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1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 15:1-28:
OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN
I. OUTLINE OF CHAPTER 15:
I. The Gospel That Paul Preached: 15:1-4
II. Resurrection Appearances: 15:5-11
III. The Consequences Of A No Resurrection Doctrine: 15:12-19
IV. Christ's Resurrection A Guarantee Of Our Own: 15:20-34
V. The Resurrection Body: 15:35-50
VI. The Living When Christ Comes: 15:51-58
II. INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 15:
'The problem Paul faces with these Corinthians was not their denial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That they didn't deny as you can see from 12-19.' (McGuiggan p. 187)
They had accepted a gospel message that taught the resurrection of Christ. (15:1-4) What some of them were denying was the bodily resurrection of believers. (15:12-13) But Paul points out that such a position is contradictory. (15:12-19)
'In..(vv. 12-34) Paul takes up what for him are two contradictory positions on their part (belief in Christ's resurrection and denial of their own) and sets out to demonstrate their logical--and therefore absurd consequences.' (Fee p. 714)
'15:12 makes it clear that the denial of the resurrection (general) was not the position of the whole church. It was the position of "some among you". This doctrinal deviation is a serious one and we need to note that 15:33 is written in connection with a doctrinal perversion and not a lifestyle. To undermine fundamental doctrine is to undermine morals .' (McGuiggan p. 187)
Concerning the question of what was the source of, or what factors motivated certain Christians to deny the resurrection of believers. McGarvey says, 'In the eyes of the Greeks the body was the prison-house of the soul, and death was a release of the soul from its captivity. The resurrection of the body, therefore, was regarded by them as a calamity rather than as a blessing, and so contrary to all sound philosophy as to excite ridicule. ( Act_17:32 )' (p. 145)
'We are, on the one hand, pointed to the rationalism of the pagan Greeks, which simply refused to accept the resurrection of the body but held that the body is only an evil..or a fetter..or a dungeon, yea, a grave for the soul..from which death frees the soul...We are, on the other hand, informed (very briefly) that according to the popular view the bodies of the dead were thought to arise in their material grossness ..' (Lenski p. 624)
Points to Note:
1. As in much of the letter, the problems in the Church at Corinth were caused when Christians had brought the erroneous views of their "culture and world" into the Church with them.
There existed a group of Christians at Corinth, who were enthralled with the "wisdom of this world" (Chapters 1-3). And the "wisdom" of the educated and intellectual Greeks had said, that the idea of a bodily resurrection was absurd, and contrary to all logic. Christians are faced with the same challenge today. When we became Christians, we also had to abandon not a few of the world's "sacred cows, prejudices, and proclaimed facts".
2. Verses 35-50, seem to indicate that there existed a number of skeptics in Corinth. Christians that tended to disbelieve in the resurrection of believers, simply because they couldn't answer all the questions that they had about the nature of the resurrected body.
Unfortunately, the same tendency is often found among Christians today. This Chapter reveals the principle, that we are obligated to believe teaching that God has revealed, even if we can't answer all the questions that such a doctrine raises.
OUTLINE AND COMMENTARY-MARK DUNAGAN
I. OUTLINE OF 15:29-58:
I. In the Absence Of A Resurrection These Practices And Actions Look Foolish:15:29-32
II. Rebuke: 15:33-34
III. Answering Various Arguments Concerning The Condition Of the Resurrection Body:15:35-49
IV. What About Living Christians When Christ Comes Again? 15:50-58
'The effect of unbelief in the resurrection, 15:29-34. To clinch the argument for the truth and the necessity of the Christian resurrection and to bring it home to the readers, the Apostle points out how futile Christian devotion must be, such as it witnessed in "those baptized for the dead" and in his own daily hazards, if death ends all (29-31); present enjoyment would then appear the highest good (32). The effect of unbelief in the future life is already painfully apparent in the relaxed moral tone of a certain part of the Corinthian Church (33f.).' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 930)
'This paragraph makes is clear that the issue of their denying the resurrection is no small matter...The actions of..them (v. 29), not to mention himself (vv. 30-32) border on absurdity if the dead are not raised. But even more importantly, he concludes (vv. 33-34) with an exhortation to righteous living, which strongly implies that there are some close ties between this particular issue and the aberrant behavior he has been attacking throughout the letter.' (Fee pp. 761-762)
1Co_15:1 Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand,
'Now I make known unto you' -'Now let me remind you' (Wms) 'Reproachfully, as having to declare the Gospel anew.' (Vincent p. 273) ( Heb_5:12-14 ) 'Paul writes, with a touch of blame, as though informing the Cor. of what the staple of his message had been, that on which their whole Christianity is built.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 918)
'Paul does not begin by naming the subject which he intends to treat..He starts with a reminder of the pertinent gospel facts on which the faith of the Corinthians rests. Not until he reaches v. 12 do the Corinthians hear that some men in their midst make this entire discussion necessary.' (Lenski p. 625)
'the gospel which I preached unto you' -
We should note that "the gospel" has certain facts about it. Certain "doctrines" make up the gospel message. (15:3-4; Acts 8:5,12; 35-36 ; Mar_16:15-16 ) Recently some have tried to make a distinction between the belief's comprise the "gospel" and which beliefs comprise "doctrine".
'which also ye received' -this is the same gospel that he had initially preached to them, and which they had embraced. ( Act_18:8 )
'wherein also ye stand' -'on which your faith is based' (Bas) Seeing that the Corinthians weren't taking a decisive "stand" for Christ. This phrase probably means, something like, 'the gospel he preached is also the one to which they owe their very existence (as Christians).' (Fee p. 720) 'By which you have your standing in Christ.' ( Rom_5:2 ; Rom_11:20 ) (F.F. Bruce p. 138)
1Co_15:2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain.
'by which also ye are saved' -The gospel is our link with the salvation obtained by Christ. ( Rom_1:16 ; Rom_10:11-17 ; 1Pe_1:23 ; Act_11:14 'and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved..')
Point to Note:
Our salvation depends upon hearing and believing what God wants us to embrace. ( Mar_16:15 ; Act_16:32 ) Therefore, if any salvation is possible for anyone, the New Testament which contains the gospel message, must have remained in an uncorrupted form. Anyone that denies the accuracy of the Bible, needs to realize that such a claim, if it were true, would mean that we are all cut off from any hope of salvation.
'if ye hold fast' -Salvation, while it is unearned, is conditional. 'provided you adhere to my statement of it.' (Mof)
'the word which I preached unto you' -
Point to Note:
'In a world which rightly stresses ethical commitment and response there is the temptation to play down doctrinal truth as though it were important but, in the final analysis, not fundamentally important. Paul here speaks of salvation IF the truths he preached were held on to..If Paul speaks the truth, systematic doctrine REALLY DOES MATTER. If we don't like that we'll have to take it up with God.' [Note: _ McGuiggan pp. 188-189]
Believing the wrong thing, can condemn our souls too. ( 2Jn_1:9 ; 2Ti_2:17-18 ; 1Ti_1:19-20 )
'except ye believed in vain' -'unless you believed in vain' (NASV) 'Offers the possibility of that happening otherwise the statement couldn't be made.' (McGuiggan p. 189)
'in vain' -'heedlessly, at random, without serious apprehension, without realizing the facts involved' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 919) This may also be anticipating 15:17. 'if their current position as to "no resurrection" is correct, then Christ did not rise, which in turn means that they had indeed believed in vain. If they are right, everything is a lie, and they cease to exist as believers altogether.' (Fee p. 721)
-'In vain' can also mean "without result". If they depart from the truth of the gospel, then their becoming a Christian has been "in vain", i.e. inferring that such a departure would lead to a lost condition.
1Co_15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
'For' -Paul now explains in more detail, the gospel that he preached.
'I delivered unto you' -as a faithful steward. (4:1)
'first of all' -'as of first importance' (NASV); 'Not in time, but to importance.' (Robertson p. 186) 'First and foremost' (NEB). These following facts are of first importance, for the whole of Christianity rests upon them.
'that which also I received' -by direct revelation. (11:23; 14:37; Gal_1:11-12 ) 'And hence no device or invention of my own.' (McGarvey p. 146)
'that Christ died' -that's a fact. Even secular sources admit that Jesus of Nazareth lived and was crucified. That's plain historical fact.
'for our sins' -'is the explanation of the fact. It wasn't just a martyr's death. It wasn't just another death among the countless deaths. It was a death on account of and on behalf of sins and the sinner. He didn't die for sin in the abstract, but for "our" sins.' (McGuiggan p. 189) ( Joh_1:29 ; Joh_3:16 ; Rom_5:8 ; 2Co_5:15 ; 1Jn_3:5 ; 1Pe_2:24 )
Points to Note:
1. One cannot preach Christ crucified, without at the same time, calling man a sinner. Which means that preaching Christ crucified is going to involve showing people the eternal consequences of their sins, i.e. hell.
2. This truth emphasizes that a "moral bond" exists between every person and Christ. All, regardless of time and culture (seeing that everyone sins- Rom_3:23 ), are morally obligated to obey Christ. Hence Christ is the only Savior for the whole human race. ( Joh_14:6 ; Joh_3:16 'God so loved the world ..')
3. Disbelief and rejection in Christ can never be whitewashed or excused. It is an act of ingratitude and selfishness. It can never be explained away as merely an intellectual problem. ( Joh_3:18-21 )
'according to the scriptures' -as Jesus Himself pointed out. ( Mat_26:54 ; Luke 24:25-27; 44-47 ). See also, such O.T. chapters as Isa_53:1-12 and Psa_22:1-31 .
Point to Note:
The O.T. didn't predict that the Messiah would be a conquering earthly king (the Premillennial viewpoint). Rather, the Scriptures taught that the Messiah would sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world. ( 1Pe_1:10-12 )
1Co_15:4 and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;
'was buried' -Another historical fact. This phrase points to the reality of Jesus' death. He didn't swoon upon the cross, He died! And as proof of that, they actually placed Him in a tomb. Even the enemies of Jesus admitted that He was dead. ( Mat_27:63 )
Point to Note:
Excellent material concerning the "evidence" of the resurrection can be found in a book entitled, "Therefore Stand", by Wilbur M. Smith. The following quotes are just a sample of the good material to be found in this work:
'We know more about the burial of the Lord Jesus than we know of the burial of any single character in all of ancient history..We know who took His body from the cross; we know something of the wrapping of the body in spices, and burial clothes; we know the very tomb in which this body was placed, the name of the man who owned it..We know even where this tomb was located, in a garden nigh to the place where He was crucified, outside the city walls. We know minute details concerning events immediately subsequent to our Lord's entombment (p. 371)...In fact, we know more about what happened and what was said during the last week of His life on earth than we know about any other entire year of His life on earth....We know what He said to His disciples throughout Thursday of that week..the institution of the Lord's Supper that night, the agony of suffering in Gethsemane, the nature of the crowd that came out to arrest Him..and how He was betrayed with a kiss. We know of the five trials which Jesus underwent within the last eight hours..We know what men said to Christ, what they said against Him, and what He said to them. We know how the soldiers despitefully used Him; how the Sanhedrin bribed witnesses to condemn Him. We know even the name of an obscure person who carried His cross...Nothing here is what we might call mythical, or even "theological": it is all solid, definite, historical fact. ' (pp. 360-361)
'The place is of geographical definiteness, the man who owned the tomb was a man living in the first half of the first century; that tomb was made out of rock in a hillside near Jerusalem, and was not composed of some mythological gossamer, or cloud-dust....The guards put before that tomb were not aerial beings from Mt. Olympus; the Sanhedrin was a body of men meeting frequently in Jerusalem. As a vast mass of literature tells us, this person, Jesus, was a living person, a man among men, whatever else He was , and the disciples who went out to preach the risen Lord were men among men, men who ate, drank, slept, suffered, worked, died. What is there "doctrinal" about this? ' (p. 386)
'raised on the third day' -'On Sunday morning, for one reason or another, that tomb was empty, as everyone admits --Christian, unbeliever, disciple, scoffer, Jew and Gentile, conservative, and modernist.' (Therefore Stand p. 361)
Point to Note:
Most arguments presented to explain away the resurrection, i.e. the disciples stole the body, the Romans stole the body, the Jews stole the body, the swoon theory, etc....THEIR VERY EXISTENCE ALL ADMIT THE SAME TRUTH, I.E. THE TOMB WAS EMPTY!
'according to the scriptures' -( Isa_53:10 ; Psa_16:10 = Act_2:23 ff) And Paul had often argued that the O.T. taught that the Messiah would die and be resurrected. ( Act_17:2-3 )
HE WAS SEEN BY WITNESSES: 15:5-8
1Co_15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve;
'he appeared' -'Paul's point seems emphatic. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was not a form of "spiritual" existence. Just as he was truly dead and buried, so he was truly raised from the dead bodily .' (Fee p. 728)
'What Paul delivered to them was more than an interpretation of OT scriptures as accurate as that may be. He delivered fact . Solid, immovable, concrete deeds. The death and burial which were according to scripture and could be verified by the documents of the authorities were no more factual than the resurrection.' (McGuiggan p. 189)
'appeared' -not in a vision, or subjective sense. But was actually "seen".
'He gives no complete catalog of these appearances, not because he does not know about those which he omits, but because he follows a selective principle. Paul presents those witnesses that are most important to the Corinthians ..' (Lenski p. 633)
'Cephas' -Peter. ( Luk_24:34 'The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon.') And Peter preached a bodily resurrection of Christ. ( Act_2:31 'nor did his flesh suffer decay')
'then to the twelve' -( Joh_20:19-23 ; Luk_24:34-43 ). Of course minus Judas. Thomas was also absent. Later on, Paul will mention an appearance to "all the apostles." (15:7)
1Co_15:6 then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep;
'then' -'refers to a sequence of events placed in chronological order.' (Willis p. 530)
'above five hundred brethren at once' - Mat_28:7-16 ? ( Mar_14:28 )
'at once' -'at one time' (NASV). 'Can hardly be explained except as an attempt to emphasize the reality and objectivity of this appearance.' (Fee p. 730)
'the greater part remain until now' -most of them are still alive. This letter was written about 25 years after the appearance just mentioned.
Points to Note:
1. In the First Century, a great number of witnesses to the fact that Jesus had been bodily resurrected existed and could be consulted.
2. 'The implication from this statement is this: if you doubt my word, go investigate the witnesses for yourself.' (Willis p. 531)
1Co_15:7 then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles;
'James' -most believe this James is the Lord's brother, also mentioned in 9:5. We have no record of Christ's appearance to him in the gospels. And yet, such an appearance would explain his change of heart. During His earthly ministry, the physical brothers of Jesus had their doubts about Him. ( Joh_7:5 ; Mar_3:20-21 ) And yet some 40 days after His death, we find Mary and her other sons with the disciples. ( Act_1:14 ) The brother named James, becomes a very prominent member of the church in Jerusalem. ( Gal_1:19 ; Act_21:18 ) This verse would explain why James went from unbelief to 100% belief in a short period of time.
'then to all the apostles' -This time Thomas was present. Like the appearance mentioned in ( Joh_20:26-31 ). 'To refer to the one mentioned in Joh_20:24-29 seems impossible because of the chain of events enumerated here; only eight days lapsed between the two appearances in Joh_20:19-29 which is hardly enough time for the Apostles to have journeyed to Galilee and back to Jerusalem.' (Willis p. 533)
Act_1:3 informs us that the N.T. doesn't mention every specific appearance of Jesus.
1Co_15:8 and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also.
'last of all' -'it is the final link in the chain that began with Peter and means "finally". (Fee p. 732)
'child untimely born' -'to one untimely born.' (NASV) 'Lit., as to the miscarriage.' (Robertson p. 188) 'the word literally refers to any kind of premature birth (abortion, stillbirth, or miscarriage.' (Fee p. 733)
'Paul is one who from the spiritual point of view was not born at the right time because he had not been a disciple during the lifetime of Jesus. His calling to the apostolic office..could not take place in the normal, orderly, organic sequence. Moreover, his calling is forced as well as abnormal ...He is torn from his previous course of life by the powerful intervention of the exalted Christ..The main emphasis is on the abnormality of the process.' (Willis p. 534)
'He thus contrasts himself with the other apostles who more gradually and naturally matured from disciples, by years of nurture, into fully developed messengers of Christ.' (Erdman p. 156)
'he appeared to me also' -Paul didn't consider his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, as a "visionary experience". But an actual resurrection appearance of the same kind as the others mentioned in this series. His seeing Jesus was as "objective" as theirs. ( Act_9:5 ; Act_22:14 ; Act_26:16 )
Point to Note:
Paul's language here shuts the door on any future apostles being chosen, who don't fit into the above appearance categories. An apostle (besides being hand-picked by God) had to meet the very qualification of having seen the resurrected Christ. ( Act_1:21-22 ) While others saw Jesus in a vision ( Act_7:55-56 ; Rev_1:12-20 ) Paul was the last one that Jesus actually appeared to.
1Co_15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
'least of the apostles' -( Eph_3:8 ; 1Ti_1:15 ). Paul is not saying that he had less authority than the other apostles. ( 2Co_11:5 ; Gal_2:6-14 )
'But he does recognize them (the 12) as a special group as can be seen by his remark in Act_13:30-31 where he calls them "his witnesses unto the people."' (McGuiggan p. 190)
'not meet to be called an apostle' -'not deserving the name of apostle' (Ber); 'I who am unworthy of the name of Apostle.' (TCNT)
'a view many of them probably also held ( 2Co_10:10 ). But his reasons for it would be different from theirs...his reason here has to do with his former way of life.' (Fee p. 734)
'because I persecuted the church of God' -a fact that Paul often alludes to. ( Act_22:19 ; Act_26:9-11 ; Gal_1:13-15 ; Php_3:6 ; 1Ti_1:13-15 )
Points to Note:
1. Paul always kept in mind an accurate picture of the person he had been. On the very road to Damascus, he had been engaged in efforts to persecute Christians.
2. Paul never says, 'well, I wasn't that bad'.
3. 'Paul had done all that he could to destroy Christianity prior to his conversion.' (Willis p. 535)
4. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Paul), is one of the great proofs for the resurrection of Christ. How do we explain this man's radical change in direction? How do we logically explain, one giving up so much? ( Gal_1:13-15 ; Php_3:4 ff)
'First, he was a persecutor of the church; how then can one account reasonably for the startling fact that so suddenly he began to preach the gospel and to support and extend the church? Secondly, how explain the fact that the persecutor came to surpass all others in apostolic fervor and success? There is only one explanation.' (Erdman p. 156) HE SAW THE RESURRECTED CHRIST!
'As someone has said, if there was ever a man in the first century who knew all the arguments against the resurrection of Christ which the Sanhedrin could ever draw up, that man was the Apostle Paul, and yet, in spite of all this, he believed Christ had been raised from the dead by the power of God..' (Therefore Stand. Smith pp. 414-415)
1Co_15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
'But by the grace of God I am what I am' -despite his past, God had graciously called him. ( Act_9:13-15 ) The same could be said for any of us. ( Rom_5:8 ) None of us have earned our standing in Christ.
'Since they have not given him his authority, they can neither take it from him nor deny it to him.' (Fee p. 735)
'was not found vain' -'not without results' (Tay); 'was not bestowed for nothing.' (Wms) 'Empty, without result, without profit, without effect.' (Willis p. 535)
Point to Note:
This statement infers that our lives can abuse or neglect the grace of God which has been bestowed upon us. ( Heb_10:29 'and has insulted the Spirit of grace?')
'but I labored more abundantly then they all' -'although God's gracious gift of apostleship was the result of divine initiative..nonetheless it required Paul's response.' (Fee p. 735) 'Nevertheless, latecomer as he was..he strove to make up for lost time...even if we go no farther back than the six or seven years immediately preceding the writing of this letter: he had evangelized the provinces of Galatia, Macedonia and Achaia, and was now actively engaged in evangelizing proconsular Asia, and two or three years later he would be able to treat his task in the Aegean lands as finished. ( Rom_15:19 ; Rom_15:23 )' (F.F. Bruce p. 143)
'labored' -'refers to labor that requires strenuous exertion that tires.' (Lenski p. 642) 'This is sober fact as shown by the Acts and Paul's Epistles. He had tremendous energy and used it.' (Robertson p. 189)
'yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me' -Lest someone think that Paul is taking credit for those he converted. Without God and the power of His word, all this labor would be in vain. ( 1Co_3:6 'but God was causing the growth.')
Point to Note:
It is interesting to note that First Century Christians believed they couldn't earn salvation. And yet, they didn't use "grace" as an excuse for spiritual sloth. Instead, they were motivated to serve God all the more, seeing that He had graciously forgiven them. Zeal and enthusiasm is the proper response to God's grace. ( Tit_2:11-14 )
1Co_15:11 Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
'I or they' -Paul, or the other Apostles.
'No matter which of these competent witnesses the Corinthians examine, no matter to which of these notable heralds they listen, they will always hear the identical testimony and proclamation.' (Lenski p. 644)
'Once more..he is pressing on them that their current behavior and theology are out of step with those of the other churches (cf. 1:2; 4:17; 7:17; 11:16; 14:33). Thus, "what they believed" through his preaching when he was among them is the same gospel preached presently by him and by all the apostles. On the matter of their denial of the resurrection, therefore, they are following neither Apollos, nor Cephas, nor Christ; they are simply going off on their own. ' (Fee p. 736)
We should note that all the apostles preached the same message!
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST/THE GENERAL RESURRECTION:
'With this paragraph the reason for the present argument is stated for the first time.' (Fee p. 738)
Not everyone in Corinth was denying the resurrection. Neither was this a denial of the resurrection of Christ. Rather, some in Corinth were denying the general resurrection of all believers (and logically unbelievers also) (15:12-13). God, speaking through Paul, points out that this is an inconsistent position to hold. One cannot logically reject the resurrection of believers, and yet still believe in the resurrection of Christ.
1Co_15:12 Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
'Now if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead' -The point that he has just conclusively proven. 'No fact could be better attested, none more reasonably believed.' (Erdman p. 156) No matter who the preacher was, this was the message preached.
'some among you' -'Although this is the position of only "some among you", most likely the "some"...have had a significant influence within the community.' (Fee p. 740) It only takes "some" to do a lot of harm within the church. (5:6 'a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.'; Ecc_9:18 'one sinner destroyeth much good.')
'no resurrection of the dead' -i.e. no general resurrection, specifically of all believers. (Even though the righteous and the wicked will be raised at the same time- Joh_5:28-29 )
1Co_15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised:
'neither hath Christ been raised'
Point to Note:
In the mind of God, both resurrections stand or fall together. One cannot say, 'there is no resurrection of the dead', if one PROOF TO THE CONTRARY EXISTS, i.e. Christ was raised. 'Thus the single fact of Christ's bodily resurrection once for all invalidates the assumption that denies the bodily resurrection in general.' (Lenski p. 650)
Modern religious groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses couldn't have offered this line of reasoning to the Corinthians. For the Witnesses don't believe that Christ was raised in a bodily form. Hence, they are forced to conclude that in their theology the resurrection of Christ doesn't demand the bodily resurrection of all believers. Something is seriously wrong with your theology, when it won't allow you to use an argument offered by an Apostle!
But before Paul will deal with the positive aspects or consequences of Christ's resurrection, he will first analyze the logical negative consequences to what is presently being taught in Corinth. Such scrutiny of false doctrine, is Paul's way of silencing the opposition, and hence saving souls. ( Tit_1:9-11 )
The following verses will demonstrate that the denial of the resurrection, isn't an isolated teaching which could be accepted or rejected independently of other doctrines.
1Co_15:14 and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.
'then is our preaching vain' -'without any basis, without truth' (Willis p. 540) 'Empty' (Robertson p. 189); 'there is nothing in our message.' (Gspd) Seeing that the resurrection of Christ is the very heart and substance of the gospel message (15:4); without the resurrection of Christ, the gospel would be emptied of it's content.
Point to Note:
And yet there exist denominations and denominational preachers who deny that Christ was raised from the dead. Paul would say, 'if that is true, then you are out of a job, aren't you!'
'your faith also is vain' -for they had believed preaching that proclaimed that Christ was risen. (15:1,11 'and so you believed.')
This verse implies that the faith of the Christian is based on the resurrection of Christ. But for us today, it is also based on the fact that the N.T. contains an accurate description of the actual events, i.e. that the N.T. is the inspired word of God. Hence, the person who claims to be a Christian, yet also denies the inspiration of the Scriptures, HAS JUST CUT ALL THE SUBSTANCE OUT OF THEIR "FAITH". 'If the skeptics refuse to believe the fact of Christ's resurrection, they have nothing to stand on.' (Robertson p. 189)
1Co_15:15 Yea, we are found false witnesses of God; because we witnessed of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised.
'Yea' -'More than that' (Mon)
'we are found false witnesses of God' -'we are found guilty of misrepresenting God' (Gspd)
'False witnesses, not mistaken witnesses . He allows no loophole of escape: the resurrection is a fact, or else a falsehood.' (Willis p. 541)
'because we witnessed' -The testimony of the Apostles was that Jesus had been raised. ( Act_2:24 ; Act_2:32 ; Act_3:15 ; Act_3:26 ; Act_4:10 )
Point to Note:
Paul's logic here must be applied. Those who take various liberal views of the Bible, must face the following conclusion. If as they say, Gen_1:1-31 ; Gen_2:1-25 ; Gen_3:1-24 ; Gen_4:1-26 ; Gen_5:1-32 ; Gen_6:1-22 ; Gen_7:1-24 ; Gen_8:1-22 ; Gen_9:1-29 ; Gen_10:1-32 ; Gen_11:1-32 is mythical, the flood wasn't universal, Sodom and Gomorrah really weren't destroyed by God Himself, the Israelites really didn't pass through the Red Sea on dry ground, Jonah really wasn't swallowed by a big fish, and that the O.T. and the N.T. really aren't the infallible word of God...THEN..the biblical writers who WROTE TO THE CONTRARY...are all going to hell-including Moses, many of the prophets (who claimed inspiration), the writers of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John-for they all endorsed the miraculous nature of many OT events)..Peter and Paul are also lost, for both of them endorsed many OT miraculous events too ( 1Co_10:1-11 ; 1Pe_3:20 ; 2Pe_2:1-9 ; 2Pe_3:1-11 ). Either what they wrote is true, or what they wrote is false, and they are guilty of bearing false witness against God...IT'S ONE OR THE OTHER.
1Co_15:16 For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised:
1Co_15:17 and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
'vain' -'not merely in the former sense (15:14) of being emptied of its content, but in the sense of its being futile, ineffectual.' (Erdman p. 158) 'Fruitless' (Vincent p. 275) 'Useless, idle, it gets you nothing .' (Lenski p. 655)
'ye are yet in your sins' -faith expressed in an "un-resurrected" Christ is futile. If Jesus failed to rise from the dead, then faith in Him is useless. No resurrection-no atonement for sin, no redemption, NO FORGIVENESS, YOU ARE STILL LOST! This verse implies that the resurrection PROVED THAT GOD ACCEPTED THE ATONEMENT AND SACRIFICE OFFERED BY JESUS FOR SIN.
1Co_15:18 Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
'fallen asleep in Christ' -i.e. deceased Christians.
'have perished' -Since no true forgiveness of sins was actually obtained, all dead Christians, are lost Christians.
'Whatever doctrine constrained them to regard their beloved associates in the faith as lost, must needs appear to them as in itself highly questionable.' (Willis p. 544)
Point to Note:
Shallow thinking on the resurrection of Christ still exists today. Somehow people think that if they can disprove the resurrection of Christ, then no God exists and hence no accountability. God disagrees. If Christ wasn't raised from the dead, GOD STILL EXISTS, SIN STILL EXISTS, ACCOUNTABILITY STILL EXISTS. Disproving the resurrection of Christ, simply means that EVERYBODY IS LOST!
1Co_15:19 If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.
'we' -Paul, the other Apostles, AND THE CORINTHIANS!
'only hoped in Christ' -'if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only' (Phi); 'And if our hopes in Christ applied only to this life' (Nor) 'If this is all that we are, people who have cherished an illusion until the hour of their death..' (Lenski p. 658)
'all men most pitiable' -'then we are unhappy beyond all other men.' (Knox)
'Paul himself had "suffered the loss of all things" for the sake of the Christ who had appeared to him ( Php_3:8 ); what a fool he had been if Christ after all had never left the tomb!...his striving to win an imperishable wreath (9:25), would be but a hollow mockery.' (F.F. Bruce p. 145)
Point to Note:
But some will say that, 'even if Christianity turns out to be a hoax, at least you lived a good life here, at least you did some good.' PAUL WOULD DISAGREE!
'It's all very well to talk about being good even if there is no God and there's no ultimate or absolute Truth. THAT'S PIOUS TWADDLE . Without some ultimate Truth as embodied in God, there is NO GOOD AND NO NOBILITY OR HONOR IN SELF-GIVING FOR THE SELF BECOMES VALUELESS.' (McGuiggan p. 191)
CHRIST IS RAISED/THE CONSEQUENCES:
1Co_15:20 But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of them that are asleep.
'But now hath Christ been raised from the dead' -THANK GOD FOR THAT!
'But of the many wonderous significances of the resurrection, Paul chooses a particular one here. He speaks of Christ's resurrection in relation to the resurrection of the saints.' (McGuiggan p. 192)
'the firstfruits' -'the word was used to describe the offerings of the first ripened fruits of the crop to the Lord. Whenever the firstfruits were offered, they guaranteed that the rest of the crop would follow.' (Willis p. 547) 'suggests the image of a great harvest which is ushered in by the first sheaf that is presented as an offering to God, Lev_23:10 .' (Lenski p. 662)
'As surely as the first fruits guarantee the coming harvest, so surely does his resurrection guarantee theirs.' (F.F. Bruce p. 145) See also: 2Th_2:13 ; 1Co_16:15 .
'of them that are asleep' -deceased Christians. (15:18; 1Th_4:13 )
Point to Note:
The resurrection of Christ set in motion certain events that cannot be reversed. It absolutely guarantee's our resurrection, the total defeat of death and all enemies of God.
'Paul saw the universe headed toward a great climax at which time all things would be subjected to Jesus, including the demolition of the power of death. The denial of the resurrection constitutes a denial that Christ will bring this present struggle between Himself and the Devil to a successful end.' (Willis p. 546)
1Co_15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
'For' -The death of Jesus alluded to in the previous verse, reminds us of His humanity or identification with us. Paul maybe saying in this verse, that just as death entered because of man, it was only appropriate that the release from death was obtained by one who was also man (plus much more) ( Joh_1:14 ; Php_2:6 ff)
'In Jesus Christ man is condemned ( 2Co_5:21 ), in Jesus Christ man is vindicated (5:20) and exalted ( Heb_2:5 ff). NOTE: The death and resurrection spoken of in these verses is a physical death and resurrection, and not a spiritual death and resurrection.
1Co_15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
'For as in Adam all die' -Every person who partakes of the same nature as Adam, i.e. human, mortal, dies.
Note: Paul believed that Adam was a historical person.
'in Christ shall all be made alive' -Jesus had made possible the resurrection from the grave for all men. Unfortunately, some will be resurrected only to face punishment. ( Joh_5:28-29 )
Point to Note:
Some have tried to use the above verse to teach the doctrine of Total Hereditary Depravity, i.e. everyone is born in sin, inheriting the sins of Adam. ('all die spiritually in Adam) But if that is what this verse is teaching, then the rest of the verse, which also includes the same word "all" as the first part of the verse, must logically teach that Christ will save everyone. ('all live spiritually in Christ') Which is false ( Mat_7:13-14 ).
Paul primary application is probably to believers. All believers die physical because of Adam and all believers will be resurrected because of Christ. After all, that is the context of the whole chapter, and the very point of the next verse.
1Co_15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming.
'But each in his own order' -'order, turn, arrangement' (Willis p. 550)
The Corinthians may have written Paul with some questions about the "order" of the resurrection. Some may have been under the mistaken impression, that all the dead were supposed to rise when Christ rose from the dead.
'Christ the firstfruits' -the first class or group previously mentioned. (15:20)
'then they that are Christ's' -Christians.
'at his coming' -'And following Christ, living because he lives , are those that are Christ's' (McGuiggan p. 193)
'coming' -'It became a technical term to refer to the visit of a person of high rank (kings, emperors).' (Willis p. 550)
1Co_15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power.
'Then cometh the end' -'next after that' (F.F. Bruce p. 146) 'Marks the next event after the second coming.' (Willis p. 550)
Point to Note:
Other passages inform us that the resurrection of the wicked will happen at the same time as the resurrection of the righteous. ( Joh_5:28-29 ; Mat_25:31-46 ; 1Th_4:13-18 ; 1Th_5:1-3 ; 2Th_1:7-9 ) And these passages also inform us that "the end" will happen when Christ comes again ( 2Pe_3:9-10 ). Therefore we must reject the Premillennial theories that try to place 1007 years between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked, including the end.
'when he' -i.e. Christ
'shall deliver up the kingdom to God' -this implies that JESUS IS REIGNING AS KING NOW. And that the kingdom of God is established now. ( Joh_3:5 ; Mar_9:1 ; Col_1:13-14 ; Rev_1:9 ; Rev_5:9-10 .)
Point to Note:
This presents another conflict with Premillennial theory. Premillennial doctrine states that Jesus is coming back to "set up" the kingdom of God. But according to Paul, when Jesus comes, and with it the end, the kingdom of God is not set up, it is delivered up.
'deliver up' -'to surrender, to give over into the hands of another.' (McGuiggan p. 193)
Points to Note:
1. Included in this kingdom, are the people of God. ( Col_1:13-14 ) Compare Act_20:28 with Rev_1:5-6 . Christ will present all the saved to the Father.
2. When Christ delivers up the kingdom of God, does that mean He will cease to reign?
'Sovereignty has been committed to the Son for a definite purpose: when that purpose has been fulfilled the sovereignty returns to the original source. We need not think of Christ as losing anything or as ceasing to rule, but as bringing to a triumphant conclusion a special dispensation.' (Willis p. 551)
'As little as the Father fails to rule now when Christ exercises the rule, so little will Christ cease to rule when he delivers the rule to the Father.' (Lenski p. 675)
'when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power' -'The powers to be abolished, naturally, are those which oppose God.' ( Eph_6:12 ) (McGuiggan p. 194) Including the final enemy, death.
Point to Note:
'There are those who feel that the mess the world is in makes it impossible for Christ to be ruling. This is the secular way of looking at things...If the mess the world is in now proves Jesus isn't in control then the mess the world's been in since the beginning proves that no one has ever been in control. The fallacy in this thinking is that God is so in control that evil and suffering can't happen. But this would mean God has NEVER been in control.' (McGuiggan p. 194)
1Co_15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.
'For he must reign' -Jesus was reigning in the First Century. ( Act_2:36 ; Eph_1:21-23 ; 1Pe_3:22 )
'all his enemies under his feet' -Even the O.T. taught, that the Messiah would rule, not during a period of Utopian peace, but rather during a time when He would face opposition. ( Psa_110:1-4 '..rule in the midst of Thine enemies..')
1Co_15:26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.
'abolished' -2673. katargeo kat-arg-eh'-o; from 2596 and 691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively: -abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.
'death' -And when and how is death destroyed? AT THE GENERAL RESURRECTION! Now we see another reason why the denial of the resurrection is so dangerous. Such a denial completely undermines God's ultimate purpose. Everything can't be set right again, UNTIL, death is completely vanquished. Meaning that death has lost every victim it has ever claimed. Christ's present reign will end will the last body leaves the tomb. But all this is LINKED WITH the resurrection.
Point to Note:
The resurrection of Christ was the decisive victory against the forces of evil. ( Col_2:15 ; 1Pe_3:22 ; Mat_28:18 ; Rev_1:18 ) Death has already lost the battle ( 2Ti_1:10 ). Which means, if you are in opposition to God, you are fighting a lost war and a hopeless cause.
1Co_15:27 For, He put all things in subjection under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put in subjection, it is evident that he is excepted who did subject all things unto him.
'He put' -The Father placed all things in subjection under Christ's feet. ( Mat_28:18 ; Eph_1:21-23 ) The idea here is from Psa_8:8 . Which the Hebrew writer also applies to Jesus. ( Heb_2:9 )
Paul's point seems to be: To deny the resurrection, is to deny the authority which Christ was given. To deny the resurrection is to imply that "all things" (specifically death) are not "in subjection under His feet." Hence to deny the resurrection (general), is to be a false witness against God.
'he is excepted' -i.e. the Father.
'man's place under God is seen in Christ. For while God put all things under his feet, that didn't mean God was included. Man's place under God is verified in the man above all men, Jesus Christ. The perfect man acknowledges that all he has comes from God and that acknowledgement is seen in his subjecting himself as a man to God..This is the perfect man's letting God be God.' (McGuiggan p. 195)
There is a valuable lesson here: Even when Deity dwelled in a human body, when God became man ( Joh_1:14 ; Php_2:6-8 ), "man" still wasn't elevated above God. While God was in a human body, God subjected Himself to God. To me this should remind us of a very important truth. Man will never become God! Throughout eternity, man will always be man, and God will always be God. ( Rev_22:3 )
1Co_15:28 And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all.
'Son also himself be subjected to him' -this doesn't mean that the Son is inferior to the Father, or that He isn't Divine. ( Joh_5:23 ; Joh_1:1 ; Php_2:6 ; Heb_1:3 ; Heb_1:8 ). Subjection doesn't demand the meaning of inherent inferiority (i.e. wives subject to husbands, slaves to masters, children to parents). Jesus will simply hand over the rule or role that had been assigned to Him. (15:24)
'that God may be all in all' -this doesn't mean that everything in the universe will merge into "God".
When every enemy has been destroyed (many that God had merely tolerated in His patience), 'the final rupture in the universe will be healed and God alone (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) will rule over all beings.' (Fee p. 760) All "competition" will be eliminated and in very corner of existence, God uncontested. This also seems to imply, that in very place, God will be acknowledged as God.
1Co_15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
'Else' -'Otherwise' (NASV); 'if all that is stated in the preceding is not fact.' (Lenski p. 688)
'that are baptized for the dead?'
As you can well imagine a multitude of interpretations surround this verse. But as in all difficult texts, we can begin by removing those views which contradict other passages in the Bible.
Points to Note:
1. Paul approved of the practice (baptism) under consideration in this verse.
'Whatever the practice was, Paul uses it to make a case for the resurrection of the dead. This would have to mean he approves of the practice. If it was an error he could hardly have used it as an argument in favor of the resurrection of the dead. You can't establish truth on the basis of an error.' (McGuiggan p. 195)
Some Commentators argue that Paul here refers to a practice in Corinth of which he doesn't approve, i.e. that Christians were being baptized for their dead relatives who had died outside of Christ. But all the previous abuses referred to in this letter are rebuked.
Fee adds, 'The second problem is theological and has to do with how Paul can appeal, without apparent disapproval, to a practice that stands in such contradiction to his own understanding both of justification by grace through faith, which always implies response on the part of the believer ..' (p. 764)
2. The practice under consideration was universal:
'There'd be little point in making an argument based on something only a few of them believed. Because the bulk of them who disbelieved would be sure to tell Paul: "But what do we care what that little group practices. We don't believe that!"' (McGuiggan p. 196)
'The present timeless participle describes those who receive baptism at any time, whether in the past, present, or future ...All of the Corinthians are, of course, among the baptized...But it also includes all others who receive baptism anywhere and at any time. The one mark that is characteristic of all of them is baptism..' (Lenski p. 689)
3. Therefore the baptism under consideration must be water baptism:
It was a universal practice ( Mar_16:15-16 ), every Christian could identify with it ( 1Co_12:13 ; Eph_4:5 ), it was related to the resurrection ( Rom_6:3-5 ), and it had Paul's approval. Hence the only question is, what does the phrase "for the dead" mean?
'for the dead'
Points to Note:
1. "For the dead one"-i.e. referring to Christ:
'This theory says that the person is baptized for the dead one, Jesus Christ. However, the word "dead" is a plural noun, hardly applicable to the person Christ.' (Willis p. 562)
2. 'Otherwise what shall they do who are baptized? for the dead? (i.e., are they baptized to belong to, to be numbered among the dead, who are never to rise again?) Indeed, if the dead do not rise again, why are people baptized?' (Fee p. 766)
'That is, is one baptized in order to forever be in the realm of the dead? This position has the merit of recognizing the legitimate purpose of New Testament baptism...First of all, one is baptized in order to be saved ( Mar_16:16 ). If there is no resurrection from the dead, what difference does it make whether or not one has his sins washed away...Hence, if the dead are not raised, one's baptism is absolutely nonsensical.' (Willis p. 564)
This view also seems consistent with Paul's line of reasoning in the rest of this section (vv. 30-32). For Paul's other arguments reach the same end result, i.e. if there is no resurrection, then no future life exists. (15:32) The logic behind his argument appears to be, that if no resurrection exists, then there must be no need for it, i.e. NO FUTURE LIFE TO BE RESURRECTED TO. Jesus argued in a similar vein. If it can be proved by the Scriptures that man does have an existence apart from the body ( Mat_22:31-32 ), then you have also proven the need for the resurrection with the same Scriptures.
Another way to put this would be to say, that the resurrection implies that the body needs to be reunited with something, i.e. the soul. If there is no resurrection, then the body doesn't need to be reunited with anything, therefore man doesn't have a soul, and hence when man dies he is dead all over.
So in the above verse it appears that Paul is saying, if that is true, then baptism becomes absolutely meaningless. For have we been raised to newness of life, to walk with Christ... only in this life? Have we been baptized, ONLY TO DIE?
Various Thoughts Concerning Mormon "Baptism for the Dead":
1. The practice violates N.T. Scripture..'Such a practice would be false because it would undermine the notion of personal responsibility and personal trust. ( Joh_3:16 ; Rom_10:17 ; Act_2:40 ; Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ) Even in the matter of meat-eating ( Rom_14:23 ) one is not permitted to act on another's faith. How much less in the matter of submission to Christ as Lord? (And could you see anyone as lost if they were offered salvation in the after-life while they were enduring separation from God?)' (McGuiggan p. 197)
2. 'The Mormon practice, interestingly enough, is totally unknown to the book of Mormon ...The practice was brought into the Mormon movement through the writings of the Doctrine & Covenants...One of the original three witnesses in favor of the book of Mormon, David Whitmer, has written an address to "All Believers in the Bible and the Book of Mormon". In it he claims to have received revelation from God saying that Joseph Smith was led away by the Devil in introducing the D & C which brings in polygamy, celestial marriages, priesthood and baptism for the dead.' (McGuiggan p. 198)
3. 'Mormons try to make their practice more palatable to non-Mormons by suggesting that their baptism (for the dead) are for those who "have never heard the gospel". This elicits some sympathy. After all, "they didn't get a chance; is that fair?" This is all subterfuge . The records the Mormons keep (and they keep meticulous records) of those on whose behalf they have been baptized are not pagans in some far off land. They are their own people! ' (McGuiggan p. 198)
4. 'Chrysostom..describes such a practice among the Marcionites (a heretical sect). This is an especially strong argument against the Mormons, e.g., who would justify their practiced on alleged "biblical" grounds (which is of some interest in itself since the exegesis of the biblical text generally holds very little interest for them.' (Fee p. 764)
From the above statements, it appears that concerning some issues, the Book of Mormon also carries very little weight with them. Especially in light of the fact that Alma 34:32-35 says, 'For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God...For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil..and this is the FINAL STATE OF THE WICKED.'
1Co_15:30 Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?
'Why do we' -Paul and his companions.
'stand in jeopardy every hour? -'in danger every hour' (NASV); 'Why do I put my life to hazard every hour' (Con); 'Why also do we apostles take such risks every hour' (Wey) ( 1Co_4:9 ; 2Co_4:8-11 ; 2Co_11:23 ff)
'As he will detail on more than one occasion, his apostolic ministry was a constant round of hardship and danger of all kinds. The emphasis here is on its continual (="every hour") dangers..for which the next two verses serve as commentary. His point, of course, is that he is indeed crazy to put his life in constant jeopardy for the sake of others, if neither he nor they have hope in the resurrection.' (Fee p. 768)
'He was never out of danger from Damascus to the last visit to Rome.' (Robertson p. 193)
1Co_15:31 I protest by that glorifying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
'I protest' -'I swear by..Literally it reads "I swear by your boasting."' (Fee p. 769) 'I swear it' (TCNT); 'I swear it by my pride in your, my brothers--for in Christ Jesus our Lord I am proud of you.' (NEB) 'What a telling oath this is. To make sure that they understand the truth of his constant facing of death, he swears by that which is dearest to him, their own existence in Christ, which also came about by labors that had exposed him to such dangers. ' (Fee p. 770)
'which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord' -He is proud of his successful work among the Corinthians, and yet, he always realizes that God was the One who have the increase.
'I die daily' -'Death is his daily companion..He never knows at what moment some blow of persecution may strike him down.' (Lenski pp. 692-693) 'He looks death in the face every day..If his readiness to do so does not prove the objective validity of the resurrection hope, it certainly bears witness to his firm grasp of that hope.' (F.F. Bruce p. 149) 'On a daily basis I face the reality of death.' (Fee p. 769) ( Rom_8:36 )
Paul is saying that just as sure as he rejoices in them... he faces death on a daily basis to bring the gospel to them and others.
1Co_15:32 If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.
'after the manner of men' -'to use the popular expression' (Phi); 'If with only human hopes' (TCNT). 'If there were no future rewards, no blessed immortality, why, humanly speaking , had he "fought with beasts at Ephesus?"' (Erdman p. 162) 'As men ordinarily do, for temporal reward; and not under the influence of any higher principle or hope.' (Vincent p. 277)
Point to Note:
Paul is saying, if there is no resurrection, then that demands that I am motivated to risk my life by a purely human motive, i.e. money, fame, etc...The Corinthian's haven't realized that their denial of the resurrection makes Paul and the other Apostles look really bad. Their false doctrine makes it appear that Paul and his companions are teachers of false doctrine (15:15), it makes them look pitiful (15:19). In these verses it makes them look really stupid and not as smart as the rest of men. For if you are risking your present life and happiness for a future life that doesn't exist, you come out looking like a fool. Paul says, 'your teaching not only undermines everything we believe in, it makes me and the other apostles look like men motivated by some human ulterior motive.'
'I fought with beasts at Ephesus' -the question has always been is this literal or figurative?
Many commentators cite the fact that Paul's Roman citizenship would have exempted him from such punishment. 'But Paul was a Roman citizen..If he were cast to the lions unlawfully, he could have prevented it by claiming his citizenship.' (Robertson p. 193)
'No such (literal) experience is recorded in the list of his woes in 2Co_11:1-33 ; moreover it appears from Act_19:31-40 that Paul had friends in high quarters at Ephesus who would have prevented this outrage if attempted.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 932)
The reference is probably figurative, although it is tempting to imagine the Apostle Paul endowed with miraculous strength, fighting off lions and other wild animals in a Roman arena. While in Ephesus, Paul was challenged by men who behaved like wild beasts. ( Act_19:23 ff) He indicates at the end of this letter that things in Ephesus hadn't improved much. (16:8-9 ' ..there are many adversaries .') See also: 2Co_1:8-9 .
'what doth it profit me?' -'What do I gain' (RSV); 'what is the good of an ordeal like that if there is no life after this one' (Phi) 'Even such a feat (figurative or literal) would bring no advantage if the dead are not raised.' (F.F. Bruce p. 150)
'let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die' -'If there is no resurrection, then instead of "fighting wild beasts in Ephesus", one may as well go the route of despair--and dissolution-- and "eat and drink, for tomorrow we die...to be without hope in the resurrection life is a constant round of nothing.' (Fee p. 772)
Points to Note:
1. 'If death ends all, life has really little more to offer than eating and drinking, creature comforts like those of the brute.' (Lenski p. 698)
2. 'If...men persuade themselves that they shall die like beasts, they soon will live like beasts too.' (McGarvey p. 154)
Consider the last statement, and then ponder the fact that especially for the last 30 years our society has been indoctrinating it's children with the belief that we are just evolved forms of animal life. The problems seen in many adults, young adults and teenagers, are predictable behaviors considering what they have been taught.
1Co_15:33 Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.
'Be not deceived' -'Do not go on being deceived! Deception runs its course; do not be persuaded to enter on or to continue in this course.' (Lenski p. 698) (6:9)
'Evil companionships' -'Bad company' (NASV)
'corrupt good morals' -'ruins good habits' (Beck); 'ruins character' (Gspd).
Points to Note:
1. The 'bad company' in this verse, are those who are teaching error. (15:12)
'Conduct begins with teaching. Example is the strongest way to convey teaching but example is based on teaching. We sooner or later act out what we've come to believe .' (McGuiggan p. 199)
'One who rejects the resurrection cannot live and act like one who truly believes this divine reality.' (Lenski p. 699)
'At first, the false doctrine would appear to be an innocent theory about the dead; soon those who accepted it would reason, "Why deny myself of this fleshly pleasure since there is no resurrection anyway?"' (Willis p. 568)
2. This statement is also found in a secular work from the ancient world. 'The quotation "bad company ruins good morals" is an iambic trimeter from Menander's comedy Thais; it had probably become a proverbial saying.' (F.F. Bruce p. 150) This was the Greek equivalent to 1Co_5:6 '..a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.'
3. We have seen the above truth played out in many of the mainline denominations. Years ago many denominations began to swallow modernist views of the bible, i.e. the O.T. is myth, Jesus wasn't really born of a virgin, etc..Today, these same denominations are the religious bodies which are advocating that homosexuality and sex outside of marriage aren't sinful.
4. Many have made the mistake of thinking that they can convince people to live moral lives by using poetry, philosophy, cute and humorous stories or religious hype.
1Co_15:34 Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.
'Awake to soberness righteously' -'Become sober-minded as you ought' (NASV); 'Come to your senses' (Nor) 'It means to awake from a drunken stupor' (Vincent p. 279) 'Shake off, therefore, this drunken fit, and keep from those sins in which it has tempted you to indulge' (McGarvey p. 154)
'A startling call, to men fallen as if into a drunken sleep under the seductions of sensualism and heathen society and the fumes of intellectual pride ..' (Gr. Ex. N.T. 933)
Point to Note:
'It is the way of all rationalists and all skeptics to pose as clear-headed, sound, and sober thinkers and to charge true believers with blind acceptance of "dogmas" that are nothing but narcotics.' (Lenski p. 699)
'sin not' -'stop sinning' (Robertson p. 194) Which implies that this error had led some already into sin.
'for some have no knowledge of God' -
'It is possible that this is a word that points outward, to those outside their community who do not know God and, given the present theological delusion and behavioral aberrations of this Christian community, are not likely to . Nonetheless, in the present context this is almost certainly a word of irony, the ultimate "put down" of those responsible for taking this church down its present disastrous course...that those who deny the resurrection ultimately live in ignorance of God..' (Fee p. 774)
'Those who claimed to have superior knowledge which led them to deny the resurrection, might have had greater acquaintance with Greek philosophy. However, they lacked knowledge of God..' (Willis p. 568)
'I speak this to move you to shame' -'You should be ashamed that I have to write like this at all!' (Phi) 'The presence of these skeptics brings disgrace to the entire congregation, and the congregation ought to realize this and to purge itself.' (Lenski p. 701)
'We are often told that errorists are just as "good" (morally) as those who believe and confess God's truth, perhaps even "better"; but Paul does not agree...Doctrine is never an indifferent thing..it always works itself out in life.' (Lenski p. 701)
ANSWERING OBJECTIONS CONCERNING THE RESURRECTION BODY:
1Co_15:35 But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come?
'How are the dead raised?' -'may not deal with the mechanics of the resurrection..That's possible but it's more likely that the last half of the verse explains what the first part has in mind. If they'd been asking by what power, the quick answer would have been, God's! That's not the answer.' (McGuiggan p. 200)
'and with what manner of body do they come?' -Apparently some in Corinth could only see man having one type of body, i.e. a physical body. Some thought the doctrine of the resurrection was ridiculous, because they imagined that such a doctrine taught that decayed corpses would come forth from the grave (i.e. kind of a religious "night of the living dead")
'The body falls apart, it decomposes. Can you see that coming out of the tomb? Someone sniggers.' (McGuiggan p. 200)
Point to Note:
We still face such questions, even among Christians today. 'How is God going to resurrect someone that has been eaten by wild animals, cremated, buried at sea...'
'They wondered how God could restore a body which returned to the dust, passed thence into vegetation, and hence into the bodies of animals and other men.' (McGarvey p. 155)
1Co_15:36 Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die:
'Thou foolish one' -'Skeptics (agnostics) pose as unusually intellectual..but pose does not make one intelligent.' (Robertson p. 195)
'Not only was the spirit bad, the reasoning was terrible.' (McGuiggan p. 200)
'Does this man try to make a joke of the resurrection and to turn the laugh upon simple believers by stating that the dead body will be patched together again from the dust, once more to begin its round of life in eating and drinking... What a fool to think of the resurrection in so pitiful a way! ' (Lenski p. 703)
'The implication is not simply that such questions suggest one to have taken leave of his senses, but that one stands as the "fool" in the OT sense-- as the person who has failed to take God into account.' (Fee p. 780)
In light of this statement by Paul, what would God call someone that expressed disbelief in the virgin birth of Christ, or that God created the Universe in six days? Or that the flood of Noah couldn't have been universal? Or that Jonah couldn't have been swallowed and or survived in the belly of the sea monster?
'quickened' -2227. zoopoieo dzo-op-oy-eh'-o; from the same as 2226 and 4160; to (re-)vitalize (literally or figuratively): -make alive, give life, quicken.
'that which thou thyself sowest' -'You hold the answer in your own hands.' (Fee p. 780) 'In your own experience you know that a seed does not germinate without itself dying.' (Phi)
Some of the Corinthians were under the impression that the resurrected body just had to be made of the same stuff as the body that was buried.
1Co_15:37 and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind;
'thou sowest not the body that shall be' -'Paul calls the man who thus puzzles himself a foolish one, because he denies that the all-powerful God can do with a human body that which he himself practically does annually with the bodies (grains) of wheat, etc., by merely availing himself of the common course of nature.' (Mcgarvey p. 155)
1Co_15:38 but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own.
Points to Note:
1. Some of the very ones who were denying the resurrection, were farmers, who saw a resurrection very spring. Just because they planted a seed into the ground, didn't demand that the plant which sprang up had to look exactly like the seed planted. They didn't believe that decomposed seeds sprang up from buried seeds. Every year they witnessed that beautiful plants had sprung up from decomposed and buried seeds.
Therefore it is foolish to think that the resurrected body must be the old decomposed body "patched" up.
2. Even though there is no "vestige of its afterlife visible in the seed itself" (Fee p. 781); it still has one (i.e. the plant that springs from it). Likewise, the human body appears to be weak and mortal, and yet it does have a glorious future.
'even as it pleased him' -'That is why the interlocutor is called a fool in v. 36; such a question has left God out of account. God does as he pleases; and what pleases him is to "transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like Christ's glorious body." ( Php_3:21 )' (Fee p. 782)
Point to Note:
Paul didn't believe in the theory of evolution or even "theistic evolution". The type of body for each and every plant was determined by God. 'Paul knows of no blind chance development of nature similar to ideas advanced in the godless theory of evolution. Rather, the very body which comes from the various seeds is fixed and determined by God.' (Willis p. 573) ( Gen_1:12 )
'But even supposing the body comes up out of the grave in a healthy (and not a decomposed) condition, it's bound to die again . And are there to be numerous resurrections since every time the body comes back up its is destined to die again. But there is no body here except in the limitations of the critic's mind. There's more than one kind of body...God isn't lacking in the ability to create different kinds of bodies depending on differing sets of circumstances and different purposes .' (McGuiggan p. 200)
1Co_15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes.
The same ingenuity that God has manifested in the plant realm (15:38); it also demonstrated in the animal kingdom. God has designed "bodies" to live in water, to fly, to survive in environments will little water, with extreme heat and with extreme cold.
'All flesh is not the same flesh' -indicating that God can make bodies out of different "stuff". He is not limited to just one kind of "flesh", even in the physical realm. Therefore, how then can we limit Him in the spiritual realm?
1Co_15:40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
'celestial bodies' -2032. epouranios ep-oo-ran'-ee-os; from 1909 and 3772; above the sky: -celestial, (in) heaven(-ly), high.
'terrestrial' -1919. epigeios ep-ig'-i-os; from 1909 and 1093; worldly (physically or morally): -earthly, in earth, terrestrial.
The "celestial bodies" apparently are those mentioned in the next verse, i.e. the sun, moon and the stars. The "terrestrial" bodies are any bodies found upon the earth, including man and the animals, those bodies mentioned in the previous verses.
'glory' -'splendor'; 'beauty'. 'Brightness, splendor, radiance' (Willis p. 575)
1Co_15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory.
'for one star differeth from another star in glory' -'in brightness' (NEB); 'in brilliancy' (Ber). 'Stars differ in magnitude and brilliancy. The telescope has added more force to Paul's argument.' (Robertson p. 196)
Paul's point is that seeing that God can produce so many differing bodies, which also differ in splendor. And that this truth is evident in the entire created universe, we cannot argue that God can't give anymore glory to the body that we now inhabit.
'Just as differing glory can be seen in the heavens..so God can produce differing degrees of glory in man's body.' (McGuiggan p. 201)
'Experience cannot teach that there is a type of life for which no suitable body can be found.' (Willis pp. 575-576)
'In this part of the argument Paul is correcting a cardinal error in Greek thought. They stumbled at the doctrine of a resurrection, because they regarded the body as a clog to the soul; and so the body might indeed be, if God could form but one kind of body . But he can form celestial as well as terrestrial bodies, and spiritual bodies adapted to the needs of the spirit, which will not hinder it as does this earthly tabernacle which it now inhabits--bodies which will not only prove no disadvantage, but of infinite assistance..' (McGarvey p. 156)
Point to Note:
The above argument started my mind thinking. You can't argue against God or biblical truth by using the creation. Since God created this universe, correct facts about this physical creation will always side with God. The Christian has nothing to fear from true science.
1Co_15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
'So also is the resurrection of the dead' -'We who see all of this variety in the creatures which God called into being and placed before our eyes ought to have no difficultly as to the form and the character of the bodies which God will bring forth from the graves at the resurrection.' (Lenski pp. 710-11)
'It is sown' -'is a fitting word to refer to a burial'. (Willis p. 576) Just like the seed mentioned in 15:36.
'in corruption' -'decomposition' (Ber); 'a perishable body' (NASV); 'When the body is sown, it decays' (Beck). The body that is placed in the grave decays, just like the seed that is placed in the earth.
'it is raised in incorruption' -'free from decay' (Gspd); 'an imperishable body' (NASV).
'Not raised corrupt and then made incorrupt but raised incorruptible' (McGuiggan p. 202)
1Co_15:43 it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
'sown in dishonor' -'buried because it is repulsive and will become offensive- Joh_11:39 ' (McGarvey p. 157) 'We, indeed, try to honor the dead whom we bury by clothing them in their best, giving them a fine casket, flowers, our attending presence, etc...Yet the body itself is enveloped "in dishonor"--we soon hurry it from sight.' (Lenski p. 712)
'it is raised in glory' -( Php_3:21 )
'sown in weakness' -'Lack of strength as shown in the victory of death' (Robertson p. 196) 'The dead body is altogether without power...It cannot even resist being buried, muchless the process of decay.' (Willis p. 577)
'raised in power' -A body that death cannot conquer. A body fashioned and raised by the power of God. ( Rom_8:11 )
1Co_15:44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
'natural body' -'A natural body tells you where it is made for . It is suited for life here..Neither of these two adjectives ("natural", "spiritual") tell us of the substantial nature of the body. They don't tell us what the "stuff" of the body consists of.' (McGuiggan p. 202)
'spiritual body' -a body adapted and geared for a spiritual existence.
'If there is..' -'As surely as there is..' (TCNT) Our resurrected body, is just as certain as the bodies that we now inhabit.
ADAM AND CHRIST COMPARED AGAIN:
The connection of this parallel with the previous verse, is that 15:45-49 is offered as proof of the assertion found in 15:44, 'If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.' Paul now proceeds to prove that last statement.
1Co_15:45 So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
'So also it is written' - Gen_2:7
'The first man Adam' -Paul doesn't hold the view that a pre-Adamitic race of men lived on the earth and were destroyed prior to Adam. Paul did believe that Adam and Eve were actual historical persons. ( 1Ti_2:13-15 )
'became a living soul' -'became a human being' (TCNT). The reference in Gen_2:7 is describing the formation of Adam's physical body. The passage that points out that Adam also had a soul or spirit is 1:26-27.
'The last Adam' -Christ
'a life-giving spirit' -'We receive a ("living-soul") body fitted for life in this world from Adam; we receive a ("life-giving spirit" ( a body fitted for life in the world to come) from Christ.' (Willis p. 579) ( 1Co_15:22 )
1Co_15:46 Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual.
'Any ideas which speculate that the spirit of man existed prior to his body must come to grips with this verse. This verse clearly teaches that the first existence of man is his physical existence.' (Willis p. 580)
1Co_15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven.
'is of the earth' -'Man the first is from the earth, material' (Mof). Adam's body originated from the dust. ( Gen_2:7 ; Ecc_12:7 )
'earthy' -5517. choikos kho-ik-os'; from 5522; dusty or dirty (soil-like), i.e. (by implication) terrene: -earthy.
'is of heaven' -'an uncreated person..Because He is from heaven, He has a body adapted for existence there.' (Willis p. 581) ( Joh_1:1 ; Joh_14:1-31 ; Php_3:21 ; 1Jn_3:1-2 )
1Co_15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
1Co_15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
'borne the image of the earthy' -'and as we have reflected the likeness of him who was made of dust' (Wms)
'we shall also bear the image of the heavenly' -i.e. we shall be resurrected in a body "like" the one that Christ possesses. ( Php_3:21 ; 1Jn_3:1-2 )
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LIVING WHEN CHRIST COMES?
1Co_15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Paul now consider's another possible objection to the resurrection, 'What will happen to those who are alive when Christ comes?' 'How can they be resurrected, seeing that they aren't dead yet?'
'Now this I say, brethren' -a transition in thought.
'flesh and blood' -'an earthly body made of flesh and blood cannot get into God's kingdom' (Tay) 'Our earthly (natural) bodies are not suited for eternal life.' (Willis p. 584) 'mean this mortal body, and may denote the living rather than the dead.' (F.F. Bruce p. 153)
'the kingdom of God' -the heavenly kingdom. (6:9; 2Pe_1:11 )
'corruption' -5356. phthora fthor-ah'; from 5351; decay, i.e. ruin (spontaneous or inflicted, literally or figuratively): -corruption, destroy, perish. This is the "real nature" of flesh and blood, i.e. that which is prone to decay and death.
'incorruption' -this refers to the kingdom of God. The real nature of heaven, eternal life is "incorruption". ( 1Pe_1:4 )
Point to Note:
Therefore heaven, eternal life will never become old or ordinary. Heaven will never lose it's lustre, it will never become routine or boring. Neither will the kingdom of God eventually disintegrate or break down.
1Co_15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed,
'I tell you a mystery' -'Listen, I will tell you God's hidden purpose!' (TCNT) The word 'mystery' doesn't refer to something that is incomprehensible (what's the use of telling someone something they can't understand?). Rather it refers to truth, which has remained unrevealed in the past. ( 1Co_2:7-13 ; Eph_3:3-6 )
'We all shall not sleep' -'not all of us are to die' (Mof) This earth will contain living Christians when Jesus comes again. ( 1Th_4:15-17 )
'Some understood Paul to make an affirmation that "we" (including himself and some of the Corinthians) would not all die...Paul was exactly in the same position as any other Christian. He knew that the Lord was coming again but did not know when ( 1Th_5:1-3 ). When, therefore, he speaks of what will happen to the living at the time of Christ's second coming, he included himself just as the rest of us do so frequently..' (Willis p. 586)
Point to Note:
Inspired Apostles discussed the Second Coming of Christ. And yet in all their discussion's dates were never given. ( 1Th_4:13 ff; 2Pe_3:4 ff) It's amazing then that modern religious groups have set dates. Therefore, anyone that has or will set a date for the Second Coming is claiming that they have access to "better" information than the Apostles did.
'but we shall all be changed' -'shall be made other..altered.' (Lenski p. 737) Obviously, changed into a state other than "flesh and blood".
1Co_15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
'in a moment' -'something that cannot be cut or divided' (Lenski p. 738) 'an indivisible fragment of time' (F.F. Bruce p. 155)
'twinkling of an eye' -'The change will be as instantaneous as the moving of an eyelid.' (Erdman p. 167) 'The split-second speed of the transformation' (F.F. Bruce p. 155)
Point to Note:
This would indicate that Mat_24:1-51 , especially verses 3-34 cannot refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For in those verses Christians are commanded to flee (24:16). In this chapter there is no time to flee. Which also infers, that the wicked will have no time to repent. ( 1Th_5:1-3 )
This verse also offers reveals that God can destroy the earth, and transform ALL THE DEAD, in a split second. Now if God can bring the whole created universe to an end IN A SPLIT SECOND, then certainly He could have created it in six days.
'at the last trump' -'This tells us when the change will occur' (Willis p. 586) 'It is the last trumpet not because it is the final in a series, but because it signals the End.' (Fee p. 802) ( 1Th_4:16 )
'and we shall be changed' - ( 1Th_4:16-17 )
1Co_15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
'this corruptible' -this body composed of "flesh and blood" (15:50).
'incorruption' -a body that cannot decay.
'this mortal' -2349. thnetos thnay-tos'; from 2348; liable to die: -mortal(-ity). This physical body that is prone to die.
'immortality' -110. athanasia ath-an-as-ee'-ah; from a compound of 1 (as a negative particle) and 2288; deathlessness: -immortality. A body that can never die.
'Incorruption and immortality is not predicated of the "soul", here, but of the body. And that truth is what most of the Greeks needed to hear. And it needs to be iterated today. The Bible does not teach redemption from the body (a view which is central to reincarnation and most Eastern religions), but the redemption of the body. ( Rom_8:23 )' (McGuiggan p. 204)
The body that Christians will be clothed with will be a body free from death, decay, and deterioration.
1Co_15:54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
'then shall come to pass the saying that is written' -'And it's at the time when this corruptible body is transformed...that Hos_13:14 finds fulfillment with a vengeance' (McGuiggan p. 205)
'Death is swallowed up in victory' -( Isa_25:8 ) 'the figure in "swallow up" is drastic and expresses complete destruction.' (Lenski p. 744) 'And death shall be no more' ( Rev_21:4 ) See also Rev_20:14 .
'The one who has swallowed up the human race, as being himself swallowed up in victory.' (McGarvey p. 159)
1Co_15:55 O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?
'O death, where is thy victory?' -( Hos_13:14 ) 'And then the taunting song begins. A song which righteous people have wanted to sing for a thousand generations...No more black limousines. No lines of mourners. No weeping pall-bearers. No stifled sobs. No heart-breaking goodbyes. No colorless cheeks..No death!' (McGuiggan p. 204)
'O death, where is thy sting?' -'For where now, O death, is your power to hurt us' (Phi)
1Co_15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law:
'The sting of death is sin' -'It is sin which gives death its sting' (Phi) 'Death is the punishment for sin' ( Gen_3:19 ).
'Paul's point..is that death is not simply the result of decay through normal human processes. Rather, it is the result of the deadly poison, sin itself..' (Fee p. 806)
'the power of sin is the law' -( 1Jn_3:4 ; Rom_4:15 ). 'And the law which was used by sin to kill us' ( Rom_7:8 ; Rom_7:13 )' (McGuiggan p. 204)
1Co_15:57 but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
'but thanks be to God' -and when was the last time you thanked God for this?
'And while sin was powerful and death was universal, the Lord God was on our side!....We weren't left alone to wrestle with what turned out to be too powerful for us. We were "given" the victory, we didn't earn it!' (McGuiggan p. 205)
Jesus Christ made atonement for sin ( Joh_1:29 ; Joh_3:16 ; Heb_7:27 ); He removed us from the curse of the Law of Moses ( Col_2:14 ; Col_2:16 ); He also removed us from a system of "Law Justification" ( Rom_8:1-4 ); and in His resurrection He defeated the power of death. ( Heb_2:14-18 ; Rev_1:18 ) 'Wonderful threefold victory!' (McGarvey p. 159)
1Co_15:58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.
'Wherefore' -the conclusion.
'be ye stedfast' -1476. hedraios hed-rah'-yos; from a derivative of hezomai (to sit); sedentary, i.e. (by implication) immovable: -settled, stedfast.
-'continue to be firm, incapable of being moved' (Wms); 'hold your ground' (Mof); 'Stand firm...and let nothing move you' (Beck) 'Keep on becoming stedfast, unshaken. Let the skeptics howl and rage.' (Robertson p. 199) From the context, stedfast and unmoveable in the gospel which Paul preached to them. (15:1-4)
'unmoveable' -'Be not shifted from your position' (Lenski p. 753) ( Eph_4:14 ) An open mind is only useful, if it is open to truth. ( Col_1:23 ; 2Th_2:10-12 )
'always abounding in the work of the Lord' -'work for the Lord always, work without limit' (NEB) ' What a word for the thousands who work, pray, give, suffer AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE!' (Lenski p. 754)
'The attitude of doing as little as we can get by with doing is foreign to the spirit of Christianity. We are to have this attitude ALWAYS and not (just) for a few weeks after we are baptized' (Willis p. 592)
'forasmuch as ye know' -do you "know" this? Here is the motive for such diligence.
'that your labor is not vain in the Lord' -'because you know that your labor in the service of the Lord is never thrown away' (Wms); 'you know that NOTHING you do for the Lord IS EVER WASTED..'(Tay)
Since death ends nothing for the Christian, since Jesus was victorious over death, what we do in this life for God MEANS EVERYTHING! No we are not men to be pitied, WE ARE PEOPLE WITH AN ETERNAL PURPOSE!
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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16