot simply select of the three main meanings of psuche and insert it in a given passage for it may not be appropriate to the given context. The meaning of psuche is also contingent upon whether one is a dichotomist or trichotomist. Consult Greek lexicons for more lengthy definitions of psuche as this definition is only a brief overview. (Click an excellent article on  Soul  in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; see also ISBE article on Soul)


Question: What does it mean that Jesus is the second Adam?

Answer: The Apostle Paul tells us in his first letter to the church in Corinth, “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

Paul is here pointing out the difference between two kinds of bodies, i.e., the natural and the spiritual. Genesis 2:7 speaks of the first man, Adam, becoming a living person. Adam was made from the dust of the ground and given the breath of life from God. Every human being since that time shares the same characteristics. However, the last Adam or the “second Adam”—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. Just as Adam was the first of the human race, so Christ is the first of those who will be raised from the dead to eternal life. Because Christ rose from the dead, He is “a life-giving spirit” who entered into a new form of existence. He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in believers' resurrection. Christ’s new glorified human body now suits His new, glorified, spiritual life—just as Adam’s human body was suitable to his natural life. When believers are resurrected, God will give them transformed, eternal bodies suited to eternal life.

Paul tells us in verse 46 that the natural came first and after that the spiritual. People have natural life first; that is, they are born into this earth and live here. Only from there do they then obtain spiritual life. Paul is telling us that the natural man, Adam, came first on this earth and was made from the dust of the earth. While it is true that Christ has existed from eternity past, He is here called the second man or second Adam because He came from heaven to earth many years after Adam. Christ came as a human baby with a body like all other humans, but He did not originate from the dust of the earth as had Adam. He “came from heaven.”

Then Paul goes on: “As was the earthly man [Adam], so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven [Christ], so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:48-49). Because all humanity is bound up with Adam, so every human being has an earthly body just like Adam’s. Earthly bodies are fitted for life on this earth, yet they are limited by death, disease, and weakness because of sin which we’ve seen was first brought into the world by Adam.

However, the good news is that believers can know with certainty that their heavenly bodies will be just like Christ’s—imperishable, eternal, glorious, and filled with power. At this time, all are like Adam; one day, all believers will be like Christ (Philippians 3:21). The Apostle John wrote to the believers, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). GotQuestions.org

Related Resource:

1 Corinthians 15:46  However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

DIFFERENT ORDER FOR
NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL

Kistemaker suggests that "After Paul’s reference to the Scriptures, he returns to the wording of verse 44, where he used the word body. Now he omits the word but implies it. This means that verse 45 with its quotation from an Old Testament Scripture passage should be understood as a parenthetical comment.

However, the spiritual (pneumatikosis not first, but the natural (psuchikos); then (time phrase) the spiritual (pneumatikos) - The natural body is first because it has to die to give rise to the spiritual body, the resurrection body. Paul had earlier stated that what you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1 Cor 15:36) "The imperfect precedes the perfect" (Pulpit Commentary) "Therefore the lower moral stage must precede the higher." (Robertson and Plummer)

Hunter & McShane - Paul insists on the normal order that obtains, that the natural always comes before the spiritual. This is clearly observed in the following: natural life before spiritual life; natural body before spiritual body; first man before the second man; Adam before Christ.. (What the Bible teaches – 1 and 2 Corinthians)

Stedman - The Mormon church teaches that we were once spirit beings who then came to earth and became men, but this verse flatly contradicts that. It is not the spiritual which is first, it is the physical. We came into existence on a physical level, but designed by God, beyond that, is the spiritual. That is next, and death is but a stop in that process, and necessary to it. So now we are in a state of transition, as Paul goes on to describe,

Vine - this is a principle relating to the development of human life; it begins with the merely natural and subsequently receives the spiritual. 

Lenski - What is briefly and pointedly summarized here is more fully developed in the following verses: first Adam, then Christ; first those who belong to Adam, then those who belong to Christ. Paul has no philosophy of the matter, he records simply the historical facts.

Hodge - This does not mean simply that the natural body precedes the spiritual body. But it announces, as it were, a general law. The lower precedes the higher; the imperfect the perfect. This is true in all the works of God, in which there is a development. Adam’s earthly state was to be preparatory to a heavenly one. The present life is like a seed time, the harvest is hereafter. The natural comes before the spiritual; as Calvin says, we are born before we are regenerated, we live before we rise.

Warren Wiersbe - First Corinthians 15:46 states an important biblical principle: first the “natural” (earthly), and then the “spiritual” (heavenly). The first birth gives us that which is natural, but the second birth gives us that which is spiritual. God rejects the first birth, the natural, and says, “You must be born again!” He rejected Cain and chose Abel. He rejected Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, and chose Isaac, the second-born. He rejected Esau and chose Jacob. If we depend on our first birth, we shall be condemned forever; but if we experience the new birth, we shall be blessed forever. (BEC)

1 Corinthians 15:47  The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

NET  1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.

NLT  1 Corinthians 15:47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven.

ESV  1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

NIV  1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.

  • first 1Co 15:45 Ge 2:7 Ge 3:19 Joh 3:13,31 2Co 5:1 
  • the second man Isa 9:6 Jer 23:6 Mt 1:23 Lu 1:16,17 2:11  Joh 3:12,13,31 6:33 Ac 10:36 Eph 4:9-11 1Ti 3:16 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

John 3:13+  “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.

John 3:31+ “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. (AS DISCUSSED BELOW WHILE PASSAGES LIKE THIS COULD SUPPORT "FROM HEAVEN" AS RELATED TO THE INCARNATION, NOT ALL COMMENTATORS AGREE.)

