Back in 2012 I had engaged a discussion on Sam Frost’s webpage (The Reign of Christ) regarding 1 Corinthians chapter 15. Many misled Christians have an erroneous view of this chapter and what is being dealt with. Currently, at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) we are going through a discussion about “the resurrection of the dead ones” and the details of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 along with other “resurrection texts”. You can listen to those podcasts here:
Since the 1 Corinthians 15 discussions I had with Frost were on a page that is now deleted, I am sure glad I kept them as notes. I want to post those messages here for any insight you might require.
“Sorry for the delay my friends, I have spent the last 2 days going through the entire book of 1 Corinthians, as well as re-examining my view to make sure it is what the Scriptures say (not a presupposition that I would like it to). I sure hope that is our intention, search the Scriptures and study to show ourselves approved rightly diving the word of Truth, as we discuss the exegete of this chapter.</p><p> </p><p>Gleaning wisdom from the whole book is might be important to point out the context of the letter. The Apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church because he has heard from some of Chloe’s household that there are divisions among the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). We see these divisions ranging from who was baptized by who, who men follow, and later in the chapter the freedoms we have in the gospel. The Gentiles within the Corinthian Church clearly felt they were more superior to their Jewish brethren because they did not feel bound by the Law, but Paul continues to remind the Corinthians Church that he himself, along with the other apostles, who are Jews are suffering for this gospel. The grace of God is vital here therefore no man can boast as to where he stands in regards to Christ. But oddly, the Gentiles begin to feel they are something special.With all the context in mind Paul begins to address his brothers in faith at Corinth by reminding them of the gospel, which they have received and have taken their stand (v.1). It is this gospel that they are saved by, if they hold firmly to it, otherwise they have believed in vain (v.2). What Paul has been told as the gospel he has passed on, that according to the Scriptures Christ died for our sins (v.4) as well as being buried and raised on the third day (v.5). Christ then appeared to Peter and then to the twelve (v.5). After that he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers, most of who are still living, but some have fallen asleep (v.6). Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles (v.7), and last he appeared to me, as one abnormally born (v.8).Since I persecuted the Church, I dare not to even be called an apostle and consider myself the least of the apostles (v.9). But it is by the grace of God that I am what I am, and his grace is not without effect. I have worked harder than the other apostles, but it is not I, but the grace of God (v.10). No matter who it was then, this is the gospel that we preach and what you have believed (v.11).But, if we have preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead (v.12). At this point there really wasn’t much exegetical study to do besides context. I imagine we are all in agreement that Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church because he has heard of the divisions going on there and wants to encourage as well as strengthen the Believers there. In doing so, he has addressed the divisions, be they who people are subscribing their “followership to”, the freedom of the gospel, removing the insistent sinner from among them, etc. And now Paul has gone on to remind the Corinthians of the gospel which the apostles are preaching. I end where I do for this installment to make sure my post doesn’t drag on forever and to illustrate the context by which we enter this next part.There is clearly misunderstanding going on in these Believers minds. They believe in the gospel, they stand firm in it, yet they are misunderstanding the resurrection of the dead. This what Paul is about to address in this next part”.
“Now in context we have Paul writing to the Corinthian church concerning the divisions amongst them, the Gentile-Jew divide that is occurring do to freedoms from the Law, and now we have Paul reminding the Corinthians of the gospel which he has delivered to them. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (v.3), He was buried and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (v.4)”, and he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve, after that more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most who were still living at the time of the letter, then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and lastly he appeared to Paul. It’s by God’s grace that Paul was called to be an apostle, therefore whether it was the others or Paul preaching, the gospel is the same, and this is what the Corinthian church has believed.
“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 (v.12)”
Now it has been said that this is Paul dealing with naysayers of the resurrection of dead bodies, yet I read of no disconnect between the Corinthians who were addressed in verse 11. What it appears from reading the text (as as will be explained throughout the context) is a misunderstanding concerning the resurrection of the dead. “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised (v.13), And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (v.14)”.
At this point to the common eye, it appears that Paul is being redundant. If Christ has not been raised there is no resurrection of the dead, well duh. But as he makes clear here, that if Christ has not been raised, and there is no resurrection of the dead, your faith is in vain, and as we will see in later context, if this is the case, there is a lose of hope (v.19).
