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1 Corinthians 15:1-34

Resurrection proofs

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The higher social, and wealthy, class in Jewish society were the Sadducees. They held strong religious beliefs and were responsible for the Temple building and upkeep. But their religious beliefs were contrary to the Gospel message. They believed that there was no afterlife and therefore no reward or penalty after death.

It is quite likely that there were some in the Church at Corinth who were actually Sadducees, or perhaps aspired to join their society, or who simply admired them and copied their beliefs.

So Paul now turns his attention to the subject of the resurrection. But before we follow his arguments we should look at his credentials v8-11 (but we’ll read from verse 1) :

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 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.

10 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.

11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Jesus appeared to Paul in a miraculous way (the story would have been well-known to the Corinthians) as if the timing of his birth was abnormal (v8). He was constantly persecuted for his faith (v9), but God’s grace had been powerfully evident in his life (v10), and the message he had preached to the Church at Corinth had been readily accepted by them (v11).

In order to teach about resurrection, Paul had firstly to explain again the fundamentals of the Gospel. V2: It is only by believing the gospel message that they are saved; if they can’t accept the basics then what they do believe is futile.

So what are the basics (verses 3-4)?(Display phrases as they are mentioned)

1 Christ died for our sins. (v3) (in accordance with scripture)

2 He was buried (v4)

3 He rose again (v4) (in accordance with scripture)

Only by believing all of these three statements can you be saved.

The Sadducees could not accept the third one, so what proofs does Paul give? (Verses 5-8)

He appeared to many people (v5-7)

He appeared to all the Apostles (v7)

He appeared to Paul (v8)

If they were happy with the message of the Apostles (and Paul), even favouring one over another (1 Corinthians 1:12), then they had to accept as true what each of these men had told them.

And what they had been told was that Christ has been raised from the dead.

So they were being totally inconsistent:

12 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?

13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

Resurrection is either possible for all, or not possible for any.

14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

15 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.

16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.

17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.

19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

Why was that?

They had suffered persecution, even feared for their lives.

Their hopes were so high; to find that they were not true would be devastating.

What are our hopes for this resurrection life?

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Now it seems as if Paul is anxious to move on from such negative thoughts. Now he will state some facts: First, ‘Christ has indeed been raised from the dead’ – ‘I know, I’ve seen him!’

But what does ‘firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep’ mean?

21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

In the same way that Adam introduced death into the world, so Jesus has brought the offer of life to all.

23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

Not only has Christ risen from death, but he also rose in power: power to bring all his own to glory, and those who reject him to judgement.

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

27 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.

28 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.

When he has overcome all his enemies, and death itself, he will again sit down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12-13).

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptised for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptised for them?

I’m sorry. No one knows what this referred to so we can only speculate!

30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?

31 I die every day— I mean that, brothers— just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

Paul just cannot imagine that people would think he would go through what he has had to go through if there was no resurrection. If that was truly the case we may as well just try to enjoy the few days of this life that were left.

33 Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

What effect can there be if we keep company with those who don’t believe as we do?

What is more likely:

Good people will influence bad people to become good.

Or: Bad people will influence good people to become bad ?

34 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.

Why is it a sin to deny the resurrection?

Because it is saying to God ‘You can’t do that’. Anyone who adopts that attitude puts himself higher than God – which is the ultimate sin.

1 Corinthians 14 1 Corinthians 16 NIV Copyright