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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1 Corinthians 15



Other Authors


For the enquiry, WHO they were that denied the Resurrection, see note on 1 Corinthians 15:12.

Verse 1-2

1, 2.] δέ transitional.

γνωρίζω, not, as most Commentators, aft. Œc(65), οἷον ὑπομιμνήσκω, nor as Rück., ‘I direct your attention to’ (both which meanings are inadmissible, from the usage of the word: see reff.),—but as E. V. I declare: i.e. ‘declare anew:’ not without some intimation of surprise and reproach to them.

τὸ εὐαγγ.] the (whole) Gospel: not merely the Death and Resurrection of Christ, which were ἐν πρώτοις parts of it; the reproach still continues; q. d. ‘I am constrained to begin again, and declare to you the whole gospel which I preached to you.’

ὃ καὶ παρ.] The thrice repeated καί indicates a climax:—which ye also received (see especially ref. John), in which moreover ye stand, by means of which ye are even being saved (in the course of salvation).

τίνι λόγ.] if ye hold fast, with what discourse (not, as Moulton supposes me to interpret (in his Winer, Gr. Gr. p. 211, note 2,) = the discourse with which) I preached to you: the clause τίνι λόγ. being prefixed for emphasis’ sake. λόγος, of the import, not the grounds of his preaching: for of this he reminds them below, not of the arguments. Some Commentators take τίνι λόγῳ κ. τ. λ. as a mere epexegesis of εὐαγγέλιον,—‘the gospel.…, with what discourse I preached to you,’ as οἶδά σε, τίς εἶ. But as Meyer has remarked, in that case,—(1) σώζεσθε and εἰ κατέχετε being altogether severed from one another, εἰ κατέχετε becomes the conditional clause to γνωρίζω ὑμῖν, with which it has no logical connexion: (2) εἰ κατέχετε would be inconsistent with ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε, which would thus be an absolute assertion: (3) the words ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῆ ἐπιστ. would have to be referred as a second conditional clause to εἰ κατέχετε (see below).

ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῆ ἐπιστ.] The only chance, if you hold fast what I have taught you, of your missing salvation, is the hardly supposable one, that your faith is vain, and the gospel a fable; see 1 Corinthians 15:14, of which this is an anticipation:—unless (perchance) ye believed (not as E. V. ‘have believed,’ which confuses the idea: it is, ‘became believers,’ see reff.) in vain ( εἰς κενόν, as 1 Corinthians 15:14). So Chrys., who remarks: νῦν μὲν ὑπεσταλμένως αὐτό φησι, προϊὼν δὲ καὶ διαθερμαινόμενος· γυμνῇ λοιπὸν τῇ κεφαλῇ βοᾷ καὶ λέγει εἰ δὲ χριστὸς οὐκ ἐγήγερται, κ. τ. λ., 1 Corinthians 15:14. Hom. xxxviii. p. 352. This explanation of the words appears to me the only tenable one. Meyer, and in the main De W., understand them of a vain and dead faith, which the Apostle will not suppose them to have. But surely if the previously expressed condition of κατέχετε were fulfilled, their faith could not be vain or dead; and again the aorist is against this interpretation: unless ye became believers in vain, not, ‘unless your faith has been a vain one.’ A still further reason is, the parallelism of εἰκῆ ἐπιστεύσατε here and οὕτως ἐπιστεύσατε, 1 Corinthians 15:11; leading to the inference that εἰκῆ here relates, not to the subjective insufficiency of their faith, but to the (hypothetical) objective nullity of that on which their faith was founded. Œc(66), Theophyl., Theodoret, Luther, Calv., Estius, and De W. connect ἐκτὸς εἰ μή (see above) as a second conditional clause to εἰ κατέχετε, supplying between, κατέχετε δὲ πάντως (Theophyl.): but this is arbitrary and unnatural.

Verses 1-11

1–11.] The Apostle lays the foundation of his intended polemical argument in the historical fact of the RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. But he does not altogether assume this fact. He deals with its evidence, in relating minutely the various appearances of the Lord after His Resurrection, to others, and to himself. Then, in 1 Corinthians 15:12, the proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection as the great fact attending the preaching of the gospel, is set against the denial of the Resurrection by some of them, and it is subsequently shewn that the two hang together, so that they who denied the one must be prepared to deny the other; and the consequences of this latter denial are pointed out. But it by no means follows, as De W. (in part) and Meyer have assumed, that the impugners were not prepared to deny the Resurrection of Christ.

The Apostle writes not only for them, but for the rest of the Corinthian believers, shewing them the historical certainty, and vital importance of Christ’s Resurrection, and its inseparable connexion with the doctrine which they were now tempted to deny.

Verse 3

3. ἐν πρώτοις] in primis, with relation not to order of time (as Chrys.: ἐξ ἀρχῆς), but to importance (as Theophyl.: οἱονεὶ γὰρ θεμέλιός ἐστι πάσης τῆς πίστεως). So Plato, Rep. vii. 6; p. 522: τοῦτο τὸ κοινὸν.… ὃ καὶ παντὶ ἐν πρώτοις ἀνάγκη μανθάνειν.

ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον] viz. (see ch. 1 Corinthians 11:23 and note) from the Lord himself, by special revelation. Before his conversion he may have known the bare fact of the death of Jesus, but the nature and reason of that Death he had to learn from revelation:—the Resurrection he regarded as a fable,—but revelation informed him of its reality, and its accordance with prophecy. On the following clauses, ‘the earliest known specimen of what may be termed the creed of the early Church,’ see Stanley’s notes, and [his] dissertation at the end of the section.

ὑπὲρ τ. ἁμ. ἡμ.] ON BEHALF OF OUR SINS: viz. to atone for them. Meyer makes the important remark, that this use of ὑπέρ with τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμ. shews, that when Paul uses it in speaking of Christ’s sufferings with ἡμῶν only, he does not mean by it ‘loco nostri.’ He also quotes from Buttmann (Index to Meidias, p. 188), on the distinction between ὑπέρ and περί: “id unum interest, quod περί usu frequentissimo teritur, multo rarius usurpatur ὑπέρ, quod ipsum discrimen inter Lat. præp. de et super locum obtinet.”

It may be noticed, that in 3 Kings 1 Corinthians 16:19, where it is said that Zimri ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτοῦ ὧν ἐποίησεν, it is for his own sins, as their punishment, that he died. So that ὑπέρ may bear the meaning that Christ’s death was the punishment of the sins of that our nature which he took upon Him. But its undoubtedly inclusive vicarious import in other passages where ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν and the like occur, seems to rule it to have that sense here also.

κατὰ τὰς γρ.] This applies to Christ’s Death, Burial, and Resurrection on the third day: see reff.

Verses 3-11

3–11.] A detail of the great facts preached to them, centering in THE RESURRECTON OF CHRIST.

Verse 4

4. ἐγήγερται] the perfect marks the continuation of the state thus begun, or of its consequences: so Herod. vii. 8, ἀλλʼ ὁ μὲν τετελεύτηκε, καὶ οὐκ ἐξεγένετό οἱ τιμωρήσασθαι: see Kühner, § 441. 6.

Verse 5

5.] That the following appearances are related in chronological order, is evident from the use of the definite adverbs of sequence, εἶτα, ἔπειτα, ἔσχατον δὲ πάντων. See examples in Wetstein. Wieseler, Chron. Synops. der vier Evv. pp. 420 f., attempts to disprove this, but certainly does not succeed in getting over ἔσχατ ον πάντων, 1 Corinthians 15:8.

ὤφθη κηφᾷ] See Luke 24:34.

τοῖς δώδεκα] used here popularly, as decemviri, and other like expressions, although the number was not full. The occasion referred to seems to be that in John 20:19 ff.; Luke 24:36 ff. Clearly we must not with Chrys., suppose Matthias to be included as possibly having seen Him after His ascension: for the appearance is evidently one and the same.

Verse 6

6.] He drops the construction with ὅτι, dependent on παρέδωκα, and proceeds in a direct narration. But evidently the sense of the former construction continues: he is relating what he had received and preached to them.

ἐπάνω πεντακ. ἀδ. ἐφάπ.] From Matthew 28:17, it appears (see note there) that others besides the eleven witnessed the appearance on the mountain in Galilee. But we cannot say that it is the appearance here referred to:—nor indeed is it likely that so many as 500 believers in Jesus would have been gathered together in Galilee: both from its position in the list, and from the number who witnessed it, this appearance would seem rather to have taken place at Jerusalem, and before the dispersion of the multitudes who had assembled at the passover: for we find that the church of Jerusalem itself (Acts 1:15) subsequently contained only 120 persons.

ἐφάπαξ] not here in its commoner meaning of ‘once for all,’ but at once, at one and the same time; as Theodoret, οὐ καθʼ ἕνα, ἀλλʼ ὁμοῦ πᾶσιν.

μένουσιν] survive; see reff. The circumstance of most of them remaining alive is mentioned apparently by way of strengthening the evidence: q. d. “and can attest it, if required:”—hardly for the reason suggested by Stanley, that the dead among them would have been worse off even than others, if there were no resurrection, having been “tantalised by the glimpse of another world in the vision of their risen Lord.”

Verse 7

7. ἰακώβῳ] Probably, from no distinguishing epithet being added, the celebrated James, the brother of the Lord: see Galatians 1:19. So Chrys.: ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ, τῷ ἀδελφῷ τῷ ἑαυτοῦ, p. 355. See notes on ch. 1 Corinthians 9:5, Matthew 13:55, and the Prolegg. to the Epistle of James. On Wieseler’s view that this is the appearance on the road to Emmaus, see note on Luke 24:13. This appearance cannot however be identical with that traditional one quoted by Jerome (from the Gospel according to the Hebrews), Catal. Script. Eccles. ii. vol. ii. p. 831 f.: “Juraverat enim Jacobus, se non comesturum panem ab illa hora qua biberat calicem Domini, donec videret eum resurgentem a mortuis.” This would imply that the appearance was very soon after the Resurrection, and before any of those to large collections of believers, in which James would naturally be present.

ἀποστ. πᾶσιν] This is decisive for the much wider use of the term ἀπόστολος than as applying to the Twelve only: and a strong presumption that James, just mentioned, and evidently here and Galatians 1:19, included among the ἀπόστολοι, was not one of the Twelve. Chrys. (ubi supra) extends the term to the Seventy of Luke 10 and others: ἦσαν γὰρ καὶ ἄλλοι ἀπόστολοι, ὡς οἱ ἑβδομήκοντα.

Verse 8

8.] But last of all (not masc., as Meyer, who refers it to τῶν ἀποστόλων,—for others than the Apostles have already been mentioned,—but neut., as in ref. and in the expression πάντων μάλιστα (Plato, Protag. p. 330)), as to the abortively born ( τῷ pointing out the Apostles as a family, and himself as the abortion among them,—the one whose relation to the rest in point of worthiness, was as that of the immature and deformed child to the rest of the family. That this is the meaning is evident from 1 Corinthians 15:9, which drops the figure. On ἔκτρωμα, see examples in Wetstein. It is not, as τινες in Theophyl., τὸ ὕστερον γέννημα, ‘a weakling child of old age.’ The grammarians find fault with the term, and prefer ἄμβλωμα or ἐξάμβλωμα: but it occurs in Aristotle, de generatione animalium, iv. 5,— οὐ δύναται τελειοῦν, ἀλλὰ κυήματʼ ἐκπίπτει παραπλήσια τοῖς καλουμένοις ἐκτρώμασιν.

The suggestion of Valcknaer, al., that τῷ is τῳ for τινι, is equally inconsistent with usage and the sense of the passage), He appeared to me also: viz. on the road to Damascus. This, and this only, can here be meant; as he is speaking, not of a succession of visions, but of some one definite apparition.

Verse 9

9. ἐγώ] The stress is on ἐγώ, ‘I, and no other.’

ὅς] ‘ut qui:’ assigns the reason.

ἱκανός] see reff.

καλεῖσθαι] ‘to bear the honourable name of an Apostle.’

Verse 9-10

9, 10.] Digressive, explanatory of ἐκτρώματι.

Verse 10

10. χάρ. δὲ θεοῦ] “With the humiliating conviction of his own unworthiness is united the consciousness of that higher Power which worked on and in him,—and this introduces his chastened self-consciousness of the extent and success of his apostolic labours.” De Wette. The position of χάριτι δὲ θεοῦ, and the repetition of ἡ χάρις αὐτοῦ afterwards, shew the emphatic prominence which he assigns to the divine Grace.

ὅ εἰμι] viz. in my office and its results. The church has admirably connected this passage, as Epistle for the 11th Sunday after Trinity, with that other speech of a Pharisee, Luke 18:11,— ὁ θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων: see note there.

ἡ εἰς ἐμέ] which was (manifested) towards me: see ref. and Romans 8:18.

ἀλλά opposed to κενὴ ἐγ.,—‘by means of God’s grace’ being understood after ἀλλά, as afterwards explained.

περισσότερον] adverbial, as in reff.: or perhaps neut. accus. governed by ἐκοπίασα.

αὐτῶν πάντων] either, ‘than any of them,’ or ‘than they all,’ scil. together. Meyer prefers the latter, on account of τοῖς ἀπ. πᾶσιν, 1 Corinthians 15:7. But it seems hardly necessary, and introduces an element of apparent exaggeration.

ἐκοπίασα] Spoken of his apostolic work, in all its branches; see reff., especially Phil.

οὐκ ἐγὼ δέ] explanatory, to avoid misapprehension: it had been implied (see above) in the ἀλλά:—not I, however, but the Grace of God with me (see var. readd.): scil. ἐκοπίασεν κ. τ. λ. That is,—the Grace of God worked with him in so overwhelming a measure, compared to his own working, that it was no longer the work of himself but of divine Grace. Augustine, de Grat. et Lib. Arb. § 5 (12), vol. x. p. 889, hardly expresses this: “Non ego autem, i.e. non solus, sed gratia Dei mecum: ac per hoc nec gratia Dei sola, nec ipse solus, sed gratia Dei cum illo:”—for he overlooks the entire preponderance of Grace, which Paul asserts, even to the exclusion of his own action in the matter. The right view of this preponderance of Grace prevents the misunderstanding of the words which has led to the insertion of the article, ἡ σὺν ἐμοί, whereby Grace becomes absolutely the sole agent, which is contrary to fact. On the coagency of the human will with divine Grace, but in subordination, see Matthew 10:20; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 6:1, and ch. 1 Corinthians 3:9, note.

Verse 11

11.] He resumes the subject after the digression respecting himself:—it matters not whether it were I or they (the other Apostles)—SUCH is the purport of our preaching—SUCH was your belief:— οὕτως, after this manner, viz. that Christ died, was buried, and rose again, as 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

Verse 12

12.] introduces the argument for the resurrection, by referring to its denial among a portion of the Corinthian church.

δέ belongs to the whole question, and is opposed to οὕτως κηρ. and οὕτ. ἐπιστ. of the foregoing verse.

The position of χριστός before the verb gives it the leading emphasis, as an example of that which is denied by some among you: But if CHRIST is preached [not subjunctive, be preached: he is arguing from a matter of fact, not from a mere hypothesis] that He is risen from the dead (if an instance of such resurrection is a fact announced in our preaching), how say some among you (how comes it to pass that some say) that a resurrection of the dead does not exist ( οὐκ ἔστ. as 1 Corinthians 15:13)? If the species be conceded, how is it that some among you deny the genus?

τινες] It is an interesting question, WHO these τινες were; and one which can only be answered by the indications which the argument in this chapter furnishes. (1) Were they Sadducees? If so, the Apostle would hardly have begun his argument with the fact of the Resurrection of Jesus. And yet we must remember that he is arguing not with the deniers, but with those who being as yet sound, were liable to be misled by them. But the opposition between Sadduceism and Christianity was so complete, that we have little reason to think that any leaven of the Sadducees ever found its way into the church. (2) Were they Epicureans? Probably not, for two reasons: ( α) the Epicurean maxim, “Let us eat and drink,” &c., is represented as a legitimate consequence) of adopting their denial of the resurrection, not as an accompaniment of, much less as the ground of it: and ( β) had the Epicurean element entered to any extent into the Corinthian church, we certainly should have had more notice of its exceedingly antichristian tenets. It is possible that the deniers may have been, or been in danger of being, corrupted by mixture with Epicureans without, from the warning of 1 Corinthians 15:33. (3) Were they Jews? If not Sadducees, hardly Jews at all, or Judaizers: a strong tenet of Pharisaism was this very one of the Resurrection, see Acts 23:6; and we know of no tendency of Essenism which should produce such a denial. (4) They must then have been Gentile believers, inheriting the unwillingness of the Greek mind to receive that of which a full account could not be given, see 1 Corinthians 15:35-36; and probably of a philosophical and cavilling turn. Meyer argues, from the antimaterialistic turn of the Apostle’s counter-arguments, 1 Corinthians 15:35 ff.,—that the objections were antimaterialistic also: De W. infers the very opposite, which certainly seems to me more probable.

No trace whatever is found in the argument of an allegorizing character in the opponents, as was that of Hymenæus and Philetus, who maintained that the resurrection was past already, 2 Timothy 2:17-18,—as Olsh. after Grot. supposes.

Whether the Apostle regarded the resurrection of the body as inseparably bound up with a future existence of the soul, does not very clearly appear in this chapter. From the use of the word ἀπώλοντο, 1 Corinthians 15:18, which must refer, not to annihilation, but to perdition, it would seem that he admitted an independent existence of the soul; as also from Philippians 1:23. But from 1 Corinthians 15:32, εἰ νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, φάγωμεν κ. πίωμεν, αὔριον γὰρ ἀποθνήσκομεν, it would seem that the Apostle regarded the denial of the resurrection as involving that of the future state and judgment.

On the question, to which of the (supposed) Corinthian parties the opponents belonged, I have nothing to say, not recognizing the divisions into the Pauline, Apollonian, Petrine, and Christine parties as having any historical foundation; see note on ch. 1 Corinthians 1:12.

Verses 12-19

12–19.] On the fact of Christ’s Resurrection, announced in his preaching, and confessed in their belief, he grounds (negatively) the truth of the general Resurrection:—If the latter be not to happen, neither has the former happened:—and he urges the results of such a disproof of Christ’s Resurrection.

Verse 13

13.] δέ is the but argumentandi, frequent in mathematical demonstrations.

ἀν. νεκ. οὐκ ἔστιν] the words ( οὐκ) of the deniers.

οὐδὲ χριστ. ἐγήγερται] This inference depends, as Grot. observes, on the maxim, “Sublato genere tollitur et species;” the Resurrection of Christ being an instance of the rule, that dead men rise; inasmuch as He is man. This is enlarged on, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22.

Verse 14

14.] δέ, again introducing a new inference.

οὐκ ἐγ.] Again repeating and using as matter of fact ( οὐκ) the inference of the last verse; q. d. εἰ δὲ χρ. οὐκ- ἐγήγερται.

κενόν] idle, ‘empty,’ ‘without result:’ placed first for emphasis.

ἄρα] then: ‘rebus ita comparatis’ (Meyer).

καί] also, q. d. “If Christ’s Resurrection be gone, then also our faith is gone.” Without the copula δέ, the clause is much more forcible:—idle also is our preaching, idle also is your faith. Thus καί both times refers to the hypothesis, εἰ χρ. οὐκ ἐγήγ.

Verse 15

15.] Not to be joined with the former verse, as Lachm., al., and Meyer: for it does not depend on εἰ δὲ χρ. κ. τ. λ., but has its reason given below.

δὲ καί, moreover.

ψευδ. τοῦ θ.] false witnesses concerning God (gen. obj.), not ‘belonging to God’ (gen. subj.), as Billroth: and false witnesses, as bearing false testimony (see below), not, as Knapp, as pretending to be witnesses, and not being:—there is no such distinction as Müller attempts to lay down (Diss. Exeget. de loco Paul. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, cited by De Wette) between ψευδεῖς μάρτυρες, ‘qui falsum testimonium dicunt,’ and ψευδομάρτυρες, ‘qui mentiuntur se esse testes:’ see reff., and compare (De Wette) see reff., and compare (De Wette) ψευδοδιδάσκαλος, ψευδοκατήγορος.

κατὰ τοῦ θεοῦ] not, as commonly, and even Meyer, ‘against God:’ but as E. V., of, or concerning God: see, besides ref., Plut. de Liberis Educandis, § 4:— ὃ κατὰ τῶν τεχνῶν κ. τῶν ἐπιστημῶν λέγειν εἰώθαμεν, ταὐτὸν καὶ κατὰ τῆς ἀρετῆς φατέον ἐστίν. ὡς εἰς τὴν παντελῆ δικαιοπραγίαν τρία δεῖ συνδραμεῖν, φύσιν, κ. λόγον, κ. ἔθος.

εἴπερ ἄρα] If in reality, as they assert, …, compare Plato, Protag. p. 319 (§ 27), ἦ καλόν, ἦ δʼ ἐγώ, τέχνημα ἄρα κέκτησαι, εἴπερ κέκτησαι, and see Hartung, Partikellehre, i. 343.

Verse 16

16.] Repetition of the inference in 1 Corinthians 15:13, for precision’s sake.

Verse 17

17. ματαία] from μάτην, and thus more directly pointing at the frustration of all on which faith relies as accomplished,—e.g. the removal of the guilt and power of sin;—and of all to which hope looks forward, e.g. bliss after death for those who die in Christ. This is so, because Christ’s Resurrection accomplished our justification (Romans 4:25), and, through justification, our future bliss, even in the disembodied state (for that seems here to be treated of).

Verse 17-18

17, 18.] Repetition of the consequence already mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:14, but fuller, and with more reference to its present and future calamitous results.

Verse 18

18. ἄρα καί] then also.

οἱ κοιμ.] those who fell asleep in Christ, perished (i.e. passed into misery in Hades). He uses the aorists, speaking of the act of death, not of the continuing state: the act of falling asleep in Christ was to them ἀπώλεια.

ἐν χρ., in communion with, membership of Christ.

On κοιμηθέντες Meyer quotes a beautiful sentence from Photius (Quæst. Amphiloch. 168 (al. 187 or 197), vol. i. p. 861, Migne): ἐπὶ μὲν οὖν τοῦ χριστοῦ θάνατον καλεῖ, ἵνα τὸ πάθος πιστώσηται· ἐπὶ δὲ ἡμῶν κοίμησιν, ἵνα τὴν ὀδύνην παραμυθήσηται. ἔνθα μὲν γὰρ παρεχώρησεν ἡ ἀνάστασις, θαῤῥῶν καλεῖ θάνατον. ἔνθα δὲ ἐν ἐλπίσιν ἔτι μένει, κοίμησιν καλεῖ.

Verse 19

19.] Assuming this ἀπώλεια of the dead in Christ, the state of Christians is indeed miserable. It has perhaps not been enough seen that there are here two emphases, and that μόνον belongs to the aggregate of both. According to the ordinary interpretation, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ …,’ it would be implied that in reality we shall have hope in Christ in another state also, which would not agree with the perfect ἠλπικότες ἐσμέν. The right arrangement of the Greek gives the key to the sentence: εἰ ( ἐν τῇ ζωῇ ταύτῃ ἐν χριστῷ ἠλπικότες ἐσμὲν) μόνον,—‘if all we have done is merely having hoped in Christ in this life,’ ‘if it is there to end, and that hope have no result …’

The perf. ἠλπικότες ἐσμ. implies the endurance of the hope through our lives.

ἐλεειν. πάντ.] We are most to he pitied (most miserable) of all men; viz. because they, all other men, live at ease,—we on the contrary are ever exposed to danger and death: because our hope is more intense than that of all others, and leads us to forego more: and to be disappointed in it, would be the height of misery.

Verse 20

20.] νυνί, ‘as matters now stand:’ see reff. [and note.]

ἀπαρχ. τ. κεκοιμ.] (as) (the) first-fruit of them that sleep (anarthrous, because categorematical). For the construction Meyer compares Eur. Or. 1098: ἑλένην κτάνωμεν, ΄ενελέῳ λύπην πικράν. The sense is, ‘Christ, in rising from the dead, is but the firstling or earnest of the resurrection of the whole number of those that sleep.’ There does not appear to be any intended reference to the legal ordinance of the first-fruits (Leviticus 23:10-11): but however general the application of the analogy may be, it can hardly fail to have been suggested to the mind of a Jew by the Levitical ordinances, especially as our Lord rose on the very morrow after the Paschal Sabbath, when (l. c.) the first-fruits were offered.

τῶν κεκοιμημένων, from the logical connexion, should mean, not the dead in Christ, but all the dead; see next verse: but it is the Christian dead who are before the Apostle’s mind, when he calls our risen Lord ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκ.

Verses 20-28

20–28.] Reassertion of the truth that Christ IS RISEN from the dead,—and prophetic exposition of the consequences of that great event.

Verse 21

21.] MAN the bringer-in both of death and life: explanation (not proof) of Christ being the ἀπαρχὴ τ. κεκοιμ.: and (1) in that He is MAN: it being necessary that the first-fruit should be as the lump. The verity lying at the root of this verse is, that by MAN ONLY can general effects pervading the whole human race be introduced.

διʼ ἀνθρώπου, sc. ἐστίν.

Verse 22

22.] (2) In that He is (and here the fact of His being the Lord of Life and Righteousness, and the second and spiritual Head of our nature, is assumed) to us the bringer-in of LIFE, as Adam was the bringer-in of DEATH.

ἐν τῷ ἀδ., ἐν τῷ χριστῷ] in community with, as partakers in a common nature with, Adam and Christ: who are respectively the sources, to the whole of that nature ( πάντες), of death, and life, i.e. (here) physical death, and rescue from physical death. The practice of Paul to insulate the objects of his present attention from all ulterior considerations, must be carefully here borne in mind. The antithesis is merely between the bringing in of death by Adam, and of life (its opposite) by Christ. No consequence, whether on the side of death or of life, is brought into consideration. That death physical involved death eternal—that life eternal (in its only worthy sense) involves bliss eternal, is not so much as thought of, while the two great opposites, Death and Life, are under consideration. This has been missed by many Interpreters, and the reasoning thereby marred. But the ancients, Chrys., Theophyl., Theodoret, Œcum., and Olsh., De Wette, and Meyer, keep to the universal reference. Theophylact’s note is clear and striking: αἰτίαν προστίθησι διʼ ἧς πιστοῦται τὰ εἰρημένα· ἔδει γάρ, φησιν, αὐτὴν νικῆσαι τὴν ἡττηθεῖσαν φύσιν, καὶ τὸν καταβληθέντα, αὐτὸν ἐκνικῆσαι· καὶ γὰρ ἐν τῷ ἀδάμ, τουτέστι διὰ τὸ τοῦ ἀδὰμ πταῖσμα, πάντες τῷ θανάτῳ ὑπέπεσον· οὕτως οὖν ἐν χριστῷ πάντες ἀναστήσονται· τουτέστι διὰ τὸ εὑρεθῆναι τὸν χριστὸν ἀναμάρτητον κ. ἀνένοχον τῷ θανάτῳ, καὶ ἑκόντα μὲν ἀποθανεῖν, ἀναστῆναι δέ, καθὸ οὐκ ἦν δυνατὸν αὐτὸν κρατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς φθορᾶς, τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς ξωῆς. See on the great antithesis, Romans 5:12 ff., and notes.

Verse 23

23.] But in this universal Resurrection, ALL SHALL NOT HOLD THE SAME RANK. Chrys. rightly, εἶτα, ἵνα μὴ τὴν ζωοποίησιν κοινὴν ἀκούδας, καὶ τοὺς ἁμαρτωλοὺς νομίσῃς σώζεσθαι, ἐπήγαγεν ἕκαστος δὲ κ. τ. λ. Hom. xxxix. p. 367.

τάγμα is not order of priority, but rank, or ‘troop in an army,’ so Plut., Otho, p. 1072 (Wetst.): λεγεῶνες, οὕτω γὰρ τὰ τάγματα ῥωμαῖοι καλοῦσιν ἐπίκλησιν. The three ranks are mentioned in order of priority, but this does not constitute their distinctive character:—Christ is the ἀπαρχή this is His ἴδιον τάγμα, see Colossians 1:18 :— οἱ τοῦ χριστοῦ follow at His coming, who are the φύραμα (as understood by the context, and implied by ἀπαρχή), in the proper and worthiest sense, made like unto Him and partaking of His glory; then (after how long or how short a time is not declared, and seems to have formed no part of the revelations to Paul, but was afterwards revealed,—see Revelation 20:4-6; compare also 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) shall come THE END, viz. the resurrection of the rest of the dead, here veiled over by the general term τὸ τέλος,—that resurrection not being in this argument specially treated, but only that of Christians. The key to the understanding of this passage is to be found in the prophecy of our Lord, Matthew 24, 25, but especially in the latter chapter. The resurrection and judgment of οἱ τοῦ χριστοῦ forming the subject of 1 Corinthians 15:1-30 there, and τὸ τέλος,—the great final gathering of πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, of 1 Corinthians 15:31-46.

ἀπαρχή, therefore necessarily the first τάγμα: and hence the word stands first.

οἱ τοῦ χρ.] = οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ, 1 Thessalonians 4:16. No mention occurs here of any judgment of these his ἴδιοι δοῦλοι, as in Matthew 25, for it does not belong to the present subject.

ἐν τῇ παρ. αὐτ.] ἐν as forming part of, involved in, His appearing,—which, as the great event of the time, includes their resurrection in it. It ought to be needless to remind the student of the distinction between this παρουσία and the final judgment; it is here peculiarly important to bear it in mind.

Verse 24

24. εἶτα] then, next in succession, introducing the third τάγμα,—see above.

τὸ τέλος] the end κατʼ ἐξοχήν: not the end of the resurrection, as Meyer, after Theodoret, Œcum., Bengel, al.:—nor, of this present world, as Chrys., al.,—which properly happens at the παρουσία: nor exactly, of the Kingdom of Christ, as Grot. and Billroth: but generally, THE END, when all shall be accomplished, the bringing in and fulness of the Kingdom by the subjugation of the last enemy, the whole course of [the] mediatorial work of Christ, the salvation of the elect; the time indicated by Matthew 25 ult.: καὶ ἀπελεύσονται οὗτοι εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον, οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

ὅταν παραδιδοῖ] when He (Christ) gives up (the pres., for that which is certainly attached to the event as its accompaniment— ὅταν indicating the uncertainty of the time when, and the verb being probably subjunctive: see Winer, Moulton’s Trans, p. 360, note 2), the Kingdom to God, and the Father (reff.: to Him who is God and His Father)

Then the rest of the section as far as 1 Corinthians 15:28, is in explanation of the giving up the kingdom. And it rests on this weighty verity: the KINGDOM FO CHRIST over this world, in its beginning, its furtherance, and its completion, has one great end,—THE GLORIFICATION OF THE FATHER BY THE SON. Therefore, when it shall be fully established, every enemy overcome, every thing subjected to Him, He will,—not, reign over it and abide its King, but DELIVER IT UP TO THE FATHER. Hence as in 1 Corinthians 15:25, His reign will endure, not, like that of earthly kings, WHEN He shall have put all enemies under His feet, but only TILL He shall have, &c.,—and then will be absorbed in the all-pervading majesty of Him for whose glory it was from first to last carried onward. It may be observed that the whole of this respects the mediatorial work and kingdom: the work of redemption,—and that Lordship over dead and living, for which Christ both died and rose. Consequently nothing is here said which can affect either (1) His coequality and coeternity with the Father in the Godhead, which is prior to and independent of this mediatorial work, and is not limited to the mediatorial kingdom; or (2) the eternity of His Humanity: for that Humanity ever was and is subordinate to the Father; and it by no means follows that when the mediatorial kingdom shall be given up to the Father, the Humanity, in which that kingdom was won, shall be put off: nay, the very fact of Christ in the body being the first-fruits of the resurrection, proves that His body, as ours, will endure for ever: as the truth that our humanity, even in glory, can only subsist before God by virtue of His Humanity, makes it plain that He will be VERY MAN to all eternity.

τὴν βασιλείαν] That kingdom, which in its fullest sense is then first His. At this very time of τὸ τέλος, Matthew 25:34, He first calls Himself by the title of ὁ βασιλεύς. The name will no sooner be won, than laid at the feet of the Father, thus completing by the last great act of Redemption the obedience which He manifested in his Incarnation, and in his Death.

ὅταν καταργήσῃ] (aor.) when He shall have brought to nought, &c.: see above.

πᾶς. ἀρχ. κ. τ. λ.] not only, as Meyer, &c., hostile power and government, but as the context necessitates, ALL power. Christ being manifested as universal King, every power co-ordinate with His must come under the category of hostile: all kings shall submit to Him: the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ:—and see the similar expressions Ephesians 1:21, where speaking proleptically, the Apostle clearly indicates that legitimate authorities, all the powers that be, are included. Compare by all means Revelation 11:15.

Verse 25

25.] See on the last verse:—this is the divine appointment with regard to the mediatorial kingdom,—that it should last till, and only till, all enemies shall have been subdued to it.

θῇ, viz. Christ, not the Father, as Beza, Grot., Est., Billr., al.: it is parallel with καταργήσῃ, and included in the mediatorial acts of Christ, who in His world’s course goes forth νικῶν καὶ ἵνα νικήσῃ, Revelation 6:2. It is otherwise with ὑπέταξεν, 1 Corinthians 15:27; see there.

Verse 26

26.] Connect ἔσχατ. ἐχθρός together; not as Bloomf., “last of all, the enemy Death is to be destroyed,” which is ungrammatical. If ἔσχ. is to stand alone, ἐχθρὸς καταργεῖται must be “is destroyed as an enemy.” Death is the last enemy, as being the consequence of sin: when he is overcome and done away with, the whole end of Redemption is shewn to have been accomplished. Death is personified, as in Revelation 20:14.

καταργεῖται,—pres., either as a prophetic certainty as παραδιδοῖ above,—or as an axiomatic truth.

Verse 27

27.] Scriptural proof of the above declaration.

ὑπέταξ. viz., from the Psalm,—GOD, the Father.

See on the Psalm itself, Hebrews 2:6 ff. notes.

εἴπῃ, scil. ὁ θεός, the same subject as ὑπέταξεν. Meyer alone, as it seems to me, gives the right construction of ὅτανὑποτέτακται. “The aor. εἴπῃ must be rendered regularly, not in the present sense, but as a futurum exactum: see Luke 6:26; Plato, Parm. p. 143, c ( τί δʼ ὅταν εἴπω οὐσία τε καὶ ἕν, ἆρα οὐκ ἀμφοτέρω;),—Ion, p. 535, B ( ὅταν εὖ εἴπῃς ἔπη καὶ ἐκπλήξῃς μάλιστα τοὺς θεωμένους). The time referred to, is that when the as yet unfulfilled πάντα ὑπέταξεν shall be fulfilled and completed: hence it is no longer the aor., but the perf. ὑποτέτακται. The meaning then is: ‘when God, who in Psalms 8:6 has announced the ὑπόταξις, shall hereafter have declared that this ὑπόταξις is come to pass,’ … This form of expression was suggested to the Apostle by his having already expressed himself in the words of a saying of God.” I render then, But when God shall have declared that all things have been subjected to Him, it is evident that they have been subjected (ellipsis of the predicate of the foregoing sentence after δῆλον ὅτι and οἶδʼ ὅτι is common; so Plato, Gorg. p. 475, c, ‘ οὐκοῦν κακῷ ὑπερβάλλον τὸ ἀδικεῖν κάκιον ἂν εἴη τοῦ ἀδικεῖσθαι,’—‘ δῆλον δὴ ὅτι,’—scil. κάκιον ἂν εἴη. Kühner, § 852, d) with the exception of Him who subjected all things to Him.

Verse 28

28.] On the sense, see above. “The interpretations, that subjection is only an hyperbolical expression for the entire harmony of Christ with the Father (Chrys., Theophyl., Œc(67)):—the limitation of it to His human nature (Theodoret, Aug(68), Jerome, Est., Wolf, al.), with the declarative explanation, that it will then become plain to all, that Christ even in regard of His kingship, is, on the side of His Humanity, dependent on the Father (Flatt)—and the addition, that Christ will then in His divine nature reign with the Father (Calv.:—‘regnum—ab humanitate sua ad gloriosam divinitatem quodammodo traducet’);—the interpretation (of αὐτὸς ὁ υἱός!) as referring to Christ’s mystical Body, i.e. the Church (Theodoret),—are idle subterfuges (leere Ausfluchte).” De Wette. The refutation of these and all other attempts to explain away the doctrine here plainly asserted, of the ultimate subordination of the Son, is contained in the three precise and unambiguous words, αὐτὸς ὁ υἱός.

ἵνα ᾖ ὁ θ. πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν] that God (alone) may be all things in all,—i.e. recognized as sole Lord and King: ‘omnia erunt subordinata Filio, Filius Patri.’ Bengel. Numerous examples of πάντα in this sense (less commonly τὰ πάντα, Kühner, § 422) may be found in Wetst.

Verse 29

29.] ἐπεί resumes the main argument, which has been interrupted by the explanation since 1 Corinthians 15:23 of ἕκαστος ἐν τῷ ἰδίῳ τάγματι. After it is an ellipsis of ‘if it be as the adversaries suppose.’

τί ποιήσουσιν] There is in these words a tacit reprehension of the practice about to be mentioned, which it is hardly possible altogether to miss. Both by the third person, and by the art. before βαπτ., he indirectly separates himself and those to whom he is writing from participation in or approval of the practice:—the meaning being, what will become of—‘what account can they give of their practice?’

οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι] those who are in the habit of being baptized—not οἱ βαπτισθέντες. The distinction is important as affecting the interpretation. See below.

ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν] on behalf of the dead; viz. the same νεκροί who are spoken of in the next clause and throughout the chapter as the subjects of ἀνάστασις—not νεκροί in any figurative sense. τῶν νεκρ., the art. marking the particular dead persons on behalf of whom the act took place. Before we pass to the exegesis, it will be well to go through the next question— εἰ ὅλως κ. τ. λ. If dead men are not raised at all, why do they trouble themselves ( τί καί as in reff.) to be baptized for them?

Thus much being said as to the plain meaning of the words used, there can be no doubt as to their interpretation. The only legitimate reference is, to a practice, not otherwise known to us, not mentioned here with any approval by the Apostle, not generally prevalent ( οἱ βαπτ.), but in use by some, of survivors allowing themselves to be baptized on behalf of (believing?) friends who had died without baptism. With the subsequent similar practices of the Cerinthians (Epiph(69) Hær. xxviii. § 6, p. 114) and Marcionites (Chrys., Tertull. de resurr. 48, vol. ii. p. 864, adv. Marc(70), 1 Corinthians 15:10, p. 494 f.) this may or may not have been connected. All we clearly see from the text, is that it unquestionably did exist.

With regard to the other interpretations, Bengel well says, “Tanta est interpretationum varietas, ut is, qui non dicam varietates ipsas, sed varietatum catalogos colligere velit, dissertationem scripturus sit.” I will give a few of them, mostly in the words of their authors: Chrys. (Hom. xl. p. 379):— ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν, τουτέστι τῶν σωμάτων. καὶ γὰρ ἐπὶ τούτῳ βαπτίζῃ, τῇ τοῦ νεκροῦ σώματος ἀναστάσει, πιστεύων ὅτι (Migne reads τὴν τ. ν. σ. ἀνάστασιν πιστ., ὅτι) οὐκέτι μένει νεκρόν. καὶ σὺ μὲν διὰ τῶν ῥημάτων λέγεις νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν· ὁ δὲ ἱερεύς, ὥσπερ ἐν εἰκόνι τινὶ.… δείκνυσί σοι.… διὰ τοῦ ὕδατος· τὸ γὰρ βαπτίζεσθαι κ. καταδύεσθαι, εἶτα ἀνανεύειν, τῆς εἰς ᾅδου καταβάσεως ἐστὶ σύμβολον κ. τῆς ἐκεῖθεν ἀνόδου. διὸ κ. τάφον τὸ βάπτισμα ὁ π. καλεῖ (Romans 6:4),—Theophyl.: φησὶν οὖν, ὅτι οἱ πιστεύσαντες ὅτι ἔσται ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν σωμάτων, καὶ βαπτισθέντες ἐπὶ τοιαύταις ἐλπίσι, τί ποιήσουσιν ἀπατηθέντες; τί δὲ ὅλως καὶ βαπτίζονται ἄνθρωποι ὑπὲρ ἀναστάσεως, τουτέστιν ἐπὶ προσδοκίᾳ ἀναστάσεως, εἰ ν οὐκ ἐγ.; and so in the main, Pelag., Œcum., Phot(71), Corn.-a-Lap., Wetst.—Theodoret:— ὁ βαπτιζόμενός, φησι, τῷ δεσπότῃ συνθάπτεται, ἵνα τοῦ θανάτου κοινωνήσας καὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως γένηται κοινωνός· εἰ δὲ νεκρόν ἐστι τὸ σῶμα, καὶ οὐκ ἀνίσταται, τί δήποτε καὶ βαπτίζεται; and so Castal., al. All these senses would require τί ποιήσετε βαπτισθέντες, to say nothing of the impossibility of thus understanding ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν. Estius explains ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρ. as = ‘jamjam morituri,’ and Calvin justifies this, ‘baptizari pro mortuis erit sic baptizari ut mortuis non vivis prosit.’ So too Epiph(72) (l. c.),—of catechumens who πρὸ τῆς τελευτῆς λουτροῦ καταξιοῦνται:—and Bengel:—“baptizantur super mortuis ii, qui mox post baptismum ad mortuos aggregabuntur.” But against this ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν is decisive,—as is ὑπέρ against ‘over the dead,’ i.e. over their sepulchres (Luth., al.): this local sense of ὑπέρ not being found in the N. T. Le Clerc, Hammond, Olsh., al., explain ὑπ. τ. νεκρ., ‘to fill the place of the dead.’ But, as Meyer observes, such an idea can hardly be gathered from the words, but would want explaining in the context;—and besides, the question would thus be irrelevant, because, the place of the dead being supplied by their successors, it would be no matter to them, whether the dead themselves rose or not: whereas now, the benefits of baptism being supposed to be conveyed to the dead by the baptism of his substitute, the proceeding would be stultified, if the dead could never rise to claim those benefits.

This, the only justifiable rendering, is adopted by Ambrose, and by Anselm, Erasmus, Grotius, al., and recently by Billroth, Rückert, Meyer, De Wette, al. The ordinary objection to it is, that thus the Apostle would be giving his sanction to a superstitious usage, or at all events mentioning it without reprobation. But this is easily answered, by remembering that if the above view of τί ποιήσουσιν is correct, he does not mention it without a slur on it;—and more completely still, as Rückert (in Meyer), “usurpari ab eo morem, qui ceteroqui displiceret, ad errorem, in quo impugnando versabatur, radicitus evellendum; ipsius autem reprehendendi aliud tempus expectari.” See a multitude of other interpretations in Pool’s Synopsis and in Stanley’s note. His concluding remarks are worth quoting: “On the whole, therefore, this explanation of the passage (that given above) may be safely accepted, (1) as exhibiting a curious relic of primitive superstition, which, after having, as the words imply (?), prevailed generally in the apostolical church, gradually dwindled away till it was only to be found in some obscure sects, where it lost its original significance: (2) as containing an example of the Apostle’s mode of dealing with a practice, with which he could have no real sympathy; not condemning or ridiculing it, but appealing to it as an expression, however distorted, of their better feelings.”

Verses 29-34

29–34.] ARGUMENTS FOR THE REALITY OF THE RESURRECTION, from the practice (1) of those who were baptized for the dead, (2) of the Apostles, &c., who submitted to daily peril of death.

Verse 30

30.] Not only the practice of those just spoken of, but his own, and that of those like him, who lived a life of perpetual exposure to death, were absurd, if there be no resurrection. Observe that the argument here applies equally to the future existence of the soul; and so Cicero uses it, Tusc. Quæst i. 15: “Nescio quomodo in-hæret in mentibus quasi seculorum quoddam augurium futurorum … quo quidem demto, quis tam esset amens, qui semper in laboribus et periculis viveret?”

Verse 31

31.] To die daily is a strong expression for to be daily in sight of death and expecting it. See 2 Corinthians 4:11.

This he strengthens by an asseveration, grounded on his boast of them as his work in Christ: not that this is immediately or proximately at stake in the matter, but much as we should say, “As I love you, it is true.” He would not think of deceiving those of whom he boasted before God in connexion with Christ.

ὑμετ.] gen. obj., see reff. νή, the affirmative, as μά is the negative particle of adjuration: but ναὶ μά is often found in an affirmative sense: see Kühner, § 701.

Verse 32

32.] The stress of the first clause is on κατὰ ἄνθρωπον, and its meaning, merely as man, i.e. ‘according to this world’s views,’ ‘as one who has no hope beyond the grave;’see ref. If thus only he fought, &c., where was his profit (seeing he despised all those things which κατὰ ἄνθρωπον might compensate for such a fight,—fame, praise, &c.)? The renderings, ὅσον τὸ εἰς ἀνθρώπους (Chrys. p. 381), i.e. ‘so far as one can be said θηριομαχεῖν against men,’—and κατὰ ἀνθρώπων λογισμὸν θηρίων ἐγενόμην βορά (Theodoret),—‘exempli causa’ (Semler, Rosenmüller),—‘ut hominum more loquar’ (Estius and Bloomf.), are all constrained, and scarcely to be extorted from the words.

ἐθηριομάχησα] I fought with beasts (aor. referring to one special occasion). How? and when? Most ancient and modern Commentators take the expression figuratively, as used in Appian, B. C. ii. p. 763 (Wetst.), where Pompey says, οἵοις θηρίοις μαχόμεθα,—and Ignat. ad Romans 5, p. 689 f., ἀπὸ συρίας μέχρι ῥώμης θηριομαχῶ διὰ γῆς κ. θαλάσσης, δεδεμένος δέκα λεοπάρδοις, ὅ ἐστι στρατιωτικὸν τάγμα. So, of our text, Tertull. de Resurr. 48, vol. ii. p. 865: “Depugnavit ad bestias Ephesi, illas scilicet bestias Asiaticæ pressuræ.”

And this explanation must be right: for his Roman citizenship would have precluded his ever being literally thrown to beasts: and even supposing him to have waived it, and been miraculously rescued, as Ambrst(73), Theodoret, Erasm., Luther, Calv., al. suppose, is it conceivable that such an event should have been altogether unrecorded in the Acts? Adopting the figurative rendering,—we cannot fix on any recorded conflict which will suit the words. His danger from Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen (Acts 19) had not yet happened (see Prolegg. § vi. 2): but we cannot tell what opposition, justifying this expression, the ἀντικείμενοι πολλοί of ch. 1 Corinthians 16:9 may ere this have made to his preaching.

εἰ νεκρ.] If dead men rise not, i.e. ‘if none of the dead rise.’ These words are best joined with the following, as Chrys., Theophyl., Beza, Bengel, Griesb., Meyer, De Wette, al.—not with the preceding, as Theodoret, Grot., Est., Luther, al.[and E. V.] For κατὰ ἄνθρωπον already expresses their meaning in the preceding sentence; and the form of 1 Corinthians 15:29 seems to justify this arrangement, besides that otherwise φάγ. κ. πίωμεν, &c., would stand awkwardly insulated.

φάγ. κ. πίωμεν] In Isa. the words represent the recklessness of those who utterly disregard the call of God to weeping and mourning, and feast while their time lasts. Wetst. has collected very numerous parallels from the classics. The most striking perhaps is Herod. ii. 78.

Verse 33

33.] The tendency of the denial of the resurrection, represented by the Epicurean maxim just quoted, leads him to hint that this denial was not altogether unconnected with a practice of too much intimacy with the profligate society around them.

μὴ πλαν., as in ref., introduces a warning against moral self-deception.

φθείρ. ἤθη] These words (according to the reading χρῆσθʼ, which has, however, hardly any support) form an Iambic trimeter, and occur in this form in a fragment of the Thais of Menander; but Clem(74) Alex. Strom. i. 14 (59), p. 350 P., says, πρὸς γοῦν κορινθίουςἰαμβείῳ συγκέχρηται τραγικῷ—but this may be a mere inaccuracy. Socrates, Hist. Ecclesiastes 3:16, quotes it as a sufficient proof that Paul was conversant with the tragedies of Euripides. “Perhaps,” says Dr. Burton, “Menander took it from Euripides.” The Apostle may have cited it merely as a commonplace current, without any idea whence it came;—and χρηστά seems to shew this. The plur. ὁμιλίαι, points out the repetition of the practice. Meyer quotes Plato, Rep. viii. p. 550, διὰ τὸ μὴ κακοῦ ἀνδρὸς εἶναι τὴν φύσιν, ὁμιλίαις δὲ ταῖς τῶν ἄλλων κακαῖς κεχρῆσθαι.

Verse 34

34. ἐκνήψ.] Awake out of (your moral) intoxication, already possessing you by the influence of these men.

δικαίως] either, as is just,—as you ought (Wahl, al.),—or, in a proper manner (Olsh., al.),—or, ἐπὶ συμωέροντι καὶ χρησίμῳ (Chrys. p. 382, al.), or so as to be δίκαιοι [i.e. so as to recover your righteousness, which you are in danger of losing], as E. V., Awake to righteousness. The last meaning is well defended by Dr. Peile from Thuc. i. 21: ἀπίστως ἐπὶ τὸ μυθῶδες ἐκνενικηκότα,—‘so as to become incredible;’—and seems to be the best. The aor. imper. ἐκνήψατε marks the quick momentary awaking; the pres. imper. μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε, on the other hand, the enduring practice of abstinence from sin (Meyer). But that this must not always be rigidly pressed, see Kühner, § 445. 2. Anm. 1.

ἀγνωσίαν] The stress is on this word: for some (the τινές of 1 Corinthians 15:12, most probably, are hinted at, and the source of their error pointed out) have (are affected with) ignorance (an absence of all true knowledge) of God. See ref. to Wisd.

πρὸς ἐντ. ὑμ. λ. shews that these τινές were ἐν ὑμῖν,—not the heathen without:—the existence of such in the Corinthian church was a disgrace to the whole.

λαλᾶ] I am speaking; not merely I say this; it refers to the spirit of the whole passage.

Verse 35

35.] The new difficulty is introduced in the form of a question from an objector. This is put first generally, πῶς.…, In what manner,—and next specifically, ποίῳ δὲ ( δέ, ‘what I mean, is.…’) σώματι, With what kind of body— ἔρχ., do they (pres. transferring the action to that time,—as ἐγείρονται before: so Meyer and De W.:—or rather perhaps, as assuming for the moment the truth of the resurrection as a thing actually happening in the course of things) come (forth at that time)?

Verses 35-50

35–50.] The argument passes from the fact of the resurrection, already substantiated, to the MANNER of it: which is indicated, and confirmed, principally by analogies from nature.

Verse 36

36.] Meyer would point this, ἄφρων σύ, ὃ σπείρεις …, because according to the common punctuation there is necessarily an emphasis on σύ, which the context does not allow. But on the other hand, it seems to me, there is an objection to the introduction of a new matter so lamely as by ὃ σπείρεις. Besides which, the emphatic σύ does not necessarily require any other agency to be emphatically set against it, but may imply an appeal to the objector’s own experience (as Billr. in Dr. Peile):—‘thou say this, who art continually witness of the process, &c.?’ And let it be remembered that we have another σπείρειν below, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, which may be set against thy sowing. I retain therefore the stop at ἄφρων (nom. for voc. as freq. See Luke 12:20; Mark 9:25; Luke 8:54, al., and Winer, edn. 6, § 29. 2), and the emphasis on σύ. The similitude was used by our Lord of His own Resurrection, ref. John.

οὐ ζωοποιεῖται] Its life is latent in it; but is not developed into quick and lively action without the death of the deposited seed,—i.e. its perishing, disappearing from nature. The same analogy was used by the Rabbis, but to prove that the dead would rise clothed: ‘ut triticum nudum sepelitur et multis vestibus ornaturm prodit, ita multo magis justi,’ &c.

Verses 36-41

36–41.] Analogies illustrative of the question just asked: and first, that of seed sown in the earth (36–38).

Verse 37

37.] Before, the death of the seed was insisted on: now, the non-identity of the seed with the future plant. There is a mixture of construction, the words ὃ σπείρεις being pendent, as the sentence now stands. The two constructions as De W. observes are, εἴ τι σπείρεις, οὐ τὸ σ. τὸ γεν. σπείρεις,—and ὃ σπείρεις, οὐ τὸ σ. τὸ γεν. ἐστιν.

He names the plant τὸ σῶμα τὸ γενησόμενον, having already in his eye the application to the Resurrection.

εἰ τύχοι] if it should so happen,—peradventure: not, ‘for example.’ See on ch. 1 Corinthians 14:10.

τῶν λοιπῶν, scil. σπερμάτων.

Verse 38

38.] ἠθέλησεν, willed, viz. at the creation: the aor. setting forth the one act of the divine Will giving to the particular seed the particular development at first, which the species retains: whereas θέλει would imply a fresh act of the divine Will giving to every individual seed (not ἑκάστῳ τῶν σπερμάτων, but ἐκάστῳ σπέρματι, or rather ἑκάστῳ κόκκῳ) his own body. But the whole gift to the species being God’s, to continue or withhold, the pres. δίδωσιν still holds good.

ἑκάστ. τῶν σπερμ.] to each of the (kinds of) seed; see above: τῶν is generic.

ἵδιον σῶμα] a body of its own. Such then being the case with all seeds, why should it be thought necessary that the same body should rise as was sown, or that God cannot give to each a resurrection-body, as in nature?

Verses 39-41

39–41.] And the more,—because we have examples from analogy of various kinds of bodies; viz. (1) in the flesh of animals (1 Corinthians 15:39): (2) in celestial and terrestrial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40): (3) in the various characters of light given by the sun, moon, and stars.

σάρξ] animal organism (De W.). Dean Stanley’s former rendering (corrected in his 3rd edn.) of οὐ πᾶσα σάρξ, ἡ αὐτὴ σάρξ, ‘no flesh is the same flesh,’ is contrary to the usage of the passages which he alleged to defend it, where the negative is always attached to the verb; οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ, Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16. See Matthew 24:22 (75); Acts 10:14; ch. 1 Corinthians 1:29; 1 John 3:15; Revelation 7:16; Revelation 9:4. On the other hand, where the negative is attached to πᾶς, as here, the sentence is a particular negative, not an universal: e.g. Romans 10:16, ἀλλʼ οὐ πάντες ὑπήκουσαν: 1 Corinthians 9:6-7; Hebrews 3:16; Matthew 7:21, οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων μοι κύριε κύριε εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν,—where the rendering in question would involve portentous consequences indeed. I observe that Conyb, also, although disapproving on the ground of the sense, adds, “the words of the Greek text no doubt admit of such a rendering.”

κτηνῶν] properly ( κτέανος, κτάομαι) animals possessed by man: but used in a wider sense for quadrupeds in general.

Verse 40

40. σώματα ἐπουράνια] not, according to our modern expression, heavenly bodies,—for they are introduced first 1 Corinthians 15:41, and if we apply these words to them, we must suppose the Apostle to have imagined the stars to be endowed with bodies in the literal sense: for he is here comparing not figurative expressions, but physical realities:—nor (as Chrys., al.) the bodies of the righteous, as opposed to those of the wicked; for in these there is no organic difference whatever: but, as Meyer and De Wette, ‘the bodies of angels,’—the only heavenly organisms of which we are aware (except indeed the Resurrection-Body of our Lord, and that of those few who have been taken into glory, which, as belonging to the matter in question, are not alleged) which will bear comparison with bodies on earth.

δόξα belongs to the ἐπουράνια more strictly than to the ἐπίγεια. In Luke 9:26, we have ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τῶν ἁγίων ἀγγέλων.

Verse 41

41.] This third analogy is suggested perhaps by δόξα just before. There is no allusion whatever here (as some have imagined,—even Chrys., Œcum., Theodoret, Calov., Estius, al.) to different degrees of glorification of the bodies of the blessed; the introduction of such an idea confuses the whole analogical reasoning: which is, that even various fountains of light, so similar in its aspect and properties, differ; the sun from the moon and the stars: the stars (and much more vividly would this be felt under the pure sky of the East than here) from one another: why not then a body here from a resurrection body,—both bodies, but different?

Verse 42

42.] οὕτως, thus, viz. in the entire diversity of that which is raised again from the former body.

σπείρεται] “Cum posset dicere sepelitur, maluit dicere seritur, ut magis insisteret similitudini supra sumtæ de grano.” Grot.

ἐν φθορᾷ, ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ] in a state of corruption,—in a state of incorruptibility.

Verses 42-44

42–44 a.] Application of these analogies to the doctrine of the Resurrection.

Verse 43

43. ἐν ἀτιμίᾳ, ἐν δόξῃ] in dishonour ( τί γὰρ εἰδεχθέστερον νεκροῦ διαῤῥυέντος; Chrys. Hom. xli. p. 390. Cf. Xen. Mem. i. 2. 53,— τῆς ψυχῆς ἐξελθούσης,.… τὸ σῶμα τοῦ οἰκειοτάτου ἀνθρώπου τὴν ταχίστην ἐξενέγκαντες ἀφανίζουσιν,—in glory: regarding, as throughout this argument (see on 1 Corinthians 15:23), only the resurrection of the just: see Philippians 3:21.

ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ] in weakness,—the characteristic of the lifeless body, which is relaxed and powerless. Chrys. understands ἀσθ. of its inability to resist corruption: De Wette would refer it to the previous state of pain and disease: but it seems better to understand it of the powerlessness of the corpse, contrasted with ἐν δυν., in vigour, viz. the fresh and eternal energy of the new body free from disease and pain. “That which Grot. adds: ‘cum sensibus multis, quos nunc non intelligimus,’ is very likely in itself true, but is not implied in ἐν δυνάμει.” Meyer.

Verse 44

44 b.] If there exists an animal body, there exists also a spiritual: i.e. it is no more wonderful a thing, that there should be a body fitted to the capacities and wants of man’s highest part, his spirit, than (which we see to be the case) that there should be one fitted to the capacities and wants of his subordinate animal soul. The emphasis is both times on ἔστιν.

Verse 45

45.] Confirmation of this from Scripture.

οὕτως, thus, viz. in accordance with what has been just said. The citation extends only to the words ἐλένετο ὁ ἄνθρ. εἰς ψυχ. ζῶσαν: πρῶτος and ἀδάμ are supplied, as are also the concluding words, in which lies the real confirmation. The words quoted serve therefore rather for the illustration of man being a ψυχή, than for a proof of the existence of the spiritual body.

ἐγένετο] by his creation,—by means of God breathing into him the breath of life.

εἰς ψ. ζῶσ.] becoming thereby a σῶμα ψυχικόν.

ὁ ἔσχ. ἀδάμ] This expression was well known among the Jews as indicating the Messiah. The Rabbinical work Neve Shalom ix. 9 (Schöttgen), says: “Adamus postremus est Messias:” see other instances in Schöttg. ad loc.

ἔσχατος, as being the last HEAD of humanity,—to be manifested in the last times: or merely in contrast to the first.

εἰς πν. ζωοπ.] scil. ἐγένετοbecame a quickening (life—bestowing) spirit. When? This has been variously answered: see De Wette and Meyer. The principal periods selected are his Incarnation, his Resurrection, and his Ascension. But it seems to me that the question is not one to be pressed: in the union of the two natures, the second Adam was constituted a life-bestowing Spirit, and is such now in heaven, yet having the resurrection-body. The whole complex of his suffering and triumphant state seems to be embraced in these words. That His resurrection-state alone is not intended, is evident from ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, 1 Corinthians 15:47. He was a πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν, even while in the σῶμα ψυχικόν; and is still such in the σῶμα πνευματικόν. The life implied in ζωοποιοῦν, is the resurrection-life: see John 5:21; John 5:28; Romans 8:11.

Verse 46

46.] But in the natural order, that which is animal precedes that which is spiritual ( τὸ ψυχ., τὸ πνευμ., not σῶμα, but abstract and general): as in 1 Corinthians 15:45, ὁ πρῶτοςὁ ἔσχατος.

Verse 47

47.] So exactly in Genesis 2:7. God made man χοῦν λαβὼν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς. Meyer has some excellent remarks here, with which I entirely agree:—“Since the body of Adam is thus characterized as a ψυχικὸν σῶμα, as 1 Corinthians 15:45, and psychical organism involves mortality (1 Corinthians 15:44), it is clear that Paul treats of Adam not as created exempt from death: in strict accordance with Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19. Nor does this militate against his teaching that death came into the world through sin. Romans 5:12. For had our first parents not sinned, they would have remained in Paradise, and would, by the use of the Tree of Life, which God had not forbidden them (Genesis 2:16-17), have become immortal (Genesis 3:22). But they were driven out of Paradise, ere yet they had tasted of this tree (Genesis 3:22), and so, according to the record in Genesis also, Death came into the world by sin.” See also some striking remarks on the verse in Genesis in Stier, ‘Andeutungen für glaübiges Schriftver-ständniss,’ pp. 202, 3.

ἐξ οὐρανοῦ] either, in this glorified Body, at his coming,—as Meyer: or, in his whole Personality (De W.) as the God-man: this latter seems more probable from John 3:13, where ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου is designated as ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς.

Verse 48

48.] ὁ χοϊκός, Adam; οἱ χ., his posterity on earth: ὁ ἐπουρ., Christ; οἱ ἐπ., His risen people. See, as admirably illustrating this verse, Philippians 3:20-21.

Verse 49

49.] For the reason of keeping φορέσομεν, see var. readd. As we (Christians) bore in this life; the time imagined is when this life is past, and the resurrection instant

Verse 50

50.] τοῦτο δέ φ., see reff. It calls attention to something to be observed, and liable to be overlooked. Not only is the change of body possible, and according to natural and spiritual analogies,—but it is NECESSARY.

σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα] = σῶμα ψυχικόν, the present organism of the body, calculated for the wants of the animal soul. τὴν θνητὴν φύσιν καλεῖ· ἀδύνατον δὲ ταύτην ἔτι θνητὴν οὖσαν τῆς ἐπουρανίου βασιλείας τυχεῖν. Theodoret.

ἡ φθορὰ.… τὴν ἀφθαρσίαν, the abstracts, representing the impossibility of the φθαρτόν inheriting the ἄφθαρτον as one grounded in these qualities.

κληρονομεῖ, pres., sets forth the absolute impossibility in the nature of things.

Verses 50-54

50–54.] The necessity of the change of the animal body into the spiritual, in order to inherit God’s kingdom. The manner of that change prophetically described: and the abolition of Death in victory consequent on it.

Verse 51

51.] He proceeds to reveal to them something of the process of the change at the resurrection-day. This he does under the name of a μυστήριον, a hidden doctrine (see reff., especially Rom.).

πάντες οὐ κοιμ.] See var. readd.

Meyer maintains that the only rendering of the words which is philologically allowable (the ordinary one, regarding πάντες ( μὲν) οὐ as = οὐ πάντες ( μέν),—we shall not all sleep, being inadmissible, here and in other instances where it has been attempted, see Winer, edn. 6, § 26. 1), is this, ‘we all (viz. as in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου,—in which number the Apostle firmly believed that he himself should be, see 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff. and notes) shall not sleep, but shall all be changed.’ But we may observe that this would commit the Apostle to the extent of believing that not one Christian would die before the παρουσία;—and that it is besides not necessary, for the emphasis is both times on πάντες—‘(All of us) shall not sleep, but (all of us) shall be changed:’ i.e. ‘the sleep of death cannot be predicated of (all of us), but the resurrection-change can.’ See also Winer, § 61. 5 f, and Moulton’s note, p. 695.

Verse 52

52.] ἐν ἀτόμῳ, in a point of time absolutely indivisible, ἐν ῥιπήματι, Hesych(76) (76) Hesychius of Jerusalem, centy. vi.

ἐν τῇ ἐσχ. σάλπ. at (in, as part of the events of) the last trumpet-blowing. The word ἐσχ. must obviously not be refined upon as some ( τινές in Theophyl.—and Olsh.) have done, identifying it with the seventh trumpet of the Apocalypse;—nor pressed too closely as if there were necessarily no trump after it,—but is the trump at the time of the end, the last trump, in a wide and popular sense. See ref. 1 Thess.

σαλπίσει] impersonal,— ὁ σαλπιγκτής, scil. So Od. φ. 142, ἀρξάμενοι τοῦ χώρου ὅθεν τέ περ οἰνοχοεύει (scil. ὁ οἰνόχοος): Herod. ii. 47, ἐπεὰν θύσῃ: Xen. Anab. i. 2. 17, ἐπεὶ ἐσάλπιγξε: iii. 4. 36, ἐκήρυξε:—vi. 5. 25, ἕως σημαίνοι τῇ σάλπιγγι Kühner, § 414. 2.

σαλπίσω for σαλπίγξω is reprobated by the grammarians: see Wetst.

ἡμεῖς, see above [on 1 Corinthians 15:51].

Verse 53

53.] Confirmation of καὶ ἡμ. ἀλλαγ., by a re-statement of the necessity of putting on incorruptibility and immortality.

τὸ φθ. τοῦτο τὸ θν. τοῦτο] this, indicating his own body. ἐνδύσασθαι—see note on the force of the aor. as indicating that which is momentary, on 1 Corinthians 15:34. Compare on the figure of putting on, 2 Corinthians 5:3 and notes.

Verse 54

54.] ὅταν δέ, &c. is a repetition, in a triumphant spirit, of the description of the glorious change.

γενήσεται] shall come to pass—really be.

The citation is from the Heb. with this difference, that the active, ‘He (Jehovah) abolishes,’ בִּלַּע, is made passive, and לָנֶצַח, ‘for ever,’ is rendered (as elsewhere by the LXX, e.g. ref. 2 Kings, but not here) εἰς νῖκος .

εἰς ν. ‘so as to result in victory. Wetst. quotes from the Babbis, ‘In diebus ejus (Messiæ) Deus S. B. deglutiet mortem.’

Verse 55

55.] TRIUMPHANT EXCLAMATION of the Apostle realizing in his mind that glorious time: expressed nearly in the terms of the prophetic announcement of Hosea,— ποῦ ἡ δίκη σου, θάνατε; ποῦ τὸ κέντρον σου, ᾅδη;

The figure of death as a venomous beast is natural, from the serpent, Genesis 3 Numbers 21.

The souls in Hades being freed by the resurrection, Death’s victory is gone: sin being abolished by the change of the animal body (the source of sin) to the spiritual, his sting is powerless. For a discussion of the quotation, see Stanley’s note.

Verse 56

56.] See above: and compare Romans 5:12; Romans 5:7.

Verse 57

57.] For this blessed consummation of victory over death, he breaks out in thanks to God, who gives it to us (present, as being certain) through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Name in full, as befits the solemnity and majesty of the thanksgiving).

Verse 58

58.] Conclusion of the whole by an earnest exhortation.

ὥστε] ‘quæ cum ita sint,’—seeing that the victory is sure.

ἑδρ., ἀμετακίν.] a climax (Mey.);—in reference, viz. to the doubt which is attempted to be raised among you on this matter.

ἐν τῷ ἔργῳ τοῦ κυρ.] The work of the Lord is the Christian life, with its active and passive duties and graces,—the bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit.

εἰδότες] Knowing (as you do—being convinced by what has been said), that your labour (bestowed on the ἔργ. τοῦ κυρ.) is not vain (which it would be, were there no resurrection: see reff.) in the Lord. These last words cannot belong to ὁ κόπος ὑμ., nor very well to οὐκ ἔστι κενός (as Meyer), but are best taken with the whole sentence, your labour is not in vain: so ch. 1 Corinthians 9:1.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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