DIFFERENT ORIGIN FOR
FIRST AND SECOND MAN

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven - From earth, earthy recalls God's creation of Adam from the dust of the ground (Ge 2:7, cf Ge 3:19+). The point is that Adam's characteristics were earthly. 

Leon Morris - Though he appeared on earth, and lived and died and rose again on earth, he is not to be thought of as originating from the earth, as did Adam. He is from heaven. Some see here a backward glance to the incarnation and some a forward look to the second advent (R&P below). But Paul is surely not looking specifically at either. He is contrasting Christ’s heavenly origin with Adam’s earthly one. (TNTC-1 Corinthians)

MacArthur - Christ, called the second man because He has produced a spiritual race, existed eternally before He became a man. He lived on earth in a natural body, but He came from heaven. Adam was tied to earth; Christ was tied to heaven. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Hodge - The text, however, simply asserts the heavenly origin of Christ. Adam was of the earth; Christ was from heaven; comp. John 3:13. Adam, therefore, had a body suited to the earth; Christ has a body suited to heaven.

Schreiner In saying that the second man is from heaven, Paul probably does not have in mind the incarnation (NOTE THIS DIFFERS FROM MACARTHUR AND HODGE ABOVE), nor is he denying that Jesus was a man of dust. Instead, in accord with the context of the chapter, he considers Jesus to be the resurrected Lord. He is the heavenly man in that he is now seated at God’s right hand as the resurrected Lord of all. All people born into the world are made of dust, but those who are united with Christ also become heavenly people. Still, their heavenly existence is not yet realized. (1 Corinthians, 2018: An Introduction and Commentary)

Robertson and Plummer agree with Schreiner on interpretation of the second man is from heaven - This refers to the Second Advent rather than to the Incarnation. The Apostle is answering the question, ‘With what kind of a body do they come?’ It was ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, (from heaven) e caelo, that the Risen Lord appeared to St Paul. From the Ascension to the Return, Christ is ἐξ οὐρανοῦ (from heaven) in His relation to mankind. They are still ‘of earth,’ He is now ‘of heaven.’

1 Corinthians 15:48  As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Amplified  Now those who are made of the dust are like him who was first made of the dust (earthly-minded); and as is [the Man] from heaven, so also [are those] who are of heaven (heavenly-minded).

NET  1 Corinthians 15:48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly.

NLT  1 Corinthians 15:48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man.

ESV  1 Corinthians 15:48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

NIV  1 Corinthians 15:48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.

Easy to Read Version All people belong to the earth. They are like that first man of earth. But those who belong to heaven are like that man of heaven.

  • earthy 1Co 15:21,22 Ge 5:3 Job 14:4 Joh 3:6 Ro 5:12-21 
  • and as Php 3:20-21 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Philippians 3:20-21+  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Ephesians 2:6+  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy - This refers to our natural descent from Adam. Keeping in mind that Paul is still explaining the resurrection, this would seem to point not only to the earthy origin but to the earthy quality of life which will return to the earth ("dust"). 

and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly - The heavenly refers to Christ. The point appears that those who are associated with Christ share the character of His life. 

Robertson and Plummer - Each race has the attributes of its Head. As a consequence of this law (καί), we who once wore the likeness of the earthly Adam shall hereafter wear that of the glorified Christ. What Adam was, made of dust to be dissolved into dust again, such are all who share his life; and what Christ is, risen and eternally glorified, such will be all those who share His life. A body, conditioned by psuche, derived from Adam, will be transformed into a body conditioned by pneuma, derived from Christ.

Guzik - From the first Adam, we all are made of dust, but from the last Adam we can be made heavenly. For believers, the promise is sure: we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

1 Corinthians 15:49  Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Amplified  And just as we have borne the image [of the man] of dust, so shall we and so let us also bear the image [of the Man] of heaven.

Related Passages:

Genesis 5:3  When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.

1 Cor 11:7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly - All have been born into the image of Adam, but all who have been born again are of His image, are growing in likeness to that image (2 Cor 3:18) and will one day will fully attain that image (1 Jn 3:2) which will coincide with reception of our resurrection bodies. 

NET Bible has "let us also bear" in place of "we will also bear." (See technical note below)

Hodge on have borne - We have borne translates the verb phoreō, which is more intensive than the more usual pherō. Whereas the latter means simply ‘to bear’, the former conveys the idea of bearing continually or habitually (it is often used of wearing clothes; cf. v. 53). It is thus a natural word to use here, where Paul conveys the thought of our habitual state.....The bearing in question is seen in the whole of life, not simply in some parts.

Schreiner The word image means that believers have participated fully in the reality of being people of dust; but in the future they shall also bear the image of the heavenly man. They will share fully in the likeness of the man of heaven; thus they will be given a body that is imperishable and incorruptible.

W E Vine - the word eikōn, an image, involves the double idea of representation and manifestation. In each of the cases now mentioned there is a representation derived from the prototype. Adam, as a prototype, was a man of dust and, having been morally a fallen being, he and his descendants, all likewise moral failures, return physically to dust. Believers, in their glorified state, will not only resemble Him but will represent Him, as to what He, their Heavenly Prototype, is in Himself, both in His spiritual body and in His moral character. God has foreordained us to be “conformed to the image of His Son …, and whom He foreordained … them He also glorified” (Rom. 8:30), a verse which shows that this perfect state will be a work of Divine grace.

MacArthur - Just as we will exchange Adam’s natural body for Christ’s spiritual body, we will also exchange Adam’s image for Christ’s. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Glenn Spencer We have borne the image of the earthly man, Adam. By him sin entered the world and stamped its awful mark upon every human. Man bears the mark and burden of sin. On the other hand, those who know Christ, the second Adam, have had their sin removed and have become a new creation. Therefore, in the resurrection we will also bear the image of the heavenly. ( Expository Pulpit Series – 1 Corinthians: Divine Help for a Divided Church)

Hunter & McShane - The meaning is clear: as we have borne the image of the earthly in this world, we shall bear the image of the heavenly in the next world. It is quite staggering to think that from Adam there have descended millions of people like him, possessing the same body and the same nature; yet some have told us that no two are exactly alike. Considering that recognition is usually facial, this is a tremendous feat of the Creator. So in the resurrection world, we shall have bodies like His body, enjoy the life that is His to the full; yet each shall be recognisable as a distinct personality. We shall then be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29).. (What the Bible teaches – 1 and 2 Corinthians)

Guzik - Since we will bear the image of the heavenly Man, the best example we have of what a resurrection body will be like is to see what Jesus’ resurrection body was like. The resurrection body of Jesus was material and could eat (Luke 24:39–43), yet it was not bound by the laws of nature (Luke 24:31, 24:36–37).

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (if it reads "let us also bear") - The words transport the thoughts of the reader to the future glory, and, at the same moment, show a light on present duty. The resurrection life is to be begun in us even now. 

MacArthur has a good summation of believers receiving a resurrection body like Christ - From Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances we get some idea of the greatness, power, and wonder of what our own resurrection bodies will be like. Jesus appeared and disappeared at will, reappearing again at another place far distant. He could go through walls or closed doors, and yet also could eat, drink, sit, talk, and be seen by those who He wanted to see Him. He was remarkably the same, yet even more remarkably different. After His ascension, the angel told the amazed disciples, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11+). The body the disciples saw after Jesus’ resurrection is the same body that will be seen when He returns again. Just as with our Lord, our bodies, which are now perishable, dishonored, weak, and natural, will be raised into bodies that are imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual. That which hindered our service and manifestation of God will now be the marvelous channel of fulfillment. We will have His own power in which to serve and praise Him, and His own glory by which to manifest and magnify Him. “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43+). In heaven we will radiate like the sun, in the blazing and magnificent glory which the Lord will graciously share with those who are His. Christ will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:21+). We cannot imagine exactly what that will be like. Even our present spiritual eyes cannot envision our future spiritual bodies. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2+). We will not see our own resurrected bodies, or even have our own resurrected bodies, until we first see Christ’s. (MNTC- 1 Corinthians)

Image (1504eikon properly, "mirror-like representation," i.e. what is very close in resemblance (like a "high-definition" projection, as defined by the context). Eikon is an artistic representation, as one might see on a coin or statue (an image or a likeness, as in Mt 22.20). Eikon can also refer to a visible manifestation of an invisible and heavenly reality form (see Heb 10:1+ikon exactly reflects its source (what it directly corresponds to). In this passage eikon "is used of man being ‘the image of God’ (1Cor 11:7). It can denote simply representation (as in the eikōn of the Emperor on a coin), or it can denote something more exact. Here it will be the image that corresponds to and reproduces the original." (Hodge) Eikon - 20v - Matt. 22:20; Mk. 12:16; Lk. 20:24; Rom. 1:23; Rom. 8:29; 1 Co. 11:7; 1 Co. 15:49; 2 Co. 3:18; 2 Co. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Col. 3:10; Heb. 10:1; Rev. 13:14; Rev. 13:15; Rev. 14:9; Rev. 14:11; Rev. 15:2; Rev. 16:2; Rev. 19:20; Rev. 20:4

NET Technical Note - A few significant witnesses have the future indicative φορέσομεν (phoresomen, “we will bear”; B I 6 630 1881 al sa) instead of the aorist subjunctive φορέσωμεν (phoresōmen, “let us bear”; 𝔓46 א A C D F G Ψ 075 0243 33 1739 𝔐 latt bo). If the original reading is the future tense, then “we will bear” would be a guarantee that believers would be like Jesus (and unlike Adam) in the resurrection. If the aorist subjunctive is original, then “let us bear” would be a command to show forth the image of Jesus, i.e., to live as citizens of the kingdom that believers will one day inherit. The future indicative is not widespread geographically. At the same time, it fits the context well: Not only are there indicatives in this section (especially vv. 42–49), but the conjunction καί (kai) introducing the comparative καθώς (kathōs) seems best to connect to the preceding by furthering the same argument (what is, not what ought to be). For this reason, though, the future indicative could be a reading thus motivated by an early scribe. In light of the extremely weighty evidence for the aorist subjunctive, it is probably best to regard the aorist subjunctive as original. This connects well with v. 50, for there Paul makes a pronouncement that seems to presuppose some sort of exhortation. G. D. Fee (First Corinthians [NICNT], 795) argues for the originality of the subjunctive, stating that “it is nearly impossible to account for anyone’s having changed a clearly understandable future to the hortatory subjunctive so early and so often that it made its way into every textual history as the predominant reading.” The subjunctive makes a great deal of sense in view of the occasion of 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote to combat an over-realized eschatology in which some of the Corinthians evidently believed they were experiencing all the benefits of the resurrection body in the present, and thus that their behavior did not matter. If the subjunctive is the correct reading, it seems Paul makes two points: (1) that the resurrection is a bodily one, as distinct from an out-of-body experience, and (2) that one’s behavior in the interim does make a difference (see 15:32–34, 58).

Robertson and Plummer add this technical note - If, with the best editors, we follow the greatly preponderating external evidence and read φορέσωμεν rather than φορέσομεν, ‘let us wear’ or ‘let us put on for wear’ rather than ‘we shall wear,’ the meaning will be that the attaining to the glorified body depends upon our own effort: see Goudge, p. 155. “But not only the context and the whole tenor of the argument are in favour of the future, but the hortative subjunctive is here singularly out of place and unlooked for” (Ellicott).

1 Corinthians 15:50  Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • this 1Co 1:12 7:29 2Co 9:6 Ga 3:17 5:16 Eph 4:17 Col 2:4 
  • that 1Co 6:13 Mt 16:17 Joh 3:3-6 2Co 5:1 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11+ Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (COMMENT: HERE PAUL SPEAKS OF UNBELIEVERS WHO WILL NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD. THAT IS NOT WHAT HE REFERS TO BY "FLESH AND BLOOD" AND "PERISHABLE" IN 1 Cor 15:50 - HE IS ADDRESSING BELIEVERS). 

ONLY IMPERISHABLE INHERITS
THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Robertson and Plummer - The two objections (1 Cor 15:35) are now answered. How is resurrection possible after the body has been dissolved in the grave? Answer; The difficulty is the other way: resurrection would be impossible without such dissolution, for it is dissolution that frees the principle of new life. Then what kind of a body do the risen have, if the present body is not restored? Answer; A body similar to that of the Risen Lord, i.e. a body as suitable to the spiritual condition of the new life as a material body is to the present psychical condition.But a further question may be raised. What will happen to those believers who are alive when the Lord comes? The radical translation from ψυχικόν to πνευματικόν must take place, whether through death or not. Mortal must become immortal. God will make the victory over death in all cases complete.

Vine echoes R&P - the two questions raised in verse 36 have been completely answered. As to the first, it has been shown that, instead of resurrection being impossible on account of the condition of the body after death, that very condition is essentially preliminary to resurrection, for it involves the principle of a new life. And as to the second, the resurrection body is to be in the likeness of that of the risen Lord. But a further question arises, namely, what is to take place in the case of believers who are alive when Christ comes. The statement in verse 50, while confirming what has preceded, prepares the way for the answer to this question.

Now I (present tense - continually) say this, brethren (adelphos),-  In addressing them as brethren he is speaking to those who are saved. 

That flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom (basileia) of God - (See Kingdom of God but in this context it is tantamount to the eternal state) Cannot is ou dunatai (dunamai) which means absolutely continually never have the power, ability or capacity to inherit the Kingdom of God.  What Paul has just said in verse 49 is preparatory to what he now states. In context, flesh and blood is tantamount to those who are in  their natural (psuchikos). He is simply speaking of physical bodies of believers (as supported by his addressing them as brethren) and not referring to those who are spiritually regenerate. His point is that the natural state of men while suited for live on earth is not suited for life in the Kingdom of God (re-read 1 Cor 15:42-44). 

Guzik - Paul is not saying, “material things cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” because Jesus’ resurrection body was a material body. Flesh and blood, in this context, means “our present bodies.” Jesus’ resurrection body was not a “pure spirit” body, but a material body described as flesh and bones (Luke 24:39) instead of flesh and blood. This may seem like a small distinction to us, but it must be an important distinction to God.

Nor does the perishable (phthora) inherit the imperishable  (aphtharsia) - As alluded to above, perishable is not speaking of moral or ethical corruption but only of the natural body and in context refers to those who are still living.  Absolutely nothing that is perishable can inherit that which imperishable and the Kingdom of God is eternally imperishable. Paul's is reiterating his previous point that our perishable bodies must be made different! They must attain to the state of resurrection bodies, bodies like Christ. 

The writer of Hebrews even describes Christ's on earth as in a body of flesh and blood (Heb 2:14+), a perishable body which had to "perish" on the Cross before He could return to His Father in Heaven! 

Imperishable is used by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:10+  wring  that salvation from eternity past "has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality (aphtharsia) to light through the gospel." It follows that only those who have attained to immortality will be allowed entrance into the Kingdom of God

Robertson and Plummer - A perishable nature cannot really have possession of an imperishable Kingdom. For the Kingdom an incorruptible body wholly controlled by spirit is necessary, and this ‘flesh and blood’ cannot be....If living flesh cannot inherit, how much less dead and corrupted flesh. Our present bodies, whether living or dead, are absolutely unfitted for the Kingdom: there must be a transformation.

1 Corinthians 15:51  Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • I tell 1Co 2:7 4:1 13:2 Eph 1:9 3:3 5:32 
  • We will not 1Co 15:6,18,20 1Th 4:14-17 
  • changed Php 3:21 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

2 Corinthians 5:4+ For indeed while we are in this tent (OUR MORTAL, PHYSICAL BODY), we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed (WITH OUR IMMORTAL "CLOTHES," OUR RESURRECTION BODIES), so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life (BY IMMORTAL LIFE IN OUR RESURRECTION BODIES - WHEN WE DIE WE WILL BE IN ESSENCE "SWALLOWED UP" BY PARTICIPATION IN THE RESURRECTION LIFE OF CHRIST).

Phil 3:20-21+ For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

2 Cor 4:16-18+ Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (E.G., OUR RESURRECTION BODIES AND SINLESS LIFE ETERNAL WITH CHRIST).

NOT ALL SLEEP BUT
ALL ARE CHANGED!

Paul anticipates a question which is so obvious he does not even need to record it. If the perishable bodies of believers cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, what will happen to believers who are still in their perishable bodies when Christ returns? To address this question Paul begins with a word used only here in this first letter. And so Paul writes...

Behold is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!" Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text regarding which the current text supremely qualifies! Paul is saying to the Corinthians and to all believers of all ages "Listen up, all ye who would seek comfort in the mercies of Jehovah!"

I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep (koimao) - Paul has described one avenue of entrance by which believers can enter into the Kingdom of God and that is through death, but now he will reveal to them the second way into the Kingdom. In English the word mystery usually means something that is not fully understood and which baffles the understanding. In marked contrast, a mystery in the context of the New Testament writings is quite the opposite, for it is something that is understood and which ahazes our minds (in a good sense).  It is called a mystery because it was hidden from view and understanding in the past but now has been revealed by God in the New Testament writings. It follows that the truth Paul is teaching in this next section is new revelation to the Corinthians. 

We will not all sleep (koimao- Notice he uses the personal pronoun we, so he includes himself in this statement. This would imply that Paul did not necessarily think that he would physically die. The implication is that he was living in anticipation that he might indeed experience the change which he goes on to describe. This is Paul's fourth and last use of koimao in the Resurrection Chapter (1 Co. 15:6; 1 Co. 15:18; 1 Co. 15:20; 1 Co. 15:51) and as in the previous passages he uses sleep as a euphemism for the believer's death. When we fall asleep in Jesus, we are immediately absent from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8+)  Even though being "absent from the body" is not as good as being in our future resurrection body, it is still something we can anticipate with joy, for "to depart, and to be with Christ...is far better" (Phil 1:23+) and "To die" for the Christian "is gain" (Phil 1:21+). In heaven with Christ, our spirits--though without physical bodies will be distinct and recognizable, in some way still bearing our likenesses. For example, this was true of the spirits of Samuel and Moses (1 Sa 28:11-14; Mt 17:3), and also, in Christ's parable, of the spirits of Abraham and Lazarus (Lk 16:22-25+). And so when we fall asleep in Jesus we will not yet have our resurrection bodies but that is what Paul will now describe for both those who have fallen asleep and have not fallen asleep in Jesus. 

But - Term of contrast. And O what a marvelous contrast it will be! All do not sleep but all will be changed.

We will all be changed - Again note the plural pronoun we, Paul definitely including himself in this change. All means all without exception. But actually there is one important "exception" and that is this "all" excludes "all" who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. They will not be changed, but will only change locations from this temporal home to their eternal home. In context changed refers especially to those believers who are living with Christ returns, but at that time even those who have died will also be changed at that time. In other words, all believers will receive their resurrection bodies at the time of the return of Christ. 

Changed (exchange) (236)(allasso from állos = another numerically but of the same kind Acts 4.12, contrasted with heteros another of a different kind) has the literally meaning of to make otherwise. The basic sense is “to make other than it is." It means to to change, to cause one thing to cease and another to take its place, to exchange one thing for another. To make something different. To alter. Allasso is used 6 times in the NT - Acts 6:14+ (Stephen accused of changing the customs of the law); Ro 1:23+ (exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures); 1Co 15:51, 52+ (speaking of our future "change" of our bodies, exchanging "earth suits" for "heavenly suits"! = glorification); Gal 4:20+ (change tone of speaking); Heb 1:12+ (speaking of changing of creation as we now know it for "the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" 2 Peter 3:12 and be followed by a "a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away." Rev 21:1+).. In the Septuagint allassō describes Laban’s “changing” of Jacob’s wages (Ge 31:7), or of someone’s changing clothes (Ge 35:2, note the cultic significance, cf. Ge 41:14). The Hebrew of Ex 13:13+ suggests allassō denotes “exchange” in the sense of “redeem” (cf. Lev 27:27+). Apostate Israel exchanged their glory for idols (Jer 2:11; cf. Ps 106:20)

Classic Greek - The verb allassō denotes “I change, transform, become another,” or “exchange.” Allassō is quite common in classical Greek, where it can have as many as five distinct uses (Liddell-Scott). Basically it refers to “change, alter,” but this could carry over into different areas of life. Thus it could mean “to trade or exchange” in the language of commerce, or “to have dealings” in general. A sense of “replacement” seems possible in some cases. One thing can be “given in exchange” for something else. Passively, perhaps related to this last sense, it means “be reconciled.” (Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource)

Allasso is used for 8 different words in the Septuagint -  הָפַךְ hāphakh (2015), Change (Jer 13:23). חֲלִיפָה chălîphāh (2487), Change of clothing, set of clothing (Gn 45:22, Jgs 14:13). חָלַף chālaph (2498), Qal: pass away quickly, transgress (Ps 102:26, Isa 24:5); piel: to change (Gen 41:14, 2 Sa 12:20); hiphil: change (Ge 31:7, 35:2). מוּר mûr (4171), Substitute (Lev 27:10,33). מָנָה mānāh (4487), Muster, raise (1 Ki 20:25 [21:25]). פָּדָה pādhâh (6299), Redeem (Ex 13:13, Lv 27:27). שָׁנָה shānâh (8138), To change (Jer 52:33). שְׁנָה shᵉnāh (8133), To change, alter (Ezra 6:11,12 — Aramaic).


Ray Pritchard sums up 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 writing "There is so much good news in these verses. Consider this simple outline regarding the transformation of the saints:

1. The Number: “We will all be changed”

2. The Result: “We will all be changed

3. The Time: “At the last trump”

4. The Speed: “In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye”

5. The Chronology:

A. Trumpet sounds

B. Dead raised

C. Living transformed

1 Cor 15:58 tells us what this truth should mean on a daily basis. We should stand firm. Keep on believing what you have always believed. Don’t let death steal your faith. Keep on encouraging each other. Keep on serving the Lord. And keep your eye on the prize.

Here are five statements that summarize the teaching of 1 Corinthians 15.

1) The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundational truth of Christianity. Everything else we believe stands or falls on that great truth. We must never compromise this doctrine. It is entirely non-negotiable.

2) Our resurrection depends entirely on his. If he was raised, then we will be raised too. The fact that 2000 years have passed means nothing since God dwells in eternity.

3) Our resurrection bodies will be radically different from our present bodies yet intimately related to them. As the mighty oak rests in the acorn, even so our resurrection bodies will be much different in every respect, yet related to who we are in this present life. I can promise you this: You’ll never regret being resurrected and you’ll never ask for your old body back.

4) When Christ returns, both living and dead Christians will receive their resurrection bodies and death will finally be defeated. Between now and then death may seem to win many temporary victories, but our ultimate victory was assured on Easter Sunday morning 2000 years ago.

5) These truths ought to encourage us to stand firm and serve God joyfully, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.

While studying for this sermon I ran across a wonderful phrase from the Pulpit Commentary. It lifts my heart every time I read it. There will be “victory on the last battlefield.” Life is a series of battles for all of us and we all “take it on the chin” sooner or later. But in the last battle, the struggle with death, there is victory for the children of God. My mind goes back to a few of the saints who have left us in death during the 11 years I have pastored this church. The list includes Bob Bruce, Sr., Ruth Hall, Len Hoppe, Gus Hemwall, Byron Powell, Oceile Poage, Sara Spurny, Marion Jenkins, Fred Hartman, Mr. and Mrs. Longinow, Gary Olson, and Stan Utigard. These dear brothers and sisters now rest in the arms of Jesus. Death has taken them from us but death cannot keep them forever. A better day is coming. A few years ago Philip Yancey wrote a column for Christianity Today called “The Day I’ll Get My Friends Back.” Here is part of what he said:

I believe in the Resurrection primarily because I have gotten to know God. I know that God is love, and I also know that we human beings want to keep alive those whom we love. I do not let my friends die; they live on in my memory and my heart long after I have stopped seeing them. For whatever reason-again, I imagine, human freedom lies at the core-God allows a planet where a man in the prime of life dies scuba diving and a woman is killed in a fiery crash on the way to a missions conference. But I believe that God is not satisfied with such a blighted planet. If I did not believe this, I would not believe in a loving God. Divine love will find a way to overcome. “Death, be not proud,” wrote John Dunne: God will not let death win.

He’s right. God will not let death win. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed the same truth in his poem “God's Acre.” Here are the first and last stanzas:

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
The burial-ground God’s-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o’er the sleeping dust.

With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow;
This is the field and Acre of our God,
This is the place where human harvests grow.

What an image that is: “the place where human harvests grow.” Go to any graveyard where Christians are buried and there you will find “God’s acre.” Take off your shoes. It is holy ground. Human harvests are growing there. I close with the words of Thomas Watson: “We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds. Oh! how precious is the dust of a believer!” Amen. (1 Corinthians 15:35-58 Acorns to Oak Trees: How are Dead Raised?)

1 Corinthians 15:52  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • a moment Ex 33:5 Nu 16:21,45 Ps 73:19 2Pe 3:10 
  • last Ex 19:16 20:18 Nu 10:4 Isa 18:3 27:13 Eze 33:3,6 Zec 9:14 Rev 8:2,13 9:13,14 
  • for Mt 24:31  Joh 5:25 1Th 4:16 
  • the dead 1Co 15:42,50 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last (eschatos) trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised (egeiro) imperishable, and we will be changed

1 Corinthians 15:53  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

Related Passages:

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

imm
Fountain of Eternal Life

PUTTING ON OUR 
NEW "SUIT" 

For this perishable must put on the imperishable (phthora), and this mortal must put on immortality - These are two of the most striking contrasts in the entire Bible. This perishable is our mortal body which is daily decaying (2 Cor 4:16+) as a result of the God ordained natural process of aging, but is also decaying due to the corrupting influences of sin (2 Pe 1:4+ = "the corruption [phthora] which is in the world by lust", Gal 6:8+ = "the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption [phthora]", cf Pr 22:8, Jer 12:13, Hos 10:13, 2 Pe 2:19+). The imperishable of course is our new resurrection body, not subject to the manifold vagaries the aging process, not falling apart or in any way decaying (this is difficult to imagine but is every believer's hope, not "hope so," but "hope sure!" Hallelujah!). This mortal is 

The verb put on is a great word picture which was used for putting on a garment. What a beautiful picture of every believer whose fleshly works were "filthy rags" (Isa 64:6) but who will one day (soon) be clothed with "garments of salvation," (Isa 61:10) wrapped with "a robe of (Christ's) righteousness"  (Isa 61:10) and "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isa 61:3KJV) and we will forever be clothed "in fine linen, bright and clean" (Rev 19:7+) and  "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." (Heb 13:15+).

Perishable (5349phthartos from phtheiro = to destroy from phthino = waste) is that which is subject to corruption, rot, withering, decay or decomposition. The basic idea is that which is short lived, or that which has a brief life or significance.

Put on 

Imperishable (862) (aphthartos from a = not, + phtheiro = to shrivel or wither, spoil, ruin , deprave, to destroy by corrupting and so to bring into a worse state) is an adjective which describes that which is not subject or liable to decay and death and thus is in a sense immortal. Aphthartos is that which is not corruptible or not liable to corruption or decay. It describes that which is impervious to corruption. Synonyms include immortal, incorruptible, imperishable. God is not liable to corruption or decay (incorruptible God - Ro 1:23+), especially when compared to man-made idols which are liable to decay and corruption (and to cause corruption of those who worship them! ). Aphthartos is used 8 times in the NT - Mark 16:8; Ro 1:23; 1Co 9:25; 1 Cor 15:52; 1Ti 1:17; 1Pe 1:4, 23; 3:4

Earlier in this letter Paul used aphthartos to describe the imperishable wreath (crown) believers will be awarded for finishing the race and not being disqualified! (read and ponder the comments on our once in a lifetime race! described in 1 Cor 9:24-27, cf Heb 12:1-2+ - be motivated to run by listening to this Scriptural song "Run like Heaven")

Immortality (110)(athanasia from a = negative + thanatos = death) means an endless existence, the antithesis of that which is subject to death. Only 3 NT uses - 1 Co. 15:53; 1 Co. 15:54; 1 Ti 6:16 God " alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen."

Gilbrant - Very plainly athanasia means “immortality” (from a negating alpha [1] prefix and thanatos, “death”). A second, though less common classical meaning was an “antidote” (Liddell-Scott). The concept of “immortality” is less than simple, however. “Immortality” in Greek thought was the property of the gods, not humankind, although the debate continues as to whether the human soul was regarded as immortal in Greek thought (Bultmann, “thanatos,” Kittel, 3:22,23). Plato considered the immortality of the soul essential to his teaching (Phaedrus 240a). Whatever the case, “immortality” did not merely concern duration; it also involved a certain amount of enhanced quality of life, what Bultmann refers to as “divinisation” (ibid.). Because death was viewed as inevitable, it was very important to the Greeks for man to enjoy the only life he had, the earthly life (Schmithals, “Death,” Colin Brown, 1:431). This is expressed in the proverb which Paul quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” The Greek way of thinking had, however, also purer aspects in the view of death and immortality. Thus many philosophers emphasized strongly that a good life had as its fulfillment a good death. In this way they tried to remove some of the fear of death. And as a prolongation of this, the thought came concerning the immortality of the soul, with recompense and retribution in a life to come. Such ideas had their origin within Greek mysticism of Pythagoras. The first one to take up the theme for a thorough discussion was Plato. During the Hellenistic period, such a view of immortality became more extended but was never fully accepted. Those who maintained this view considered death as the deliverance of the soul from the body. The immortal was freed from the mortal.

Septuagint Usage - Athanasia does not occur in the canonical books of the Septuagint, but does occur in the apocryphal writings whose Hellenistic influence is undisputed. It occurs five times in the Wisdom of Solomon and twice in 4 Maccabees. In Wisdom of Solomon 3:4 “immortality” is associated with the afterlife. The “souls” of the righteous may have appeared to have died (3:1,2), but in actuality, what seemed to be punishment was actually the attainment of immortality. This was not mere endurance; it involved “great good” (RSV, 3:5) and “power” (cf. 3:8; cf. 4 Maccabees 14:5 of immortality received because of torture; 16:13). Immortality came as a result of partaking of Wisdom (8:13,17). Although not mirroring a total adoption of Greek thought, these writings do reflect how Hellenistic Judaism was colored, at least partly, by Greek thought. However, Greek influence should not be overestimated. In particular, orthodox Judaism inside Palestine certainly was more guided by Old Testament thoughts. Here it is quite interesting to observe that the Sadducees, who were the most open to contact with the Greco-Roman culture, were the ones who not only denied resurrection, but also eternal life, punishment or reward after death, and even the existence of a spirit world (cf. Acts 23:6-8). The Pharisees, on the other hand, who represented the orthodox view, believed in all this on the basis of the Old Testament Scriptures. It would, therefore, be a total misunderstanding to think that faith in immortality should have crept into Judaism from Greek sources. Even if the Septuagint does not use the particular word athanasia, the whole Old Testament teaching of the only, living and eternal God, its teaching on the afterlife for both the godly and the wicked in shᵉ’ôl, and its teaching of a resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous, was the background for the immortality belief which is clearly shown in the New Testament.

New Testament Usage - There are only three occurrences of athanasia in the New Testament and all of these are attributed to the apostle Paul. Twice in the first letter to Corinth, in the same context, Paul described mysteries pertaining to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:53,54). The event is depicted in “putting on” (enduō [1730]) terminology (cf. Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; 6:11,14; Colossians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). Paul said that it is necessary (dei [1158]) for the “mortal” (thnētos [2326]) to “put on” “immortality” (athanasia). He seemed to be contrasting the present “natural” body with the “spiritual” body to be received at the parousia (3814) or “coming” of Jesus. The natural bodies of those alive at the Parousia, subject to death and thus not immortal, will be changed into “immortal” bodies, not subject to death.

That the word “immortality” is used so seldom may indicate that the idea of immortality was considered to be inferior to the main idea of life and eternal life. In the same manner, the idea of immortality then receives qualitative content, not just a quantitative extension. It does not only stand for an existence past death but an existence in communion with God, where man will share the immortality of God himself and His eternal life.

Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:16 that God alone has immortality. This corresponds with the words of Jesus in John 5:26 where He said that the Father has “life in himself,” and that He also has given the Son to have life in himself. Man has not “life in himself,” but when participating in the eternal life of God, he also participates in the immortality of God. The fact that God “owns” immortality expresses His eternal being, an existence which cannot be affected by death or perishableness. Such an immortality man does not own and can only achieve when in communion with God. An existence outside of communion with God cannot be defined as immortality, but on the contrary as eternal death.

In the New Testament the body is described as mortal, and thus stands opposed to the soul of man, which cannot cease to exist. While the body is dead without spirit (James 2:26), it cannot be said that the soul is dead without the body. Thus it cannot be wrong to say that the New Testament teaches that man has an immortal soul. The soul or the spirit is that which carries the personality of man, and man’s personal existence proceeds beyond death. This is also evident from what the New Testament teaches concerning a conscious intermediate state between the death and the resurrection (Luke 16:22,23,43). Paul did not interpret the intermediate state as an unconscious condition of rest. On the contrary he signified the condition of the deceased believer as a richer life and a higher kind of companionship with God (2 Corinthians 5:6; Philippians 1:22,23).

There is thus an essential difference between the Greek speculations concerning the immortality of the soul and the immortality as expressed in the Bible. According to the writers of the Bible, the soul is not an immortal part of man which shall continue its separate existence apart from the body. In fact, the New Testament does not differ between body and soul as between that which is material and that which is spiritual, because the animated body is here, as in the Old Testament, a revelation of God-given life. In the entire Bible, there is therefore the thought of immortality being connected with the hope of resurrection. It is the entire man, body, soul, and spirit which shall inherit immortality. The Scripture does not know any immortality for man which consists in deliverance from, or rather, loss of body. On the contrary, the immortality of man is connected with the redemption of the body (Romans 8:23). This mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:54,55).

Thus in the New Testament the thought of immortality is bound together with the hope of resurrection and eternal life in Jesus Christ. The apostles had met Jesus after the Resurrection, thus they did not need any other proof of the immortality of man. That is why they spoke little of immortality, and more of the resurrection of Christ and its consequences for the believer. (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-22.) Christ is risen from the dead and dies no more. The believers’ union with Christ means that they forever shall live together with Him. The resurrection of the believers is considered to be a fruit of the resurrection of Christ (Ephesians 2:5,6; Philippians 3:20,21).

Thus immortality, considered as eternal life in communion with God, has its source in the Redemption. But it is also evident that the Scripture teaches an eternal existence for man that has the creation as its foundation. There is something irrevocable concerning the work of creation, and God has placed eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14). Sin can destroy man’s connection of life with God, but it does not deprive man of his existence. If one understands the expression “immortality” as eternal existence, then it is evident that the Scripture teaches the immortality of the soul and man. The Old Testament as well as the New Testament speaks of a double exit from this earthly life and of a resurrection of both the just and the unjust (Matthew 11:20-24; 24:32-46; John 5:29). The resurrection of the ungodly does not have its basis in Redemption but in Christ’s authority to judge.

Immortality as taught in the New Testament is finally founded on the belief in God (Mark 12:27). In this connection the great “either-or” is also put forth in the New Testament: eternal glory or eternal perdition. These final results already start here in time by the communion with God or separation from God (John 5:24; 3:18; Galatians 6:7,8). (Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource)

1 Corinthians 15:54  But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • mortal Ro 2:7 6:12 8:11 2Co 4:11 2Th 1:10 
  • Death Isa 25:8 Lu 20:36 Heb 2:14,15 Rev 20:14 21:4 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

But when this perishable (phthartos) will have put on the imperishable (phthora), and this mortal will have put on immortality (athanasia), then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH (thanatosIS SWALLOWED UP in victory

1 Corinthians 15:55  "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • O death Ho 13:14 
  • sting Ac 9:5 Rev 9:10 *Gr:
  • grave or, hell, Lu 16:23 Ac 2:27 Rev 20:13,14 *Gr:
  • is thy victory Job 18:13,14 Ps 49:8-15 89:48 Ec 2:15,16 3:19 8:8 9:5,6 Ro 5:14 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

"O DEATH (thanatos), WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH (thanatos), WHERE IS YOUR STING

Play "O DEATH WHERE IS THY STING" from Handel's Messiah. Then listen to Brahm's Requiem which is a memorial to Christ's victory over death - this movement blew me away (and here)! If this does not bring tears of joy and thanksgiving as you ponder the reality of your future glory with Christ, I do not know what will! And you do not have to understand German to grasp the power of Christ's victory over death! All I could think was "Thank You Lord Jesus Christ for defeating Death for me forever and ever. Amen and amen"  (NOTE: Unlike traditional requiems which offer prayers for the dead, Brahms' German Requiem is focused on offering comfort to the living! Hallelujah!) 

1 Corinthians 15:56  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • sting Ge 3:17-19 Ps 90:3-11 Pr 14:32  Joh 8:21,24 Ro 5:15,17 6:23 Heb 9:27 
  • the strength Ro 3:19,20 4:15 5:13,20 7:5-13 Ga 3:10-13 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The sting of death (thanatosis sin, and the power of sin (hamartia) is the law;

Thomas Gray wrote "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
        And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
         The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

1 Corinthians 15:57  but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • thanks Ac 27:35 Ro 7:25 2Co 1:11 2:14 9:15 Eph 5:20 
  • giveth 1Co 15:51 2Ki 5:1 *marg: 1Ch 22:11 Ps 98:1 Pr 21:31 *marg: Joh 16:33 Ro 8:37 1Jn 5:4,5 Rev 12:11 15:2,3 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ  (Christos)

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (NASB 1995 - Lockman)

  • Therefore 2Co 7:1 2Pe 1:4-9 3:14 
  • be ye Ru 1:18 Ps 55:22 78:8,37 112:6 Col 1:23 2:5 1Th 3:3 Heb 3:14 2Pe 3:17,18 
  • abounding Php 1:9 4:17 Col 2:7 1Th 3:12 4:1 2Th 1:3 
  • the work 1Co 16:10 Joh 6:28,29 Php 2:30 1Th 1:3 Tit 2:14 Heb 13:21 
  • ye know 1Co 3:8 2Ch 15:7 Ps 19:11 Ga 6:9 Heb 6:10 
  • is not Ps 73:13 Ga 4:11 Php 2:16 1Th 3:5 
  • in the Mt 10:40-42 25:31-40 Php 1:11 Heb 13:15,16 
  • 1 Corinthians 15 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

For in depth commentary see 1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord