1 Corinthians 15

The Gospel Message

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

‘Gospel’, ‘euagelion’, originally denoted a reward for good tidings. In the New Testament, it denotes the good tidings of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, based on His expiatory death, burial, resurrection and ascension.

In the year 51 AD, the apostle Paul made His way through Macedonia and came southward to Achaia and the city of Corinth. Paul ‘preached’ the saving message of the Gospel to the Corinthians and many ‘received’ it.

To ‘receive’, ‘paralambano’ is to receive by hearsay or report, to ascertain. Having ‘ascertained’ or learned of the Gospel message, Paul now states, ‘wherein ye stand’, ‘histemi’, to be in a certain state or condition.

This ‘state or condition’ is a perfect tense verb indicating the Corinthian’s present state based on a past action. Their present state is that they are ‘saved’ based upon their past action of obeying the Gospel, however, this current salvation applies only to those who ‘hold fast the word which I preached unto you.’ To ‘hold fast’, ‘katechete’, is to have in possession, possess, occupy; to understand.

Clearly, this passage teaches, by implication, that those who are saved are those who continue in the instructions of the Gospel message. Therefore, many will hear the gospel and obey; however, some of those will not ‘hold fast’ to the message.

The one who will not ‘hold fast’ has ‘believed in vain’, ‘pisteuo eike’. The word ‘believed’ is in the aorist tense indicating past action without indicating completion or repetition.

Salvation was obtained at a point in the past; however, its present state is based on continued action, holding fast to the word of God. This past faith is now ‘vain’, without plan or purpose, for the one who has now rejected the way of truth. Truth saves only those who truly desire salvation, Romans 1:16.

Paul begins to build his case for the resurrection of the dead. The initial Gospel message that the Corinthians heard and received included instructions regarding the resurrection of the dead. Something had changed in the minds of some of the Corinthians in relation to their understanding of this resurrection.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Paul delivered to the Corinthians exactly what he had received by revelation through Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:23 / Galatians 1:11-12. The message Paul delivered was, ‘That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures’.

The Old Testament foretold of this expiatory sacrifice of Christ, Isaiah 53 / Psalms 22. New Testament authors understood that those of old foretold of this event, 1 Peter 1:10-12 / 2 Peter 1:19 / Luke 24:44-46 / Matthew 1:21.

‘And that he was buried’. This confirms the reality of Christ’s death. He was dead and buried in a tomb, John 19:38-42. ‘And he has been raised on the third day according to the scriptures’.

Whether Paul had seen either of the Gospels we do not know, but this item is closely identified with the fact of Christ’s resurrection. We have it in Peter’s speech, Acts 10:40, and Jesus points it out as part of the prophecy, Luke 24:46.

The other expression occasionally found ‘after three days’, Mark 10:34 is merely free vernacular for the same idea and not even Matthew 12:40 disturbs it. Luke 24:1 records the empty tomb on the first day of the week, the third day.

Luke records Jesus saying, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem’, Luke 24:46-47

If any of the Corinthians believed not what Paul had just proclaimed, he gives them proof of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord.

First of all, Peter had seen the risen Lord, Luke 24:34. The Lord had appeared to ‘the twelve’ disciples or apostles, John 20:19-23.

The Lord appeared to ‘above five hundred brethren at once’ some of whom were still alive. Paul states this to say, why don’t you ask these men for yourselves? It may be that these five hundred brethren were those of Galilee, Matthew 26:32 / Matthew 28:7ff.

‘Then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles’. Apparently, this was a different appearance than the one mentioned above in Galilee. This James must have been the Lord’s brother, John 7:5 / Galatians 1:19 / Galatians 2:9. Jesus appears to all the apostles before his ascension into heaven, Acts 1:4ff.

Lastly, the resurrected Lord appeared to Paul while on the road to Damascus, Acts 22:6-11. No other appearance of the resurrected Lord was made to any other.

To be ‘untimely born’, ‘ektroma’ is to be a child untimely born, an abortion. Premature birth; untimely birth, miscarriage. So Paul calls himself, taking up an insult as a term of contempt, a horrible thing.

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-11

The Lord appears to Paul in a resurrected glorious state and Paul views himself as somewhat of a monster that was undeserving of such a sight. Verse nine may help us with the understanding of verse eight. Paul viewed himself as least among the apostles, as far as worth goes, due to his earlier persecution of the church, Acts 26:9-11.

As a child that does not come about at the right time in his mother’s womb, so Paul’s spiritual birth as a Christian came about suddenly at the appearance of the Lord Jesus. Paul was breathing threats of death against Christians when Jesus tore Paul from this womb of death.

Though Paul had done some awful things in his past, as we all have, he realizes that it is by the grace of God that he is now a Christian. If Paul, one who persecuted the church in his sinful days, can be saved, what does that say about everyone else? 1 Timothy 1:12-16.

As a show of his appreciation, Paul worked, laboured, hard work and toiled, so that others may receive salvation just as he, 1 Corinthians 9:22. Paul’s labours exceeded the other apostles as one extremely zealous and filled with love for the souls of men, Romans 1:14-16.

Finally, Paul says whether it was his own self or the other apostles preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you Corinthians had believed this. That which they believed was the central theme of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus had been crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. The witnesses give their testimony.

Paul expresses surprise and shock that some among them were actually saying there was no resurrection of the dead

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

Paul has set out to prove the general resurrection of all mankind by establishing the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the start of 1 Corinthians 15.

There were false teachers in Corinth teaching that Jesus had been raised, however, mankind as a whole will not be raised. Said doctrines were the course of Hymenaeus and Philetus, 2 Timothy 2:17ff.

The past tense of ‘preached’ indicates that this was the message Paul had previously preached to the Corinthians in 51 AD, Acts 17:32. They had heard the message of Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection yet now they were changing their minds.

Paul gives the consequences if said false teaching on the resurrection is true. If there is no resurrection, then Christ never arose. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is directly connected to all of humanity’s resurrection.

How could it be that Christ was raised from the dead, proclaimed that all of humanity will experience the same thing, and yet it is not true?

If these false teachers were correct, i.e., there will be no resurrection of mankind, then all the ‘preaching’ on the resurrection of Christ is useless. The Corinthian’s faith is in vain if there is no resurrection.

The word ‘vain’, ‘kenos’ is empty, with no purpose, void. Such a state of being placed in their initial obedience to the Gospel message is a matter of vanity, 1 Corinthians 15:2.

The antecedent to ‘we’ must be those who both proclaimed the Gospel to the Corinthians and witnessed his resurrected body. These men testified about the resurrection of Christ.

The resurrection of Christ is so closely connected to man’s general resurrection that the entirety of humanity’s resurrection is identified as ‘God that raised up Christ.’

If said teaching were not true, Paul proclaims that they all are ‘false witnesses of God.’ A ‘false witness’ is very similar to a false teacher. The word ‘false’, ‘pseudo’, to cheat by lies, to be deceived, mistaken. A ‘witness’, ‘martures’ is to be a witness, to bear witness, give evidence, bear testimony.

Here is one who delivers lying or deceptive testimony about a matter. If there is no such thing as a general resurrection of all dead then Paul and the others who claim to have witnessed Christ’s resurrection are liars and everyone’s faith is in vain.

Whether one is beguiling, deceiving, lying, or mistaken in his opinions the witness is said to be false if the testimony is not true. That which determines who may be labelled a false witness is true. Clearly one sees that it matters not what the consequences of said false testimony are as far as the label goes, it is the testimony itself that determines whether one is a ‘false witness.’

Paul’s motive was to save souls, however, if said testimony is false when laid aside truth, it mattered not what his motives were for teaching. If the message is false it is false and that is all there is to it.

Since Jesus proved that resurrection occurs by His own resurrection, all will be raised. Yet, if one would say that ‘the dead’ in general are not raised, Paul has effectively proved that it is an impossibility for Christ to have been raised from the dead.

Paul’s logic is that if one has been raised then all will be raised, if none will be raised then the One, Jesus, has not been raised. If it is true that Jesus was not raised then ‘your faith is vain (without purpose); ye are yet in your sins.’

Faith that does not believe in the resurrection is a vain faith because the Christian’s hope is in the resurrection of the dead. Said resurrection; however, which will not occur if Christ has not been raised.

If it is that man is not raised then the entire gospel message is a lie. The forgiveness of man’s sins has ever been contingent upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul spoke of the unwavering faith of Abraham and concluded by saying, ‘Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was reckoned unto him; but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our Justification’. Romans 4:23-25

To ‘fall asleep’ is to have died, 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff. The condition of the dead is that they were ‘in Christ.’ To be ‘in Christ’ is to be in fellowship with the Lord by abiding in His truths, 1 John 1:3 / 1 John 3:5-6 / 1 John 2:6 /1 John 2:24 / 1 John 5:20 / Galatians 3:27.

Those who have died with the hope of heaven through the forgiveness of their sins have really only ‘perished’, ‘apollumi’, to kill, to bring to nought, make void, if it is that Christ has not been raised from the dead.

It seems to this writer that the ‘apollumi’ spoken of here by Paul is a state of being non-existent. Though the Christian’s hope is an eternal existence in the presence of God through the Gospel message of the resurrection of the dead, it truly does not exist if Christ has not been raised.

The very Gospel message that was originally preached to the Corinthians involved these teachings. Had ‘some’ of the brethren forgot the very message they originally obeyed?

If such a state of non-existence is the consequence of this life then truly the Christian who conducts himself in restraint of the passions of the flesh has indeed lived and is living a ‘pitiable’ life. The word ‘pitiable’, ‘eleeinos’ is piteous, sorrow or grief aroused by the misfortune of another, to behold.

Paul’s point is that it sure is a sad site to view a Christian who has lived a faithful life because the dead are not truly raised as they so hope. If the dead are not raised then why obey the Gospel and live a Christian life of suffering and sorrows?

It reminds us of the question we would ask the once saved always saved persuasion. If once you’re saved your always saved then why go to church, give of your means, restrain yourself from anything ungodly, etc.?

Christ has been raised from the dead and the Christian is not a pitiful sight to behold

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

With a bold affirmation, Paul contrasts that Jesus has indeed been raised from the dead and is the ‘firstfruits of them that are asleep.’ The argument continues. If Christ has not been raised neither will anyone else. Since Christ has been raised, he is the ‘firstfruits’ of all the dead.

The word ‘firstfruits’, ‘aparche’ is defined as the beginning of a sacrifice, the primal offering, of hairs cut from the forehead, the firstlings for sacrifice.

It may be that the best commentary on the use of the word ‘firstfruits’ in relation to the resurrection of the dead may be found in 1 Corinthians 16:15.

Paul said, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have set themselves to minister unto the saints…’

It is clear that the first of many Christians made in Achaia were of the house of Stephanas. Likewise, the first of many resurrected to die no more was Jesus Christ.

Both the just and the unjust shall be raised, Acts 24:15. Those who lived their lives as God desired them to will inherit eternal life, Matthew 25:31-40 / Revelation 21:1-7.

Those who lived their lives as they pleased, not giving regard to the authority of Christ, will inherit eternal damnation, Matthew 25:41-46 / Revelation 21:8. Both the just and unjust will live into eternity, one in bliss with God and the other in eternal torments.

Because of Adam’s sin all mankind suffers death (physical death as opposed to spiritual death, Romans 5:12ff. Genesis 2:17 states, “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

The very nature of Adam changed on the day on which he sinned against God. He was changed from a living being to a dying being.

