1Corinthians 15

Sunday Evening Bible Study

April 2, 2000


Paul begins a new section in his letter to the Corinthians. He’s done with the topic of spiritual gifts in the church.

1Corinthians 15 The Resurrection

:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

He’s going to remind them what the gospel is. I believe his reason for doing so is to stress the importance of the resurrection. There were apparently some in Corinth who were having difficulty believing in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, that there is life after this life and that we will receive new bodies.

I detect a hint of sarcasm here in Paul.

:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

These two verses are the core of what we call the gospel, the "good news".

The key elements are:

1) Jesus died for our sins

He died for a reason. He died for our sins.

Our sins separate us from God, and Jesus paid the price for our sins by dying in our place.

This was done according to the Scriptures. There was prophecy involved and Jesus fulfilled it.

(Isa 53:5 KJV) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Jesus was buried as proof that He was dead.

2) Jesus rose from the dead

Jesus could prove that He had paid for our sins because He rose from the dead.

Anybody can die and claim that they are paying for sins, but Jesus rose from the dead proving that He not only paid for our sins, but had enough life left over to come back!

This too was done according to the Scriptures

(Psa 16:10 KJV) For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Because this gospel was "according to the Scriptures", it means that it was not a matter of some goofy idea that some guy cooked up on his own. These prophecies were given long before Jesus or His disciples ever lived.

:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

Paul is now going to deal briefly with the fact that Jesus’ resurrection was witnessed by many people.

Cephas – Peter

the twelve – the twelve apostles

:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

Paul doesn’t mention these people by name, but mentions that most of these people were still alive, something that could have been verified by the Corinthians.

fallen asleep – a Biblical term for death. Death to the believer is about as dangerous as someone falling asleep.

:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

James – the half brother of Jesus, head of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15), the author of the book of James.

all the apostles – apparently Paul considered other men to be "apostles" than just the original "twelve". One of the qualifications of an "apostle" in the early church was that it had to be someone who was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:22).

:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Paul includes himself as he had seen Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).

:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Paul apparently felt he had been used more by God than the other guys, but he saw it all as a demonstration of God’s grace, His unmerited favor towards Paul.

:11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Apparently some in Corinth were saying this.

Ryrie: In general, they believed in the immortality of the soul, but not the resurrection of the body.

What’s sad today is that there are many pastors in mainline denominational churches who will say the same thing. They ought to be reading this chapter.

:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

He’s going to point out some logical fallacies in their thinking. You can’t be saying that there is no "resurrection" without saying that Jesus was not risen.

:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

If you want to say there is no resurrection, you have to be telling Paul and the other apostles that they are all liars. The cross and the resurrection were the heart of their message.

:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we will have to still face God and be judged for our sins.

I wonder why some of these guys who are pastors and yet don’t believe in the resurrection, why they are even pastors in the first place. I imagine they must have some sense of being a "do-gooder" or something. But Bible’s message is not about doing good, it’s about dealing with your sin.

:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Those that are dead are gone forever if there is no resurrection.

:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Paul is going to make a parallel between Adam and Christ.

With Adam, one man brought death to the entire human race through his own sin.

With Jesus, He as one man has brought life, resurrection to the whole human race.

:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Jesus was the first to rise from the dead permanently. The rest of us will gain our resurrected bodies when Jesus comes back. We’ll see more of this towards the end of the chapter.

:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

This is a prophetic concept in the Old Testament that the Messiah would come back and conquer God’s enemies.

(Psa 2:6-10 KJV) Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. {7} I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. {8} Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. {9} Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. {10} Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

God the Father won’t be put in submission to Jesus the Son.

:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

When Jesus has conquered all, God will be in full control.

:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Strange verse. What does it mean? Possibilities:

1) It sanctions being baptized vicariously for another in order to assure him a place in heaven—a view that is heretical. This is the Mormon view. And entire practice has been set up on the basis of this one verse alone.

2) It refers to those who were baptized because of the testimony of those who had died.

3) It is pointing to some practice, who knows what, that some people were practicing, but the point is that if these people were doing it, they must be doing it because they saw there was something beyond this life.

He’s using this practice simply to show that these people were thinking of life beyond death.

:30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

If there is no resurrection and no life after this one, then why should Paul live such a rough life? If there are no rewards after this life, why not just "party hearty"?

beasts at Ephesus – perhaps might be talking about the persecution Paul was beginning to experience at Ephesus. Paul would eventually stay three years in Ephesus, and it was during this stay that this letter to the Corinthians was written.

:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

(1 Cor 15:33 NLT) Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character."

Say what things? "Eat and drink for tomorrow we die".


Make sure you’ve got good friends.

They will influence you. They will affect you.

:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Get your life together and start telling people about Jesus.

:35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

:36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

He’s going to use farming pictures to illustrate what the resurrection is like. You have to bury a seed before it begins to grow.

:37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

Some people have the idea that the resurrected body must be some "reconstituted" form of the old body, as if the cells of the old, buried body are going to come back to life or something.

Paul says here "you don’t plant the body that shall be, but just a grain"

Some have the idea that the resurrected body will be so different from the old body that we won’t recognize each other.

That’s not so either. You can tell from a corn seed that a corn plant will grow from it. It is different from a wheat seed.

:38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

:40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

celestial – heavenly

terrestrial – earthly

:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Different things in the world have different kinds of bodies.

:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

With the physical resurrection, a body is "planted" that is going to decay. The body that is raised will never decay.

:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

More contrasts between the earthly body and the heavenly body.

:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

(Gen 2:7 KJV) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

quickening – life giving

:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

In history, the order was Adam, then Christ. In spiritual/body terms, first there is the earthly body, then the spiritual body.

:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

More descriptions of the resurrected body. Our old bodies are patterned similarly to Adams, our new bodies will be patterned after Jesus’ resurrected body.

:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

These present bodies are not fit for heaven.

Just as an astronaut has to wear a special suit in space because his body couldn’t survive in space, we couldn’t survive in God’s presence in these present bodies.

:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

A good motto for the nursery.

The idea is that we won’t all have to go through physical death, but we all will experience the new, resurrected body.

:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

This is the Rapture.

(1 Th 4:13-18 KJV) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. {14} For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. {15} For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. {16} For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. {18} Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

When a believer dies, their spirit goes immediately to be with Jesus. (Phil. 1:23; 2Cor. 5:8).

Until the time of the Rapture, believers are in what is called an "intermediate" state, without a physical body.

At the time of the Rapture, those who have already died will receive a new, resurrected body, then those of us who aren’t dead yet will be instantly changed and caught up into the air to be with Jesus.

:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

There will be no more death.

:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Ryrie: The sting of death is sin because it is by sin that death gains authority over man, and the strength of sin is the law, because the law stirs up sin

:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Your labor isn’t in vain because there will be a day when you will be raised from the dead and it will ALL BE WORTH IT!!!!