We must understand this resurrection of the dead concept.The resurrection was the hope of Israel, that Paul always preached (For example, Acts 26 & O.T. Ezekiel chapter 37). If Christ was not raised, Israel was not raised (Hosea chapter 6) and if Israel is not raised, or being raised, then there is no hope for the Gentiles (Romans 11). The promises to the Gentiles are conditioned on the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, therefore the hope of Israel must be true. We clearly see no emphasis on physical body resurrection in this text, it must be forced to make the theme of a future bodily resurrection hope to be in the context.
So now, if Christ has not been raised the preaching of those who said He has appeared to them are false witnesses and those who have believed their testimony, believe in vain (v.15). If the dead are not raised (remember the hope of Israel) then Christ (who is the end of the Law and the fulfillment of the Scriptures) is not raised (v.16). And if Christ is not raised, the faith of those who believe in the gospel message of reconciliation is in vain and they are still in their sins (v.17).
“Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost (v.18)”.
Interesting. So, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost if there is no resurrection of the dead. Why? Remember the context of this chapter. The first letter to the Corinthians is dealing with the divisions in the Church, and there was a strong sense of Gentile superiority in the first century church, because they weren’t under the Law because it was by grace that they had come to the knowledge of God. If the resurrection of the dead is the hope of Israel, and the Gentile salvation is governed by God’s providential promises to Israel, it is imperative that the resurrection of the dead happens! If there is no resurrection of the dead, those who have died as Christians, which is based on the fulfillment of the Law, are lost! There is no hope! “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (v.19)”.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (v.20)”. Thank God, the proof of the hope for those who had fallen asleep in Christ and for the hope of the Believers is assured because Christ has raised from the dead, Him being the first fruits that prove the harvest was near (see, Leviticus 26).
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead come also through a man (v.21). For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (v.22)”.
The biggest question of all is what death came through Adam? Many have said it was physical death, which there isn’t much of a basis besides mere speculation. What we do have in the Genesis chapters 2-3 account is God telling Adam that in the day he eats of the tree he will surely die (Genesis 2:17) and when he eats of it he feels shame and is cursed and removed from the garden, no longer having access to the tree of live, and eternal life. We know that in Christ we have eternal life and at the consummation of the promises to Israel (judgement and resurrection) we have access to this tree in Revelation 21-22. Did you see anything physical occur there? Neither did I. This text is speaking to Believers, simply because the ALL who die in Adam, are the ALL who are in Christ. Unless, we are to get into the universal view 🙂
“But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; 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 (v.23-24)
Well, there we go. Thank God that Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection of the dead, now we have hope in this life, and a faith that is not futile. God has fulfilled his promises to Israel, and therefore the Gentiles are welcomed into this reality. Next installment we will deal with Christ handing over the kingdom, after He destroys all dominion, authority, and power, and best of all DEATH!”.
“”Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24). Ok, so the last couple posts we have been venturing through this text which was written to the Corinthian Church that was full of divisions and had some errors creeping in. We read from the beginning of this chapter that the Apostle Paul is reminding those in Corinth of the gospel which was taught by him and the other apostles. This gospel starts with the importance that “Christ died for our sins according the Scripture (v.3), “he was buried , and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (v.4), and He appeared to Peter…..and so on. Concluding with the fact that Christ Jesus appeared to Paul, as one abnormally born (v.8). The Apostle Paul begins to deal with the fact that some among the Church had began to say that there is no resurrection of the dead. Through this Paul begins to explain that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not raised, and if Christ is not raised their faith is in vain and they are still in their sins. Also, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. Paul begins to illustrate that Christ was the first-fruits of the resurrection, and since death came through a man, Adam, therefore resurrection of the dead will come through a man. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (v.22)”. We concluded the last installment with joy that since Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first fruits, there would be a resurrection of the dead.