God said, ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…so he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.’ Genesis 3:22-24

‘Adam died at the age of 930’. Genesis 5:5. One man, Adam caused all others of mankind to physically die. Likewise, one man, Jesus, will cause all mankind to be resurrected from that dead state.

So Paul said, ‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive’, 1 Corinthians 15:22. While man dies physically due to Adam’s sin all who die will one day live again due to Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, Romans 5:12ff.

God is the God of order, 1 Corinthians 14:33 / 1 Corinthians 14:40. Paul now states the ‘order’ of the resurrection. Since all will be raised, Acts 24:15, there will be order in the resurrection. Christ is the first of all who was resurrected to die no more, 1 Corinthians 15:20.

Secondly, those who belong to Christ will be raised when Jesus comes again. Those who belong to Christ are Christians, those who have been purchased by the blood of Jesus, Acts 20:28. Here are members of the church who have been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, Acts 2:38.

The dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are alive at His coming will join those who were dead in the resurrected state, Matthew 25:31-40 / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The spiritually dead will then be resurrected unto eternal damnation, Matthew 25:41-46 / Revelation 20:11-15.

After all, have been resurrected and judged, ‘then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.’ The word ‘end’, ‘telos’ is defined as the fulfilment or completion of anything.

At this point, ‘The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up’. 2 Peter 3:10

Each resurrected soul will go to their respective eternal habitation. Since Christ’s work as a high priest is complete, Hebrews 7:26-28, i.e., making intercession for mankind’s sins, He now will deliver the kingdom of God back to the heavenly Father. All souls, the kingdom of God, will now rest under the authority and protection of heaven, i.e., the kingdom of heaven.

At this point, Jesus will have already ‘abolished all rule and all authority and power.’ All people and powers that oppose the doctrine of Christ and work in league with Satan will be done away with, i.e., abolished in hell forever.

The word ‘till’ in 1 Corinthians 15:25 is a preposition, it has the force of a conjunction, until, to the time that, things that actually occurred and up to the beginning of which something continued.

This can only mean that Christ is currently reigning as King and will do so until he abolishes death. The word ‘reign’ is a present tense verb in Greek indicating ongoing action. Jesus will continue to reign until every force of Satan is cast into the lake of fire, Revelation 20:12ff.

‘The last enemy that shall be abolished is death’. At this time, man will be released from the curse of Adam, death through sin, and we will die no more. Man will be like Christ, immortal.

The word ‘abolished’, ‘katargeo’ is similar to the word ‘perish’ of 1 Corinthians 15:18 in that ‘katargeo’ means to make of none effect. Death will no longer have any power over mankind.

The word ‘subjection’ is a perfect tense verb indicating past action to the now fixed point in time. God placed all authority in the hands of Jesus after he had redeemed man from sin by the resurrection of his body, Matthew 28:18.

The ‘all things’, however, did not include God Himself. When Jesus hands over the kingdom of God to Theos, He, Jesus, shall take his rightful place in the godhead that ‘God may be all in all.’ Clearly, the Son of God is subject to ‘God’. Theos is equated to the godhead which is comprised of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

There are grave consequences therefore when one states, ‘there is no resurrection of the dead.’ If there is no resurrection of the dead then one truly mocks the eternal purpose of God and His Son Jesus. The eternal plan of God had everything to do with the resurrection of Jesus and mankind.

Baptism for the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:29-34

“Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Corinthians 15:29-32

One of the fundamental beliefs of the Mormon Church is the doctrine of baptism for the dead, vicarious baptisms. The following are statements of belief by members of the LDS church taken from H. David Burton. ‘Baptism for the dead is the proxy performance of the ordinance of baptism for one deceased’.

Joseph Smith taught, ‘If we can baptize a man in the name of the Father (and) of the Son and of the Holy Ghost for the remission of sins it is just as much our privilege to act as an agent and be baptized for the remission of sins for and in behalf of our dead kindred who have not heard the gospel or fullness of it’.

The first public affirmation of the ordinance of baptism for the dead in the Church was Joseph Smith’s funeral sermon for Seymour Brunson in Nauvoo in August 1840. Addressing a widow who had lost a son who had not been baptized, he called the principle ‘glad tidings of great joy,’ in contrast to the prevailing tradition that all un-baptized are damned.

The first baptisms for the dead in modern times were done on the Mississippi River near Nauvoo. Revelations clarifying the doctrine and practice have been given from time to time. This was a New Testament practice, 1 Corinthians 15:29.

In an article by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, we further see their beliefs. ‘There is no death, and there are no dead, unto the Lord — all are alive unto him. ‘God is not the God of the dead, but of the living’, Matthew 22:32, our Lord said concerning Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who had long before died as men count death, but who were alive as the Lord views things in his eternal perspective.

Since the Lord views man’s progress from the pre-existent state to an eventual inheritance in one of the degrees of glory as one continuing course, it is not material, from the eternal perspective, whether the opportunity to accept the gospel of salvation comes in this mortal sphere or in the spirit world hereafter. Sometime after birth into this life and before the resurrection and judgment, every living soul will hear the gospel message and be judged by his reaction thereto. The millions who pass to the spirit world without receiving an opportunity during mortality to hear the truths of salvation will receive their chance subsequent to what men call death.

The great principles and procedures whereby the saving truths of the gospel are offered to, accepted by, and made binding upon the departed dead, comprise the doctrine of salvation for the dead. According to this doctrine, the principles of salvation are taught in the spirit world, leaving the ordinances thereof to be performed in this life on a vicarious-proxy basis.

By accepting the gospel in the spirit world, and because the ordinances of salvation and exaltation are performed vicariously in this world, the worthy dead can become heirs of the fullness of the Father’s kingdom. Salvation for the dead is the system where those who would have accepted the gospel in this life had they been permitted to hear it, will have the chance to accept it in the spirit world, and will then be entitled to all the blessings which passed them by in mortality”. Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 100-196.

Let us consider these things in light of 1 Corinthians 15:29 which states, ‘Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?’

The first rule in the proper exegesis of Scripture is to follow context. What is the context surrounding 1 Corinthians 15:29?

1. Christ is the first fruits of all the resurrected dead.

2. All rules and authority will be put under Christ even death.

3. The only one not subjected to Christ is God.

4. All those who have died will also be raised when Christ comes again.

5. The context is one of order!

6. If this order is false, then why be baptized is what Paul is saying.

The word ‘else’, if all that is stated in the preceding is not fact. ‘What shall they do that are baptized for the dead’, ‘hoi baptizomenoi huper ton nekron.’

The Greek phrase is literally translated as ‘what will they do the ones being baptized on behalf of the dead? If actually dead persons are not raised’.

The keyword is ‘for’, ‘huper’, as in behalf of, for the sake of a person or thing. If we are baptized for the sake of or on behalf of dead people being raised from the dead and the dead are not really raised then the question is, ‘why be baptized’ at all? Paul is simply writing in a rhetorical form as he is known for.

The thought is why even be baptized if the resurrection is not true? Will you be baptized to be numbered among the dead who will never raise?

The Greek reads a bit different as to how we express ideas in the English but suffice it to say that Paul can certainly not be speaking of a ‘vicarious baptism’ on the part of one Christian for another due to the fact that he had also said at Romans 14:12, ‘So then each one of us shall give an account of himself to God.’

A ‘vicarious baptism’ takes away personal responsibility, a thought that is foreign to the New Testament Scriptures, Revelation 20:12.

The point is further carried out in 1 Corinthians 15:30-32. If the dead will not raise why risk our lives preaching the message of resurrection?

If the dead are not raised why not just eat, drink and live it up because when we die that is all there is to existence! However, because of the reality of the resurrection of the dead, Paul preached in hazardous situations and daily risked his own life too to preach to others.

Paul even fought with a beast at Ephesus because of his teaching of the resurrection of the dead. It may be that these were literal beasts such as one being thrown to the lions as was Daniel, 2 Timothy 4:17.

Secondly, it may be that Paul was delivered from beastly men such as Demetrius in Ephesus, Acts 19:23ff. Why go through such heartaches and pain in life if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the body?

“Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians 15:33-34

Paul knew there was more to life than mere death and thereby states, ‘be not deceived.’ To be ‘deceived’, ‘planao’, is to lead astray, mislead, deceived.

The context demands that Paul’s admonitions are pointed at the brethren being deceived and led astray by false teachers who were teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead.

Here it is clear that the false teacher is doing the deceptive work of Satan though he would never admit to doing such work. Don’t make companions of false teachers who believe and teach doctrines that are opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These people have the ability to lead people astray.

‘Soberness’, ‘eknepho’, to return to one’s self from drunkenness, become sober. This passage clearly teaches the intoxicating effects of false teaching. Paul desired that the Corinthians would sober up from the intoxicating effects of the false teaching regarding the resurrection of the dead.

Those who had taken the erring doctrine regarding there being no resurrection were in sin. These sinners were to feel the sting of shame for their departure from truth and return to their original hope.

Beliefs about the resurrection

1. The Sadduceean View.

The Sadducees rejected the belief in a life after death and believed that mental and spirit life are only manifestations of physical life, therefore, they said, when physical life ceases all other manifestations of life also cease. This life is everything.

In other words, at death, the individual ceases to exist, and it was this notion that had led some of the Corinthian Christians to embrace the philosophy which said, ‘Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’

Therefore, there is no resurrection, because there is no future!

2. At the other extreme, there were those who did not deny the possibility of the resurrection of the body and therefore the possibility that Christ was raised but they nevertheless thought that it is ‘undesirable’!

Why? Because they regarded the body as the part of Man’s being that ‘holds him back’ and prevents him from fulfilling his potential and experiencing the quality of life which is desirable. The body ‘shackles’ him. It ‘leads him along the wrong path’. It is ‘the source of sin’.

Some of the early philosophers even refused to allow their portraits to be painted, lest the picture of their physical appearance caused them to be remembered and honoured because of how they looked and they gave thanks to God because he had not tied their spirit to an immortal body! It limits him in much the same way that a physical disability restricts the movement of a person.

These people even taught that the resurrection of Christ was a spiritual resurrection, and because, at their baptism, they were buried with Christ and raised with Him to a new life, the resurrection was past already!

As for the risen Christ, they taught that the physical body of Christ remained in the tomb and eventually returned to the earthly elements of which it was composed, but His Spirit went out and was alive in His people.

And that, they claimed, is what really matters. Bodily resurrection is not important. In fact, they said, to offer people a physical resurrection is a very doubtful blessing indeed!

A form of this idea is still alive today because there are those who deny that there will be a Day of Resurrection, and believe that Christ was not raised from the dead.

What they consider to be important is that what remains after death, is the goodness that flows from the life of every good person and every great teacher. They say that Jesus is still alive because of His example and His teaching.

And you will find such people who regard themselves as Christians, in many of the religious bodies today.

One German philosopher, Keim, whose thinking was regarded as very influential, even claimed that the Apostles never actually saw the risen Christ. What they ‘saw’, was an impression that was placed on their minds by Christ Himself, who had passed into higher spiritual life.

To use the man’s own words, he said that these appearances were like telegrams, to assure them that He was alive. And, if He had not given these signs of His glorified life, belief in Him as the Messiah would have died on the Cross.

The odd fact is that there is an element of truth in the last part of this idea, because belief in the identity of the Christ, the Messiah, depends on His resurrection.

Paul says as much in Romans 1 where he states that Christ is proved to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. But the difference between these ideas and what Paul actually taught, is irreconcilable.

There is nothing mystical about his statements about the Lord’s Resurrection. Belief in a Christ whose influence is alive only through His teaching and example may satisfy a man who has nothing more to help him, but it is not what the Scriptures teach.

Consider That Theory Of The German Keim

How does it explain the appearances of Christ in the Upper Room, where He invited Thomas to TOUCH His body, and where they gave Him food to eat? That was no phantom, Christ! It was not a ‘mental image’.

And, whilst there are elements in the account of the Lord’s resurrection that we cannot explain at our current level of knowledge, we must be prepared to consider that one day we shall discover that there are forces and power in God’s World that explain the currently inexplicable, and ‘we shall know, even as we are also known’.

Paul touches on this thought when he writes about `a physical body and a spiritual body. He says that ‘this mortal shall put on immortality and this corruption that put on incorruption.’ 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

Now, we may say that we don’t know how this will or can happen. But that is no reason for saying that it cannot happen! Is this the only thing that we don’t understand?

It seems to me that we need to bear in mind that the factor that connects the physical body which we have now, and the spiritual body which we shall eventually receive, is the soul, our true identity, the part of our being which make us unique, different from every other human being, and the part that will occupy both bodies.

Paul simply refuses to see a problem here. He says, ‘we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed! In a moment; in the twinkling of an eye!’ 1 Corinthians 15:52

Think about this, when the moment comes and the dead are raised in new bodies, at the same time, the bodies of living believers will also undergo the very same change. The transformation of the dying physical body, into the undying spiritual body will be experienced by both those who ‘sleep in Jesus’, and those who are still alive on Earth! And it will occur in a moment!

Here is a very important truth. The word ‘sleep’, ‘koimaomai’ occurs 18 times in the Greek New Testament, and it is never used in connection with the soul of a believer. The Bible nowhere teaches the doctrine of ‘the sleep of the soul’.

The word ‘sleep’ is only ever used to describe the appearance of the body in death. In fact, it is interesting to notice that the word ‘cemetery’ comes from the Greek word which means ‘a sleeping place’.

When Paul thinks about dying he says that he ‘has a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better’, Philippians 1:23. Notice v.22, where he speaks about living ‘in the flesh’.

He explains this further when he says ‘absent from the body, at home with the Lord’, 2 Corinthians 5:8 and in 2 Corinthians 5:1 he refers to his body as an ‘earthly house’, a ‘tabernacle’ or ‘tent’, which is the very analogy that Peter uses in 2 Peter 1:13-14. ‘I am in this tent, I must put off my tent’

Incidentally, I think that we overlook the problem that the resurrection of Christ must have caused Paul himself! It is true that, as a Pharisee, he would have no difficulty in accepting the fact of Resurrection, but we should remember that, as an ultra-orthodox Pharisee, he described himself as ‘a Pharisee of the Pharisees’, to accept the Crucifixion of the Messiah must surely have been a struggle. After all, he had been brought up to believe that when the Messiah came, He would never die.

The Messiah could not die. But his mind underwent a radical change when he met the Risen Messiah on the Damascus Road. It may be significant that he asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Acts 9:5

Because it suggests that, up to that moment, he had not believed that the Jesus, whom he would certainly know had been crucified, was the Messiah, and it was the Lord’s reply which came as the revelation that changed Paul’s thinking.

Looking back on what we saw in our last part of this study, it occurs to me that, if, as the critics assert, the accounts of the Lord’s resurrection are untrue, and His body was not raised from the dead, the consequences would be devastating.

It was Fairburn who made a statement to the effect, that, if no living Christ emerged from Joseph’s tomb, that tomb becomes the grave, not only of a man but also of a religion and all the hopes that have been built upon it. And Paul says as much in this chapter.

He declares what the consequences would be as far as the Apostles themselves were concerned, they were either liars or, at least, greatly self-deceived. As for the believers, their faith would be empty and worthless. And as for those who have died trusting in Christ; they have died without hope.

But then there is something which Paul does not mention, he does not deal with the consequences as they relate to Christ Himself.

1. He repeatedly claimed that, although He was going out to die, He would rise again.

He claimed that He had the power to lay down His life and to take it up again. He informed the Jews that His body was a ‘temple’ which He would ‘after three days.’ John 2:19. If He did not rise from the dead, His word has failed, just imagine what this would mean!

2. Furthermore, since Jesus claimed that His identity as the Messiah would be proved by His resurrection and His victory over death, if He did not rise, His victory was incomplete, and His claim unproven.

Remember, it was not His death on the Cross which proved his Deity. Many good men have died for what they believed. It was His resurrection from the dead which vindicated His claim, as Paul states in Romans 1:4.

Belief in the future life

We have been brought up in a society that is not surprised when resurrection from the dead is mentioned. People may not believe in it.

They may not feel capable of discussing it. But it is not a revolutionary notion to them! They know it as an item of Christian belief. It is ‘what the Church teaches!

But, although philosophers throughout the ages had hoped that there might be something after death, they were never sure, and even God’s ancient people, who were in a covenant relationship with Him, knew nothing about ‘eternal life’ because the promise or hope of life after death was not a part of the Covenant enacted at Sinai. What was offered in the Mosaic Covenant was long life in the Promised Land.

But Paul states in 2 Timothy 1:10, that ‘Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel’. Notice the phrase, ‘brought to light’. It implies that, until the Lord Jesus came, the subject was enshrouded in mist or darkness.

Only Christianity, in the Gospel, clearly and positively, offers to mankind the assurance that a life beyond this life, is possible, because of the Coming of Jesus Christ.

Dealing with the objections of these false teachers. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49

“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.” 1 Corinthians 15:35-41

Paul anticipates questions that will arise in the minds of those who have rejected the teaching of the resurrection of the dead. Some may say, how are the dead raised? And with what manner of body do they come? The word ‘manner’, ‘poio’ means with what sort of body.

Many of the ideas presented in divine revelation seem impossible with men, however, with Christ all things are possible, Genesis 18:14 / Jeremiah 32:16-19 / Jeremiah 32:26-27 / Matthew 19:26.

Man would consider the dying and decaying of the body and conclude that there is no way that such a condition could be restored.

The word ‘foolish’, ‘aphron’ means without sense. The Corinthians lacked sense in the area of understanding the resurrection. These same individuals who planted seeds in the ground, watched the seed rot and germinate are not asking ‘how,’ and ‘with what manner.’ A seed sown in the ground first dies then it is quickened, made alive.

Jesus used this illustration in John 12:24 saying, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

What appears to be dead is actually awaiting a more glorious body.

A man plants a bare seed in the ground in hopes of a full-bloomed plant. Man does not plant a mature plant into the ground with hopes of regeneration but the seed. By the nature of the created universe, a plant will reproduce after its own kind, Genesis 1:11-12.

Such procedure is created by God and pleases God. It is by the work of God that a seed germinates and slowly grows into a plant that produces seed itself.

1 Corinthians 15:35-38 answer the ‘how.’ The bodily resurrection will occur as a seed that has been planted into the ground. It first appears to die and rot and then comes to life in the spring.

Likewise, our bodies will die, rot in the earth, and yet at the appointed time God will bring forth the new resurrected body as he miraculously brings forth the new plant from the seed.

The second question that those who would deny the resurrection will ask is, with what type or kind of body will this be? Paul answers the objection by stating that there are four types of flesh.

The word ‘flesh’, ‘sarx’ is the flesh or muscles of the body, flesh as opposed to the spirit. God was not limited to only one physical flesh in his creation. a. Flesh of men. b. Flesh of beast. c. Flesh of birds. d. Flesh of fish.

There are also two types of bodies, 1 Corinthians 15:40. ‘Celestial’, ‘epouranios’, in heaven, heavenly. The word ‘epouranios’ is used eighteen times in the New Testament and every occurrence is translated ‘heavenly’ except here in 1 Corinthians 15:40 where the Greek word is translated ‘celestial.’

The author of Hebrews appears to give a summation of the meaning of ‘epouranios’ saying, “but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly (epouranios) Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” Hebrews 12:22-23

Clearly, the word translated ‘celestial bodies’ is the heavenly beings such as angels, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all summed up in the word ‘spirit.’

Man occupies a fleshly body on this earth that will act as a seed when it dies and then, in the resurrection, it shall germinate into a spirit, heavenly, or celestial body like that of God and angels. ‘Terrestrial’, ‘epigeios’, means existing upon the earth. This is the flesh of man spoken of above.

Each of these bodies has their own glory i.e. the 4 types of flesh and the two bodies, celestial versus terrestrial. The word ‘glory’, ‘doxa’, means the external appearance, glory, splendour, effulgence.

Each of these, i.e., terrestrial and celestial have a different external appearance and different glory, splendour. The word ‘body’, ‘soma’, means the body of a man. The celestial body, spirit body like God and angels, will be eternal material substance.

As differing fleshes have different external appearances, glory, even so, the entities in the heavens have different appearances. The sun, moon, and stars all differ in external appearance and are the results of God’s creation. God has given all things their own glory, appearance, and each serves its designed purpose.

“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “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 is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

As the flesh of men, beast, birds, fish, terrestrial, celestial, sun, moon, and stars all differ in external appearance even so will the resurrected body. The glory or external appearance of man’s resurrected body will be different than when it was terrestrial, earthly.

Man dies and is ‘sown’ into the ground at burial. The state of death for man is termed ‘corruption’, ‘phthora’, which means mortality, death, the decay of matter. Clearly, the illustration of the seed being sown in corruption is being alluded to here.

1. Man dies, he decays as a seed and comes forth as a new plant.

Man will therefore be resurrected as ‘incorruption’, ‘aphtharsia’, which means incorruptibility, unending existence.

2. The resurrected dead body of mankind will be sown in ‘dishonour’, ‘atimia’ and raised in ‘glory’, ‘doxa’.

The word ‘atimia’ means dishonour, disgrace. It is likely that the word ‘doxa’ is used here to indicate the ‘splendour’ of the resurrected body as opposed to or in contrast to the dishonour of the rotting and decaying dead body. Such a body will never die again and is thereby of greater glory.

3. The physical dead body is buried in the ground in ‘weakness’, ‘astheneia’, and it will be raised in ‘power’, ‘dunamis’.

The Greek word ‘astheneia’ means want of strength, weakness, feebleness, sickliness. ‘Dunamis’ means power, might, strength, ability to do a thing.

Again, another contrast is given between the dead decaying body in the earth at death and the resurrected body. The resurrected body will be one of unending existence, splendour, magnificent richness or glory; pomp; grandeur, and now defined as a state of great strength, might and power.

4. Paul says that the physical dead body is sown as a ‘natural body’, ‘psuchikos’ and ‘raised a spiritual body’, ‘pneumatikos’.

The Greek word psuchikos is defined as of the soul or life, spiritual, concerned with the life only, the natural man. The Greek word ‘pneumatikos’ means non-carnal, i.e. humanly, ‘ethereal’ as opposed to gross, or ‘daemoniacally’ a spirit.

This contrast indicates the limited nature of the physical body as opposed to the immortal state of the resurrected body being spiritual.

It seems to me that the word ‘spiritual’ is a summation of all the attributes of the resurrected body enumerated above, i.e., everlasting beauty and strength, incorruption, glorious, and power, all of which equate to a ‘spirit’ body.

Now Paul draws the conclusion saying, “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body”. If a natural body, one that is subject to decay, feeble, subject to sickness, was created by God even so God will make that same body spiritual, immortal, magnificent, and filled with strength. The said statement reminds us of what Paul said regarding the comparison of Christ’s resurrection with that of mankind’s resurrection.

The two are so closely related that the obvious conclusion is that you cannot have one without the other. Likewise, Paul now states that if there is a physical body there is of necessity a spiritual body, i.e., you cannot have one without the other.

If the physical body exists our natural conclusion should be that a spiritual and eternal body exists. God indeed has the power to do so. Jeremiah said, “Ah Lord Jehovah! Behold, thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and by thine outstretched arm; there is nothing too hard for thee.” Jeremiah 32:17

Paul makes a comparison of the beginnings of man’s flesh to the end of Man’s flesh, 1 Corinthians 15:47, a quote taken from Genesis 2:7. The first man, Adam, was earthy and made this way by God, Genesis 2:7.

The second man, the Christ, is a life-giving spirit, One that gives the physical body an eternal body, for all mankind, just and unjust, John 5:28-29. Like Adam, we all presently have a fleshy body with an eternal soul and like Christ, we shall all one day occupy a spiritual body fit for eternity.

Here is order in God’s creation. All mankind exists in the natural, physical and corruptible, state first and then, as a seed planted in the ground germinates, we are resurrected to newness of life. Like Adam lived in the natural state first, even so, we live in the natural state first.

Adam was formed of the dust of the ground and we are all of Adam in this physical state, Genesis 2:7. Jesus; however, is not created of dust as man. Jesus is God, John 1:1 etc. As God, He is the creator, Colossians 1:16. As Creator, He is the one through whom all men will be made alive, 1 Corinthians 15:21-23.

Paul now answers the second question, i.e., what shall the resurrected body be like, 1 Corinthians 15:35. Paul states, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”

Since Jesus is the ‘firstfruits’ of us all in the resurrected state, the word of God clearly states that we shall be as He is. As we presently ‘bear the image’ of Adam, so we will bear the image of Jesus, the ‘heavenly’.

The word image is ‘eikon’ in Greek is a likeness, image, portrait, an image in a mirror. An image, figure, likeness; the image of the Son of God, into which true Christians are transformed, is likeness not only to the heavenly body, 1 Corinthians 15:49 / Philippians 3:21, but also to the most holy and blessed state of mind, which Christ possesses, Romans 8:29 / 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Paul says we are going to be just like Jesus. The above passages further clarify this in that we will be immortal, filled with power and splendour.

One interesting thought is that when Jesus appeared to those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:4-10 in the resurrected state he had a human body form and they recognized who he was, John 20:14-28. Our conclusion can only be that we will have a similar body to that which we have now yet it will be magnificent, mighty, and eternal, i.e., celestial, spiritual, or heavenly.

Paul now answers the question of ‘when.’ When will all this take place? 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-57

To ‘inherit’, ‘kleronomeo’ is to receive a share of an inheritance, to inherit a portion of property, to be an inheritor or heir. Clearly, flesh, blood, and corruption, the physical man of Adam, does not belong in heaven. Heaven is an eternal and immortal abode and thereby corruptible flesh has no place there.

Verse 39 spoke of the various fleshes that were ‘terrestrial’, of the earth and corruptible. Said flesh has no place in eternity. The celestial body, heavenly, is fit for eternity.

The Scriptures often speak of the ‘kingdom of God’ as the church, Mark 1:15 / Mark 9:1 / Luke 10:9-11. Here, however, the ‘kingdom of God’ is revealed to be the heavenly abode of the righteous.

We may define the church in the here and now as those terrestrial bodies undefiled by sin through the blood of Christ who, if they continue in faith, will comprise the church, kingdom of God, in heaven with a celestial body.

The word ‘behold’, ‘idou’ means lo! Behold! See there! There! Take it! Paul expresses his desire for the Corinthians to hear, understand, and hope.

Those who taught that there was to be no resurrection were zapping the hope out of people. He tells them ‘a mystery’, it was a mystery and now he reveals the hidden things of the resurrection.

“We all shall not sleep (die), but we shall all be changed.” The antecedent to the plural pronoun ‘we’ includes Paul and all of humanity. The fact that Paul includes himself in the ‘we’ indicates that he did not know when this would occur but he knew, by revelation, what would occur at that time.

There will be some of humanity that do not see death, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When this change from a terrestrial to a celestial body shall occur No man knows, Matthew 24:36-44, however, the trumpet of God shall sound and mark the time, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

At that point, a ‘change’, ‘allasso’ will occur in mankind’s bodies, both dead and living. The Greek word ‘allasso’ is to make other than it is, to change, alter.

When false witnesses were hired to speak against Stephen in Acts 6-7, they said, “For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place and shall change the customs which Moses delivered unto us.” Acts 6:14

To ‘change’ the customs or laws given by Moses would be to change the Jews’ way of life. Likewise, when man shall experience the change that shall occur when resurrected he will be different than he was in the mortal state.

Man will move from the terrestrial state to the celestial. He will be fitted for eternity with beauty and might. This change shall occur instantaneously, i.e., “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”

Paul tells us that when as best as he is able, “for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” ‘Incorruption’, ‘aphtharsia’, which means incorruptible, immortal, imperishable, undying, enduring.

The body that was subject to corruption and decay will be fitted for eternal existence on that day. ‘Corruption’, ‘phthora’, which means mortality, death, the decay of matter. The word ‘must’, ‘dei’ indicates binding necessity, 1 Timothy 3:2. This will surely occur because the Scriptures cannot be broken, John 10:35.

The current and future state of man is illustrated in two ways. First, man will go from a corruptible state, death and decay, to an incorruptible state, unending existence. Secondly, man is said to go from a mortal state to an immortal state.

When this transformation occurs in the resurrection, Paul states that Isaiah’s prophecy will have been fulfilled. Isaiah said, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” Isaiah 25:8

Victory swallows death and it will be no more, Revelation 20:14.

Furthermore, Paul quotes from Hosea 13:14 saying, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” The prophet foretold of a resurrection of the dead so that at the point in which it occurs one would exclaim, ‘where is thy sting o’ death?’

Death stings as a scorpion while man is in the terrestrial state; however, once the transformation of resurrection occurs, death and Hades will be cast into hell and will never more exist. If the scorpion is gone, so is its sting!

Because man sins he dies physically and spiritually just as the first man Adam, Genesis 2:17 / 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. The death sting is due to sin and the power of that sting of death is the law. The law defines sin as transgression, 1 John 3:4. If there were no law then no sin would exist, Romans 4:15.

If no law or sin existed there would be no death. Law does exist; however, and thereby sin exists and so does death. The power of sin has been destroyed by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.

Mankind is set free from the law and sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, Romans 7:1ff. When man now sins, he can ask for forgiveness if he has been made to be in Christ, Galatians 3:27. This is the “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Paul gives the concluding admonition based on the fact that there will be a day when man is resurrected from the dead and given an immortal, magnificent, and mighty celestial body. To ‘stand firm’, ‘hedraios’ is to be sitting, steady, steadfast. Closely related is the word ‘unmovable’, ‘ametakinetos’ i.e., immovable, firm.

The child of God is to stay firm in the faith and “abound in the work of the Lord” come what may in life because there is indeed a day of resurrection.

What is the work of the Lord? The work of the Lord is participating in the work of the church, edification of members, teaching the lost, providing care for needy saints, and exercising discipline when necessary.

The work of the Lord is meeting your individual spiritual responsibilities. Such responsibilities are helping the needy, studying the word of God, preaching to the lost, and edifying your fellow brethren. Such ‘labour’ will not be done in ‘vain’, useless, because there will be a day we are resurrected from the dead.

We cannot get depressed, despondent, discouraged, downtrodden, and give up on our hope. Neither can we eternally afford to let a false teacher remove our hope through his lies.

Here are the facts

We will be raised from the dead no matter what the condition of our soul. If the just and unjust are raised with a celestial body we may draw some natural conclusions. The ungodly will have this immortal, magnificent, and strong eternal body that will suffer for ever in hell.

The godly will have a celestial body in heaven with the Lord for all eternity. Paul is encouraging every man and woman of all times to never lose hope but to continue to press forward in faith. The day of the Lord is coming.


Jesus said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:28-29

Likewise, as the apostle Paul gave his defence before Felix, he said, “there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15

Some brethren in Corinth were teaching that there would be no resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:12. These teachers apparently believed Jesus had been raised yet they rejected the general resurrection of mankind.

Paul proves the general resurrection of the dead by proving Jesus’ resurrection, who is the “firstfruits of them that are asleep,” 1 Corinthians 15:20

Paul reasons that if Christ was raised then so must all mankind be raised as well 1 Corinthians 15:20-23. The consequences of no resurrection would be disastrous.

1. If there was not to be a general resurrection of the dead then it stands to reason that Christ never was raised, 1 Corinthians 15:13.

2. The apostle’s preaching is void of reason, 1 Corinthians 15:14 and they are found as “false witnesses,” 1 Corinthians 15:15.

3. The faith of the Corinthians is useless, 1 Corinthians 15:14.

4. All are still in their sins, 1 Corinthians 15:17.

5. Those who have died have perished never to be alive again, 1 Corinthians 15:18.

6. The Christian, therefore, has no real hope, 1 Corinthians 15:19 and we may as well “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”, 1 Corinthians 15:32. The dead, however, will be raised as was Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15 gives answers to three questions

1. How will the dead be raised?

Paul first compares the terrestrial body of corruption and dishonour to a seed that is planted in the ground. The seed decays and appears to be dead; however, in due time the seed produces a new plant, 1 Corinthians 15:35-38. Likewise, the dead body will be resurrected.

2. What type of body will the resurrected have?

The apostle Paul gives seven descriptive ideas as to what the resurrected body will be like.

a. The terrestrial body will be raised incorruptible, eternal, 1 Corinthians 15:43.

b. The resurrected body will be raised in ‘glory’, i.e., the external appearance of splendour.

c. Paul explains that the resurrected body will be ‘raised in power’, i.e., power and might.

d. The resurrected body will not be natural but rather ‘spiritual’, this word appears to sum up all the six descriptive ideas of the resurrected body.

e. The resurrected body shall ‘bear the image of the heavenly’, i.e., the resurrected body will be like and similar to the Lord’s body, angels, and heavenly things, Matthew 22:30 / Philippians 3:20-21 / 1 John 3:2.

f. Paul further defines the resurrected body by saying that ‘flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God.’

g. The resurrected body will be totally different from the natural physical bodies that we now occupy. Paul thereby terms it a ‘change’ in relation to what we are among the living on earth.

Considering the fact that Christ was recognized by those who saw him in the resurrected state as a person having bodily form we gain greater insight into what this resurrected body will be like, Matthew 28:9 / Luke 24:36-42 / John 20:19-29.

3. When will the resurrection occur?

Paul did not know when the resurrection would occur and neither has anyone else in the history of man, Matthew 24:36-44. Rather than answering the question of when Paul gives details as to what will transpire when the resurrection does happen.

a. Total victory over Satan and death will be achieved by Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.

b. The trumpet of the Lord shall sound, 1 Corinthians 15:52 / 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and all the dead shall rise, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

c. Mankind will be changed to a state of immortality in the blink of an eye, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53.

Go To 1 Corinthians 16



"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."