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1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
Ver. 1. And wherein ye stand ] εστηκατε , a military term, as Martyr noteth. Satan overthroweth the faith of some, 2 Timothy 2:18 , and by this very engine wherewith he assaulted these Corinthians, ibid. So that the apostle was fain to make apology, 1 Corinthians 15:19 , to make a barricado.
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
Ver. 2. By which also ye are saved ] Eternal life is potentially in the word, as the harvest is potentially in the seed, or as the tree is in the kernel or scion,James 1:21; James 1:21 .
If ye keep in memory ] He limiteth the promise of salvation to the condition of keeping in memory what they had heard. Tantum didicimus, quantum meminimus, said Socrates; many have memories like nets, that let go the fair water, retain the filth only; or like sieves, that keep the chaff, let go the corn. If God come to search them with a candle, what shall he find but old songs, old wrongs, &c.? not a promise of any word of God hidden there: for things of that nature they are like Sabinus in Seneca, that never in all his life could remember those three names of Homer, Ulysses, and Achilles. But the soul should be as a holy ark, the memory like the pot of manna, preserving holy truths.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
Ver. 3. First of all ] Christ is to be preached with the first, as being the prora et puppis of man’s happiness, John 16:14 . It is the office of the Holy Ghost to take of Christ’s excellencies, and hold them out to the world. What then should ministers, the mouth of the Holy Ghost, do rather?
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Ver. 4. According to the Scriptures ] Which both foreshowed and foreshadowed it in Adam’s waking, Isaac’s reviving, as it were from the dead, Joseph’s abasement and advancement, Samson’s breaking the bars and bearing away the gates of Gaza, David’s being drawn out of the deep, Daniel’s out of the den, Jeremiah’s out of the dungeon, Jonah’s out of the belly of hell, Matthew 12:39 , &c.
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
Ver. 5. Seen of Cephas ] Adam died, and we hear no more of him. But Christ showed himself after death in six several apparitions for our confirmation.
Then of the twelve ] So they are called for the rotundity of the number, utcunque unus vel alter vel deesset eel abesset. Judas had made one long letter of himself, Longam literam fecit.
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
Ver. 6. Above five hundred ] The number of believers were then greater than some would gather out of Acts 1:15 . Those 120 may seem to have been chieftains, such as that any one of them might have been thought meet to succeed Judas in his apostleship.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
Ver. 7. Seen of James ] This is not mentioned in the Gospel, as neither that of Peter, 1 Corinthians 15:5 .
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
Ver. 8. One born out of due time ] Quasi malo astro abortus, et adversante natura coactus. One that deserved to be rejected, as that forlorn infant, Ezekiel 16:4-26.16.5 .
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.
Ver. 9. I am the least of the apostles ] Not come to my just size, as one born out of due time, and not without violence. Paulus quasi Paululus, saith one, because he was least in his own eyes, "less than the least of all saints," Ephesians 3:8 . Melancthon was of a like self-denying spirit, insomuch as Luther thought he went too far this way; Certe nimis nullus in hae est Philippus, Philip is too low conceited.
Not meet to be called ] True humility, as true balm, ever sinks to the bottom of the water, when pride, like oil, ever swims on the top.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Ver. 10. I laboured more abundantly ] See 2 Corinthians 11:23 ; Romans 15:19 . George Eagles, martyr in Queen Mary’s days, for his great pains in travelling from place to place to confirm the brethren, was surnamed, Trudge over the world. Might not St Paul have been fitly so surnamed?
Not I, but the grace of God ] So those good servants, Luke 19:16 , Not we, but thy talents have gained other five, and other two, &c. Let God have the entire praise of all our good. We should boast and glory of nothing, because nothing is ours, saith holy Austin, who (being wholly of St Paul’s spirit) was a great advancer of the grace of God, and abaser of man against ‘all those patrons of nature with their vitreum acumen, bright but brittle sharpness of wit, as he styleth it.
Which was with me ] Present with me, not which did work with me, as the Synergists would have it.