“….then when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come….” (part of verse 23-24). Didn’t Jesus tell us about His coming and the end? Let’s refer to Matthew chapter 10:1-23, or Matthew 16:24-28, or Matthew 24:29-35, or Luke 21:17-37. Clearly, the end of the age, right? We know what was ending as we can refer to Hebrews 8:13. I always find it interesting how the fulfilled view doesn’t have to hypothesize a million ways why Scripture can’t mean what it says. It’s as clear as day in every resurrection text that the Law of Moses was was brought knowledge of sin ( 1 John 3:4; Romans 6:22-23;Romans 7:7-25 ) and therefore death(Romans 8:6), and the salvation, or what was hoped for was the resurrection of the dead. What dead? Those that are dead under the Law! When the end would come (obviously I would content it has already) Jesus Christ would hand over the kingdom to the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. According to 1 John 3:8, the purpose of Jesus Christ was to destroy the word of the devil. Did He fail? I think we could all agree that He didn’t and therefore defeated dominion, authority, and power. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all POWER according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the KINGDOM of light. For he has rescued us from the DOMINION of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:9-14)”. Therefore He must reign until He puts all enemies under His feet (which deals with the subjection of all things under the feet of man in Psalms chapter 8). “The last enemy to be destroyed is death (v.26). I think this is where many miss the boat. What death? In your leisure time read through Romans chapters 5-6, it’s an interesting parallel to the death that came through Adam and the life found in Christ.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20). “Now when it says everything has been put under him, it is clear that it does not include God Himself, who put everything under Christ. When He does this, then the Son himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all (v. 27-28)”. Talk about a good ole Colossians chapter 1:15-23 reference, huh?</p><p> </p><p>As far as verse 29, this verse intimidates me a bit, since it reminds me of the Mormons up the block. Apparently there were some baptisms being done in the hopes of the resurrection. And Paul is arguing that if there is no resurrection of the dead why are people baptized for them. This does make a good case for the fact that those who disbelieved in the resurrection of the dead were believers, therefore reminds me of Sam Frost’s argument that this passage is referencing unbelievers. Continuing on, Paul makes the point that if there is no resurrection of the dead, why are “we” (the apostles) endangering ourselves every hour (v.30). “I die every day-I mean that, brothers- just as surely s I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord (v. 31)”. Yet again another interesting reference to how the apostles were dying to the old way and being renewed by the new way; 2 Corinthians chapter 4). If the dead are not raised all the effort in preaching the gospel is useless (v. 32). To finalize this installment we see Paul encouraging those believers in Corinth to not be misled or corrupted by those who are teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead. This would be important because:</p><p> </p><p>”I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16)”. Simply put, the text continues to illustrate the point that if the hope of Israel (the resurrection of the dead) is not happening or about to happen, then the faith is in vain. The problem being dealt with throughout the entire book of 1 Corinthians, dare I say most of the New Testament, is the divisions of those who felt bound to the Law and those set free, many within the Gentile camp felt superior to those in the faith who felt bound by the Law (which we see dealt with specifically just a couple chapters back in 1 Corinthians chapters 8-10).”
“But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (v.35). Let us consider the context thus far. We have people in the church at Corinth who are saying there is no resurrection of the dead (v.12) which was the hope of Israel (Acts chapter 24). The church in Corinth as well many others, began to see the distress of division between the gentiles and Jews. A feeling of Gentile superiority ran rampant, and therefore the resurrection of the dead (the hope of Israel) is being misunderstood, or even denied as we see here. Paul begins to explain the gospel at verse 1 and illustrates that this is the gospel preached according to the Scriptures, the appearance of Jesus Christ starting with Peter, many others and ending with him, Paul, as one abnormally born by God’s grace (v.3-10). This is the message being preached whether you hear it from others or Paul, who was commissioned to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.</p><p> </p><p>Paul explains that if there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ has not been raised (v.13). If Christ has not been raised the preaching of the gospel is useless and so is the faith of those believing in it (v.14). Why? Read Romans 1:16 cf. John chapter 4. If their is no resurrection of the dead, and Christ is not raised as the firstfruits, then the faith of the church is Corinth is futile (v. 17). Christ was resurrected as the firstfruits (sure enough we read of Christ being the resurrection of Israel in Hosea chapter 6), and when Christ comes he will resurrect those who belong to Him (v.23). This will be the end of the age, and kingdom of God will reign (v.24). At this time all his enemies will be destroyed, even death. Sounds alike like bringing us back to the garden, huh? Ok, so now let’s start at verse 35. The term body here is soma which is singular, therefore it is not bodies, but rather with what kind of body do they come. Once again noting there is only ONE body (1 Corinthians 12:27 cf. Ephesians 2:11-22), yet the divisions in the early church were creating confusion. Would we be bound by the Law in the resurrection as the Jews? Would we all be set free? So, Paul goes on to say, “How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. THE GOOD OLE SEED ANALOGY. What body was dying? Maybe read other resurrection texts such as Philippians chapter 3 and 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5. It’s clearly the Old Covenant body that was dying and would resurrect as the New Covenant body in Christ (Hebrews 8:13). “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 (verses 37-38)”. What kind of body has God given us? Keep reading!! “All flesh is not the same: Men 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 splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another, and the star differs from the star in splendor (v. 39-41)”. Ok, so now that we have clearly illustrated that there is a different splendor, or delight for each body which shows that the natural body of Israel had a splendor of it’s own. Remember what Paul is trying to illustrate to the Corinthian Church. Now watch this. “So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown perishable, is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, 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 (v.42-44)”. And there you have it. What kind of body did God determine for us- a perishable one, that must die and will be raised imperishable. Interesting parallel to the aging and soon be done away with, or “desolate” (check out Matthew 23:37-38). When I read this I can’t help think of Romans chapter 8, which speaks about how “the creation” will be liberated from it’s groaning, and we know that the Old Covenant people were groaning in their bondage to the law of sin and death. “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represents two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: “Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband”. Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son. Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman (Galatians 4:21-31)”.So now that we see through Scripture the “natural body” versus the Spiritual body that is being illustrated. It might be good to point out what exactly “natural” here demonstrates. The Greek word used, Φυσικός[fisikOs], is also used in James 3:5, Jude 19, and 1 Corinthians chapter 2.
“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 of 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 (v.45-49).
Interesting link back to verses 21-22. Those under the law of sin and death bore the likeness of the first Adam, the earthly Adam, and therefore “shall bear the likeness of the man from heaven”. Sounds alot like Galatians chapter 4, huh? Christ was set free and so would we be! Hebrews 9:28 is an interesting note to take here. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (v.50)”. Yet again interesting parallel, read John chapter 4 concerning being born again. Also, many times throughout the N.T. we see “flesh and blood” being referenced as human weakness or ignorance (Matthew 16:17; Galatians 1:16; Hebrews 2:14).”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?” (v.51-55)”.”At that hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever”. And the twenty four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God saying: “We give thanks to you , Lord God Almighty, the One who is and was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great- and for destroying those who destroy the earth”. Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within His temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, pearls of great thunder, and earthquake and great hailstorm (Revelation 11:13-19)”.This citation sounds an awful lot like 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, and then we have the judgement and resurrection of the righteous and wicked. Also, the temple imagery is similar to Galatians 4.
Concerning the perishable putting on the imperishable, let us turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 5:”Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (v.1-5)”.
Now if we were to do an in context study of 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5, it would be clear the shift in covenants is being talked about here. Obviously speaking of the temple made with hands, contrasted to the heavenly temple, or as Galatians chapter 4 would put it- the New Jerusalem from above. Those under the Old Covenant knew the judgement that Jesus Christ had spoken on the temple and that system of things (refer to Matthew chapters 23-24) and therefore it was a hard transition while in the body (Old Covenant body of Adam) while waiting to be clothed with the heavenly dwelling (New Covenant body of Christ).”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 (v.56-57)”.That’s the clincher right there. So, as I have demonstrated, or as the Word says, the transition from the perishable to imperishable is speaking about the shift of covenants. In the New Covenant, death is defeated because the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. Oddly enough, this whole chapter is summed up with the exhortation from the apostle Paul:”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 (v.58).This physical resurrection of the body nonsense is thrown out the window by the text. Thanks for joining me as broke down 1 Corinthians chapter 15, which without injecting any concepts into the text is clearly speaking about the transition of covenants, the body of Adam to the body of Christ.”.