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
Ver. 11. So we preach, and so ye believed ] A happy compliance, when the hearers’ affections and endeavours do answer the affections and endeavours of the preacher, as here, and at Ephesus, Acts 20:31-44.20.37 ; when people deliver themselves up to the form of doctrine, and are cast into the mould of the word, Romans 6:17 .
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
Ver. 12. No resurrection ] More than that of regeneration, Matthew 19:28 , that estate of the gospel called a new heaven and a new earth, 2 Peter 3:13 , the world to come, Hebrews 2:5 , that resurrection already past, 2 Timothy 2:18 , that first resurrection, Revelation 20:5 .
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
Ver. 13. Then is not Christ risen ] But of Christ’s resurrection there were many both living and dead witnesses, as the earthquake, empty grave, stone rolled away, clothes wrapt up, &c.
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Ver. 14. Then is our preaching vain ] Never was there any imposture put upon the world as Christianity, if Christ be yet in the grave.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
Ver. 15. False witnesses of God ] For they might safely say with Jeremiah, Lord, if we be deceived, thou hast deceived us.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
Ver. 16. Then is not Christ raised ] And so God’s decree is cassated, Acts 13:33 ; cf. Psalms 50:7 .
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
Ver. 17. Ye are yet in your sins ] Romans 4:25 . If he had not been let out of prison, our debt had remained upon us. But God sent his angel to roll away the stone, as the judge sends an officer to fetch one out of prison, and to release him. And this is the strength of our Saviour’s reason, John 16:10 . The Spirit shall convince the world of righteousness (that I am Jehovah their righteousness), because I go to the Father, which I could not have done, unless you were acquitted of all your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
Ver. 18. Asleep in Christ ] The Germans call the churchyard God’s Acre, because the bodies are sowed therein, to be raised again. The Greeks call them κοιμητηρια , sleeping houses. The Hebrews call the grave Becbajim, the house of the living, Job calls it the congregation house of all living, Job 30:23 . As the apostle calls heaven the congregation house of the firstborn, Hebrews 12:23 .
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Ver. 19. Most miserable ] Because none out of hell ever suffered more than the saints have done.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Ver. 20. The firstfruits, &c. ] As in the firstfruits offered to God, the Jews were assured of God’s blessing on the whole harvest; so by the resurrection of Christ, our resurrection is insured.
Christ is risen ] This was wont to be the form of salutation among Christians of old, Christus resurrexit, Christ is risen from the dead.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
Ver. 21. By man came also, &c. ] God’s justice would be satisfied in the same nature that had sinned.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Ver. 22. Shall all be made alive ] The saints shall be raised by virtue of the union with Christ to glory, the wicked shall be dragged to his tribunal by his Almighty power as a judge, to be tumbled thence into hell’s torment.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Ver. 23. At his coming ] As in the meantime their very dust is precious; the dead bodies consumed are not so destroyed, but that there is a substance preserved by a secret influence proceeding from Christ as a head. Hence they are said to be dead in Christ, who by rotting refineth them.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
Ver. 24. Delivered up the kingdom ] Not his essential kingdom, as God, by his economical, as Mediator.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
Ver. 25. Till he hath put ] And after too, but, 1. Without adversaries; 2. Without any outward means and ordinances.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Ver. 26. That shall be destroyed ] It is already to the saints swallowed up in victory, so that they may say to it, as Jacob did to Esau, "Surely I have seen thy face as the face of God." This Esau, death, meets a member of Christ with kisses instead of frowns, and guards him home, as he did Jacob to his father’s house.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
Ver. 27. All things under his feet ] This,Psalms 8:7-19.8.8; Psalms 8:7-19.8.8 , spoken of man in general, is properly applied to the man Christ Jesus; in whom also it extendeth to the saints, who are therefore more glorious than heaven, earth, or any creature, and shall have power over all, Revelation 2:26 . (Cameron. de Eccles.)
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Ver. 28. That God may be all in all ] Till sin and death be abolished we have no access to God but by Christ. But after that all enemies be trod under foot, then shall we have an immediate union with God; yet so, as that this shall be the proper and everlasting praise of Christ, as he is the procurer of that union.
29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
Ver. 29. Which are baptized ] The several senses that are set upon this text, see in Beza, Piscator, but especially our new annotations upon the Bible.
30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
Ver. 30. In jeopardy every hour ] Carrying our lives in our hands, as both the Hebrews and Greeks phrase it, εν τη χειρι την ψυχην εχειν . (Athenseus.)
31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Ver. 31. By our rejoicing ] i.e. By our infirmities, afflictions, wherein he so much glorieth, 2Co 11:23-33 ; 2 Corinthians 12:1-47.12.10 , as an old soldier doth of his scars. As if the apostle should say, I appeal to all those miseries that I have suffered among you for a testimony.
32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Ver. 32. If after the manner, &c. ] Paul fought with beasts at Ephesus after the manner of men, that is, say some, the men of Ephesus fought with him after the manner of beasts. (Beza, Sclater.) Others more probably understand it literally; If after the manner of men, that is, as men use to do, to show their valour (he meaneth those Bestiarii fighters with wild beasts at shows among the Romans), I have been cast to the beasts, and have either overcome them, as Lysimachus did the lion, or have been spared by them, as corpora sanctorum martyrum tangere multoties refugiebant bestiae, saith the historian, what advantageth it me, &c. And this latter sense is a stronger argument of the resurrection. (Chrysost. Ambros.)
Let us eat and drink ] An ill inference of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth. Chrysostom saith, There were a sort of such in his time, as said δος μοι την σημερον και λαβε την αυριον , Give me today, and take thou tomorrow ( την αυριον τις οιδεν . Anacreon.) And have not we those that say, Let us be merry while we may, we shall never be younger, Ede, bibe, lude, post mortem nulla voluptas, Eat, drink and play, there is no pleasure after death, it was wisely done of the Romans to banish Alaecus and Philiscus, a couple of swinish epicures, lest they should by their evil communication and conversation corrupt others. St Paul, though he allegeth this saying out of Isaiah 22:13 , yet he alludeth (likely) to Sardanapalus’s epitaph at Tarsus, a city built by this Sardanapalus, Εσθιε, πινε, παιζε, ως της αλλα τουτου ουκ αξια , Ede, bibe, lude; nam caetera omnia nec huius sunt; Eat, drink, sport; for all other things are not worth a fillip: for so his statue was carved as if his hands had given a fillip, and his mouth had spoken these words. (Greg. Posthum.)
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Ver. 33. Evil communication ] Evil words are not wind, as most imagine, but the devil’s drivel, that leaves a foul stain upon the speaker, and often sets the like upon the hearer. Shun obscene borborology (filthy talk) (saith one) and unsavoury speeches; thou losest so much of thine honesty and piety as thou admittest evil into thy tongue.
34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Ver. 34. Awake to righteousness ] Go forth and shake yourselves (as Samson did) out of that dead lethargy whereinto sin hath cast you; your enemies are upon you, and you fast asleep the while.
I speak this to your shame ] Ignorance is a blushful sin. Are ye also ignorant? said Christ to his apostles; q.d. that is an arrant shame, indeed. The Scripture sets such below the ox and the ass.
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
Ver. 35. But some man will say ] Some epicure will object, and say, How can these things be? A privatione ad habitum non datur regressus. See Trapp on " Act 17:18 "
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
Ver. 36. Thou fool ] A hard knot must have a hard wedge, a dead heart a rousing reproof. He confutes atheists from the course of nature, which they ascribe so much unto.
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain :
Ver. 37. And that which thou sowest ] This is an answer to the epicure’s second demand, 1 Corinthians 15:35 , with what body do they come? with a dead, diseased, rotten body, &c.? No, no, saith the apostle. Sin is only rotted with its concomitancies, infirmities; but the rotting of the body is but as the rotting of a kernal under the clod, that it may arise incorruptible. Or as the melting of an old piece of plate in the fire, to bring it out of a better fashion. Christ was buried in a garden, to note that death doth not destroy our bodies, but only sow them: the dew of herbs will revive them again. See Trapp on " 1Co 15:18 "
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
Ver. 38. But God giveth it a body ] Deus naturae vires et vices ita moderatur, &c., saith one. God so orders all, that nothing is done without him. The same Hebrew word מליוה that signifieth an ear of grain, doth also signify a word; because every field of grain is a book of God’s praise, every land a sheaf, every sheaf a verse, every ear a word, every corn of wheat a letter to express the power and goodness of God.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
Ver. 39. All flesh is not the same ] This is another answer to the epicure, who might haply reply, and say, If man’s flesh, when rotted, shall revive, why not likewise the flesh of other creatures? The apostle answereth, "All flesh is not the same," &c. Man’s flesh only is informed by a reasonable and immortal soul, not so the flesh of other creatures: and hence the difference.
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.
Ver. 40. There are also celestial ] Stars and spirits (the inhabitants of that other heaven) I find, saith a divine, like one another. Meteors and fowls in as many varieties as there are several creatures. Why? Is it because man, for whose sake they were made, delights in variety, God in constancy? Or is it because that in these God may show his own skill and their imperfection?
The glory of the terrestrial ] The glory of our terrestrial bodies shall at the resurrection be celestial; they shall be more like spirits than bodies, so clear and transparent, saith Aquinas, that all the veins, humours, nerves, and bowels shall be seen, as in a glass: they shall be conformed to the glorified body of Christ, as to the standard.
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.
Ver. 41. One star differeth, &c. ] The morning star is said to cast a shadow with its shine. "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the seven stars?" Job 38:31 , whose work is to bring the spring, and which, like seven sisters or lovers (as the word signifies), are joined together in one fair constellation. Or "loose the bands of Orion?" the star that brings winter, and binds the earth with frost and cold. "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth," the southern constellations? "Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons," that is, the northern stars, those storehouses of God’s good treasure, which he openeth to our profit? Deuteronomy 28:12 .
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
Ver. 42. So also is the resurrection ] Whether there are degrees of glory, as it seems probable, so we shall certainly know, when we come to heaven. Three glimpses of the body’s glory were seen, in Moses’ face, in Christ’s transfiguration, and in Stephen’s countenance.
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
Ver. 43. It is raised in power ] The resurrection will cure all infirmities. At Stratford-le-Bow were burned in Queen Mary’s days, at one stake, a lame man and a blind man. The lame man after he was chained, casting away his crutch, bade the blind man be of good comfort, for death would heal them both; and so they patiently suffered.
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
Ver. 44. A spiritual body ] Luther saith the body shall move up and down like thought. Augustine saith, they shall move to any place they will, as soon as they will. As birds (saith Zanchius) being hatched, do fly lightly up into the skies, which being eggs, were a heavy and slimy matter; so man, being hatched by the resurrection, is made pure and nimble, and able to mount up into the heavens.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Ver. 45. A quickening spirit ] Christ is called a spirit from his Deity, as Hebrews 9:14 , and a quickening spirit, because he is the principle of life to all believers.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
Ver. 46. And afterward, that is spiritual ] Nature, art, grace, proceed from less perfect or more perfect. Let us advance forward, and ripen apace, that we "may be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead," Luke 20:35 .
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
Ver. 47. Of the earth, earthy ] Gr. dusty, slimy, ex terra friabili. Let this pull down proud flesh. Let us throw this proud Jezebel out of the windows of our hearts, and lay her honour in the dust, by remembering that we are but earth and dust. Adam of Adamah, red earth; homo ab humo. Humility comes from the same root, because it lays a man flat on the ground; and because, like the earth, it is the most weighty of all virtues.
The Lord from heaven ] Not for the matter of his body, for he was "made of a woman;" but for the original and dignity of his person, whereof see a lively and lofty description,Hebrews 1:2-58.1.3; Hebrews 1:2-58.1.3 .
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
Ver. 48. They that are earthy ] κερυμος ο ανθρωπος , Vulgus fictilis. Man is but an earthen pot, Isaiah 64:8 .
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Ver. 49. The image of the heavenly ] SeePhilippians 3:21; Philippians 3:21 . Our bodies shall be fashioned like to Christ’s glorious body in beauty, brightness, incorruption, immortality, grace, favour, agility, strength, and other unspeakable qualities and excellencies. Whether they shall have that power as to toss the greatest mountains like a ball, yea, to shake the whole earth at their pleasure, as Anselm and Luther think, I have not to say.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Ver. 50. Flesh and blood ] The body as it is corruptible, cannot enter heaven, but must be changed; we shall appear with him in glory. The vile body of Moses, that was hidden in the valley of Moab, was brought forth glorious in the hill of Tabor, Matthew 17:3 .
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
Ver. 51. I show you a mystery ] Not known till now to any man living. This, likely, was one of those wordless words, ρηματα αρρητα , that Paul heard in his rapture, 2 Corinthians 12:4 .
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.
Ver. 52. The trumpet shall sound ] As at the giving of the law it did, Exodus 19:16 . If the law were thus given (saith a divine), how shall it be required? If such were the proclamation of God’s statutes, what shall the sessions be? I see and tremble at the resemblance; the trumpet of the angel called to the one; the trumpet of the archangel shall summon us to the other. In the one the mount only was on a flame; all the world shall be so in the other. To the one Moses says, God came with ten thousands of his saints; in the other thousand thousands shall minister to him, and ten thousand thousands shall stand before him.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Ver. 53. For this corruptible ] Pointing to his body, he speaketh, as Psalms 34:6 ; "This poor man cried, the Lord heard him." So the old believers, when they rehearsed the creed, and came to that article, I believe the resurrection of the flesh, they were wont to add, Etiam huius carnis, even of this self-same flesh. So Job 19:27 .
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Ver. 54. Death is swallowed up ] As the fuel is swallowed up by the fire; as the sorcerers’ serpents were swallowed up by Moses’ serpent.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Ver. 55. Death, where is thy sting? ] This is the sharpest and the shrillest note, the boldest and the bravest challenge, that ever man rang in the ears of death. Sarcasmo constat et hostili derisione, qua mors ridenda propinatur, saith one. Death is here out-braved, called craven to his face, and bidden do his worst ( Tollitur mors, non ne fiat, sed ne obsit. Aug.). Death destroy, let it not happen but let it not hurt. So Simeon sings out his soul, Hilarion chides it out, Ambrose is bold to say, I am neither ashamed to live, nor afraid to die. Anne Askew, the martyr, thus subscribeth her own confession: Written by me, Anne Askew, that neither wisheth for death, nor feareth his might; and as merry as one that is bound towards heaven. Mr Bradford being told he should be burned the next day, put off his cap, and lifting up his eyes, praised God for it.
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
Ver. 56. The sting of death is sin ] Christ having unstinged death, and as it were disarmed it, we may safely now put it into our bosoms, as we may a snake whose sting is pulled out. If it shoot forth now a sting at us, it is but an enchanted sting, as was that of the sorcerers’ serpents. Buzz it may about our ears, as a drone bee; but sting us it cannot. Christ, as he hath taken away not sin itself, but the guilt of sin; so not death itself, but the sting of death.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ver. 57. But thanks be to God, &c. ] Here St Paul, Christ’s chief herald, proclaims his victory with a world of solemnity and triumph.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Ver. 58. Always abounding, &c. ] This will strengthen faith, as the often knocking upon a stake fastens it. When faith bears fruit upward, it will take root downward.
Forasmuch as ye know ] Bestir you therefore. It troubled a martyr at the stake that he should then go to a place where he should ever be receiving wages and do no more work. It will repent us (if it were possible to repent in heaven) that we began no sooner, wrought no harder.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent