Click here to get started today!
DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
A. Refutation of its deniers(1) from the well attested facts of the resurrection of Christ, which with all connected therewith, pre-supposes its possibility, and is the pledge of its actual occurrence
1 Corinthians 15:1-28
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare [make known, γνωρίζω] unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have [om. have] received, and wherein ye stand [have been standing, ἑστήκατε]; 2By which also ye are [being] saved, if ye keep in memory [hold fast, κατέχετε what [with what discourse, τίνι λόγῳ] I preached unto you, unlessye have believed [became believers, ἐπιστεύσατε] in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: 4And that he was buried, and that he rose [has risen, ἐγήγερται] again the third day1 according to the Scriptures: 5And that he was seen of [appeared to] ὤφθη Κηφᾷ] Cephas, then of [to] the twelve2: 6After that, he was seen of [appeared to] above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto thispresent, but some3 are [have also, καὶ ἐκοιμήθησαν] fallen asleep. And 7after that, he 8was seen of [appeared to] James; then4 of [after that to, ἔπειτα] all the apostles. And [But, δὲ] last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time [as to the untimely-born-one, he appeared to me also, ὡσπερεὶ τῷ ἐκτρώματι, ὤφθη κἀμοί]. 9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet [sufficient, ἱκανὸς] to be called anapostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon [was towards, εἰς] me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God11which was [om. which was] with5 me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so wepreach, and so ye believed. 12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead,6 how say some among you7 that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen [not even Christ hath risen, οὐδὲχρ. ἐγήγερται]: 14And if Christ be [hath] not risen, then is our preaching8 vain, and8 your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of [against, κατὰ] God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain [fruitless, ματαία]; ye are yet in yoursins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep [fell asleep, κοιμηθέντες] in Christ are19[om. are] perished. If in this life only we have hope [If only in this life we havebeen hoping] in Christ9, we are of all men most miserable. 20But now is Christ risen [has Christ been raised, ἐγήγερται] from the dead, and become10 [om. and become] 21the first fruits of them that slept [have been sleeping, κεκοιμημένων]11. For sinceby man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adamall die [are dying, ἀποθνήσκουσιν]12, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order [orderly rank, τάγματι]:13 Christ the first fruits; afterward they 24that are Christ’s at his coming [appearing, παρουσίᾳ]. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up [he delivereth over, παραδιδῷ] the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down [done away with, καταργήσῃ]14 all rule, and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death [Death, the enemy, shall at last be done away with, καταργε͂ιται]. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are [have been, ὑποτέτακται]15 put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which [it is with the exception of him who16, ἐκτὺς τοῦ ὑποτάξαντος] did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him17, then shall the Son also himself be subject [subject himself, ὑποταγήσεται]18 unto him that put all things under him, that God may be [the, τὰ] all in all19.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[We now come to what may be called the crowning glory of this Epistle, viz., a demonstration of the truth of a future resurrection. Forming, as it does, a portion of the burial service in nearly every Christian church, it has come to be associates with our tenderest and most hallowed recollections, as affording to us precious consolation in regard to departed friends, and laying the foundation for our own triumph in the hour of death. It is not surprising, therefore, that it should have been made the subject of more earnest study than any other portion of this Epistle, and that every line and word of it has been searched for golden meanings. Happy will it be for us, if we shall be able to set forth its deep significance in any thing of its true light, and so contribute some share towards increasing and strengthening the faith of the Church].
For fuller information respecting the opponents of the doctrine of the resurrection, who are here refuted, see what is said on 1 Corinthians 15:12.
[The points of the argument are as follows: 1. Whether there is any resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-34). The affirmative is proven—first, by a reference to the fact that Christ did rise from the dead with the evidence which establishes it (1 Corinthians 15:1-11); secondly, by showing the absurdity of the contrary doctrine in several particulars. 2. What will be the nature of the bodies that shall be raised up (1 Corinthians 15:35-51). This is illustrated by various analogies, and also set forth in direct statement as to some of the peculiar characteristics of the risen body. 3. What will become of those who shall be alive at the second advent (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). 4. The practical consequences of this doctrine].
1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Paul here begins to lay the foundation for his demonstration, which rests upon a fact not denied by the opponents of the doctrine of a general resurrection, viz., that of Christ’s resurrection. First of all, he reminds the Corinthians that this doctrine had formed a part of the fundamental contents of that Gospel which he had proclaimed among them from the first.—Moreover,—δέ here indicates an advance in his discourse, a transition to an entirely different subject; for there is no connection between this and the preceding chapter.—brethren, I declare unto you—γνωρίζω; the word is neither equivalent to ὑπομιμνήσκω, I remind you, [Chrys., Bloomf., Billr.]; nor yet to I call your attention to [(Rück.); both which meanings are inadmissible from the usage of the word, as maybe seen in Rob. Lex.; though Stanley affirms that in all the passages, where it is used in the earlier epistles, it carries these significations]. It means, I make known, I declare. The expression has something of solemnity in it, as though he were about to make a new proclamation. What he intends, however, is to remind them of something already known, about which their recollection needed to be refreshed; [unless there is a latent sarcasm in the word, intimating that though professing Christians—“brethren,” they had so far forgotten one of the fundamental tenets of their faith that they needed to have it proclaimed to them anew].—the Gospel—[Not indeed the whole Gospel (as Alford), but that which so lies at the foundation of the whole Gospel, that which is its main condition and verification to such an extent that by metonymy it might be said to be the Gospel, so that the expression is here used for the purpose of showing the essential importance of the subject of which he was about to treat. And, also, by applying to the doctrine of the resurrection the designation of Gospel he teaches them that it is not a point on which they were at liberty to form any opinion they might choose, without prejudice to their own salvation].—Respecting this he mentions four particulars, in regular climax, by which he exhibits its claim upon their faith.—which I preached unto you,—[i.e., when he first went among them to lay the foundations of the Church].—which also ye received,—[not ‘have received.’ The aorist signification must be adhered to as important, pointing to what took place at the first—their cordial reception of his proclamation].—in which also ye stand;—He here indicates the firm maintenance of what had been accepted as truth on the part of the great majority of the Church (2 Corinthians 1:24; Romans 5:2). [This remark is not intended to flatter them; because all to whom he wrote firmly believed that Christ died and rose again. Were it not for this, he could have built on the fact no argument that was valid for them. But though believing this, all had not drawn the same conclusion in respect to a resurrection as he had; so that he is here pointing to that faith among them to which he was about to appeal in support of what he had to say. And then, to finish his climax by showing the personal importance of that faith, he adds,—through which also ye are saved,—By the use of the present tense the attainment of salvation is here presentiated, as though it were something altogether certain]. Yet that he means hereby an attainment still future, is clear from the conditional clause appended. The repetition of the κα ὶ, also, serves to introduce the successive particulars which form the climax, [and also to strengthen the assertions].—with what word I preached unto you, if ye hold fast,—There is a question as to the connection in which this clause stands with what precedes. Luther and some after him take this to be a further definition of what is alluded to in the opening clause of the first verse, q. d., ‘I remind you of the gospel, in what form I proclaimed it to you;’ but the conditional words “if ye hold fast” do not suit with the expression “I remind you.” They also contradict the assertion that they were standing still on the doctrine in question, and they furnish no point, of junction with what follows, “unless ye have believed in vain.” We must therefore connect the clause before us with what immediately precedes, recognizing here an inversion of the natural order of words for the sake of emphasis, q. d., “if ye hold fast with what word I preached the gospel unto you.” To be understood, we here see the condition stated upon which their salvation would be secured; [so that it is an argumentum ad hominem, put in advance for the purpose of conciliating their interest in the truth he was about to demonstrate].—By the expression “with what word” (τίνι λόγῳ) he denotes either the contents of what he had delivered to them (Meyer) [so that it is equivalent to “what,” as in the E. V.]; or the grounds out of which (Acts 10:29), or with which he established his argument. So Bengel: “qua ratione, quis argumentis.” The latter is the more correct interpretation; since in what follows he not merely gives the contents of his preaching (the fundamental facts of redemption), but also he brings emphatically to view the grounds of its truth and validity. Luther’s welcher Gestalt may embrace both significations. To, suppose an allusion here to the simplicity of his style, is a little too far fetched. By ‘holding fast’ (κατέχειν) he means, not simply an intellectual retention, a preservation of the thing in the memory, to which the interrogative τίνι appears to point, but a holding fast, in such a manner that a person is certain of the thing. [May it not go still further and point to the practical regard for the truth in their life and conduct, so as to signify their perseverance in saving faith?]—That the fact of their salvation is admissible only on the condition of a steadfast maintenance of this truth, is still further exhibited apagogically.—unless ye believed in vain.—i.e. their failure of salvation was conceivable only on the hardly supposable condition that their exercise of faith was a vain and fruitless thing.—εἰκῇ, in vain (comp. Galatians 4:11; Galatians 3:4). [It may mean either without cause, or without effect, i. e., to no purpose. If the former, then Paul means to say, ‘unless ye believe without evidence’ ‘had no ground for your faith.’ 20 If the latter, the meaning is ‘unless your faith is worthless,’ and this was a thing not to be supposed. The latter best suits the connection]. On ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ see 1 Corinthians 14:5. This clause is more correctly attached to the main proposition contained in the word “ye are saved,” to which that which follows is subordinate, and to be taken as confirming it together with the condition annexed. The act of believing stands in the closest relation to the gospel as the subjective appropriation of its proffered salvation; and to assert its fruitlessness (which from the Christian standpoint is utterly unconceivable) would be equivalent to the denial of all salvation through the gospel. But, if we attach the words before us only to the conditional clause immediately preceding, and that too in relation to the phrase “with what word I preached to you,” then would εἰκῇ be equivalent to rashly, i.e., without sufficient grounds, q. d., ‘if ye hold fast the grounds on which I preach the gospel to you; otherwise it would follow that ye believed without grounds, in a shallow, superficial manner.’ Or, if we connect it with the words “if ye hold fast,” then some such clause must be supplied as ‘but ye do hold it fast altogether,’—which would not suit. Adopting the former reference, the connection is indeed simple, and the sense good and strong, but it is calculated rather to awaken confidence, than to warn against danger (Meyer assumes both?!), or to hinder their abuse of it to a false security (Osiander).—For I delivered to you—The question here arises, first of all, with what is this to be connected? Is that here set forth an explanation of his manner of discourse (τίνι λόγῳ), either as to its contents (Meyer and de Wette), or as to its grounds? or is it to be referred back to the main statement in the first verse, “I declare unto you?” The latter is to be preferred, inasmuch as the manner of discourse is spoken of in a subordinate clause. His meaning is, ‘what I now hold up before you, viz., the truth of Christ’s resurrection in its bearing on our salvation, is only a proclamation of that gospel which I preached unto you at the beginning.’ Here he speaks in relation to the fact itself, and that too in its significance for the faith, according to the Scriptures.—Catholic expositors use the word παρέδωκα support of the legitimacy of tradition.—among the first (things),—in the order of time [Chrys.]; or still better, in importance, in primis, before all, “as belonging to the weightiest articles of faith. Burger: “as one of the first points.” Neander. [Rückert connects the words directly with “to you,” as though the Corinthians were “among the first” to have the doctrine preached to them; which is not true. The following passages from LXX. may throw some light on the expression: “and he placed the two maid servants and their children first, ἐν πρώτοις (Genesis 33:2); “and David said whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first,” ἐν πρώτοις (2 Samuel 5:8).] He here takes into account, not simply the order of time, but also the momentousness of the thing communicated.—what also I have received,—παρέλαβον, because it stands correllative to παρέδωκα, is to be understood otherwise than in 1 Corinthians 15:2, as denoting the simple reception of a thing imparted; and this, not through human tradition only, but also by special inward revelation from the Lord. The fact itself, i.e., of Christ’s death which he was about to speak of, he had undoubtedly learned before his conversion; but he is here treating not solely of the fact, but likewise of its significance for a life of faith, and this he had to learn by revelation. So too in regard to the resurrection. This he had heard of and flouted as fable; but its verity was at last disclosed to him in such a manner by the glorious appearance of Christ in the way, that all doubt in reference to it as though the death had been only one in appearance, or a deception, was entirely dissipated; and by a subsequent illumination, which explained to him the bearing of Scripture upon these facts, they had obtained his full and firm faith as the fundamental articles of his religious creed. [And in saying that ‘he delivered’ only what ‘he had received,’ he was but asserting the faithful discharge of his duty as an apostle, which was to proclaim at first hand, as it were, the truth of Christ].—that Christ died for our sins,—Here the expiatory power of Christ’s death is clearly indicated as in 1 Corinthians 1:13; Romans 5:8 (by the simple ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν); comp. Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 3:24 ff; Romans 4:25.—ὑπὲρ περὶ, for the sake of. [Stanley says, “for our sins,” not merely ‘in our behalf,’ which would have been ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, as in Romans 5:8; nor ‘in our place’ which would have been ἀντὶ ἡμῶν; but ‘as an offering in consequence of our sins,’ ‘to deliver us from our sins.’ “ ‘Υπὲρ has the same ambiquity as the English for, in behalf of; but the idea of service and protection always predominates. Whenever in speaking of Christ’s death the idea of substitution is intended, it is under the figure of a ransom; in which case it is expressed by ἀντὶ (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). Whenever the idea of covering or forgiving sins is intended, it is under the figure of a sin-offering in which case the word used is περὶ, as in Rom 8:3; 1 Peter 3:18; 1Jn 2:2; 1 John 4:10; περὶ ἁμαπτἰας or ἁμαρτιῶν.—But what connection has this with the doctrine of resurrection? Much every way. Christ’s death could not have availed to expiate sin had he remained under the power of death. In order to prove that He died not for His own sins, but for the sins of others, and to demonstrate this ability and right to confer pardon and blessedness as the Lord of life, it was necessary for Him to rise again. Hence though atonement is secured by His death, yet righteousness comes through His resurrection (Rom. 5:25). To deny his resurrection, therefore, is to annul also the efficacy of His sacrifice, and with this all hope of pardon through Him. And the fatal extent to which the denial of any fact must carry us, should be shown as a part of the argument in its defence].—according to the Scriptures:—He here intimates that Christ’s death for our sins was the fulfilment of the divine counsel foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures. The use of the plural points to the long line of witnesses which runs through the various portions of the sacred record (comp. Matthew 26:54; Luke 24:32). “We must keep in view the manner in which the calling of the Messiah was regarded. It was one towards which the entire development of the theocracy was continually tending, and which therefore might be found indicated in various ways. The apostles do not distinguish between the ideal and the literal reference, as this was not the way of the Holy Spirit, but only of scientific investigation.” Neander. Paul here undoubtedly had in mind, not simply such prophecies as Isaiah 53:0, but also such types as the offerings and the paschal lamb. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 5:7). [Paul protested before Festus that in preaching the Gospel he had said, “none other things than those which Moses and the prophets had said, should come that Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles.” And he assured the Romans that his gospel was “witnessed to by the law and the prophets.” Thus it will be seen that the doctrine of atonement for sin by the death of Christ pervades the entire Word of God. Hence not to believe in it was declared by our Lord to indicate “folly and slowness of heart” (Luke 24:25; Luke 24:27)].—And that he was buried,—[This is an important fact, both as indicating the undoubted truth of His having died, and as the necessary antecedent to the resurrection. In entering the grave our Lord but finished the course appointed for all mankind, and it was the natural fulfilment of His earthly career. The fact, therefore, properly forms a distinct article in our creed].—and that he has been raised on the third day,—ἐγήγερται. The perfect indicates that the fact is not a transient one like that of dying and being buried,—marks the continuation of the state just begun, or of its consequences—‘has been raised and is alive.’—according to the Scriptures:—The testimony here referred to bears primarily on the fact of His having risen (comp. Psalms 16:10; Acts 13:34 ff.; Isaiah 53:8-10 ff.), including also the time of His rising which is hinted at in the type of Jonah (comp. Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:4). But this type, as well as the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9, allows also of a reference to the burial; but the repetition of ὃτι before ἐγήγερται forms an objection to this reference. Besides, it is only the two essential factors in the work of redemption, viz.: the death and the resurrection of Christ that are sustained upon Scripture testimony. So Meyer Exodus 3:0. [But how can this be, when Peter referred in his speech at Pentecost to the declaration of David, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” as a prophecy of Christ’s burial and resurrection?]
1 Corinthians 15:5-7. And that he was seen of Cephas,—The ὃτι, that, shows that in grammatical structure the dependance of the clauses upon παρέδωκα, 1 Corinthians 15:3, is still maintained; while the independent statements begin at the next verse. From this, however, it does not follow that he had delivered to them merely that which is asserted in 1 Corinthians 15:5. He undoubtedly is here recapitulating the whole testimony in proof of Christ’s resurrection, as he had often given it to them. That he is following the chronological order of the evidence, is clear from the use of the definite adverbs of sequence, “then,” “after that,” “last of all.”—The appearance of the risen Saviour to Peter, recorded Luke 24:34, ‘is mentioned first, not “because the authority of Peter was the chiefest, as being the prince of the apostles” (Estius), but in accordance with the historical order of occurrences, passing over, however, the manifestation previously made of Himself to Mary Magdalene (John 20:14 f.). “Mary Magdalene was, indeed, a witness to the brethren, but not to the people at large,”—W. F. Besser; [and to have cited her testimony would, with multitudes, at that period, have tended to call out a sneer, rather than strengthen belief].—then of the twelve:—This was the common designation of the smaller circle of disciples, although it was not then complete [“twelve being a name, not of number, but of office”]; and the manifestation here alluded to (Luke 24:36 ff.; John 20:19 ff.) is not to be confounded with that which followed eight days after (John 20:26). Thomas also was not present. The apostles appear also here as witnesses of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:23; Acts 3:15; Acts 10:40 ff; Acts 13:31). By ὥφθη, was seen, we are to understand a literal perception by the senses, and not a vision. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;—The manifestation here spoken of is nowhere else recorded; in Matthew 28:16 mention is made only of “the eleven.” The expression “at once” implies that the “more than five hundred” saw Him, not separately, but altogether; and this probably took place at a time when numerous Galilean disciples were still at Jerusalem, and therefore before the termination of the festival season. The fact that about the time of Pentecost only about one hundred and twenty disciples are spoken of, does not militate with this supposition. [Hodge says, “This manifestation may have taken place on the occasion when Christ met His disciples in Galilee.” Before His death He told them, “After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee,” Matthew 26:32. Early in the morning of His resurrection, He met the women who had been at His tomb, and said to them, “Be not afraid; go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me,” Matthew 28:10; and accordingly in 1 Corinthians 15:16 it is said, “Then the eleven went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” “This, therefore, was a formally appointed meeting, and doubtless made known as extensively as possible to His followers; and it is probable, therefore, that there was a concourse of all who could come, not only from Jerusalem, but from the surrounding country, and from Galilee. Though intended specially for the eleven, it is probable that all attended who knew of the meeting, and could possibly reach the appointed place. Who would willingly be absent on such an occasion?”—Hodge].—of whom the greater part remain until now,—This is added to show that a large number of witnesses of the resurrection could still be called upon for their testimony. [And here we have a most striking proof of the fact before us. Had the resurrection of Christ been only a fiction, “so many false hearts and tongues would never have acted in concert; nor would they all have kept a secret, which remorse, interest, and perhaps often torture, might urge them to divulge—especially as there had been one traitor among the twelve; on account of which, had they been conscious of a fraud, a general suspicion of each other’s secrecy must have arisen.” Doddridge].—Μένειν, as in John 21:22; Philippians 1:25).—but some are fallen asleep.—[The sweet language of the gospel for expressing the nature of the believer’s death—transforming its very terrors into attractions. It carries in itself also the implication of an after-awakening, and hence is the only term that could be used when speaking of death in a discourse on the resurrection].—After that he was seen of James;—This manifestation, which happened to a single individual, is also alluded to only here. This James is undoubtedly the brother of our Lord mentioned Galatians 2:9, as among the “pillars” of the church; he is also introduced in Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18 as a specially important personage, one of “the brethren of the Lord,” 1 Corinthians 9:5. It was this manifestation of the risen Saviour that proved indeed for him and his brethren the turning-point of their lives, so that they at once became His decided followers (Acts 1:14). According to the legend in ‘the gospel of the Hebrews,’ cited by Jerome, James was honored before all others with a manifestation of Christ. This story is a product of the Jewish tendency to hero-worship.—then by all the apostles.—Inasmuch as the twelve have been already mentioned, the disposition with many (Chrys., Calvin, and others) is to take these words in a more comprehensive sense, so as to include James also, and other eye-witnesses of the life of Jesus, It is a question whether this manifestation occurred immediately before the ascension. There is nothing in the narratives of this fact to contradict the supposition. [“The word ‘all’ may be used to indicate that the appearance was to the apostles collectively; and this, from its position, is the most natural explanation. Or the meaning may be, He appeared to James separately, and then to all the apostles, including James. If the James intended was James of Jerusalem; and if that James were a different person from James the son of Alpheus (a disputed point), then the former interpretation should be preferred. For ‘the apostle’ answers to ‘the twelve,’ and if James of Jerusalem was not the son of Alpheus, he was not one of the twelve.” Hodge]. “It was a providential circumstance that Paul was led to adduce these witnesses for the appearance of Christ after the resurrection. Should any one be inclined to doubt the genuineness of the testimonies of the Evangelists on this point, and to assume in these a mythic element, he is here entirely debarred from so doing; since nobody ever has doubted,. or will doubt the genuineness of this epistle, and Paul is here speaking of historical facts throughout. Accordingly, we may say that the resurrection of Christ is a fact as well attested as any in the past. Without it there would be a gap in history unfilled; since the resurrection is essentially presupposed in the very existence of the Church as built up by the Apostle.” Neander.
1 Corinthians 15:8-10. He here mentions himself as the last apostolic witness of the resurrection. In one respect, indeed, he stood after the others; but in respect of that which he had wrought by the power of divine grace, he had become distinguished above them all.—But last of all,—πάντων, of all, is not to be taken as neuter (as de Wette, [Hodge, Alford, who take the whole phrase here as an adverb of order, winding up the whole series]), but as masculine, and is to be referred in accordance with the context to the apostles.—as it were by the untimely born,—ὡσπερεὶ precedes for the sake of modifying the strong and remarkable expression which follows. The τῷ is neither to be taken for τῷ τινί, since this form no where occurs in the New Testament, not even in 1 Thessalonians 4:6; neither is it equivalent to the indefinite article; but it is here emphatic, the, and by it Paul designates himself as preëminently the unworthy one among all the rest, [“the only abortion in the whole company—the one whose relation to the rest in point of worthiness was as that of the immature and deformed child to the rest of the family.” Alford]. The point of comparison is not in the matter of a suitable education, such as was furnished to the other apostles by a longer intercourse with the Lord wherein he lacked [Eustatius, Bloomf., and Macknight]; nor yet in the suddenness and violence of his conversion and appointment to the apostleship (Calvin); and still less his diminutive form (Wetstein); but as 1 Corinthians 15:9 shows, his unworthiness in comparison with the other apostles. [“The corresponding word abortivus in Latin was metaphorically applied as here to such senators as were appointed irregularly. Suet., Oct. c. 35, 2). The word itself is of Macedonian Greek and corresponds to the Attic “ἅμβλωμα”. Stanley].—he was seen also by me.—The seeing here connot be regarded as a mere mental vision, [as some are inclined to interpret the event which took place on the way to Damascus; but in consistency with all the previous manifestations here spoken of, we must regard this appearance] as an actual objective one, just such as we are to anticipate from the glorified Redeemer in His second advent. [There is a meaning not to be overlooked in the order of the words here. “Also by me” forms a sort of climax expressing the great wonder in the condecension of Christ to him in this manifestation of himself. Paul could never advert to the grace of Christ shown towards him without being brought both to feel and express in contrast therewith his own great unworthiness. See Tim. 1 Corinthians 1:12-13. On the subject of “Paul a witness for the resurrection of Jesus,” see an able article by Prof. G. P. Fisher, in the “Bib. Sac.” Vol. XVII. p. 620 ff.] And now comes the reason for this self-disparagement.—For I am the least of the apostles,—(comp. Ephesians 3:8). ‘O ἐλάχιστος, the least, as contrasted with μέγιστος, the greatest; without any reference to the order of time, as though implying ‘the last’; for the word is never used in this sense in connection with persons. It is more fully explained in the following relative clause.—who—ο͂ς=quippe qui, ‘inasmuch as I’—am not fit—ἱκανὸς ὰξιος, worthy (comp. Matthew 3:11; with John 1:27). lit. sufficiently qualified, fit, suitable, as in 2 Corinthians 3:5.—to be called—καλεῖσθαι here denotes honorable designation ‘to bear the name of ’—an apostle,—The reason of this is—because I persecuted the Church of God.—[This is the sin which Paul never forgave himself, and from it we see that the forgiveness of sin does not obliterate the remembrance of sin, neither does it remove the sense of unworthiness and ill-desert (Hodge)]. Comp. 1 Timothy 1:13; Acts 8:3; Acts 9:1; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:0; Galatians 1:13 ff. [“Paul does not refuse to be the most worthless of all, as next to nothing, provided this contempt does not impede him in any degree in his ministry, or does not at all detract from his doctrine.” Calvin]. But the lower he humbles himself, so that no opponent might see him lower, the more decidedly he brings to view the other side—the glorious operation of divine grace in him or through him. “His apostolic office he will not allow to be contemned inasmuch as God had through him wrought more abundantly. By reason of opposers he feels constrained to array himself in his calling and boast.”—Luther.—But by God’s grace I am what I am:—χάριτι, grace, stands first by way of emphasis. No article is needed. What he means to say is, ‘God’s grace it is which has made me what I am.’ Grace presupposes unworthiness in the recipient. It is unmerited love, favor; here as forgiving, renewing and qualifying for office (comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10). The latter element, grounded upon the two former, appears more prominently in what follows. In “what I am” he refers to his office as an apostle and to his qualification for it; (or as Meyer, Exodus 3:0, his whole present state and condition as distinguished from what he was before his conversion. This is further developed in the following clauses, where he points to the consequences of the divine favor towards him in fitting him for his work; first, negatively.—and his grace which was (manifested) toward me was not made vain;—i.e., was not void of fruit. But that this negative statement was far below the actual facts of the case, he goes on to show.—but more abundantly than they all did I labor:—And this was precisely the fruit of the operation of the divine grace. And lest this should seem to be regarded by him as an occasion for boasting, he at once repudiates all claim to honor in the most emphatic manner, showing that, after all, the efficient agent in all his labors was not himself, so much as it was the grace of God working in him and through him.—yet not I, but the grace of God with me.—If we read σὺν ἑμοί without the article then it must be taken as connected with some words to be supplied as the following: ‘labored more abundantly with me,’ i.e., standing by me, or in active coöperation with me (Meyer). [See the critical notes on this point. Calvin attributes the omission of the ἡ to the blunder of some old translator, and insists on its maintenance to obviate the inference of Semipelagians from this text, who would ascribe half the praise of success to God and half to man as being joint-laborers in the work. But the preponderance of authority is for the omission of the article, it being obviously inserted apparently for the purpose of vindicating the absoluteness of Divine Grace. But it is not needed for this. The language of the Apostle is decisive enough without this—“not I, but the grace of God did it”]. Comp. Mark 16:20. By this antithesis, which is not to be weakened into, ‘not only I, but also,’ or into, ‘as well I, as,’ the entire glory of successful achievement is attributed to Divine Grace (comp. 1 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; Matthew 10:20, and elsewhere). περισσότερον, neuter accusative, not to be taken adverbially [(Alford Stanley)].—αὐτῶν πάντων, not, than Any individual of them, but, than all put together. The explanation of this is to be found in his widely extended sphere of labor.—κοπιᾶν properly means to be weary, or, become weary; then, to exhaust one’s self by working, to strain one’s self; but here on account of the contrast, “not in vain,” and because afterwards the Divine Grace is shown to be the real subject, it can only denote the work with its results; while elsewhere it denotes the work as an exhausting effort (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:12; Galatians 4:11).—From this digression, introduced no less by the fervor of his spirit than on account of the condition of affairs in the Corinthian church—a digression, however, not to be construed as a grammatical parenthesis—he now returns to his main theme.
1 Corinthians 15:11; 1 Corinthians 15:13. Whether, therefore,—οὑν as in 1 Corinthians 8:4.—I or they,—i.e., the other apostles with whom he henceforward associates himself. “Such was the perfect agreement among all the apostles in reference to the appearance of the risen Saviour.” Neander. In the expression “I or they,” the Apostle casts a polemic glance at the oppugners of his apostolic office.—so we preach,—The “so” is to be explained from what is said from 1 Corinthians 15:4-12. It refers to the great fact in question and its proofs.—and so ye believed.—The “so” here is equivalent to “thereby,” viz., that such doctrines have been preached to you; [or, it may be like the previous “so,” meaning after this manner, viz., as above stated].—ἐτιστεύσατε, as in 1 Corinthians 15:2. “The accordant and powerful testimony of the apostles is here accredited by its fruits; the Corinthians themselves are here summoned as witnesses through the faith they once exercised.” Osiander. “Faith once accorded often strengthens subsequent faith; and its former strength not only obligates, but often retains the wavering.” Bengel.
1 Corinthians 15:12. Over against the preaching of the eye-witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, and the faith it secured, he now exhibits in contrast the denial of any resurrection from the dead on the part of some in the church. And he mentions it as something in the highest degree strange and incredible that such a denial could be made, when (as he afterwards shows) it involved a denial also of that which was the burden of the apostles’ preaching, and lay at the foundation of their faith.—But if Christ is preached—εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς κηρύσσεται—not a hypothetical but an actual condition (Passow, εἰ, I. A. 1. a.), q. d., ‘since Christ is preached.’—Christ is mentioned first by way of emphasis; for the contradiction lies here between the preaching of Christ as one risen from the dead, and the denial of any resurrection from the dead.—that he rose from the dead,—Some readings put ἐκ νεκρῶν before ό́τι; if this were critically established, the transposition of the natural order would be for the sake of emphasis also; but such a double emphasis is hardly probable.—how say some among you—i.e., how is it possible that they can say? It does not comport with the fact supposed, that in the midst of you, a Christian church, there are any who say—that there is no resurrection from the dead?—οὐκ ἐ̓στι, is not, ‘is not to take place’ (comp. Ephesians 6:9). The whole exposition proceeds on the supposition that the fact of Christ’s resurrection was not a matter of controversy. Hence, the Apostle was able to plant himself on this well-attested theme of Apostolic preaching, and controvert opposers on the ground that their assertions would, by implication, go to undermine the foundations on which both stood, and with it overthrow the whole scheme of salvation by Christ. That these people were Sadducees, is altogether improbable, since this class, by reason of their peculiar views, altogether ignored the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4:2), and kept far aloof from Christianity. Besides, had they been contemplated, the mode of argument pursued would have been far different. From what is said in 1 Corinthians 15:32, we might suppose them to have been Epicureans; but these persons whose anti-christian tenets would have required a still more definite refutation, remained at as great a remove from Christianity as did the Sadducees; and what is read in 1 Corinthians 15:32, is no more than a practical deduction of the Apostle from the premises assumed, and it naturally follows upon his description of a practical Epicureanism (Isaiah 22:13). So, too, we can hardly look to find in Corinth Jewish Christians of a theosophic class, who denied the doctrine of a re-incorporation of the soul on the grounds of a false spiritualism. “The Essenes certainly may have accepted the doctrine of a personal existence after death, in a form not involving the doctrine of the resurrection; but there is nothing else here which points to the elements of their faith.” Neander. It is more natural to suppose that these opponents were heathen converts of a certain philosophic training, who sought to impose, or taught doctrines that were very seductive to the Corinthians, predisposed as they already were to them. Such would regard, with abhorrence, the idea of a restoration of their material part, and hence for such, an argument like that in 1 Corinthians 15:35 ff. was entirely suitable. Among the philosophically educated of all ages we discover a disinclination for this doctrine; and in this question, to seek out a reference to the several parties that existed in the Christian Church, would be uncertain business. In any case, these opposers could not have belonged to the party of Cephas, or of Paul; and they could be reckoned in the Christ party, only on the doubtful supposition that this was characterized by a theosophic spiritualism. And if we assigned them to the party of Apollos, they could only have been certain individuals of this party who denied the doctrine in question by reason of their philosophical peculiarities, and not the party as a whole. It was, in fact, no party question. Besides, there is no warrant for supposing that, like the false teachers mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:18, they regarded the resurrection as past already. Moreover, we are not to infer from 1 Corinthians 15:19 that, together with the resurrection of the body, they also denied the immortality of the soul. Bather we are to infer from this verse only this, that in the Apostle’s view the immortality of the soul was inconceivable without assuming the possibility of a re-incorporation or of a restoration and glorification of the bodily life, that the continued existence of the simple personality (Ichheit) was no true life.
1 Corinthians 15:13; 1 Corinthians 15:16, That the preaching of Christ’s resurrection was inconsistent with a denial of the resurrection of the dead, the Apostle proceeds to show by a chain of conclusions and consequences connected by δέ—But—[“the but argumentandi frequent in mathematical demonstrations.” Alford.]—if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ is risen:—[First consequence—a palpable absurdity, not only in view of what a being Christ was, but also in view of all the testimony offered to the contrary.] He here argues from the general to the special, since the denial of the former naturally involved that of the latter, it being included under it. ‘If there is no such thing at all as the resurrection from the dead, then must this hold good also of Christ. He also has not risen from the dead.’ The identity of Christ’s nature with that of mankind at large—a fact which underlies this whole argument—is not suspended or dissolved by His Divine Sonship and His sinlessness. For, in that He emptied Himself of His former glory, He became a veritable actual man (σάρξ); and if He died, though sinless, then can the restoration of His body not be affirmed, if such a restoration is impossible for men in general who are dead. Of Christ as the first-fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20) nothing is as yet said, so that an argument can be drawn of this sort: ‘If the effect is done away, then also must the cause go with it.’ The statement, “then is Christ not risen,” is not put forth here as a premise (Osiander); but with the exhibition of the impossible conclusion here set forth his whole series of inferences, as it were, celebrates its first triumph. What consequences must arise if Christ be not risen, if he still remains in the grave, he now goes on to show.—And if Christ has not arisen, vain then is our preaching,—[A second consequence—the absurdity of holding that the Gospel with all its provisions and promises, with all it had done, and yet proposed to effect, was a delusion]. κενὀν, which stands first by way of emphasis, means here groundless, untrue, without reality, not ‘fruitless’—a thought which first appears in 1 Corinthians 15:17. Still less are we to take the two meanings as here combined. The thought is this: since the redemption in Christ is the grand theme of gospel preaching, and has the resurrection of Christ as its essential foundation, therefore, all preaching without this mast be empty, groundless, unreal, ἄρα, then, brings the inference yet more prominently to view. If the καί is genuine, then the meaning is, if the former be not true, then the latter is not true also.’—The same inference holds good also of the subjective reception of the preaching.—vain also is your faith.—The two refer back to what is said in 1 Corinthians 15:11; although the preaching must here be taken in a more comprehensive sense.—ὑμῶν, your is undoubtedly the correct reading; not ἡμῶν our.—To the former clause there is added a third inference, which sets the preachers in a very bad light.—And we are found also false witnesses of God;—From the fact that this again is to be inferred from the supposition that Christ is not risen, it does not follow that this clause belongs in with the previous apodosis, and that simply a comma is to be put after ὑμῶν (Lachmann and Meyer), [or after ‘faith,’ as in our version]. Such punctuation and construction is also inconsistent with the δὲ καὶ; [besides, as Alford says, 1 Corinthians 15:15 does not depend on the condition expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “if Christ be not risen,” but has its reason given below.]—εὐρισκόμεθα is put first for emphasis, and means we are found, or proven, as before a tribunal of investigation.—ψευδομάρτυρες τοῦθεοῦ, either false witnesses concerning God (gen. obj.,) or false witnesses belonging to God (gen. subj.), i.e., who pretend to be witnesses and are not. The former interpretation is sustained by the following explanatory clause.—[“Observe, false witnesses, not mistaken witnesses. Paul allows no loophole of escape. The resurrection is a fact, or else a falsehood; and it is such persons as Peter, and John, and James, and himself, that are guilty of perpetrating it—a monstrous supposition, when we think of the men, and the truthful ring of their earnest declarations, and the seal they put to them.” Robertson.]—because we testified against God that he raised up Christ:—If a person says of God that He has done something which He has not done, and yet could have done, then is he a false witness in relation to Him, and the false testimony given is a testimony against Him (κατά as in Matthew 26:59-62 not equivalent to περί, in respect of [Alford], nor yet as summoning God for a witness like ὸμόσαι κατά Hebrews 6:13). For, knowingly to ascribe to God anything untrue, is a wicked and hostile crime against Him; and this would be a veritable lie, since they had announced something as an act of God actually witnessed by them, which yet never did take place, and indeed was impossible,—whom he did not raise, if in reality (as they assert)—such is the force of εί́περ, the strengthened εἰ; and ἅρα which means accordingly.—the dead are not raised.—The last statement is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:16, which is almost a literal repetition of 1 Corinthians 15:13, and is introduced for the sake of precision. [“But why is this? Why may not a man admit that Christ, the incarnate Son of God, arose from the dead, and yet consistently deny that there is to be a general resurrection of the dead? Because the thing denied was that the dead could rise. The denial was placed on ground which embraced the case of Christ.” Hodge].
1 Corinthians 15:17-19. Here follows a new series of inferences exhibiting the sad result of the doctrine of his opponents upon the salvation of Christians themselves. As before he expressed the groundlessness, and hence the falsity of the faith, on the supposition of these deniers, by the word κενή, empty, idle; so now he expresses its fruitlessness by the word ματαία.—And if Christ is not risen, vain is your faith;—Vain i.e., without any beneficial results (comp. 1 Corinthians 3:20; Titus 3:9; James 1:26), as is clear from the clause which follows.—ye are yet in your sins.—Here we see that his reference is mainly to the matter of justification, which is primarily a remission of sins. All this is frustrated by the denial in question, since, as Paul asserts (Romans 4:25), Christ was raised for our justification. If Christ was still detained in the power of death, then could no pardon be pledged by Him; He could not act the part of Redeemer and Reconciler, but like all other sinners, would appear to have fallen under the doom of sin. Thus that expressed in 11. 1 Corinthians 2:0 : “Ye are justified in the name of the Lord, and by the Spirit of our God,” is all done away. The ethical side of Christianity, viz., sanctification and liberation from the dominion of sin, does not lie in the context.—The frightful consequences are shown to extend yet farther, affecting not only the living, but also the departed.—Then they also who have fallen asleep in Christ,—i.e., who have died in communion with Him, being united to Him by faith (comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:6; Rev. 4:13). By these he means, not the ancient saints who lived before the time of Christ, but deceased Christians, and these, too, not simply the martyrs (ἐν διά), but believers in general.—perished.—Perdition, according to the Scripture, is not annihilation, but the state of damnation, remaining in Gehenna; and this is here brought forward as a consequence of being yet in sin. If Christ did not rise for our justification, then those whose death seemed but a blessed sleep to a happy awaking in fellowship with their living and glorified Redeemer, so far from having been received into eternal life, were doomed still to abide under the wretched dominion of death. A consequence like this must have made too profound an impression upon the loving disposition of Christians to be lightly allowed. Whatever doctrine constrained them to regard their beloved associates in the faith as lost, must needs appear to them as in itself highly questionable. [“Here,” says Stanley, “we find the climax of the whole argument. As may be seen from 1 Thessalonians 4:13, one of the most harrowing thoughts to the apostolic Christians was the fear lest their departed brethren should, by a premature death, be debarred from that communion with the Lord which they hoped to enjoy; and in itself nothing could be more disheartening to the Christian’s hope, than to find that Christians had lived and died in vain”]. The method of proof here adopted, though indeed not carrying the force of a mathematical demonstration for unbelievers, is nevertheless fitted to strengthen the hearts of the faithful against the doubts of unbelief. It concludes with an impressive reference to the sad state of those Christians whose hope of eternal life, pledged through the resurrection of Christ, was thus cut off. This touching assertion is introduced without any verbal connective. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:24 ff—If only in this life we have been hoping in Christ,—And here we must, first of all, take into consideration the correct order of the words. The received text puts ἐν χριστῶ after ἐσμέν. In this arrangement, which is feebly attested, we might be tempted to unite the μόνον with χριστῶ̣ as if equivalent to ε̇ν μόνω̣ τῶ̣ χριστῶ̣, q. d., ‘in Christ alone,’ which would be the better expression (Rückert). But in order to obtain a correct relation of the apodosis to the protasis, we must supply that on which it is properly conditioned, viz., ‘and Christ is not risen.’ But if ἐν χριστῶ̣ is to be put after ταὑτη, which is the more critically authorized order, then might we dispense with this otherwise not probable explanation. But then the question arises, to what does μόνον, only, belong? Is it to the words: “if we have hope,” so that it serves to express simply a hoping which remains unfulfilled, q. d., ‘if we have hope only?’ or to the words: “in this life,” putting it in contrast with eternal life; q. d., ‘if we have hope in this life only [Hodge]? Or, finally, does it belong to the whole clause; q.d., ‘if we have no more than put our hope on Christ in this life, and do not hope in Him even after having gone to our rest;’ or, as Meyer says, “if the hope of future glory which the Christian grounds upon Christ in his earthly life perishes with this life, inasmuch as death but transfers him to a state where the Christian hope proves but a deception” [Alford, Stanly]? The last interpretation deserves the decided preference. According to the first, it is not easy to perceive why the words: ἐν τῆ̣ ζωῆ̣ ταύτη̣, “in this life,” are put first. Indeed, they appear to be altogether unnecessary. The second is opposed by the position of μόνον, only. The expression ἐλπίζειν ἐν appears also in Ephesians 1:12, (spes reposita in Christo), and is analogous to πιστεύειν ἐν. The use of ζωή to denote the present period of existence as distinct from a state of existence, occurs only here and in Luke 16:25. Very short and impressive is the conclusion.—more miserable than all men are we.—i.e., all men, aside from us Christians that still live. In this statement, the Apostle by no means stoops to the level of a common eudemonism, [arguing here from a main reference to happiness as the ultimate end of life]; but his meaning is this: ‘Christians who live as strangers in this world, denying themselves in every way, and bearing life’s heavy load, and enduring all manner of sufferings, and this in the hope of an eternal reward in the kingdom of heaven, are, in case their hope is a vain dream destined to vanish with this life, more miserable than all those who take enjoyment in earthly things: for these things have some sort of reality; while, on the contrary, the salvation for which Christians forego all, and fight, is but a delusion. (Comp. Osiander). [If by ἐλεεινότεροι we understand a positive wretchedness, this declaration must be limited as applicable only to Christians as they were in the times of the apostles—exposed to all manner of privations and sufferings; for it can hardly be affirmed as true of Christians in general, that their faith makes their temporal condition more miserable than that of men of the world. Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. This is a part of its glory—a glory which is not all eclipsed even amid the greatest tribulations; for martyrs rejoice and triumph even amid tortures and flames, “not accepting deliverance.” The inward happiness they experience is something which no mere outward circumstances, however painful, can wholly overcome. Would it not, therefore, be more appropriate to abide by the original signification of ἐλεεινός, pitiable, and understand it as referring to the delusion under which Christians would live, and the great disappointment they were destined to experience; in case, having given up all for Christ, and exulted in hope of living and reigning with Him after death, they should find at last that He had not risen, and there was no resurrection for them. Taken in this sense the declaration would admit of universal application. Some commentators, like the translators of the E. V., instead of construing the adjective in the comparative as governing the genitive πάντων , suppose a Hebrew idiom here, and take the genitive partitively, and construe the adjective as though superlative—‘of all men most miserable’ (Jelf. Gr. Gram. § 534)].
1 Corinthians 15:20-22. In contrast with the whole deplorable results which would follow on the supposition involved in the denial of his opponents, Paul now triumphantly sets before them the irrefragable fact of the resurrection as established by the testimony previously adduced (1 Corinthians 15:4 ff.) and also the significance which it has for the faith and hope of Christians—a significance which is itself a refutation of all skepticism. As Neander says: “He passes on to unfold the chain of consequences arising from the resurrection of Christ, and to exhibit it as the beginning of a new creation which is to find its consummation in the life to come. Nor does the rapture of the apostle, borne on as he is by the contemplation of the glorious theme, allow him to stop at the point where the argument first conducts him; but he follows out the truth onward to its final ground and goal.”—But now,—νυνὶδέ, logical as in 1Co 13:13; 1 Corinthians 14:6; and elsewhere. It suggests the subaudition: ‘If Christ has not risen then does it go ill with us.’ But now, as the matter stands, the case is far otherwise; these sad consequences cannot be admitted; our faith is not vain;—Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that have slept.—Instead of confronting gainsayers with a negative assertion, he strongly lays down a positive, which involves the denial of all the evil consequences above pointed out. Not only is Christ risen, but, as the risen One, He is the beginning of a whole line of those who are destined to arise out of death’s sleep to life eternal—the first fruits, as it were, of a resurrection harvest. The expression: “first fruits” stands in apposition with the previous clause, and contains the theme of the whole subsequent exposition. Ἀ παρχή as in 1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 8:23; Romans 11:16; Romans 16:5. The same thought is expressed in Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5, by the words, “first born of the dead,” or, “from the dead” (comp. Acts 26:23).—That the primacy of time includes also a primacy of worth, and a causal relation to all that follows, is clear from the position which Christ holds as the Head of humanity, as well as from what is asserted in 1 Corinthians 15:21 f. But whether there is such a reference here to the waving of the first sheaf on the day after Easter Sabbath by way of consecrating the harvest (Lev. 32:10), is a matter of question. In favor of it there is: 1. The typico-symbolical interpretation which the apostle elsewhere employs (1 Corinthians 10:3 ff.; 1 Corinthians 9:8 ff.); 2. That Christ rose on that very day; 3. The composition of this epistle about the time of Easter (comp. 1 Corinthians 5:8). In this case the statement would involve the idea of a consecration and pledge of the coming harvest. [“The apostle does not mean merely that the resurrection of Christ was to precede that of His people: but, as the first sheaf of the harvest presented to God as a thank-offering, was the pledge and assurance of the ingathering of the whole harvest; so the resurrection of Christ is a pledge and proof of the resurrection of His people.” Hodge.] Neither the resurrections from the dead recorded in the Old and New Testaments, nor yet the instances of Enoch and Elijah are in contradiction with what is here said of Christ as the first fruits. In the case of the former, there was no arising to an immortal life; in the case of the latter, there was no dying, so that a resurrection could occur.—But whom are we to understand by “them that have slept?” believers, or the dead in general? The latter seem to be implied from what is said in 1 Corinthians 15:21; but that the former are meant is evident both from the expression “first fruits,” and also from the designation “sleep,” which is used in the New Testament to denote the death of believers only. The question must be decided by the interpretation we put on the following verses, [where we find the explanation of what is here asserted], in a parallel drawn between Adam and Christ,—first, in the form of a general proposition stating a rule of the divine administration, that what has been taken away from us by man shall be restored to us also by man.—For since—ἐπειδή, a particle of cause, not of time (as in 1 Corinthians 1:21; Acts 13:46); so that here we have a fundamental principle stated, apart from all relations to time, requiring in the following ellipsis only the supply of the ordinary copula.—through man (is) death, also through man (is) the resurrection of the dead.—The antithesis shows that by “death” is here meant only the death of the body. [The underlying truth here is that community of nature is requisite for the transmission of powerful and all-pervading influences. Like can best act on like. The nature of the causal connection is, however, not stated. Meyer thinks that a knowledge of this is presupposed in the readers, as having been imparted to them by oral instructions of which they are here reminded].—The general fact grounded on the organic union of the race, on the one hand, with the head of its natural development, who introduced death into it, and, on the other, with the head of its spiritual development who brought about the destruction of death, he proceeds to exhibit more fully by referring to the actual fulfilment of this law as it took place in the former instance, and as it is to be anticipated in the latter. And here we have the formulas of the comparison,—As-so—The headship in the one case is Adam, in the other is Christ.—in the Adam—Instead of διά we here have ἐν in, denoting that each of these processes of development has its ground, or source, in its peculiar head. Accordingly, “in the Adam” means ‘as partakers of his nature which is doomed to death as united with him.’ The nature of this union as expressed by διά, through, and its consequences are more fully exhibited in Romans 5:12; Romans 5:15; Romans 5:17, “Through one man death passed upon all men.” all are dying,—[In what sense? Hodge extends the meaning of the word so as to include moral death. The scope of the apostle’s argument, however, requires us to abide by the literal signification. He is here speaking solely of death natural and life natural, and we are to construe his language as bounded within this province (so Calvin and others). As Alford says, “The practice of Paul to insulate the objects of his present attention from all ulterior considerations must be carefully borne in mind.” Barnes also argues for the same limitation with great pertinence].—As the other member of the comparison we have—so also in the Christ shall all be made alive. In the former case, since death was ever in progress, the verb was in the present, ἀποθνήσκουσιν, but here on the contrary the restoration is spoken of as something yet to be,—hence the future ζωοποιηθήσονται. Here, however, commentators divide. Some, starting from the idea of a vital communion with Christ which reaches its perfect consummation at the resurrection, understand by ‘being made alive’ an introduction into a state of supreme blessedness. In this case, they interpret the term “all” either relatively, taking it to denote all believers only, who alone are spoken of in the context; or absolutely, finding in this passage a statement of universal salvation (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:28)—“the restoration of all” (αποκατάστασις πάντων). The question is, Ought not the word “all” to have the same scope in the two clauses? The context does not justify our limiting it to believers in the first clause; for he is throughout treating of the resurrection of the dead in general, what ever may have been their religious state, and of Christ as the person who in this respect has taken the lead, and by His resurrection has fixed a point in history from whence death as the separation of soul and body should date its cessation, even as from Adam it dated its commencement. But whether the dogma of a general restoration is a Pauline doctrine is, to say the least, very problematical (comp. 1 Corinthians 6:9 ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:9.) As Burger says, “It is not possible to prove from our text, nor yet from the whole context, the doctrine of a so-called restoration of all things, which asserts that all at last, both good and bad, even the devil and his angels, shall be made partakers of divine grace.” Elsewhere, Paul speaks of “a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust” (Acts 24:15). Of this mention is made also in John 5:28 ff., where it appears as the work of the Messiah whom the Jews expected to be the general quickener of the dead (comp. Lücke on John 5:21 ff.; and de Wette, Bibl. Dogm., p. 203).—But the expression, “be made alive” might be used to signify the resurrection of both classes (Romans 4:17). It means to be restored to life in general; its specific application must be determined by the context: an ethical, natural introduction into life generally, and into a truly blessed life. Accordingly we must side with those who take the word “all” in its broadest sense, and understand ‘the being made alive’ of a general resurrection. For to interpret the second clause of the comparison ideally, of the original destination of all men to a blessed resurrection and of the power of the Redeemer to make all share in it (J. Müller Stud, und Krit. 1835. p. 751) would hardly be doing full justice to the expression.—But is not the above interpretation opposed by the words “in Christ?” No; for we might say, the whole race obtains in Christ the principle of the Resurrection. He, the second Adam, has been implanted in humanity as the destroyer of death; and the result of this will indeed prove glorious or fearful according to the relation which the individual may sustain towards Him, whether positive or negative. Nothing, it would seem, can be decisively adduced against this broader interpretation, from the fact, that in the onward course of his argument the apostle brings into view only the resurrection of believers; since the problem before him by no means required a complete unfolding of the whole subject, in all its aspects. With all this, however, it still remains doubtful whether “the resurrection unto damnation,” which is contrasted with “the resurrection unto life” (John 5:29,) can be covered by the expression “made alive.” At all events, a consistency with the main clause (1 Corinthians 15:20) would be preserved if we interpreted “all” in the second clause of the antithesis to mean the totality of those who shall be made alive, whoever they are, as in the first clause, to mean the totality of those who die. Accordingly the main thought would be, that Christ, as the risen One, is the informing principle, and commencement of all restoration to life in the race on the part of God. In this respect, He constitutes a parallel to Adam, who was the informing principle and commencement of all death. It is true, the expression “each one” in the next verse, so far as it may stretch even beyond “those that are Christ’s,” seems to require us to take “all” in the broadest sense, and also to give the broader meaning to “make alive “(Meyer); but, opposed to this, there stands, again, the word “first fruits,” the inconsistency of using which in relation to those awaking to “the resurrection of damnation,” reasonably awakens doubt. [Hodge, interpreting the word ζωοπιοιεῖσθαι in a moral as well as physical sense on grounds hardly tenable, restricts the term “all” to believers. But the great majority of commentatators, ancient as well as modern, (Chrys. Theod. Theoph. Beza, Olsh. de Wette, Meyer, Bloomf., Barnes) abide by the universal reference, preserving the parallelism in both clauses. “As the death of all mankind came by Adam, so the resurrection of all men came by Christ; the wicked shall be raised by Him officio Judicis, by the power of Christ as their Lord and Judge: The righteous shall be raised beneficio Meditatoris, by virtue of their union with Him as their head.” Valpy. The necessity for adopting this view will more fully appear as we proceed.]
1 Corinthians 15:23-28.—Passing on now from the successive stages of the resurrection, the apostle proceeds to open a view into the final consummation of the divine economy, at the conclusion of the ways of God with man. First—we have the several steps of the great process of restoration in Christ set forth. But every one—sc. ‘shall be raised,’ or ‘made alive’—in his own order:—The word τάγμα does not mean series, but a well ordered multitude, a division of the army, a cohort; and only in this sense can it be translated order. Those who are raised at successive periods of time are conceived of as coming forth in troops or bands, in some one of which every one will be found. [Hodge says, however, that “the word is used by later writers, as Clemens in his epistle to the Corinthians, 1:37-41, in the sense of τάξις, order of succession. And this best suits the context, for Christ is not a band. All that Paul teaches is, that, although the resurrection of Christ secures that of His people, the two events are not contemporaneous.”] ‘I δίω̣, his own, that which belongs to him, and fits him=ἑαυτοῦ. [If we adopt the meaning of band or cohort for τάγμα, then the implication is that those in Christ will come forth by themselves, and the wicked by themselves—those of a kind keeping together. And this will be the natural order, since “those who sleep in Jesus, God will bring with Him.”]—Christ the first fruits;—He forms the first division, [as being a host in himself], which leads the ranks of those who are to be made alive hereafter. The expression corresponding to the figure would be ἀρχηγός, leader, captain (comp. Meyer hoc loco.) The resurrection of all, Christ’s included, is a great fact.—The next division is composed of—those that are Christ’s—The expression is found also in Galatians 5:24.—The time of their rising is at his coming.—By the παρουσία here, is not meant Christ’s continued presence on earth (Matthew 28:20) onward unto his “glorious appearing;” but, as elsewhere (1 Thes.; 2 Thes.; 2 Pet.; 1 John; James; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:37; Matthew 24:39), His revelation in power for the setting up of His kingdom. With this the first resurrection, that of the dead in the Christ (Thes. 1 Corinthians 4:16; comp. Revelation 20:5 is coincident, and it follows upon the destruction of the anti-Christian powers (Revelation 19:0; 2 Thessalonians 2:0). By those who are Christ’s, we may understand either true Christians or Christians in general. Meyer says; the latter, referring to 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10. But it is a question whether the expressions, “those who are Christ’s,” and, “the dead in Christ,” can be used of formal Christians who finally perish.—Afterwards—εἵτα introduces a new epoch (analogous to ἕπειτα) which follows after an interval, when we have the conclusion of the whole development. [Hodge questions this, and says, “it has been the constant [?] faith of the Church that the second advent of Christ, the resurrection of the just and of the unjust, the final judgment and end of the world, are parts of one great transaction.” But to interpret thus, would be both to make the τάγμα (=τἁξις), series, very short, consisting of only two items! and also to contradict the constant use of εἶτα which never stands for τότε, then, as indicating a point of specified time, but always afterward, next, denoting successive occurrence (Mark 4:28; 1 Corinthians 12:28). It is a singular illustration of the power of a theory to warp the mind from the fixed meaning of words, that Calvin, while using the Latin text which rightly translated εἶτα, postea, yet goes on to comment in the use of tunc, utterly ignoring the difference of signification. By the words ἔπειτα and εἶτα, two separate epochs are distinctly marked; and it is a violation of all usage of terms to construe them otherwise. The interval between the first and second is stretching beyond 1800 years; how many ages will intervene between the second and third—who can tell?]—the end,—τέλος in this connection means the termination of the process of the resurrection, and stands correlatively to “the first fruits;” it marks the period of the resurrection of the rest of mankind who do not belong to Christ, yet among whom may be found some that are susceptible of the divine quickening (comp. Matthew 25:31; [where, at the general judgment, those on the right hand, by reason of their declared ignorance of Christ, are supposed, by many, to be those among the heathen who, by their fidelity to the light within them, and by their general kindness and charity, had evinced a state of mind which qualified them for a welcome into the society of believers. Consult Stier, Olsh., and Alford on this passage.]) The period, thus designated, is one which coincides with the end of the world, with the entire destruction of the present order of things, and with the coming in of the “new heavens and the new earth.” [Alford, Hodge, and others, however, interpret τὀ τέλος absolutely, THE END, i e., of the world, when all shall be accomplished, and the mediatorial work of Christ is come to its conclusion]. As to what shall intervene between these two points—the first and the second resurrection—and as to the duration of the interval, there is nothing in the apostolic writings (save what is contained in the Apocalypse) clearly determined as yet. Thus far this whole subject is enveloped in darkness—just as in the prophets, the coming of Christ in the flesh, and His coming in glory were not definitely separated; but the intervening period, with all its history, lay for the time concealed. In the parousia or revelation of Christ, we may distinguish between the beginning of that manifestation of the Lord’s power in the first resurrection, and in all that which is to precede or is connected with it, and its consummation in the general resurrection of the dead, and in the great events connected with that (Matthew 25:31 ff.); and this, in fact, amounts to a distinction between a second and third advent. Respecting “the end,” he explains himself more fully by mentioning that which is to occur contemporaneously with it.—when he shall deliver up the kingdom to the God and Father,—From this passage some have unwarrantably inferred that we are to understand “the end “to be the end of Christ’s kingdom, and so supply the words, ‘of his kingdom.’ But that which is asserted here of His kingdom is something appended, to which the course of the Apostle’s reasoning does not immediately conduct him. The transfer of the kingdom to God and Father (who is at the same time the Father of Jesus Christ—the article prefixed embracing both words (τῶ̣ θεῶ̣ καὶ ΙΙατρὶ) as in Romans 15:6 f.) presupposes that revelation of Christ as the Sovereign of God’s kingdom—as the Possessor of a power that covers heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), which takes place at His advent; and it is itself the termination of the mediatorial reign (i.e., of that progressive struggle with the hostile powers of darkness, and subsequent subjection to God in the power of the redeeming and atoning work of the Lord, who is the royal The anthropos, the God-Man, the perfect Vicar of God), and the commencement of the absolute, immediate, Divine rule, when the Son is to transfer unto the Father the whole universe as a realm made entirely subject to Him, having in it no opposing force, where He can rule with majesty serene and undisturbed; inasmuch as the Son who entered into the course of its history, and took part in its strife, has overcome all opposition, so that resistance no more is to be found.—[“Nothing is here said which can affect either (1) His co-equality and co-eternity with the Father in the Godhead, which is prior to, and independent of this mediatorial work, and is not limited to the mediatorial kingdom; or (2) the eternity of His humanity: for that humanity ever was, and is subordinate to the Father; and it by no means follows that when the mediatorial kingdom shall be given up to the Father, the humanity in which that’ kingdom was won, shall be put off; nay, the very fact of Christ in the body being the first-fruits of the resurrection, proves that His body, as ours will endure for ever; as the truth that our humanity, even in glory, can only subsist before God by virtue of His Humanity, makes it plain that He will be very man to all eternity.” Alford].21 ‘Βασιλεία here means not the subjects of kingly rule—the kingdom so far as its contents are concerned, but the royal power itself, in its exercise—the reign of Christ. “Inasmuch as the work of Christ, founded upon His redemptive acts, proceeds towards a definite goal, it must needs come to a termination when this goal is reached.” Neander.—The transfer takes place,—when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.—Of course such only are meant as are anti-Christian and anti-Divine—the kingdom of Satan, with every thing appertaining to it, which holds supremacy and exercises power, whether it be demoniac (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:15), or human that has become subject to demoniac powers. Calvin’s supposition, that “powers legitimate and ordained by God,” or Olshausen’s, “that all rule, good and evil, even that of the Son,” is here meant, is inconsistent with the connection (1 Corinthians 15:25), and also with the signification of καταργεῖν, to put down. The extermination of the powers of the higher spiritual world can be understood to denote only the destruction of their external activity—the stripping them of their power, but not of their existence (Neander).—But the whole idea of a transfer and of a kingdom is altered, if we assume the meaning here to be, that God shall be generally acknowledged as the Supreme Ruler (Theod. Estius, etc.; comp. per contra Osiander, p. 711). Unsatisfactory, also, is Meyer’s conception of Christ as the under-regent—as it were, the life-bearer of God.—The explanation of the Fathers who interpret it of the leading of the elect to behold the face of God, the transfer of the heirs of the kingdom into the immediate communion and glory of God the Father; and that of the Reformers, who take it to denote the presentation of the risen members of the divine kingdom before God, e. g., “He presents the elect to God, in whom, henceforth, the Father will reign per sese without intervening token, and in whom He will reveal His glory per sese, and not in Christo only,”—transcend the correct meaning of the words and the scope of the context. From this surrender of the kingdom, we are not to suppose that the eternal kingship of Christ is disowned or denied; for He is indeed the Eternal associate with God on the throne (σύνθρονος). This relationship is only, as it were, taken up in with the glory of the Father. After the great battle has been victoriously fought through, and the work of the Mediator has been finished up, then that rule which has been occupied in the conflict and mediation, naturally ceases. But inasmuch as every thing has at last been brought into subjection to the Father, and so the purpose of the mediatorial reign has been accomplished, the regal glory of the Son, so far from being annihilated thereby, has only been enhanced.
The fact of such a transfer of the kingdom ensuing upon the putting down of all alien rule, and not before, is next referred to a higher necessity, even to a divine decree, and on this it is made to rest (γάρ).—For it must needs be that he reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet.—The authority had in mind by the Apostle is Psalms 110:1, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” From this it might be inferred that the subject of the verbθῇ , hath put, is God; and then, inasmuch as this verse expresses essentially the same thought as is found in the last clause of the previous verse, “when He shall have put down all rule,” etc., we must likewise suppose that God was intended there also. But it is evident that He who “puts down all rule,” must be the same as the one who “gives up the kingdom;” and neither the reference to the Psalm (which is here not literally cited, but only appropriated, and freely handled), nor yet 1 Corinthians 15:27, (where indeed God is the subject of υπέταξεν, put under, but so that a passive clause intervenes) constrains us to suppose that there is any other- subject than Christ in this verse. And were it otherwise intended, we would, for the sake of clearness, naturally expect that God would be definitely mentioned both here and before καταργήσῃ (1 Corinthians 15:24), because these clauses are so closely connected with clauses where Christ is the expressed subject. From the phrase “all enemies,” it is perfectly clear that the words “all rule” (πᾶσαν ) are not to be taken in a middle sense. The necessity here spoken of (δεῖ) is founded on a divine decree (Neander). Comp. Luke 24:26; Luke 24:46. The arch-enemy of all is he from whom all opposition to Christ and His kingdom proceeds (comp. Matthew 13:39); with him are connected all powers instrumental in carrying on this opposition, and every thing wherein this opposition is manifested—hence, also, death itself. Comp. what is said in Hebrews 2:14, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, even the devil.”—ἂχρις οὖ marks the point of termination. Only in case ἂχρις ἄν stood without οὖ could it mean also so long as; but such a rendering is decidedly opposed by the context (1 Corinthians 15:24) as well as by the aor. subj. (θῇ). The putting under foot denotes the most perfect subjection in connection with the deepest humiliation. Comp. Joshua 10:24, where Joshua bade the captains of the men of war come near and put their feet upon the necks of the conquered kings of Canaan. A similar expression occurs in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet.” That which already has taken place in its essential principles through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (comp. Luke 10:18 f.; John 16:11; John 16:33), comes at last gradually to its fulfilment, being realized onward, step by step, until the grand termination is reached. Or, we may say, that that which was consummated by those acts in relation to Christ’s person, and which His followers may regard as having been accomplished also for them (comp. 1 John 5:4), is carried out at last in relation to the whole sphere of redemption along the lapse of ages, and finally comes to its complete fulfilment after the fearful conflicts of the last times.
Out of the whole number of foes here alluded to, the apostle brings prominently to view that one whose destruction forms the close of the forementioned subjugation.—The last enemy (that) shall be destroyed (is) death.—[So the English version renders ’Εσχατος ἐχθρὸς καταργεῖται ὁ θάνατος. Εσχατος is an adjective used for an adverb of time. (Jelf. gr. gram. § 714, 2, b). Accordingly we should perhaps better translate: “Lastly, death, the enemy, shall be destroyed.” Tyndale: “And at the laste, death, the enemy, shall be distried.” Rheims: “And the enemie death shal be destroied last.”22 This enemy is destroyed when the resurrection is complete. By this event the power of death is forever annulled, and there is no such thing more as dying or being dead. Death is here personified as in Revelation 20:14. He is termed an enemy, inasmuch as he entered as a disturbing force into the original constitution of God, which was one of pure life and the unfolding of life. Moreover, in the destruction of death, the devil,—he who has the power of death—is rendered utterly powerless, as it were, in his last bulwark, and incapacitated for any injurious reaction upon the kingdom of God. But from this fact we are by no means justified in identifying death and the devil, as Usteri does.
That all hostile powers are finally done away, is still further established (1 Corinthians 15:27).—For he hath put all things under his feet.—The argument is either this, “He hath put everything under Him, hence also death;” or, more indirectly, “Inasmuch as God hath subjected every thing to Him, by this means a perfect harmony has been established, which would not be possible, unless death were done away.” The apostle here introduces, without any formula of citation, words taken from Psalms 8:7. (lxx. “πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ.” “Thou hast put all things under his feet.”) That he intended these words as a quotation, is seen from what follows. What the Psalmist said in relation to man whom God had endowed with divine majesty and worth, and established as lord over this lower creation, is referred anagogically by Paul to that person in whom the idea of humanity is perfectly realized; and in so doing he takes the word “all,” on which the emphasis rests, in its most comprehensive sense. [“This may be called the hidden meaning of the Psalm, because it never would have been discovered without a further revelation, such as we find in the exposition given by the inspired apostles.” Hodge]. To understand “God” as the subject here was, in part, very possible, (“since, indeed, He is the One who works through all things,” Neander), and, in part, very natural, because of the obvious suggestion of the text of the Psalm.—He now turns back to the subject of the surrender of the kingdom, showing more fully that it included also the subjection of Christ himself. But before exhibiting this point positively, he obviates an unsuitable extension of the word “all,” as though God himself might be included therein. This exception he states as something self-evident, and then introduces the positive counterpart.—But when he shall have said,—ὀ̓ταν δὲ ἐίπη; the subject here is God. The point intended is diiferently interpreted. Some take it that Paul here meant to explain the language of Scripture, and to obviate any misconception in regard to it, so that the word “said” refers back to the Scriptural expression, which is thus designated as a declaration of God himself. (Comp. on 1 Corinthians 6:16.) In this case, “when” (ὄταν) would be equivalent to, ‘in so far as,’ or, ‘in that,’ q.d., ‘in that he said.’ Others, like Meyer, regard it as an expansion of the thought, and as designating a future point of time, ‘when he shall have declared,’ i.e., has publicly announced that the subjection has been complete, and the work of Christ finished,—that all things have been subjected,—Since this yields a good sense, it is not necessary to deviate from the ordinary use of “when,” which prevails in the context.—it is evident that—We are here to supply, ‘all things have been subjected,’—excepting him who subjected all things to him.—This observation might be attributed to the germs of the Gnostic view, which elevated Christ above the Father as an imperfect O. T. God. It is, however, unnecessary to suppose such a reference; and the remark may have also a purely dialectic significance, as implying, ‘so far from this expression meaning, that God should be included in the “all,” that, on the contrary, when he shall have said: all things have been subjected, the exception is manifest,’ etc.—And when all things shall have been subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him,—The verbs ὑποταγῇ and ὑποταγήσεται may be both taken as middle, subject themselves, only with this difference, that in the former case the subjection is one grounded in the consciousness of a perfect weakness, and in the latter case, as an act of the highest willingness; or both verbs may be passive, be subdued, only with the distinction that in the former case the subjection is one of constraint, and in the latter of free self-determination. Both interpretations amount to the same thing. The self-subjection of the Son coincides with that surrender of the kingdom mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:24; and we must here either limit the idea of the Son to the human nature of Christ, from doing which the expression “the Son also himself,” is sufficient to restrain us; or we must refer it to the church, the mystical body of Christ, for doing which, 1 Corinthians 12:12 gives us no justification on account of the diversity of the expressions, “Son”—“Christ;” nor yet are we warranted in interpreting the self-subjection into the perfect oneness of thought (πολλή ὁμὀνοια) between the Son and the Father, or into a manifestation of His dependence on God in respect to His glory. The Apostle here points to one of the deep things of the Godhead, viz., that the coequal Son, who is Himself essentially God, even when at the highest point of His glory, subjects Himself, with all that has been subdued under Him, unto the Father, choosing even in His majesty as Lord of all to be dependant upon the Father wholly and forever. The title Son is given to Christ in our epistle, in only one other passage. “Christ gives the power conferred on Him, back into His Father’s hands, not to possess it no more, but in order to possess it again, as He possessed it in communion with the Father, from all eternity, before the foundations of the world were laid.” Burger. “The historic Christ, as such, is perpetually distinguished from God. Christ will subject Himself, yet not in the same way as He subjected His enemies.” Neander. [“The subjection here spoken of is not predicated of the eternal Logos, the second person of the Trinity, any more than the kingdom spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:24, is the dominion which belongs essentially to Christ as God. As there the word Christ designates the Theanthropos, so does the word Son here designate, not the Logos as such, but the Logos as incarnate.” Hodge]. The adjuncts “also himself,” serve to set forth more prominently the exalted character of the Son. [“Himself”—voluntarily. “Himself” is contrasted with “all things,” so that it denotes the infinite excellence of the Son; and besides, as often, it signifies something voluntary; for the Son subordinates Himself to the Father; the Father glorifies the Son.” Bengel]. That by this subordination the Trinity itself becomes, as it were, dissolved, is a very strange assertion (de Wette); on the contrary, the absolute unity in the distinction of persons will only become the more entirely, conspicuous. Now comes the final clause with which this survey concludes, stating the object to be obtained—in order that God may be the all things in all.—This statement is used as the main authority for the support of the doctrine of a final restoration of all things. The expression, “be the all things,” signifies primarily absolute supremacy, or rule, [without the intervention of mediators or subordinates, such as acted with a sort of delegated authority under God in the mediatorial kingdom.] But how are we to understand the other expression—“in all?” Is the adjective to be construed as masculine or neuter? On the former supposition its scope must be limited to believers, members of the kingdom that has been hitherto ruled by Christ (Meyer); and this entirely excludes the doctrine of restoration. On the other supposition, all created existences must be here understood, in which God will be the all determining power,—hence, also Satan and his angels included; and thus with this will come the cessation of damnation, and so the restoration of all things. But could the Apostle Paul, who puts the lost in contrast with the saved, as he does in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (comp. Philippians 3:19), have had such a doctrine in mind? Still less indeed could he have intended any pantheistic absorption of all creatures in God, and so the annihilation of all distinct personality, since this is already opposed by the doctrine of the resurrection. If we take the words “in all” in a narrower sense it is natural to include in them also the angels (comp. Ephesians 1:10), and to suppose not only the absolute supremacy of the divine will among them, but also an absolute communication and perfect revelation of the divine love, as intended. In both these things together there is included the complete manifestation of God’s glory. According to Romans 8:19 ff. the expression “in all” might be extended to the entire irrational creation making the adjective neuter. The immediate context however does not conduct us to such an interpretation, though the idea is in itself correct and appropriate. Neander explains the thought thus: “that God may work with all things without the intervention of a Mediator.”—If we take the expression “in all” in its widest sense, including therein also beings until then hostile to God, then we might with Calvin explain the expression “be all,” so far as it bears on such parties to imply “that in their destruction the glory of God will be conspicuous.” But although we may variously modify and limit the words “be all” according to the various capacities or receptivities of the creatures contemplated, yet we cannot include in it both the idea of glorification as shown in the highest self-communication of the Deity and also that which is shown in the destruction of the creature; and only when we look away from the subjective side, or have in view the absolutely objective universal sovereignty of God can we take the words “in all” in this comprehensive sense, so that in reference to beings that are hostile to God there will be meant here the removal of all opposition on their part and their absolute impotence. But the question is, whether in setting forth the consummation of the ways of God, or of His entire economy, such an interpretation of the expression “be all” suffices?—The problem here presented is, so to understand the word destruction (ἀπώλεια) that God’s being ‘all in all’ is possible when understood even in the wider sense, and not simply as a controlling power in the hearts of the faithful; and so to explain the being ‘all in all’ that the idea conveyed by the destruction of the wicked shall not be altered. And it is a question whether this problem has been solved in the doctrinal method proposed by Beck, according to which the Scripture exhibits the destruction (ἀπώλεια) of the lost (unspiritual) soul as an ultimate result in which, as a second death, the whole being becomes pervaded by death, and so the very personality ceases in dying; or, in other words, the personal conscious life becomes annihilated, although all existence itself does not cease (Bibl. Seelenlehre, pp. 19, 40). This will then be more accurately conceived thus; ‘that the kingdom of heaven, by means of a regeneration which with the purging away of all dross restores a pure state of life, obtains for itself a new organization of the heavens and the earth to be the theatre for the display of its own peculiar glory, and so becomes an immediate theocracy in the absolute and perpetual reign of God, without the human mediatorial form of Christ which had been assumed only for a season, but not therefore without His distinctive character as a Son which He holds in the being of the Triune God, where God is the fullness of life in all its purity and perfection in all the living. To enter however more fully into this subject does not fall within the province of exegesis.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
[1. The Gospel—its historical character. In its essential elements the Gospel is not a system of abstract truths deduced by reason, but a summary of marvellous facts which have occurred in the history of the world through the direct interposition of God, and which were designed for man’s salvation. Of these the great central ones are the appearing, expiatory death, resurrection and ascension of the long foretold Messiah, forming altogether the good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. It was mainly in the proclamation and attestation of these facts that preaching originally consisted; and such must ever be one of the chief characteristics of evangelical preaching, differencing it from all other kinds of discourse. The ground on which it relies for acceptance must be, therefore, primarily of a historical kind—the testimony of sound and competent witnesses declaring plainly that the facts announced are so as stated. And in accordance with this, evangelical faith must ever have the form of a cordial belief in the testimony adduced, and of an acceptance of the facts unto the ends contemplated in them. If, then, the testimony be such as stands the test of the most searching scrutiny, and seems altogether unimpeachable, we may go on preaching and believing, undisturbed by any objections which human science or philosophy may be disposed to make, No argument can have available force against any stupenduous fact of which it may be said, “thus it was foretold ages ago, and thus it has come to pass as witnessed by a large number of honest and sane men.” And in regard to such a fact we may feel assured that, let objectors argue as they may, it will prove its consistency with all other facts and truths of the world’s history, and will also vindicate its importance by other manifestations accordant in dignity and kind with itself. It cannot stand alone. If e.g. it be a fact that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,” there was manifested here in human nature a power over death which, as happening by itself and for its own sake only, must ever remain an inexplicable phenomenon. Therein we behold a revelation of Divine Omnipotence and Love, which at once inspires hope, and seems to render the resurrection of others both possible and probable. The inference is one which nothing can hinder us from drawing and resting in. The main thing which concerns us, therefore, is the certainty of the underlying fact; and in regard to this we are not left in doubt. The resurrection of Christ is one of the best attested events in history. The skepticism which discards this must, to be consistent with itself, at the same time set at naught all history. And the faith which accepts this must, to be consistent with itself, accept the whole Gospel which centres in Jesus Christ, “who was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.”]
2. The Resurrection of Christ,—its import and bearings. This great fact which, next to that of our Lord’s atoning death, formed the main topic of the apostle’s preaching, serves at once to illustrate and confirm the truth of man’s salvation in a two-fold direction. 1. Retrospectively. That Christ rose from the dead in fulfilment of what He had, in part, hinted, and in part, definitely predicted before His death, furnishes abundant proof in favor of His incarnation and atoning death. Had He remained in the grave the conclusion would have been that He was nothing less than a false prophet, a betrayer, a blasphemer, who had suffered death justly; but then, what an inexplicable riddle his life would have been! Besides, how fatal to the faith and hope of Christians would such continuance under the power of death have been! There could be no forgiveness of sins through His blood, no life, no blessedness through His name! To follow Him in self denial and devotion were but to make life more miserable, and those who died believing in Him only perish like all the rest of mankind. But now having in truth arisen to an endless life by the power of God, He appears before as God’s Holy One who could not see corruption—as the servant of the Lord, who, in his death, has been commissioned to bear our sins—as the righteous One who, having made His soul an offering for sin, would still prolong His days and see His seed, and through His knowledge justify many—as the Son to whom the Father hath given to have life in himself, and so could impart life to others—in short, as the one who is to abide forever as “the Way, the Truth and Life.” 2. Prospectively, in relation to what must yet happen for the fulfilment of God’s gracious consel. Through Christ, as the risen One, death, the wages of sin, is essentially destroyed. It has been so already, in so far as by His resurrection the atoning power of His death has been sealed. But it will be so still more, in so far as He, the Head of a new humanity, redeemed and restored to God, had passed out from under that death in which He had suffered the judgment of sin for all, into an imperishable life, and has thereby, been, as it were, set up, both in humanity and for it, as the principle and power of a new life, capable of vanquishing death and enduring unto immortality, and is now carrying on a most comprehensive work, first, inwardly, in creating the new man through the regenerating and quickening power of His Spirit, and, next, in developing this spiritual life throughout our entire organism. The life thus begun and developed, will be manifest, first, in those who belong to Him, when he shall appear again in glory (this is called the first resurrection); and then it will show itself in the rest of mankind—so far as through all the revelations of His life onward to its onward consummation some susceptibility for these can be awakened—until the work of redemption is accomplished, and all opposition is vanquished, and the power of death is entirely destroyed, and a new external realm is organized, suited to the inward perfection of the whole mass of redeemed men and celestial spirits, who are united in Christ as their Head, and in and with Him are made absolutely subjected to God—a realm pervaded in all its parts by the power of the Holy Love of God that is henceforth, to regulate all things. All that is not included in this new organization will utterly perish through obstinate resistance, being excluded from all the blessed realities of a universe that has entered into the Divine life with and in Christ.
[3. The mediatorial reign of Christ. The risen Saviour is declared in the Scriptures to have “ascended on high” and to be “set down on the right-hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens,” “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also, in that which is to come.” His ascension was, therefore, the inauguration into universal sovereignty of the incarnate Logos, the God-Man, or Theathropos—a sovereignty which had indeed been prepared for from the beginning, and also had been in a measure, exercised in another form (for the Word or Logos had been in the world before, as a Light which lighteth every man), but which was not actually entered upon until after the successful achievement of the priestly work on which it was conditioned. It was because “He had been found in fashion as a man, and had humbled himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, that God exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that to Him every knee should bow and every tongue confess that He was Lord.” And the ulterior end of all this was “the glory of God, the Father.” But, although now reigning in heaven, it cannot yet be said that His kingdom has come, since its glory is not manifest. This is an object still to be anticipated and prayed for. Meanwhile, a great preparation is making for its advent by the ministration of the Spirit; and this dispensation will go on until He who has gone to take unto Himself the kingdom, shall return in power and great glory, gather about Him the servants whom He had entrusted with His gifts, and appoint the faithful to their larger trusts of dominion under him. It is at this point that the Redeemer’s kingdom may be fairly said to begin in its perfect form upon the earth; as it is then that the proclamation will be made, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign unto the ages of ages.” What the particular nature of this administration will be, this is not the place to discuss. But as this reign will have a beginning, and a specific object, it is natural to conclude that it will also come to an end, when this object shall have been accomplished. And that there will be a fixed period for its perfect accomplishment, when Christ can say “it is finished,”—just as when He made this same solemn declaration on completing His work as Mediator and Sacrifice on the cross, we have every reason to infer from the very fullness of power that dwelt in Him. To be ever doing and never to have done, especially in such a work as the overthrowing of rebellion, would be an imputation upon His all-sufficiency. We must, therefore, look for a time when the object for which He took upon Himself our nature shall be accomplished, and the glory of His victory shall shine forth in unquestionable splendor and majesty. At what moment this crisis will arrive, we know not; but we know that it will not come until after a long series of mighty events, both blessed and awful, of the nature of which we have some foreshadowing in the book of Revelation. The conclusion of all these will be the general resurrection, and the final judgment which shall determine the ultimate destinies of all the righteous and the wicked. This will be “the end,” when Christ shall deliver up this mediatorial reign unto the Father that appointed Him, and God shall rule, just as He did before the apostasy of Satan and the fall of man, throughout a universe, untroubled by the presence of evil and hence not needing the intervention of a theanthropic Mediator and his subordinates.
Here certain questions arise. (1) What shall become of the wicked when God is the “all in all?” Shall they be restored? or annihilated? or still continue to exist in some place outside the sphere of God’s presence and glory? Certainly not restored; for in the general judgment they are sentenced to “depart” as “cursed into everlasting fire.” Not annihilated; for then where would be the necessity of the everlasting fire? We must, therefore, suppose them to be shut up, as it were, in some prison house, in some outer darkness, where they shall be as if they were not; and neither the sight, nor the hearing, nor the influence of them shall, in any way disturb the blessedness which shall reign supreme throughout the realms of God, the Father, in whose presence there will be a fullness of joy forever and ever.—(2) What are to be the relations of the glorified God-Man unto the people whom He has redeemed? That the Logos will cast off the nature which He had assumed, and become as before the incarnation, can hardly be supposed. If not, how will the surrender of the kingdom to the Father then affect His previous position as the head of the Church?—Is His sovereignty over believers to cease, and His followers to be brought into any more direct connection with God the Father, than before? The intimations of Scripture in regard to the perpetuity of Christ’s Headship hardly allow of such a supposition. And yet, a change of administration in some sort is very plainly predicted. God is to be the “all in all” in some special and more perfect sense than He was before the surrender. It may be that on the quelling of rebellion, and on the ingathering of all the redeemed (the veil of all mediatorship being removed) there will shine forth upon the immediate apprehension of saints and angels, as the result of this long and wonderful history, far richer displays of the Divine wisdom, power and glory, than ever were witnessed before, and that in that beatific vision their happiness is to be perfected. But on this point the wisest course, perhaps, will be to suspend all speculation, and leave the subject in that sublime suggestiveness where the language of the apostle leaves it—“God shall be all in all.”]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Starke:— 1 Corinthians 15:1-2. Hed.: Do not forget what you so often hear, nor yet adulterate the savor of the word. Thousands hear and receive not—receive and keep not—keep and feel not the word of life. This is the great condemnation and blindness of these times!—If thou receivest the word, then thou art already blessed, not only because thou hadst a sure hope of blessedness, but also because thou hast within thee the earnest of the future world, and with this the foretaste of blessedness in thine heart (Hebrews 6:5).—It is not enough to have begun well, if the end does not also accord with the beginning. He who apostatizes from the faith, has believed in vain, and incurs a greater damnation than if he had never believed (2 Peter 2:21).—1 Corinthians 15:3-4. Christ is the center of the Holy Scriptures, the foundation of our faith, especially in His death for our sins and His resurrection for our righteousness. Without the knowledge of these facts all science is ignorance.—The Holy Spirit explains through the apostles what He had formerly spoken through the prophets concerning Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:5 ff. Upon sorrow follows joy: thou weepest because Jesus thy Friend has concealed Himself; thou wilt rejoice again when He shall reveal Himself unto thee (John 16:22).—Hast thou sinned, repent; then will Jesus appear to you with His grace (Matthew 26:75).—Who can doubt the resurrection of Christ? It has been confirmed by some hundreds of witnesses.—Though thou hast not seen Jesus the risen One with thine eyes, yet behold Him in faith, and thou wilt hereafter be certain to behold Him in glory (John 20:29; 1 Peter 1:8).
1 Corinthians 15:8 ff. The grace of God is shown where the greatest of sinners are; and such often become the most edifying preachers, when through the grace of God they have been led to cast off the yoke of sin (Psalms 51:13).—The sins committed before conversion are indeed forgiven; but they leave behind them a troubling remembrance for our humiliation, especially when others have been scandalized thereby, and the world knows of them.—Hed: Humble boasting, holy pride, to say to Satan, ‘God has become strong in us!’ But what does this word mean in the mouth of the godless? Are they partakers of Divine grace? Does it work in them to God’s glory?
1 Corinthians 15:12 f. It is all the same whether we deny the resurrection by word or deed.—The articles of our Christian faith hang together like a chain. When one is broken, the whole is broken. This is what makes error so fearful. Let a person guard himself at the start, lest he fall from one error into another.
1 Corinthians 15:15. Preachers should see to it that they do not make themselves false witnesses for God by producing lying fables, and turning aside from the truth of the Gospel in their teachings.
1 Corinthians 15:16. Those who deride the resurrection of the dead are like wild boars of the forest who would root up and overturn the very foundations of the faith. But they will not succeed. The truth will stand while they perish.
1 Corinthians 15:17. Faith must lay hold upon Christ as a living Saviour, and enter with Him into eternal life.
1 Corinthians 15:19. The simple life of the children of this world is indeed more miserable than the cross-life of believers. Nevertheless that man is to be deemed the most miserable of all, who, while not believing in the resurrection of Christ and eternal life, yet subjects himself legally to the rules of Christianity and. endures persecution for its sake.
1 Corinthians 15:20. A true member of Christianity who, without any self-deception, carries in himself the witness of his spiritual resurrection has no cause to be afraid of death—no more than he has to be afraid of that natural sleep, which the weary court for their refreshment.—Through the resurrection of Christ we receive all power unto life, and upon this there follows the full harvest of the general resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:22. Let no one be astonished that we shall all be made alive on account of the Lord Jesus: for if one man was able to introduce death upon all; why should not also one man, who is at the same time God, and who makes all things alive, restore life to all the dead?
1 Corinthians 15:24. Spener: The Lord lays aside His previous sway over His kingdom, where he commanded His gospel to be preached, and equipped and sent out His servants into the work, and poured out His Spirit and His blessing upon the word given, in order that men might be converted, enlightened, regenerated, justified, sanctified, disciplined by the cross, and protected against the devil, and where He now wins over him one victory after another—this supremacy he lays aside with the public and actual attestation in heaven before God and all the angels and saints that He had fulfilled His Father’s will, and had finished his work; and, together with this he will then, as their Head, present his believing ones to the Father as henceforth fully blessed and fit for the enjoyment of a perfect felicity for ever more. Regnum non cessabit, sed modus regnandi per fidem. (Chemnity).
1 Corinthians 15:25 ff. After Christ has overcome everything in the subjects of His kingdom, there yet remains Death, who, so long as they lie in their graves, still in a certain sense holds them captive; but in the resurrection Death too is destroyed, and in its place there reigns eternal life (Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:4.
1 Corinthians 15:28. In the surrender of his kingdom, Christ, as the God-Man, the Head and Mediator of the church, will show also His own subjection to the Father.—For the present, and so long as the work of restoration endures, Christ is called “the all in all” (Colossians 3:11); but when the saints are made perfect, and, having been freed from all sin and its consequences, are surrendered to the Heavenly Father, then, by virtue of Christ’s accomplished mediation, will the Heavenly Father together with the Son and Holy Spirit, become directly “the all things in all” to them, and fill their understanding with His Divine wisdom, their wills with His Divine holiness, their desires with His Divine sweetness and joy, their bodies with heavenly glory and delight, and, in short, their entire selves wholly with Himself forever and ever Spener: God will then hold converse with His saints without any mediation, since they will see Him as He is, and He, without obstruction, will have glory over all, and shine in all and through all.
1 Corinthians 15:1 f. The Gospel must be inwardly received, and for this result God must prepare, enlighten, and sanctify the heart. This happens when we yield to the Holy Spirit. Then the hungry heart receives the Word with joy, and learns to behold Jesus and His salvation there, because it sees itself to be so empty and destitute of grace.—It belongs to the proper acceptance of the Word that we learn to abide fast in known truth; since the knowledge of our need ever drives us to our own hearts, where the Lord Jesus and. His holy word are implanted. God’s gift and calling are without repentance. God has taken us once for all into His care. If we will only abide therein, nothing can be wanting to us in the future, for our salvation will never cost Him more than it did at the beginning. For our sakes, however, it is, said, “Hold fast that which thou hast” (Revelation 3:11).—The tidings that ‘Christ lives,’ and that this brings after it the resurrection of the others is so important that, for the sake of it, Paul is willing to let every thing else go. If the truth of Christ’s history is not inwardly confirmed, then an hour of temptation may easily come when, for many, all foundation in Christ may be shaken by reason and unbelief, as well as by the assaults of foes.
1 Corinthians 15:3. When the soul wrestles against sin, it will often appear to it as if Christ had not died for our sins. But Christ has died, and thereby expiated our sins, in order that we, being planted together with Him in the likeness of His death, may die unto sin, and live unto righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). We then truly experience that Christ was slain for our sins in the flesh, when, through His death, our own sin is also daily slain. How can we comfort ourselves in the death of Jesus Christ if we still live in those sins unto which we must die?—Sharp compunctions of heart in repentance under the law are needed, ere we can become fit for, and participate in the super-abundant grace of Christ. This pearl belongs only to the pure, and not to swinish hearts which trample it under their feet.
1 Corinthians 15:4. Where the new life does not exist, there can be no power or certainty in the resurrection of Christ. Indeed, men are rather ashamed of it in works, when they confess it only with the mouth.—If we believe not the power of Christ’s life, then we have neither the will nor the power to be free from sin. But if such truths are not made known in power, how will men be disposed to receive them, and to stand therein?
1 Corinthians 15:5. It was necessary that Christ should reveal Himself also as a living one; for in so doing He has adapted Himself to our understandings; for he, who proposes to impart a great light to any one, does this gradually, for the sake of those weak eyes which could not endure a strong light let in upon them at once.—The seeing of Christ bodily did not help those Jews who believed not. We must therefore know Him in Spirit, and learn to recognize Him as present in our hearts.—He must dwell in us by faith, speak inns and through us, enlighten, sanctify, and purify us, as He needs did it in Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:9. This is what a scholar of Christ learns from his Master, when, as a weary one, he comes to the “Lowly in heart,” viz., the deepest humility.
1 Corinthians 15:10. Whatever of good we have or do, is all owing to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This grace, then, by which Christ designs to live in us, we should not suffer to remain in us to no purpose.—When we are in Jesus, we learn to arrogate nothing to ourselves exclusively, but to lay the greatest gifts of grace humbly at the feet of God, and to be as if we had them not. Only the grace of God must not be suffered to lie idle in us. This is an essential part of holiness, to unite with the holy and the glorified in heaven in casting all crowns, all praise, and honor, and glory, at the feet of God and the Lamb, and to confess, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but Thine be the praise.” In this way a soul sinks and loses itself in God, who is the source of its being, just as a drop of water is merged in the great sea, and becomes again what it was in the beginning.
1 Corinthians 15:14. If we have no living Saviour, whereupon then does the whole Christian religion rest? All grace, forgiveness, righteousness, springs from the resurrection of Christ, and is founded thereupon.
1 Corinthians 15:17. The greatest fruit of the resurrection is deliverance from those sins for which Christ died. Then does our faith become true, and firm, and actual.
1 Corinthians 15:19. Men who long after pleasure and worldly delights, and riches, and honor, have some actual good here; but it is only a seeming good. But if Christians, who make the life of God, even eternal life, their chief end, and hope for the same, and strive after it, have only a hope of it, and not the actual enjoyment and. the substance of it, then are they of all persons the most miserable.
1 Corinthians 15:25. “He must reign”—this is not yet fulfilled, but it is in process of consummation, and it must pass through many stages ere it comes to the end.
1 Corinthians 15:26. The appropriation of the ransom involves the removal of all that which deserves to be called death. The full consummation of this is indeed to be deferred unto the end: but since so much precedes, we cannot doubt the result.
1 Corinthians 15:27. All created things, in the end, become subordinate to their rightful Lord, and become so subject as to stand under Him in whom God had created them in the beginning.
1 Corinthians 15:28. The divine subjection of the Son of God unto the Father will bring with it something more glorious than His previous sovereign rule. Sin and imperfection will no more be found in any creature; but every thing will be directly ruled by God, each in its own measure, just as the humanity of Jesus was ruled by His divinity: hence, there will be no more any need of governing through the person of a Mediator.—When God shall become “all in all,” and when the creatures made subject to God and Christ are thoroughly penetrated by the Spirit of God in all their being and powers, so that they with God, and God with them, shall become one spirit, then will the future holy and righteous world, wherein Christ has ruled, lose itself, as it were, in the still all-blessed eternity; yet, it will not thereby pass away, but only enter into the sweetest state of peace, where we shall know by experience as little of what is meant by devil, sin, death, wrath, or hell, as was known of these things when as yet all creatures lay concealed in the eternal creative power of God, or when, in the beginning of their creation, they were all alike very good.—O, what a depth of riches, wisdom, righteousness, mercy, and love in God!
1 Corinthians 15:1 f. In regard to every new doctrine that is propounded, we must inquire first whether it is consistent with the original apostolic doctrine, and whether we have reason for changing the old faith. Thoughtlessly to change our faith is a matter which touches our salvation. An unchanging adherence to primitive Christianity must be a fundamental principle with the Christian; he who objects to this, ceases to be one.
1 Corinthians 15:3 f. Christianity is: 1. established upon accredited facts; 2. exceedingly simple. Its sum is: 1. the atonement through Christ; 2. the divine acceptance of it proved by the resurrection; and 3. the fruit of redemption, viz., our future glory. If Christ’s death purifies us from sins, justifies us, and obligates us to die unto sin, so does His burial show us how we should conceal ourselves from the world, and avoid its temptations; and the resurrection gives us new eternal life, that we may long after heavenly things and strive to obtain them.
1 Corinthians 15:9. In all that we have become through God, we should never forget what we once were. The greater our former humiliation, the more wonderful the height to which God raises us.
1 Corinthians 15:10. The humble recognition of divine grace characterizes all saints.—Humility does not require the ignoring of what we are, and what we have performed; but we must give God the honor.—Luther: “Of myself I have enough to humble and crush me; but on and in God I have reason to be proud, and to be glad at His gifts, and to rejoice, and triumph, and boast. But it is all to the praise and glory of God.” Without humility, high achievements, distinguished success and labors bring us into great danger, and make us the more guilty before God.
W. F. Besser:
1 Corinthians 15:2. All, all is given to us by the grace of God. He calls us through the gospel; He works faith; He makes us happy in the fellowship of His dear son, and not so much forces us into such happiness as keeps us back from the iniquity, and the unfaithfulness, and the unthankfulness of those who refuse the gospel (Hebrews 12:25), or who turn from it after they have received it.—1 Corinthians 15:2-4. Preserve us, O Lord, by thy Word! Grant us such a hearing of the Word that we may derive from its proclamation a clearer knowledge of its chief facts, the proper seat and fountain of gospel life, and may look ever more profoundly, even to the very foundation whereon our salvation is based.
1 Corinthians 15:1-20. Pericope for Easter. 1. The Christian’s faith is a well-grounded one; it rests, a. upon our own experience of its beatific power (1 Corinthians 15:1-2); b. upon Christ’s holiness and truth, confirmed by His death and resurrection (3); c. upon several divine confirmations of the mission of Jesus, among which the resurrection is the chief, established by many witnesses (4–7); d. upon the continual operations of Christianity (the conversion of Paul, the spread of Christianity), which are evidently a work of divine grace (8–10). 2. The progressive stages of Christian faith, a. The knowledge of the gospel from its preaching, which one has often heard and considered (1), and has understood as to its great object (2); b. a firm conviction of the truth of the history of Jesus, His death and resurrection; c. experience of the power of the grace of God in one’s own heart, which sheds a light in the soul (8); and puts us to shame, and discloses our former hostility to God (9); but also creates us anew unto good works (10). 3. The close connection between doctrine and history in Christianity. On 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, compare Dr. Steinkopf in “One Lord, one faith,” p. 189 f. Three chief pillars of the Christian faith. a. Christ’s death for our sins sweetens to every believer that death which appears so fearful to the unbeliever or formal Christian, b. His burial and rest in the grave eclaircises the view of the Christian as he looks into the grave so dark and fearful. c. His victorious resurrection has stamped upon the Saviour’s person a doctrine and word the seal of divinity, and is the sure pledge of our resurrection. On 1 Corinthians 15:10 th see Harm’s “Winter-postille.” Man’s work, without God’s grace, is, a. low, bad and vain; b. through, with, and in God’s grace it is glorious, righteous, and enduring.
1 Corinthians 15:13. In all the propositions which we receive, we should consider their bearings upon faith.
1 Corinthians 15:17 ff. He who takes from us faith in Christ, snatches away all consolation. The Christian faith, without a future life, is a thing most irrational and comfortless; since Christianity would then impose upon its confessors the severest self-denials, conflicts and sacrifices, and in earthly things insure us nothing; and Christians would then cleave to a deceptive image, and contemn the only real thing which remains to them. Earthly life, without its consummation in eternity is a vain sport.
1 Corinthians 15:20. The resurrection of Christ as the entrance into an eternal, indestructible life, is the pledge of eternal life for us—not simply a proof for the possibility of our resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:22. Our mortal first parent begat mortal men. Christ has the right and the power to quicken all again; this happens through our spiritual union with Him.
1 Corinthians 15:24 ff. The history of Christ will not come to its end for a long time. The most important thing is still in advance.—So long as the Messianic kingdom stands, God’s glory is mediately bound to this economy. Every thing which God does, He does through the Messiah. This economy, when it has fulfilled its object, will give place to the immediate reign of God. God, as Lord and Father, will reign immediately over all, and impart Himself directly to all, without the intervention of a mediator. The use of the Scriptures, and of the sacraments, will cease, because no more needed.
1 Corinthians 15:26. The victory which Christ has achieved over death: a. What death had been for us without His resurrection. b. How Christ has conquered him through His resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:3. The death of Christ. 1. Its nature—a true and proper death. 2. Some peculiar adjuncts, which commend it to our regard as being, a. a result of God’s eternal decree; b. a matter of free consent and compact between the Father and Son; c. anciently prefigured and predicted; d. executed by God’s hand and providence; man concurring; e. the death of a person so holy and so excellent. 3. The principles and impressive and meritorious causes thereof. a. It originated in the love of God the Father, and in the love of the Song of Song of Solomon 4:0. The ends aimed at, its fruits and effects. a. The illustration of God’s glory. b. The dignifying and exalting of the Lord Jesus. c. The salvation of mankind. 5. The practical influences which its consideration should have; a. should beget the highest degree of love and gratitude toward God and Christ; b. should excite in us great faith and hope in God; c. should comfort us and satisfy conscience in regard to guilt; d. should discover unto us the heinousness of our sins; e. should work in us kindly contrition and remorse; f. should deter us from the repetition of sins; g. should engage us to patient submission and resignation to God’s will; h. should oblige us to the deepest mortification in conformity to Christ’s death; i. should engage us to the fullest measure of charity toward our brethren; j. should bind us to yield us up wholly to the service of our Saviour.]
R. Stier:—1 Corinthians 15:1-10.—The three pillars of our faith. 1. Scripture—giving the account of Christ beforehand. 2. History—proving Scripture fulfilled. 3. The effects of grace in converting the bitterest of foes, such as Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:20. The Lord is risen, indeed; as proven by reliable testimony. 1. The “witnesses were competent judges of what they asserted, as is evident: a. from their numbers; b. from the nature of the fact. 2. They were faithful and upright witnesses. a. Their writings proved them well meaning. b. Had no advantage to gain. c. They met with success such as God only could give. 3. There is besides the witness of an ever-present Spirit, which takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us.
Ibid:—1 Corinthians 15:21-22. Death by Adam, life by Christ. 1. The malady. a. Death moral, b. Death natural. c. Death eternal. 2. The cure. a. Deliverance from condemnation, b. Deliverance from the power of sin. c. Deliverance from the fear and power of death, d. Eternal blessedness and glory.
1 Corinthians 15:22. The power of the resurrection of Christ. 1. A great public manifestation of His authority over the power of physical decay and death. 2. This power exercised with a view to the beings He came to redeem. 3. Consequently, the resurrection power did not cease after Christ’s departure, but, on the contrary, it was not till then adequately in action. 4. The final consummation of the resurrection work to be greatly desired.
R. Hall:—1 Corinthians 15:26. Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed. 1. Nature of this enemy, and why called the last. 2. The manner and the successive stages in which our Lord has already conquered in part, and will completely conquer this last enemy.
H. Melvill:—The termination of the mediatorial kingdom. 1. Christ is now vested with a kingly authority, which He must hereafter resign. 2. As a consequence of this resignation, God himself will become all in all to the universe].
[1 Corinthians 15:4.—Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Alford put τῇ τῆτρίη after ἡμέρα. Alford thinks that the Rec. (which puts those words before ἡμέρα) was an alteration to conform to Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:23; and from not perceiving the solemnity and emphasis of the other arrangement. Lachmann’s reading is best sustained by the uncials (A. B. D. E. Sinait.), but the Rec. has in its favor F. G. K. L., with the Vulg., Pesch., Goth., Basm., Chr., Theodt., et al.—C.P. W.].
[1 Corinthians 15:5.—For δώδεκα D. E. F. G., the Ital., Vulg., Goth., later Syr. (Marg.), Arm., Slav., and a number of the Fathers have ἐνδεκα. Augustine mentions “nonnulli codices” of this kind. It was, however, a correction for greater accuracy, while the Apostle used the official designation. Comp. John 20:19 : comp. 24.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:61 Corinthians 15:6.—Lachmann throws out καὶ; but it has important MSS. in its favor, and it was likely to be left out as superfluous, [or from the copyists confounding- ε καὶ with the first two syllables of the next word. It is omitted by A. (probably). B. D. F. G., the Ital., Vulg., Goth., Copt., Basm., later Syr., Aug., Ambst.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:71 Corinthians 15:7.—Tischendorf has ἐ̓πειτα but the Rec. and Lachmann have εἰτα. The MSS. are about equally balanced.
1 Corinthians 15:101 Corinthians 15:10.—Lachmann has σὺν ἐμοί without the ἡ before them [with B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., Ital., Vulg., Orig. (latin), and the Latin writers]. In like manner Meyer, who thinks that “the article was inserted partly, perhaps, in a merely mechanical way after ἡ εἰς ἐγὼ but also to some extent intentionally, from a dogmatic prejudice, to bring out more completely a contrast to οὐκ ἐγὼ. A reason similar to this last was probably the occasion for the more feebly supported ἡ ἐν ἐμοί. Before εἰ̓ς ἐμέ also, the ἡ is wanting in D. (1st hand), F. G. The Vulg., Ital., and the Latin Fathers read gratia ejus in me. In this case, however, its introduction was not occasioned by the context, but the article seemed superfluous, and it was therefore omitted.”—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:121 Corinthians 15:12.—Tischendorf has ἐκ νεκρῶν ὀ̓τι, but the Rec. and Lachmann have ὅτι ἐκ νεκρῶν. The latter is best sustained. [It is thus found in A. B. D. (2d hand), K. L., perhaps all the cursives, the Vulg., Goth., Chrys., Theodt., and Iren. (translation).—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:121 Corinthians 15:12.—Tischendorf, with very good MSS., has ἐν ὐμῖν τινὲς, but the Rec. has τινὲς ἐν ὑμῖν. [The former order is found in A. B. Sinait., Syr. (both), Orig., Chrys., Damasc.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:141 Corinthians 15:14.—The καὶ before τὸ κήρυγμα is doubtful, as also is δὲ after κενή. Tischendorf has both; Lachmann has κ αὶ. but [brackets it, and] leaves out the δὲ; probably correctly. [A. D. E. F. G. K., Sinait., 20 cursives, Goth. and Basm. versions, Dial., and (Œum. have ἀ̓ρα καὶ (some Latin writers omit ἄρα also), and A. B. D. F. G., Sinait., 5 cursives, the Latin, Copt, versions, and a few Fathers omit δὲ—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:191 Corinthians 15:19.—Lachmann and Tischendorf, with a great preponderance of authority, place ἐν χριστῷ after ταύτη. The Rec. puts these words after ἐσμὲν, although this is not the lectio difficilior, [and hence it is likely to have been a transposition for perspicuity. Lachmann’s reading (ἐν χρ. ἠλτικότες ἐσμὲν μόνον) is also adopted by Alford, Stanley, and Wordsworth, in accordance with A. B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., 5 cursives, the Vulg. and Goth, versions, and some Latin Fathers. The confusion into which this text early fell, is apparent from the evident attempt (in Orig., the Vulg., Ital., Goth., Ambr.) to make μόνον precede ἐν Χριστῷ, so that it may be referred more distinctly to ἐν τῆ ζωῇ ταύτη alone, and not to the whole sentence, as it would, be if it were placed after ἐσμὲν. See Exeget. notes and Meyer—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:201 Corinthians 15:20.—The Rec. adds ἐγένετο at the end of the sentence, but it is feebly attested, and is pronounced by Meyer “a supplemental gloss.”
1 Corinthians 15:211 Corinthians 15:21.—In several important MSS. the article is wanting before θάνατος. Meyer thinks it was derived from Romans 5:12; but it might have fallen away on account of the parallel ἀνάστ. νεκρῶν.
1 Corinthians 15:241 Corinthians 15:24.—The Rec. has παραδῷ; but better authority exists in favor of παραδιδῷ and some good MSS. have παραδιδοῖ. The aorist was occasioned by a conformity to καταργήοη [without observing that ὀ̓ταν in the one case required an indefinite present, and in the other an aorist in the sense of a Fut. exact. Instead of παραδῷ (defended by Reiche, with K. L., Orig., Euseb. (com.), Epiph. (often Damasc.), we have παραδιδοι in B. F. G., and παραδιδῶ̣ in A. D. Sinait., Goth., Basm., and Sahid. versions, and the rest of the Greek Fathers.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:251 Corinthians 15:25.—The anthority for ἀ̓ν in the Rec. before θῆ is feeble. It is from the Sept. of Psalms 110:1.
1 Corinthians 15:251 Corinthians 15:25.—The authority for αὐτοῦ after ἐχθροὺς is not sufficient. [A. F. G., several codices of the Vulg., with the Goth., and a few Greek writers insert it, but it is omitted in B. D. K. L., Sinait. the Vulg. (best MSS.), the later Syr., and the most important Greek Fathers.—C. P. W.].
[1 Corinthians 15:26.—This verse is transferred by D. E., Sinait. (1st hand), one copy of the Vulg. (tolet.), Jerome and Ambrst., so as to stand after τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ in 1 Corinthians 15:27. Two cursives entirely omit 1 Corinthians 15:26-27, doubtless in consequence of copyists mistaking the ὑπὸ τ. πόδας αὐτοῦ of the one for that of the other (homœoteleuton).—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:271 Corinthians 15:27.—Some good MSS. [B., two cursives, the Vulg., the Lat. translations of Iren. and of D.] omit the first ὸ̀τι. Lachmann brackets it.
1 Corinthians 15:271 Corinthians 15:27.—Sinait. inserts τὰ before the second πάντα: F. G. omits it before the third.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:281 Corinthians 15:28.—Lachmann brackets καὶ after τότε, but Tischendorf, with very good authorities [A. D. (3d hand), K. L., Sinait.. Vulg., Syr. (later), Copt., Basm., and many Greek writers], retains it.
1 Corinthians 15:281 Corinthians 15:28.—The Rec. and Tischendorf have τα before the last πάντα. Lachmann, with some good MSS. [A. B. D. (1st hand) 17, Hippol.], omit it. [D. (3d hand) E. F. G. K. L., Sinait., and nearly all the Greek Fathers insert it, and rightly, for it might easily fall out, and it adds great force to the Apostle’s expression.—C. P. W.].
[This accords with the classic use of the word. Thus Plutarch τοῦτο ἡμείς εἴπομεν ἐν τί τῶν εἰκῆ πεπιστεύμενων—“this we said was one of the things believed without good authority.” Similarly the Latins use credere frustra, ‘to believe in vain’ or ‘rashly.’ Alex. Paraphrase].
[“The Scriptures constantly teach that Christ’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of His dominion there is no end. In what sense, then, can He be said to deliver up His kingdom? It must be remembered that the Scriptures speak of a threefold kingdom as belonging to Christ. 1. That which necessarily belongs to Him as a Divine person, extending over all creatures, and of which He can never divest Himself. 2. That which belongs to Him as the incarnate Son of God, extending over His own people. This also is everlasting. He will for ever remain the Head and Sovereign of the redeemed. 3. That dominion to which He was exalted after His resurrection, when all power in heaven and earth was committed to His hands. This kingdom, which He exercises as the Theanthropos, and which extends over all principalities and powers, He is to deliver up when the work of redemption is accomplished. He was invested with this dominion in His mediatorial character for the purpose of carrying on His work to its consummation. When that is done, i.e, when He has subdued all His enemies, then He will no longer reign over the universe as Mediator, but only as God; while His headship over His people. is to continue for ever.” Hodge].
[We here give R. Hall’s criticism, which is worthy of note in this connection. “It may not be improper to remark that there is an inaccuracy in our common version, which be vitiates its application that it does not seem to sustain the conclusion to which the Apostle had arrived. It was his purpose to establish the perfection of our Saviour’s conquest, the advancement of his triumphs, and the prostration of all enemies, whatever beneath his power. Now to say that “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” by no means affords a proof of this position. Though death might be destroyed, and he the last enemy that should be destroyed, it would not thence appear but that other enemies might remain not destroyed. But the proper rendering is, “Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed”].
1 Corinthians 15:291 Corinthians 15:29.—The Rec. has τῶν νεκρῶν instead of αὐτῶν, but the reading is feebly attested. [It has for it D. (3rd hand), L. Syr. (Pesch.) Chrys. Theodt. Oecum. Theophyl. and Jacob (Nisib.); but against it A. B. D. (1st band), E. F. K. Sinait. 20 cursives, Ital. Vulg. Goth. Copt. Basm. Syr. (later), Arm. Orig. and several Greek and Latin writers. Alford calls it a mechanical repetition of the last words of the preceding clause,—C. P. W.]
B. Refutation of the impugners of the resurrection of the dead (2) from the inconceivableness of certain facts, except on its supposition
1 Corinthians 15:29-34
29Else what shall they do which are baptized [have themselves baptized, οἱ βαπτίζόμενοι] for the dead, if the dead rise not [are not raised, οὐχ ἐγείρονται] at all? why are they then baptized [do they have themselves baptized, βαπτιζονται] for the dead? 30[om. the dead. ins. them, αὐτῶν23]? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31I protest by your24 rejoicing [by the boasting which I have concerning you,2 brethren, νὴ τὴν ὑμετέραν καύχησιν, ἀδειλφοί25] which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If after the manner of men [with the views of common men, κατὰ ἄνθρωπον] I have [om. have] fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let [me? If the dead rise not, let] us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die. 33Be not deceived: evil communications [associations, ὁμιλίαι] corrupt good manners 34[useful habits, ἤθη χρηστὰ26] Awake to righteousness [awake at once, as it is right, ἐκνἡφατε δικαίως], and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak27 this to your shame.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Corinthians 15:29.—Else what shall they do, —The connection here with what precedes involves some difficulties. [As Stanley remarks: “it is one of the most abrupt to be found in St. Paul’s Epistles. He leaves the new topic just at the moment when he has pursued it, as it were, to the remotest point, and goes back to the general argument as suddenly as if nothing had intervened. The two instances most similar are 1 Corinthians 5:9, 1Co 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1. Here, as there, the confusion may possibly have arisen from some actual interruption in the writing or the material, of the letter; the main argument proceeding continuously from 1 Corinthians 15:20 to 1 Corinthians 15:29, and the whole intervening passage being analogous to what in modern composition would be called a note”]. Inasmuch as ἑπεί, since, ordinarily indicates a connection with what immediately precedes, Meyer insists upon our interpreting it so here, q. d., ‘for if there is nothing in this development of human history onward to the end, when God shall be all in all, then what shall they do, etc’ Such a construction can be maintained only in so far as we regard the resurrection as the chief event in this final consummation. Neander, on the contrary, says: “We must suppose a digression to begin at 1 Corinthians 15:22, since, at that point, there opened upon the Apostle’s view a prospect of the whole process of the world’s development proceeding from the redemption of Christ. He started with the idea of the necessary connection which the resurrection to eternal life has with Christianity; and with this he now proceeds.” [The ellipsis hero may be thus supplied: ‘The dead are certainly to be raised, else what shall they do, etc.’ (Hodge); or, inserting it after “else,” ‘if it be as the adversaries suppose, what, etc.’ (Alford)].—The question here suggests the utter uselessness of the practice ho is about to adduce in confirmation of his position. “Every baptism that you perform in behalf of the dead, would be without meaning, if those who deny the resurrection were in the right. He indicates the subjective absurdity of the proceeding in this case.” Meyer.—who are baptized for the dead,—How are we to understand these words? The simplest explanation of the act here spoken of is, the suffering of one’s self to be baptized for the benefit of deceased persons, or in their stead, so as to redound to their advantage, i. e., that the salvation mediated by baptism, might fall to their lot, so that those who themselves died unbaptized, might pass for baptized, and thus have part in the resurrection and in the kingdom of Christ. A custom of this sort is discoverable in subsequent times; yet, however, only among heretical sects, such as the Cerinthians and the Marcionites (comp. Epiph. haer. 28, 3; Tertull. de resurr. 48; adv. Marc. 5, 10; Christ, i.h. 1.). The article before νεκῤῶν, dead, points to definite cases (‘for the dead’ in question). “We might imagine that many, having come to the exercise of faith, resolved to receive baptism, but died ere the rite could be performed. This was so much the more likely to have been the case, inasmuch as according to 1 Corinthians 11:30, there was an epidemic prevalent. If, then, a relative had suffered himself to be baptized in the conviction that he was only doing what the deceased would have done had he survived, the proceeding would not have been quite so superstitious.” Neander. But it is probable that this custom could have sprung up so early, and could have been mentioned by the Apostle without disapproval, when it was so inconsistent with his fundamental views of faith and of its efficiency for the attainment of salvation?—The latter, indeed, is perhaps supposable, since he has here primarily to do only with the testimony which might be adduced from an actual occurrence; respecting the relation of which, however, to the truth, there was no need of his explaining himself.28 Bisping considers the use of the third person (“what shall they do”) as an indirect intimation of disapproval. [And so. Alford: “There is in these words a tacit reprehension of the practice which it is hardly possible altogether to miss. Both by the third person and by the article before βαπτ. he indirectly separates himself and those to whom he is writing from participation in, or approval of the practice.” He translates βαπτιζόμενοι ‘those who are in the habit of being baptized,’ not οἱ βαπτίσθεντες. The distinction, he says, is important as affecting the interpretation]. Indeed, that Paul, as well as the other apostles, exercised a counteracting influence upon this custom, may be inferred from the fact that it afterwards vanished out of the orthodox church, and was perpetuated only among heretics. It is by no means improbable, that the high estimation of baptism, at so early a period, had acquired a superstitious taint. Since the deeply-rooted heathenish notion of the magical influence of sacred rites might easily have been preserved, or at least, have re-appeared, among those of whom the Apostle asserts that they were yet carnal, and who took so low a position in their estimate of spiritual gifts. This view is to be maintained all the more decidedly from the circumstance that all other views are, in part, opposed to the ordinary use of terms, and in part, improbable, and arbitrary on other grounds. But what we have adduced cannot well be questioned.—Proceeding from the signification of ὑπέρ here pre-supposed, viz: in behalf of, Olshausen could have interpretated it to imply that it was done for the benefit of the dead, in so far as a definite number (pleroma) must needs be baptized ere the second adventand resurrection could ensue; but this view appears in itself questionable, since there is nothing in the context intimating it, and it inclines to another signification of words, viz: ‘instead of the dead,’ i.e., to fill up the gap made by these deceased. But this interpretation would be devoide of significance, and also, in respect to the use of language, very doubtful. Luther’s translation, “over the dead,” i.e., over their graves, is opposed: 1. by the N. T. use of language which no where takes ὑπέρ with the genitive in a local sense; 2. by a lack of all historical trace of any such burial ceremony in apostolic times. Still less admissible is the explanation that applies it to the baptism of the Clinici, those upon the bed of death, jamjam morituri (Estius), or, quum mortem ante oculos positam hebeant (Bengel); since the words could not mean this, and besides we hear nothing of the baptism of the Clinici at this time. Equally untenable is the reference of the words “in behalf of the dead” to Christ (the plural here being taken in a general sense to designate the category [as Wordsworth,]; since water baptism would require the preposition etc, and to the blood-baptism no allusion whatever can be found in the context, and the word is never used in this sense by Paul. Besser interprets still differently: “Not a few heathen [convinced by the sight of a believer’s triumph over death] would allow themselves to be baptized for the sake of those deceased ones whom they had seen to depart in peace and joy—and before the dying beds and graves over which there seemed to flourish an unfading hope; in order to pass from death into life in company with those who slept in Christ.” Here ὑπέρ is taken in the sense of, on account of, because of, [not, to their advantage, but, out of admiration, or love for them], as in Romans 15:9. “That the Gentiles might glorify God for (ὑπέρ) his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles and sing unto thy name.”29
[The most favorite interpretation for the last half century is that of Lightfoot and Rosenmüller, adopted by Robinson in his Lexicon, which takes βαπτιζόμενοι in the sense of ‘being immersed in sufferings,’ as parallel to ‘being in jeopardy,’ in the next clause. Referring to Mark 10:33; Mark 10:39, and Luke 12:50, it takes ὑπέρ in the sense of ἕνεκα, and τῶν νεκρῶν for death. The complete meaning of the words then would be, ‘those who have been overwhelmed with calamities, trials and sufferings, in the hope of the resurrection or with the expectation that the dead would rise.’ But the objections to this view are that the words are here taken in an unusual and unnatural sense, to which we are not to resort, unless compelled by some most evident reason; and also, the ellipsis implied is much too harsh to be admitted. Bloomfield and Barnes follow the interpretation of Chrys., and the early Greek Fathers, supported by Hammond! and Wetstein, which takes the baptism here alluded to as that which is applied to all believers, who, in receiving the rite, witness to their faith in the resurrection of the dead. Here an ellipsis of the word “resurrection” is presupposed. The great objection to this view is, that in this case the persons alluded to, instead of being, as they obviously are, a distinct class in the church, are the whole body of believers, leaving us nothing special here as the ground of the Apostle’s appeal]. The latest attempt now only remains to be mentioned (Theol. Stud, und Krit. 1860. 1. S. 135 ff.) There we have the interpretation, “why should a person suffer himself to be baptized on account of the dead,” i.e., to belong to! them, to come to them, so as to form a kingdom of the dead? However easy and simple this may I appear, yet such an interpretation of the phrase βαπτ. ὑπέρ τῶν νεκρῶν is an artificial one, and not sufficiently well grounded. Properly it should read, ‘who are baptized on account of the resurrection and in the hope of the same; because death, or coming into the kingdom of the dead, was the only thing to be anticipated without any further hope for this life. Something similar to this appears in Chrys., Theod. and others. Other interpretations may as well be passed over. [For a full list of these, see Pool’s synopsis and also Notes by Stanley and Barnes on this text].—The correct parallelism requires that the next clause, which in the Rec. is connected with that just considered, should be joined with what follows.—if the dead rise not at all?—ὀλως as in v. 1.—why are they even yet baptized for them?—καί intensive, still, even yet. The meaning is, [if we adopt the explanation first maintained above,] in this case nothing at all could be accomplished for the dead: it is therefore, perfectly useless any longer to submit to baptism in their behalf.’
1 Corinthians 15:30-34. As a second argument in his apogogical demonstration he refers to the perilous self-devotion and the hazards of martyr-death which were incurred by himself and his associates. The utter uselessness and folly of such conduct, in case the dead rose not, are indicated in the form of a question.—And why also do we stand in jeopardy every hour?—[With baptizing for the dead, he had nothing to do. But he, no less than those before mentioned, were pursuing a most absurd and irrational course, if they could count upon no compensation for the pains of their self-denial in a resurrection state. Here, it will be observed, all the way through, that, in the Apostle’s mind, future existence, apart from the resurrection, was as nothing. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul seems with him to have been identified with that of the restoration of the body. What he looked for was the glorification of his entire constitution, body, soul, and! spirit; and to be bereft of any part, was with him a marring of the whole. He “would not be unclothed, but clothed upon,” with a nobler vesture than that he had here. His reasoning is of force only on this supposition]. Dropping his associates he now passes over to himself individually.—Daily do I die.—As he before speaks of himself and his associates being in hourly jeopardy, so here he expresses the continuance of his own still worse condition, by exhibiting it as a daily death. And this dying may be explained, either of the extreme danger he was ever in, being so much greater than that just spoken of, q.d., ‘I daily hover on the brink of death’ (comp. Romans 8:36; 2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 1:10); or, it may be construed subjectively of his sense of dying (Osiander, according to Luther). Meyer explains it: “I go about dying; I am moribund,’—a vividly symbolic designation of the fatal dangers by which Paul saw himself to be daily threatened.” This explanation also slides over into the subjective, which is supported by the parallels adduced by Wetstein on this passage. This suits well with the adjuration following—(I protest) by your rejoicing,—This is the only place in the New Testament where νή occurs; but we meet with, it frequently in the LXX. It belongs to the Attic style, [and occurs in the celebrated oath of Demosthenes, where he swore by the shades of those who had met death in the field of Marathon, exhorting the Athenians to defend the Republic (Calvin)]. It is here used for strengthening the previous assertion [—“an oath by which he wished to arouse the Corinthians to be more attentive in listening to him as to the matter in hand, q. d. ‘brethren, I am not some philosopher, prattling in the shade. As I expose myself every day to death, it is necessary that I should think in good earnest of the heavenly life. Believe, therefore, a man who is thoroughly experienced.’ ” Calvin. And, in explaining the nature of the oath, Theophylact acutely observes, that, in, swearing by his boast over them, “he meant to remind them that he expects them to maintain with constancy this their faith; q. d. ‘If I boast on account of your improvement, so shall I be ashamed, if, at last, ye so wretchedly act as to disbelieve the resurrection,’ ” (cited by Bloomfield)].—That by which he protests, is the boasting which he had over the Corinthians; for we are here to take ὑμέτεραν, your, as standing in place of the genitive of the object, ὐμῶν, as in Romans 11:31; τὸκαύχημα ἡμῶν τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, 2 Corinthians 9:3. In reference to this boasting, comp. 2Co 3:1; 2 Corinthians 10:15. There is something very touching in this declaration, which is still further enhanced by the affectionate address.—brethren,—[On this see Critical Notes]. This boasting over the Corinthians, over their subjection to the faith, and his great success in establishing a church so renowned and gifted, he says, he holds—in Christ Jesus our Lord.—i.e., in virtue of his fellowship with Christ, as a servant, who had accomplished great things by His power. The meaning then is, ‘as truly as I can boast of you, in Jesus Christ our Lord, do I daily tremble amid the dangers of death.’ Meyer Exodus 3:0, laying particular emphasis on “you,” explains it somewhat differently: “So truly as ye, yourselves, are the object of my boasting.” “The Corinthians, whose conversion was an apostolic triumph for Him, could themselves bear witness what fatal dangers beset him in his apostolic work” (?). From the general he now passes over into the special.—If after the manner of men—Here is where the emphasis in this clause lies. The meaning is not, ‘if, according to man’s ability, with the exercise of the utmost strength’ (Rückert); since neither the contrast points to this, nor is the phrase ordinarily used in this sense. Nor yet does it mean ‘to speak after the manner of men,’ for there is no λέγω or λαλῶ connected with it; [nor yet, ‘as far as man was concerned.’ (Wordsworth)]. But it means, ‘according to the ways of common men,’ ‘according to those interests and views by which men are governed,’—aiming, for example, at reward, or glory, and the like; or, as Neander: “with a merely human hope, and without any expectation of eternal life.”—I fought with beasts at Ephesus,—Respecting the allusion here, expositors are divided. Some take the words literally, and understand by them that the apostle, when at Ephesus, had been actually condemned to fight with beasts in the amphitheatre, from which contest he had been marvelously rescued; others, construe metaphorically, understanding the apostle to speak of a conflict with violent and dangerous men, or with strong and embittered foes. Expressions implying the latter are found in Appian (οί́οις θηρίοις μαχόμεθα), and in Ignatius Ad. Romans 5:0. (comp. 2 Timothy 4:17; Titus 1:12; Matthew 7:6). The former interpretation is rendered improbable, not only because of the rights of Roman citizenship, which Paul enjoyed, which precluded such punishment, and to which he would have appealed, in case he had been condemned to it; but also from the fact that no mention of any such extraordinary occurrence is made in the Acts, nor in 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.—But in adopting the metaphorical explanation, we are not to suppose the allusion here to be to the uproar excited by Demetrius (Acts 19:0), which did not occur until after this epistle was written, and in which Paul incurred no personal danger; nor yet, perhaps, to any one particular circumstance, but rather to his whole conflict with his Jewish opponents. (Comp. Acts 20:19.) [The arguments for its being taken literally are thus set forth by Stanley, who, however, regards the metaphorical interpretation as the more likely.” 1. The metaphor would be more violent here than in Ignatius, where it is evidently drawn from the actual prospect of the wild beasts in the amphitheatre; 2. The Asiarchs, who are mentioned Acts 19:31 of Acts, as restraining the tumult of Demetrius, appear in Polycarp’s Martyrdom to have had the charge of the wild beasts; 3. Although there are no remains of an amphitheatre at Ephesus, yet traces of a stadium are to be seen; and in the case of Polycarp, wild beasts were used in the stadium at Smyrna; 4. the young men at Ephesus were famous for their bull-fights. Artimedor. 1 Corinthians 1:9 (Wetstein); 5. that ἐν Σφέσω̣ seems a forced expression, if the allusion is merely to opponents generally. Whatever be the danger, it must be the same of which he speaks in Romans 16:4; 2 Corinthians 1:8; Acts 20:19.”] what advantageth it me,—a strong way of putting the negative. His conflict was an aimless, useless hazarding of life.—if the dead rise not?—This clause is not to be connected with what precedes [as in the E. V.], as though designed to explain the words “after the manner of men;” or as forming a second condition to the question just put—although according to the sense, it belongs with it; but, because of the concinnity of the clauses, it must be connected with what follows, where it gives a frivolous turn to the question, “What advantageth it me?” in the spirit of a light hearted unbelief, in order to exhibit in its proper light, how unsuitable, even in a moral aspect, that supposition was, and how it involved the most absurd consequences.—let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die.—These words are taken literally from Isaiah 22:13, where they occur as the utterance of a God-forgetting light-mindedness. The meaning is ‘He who denies the resurrection of the dead, by thus robbing himself of all the consolations of faith and hope, comes by natural consequence to surrender himself to the constant enjoyment of the present life, since death was soon coming to put an end to all enjoyment. We are not, however, to infer from this that the Corinthian opponents of the resurrection had actually preached such doctrine. All Paul intends is to let them see the consequences of their own position; and he here intimates that this denial was not altogether unconnected with the cultivation of too great intimacy with the profligate society around them. Similar expressions of Epicurean frivolity occur in Isaiah 56:12; Wis 2:1 ff, and in the classics;30 (Comp. Wetstein 1. h. 1.) The words “rise not,” and “die,” do not necessarily involve annihilation. Even existence in Hades, without the hope of resurrection, was a joyless state.
That the frivolous tendency indicated in the foregoing words actually existed among the Corinthian deniers of the resurrection is clear from the warning which follows; for in the “evil communications” he speaks of, he no doubt has these persons in mind, and by reference to a verse of the comedian Menander, expressive of a general truth which perhaps had also taken the form of a proverb among them, he admonishes his readers that they had reason to guard against the influences of such people.—Be not deceived:—The caution implies a strong temptation [inherent in human nature and its social tendencies, by which many are insensibly beguiled into the formation of views and habits from which they would at first have strongly recoiled],—Evil communications corrupt good manners.—’Ομιλία means association, intercourse, and conversation which arises from it; the plural form is found in the New Testament only here. Ηθος, a mode of action, character, disposition, moral quality. Χρηστός elsewhere in the New Testament means kind, mild, good, suitable, etc., here being contrasted with κακαί it implies moral goodness (Plato: χρηστότης ῆθους σπονδαιότης). Lachmann gives the reading χρήσθ’. So it reads in the original of Menander ; but it is a question whether the apostle observed the metre. The authorities are not sufficient to decide. [“The quotation shows the apostle’s acquaintance with heathen literature, and to a certain extent his sanction of it, as in his quotation from Aratus in Acts 17:28, and Epimedes in Titus 1:12. Menander was famous for the elegance with which he threw into the form of single verses or short sentences, the maxims of that practical wisdom in the affairs of common life which forms so important a feature in the new comedy. In the sentence cited, each word is emphatic; character (ἠ̓θη) may be undermined by talk (ὁμιλίαι): honesty (χρηστά) may be undermined by roguery (κακαί).” Stanley].—To those already contaminated by the treacherous influences of such frivolous men he now calls out abruptly—ἐκνήψατε δικαίως lit:—sober out rightly,—[“An exclamation full of apostolic majesty.” Bengel.] By this he gives them to understand that the susceptibility to such trifling communications lies in a state of spiritual drunkenness, out of which they ought at once to rouse themselves. The same expression is used of drunkards in Joel 1:5. [The aorist form adds force to the imperative, implying that the act must be done instantly.] Δικαίως means as it befits them, in the right way. By this he indicates, not so much the degree as the kind of sobriety he would have them cultivate—in contrast perhaps with the false sobriety of their new light which might appear to them as an emerging from the narrowness of their traditional notions into a state of luminous thought and feeling. Others explain the word of the direction which they were to take; or they refer it to the object to be pursued. So Calvin: ‘Turn your mind to good and holy things.’ But this transcends the simple meaning of the term. [Alford says, however, “The last meaning is well defended by Dr. Peil from Thuc. 1Co 1 Corinthians 1:21 : ἀπίστως ἐπὶ τὸ μυθῶδες ἐκνενικηότα,—where the adverb ἀπιστως must be rendered ‘so as to become incredible,’ and seems to be the best”]. and sin not;—The imperative is here in the present, and so implies the continued and perpetual abstaining from all sin. The words convey an exhortation, and not in inference, [as Bengel, who says that the imperative after an imperative has the force of a future (John 7:37. Note)], ‘so ye will not sin.’ Nor are we to understand by ‘sin,’ a mere error of the understanding (Bengel), (this may accord with the classical use of the word ἀμαρτάνειν, but not with its Biblical and Pauline use); but a turning aside from the ways of righteousness, moral error in consequence of unbelief and a denial of the resurrection. “In the apostle’s view, a frivolous mind appeared as something sinful.” Neander.—The reason for this admonition he further assigns by referring that treacherous unbelief which appeared to them as the result of profounder knowledge, to a lack of that true knowledge which is the ground of all other knowledge.—for some have ignorance of God.—As his previous admonition was directed to those in the church who were in danger of being ensnared by the talk of the frivolous deniers of the resur rection, so does this statement here point to the false teachers themselves, setting them in such light as to open the eyes of the others in regard to their true character and to bring them to see the vanity of this unbelief. Accordingly, by the word “some,” we are not to understand another portion of the church, but those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:12, and of these, not simply a portion, but the whole. “The ignorance of God” which they manifested and which was nothing less than a practical alienation from God, is exhibited as an abiding trait by the use of the word “have,” i. e. they are permanently affected with it. They are thus represented as having settled down upon the platform of heathenism. The thought is essentially the same as in Matthew 22:29. “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Not knowing God as the Living and Omnipotent One, is the reason why people assert the impossibility of the resurrection.—That such persons should be found in the church of God was a disgrace to the whole church. This he gives them to understand in the words annexed.—To your shame do I speak.—[“boldly—he speaks more severely than at the beginning on another subject.” 1 Corinthians 4:14. Bengel. There is no need of adding “this,” as the E. V., since the language here refers to what is said in the whole passage].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The power of the believer’s faith and hope. Faith in a living Saviour, who was dead and rose again, and now lives eternally to take His own into the fellowship of His eternal and perfect life,—and also the root of this faith, even the knowledge of the living God, who is exalted above all changes of life and death, and lifts His kindred creature man out from his transient, mortal state, into His own unchanging felicity, through the redemption of His incarnate Son,—awakens in the believer a lofty, cheerful courage, which shrinks from no danger, which readily exposes itself to the most painful and appalling conflicts, and which is willing to lead a dying life, yea even to lay down body and soul when the Master’s cause requires it. For what is temporal life, with all its joys and pleasures, with all its needs and struggles, in comparison with that eternal life, from whence all that is transient has vanished, and where all that is now upon us and in us worthy of preservation, is insured and perpetuated after having been purified, developed and matured for unspeakable blessedness and glory?
Far different is it, where that faith and knowledge are wanting, and where a person is constrained to give up the hope of such blessedness. In such a case all sacrifices of whatever is transient, all hazards and self denials and conflicts, must appear useless and absurd. The sole reasonable course is to seize the passing moment, and enjoy to the full whatever this life may afford, and to use all means for obtaining, preserving and increasing such enjoyment.—Experience teaches, also, that that system of speculation which abandons the true Gospel foundation—a pantheistic gnosis, for example—however spiritual it may appear at the first, and even though asserting an ethical character, sinks at last gradually, if not suddenly, into downright materialism and carnal license. Its earlier aspects and attitude, both in its theoretical and practical bearings, must be ascribed to a previous knowledge, and regarded as the lingering result of the truth which has been essentially abandoned. We may also say, that the higher moral attitude maintained by any system which lacks the true faith and its attendant hope, is owing to a hidden faith and hope, still slumbering in the depths of the spirit, which, however, in consequence of the prevailing views can attain to no settled form in the thoughtful mind. But those who are of a frivolous nature, and who shamelessly proclaim their folly in word and deed, form a dangerous class for the unsteadfast to associate with. Against these it is needful to guard, since by them the fruit of a good education is often destroyed. And these influences are the more dangerous, in proportion as they carry the appearance of a high tone of spirituality, or fall in with the current of the time. In such a case we may well call to mind the language of the apostle where he speaks of Satan as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Corinthians 15:34. “He who would recognize God, must learn to know Him through His Word. This they [the worldly-wise] don’t do; but they go directly at the articles of faith with their own understandings, and with their own thoughts, and so presume to judge of God, and of all things concerning Him. Hence they never hit Him.”
1 Corinthians 15:30. No pains, or labors, or watchings, or strivings, to serve God are lost. As surely as God is a righteous judge will there come a resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:31. What is the daily spiritual dying of the faithful, and their constant familiarity with sufferings and persecutions other than a confirmation of the resurrection to a life eternal? 1 Corinthians 15:32. Hostile, dangerous men are worse than wild beasts. If thou hast to deal with such, sigh to God; be watchful, circumspect, and patient.—Unhappy man, who believest not in the resurrection of the dead! For such a one grows secure, falls from one sin to another, and slides on towards damnation.
1 Corinthians 15:33. If we flee the plague and contagion, why not also evil companionship? Is temporal life more than the soul? Ordinarily, men guard against disease more than against sin. (2 Timothy 2:17).—There are words and speeches which, under cover of worldly respect and courtesy, conceal a dangerous poison to faith and life. Whoso is wise let him take heed. (James 3:8).
1 Corinthians 15:34. All who have the means for knowing God, and still are blind, are involved in disgrace. Oh! that they may not thereby be brought to shame and everlasting contempt! (Daniel 12:2).
1 Corinthians 15:31. Dying means to hate one’s own life in true self denial, and to give it over to death and destruction, with everything which is in and upon man from the fall.—The fact itself is well substantiated, but what a great, deep, rich mystery of God is in it, that faith alone can see. This is already a kind of secret dying, when we dare not even reckon upon our own righteousness before God, but condemn it as a filthy rag. (Philippians 3:8-10). Accordingly, it is a sort of dying when we abandon ourselves in contradiction to, and beyond our own reason, solely to the unseen, and rest upon the simple promise of God, and that, too, after we have been accustomed to stand upon our own gifts and, works. And these secret crucifixions of nature, in its pride and self-willedness, and seeming sanctity, must take place daily, yea, momentarily, in the very best of Christians if they would not backslide. Yea, in all believers there is no surer safeguard against all kinds of pride which may arise easily in connection with much grace, than this daily dying to self, and one’s own life. But traces of this are manifest only in the children of light. Crude and unbroken spirits know as little of this as do hypocrites, who put their Christianity in much outward show. No one can occupy himself in this save he who is trained in conflict against the mysteries of iniquity hidden in himself.—He who does not of his own accord daily die unto the old man and his evil lusts, constrains God to lay hold on him with power and humble him; but he who willingly resolves to follow Christ, and confesses him honestly before men, will not long be exercised with tribulations.—In sum: Every thing with which man has to do, gives a believer cause and opportunity for mortifying his own life, and hastening to a complete separation from the false things of ‘this world.
1 Corinthians 15:32. The Christian’s life-walk, which consists in the constant renouncing of the works of darkness, in the mortification of the flesh and sin, in turning away from the godless; ways of this world, and in the denial of all lusts, desires, and vanities, is an earnest preparation! for the resurrection. Hence Christians prefer the Cross of Christ, and all the shame, and persecution, and contempt which may be heaped I upon them daily by the children of unbelief, to all the treasures, and honors, and enjoyments, and friendships of this present life. And this they could not certainly do, if they believed in no resurrection. The last refuge and comfort of the world is, to take what one can get.—But is there so much depending upon the resurrection? Could not the simple happiness of the soul after death recompense every thing? No. However much of enjoyment it may have, the soul must still always miss something, and through its natural inward longing, must ceaselessly urge God to bestow upon it again a suitable body.
1 Corinthians 15:33. There are many spirits who transform themselves into angels of light, and go about in sheep’s clothing, by whom many persons are befooled into dancing around some Aaron’s calf that has been set up. But if any one imagines that he is fully competent to take care of himself, such a person is altogether too confident, and will be certain not to escape unharmed.—Man has in himself enough which should humble him. But if he insists on spreading his feathers, alas! it is all over with him. The excuse: ‘I was young then, does not exonerate a person.
1 Corinthians 15:34. Ah! what charm is there not for throwing men into a deep sleep? Hence the necessity of holding fast, betimes, to what is fundamental. Wake at once out of such a fool’s sleep! Oh, how willingly does man linger in the haven of carnal security and indifference! From such places of case does He who walks in the midst of His Church summon all to come forth to earnest labor, and to advancement in their holy calling.—People deem it a disgrace if they are told, ‘they know not God,’ but it should only shame them into improvement.—There are two sorts of divine knowledge; the one is external, literal, dead, and unfruitful; the other is internal, spiritual, living, and fruitful. The former is grounded simply in natural knowledge, in learning, or speaking of God, as when one can use the language of Scripture, or repeat it again to others without experiencing its power. But if that which has been externally apprehended is sealed upon the conscience through the Holy Spirit, and if all the testimonies of God awaken in one a new life, so that he is actually changed and improved thereby, then does God appear before the eyes of the heart, and the man becomes inwardly convinced how righteous, true, good, and holy He is; then are the eyes of the understanding widely opened to see what and how much God does for him, and what he is bound to do in return—what God has promised, and what we have to expect of Him.
1 Corinthians 15:30 ff. In all the joy won by communion with Christ, there is daily opportunity to bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Now if, with all this, I could not: set my hope upon the living God who raises the! dead; if I could not regard all the steps I take in the communion of His sufferings and in the likeness of His death as well-measured approaches to the resurrection of the dead; if all this is only for the maintenance of my own opinion,! and only with reference to this short life, what availeth it for me? To suppose that Divine! blessedness and also the sufferings endured in behalf of righteousness should avail nothing, is a thought which destroys all religion and sunders the connection between God and man. If we hold not to the word of promise, and to the hope afforded therein, we have no certainty for eternity, and consequently no assurance that we shall not slide into the old forms of speech, wherein everything runs to the enjoyment of this life, but where death, and its sting are frivolously denied, and all the weighty things which follow thereupon, together with all Christian hope, are thrust out of sight, and all exhortation to diligence in salvation will be heard no more.—That which deserves to be called good morals, and sound knowledge, and correct taste, I should aim at what is unseen and eternal, and be sustained and be kept in exercise by a spirit of faith and self-denial. But how full the world is of such idle talk which turns us away from this, and makes us uncertain and credulous, as if overcome by some magic potion. Error, slumber and in difference towards God and his counsel, and the observance of His ways, are the cause of much sin.
1 Corinthians 15:30 ff. Without faith in a future life, many acts of the Christian life, many sacrifices and hazards, would be foolish and purposeless. This faith and steadfast virtue are inseparable. Without this faith that virtue which looks not to the unseen, would be a vain over-straining and fanaticism; and a prudent enjoyment of life would be the highest wisdom. 1 Corinthians 15:34. Sobriety, is the clear consciousness of God and His will. A correct self-knowledge leads to a correct faith. Unbelief comes from thorough self-ignorance, dissipation and unrestrained frivolity.
W. F. Besser:
1 Corinthians 15:33. If traitors to God find ready helpers in our own lusts, then is it a Christian duty to avoid all needless intercourse with them, and not allow ourselves to purchase their vain words for the sake of setting forth our own hateful inclinations in a seemly garb (Ephesians 5:6-7).
1 Corinthians 15:34. The poison of all erroneous doctrine is intoxicating; and in imbibing it, we allow ourselves to be intoxicated. Well for us, if we properly awake when the voice of truth arouses us, in order that we may spue out the poison of sin, ere we die therein!—“God is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22:32). Hence, he who denies the resurrection of the dead knows not the true God.
1 Corinthians 15:32. “How many of the myriads of the human race would do right for the sake of right, if they were only to live fifty years and then die for ever more? Go to the sensualist, and tell him that a nobler life is better than a base one, even for that time, and he will answer: ‘I like pleasure better than virtue; you can do as you please; for me, I will enjoy my time. It is a matter of taste. By taking away my hope of a resurrection you have dwarfed good and evil, and shortened their consequences. If I am only to live sixty or seventy years, there is no eternal right or wrong. By destroying the thought of immortality, I have lost the sense of the infinitude of evil, and the eternal nature of good.’ Besides, with our hopes of immortality gone, the value of humanity ceases and people become not worth living for. We have not got a motive strong enough to keep us from sin. Tell the sensualist that, though the theory of the life to come be a dream, yet that here the pleasure of doing right is sublimer than that of self indulgence, and he will answer: ‘Yes, but my appetites are strong; the struggle will be painful, and at last, only a few years will be left. The victory is uncertain, the present enjoyment is sure, why should I refrain? Do you think you can arrest that with some fine sentiment about nobler and baser being. No, the instincts of the animal will be more than a match for all the transcendental reasonings of the philosopher” (abbreviated).
1 Corinthians 15:33. “It is only when men associate with the wicked with the desire and purpose of doing them good, that they can rely on the protection of God to preserve them from contamination.”]
1 Corinthians 15:31. The Christian’s work of dying daily. This to be done cheerfully, comfortably, and triumphantly in the Lord. To this three things requisite: 1. The constant exercise of faith as to the resignation of a departing soul unto the hand and sovereign will-of God. 2. A readiness and willingness to part with this body on the grounds: a, That to depart is to be with Christ; b, That the body is dead because of sin. 3. Constant watchfulness against being surprised by death. R. Hall:
1 Corinthians 15:33. Nature and danger of evil communications. 1. What these communications are; a, such as tend to sensualize the mind; b, such as utterly lack a religious spirit; c, such as abound in skeptical objections to Christianity; d, such as are full of hatred to Christianity; e, such as are loose with respects to fundamental moral principles. 2. The way in which they corrupt through the natural suceptibilities of the human mind. 3. The need of the warning, “be not deceived”: a, by the adduction of false precedents; b, by your past experience; c, by any complacent reference to your age and attainments in piety; d, by any supposed strength of resolution].
1 Corinthians 15:311 Corinthians 15:31.—Others have ἡμετἐραν. Meyer thinks that ὑμετέραν was not understood, and ἡμετέραν seemed demanded by ἥν ἕχω. It has however, the weight of evidence against it.
1 Corinthians 15:311 Corinthians 15:31.—The Rec. leaves out ἀδελφοί with D. E. F. G. L. several Ital. versions, the later Arm. Orig. Chrys. Theodt. Damasc. Ambrst.; but A. B. K. Siuait. Vulg. Syr. (both) Goth. Basm. Ann. Aeth. Arab. and Slav. Dial. Aug. Pel. Bede insert it. Some of these add μου C. P. W.]
[1 Corinthians 15:33.—The Rec. has χρῆσθ̀, Lachmann edits χρῆσθ̀ but they have no good MSS to support them. Clemens Alex. and Amphilochius (of Leon.) have the word thus abbreviated to constitute with the previous syllable a spondee; in our passage read as an iambic trimeter acataletic, which the Latins call senarius. Winer, Gram, of the N.T.§ 68.—JC. P.W.]
1 Corinthians 15:341 Corinthians 15:34—Lachmann and Tischendorf have λαλῶ. The Rec. gives λώγω on equally good authority. [The former is sustained by B. D. E. Sinait. Dial. Several Latin versions and Armbrst. have loquor. The latter is favored by A. F. G. K. L., Chrys. Theodt. The Vulg. (Flor.) and two Latin and one Vulg. MSS. have dico—C. P. W.]
[In similar style Hodge accounts for Paul’s appeal to a wrong custom. “This method of arguing against others from their own concessions, is one which the Apostle frequently employs. When his mind is full of a particular subject, he does not leave it, to pronounce judgment on things incidentally introduced. Thus, in 1 Corinthians 11:5, when treating of women speaking in the church unveiled, he expresses no disapprobation of their speaking in public, although he afterwards condemned it. A still more striking example of the same thing is to he found 1 Corinthians 10:8, where ho speaks of the Corinthians “sitting at meat in an idol’s temple,” without any disapprobation of the thing itself, but only of its influence on the weaker brethren. Yet, in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, he proves that the thing itself was an act of idolatry. The entire disappearance of this custom in the orthodox church, although other superstitious observances, not less objectionable, soon prevailed, is probably to be referred to the practice, having been forbidden by the Apostle as soon as he reached Corinth. This may have been one of the things which he left to be set in order when he came. 1 Corinthians 11:34.”]
[See this view wrought out with great originality and convincing argument by the Rev. H. D. Ganse. in the Amer. Pres. and Theo. Review, 1863, p. 83. It merits the preference over all others, because, while answering all the requirements of grammar, and conceding to each word its full and proper meaning, it rests on a natural hypothesis and relieves us of the difficulty of supposing that the Apostle here appeals for support to a practice wholly at variance with his fundamental doctrines. The whole article merits attention as a masterly specimen of exegesis, and as illustrating other points in this chapter with great beauty and force.]
 [The following instances may be quoted as a specimen: “O beate Sesti!
Vitae summa brevis nos vetat inchoare longam,
l am te premet nox, fabulaeque Manes
Et domus exilis Plutonia:
O happy Sestius! the brief span of human life forbids us to indulge a distant hope. Soon will night descend upon thee, and the fabulous Manes, and the shadowy mansion of Pluto.” Hor. Carm. 1Co 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:13-17.
Sapias, vina liqnes, et spatio brevi
Speram longam reseces. Durn loquimur, fugerit invida
Aetas. Carpe diem, quam minimuu credula postero.
Be wise: rack off your wines; and abridge your distant hopes in adaptation to the brevity of life. While we speak, envious age has been flying. Seize the present day, depending as little as possible on any future one.”—Hor. Carm. 1Co 1:11; 1 Corinthians 1:6-8.]
C. Refutation of the denial of the resurrection of the dead, in reference to its mode; and the constitution of the resurrection body
1 Corinthians 15:35-50
35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what [kind of, ποίῶ] 36body do they come? Thou [om. Thou] fool,31 that which thou sowest is not quick ened, except it die: 37And 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 [ of some of the other grains, τινος τῶν λοιπῶν]: 38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him [he willed, ὴθέλησεν], and to every seed his own body. 39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh [om. kind of flesh]32 of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes33 [another flesh of birds], and another of birds [fishes]3.40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial Isaiah 41:0 one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and 42another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. 43It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: It is sown a natural [an animal, φυχικόν] body, it is raised 44a spiritual body. There Isaiah 34 a natural body, and there is [if there is an animal body, there is also] a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man35 Adam was made [became, ἑγένετο εἰς] a living soul; the last Adam was made [om. was made] a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural [animal]; and after ward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is [was] of the earth, earthy: the second 48man is the Lord36 [om. the Lord] 37 from heaven. As is [was] the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49And as we have borne [wore, ἐφορἐςαμεν] the image of the earthy, we shall also bear [we will wear, φορέσομεν, or, let us wear, φορέσωμεν the image of the heavenly. 50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit38 corruption.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Corinthians 15:35-38. After having established the belief in the resurrection of the dead, on the ground of Christ’s resurrection—a fact well attested and lying at the foundation of the whole Christian salvation—and, besides, having exhibited the untenableness of the contrast on other grounds, he next proceeds to encounter those objections which related, partly, to the process itself, and, partly, to the result.—But some one will say,—He here introduces his opponents speaking in the character of persons who, not satisfied with the argument hitherto, now, for the first time, come in with their own reasons for doubting. [These persons are not to be confounded with sincere inquirers; rather, they belong to the class of mockers, such as Paul encountered at Athens. As Calvin says, “nothing is more at variance with human reason than this article of faith;” and, hence, there is hardly one which provokes such ridicule and calls out so many cavils].—How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come ?—The present tenses are not to be explained as setting forth the future in the form of the present because of its certainty, [Stanley]; but as exhibiting the case simply as a matter of thought. “Ερχονται=‘Come into manifestation.’ Two distinct objections are here introduced, yet standing in close connection, as is seen from the copula δέ. [The first originates in a sense of the impossibility of the resurrection, and so asks for the “how,” as a demonstration of the possibility of it; and the other seeks to puzzle by asking for the details of new organization, which, when given, it hopes to prove absurd. Alford resolves the two into one, regarding the second as only stating specifically what is involved more generally in the first. But certainly the mode of the Apostle’s reply implies two distinct points here]. The answers to both these questions now follow, so as to illustrate, first, the process of the resurrection by analogies drawn from vegetable life, and, next, the peculiarity of the resurrection body in its distinction from the present, partly, though analogies taken from the several spheres of creation, and, partly, from the difference between the first and the second Adam. He begins with an address to the deniers or the doubters of the resurrection, expressive at once of strong disapprobation and contempt.—Fool!—By this epithet he characterizes as irrational those who are inclined to boast of a high degree of rationality, inasmuch as they ought to have convinced themselves at once respecting the matter in question by an analogy so obvious. [The term does not necessarily express any bitterness of feeling, for our blessed Lord used the like to his doubting disciples (Luke 24:15). It was the senselessness of the objection that is here attacked; for it was folly to say, the body could not live again because it died. The case of the seed showed that disorganization was the necessary condition of organization. If the seed remain a seed, there is an end of it; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24. So with the body (Hodge)] What thou sowest—Σὑ, thou, belongs not to fool, as if it were an emphatic addition to the vocative; but it belongs ‘to the relative clause, and it is placed first to show that the readers ought to understand from their own experience the unreasonableness of the objection (Neander). [It is the pointed finger aiming at the objector present to the author‘s mind.—‘Thou.’] The human sowing is here contrasted with that of the divine in the implanting of human bodies in the grave (as Klopstock sings: “The seed by God is sown, To ripen till the harvest day”), but not the work of God in the development of the seed (ζωοποιεῖται)—is not made alive, unless it die:—What he means is, ‘From the fact that the seed sown by man is not made alive without having first passed through a process of death and corruption, thou oughtest to infer that it is just so with the human seed—that dying and corruption furnish no ground for asserting the impossibility of the resurrection.’ By the use of the verb “is made alive,” instead of ‘springs up’ (ἀνατέλλει) the type is brought closer to the antitype.—After this reply to the first question, he turns to a more extended explanation of the nature of the new body, in answer to the second. From the process itself, he passes over to its contents and results by showing that, as in the process, there was a contrast in the development (first, death, and then life); so here there was a contrast, between the seed corn and the plant which sprung from it. The former is brought prominently to view in the construction of the sentence since it is set before us at the first in an absolute clause.—And what thou sowest,—i.e., ‘as to that which thou sowest.’— not that body which is to appear dost thou sow,—In view of the fact of which he is treating, the plant is here designated as a physical organism by the term “body;” and in contrast with this he calls that which is sown as, naked corn;—γυμνὸν,i.e., either undeveloped, or separated from its proper covering and from the life of the plant; the former explanation is better suited to the context,—it may be—ςἰ τύχοι. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 14:10.—of wheat or some of the others:—τῶν λοιπῶν, sc., σπερμάτων. In opposition to a gross identification of the present body with the resurrection body which lies at the ground of the objection urged, he here asserts a distinction between the two—a distinction, however, which does not exclude the identity of the fundamental substance or the germ. [That which springs up differs in outward form from that which is sown; yet it is so far the same, that we can say that that which is sown is precisely what springs up. The analogy here, therefore, is sufficient to destroy the force of the objection raised.]39 Müller interprets 1 Corinthians 15:37 of the intermediate state between death and the resurrection. He remarks “Just as the old seed corn which is sown into death retains a sort of corporeity in ever changing forms (in the germ, in the blade, in the stalk) all through an intermediate state, until it, as it were, attains to its resurrection and glorification in the fresh, green corn, so also do human souls pass through their intermediate state, not without a certain sort of corporeity. But as the old appears again in a rejuvenated form, only when it has attained to a new and perfected kernel, so also, do those who sleep come to their full and glorified state in the resurrection of the body, which will take place at the end of the world.” he next proceeds to show the divine causation in respect to the future body, thereby showing wherein all development, even the resurrection of the dead included, ultimately rests.—But God giveth it a body—“The Holy Scriptures know nothing of an independent development of nature without God, about which modern philosophy has so much to say.” Bisping.—as he hath pleased,—The past tense here points back to. the original determination of the Creator, in accordance with which He goes on perpetually giving to each seed or germ a body, after its own fixed kind, or conducts it onward to the development of the same. [In all the continued processes of nature, the Creator abides by the primitive constitution of things. The uniformity of His operations should not lead us therefore, to ignore His perpetual free agency, and to regard the universe in the light of a dead mechanism. Nature is a live with an ever-present, ever-active God].—and to each of the seeds—σπερμάτων, lit., sperms, not only of fruits, but also of animals—a gradation to 1 Corinthians 15:39. (Bengel).—its own body.—ἴδιον, own, i.e., suited to the species, peculiar to the individual, produced from the substance of the seed. The argument here is this: that inasmuch as this is the way of God’s working, we may expect something of the like sort in relation to the germ of the human body, and that it is absurd to dispute this. [And still further; inasmuch as we cannot infer from looking at a seed what the plant is to be, so it is very foolish to attempt to determine from our present bodies what is to be the nature of our bodies hereafter. (Hodge)].
1 Corinthians 15:39-44. The diversities of organization in the several spheres of creation, and also the diversities in their glory, are next exhibited as analogous to the diversity between the present and the resurrection body, as that of a new and higher organization. He starts from the animal life, where man occupies the first position. With the unity of the genus (σάρξ, flesh,) there exists a striking difference in the species.—All flesh is not the same flesh;—[De Wette explains “flesh” as the animal organism].—but one is of men, and another flesh of beasts,—κτῆνος, κτέανον, κτῆμα properly, animals owned by man, such as sheep and oxen; but here in distinction from what follows, the word denotes quadrupeds in general.—and another of birds, and another of fishes.—The difference predicated here is not as to substance, but as to quality (Calvin); and this is manifold and marked. [If, then, we see such a variety in the organization of flesh and blood here, the inference is that we may find a still greater variety of organizations existing in other spheres. God is not limited in His power and wisdom, so that He must make all bodies a lake.]—(There are) also bodies celestial:—It is not agreed whether the apostle here means the bodies of angels, or heavenly bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars. The first interpretation, taking the expression to mean ‘bodies found in heaven,’ is maintained by Meyer and de Wette (comp. Matthew 22:30); the second is the more common one, followed by Osiander and Neander, [Hodge and Alford]. The latter has no support in the usage of antiquity, and is vindicated, partly on the ground that the heavenly bodies were regarded by Plato, Plutarch, Galen, and others, as animated beings; and partly on the ground that in 1 Corinthians 15:38, the term “bodies” is applied to plants; and to this it may yet be added, that not only the clearness and the beauty with which the stars shine, but also the interest attached to this whole treatment of the idea of corporeity, explains this rare use of the word σῶμα, body, as denoting a material whole bound together in unity of being. But it may be asked, whether the contrast between the stars viewed as heavenly bodies and the world of men, animals and plants, viewed as earthly bodies, is a suitable one? Perhaps, indeed, not so suitable as that between the bodies of angels and those of men and beasts. The latter “would also touch and explain far better the distinction between the earthly body of death and the supramundane body of the resurrection” (Osiander); and nothing unsuitable, nothing disturbing to the symmetry of the whole analogy, can be found in it. Moreover, we are led to the supposition that angels have bodies, from what our Lord says in Luke 20:35-36, of the equality between angels and the children of the resurrection in the future world. So far as the unfitness of this analogy to meet the case of the skeptics is concerned, it must be remembered that the apostle has not so much to do with these, as with a congregation established in the faith, to whom such a view of angels would be neither strange nor incredible.40—This comparison between the two kinds of bodies is followed by an exhibition of their diversity in respect to glory. In the one case it is a heavenly radiance; Matthew 28:3; and in the other case it is strength, beauty, grace, artificial culture, in their several manifestations (Meyer).—There is one glory of the sun, etc.—Not only do the heavenly bodies differ from the earthly in glory, but there is great diversity among the heavenly bodies themselves. The sun has one degree of lustre, the moon another, and even the stars exhibit a wonderful variety of size and brilliancy among themselves. The allusion here might naturally lead us to think of the various degrees of glory in the resurrection bodies, as compared with each other; but the context does not point to this, and all the allegorical deductions, such as we find in Tertullian and others, must be pronounced erroneous. [So Calvin:—“A mistake is here commonly fallen into in the application; it is supposed that Paul meant that, after the resurrection, the saints will have different degrees of honor and glory. This, indeed, is perfectly true, and is proved by other declarations of Scripture; but it has nothing to do with Paul’s object.” Paul is arguing here from existing diversities in the various organizations found throughout the universe, to prove that there may be still other and greater varieties yet to appear—that neither the wisdom nor power of God has been exhausted in the production of different kinds of bodies, and will be made more signally manifest in providing for saints a vesture suited to the glory of Christ’s coming kingdom]. In the next verse we have the apodosis of the comparison.—So also (is) the resurrection of the dead.—The connection is this: as we see so great a variety of forms above and below, there is abundant room for modifications of every sort in the human body, and it indicates only great narrowness of mind to infer from the condition of the dying human body that it could undergo no transformation. (Burger). The general proposition to which the comparison leads, viz., that there is a distinction between the constitution of the earthly body and that of the heavenly, is now more fully carried out.—(It) is sown in corruption.—The subject of the sentence is indicated by the connection. Instead of saying, ‘it is buried,’ as pertinent to the case of the human body, he borrows his expression from the analogy above employed. [The bodies of the saints are as seed sown in the ground; and, hence, every graveyard or cemetery is most aptly termed, in German, “God’s Acre.” The dissolution that is there quietly going on, out of sight, is but preparing the way for a more glorious appearing, when the winter is past, and the millenial spring breaks upon us.] As the antithesis we have—(it) is raised in incorruption:—’Εγείρεται, is raised,—the expression is not inconsistent with the figure. For we may take it in the middle sense, ‘it raises itself,’ or, ‘it rises,’ just as the plant does out of the seed corn. On account of what is said in 1 Corinthians 15:36, Neander interprets the sowing, not of burial in the grave, but of the development of life upon the earth; [and so Hodge: “it is now a corruptible body, constantly tending to decay, subject to disease and death, and destined to entire dissolution.” In this case the whole earth must be taken for God’s seed field, and our present condition must be regarded as, in some sort, an underground one]. The preposition “in,” in both clauses, expresses the condition in which the body is found in the two stages; in the first, the elements hitherto organically united are dissolving and scattering; and in the second, we are raised above all corruption and harm, above all pain, and disease, and suffering, into a state imperishable and fixed.—It is sown in dishonor,—‘Ατιμία, not simply denotes the unseemliness of the earthly body, and the humiliating infirmities of its corruptible state, by reason of which Paul elsewhere calls it “our vile body” (Philippians 3:21), but also, since he is speaking of burial, the foulness of the corpse, which is a reminder of the disgrace incurred in the penalty inflicted by death.—it is raised in glory:—By this he means the revelation of the dignity of the children of God in the resplendent brightness of their resurrection bodies, pervaded and glorified by the divine life. It is to be fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Son of God.—it is sown in weakness,—’Ασθέυεια does not refer simply to the feebleness of the earthly body when living [Bloomfield], but also to its perfect powerlessness as a corpse, its inability to resist corruption.—it is raised in power:—Δύναμις denotes a fullness of strength, energy and elasticity, which a renewed vitality will confer on the resureection body, enabling it to execute all the purposes and volitions of the spirit with the utmost ease and readiness.—All that is implied in these contrasts is condensed into the final one. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.—Respecting the term “natural,” [or, more properly, ‘animal,’ ‘psychical,’] comp. on 1 Corinthians 2:14. The expression, “natural body” (σῶμα ψυχικόν), denotes, in general, an organization that corresponds to the soul (ψύχη); and “spiritual body” (σῶμα πνευματικόν) one that corresponds to the spirit (πνεῦμα). The former is one which carries the impress of the soul; the other, the impress of the spirit. The soul is that by means of which our spiritual part is linked to a physical life—a life of impulse and sensation, dependent for its nourishment upon a world of sense. The corporeity corresponding to this and determined by it, is precisely on this account made dependent upon this outward world, and is affected by it; and by reason of it, it is exposed to all that which has just been expressed by the words “corruption,” “dishonor,” and “weakness,” of which death is the catastrophe. The nature of the spirit is, on the contrary, a free, supermundane life of light and love in God; and the spiritual body is an organization suited to its character, being lifted above all dependence on the outward world, and the consequences following from it, and displays itself in incorruption, glory and power. The antithesis to the animal or natural body forbids our explaining the epithet “spiritual” here, as though it meant ethereal, or refined, [“much less made of spirit, which would be a contradiction.” Hodge].—According to the ordinary reading, the following sentence would be simply a short and emphatic confirmation of what has already been said. But the better authenticated text, which we are by no means justified in setting aside as an easier reading, or as a correction, presents us here with two clauses—the second conditioned upon the first, which is supposed to be conceded.—If there is an animal body,—which the soul has as its corresponding organism—a thing perfectly obvious—there is a spiritual body.—i.e., the same must hold good also of the spirit; this likewise must have its corresponding organ as its means of expression, and as the instrument of its operations, [suited to the new order of things introduced by the coming of Christ], The emphasis here lies upon the word “is.” [If the one exists, so does the other].
1 Corinthians 15:45-49. According to Ewald, the sense and connection of this passage may be given thus: ‘This order of succession in the whole course of the world’s history, it is impossible should be otherwise. The finer forms always follow the grosser; those more spiritual succeed the more sensuous. Christ could appear only after Adam; and the purely heavenly Christ, as an external manifestation, is yet to be looked for. In like manner, the entire glorified humanity can only follow upon the present.’—And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul,—The citation is from Genesis 2:7, with the addition of the qualifying words “first” and “Adam;” [ἐγέντο εἰς ψύχην ζῶσαν, from the LXX, being a literal rendering of the Hebrew לְּנֶפֶשׁ חיָּה, lit., for, or, unto a living soul; and to this the following expression is accommodated: εἰς πνε ῦμαζωοποιῦν—The expression living soul, as used in Genesis, is often taken to indicate an order of being superior to the brute, and is the text of many an argument to prove the immortality of the soul. The incorrectness of this assumption will be readily seen by referring to Genesis 1:20-21; Genesis 1:24 and elsewhere, in which passages the words translated “living soul” are applied also to the entire lower creation. They are used indifferently of man and beast to express animal life in general; and it is in this light that the apostle uses them as the very course of his argument shows. Adam is spoken of as a living soul, not to prove his immortality, but rather his mortality. It is by means of the soul that he and all descended from Him, are linked to this changing and corruptible world, and so become the heirs of corruption. The only superiority ascribed to man in the history of creation, is found in the fact that ‘God breathed into him the breath of life,’ and in this it is intimated that in the act of becoming a living soul, man at the same time was endowed with higher capacities, which brought him into relationship with God, and made him capable of communing with Him, and so of rising to a spiritual existence. But the possibilities here involved for leading a true, spiritual life, could only be carried out by his abiding in fellowship with God and partaking of the Divine Spirit. And had this been maintained by obedience, there is every reason to believe that the higher life of the spirit would have glorified the lower and made it partaker of immortality without the intervention of death. But by reason of the Fall, this possibility was cut off, and man becoming animal (ψυχικός) or as our version renders it “natural” in the very elements of his character, or in the springs of his existence, became at the same time mortal. Herein lay the necessity for the new creation through the intervention of a Redeemer who shall be nothing less than a quickening spirit]. That the Apostle wished to have the following clause also, regarded as a scripture quotation, is an assumption as groundless as that the whole was taken out of the Apocrypha. That which was affirmed in scripture respecting the first man Adam, suggests to his mind the thought of Christ, the antitype of Adam; the lower plain upon which Adam was said to stand, points to the higher. Already by the addition of the epithets “first” and “Adam,” the apostle gives us to recognize the significance of the scripture language, and introduces the contrast which he wished to set up.—the last Adam, a quickening spirit.—“He attaches his own words directly to the passage from Scripture, as if to intimate, that the latter as necessarily followed from the former, according to its typical significance, as though it had been already spoken. He, therefore, merely gives expression to the inference which is implied in the passage itself, without any intimation that it also did not belong to the language of Scripture—it being a self-evident result plainly contained there. (“Let a person read the first clause,” and man became a “living soul,” dwelling thoughtfully upon the expression “living soul,” and then repeat, “the last Adam, a quickening spirit,” somewhat less slowly and loud,” Meyer, Exodus 3:0.) The whole sentence, however, is by no means, to be regarded as a logical parenthesis, as though 1 Corinthians 15:46, were to be connected immediately with 1 Corinthians 15:44; but it enters directly into the whole course of thought, and was designed to be a confirmation of the preceding statement (1 Corinthians 15:44) from Scripture, which, by its declaration in regard to the first Man, that he became a living soul, from whence the soul-body or animal organization proceeded, points directly to that higher state which was first realized in the last Adam, viz., to the quickening Spirit on which the spiritual body was founded.—The adverb “so” introduces the scripture text a-corresponding to that which had just been asserted and likewise confirming it. Adam’s becoming “a living soul” is represented as the effect of God’s breathing into him “the breath of lives,” נִשְׁמַת חַייִם. This is the term used to express the principle of life taken absolutely, which has its source in the divine Spirit, of which the soul of man is the efflux forming the bond or nexus between his body and his spirit, [See Delitzsch, Exodus 2:0. Part II. Sec. 3, and Heard, Tripartite Nature of Man, p. 36—45]. The man, however, is נֶפֶש חַיָּה, living soul, wherein body and spirit meet in living union. By means of this union is he constituted and made capable of a spiritual life; or in other words, herein consists the foundation of his moral and intellectual culture and final glorification into a divine life (Beck, Seelenl., p. 9.) “This life of the spirit as it increases in intensity is destined to make the soul, and by means of it the body likewise ever more and more, the proper image and exponent of itself, so that the two-fold life of man, as in a natural and necessary way it has the soul for its uniting bond, so also in an ethical and voluntary way it has the spirit as an all-pervading and controlling principle.” [See Delitzsch, Part 2. Sec. 5]. The first man, not as yet having transcended the character of a living soul (with which, however, sin must not as yet be supposed, nor even the necessity of its occurrence, but only the susceptibility for it, Meyer, Exodus 3:0,) since his personal life, by a free act of his own, had not appropriated as it should the Divine life of the spirit, but had apostatized from it through sin, which ran its fatal course in subjecting man more and more to the power of death, required now a new beginning which should actually lead to that glorification for which he was originally intended. This was to be achieved by such an appropriation of the Divine life of the Spirit that the result should be a quickening spirit. And this is just what we find in the other and second Adam who winds up the history of the race; since soul and body are in Him thoroughly pervaded by the Divine life and He as the perfected and glorified One, has the power continually to beget this same life in others, and so by renewing and transforming them, actually to develop the original capacities and intent of our common nature. “But for the very reason that this quickening Spirit was obliged to assimilate every thing to itself, there arose a necessity for its bursting this earthly covering in order to fashion for itself a new and glorified organ.” Neander.—Now, it is evident, that the point of time from which Christ became this “quickening Spirit” was, not His birth, but His resurrection; for until that moment He was in the likeness of sinful flesh and had an animal body; and it was not until after He had solved the problem of maintaining the original sinlessness of the spirit through all the stages of His natural life in a world of sin, that He, who, by a living resemblance, was the representative of a humanity that had become flesh in all its natural susceptibility to sin and death, became in like manner the representative and head of a humanity spiritually and divinely glorified, by virtue of having glorified human nature through the power of the Spirit, and in the maintenance of a perfect obedience, and of thus having overcome the curse of sin (Beck, Lehrwiss., p. 465 ff. 472), The point of transition from the one to the other stage is His resurrection. Through this, in the very might of that love which led him to incur judgment and lay down His life for the deliverance of the lost, He became henceforth in His newly quickened and glorified corporeity the divine organ for that life-renewal, that quickening of the dead, which reaches its perfect realization at the resurrection, and so, “a quickening spirit” (comp. Romans 8:11). The verb to be supplied is not ἐστίν, is, but ἐγέντο, became. While it belongs to the soul to be only “living,” and that through the spirit; so, on the contrary, does it belong to the Spirit “to make alive,” to impart the divine life-power which it has in itself, or which it is in a personal way (Osiander and Meyer). As the expression, “the first man,” designates the founder of the human race whose type is impressed upon all who spring from him, so does the expression, “the last Adam,” designate Him from whom issues the second final development of humanity that leads on to perfection.
And now, since it were natural to wish that the perfect had existed from the beginning, he proceeds to state the law of the divine order.—Howbeit, not first the spiritual, but the animal; afterward the spiritual.—Such is the established order in the development of humanity; and this order he means to set forth as something necessary, [founded in the very plan of the entire creation, the analogies of which were to be seen everywhere. Nature, through all the stages of existence, forms an ever-ascending series. In all the realms of life we mount from the lowest organizations to those more refined and complete. Why this was so ordered the apostle does not pretend to say. The reason for it is deeper than science can go, and is among the hidden things of the Eternal Wisdom. Al i that Paul means to assert here is, that such is the order required by the general constitution of things]. First, the earthly nature must needs manifest itself in Adam, and then only could it attain afterwards to a higher development (Neander). The adjectives, “spiritual” and “animal,” had better be taken here in a general way, as designating different stages of life, without supplying the noun “body.”—That the natural is first, and then the spiritual, is shown in the instances of the two great heads of humanity.—The first man (is) of the earth, earthy;—By the epithet “earthy,” which relates to the body, and not to the whole man as imbued with earthly affections, he designates that physical conformation which corresponds to his origin as taken from the earth. With this is connected the animal state. But the inward quickening of the body, which proceeds primarily from the spirit, does not take place directly; but through the operation of the soul, which, in man, by virtue of the breath of the Creator; is, as it were, formed out of the essence of the spirit in the body (Beck, Seelenl., p. 31). Now, inasmuch as in the creation of the first man there existed, first of all, a body fashioned out of the dust of the earth, this, at the start, could only bear the impress of the soul, which mediated the quickening power of the spirit. And such a body carries in itself the possibility of death, which, however, is only realized through sin (Genesis 3:19; Comp. Romans 5:12 ff.), i.e., the alienation of the soul, which determines the condition of the body, from the Divine Spirit-life. Apart from this, however, it has the possibility also of not dying, which might have been realized through the perpetual appropriation of this spirit-life by means of which, as the soul advanced in spiritual glorification, it would become ever more qualified for the progressive quickening and glorification of the body (comp. Osiander, p. 777). As the antithesis we have—the second man is from heaven.—The fuller reading of the received text, “the Lord from heaven,” is opposed by an overwhelming balance of authorities; and the rejection of the words “the Lord” is not to be explained on the ground that it did not seem to suit as the proper contrast for “earthy.” It is far more likely that some transcribers attempted to fill out what appeared to be an imperfect antithesis, by adding “the Lord” in the margin by way of a gloss, and that this afterwards crept into the text. By the term “Lord”; (which would belong not to the subject, but to the predicate, and as the nobler designation would be put before the other), there would be exhibited the divine glory, the supramundane exaltation and power of the second man coming from heaven, in contrast with the earthly imperfection and weakness of the first man springing from the earth; and this certainly would not simply refer to his bodily life, but to his entire personality, which carries in itself the fulness of the spirit, and of divinely quickening power; from which, then, it might be inferred in regard to the expression “earthy,” that it denoted the earthly constitution and characteristics of the entire person of the first man.—In the case of the shorter reading, however, the question arises whether it means the heavenly origin of the second Man, in relation to His human life; which, then, in case the term “earthy” refers to the body of the first man, might be referred in like to manner to Christ’s corporeity (hence the heretical assumption that Christ’s body was from heaven); 41 or whether it means the final appearing of the second man, His second advent, for the perfection of His work, of which the resurrection of the dead is a part. The whole context appears to imply the latter (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:49). 42 What is here meant, therefore, is His coming from Heaven at His second Advent, which will take place in celestial, glory and in His transfigured humanity. And this presents to us the real antithesis to the earthiness of the first-man.
The following verses express the fact that the peculiar qualities of each of these two heads are reflected in those of the persons who belong to them severally, viz., in respect to the natural body on the one side, and the spiritual body on the other. This is what is meant by ὀ̓ιος and τοιοῦτοι.—As the earthy, such they also that are earthy:—By the latter are meant those who have descended from Adam, and like him are of an earthy nature.—and as the heavenly, such they also that are heavenly.—By the latter are meant those belonging to Christ in their state of heavenly perfection, or those who are taken up with Christ, the glorified, in the fellowship of His glorified life in heaven. Comp. Ephesians 2:6, “and hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;” and Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in heaven;” to which may be added still further, 1 Corinthians 15:21. “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.” The latter is here carried out in 1 Corinthians 15:49, in the same antithesis as in 1 Corinthians 15:48.—And as we bore,—namely, during our earthly life,—the image of the earthy,—i.e, the animal body (Philippians 3:21, “the body of our humiliation”)—we shall bear—namely, at the time of His appearing, from the resurrection onward,—the image of the heavenly.—i.e., the spiritual body which is made like unto His glorious body. In the verbs ἐφορέσαμεν and φορέσομεν, he places himself and his readers at the turning point of the second Advent, when they will have the life which they led in their earthy state behind them, and that of their heavenly state just before them.—Φορεῖν,—an image taken from dress. It means to wear as a garment; it occurs also in tragedy in relation to bodies (φορεῖν δέμας), and particular parts of the body, such as the hair. The more feebly attested reading φορεσομεν, we shall bear, corresponds to the entire connection and force of thought. The other, φορέσωμεν, let us bear, would introduce a. paranesis, which would constrain us to take the word “image” in an ethical sense. So Chrys., and Theoph.: “By the image of the earthy he means evil deeds, and by the image to the heavenly, good deeds.” It is in connection with this reading also that the following verse is interpreted in an ethical sense, which, however, is in contradiction with the uniform usage of the words “flesh and blood.” Perhaps, however, it was the ethical interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:50, that gave rise to the reading. [Stanley, in obedience to the preponderance of authority, gives preference to the hortatory form of this sentence, which he acknowledges to be in no connection with the context].
1 Corinthians 15:50. He here winds up the whole of this exposition respecting the body in which believers should come forth, and confirms the declaration, “we shall bear the image of the heavenly,” by a solemn asseveration.—Now this I say,—It is a formula for emphasizing a subsequent statement, and implies no concession to his opponents. ὀ̓τι, as in 1 Corinthians 7:29, not ‘because,’ but,—that
1 Corinthians 15:49 rests on 1 Corinthians 15:45, not on that which here follows.—flesh and blood—By these words, according to Theodoret, are intended [not our sinful, fallen nature, as some, like Chrys., understand it construing the words in an ethical sense; but] our mortal nature, which, as such—cannot inherit the kingdom of God;—or, as Lange, “the constitution originating in natural birth.” It is the animal body in its present organization. “Flesh” denotes the earthly substance of the “body and blood,” the animal element in it, according to its corruptible nature. That this corporeal constitution cannot enter the kingdom of God without change, is still further shown from the incompatibility between the two.—neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.—Corruption, not as distinct from flesh and blood, as the dead are distinguished from the living; but the word exhibits to us prominently a characteristic of our present state, which sets it in marked contrast with the constitution of the kingdom of God, as that of an imperishable life—φθόρα is here the abstract for the concrete φθάρτον. The present κληροναμεῖ expresses a constant relation (Meyer), and an established truth. The idea of time is not here taken into account.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Skepticism would fain wear the aspect of an enlightenment that transcended the ordinary scope of faith, of a more comprehensive and loftier view of the world which was justified in looking down upon a belief in the doctrines of revelation as a sign of narrowness and bigotry. But, regarded rightly, the narrowness will be found on its part. It is skepticism that betrays a lack of sound reason, which, at the same time, includes a lack in the higher moral constitution. There lies at the foundation of it a dullness of thought, a dislike for the labor of profound contemplation, a disposition to be readily satisfied with what is most obvious, and to abide within the wonted circle of human notions. Nay, still more there is at the bottom of it a pride of understanding which delights in the supposed discoveries of truth, and is opposed to the acknowledgment of a wisdom surpassing its own range of thought and opinion—even a wisdom to which it is the business and duty of the human under standing to submit, cordially accepting its doctrines and endeavoring to understand them more, and more, if it is ever properly to come to itself, since it here enters upon its own proper ground, the Spirit of God, and in the light of truth is enabled to recognize more and more, on every side, the nature and laws of Divine providence, and the manifold ways of God, and the correspondencies which exist between the natural creation in its varied developments and the kingdom of grace or the work of redemption in all its rich unfolding.
2. The resurrection of the dead, stands in close analogy with various phenomena which constantly present themselves to our notice, and in which the creative omnipotence of God displays itself from year to year. In these death, dissolution, and corruption, are seen to be the conditions of a new life—stages of transition to new forms of existence. The kernel contained in the ripened fruit, conceals a vital germ, which, when the kernel is planted in the soil and there dissolved, bursts forth and springs up into a new growth in conformity with the constitution originally given it by the Creator, and by means of His ever-present, everywhere active, power. Essentially the same process occurs in the resurrection of the dead. Corruption is only the dissolution of that which was the result of a previous vital development, in order that the germ of a new body which was included in the inmost kernel of the old, may break forth and unfold itself into a new and living organism. But the new is not [as some suppose, the restoration of the old, a recomposition of the same particles that existed in the old body,] but of another and nobler quality [and better suited to be the organ of a perfectly sanctified spirit]. In the resurrection body we enter upon a distinct and higher stage of life than that occupied by the body which has been laid in the earth. [The apostle calls it “a building of God, a house not made with hands” in contrast with the former, in which, as the seat of pain, and suffering, and sin, we groaned being burdened. What its particular attributes and peculiarities are, it doth not yet appear. It is sufficient for us to know, that it will be like unto Christ’s glorious body; and from the hints afforded us in the account given of His several appearances to His disciples, we may obtain some idea of its superior adaptation for the service of the spirit]. It must be understood that we are here speaking only of those who have been taken unto a fellowship with the new divine life in Jesus Christ, and have come within the sphere of His redeeming grace; or, in other words, who belong to that new development which proceeds from the last Adam. [What the condition of those will be who are to come forth to the resurrection of damnation, we are not here informed, and on this point to offer conjecture would be to go beyond our province].
This higher stage of corporeal existence has its analogies in the broad range of creation; since here also, we behold manifold distinctions and degrees of organization, as well in the sphere of animal life as among the higher orders of being, including man and angels, and also among the celestial bodies shining with varied glory. Somewhat corresponding to the distinctions here observable, will be the superiority of the resurrection-body in the comparison with the earthly body—a superiority, which viewed in the contrasts presented at the time of death and of resurrection, is expressed in the antithesis between corruption and incorruption, weakness and power, dishonor and glory.
3. The resurrection as illustrated by the account of the divine plan in man’s creation. Much light is cast upon the great distinction between the present and the resurrection-body, by the divinely revealed economy of the Creator, or, in other words, by the divinely ordained development of the human race, as set forth in Scripture. The all-quickening Spirit of God first produced a creature with a living soul. The soul, as the vehicle and instrument of his life-power, by which being quickened, the earthly body prepared for it by God becomes animal or psychical, i.e. conformed to the character of the soul, is the organism of a personal life which is capable either of appropriating to itself ever more and more that divine spiritual life in which it is rooted, or of apostatizing from it. In the case of apostasy, such as actually occurred, instead of a progressive glorification of the earthly, physical body into a heavenly, spiritual one, there would ensue a progressive mortality and corruption. And such man has already incurred. Nevertheless, that condition for which he was originally constituted and destined, was still bound to come to pass. Through a Divine act of love, a new process of development was introduced into the human race, which, as in the first instance, entered into life through the quickening power of the divine Spirit, and in the like manner, involved the possibility of a free self-determination in both directions, i.e., a true human life according to soul and body. But by a style of conduct opposed to that pursued in the first stage of development or by its head, the first Adam—by the perpetual appropriation and maintenance of the divine, spiritual life amid all the temptations of our lower nature, and amid all the difficulties, struggles and necessities which attended upon a loving entrance into the accursed state of the first Adamic humanity, this reached a height upon which the animal nature, glorified into a truly spiritual condition, becomes the principle of a like glorification for the earthly animal race of man (in so far as this enters into the fellowship of the second Adam), so that everything which had been corrupted by means of sin is again restored, and aims at rising to the highest stage of life which had been ordained from the beginning as the proper goal of all human endeavor, but which had become unattainable after the apostasy. Now after that we have become incorporated into the second Adam by faith, by means of which His Spirit as an inwardly sanctifying power takes possession of our personal life, and delivers it from all selfishness, and all entanglement with our earthly sensuous being, and attracts it with all its powers and entire organism into the service of the Divine life, and assimilates it to that; there then follows, as the natural completion of this process, an unfolding of the germ of this Divine spiritual life that has been implanted in this organism (after the process of dying which belonged to the old Adamic state, has been gone through with) into a new organism which corresponds to the glorified body of the second Adam.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Corinthians 15:35. Hedinger: Shall I rise again out of the grave, the dust, the fire, the abyss of the sea, and appear in beauty and glory? Reason says, No. Oh, blindness! Ask the beautiful fruit-bearing stalk, what and where it was a short time ago.
1 Corinthians 15:36. “Thou fool.” Paul here calls conceited reason by its right name, in order to rebuke unbelief (Galatians 3:1). To him who believes in the infinite knowledge, wisdom and power of God, and in the creation where God brought all things out of nothing, it will not be hard to believe that God knows where every little particle of dust of this or that body or member is, and how that which has been mingled in with the seeds of other bodies is to be again separated from them, and how each particle is to be brought again to its place, so that each body may be the same body. 43 If it is possible that a corrupted little seed of corn shall spring up to new life and verdure, and bring forth new kernels, although thy reason cannot comprehend how this can happen; then it is not impossible that God should quicken again the bodies that have been dissolved.—There is such a depth and breath in the works of God, that our feeble understanding becomes lost in them, even as a little drop of water is swallowed up in the great sea.
1 Corinthians 15:37 f. That the nature of every plant, with all its peculiarities is included in the little seed-corn, and springs from that, is certainly a work of God’s wisdom and omnipotence. If He now produces from the buried kernel a particular plant which bears upon its stalk many other like kernels, how can we doubt that God would be both able and willing, according to His own infinite power, to bring forth out of the seed of a decaying human body a like result once more? (Luke 18:27.)
1 Corinthians 15:43. The most beautiful of mankind, during their whole life, are but dirt, and are obliged to conceal much that they have both upon and in themselves; but the resurrection will glorify all that, and render our bodies perfectly pure vessels.
1 Corinthians 15:45. We must carry about with us this mortal body in humility, endure it with patience, and let it die with fresh courage. In this way we rightly labor towards transforming it into that glorious and spiritual body which we expect from the second Adam.
1 Corinthians 15:47. Hedinger: Since the earthly Adam, endowed with earthly attributes, came first, and the second spiritual Adam followed after, so must that body which we inherit from Adam first be earthly and born, ere it become spiritual according to the image of the second Adam.
1 Corinthians 15:48. Every thing in its own time—the body must first lay off its earthly qualities through death, and after that spring up anew.—What at last is born anew at the resurrection—should not this be glorious? 1 Corinthians 15:49. Here upon earth the glory of the divine image mirrors itself in believers to some degree; but at the resurrection they will possess all this glory in its perfection.
1 Corinthians 15:50. Perhaps thou wouldst gladly journey on to heaven with thy body and soul without dying, and so inherit its glory (2. Cor. 1 Corinthians 5:4); but that which is to live there must first perish, ere it be made anew.
1 Corinthians 15:35 f. Man takes too much upon his phantasy, and means to see every thing thereby. Happily such are first pointed to the operations of Nature. For the lower and the transient world is an image of the higher and the enduring. If such wise spirits would investigate more exactly the operations of Nature, this would enable them to read in living characters, what follies they, with their wisdom perpetrate before God. Even in natural things we do not succeed in understanding how one thing and another transpires; and how much more will this be the case in heavenly mysteries (Wis 9:16).—It is a folly which emanates from the pool of our corrupt hearts to be always inquiring—‘how? how?’ If we take our reason only with us and use it beyond its proper limits, it turns to unreason. We should learn to understand that things come from a higher hand, and abide in the way of faith.
1 Corinthians 15:37. The outer hulls do not germinate, but are sloughed off from the inner germ, decay and mix with earth; but the germ itself springs up again in living green. Accordingly it is not precisely the same body with all its dust that is to rise again. Yea, even during this life, this mortal body is subject to a perpetual change, so that in a short time not one particle of that which we once were, remains in us, [so it is not necessary in maintaining the identity of the body to preserve the same material particles of which it was at any one time composed]. Though our bodies are in continual flux, yet no one says that we become new men every quarter of a year.
1 Corinthians 15:38. The best is concealed in order that we may not confound Nature with God. Nature hides itself. There God alone is master, and has the key. If we do not go to Him we shall bring nothing out.
1 Corinthians 15:44. We must not draw our conclusions from one body to another, and say: A body is a body. No; great distinctions exist among bodies. There is a spiritual body which is through and through like pure spirit, as well as a natural and beastly body.
1 Corinthians 15:45. God has created men not purely spiritual, in order that they may not exalt themselves, but ever be mindful of their dependence. The natural life is, in respect to the other life, only as a field; but in the field a spiritual seed is sown which shall hereafter spring up through the power of the second Adam.
1 Corinthians 15:46. The state of weakness comes first: otherwise, we would not know how to esteem that of highest glory, nor yet to distinguish between the two. Hence, this order is good; and he who takes it into account will avoid the miserable snares which are spread by reason.
1 Corinthians 15:47. The first and the second man—these two are as wide asunder in their nature as heaven and earth, yea, as God and the creature; and yet one has come to the other, so that we have share in both.
1 Corinthians 15:48. We must not become more earthly than Adam was. The Heavenly Adam was provided in order that we may and should again erect ourselves upon Him. In this way, then, do those that are heavenly spring from Him by a new birth and life in Him. But if this is to happen, our old earthly man, must and will, in thought, word, work, become united to Christ, in his sufferings and death, and the new man arise in us.—This is the great mystery, on account of which God became man, and proposes now to exhibit us as the children of God through His incarnation.
1 Corinthians 15:35 ff. In inquiring after the exact ground, how any event comes to pass, every thing for the most part turns upon the intention of the inquirer—whether he inquire from a desire of learning, and a delight in the truth, or from doubt and pleasure in mocking; whether he does it from faith and for the sake of advancing in knowledge, or simply to find pretext for unbelief. The difficulty in respect to the resurrection is the dying and the dissolutton; but this, indeed, in a thousand cases, is the only way to new life and verdure, and fruitfulness. This thou wouldst question, if thou hadst not seen it so often.—It is enough that now the way through death to life is so pictured before our eyes. What God does daily and yearly in the realm of Nature, this He does in the kingdom of His Son, for the destruction of the last enemy. Let the change and expansion and manifold increase in the seed that is sown be what it may, yet all this has had its ground and cause in the seed itself. Even so the resurrection is but a quickening and up-springing of that very thing which has died.—What else is the denial of the resurrection but an ignoring of the power of God, which can produce out of its inexhaustible fulness just what it will. 1 Corinthians 15:42 ff. Precious foundation for our patience,—to suffer under the body of this death, because the germ of a future spiritual body exists therein! How deep down into the inheritance of Adam: until thou returnest again to dust! How highly exalted in the inheritance of Christ: until we shall become like unto His glorious body! Lord Jesus, prepare me that I may bear thy heavenly image.
1 Corinthians 15:50. The natural life which we have in common with other living creatures upon the soil of earth, is not fit for the kingdom of God; it would be far too weak to sustain the powers in exercise there.
1 Corinthians 15:35. All question after the how in the mysterious doctrines of religion must be asked with modesty, with a recognition of the limits of our knowledge, with the design of warding off unbelief and strengthening faith; and hence, not in those cases where all comprehension on our part is absolutely denied. Close reflection, strictly carried out, will never stumble at revelation.
1 Corinthians 15:37. The present and the future life are related as germ and fruit; hence, the resurrection is not the creation of a new organism. The study of nature should help revelation, and should lead us to the Lord of Nature and the Giver of Revelation Especially does the ever-recurring change from death to life, which we see in nature, assist a Christian’s faith in the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:39 ff. The inexhaustible manifoldness of the kingdom of God opens to our contemplation an unfathomable sea.
1 Corinthians 15:42 ff. The fundamental stuff remains, but development gives it another body. We know nothing of the innermost, finest parts of the body, and it is from these that the main stuff of the future body is formed. Since the heavenly body will not be like the earthly, it will be no burden to man. Finite spirits also must necessarily have an organ (contrary to Kant).
1 Corinthians 15:45 ff. Christ, the Regenerator of man, gives the spiritual life—He creates in us not only the new life of regeneration, but His spirit and His power will directly quicken our bodies.
W. F. Besser:
1 Corinthians 15:47. Great is the miracle of creation, by which God called the first man out of the earth into a natural life; but greater still is the miracle of Redemption, by which God has created a spiritual body, of which the sinful, earthly children of the sinful, earthly Adam were utterly destitute. Although now the work of redemption is greater than the work of creation, yet is it not more difficult to believe that the Lord will make our natural body a spiritual body, according to the likeness of His perfected spiritual body, than it is to believe that He made our natural body from a clump of earth?
1 Corinthians 15:49. The true Christophori, or Christ-bearers, are Christians, here, in faith; there, in sight.
1 Corinthians 15:50. The flesh and blood of the lost may and will rise, not to the inheritance of the kingdom, but to suffer the pain of eternal fire. But, in order that flesh and blood may rise to the inheritance of the kingdom, the present form of flesh and blood must be done away; first, through spiritual regeneration in baptism, and then through the physical change in the grave, in order that a spiritual flesh and blood may spring therefrom, according to the fashion of the flesh and blood of Christ.—The Christian burial is the blessing of the body to be redeemed from corruption (Romans 8:23).
[Robertson:— 1 Corinthians 15:46-49. The natural precedes the spiritual. I. The universality of this law, as seen: 1. In the order of creation; 2. In the progress of the Jewish nation; 3. In the progress of the human race. II. The spiritual instances of this law: 1. Our natural affections precede our spiritual; 2. The moral precedes the spiritual. III. The stages through which we pass: 1. Through temptation; 2. Through sorrow].
1 Corinthians 15:361 Corinthians 15:36.—The Rec. has ἀ̓φρον instead of ἀ̓φρων. It is however feebly attested, and is a correction. [The more infrequent nominative was more likely to be altered, as in several instances it has been, into the vocative. It is however found in A. B. D. E. F. G., Sinait. and some cursives, while the vocative is given only in K. L., many cursives, Orig., Epiph., and some others.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:391 Corinthians 15:39.—The σάρξ which some [Rec. et al.] have put before ἀνθρώπων is thrown out [by Matth., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, and Bloomfield], on the authority of the best MSS. [A. B. D. E. F. G. K. L. Sinait., 60 cursives, Syr. (later) Copt., Aeth., Greek and Latin Fathers, and indeed is sustained by no important MS.]. The same word before πτηνῶν is better sustained [B. D. E. F. G. Siuait., several copies of the Vulg., Copt., Theophyl., Text., Ambrst.], but it is rejected by Meyer as a mechanical addition.
1 Corinthians 15:391 Corinthians 15:39.—The position of ἄλλη δὲ δὲ ἰχθυῶν before ἀ̓λλη δὲ σ. πτηνῶν is not so well attested as the reverse order. [It has for it only F. G. K. L., the larger number of cursives, the later Syr., Theodt., Oecum., hut against it A. B. D. E. Sinait, 6 cursives, 3 Latin MSS., the Vulg., Copt., Syr., (Pesch.), Chrys., Dam.. Theophyl., Orig., Tert. The order of the words in this verse appears much deranged in many MSS., though the general sense is not thereby affected.—C. P. W.]
1 Corinthians 15:441 Corinthians 15:44.—The Rec. has ἐ̓στιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, καὶ ἒστι σῶμα πνευματικόν, but a better attested reading is ἐι ἔστιν σῶμ. ψυχ., ἐ̓στιν καὶ πνευματικόν. [The uncials A. B. C. D. F. G. Sinait., 9 cursives, the Ital., Vulg., Copt., Aeth., Arm., are all in favor of the latter reading, which is adopted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford and Stanley. It was natural from the similarity of the preceding and the commencement of the succeeding clauses that a transcriber should omit εὶ. It must however be conceded that the internal evidence is against Lachmann’s reading, for as Reiche aud Bloomfield remark the sentiment thus becomes jejune and hardly like Paul’s usual style. The whole sentence is omitted in several cursives and Chrys., but Meyer accounts for the omission by the homœoteleuton.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:451 Corinthians 15:45.—According to the best MSS. ἀ̓νθρωπος is to be retained. Its omission in some [B. K. 3 cursives, Did. Iren., (Lat.) Tert., (once)], may be explained by an attempt to conform to the contrasted ὁ ἐ̓σχ. ̓Αδαμ.
1 Corinthians 15:471 Corinthians 15:47.—The Rec. has ὁ κύριος, after ὁ δεύτ. ἄνθρ., but according to the best MSS. it should be thrown out as a gloss. [It was suspected by Griesbach, and erased by Lachmann, Tischendorf and Alford, following B. C. D. (1st hand) E. F. G., Sinait., (1st hand), 17, the Ital., Vulg., Copt., Aeth.. Arm., and many Greek and Latin writers. In the Dialogue against the Marcionites printed among Origen’s works, and in Tertul. against the same the insertion of ὁ κύρ, is ascribed to the heretics. Comp. Tisch. N. T. 7th edit.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:491 Corinthians 15:49.—The evidence for φορέσωμεν instead of φορέσομεν is strong, but the word does not seem suitable in this place. See Exegetical Notes. [The documentary authoity for the subjunctive (adopted by Lachmann and Stanley seems absolutely decisive (A. C. D. E. F. G. K. L. Sinait. above 20 cursives, the Ital., Vulg., Copt., Goth., Slav., Theodt., Orig., (de la Rne), Cyr., Macar., Caes., Bas., Meth., Chrys., (in expos.), Max., Epiph., pseud-Athan., Damasc, Iren., (Latin), Tert., Cypr., Hilar., Jerome). The Rec. however has for it, the important testimony of B., a number of cursives, the Syr., (both), Arab., Aeth., Arm., Orig.. (other editions) Cyr., (giaph. and nest.), Theodt., Theophyl., Oecum. These two last especially mention and explain both readings. (See their remarks in Tischendorf’s N. T.). The subjunctive certainly seems untenable, as an ethical exhortation at this point would appear wholly out of place, and was adopted only to avoid making the apostle contradict what he had said in 1 Corinthians 15:50.—C. P. W.].
1 Corinthians 15:501 Corinthians 15:50.—Lachmann reads κληρονομήσει, but it is not satisfactorily attested [C. (1st hand) D. (1st hand) F. G. Ital. Vulg., Copt., Syr.,(Pesch). and the Latin writers. Meyer thinks it was occasioned by its similarity in sound with κληρονομῆσαι.
[But it may be asked, wherein consists the identity between the natural and the spiritual body? Certainly not in the material particles of which the two are composed, nor yet in the sameness of structure. All suppositions of this sort, which find a picture of the resurrection in Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, are set aside by the force of the analogy which the apostle uses. Not even during our earthly state can it be said that the identity of our body in the several stages of existence, consists in the identity of the particles which compose it. These, as science teaches us, are in continued flux day by day. By some mysterious process of life, are we gathering to ourselves new material and passing off the old; and as to the matter of our composition we are no more the same in two successive moments than is the river that we call by the same name and yet is ever passing. Yet, no one thinks of questioning the identity of our persons, or of our bodies. Amid this constant change there is something fixed which makes us recognizable as the same from the cradle to the grave—something which gives form, and feature, and organization, to this ever moving current of matter which is momentarily condensed into what we call our bodies. And what is this but the plastic principle of life which is ever shaping the materials which nature gives it for its own uses, and in accordance with an inward law which moulds us after our kind? Here then we have the true substance of the body—that which stands underneath the outward phenomenon of a corporeal form and imparts to its sole reality. And if this be so, it is easy to see that when by death the materials of our present structure are all dissolve and scattered abroad, this vital, organiflc principle, abiding still in connection with the spirit, and in the presence of Christ, may, by the viwer which He, through His eternal Spirit, worketh in oiu spirits, at the resurrection gather to itself and assimilate new materials of a wholly different kind, suited to that new condition of things which shall be ushered in at the glorious appearing of our Redeemer. How far this new form may resemble the old, so as to enable us to identify acquaintances and friends, is a matter on which Scripture gives us some faint hints. At our Saviour’s transfiguration Moses and Elias seem to have been recognized for what they were: and after His resurrection. His disciples were enabled to know their Lord. And there is nothing unreasonable in supposing that the resemblance between our present and glorified bodies will be sufficiently strong to enable ns to know our old associates again and so keep up a continuity between our earthly and heavenly state. It is at any rate, a pleasant thing to think such an identification possible].
[But with all these arguments in favor of regarding the apostle as meaning angelic bodies, Kling prefers the other acceptation. And so Calvin, Bloomfield, Henry, Poole, Barnes, Hodge who, while speaking of it as doubtful, gives it the preference. But one naturally inclines to go with Meyer, De Wette, and Alford, Stanley, in supposing angelic bodies to be meant. All the accounts given of the angels imply the possession of a material vehicle, more subtil and glorious than that of man, capable of visibility or invisibility, at the option of spirit within; and Paul speaks of being ‘clothed upon with his house, which is from heaven’ (2 Corinthians 5:2): and certainly this view suits the case in hand far better].
[“This passage was used by the early heretics of the Gnostic to sustain their doctrine that our Lord was not really born of the Virgin Mary, but was clothed in a body derived from Heaven; in opposition to whom the early creeds declare that Ho was as to His human nature consubstantial with man, and as to His divine nature consubstantial with God.” Hodge.
[This is the view given by Meyer and other commentators, both ancient and modern. But Bloomfield, and Alford, and Hodge, and de Wette, and many others, prefer the reference to the heavenly origin of His entire personality as the God-Man. This view is ably supported by Bp. Bull, in his Jud. Eccl. Cathol. 1 Corinthians 5:5, and is also rendered probable from John 3:13, where the Son of Man is spoken of as “He that came down from Heaven.”]
[This comment is founded on the false assumption once so prevalent, that the identity of the present and the resurrection bodies was to consist in the identity of the material particles out of which the present body is composed].
D. Conclusion in reference to those who survive at the advent. Final exhortations
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
51Behold, I shew [tell, λέγω] you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [We all shall not sleep, πἀντες οὺ κοιμηθ.44], but we shall all be changed. 1 52In a moment [an atom, ὰτόμω̣], in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised45 incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible 54must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So [But, δὲ], when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption,46 and this mortal shall have put on immortality,3 then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is [was, κατεπόθη] swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting?47 O grave [death, 56θάνατε], where is thy victory?4 [But, δὲ] The sting of death is sin; and the strength 57of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory4 through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know [knowing, εἰδότες] that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Corinthians 15:51. He now proceeds to reveal to them something of the process of the resurrection. And what he has to say is introduced in a manner solemn, and calculated to awaken attention.—Behold,—The word points to an object presented for inward contemplation, and at the same time extraordinary, q. d, ‘behold, look my words full in the face—they contain a truth which we are slow to recognize, but which is true notwithstanding.’ The thing to be announced he calls—a mystery—not simply something hitherto unknown to the reader, but something ascertained only through a divine revelation, or the illumination of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 13:2).—tell I unto you:—This mystery was, that those who are alive at the coming of the Lord will experience a change that shall fit them for participating in the kingdom of God, just as those would who arose from the dead; hence, that that which was said in 1 Corinthians 15:49 was applicable also to them. The same truth is set forth in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-17, save that the idea of a change, which, in the latter text, is only presupposed, is, in our passage, definitely brought to view. In both places he gives his readers to understand that the disclosure made rested upon revelation (1 Thessalonians 4:15, “by the word of the Lord”).—The received text of our passage has, from the earliest time, created difficulty. 48 It seems to assert that the Apostle expected, not death, but a sudden change both for himself and for all his cotemporaries—a thing not reconcilable with actual events. Hence, οὐ has been put after κοιμηθησόμεθα, connecting it with the following verb; [so Stanley, who renders: “we shall all sleep, but we shall not all be changed”] (besides, some put οὖν before κοιμηθ, which is, perhaps, only a trace of the original position of οὐ); but this reading would be unsuitable by reason of the more exactly defining statement of time, immediately following in 1 Corinthians 15:52, which could only be joined to a positive clause. [It would hardly do to say, ‘ we shall not all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,’ etc. It was perhaps with a view of obviating this difficulty that the reading ἀναστησόμεθα, we shall arise, [found in D., and adopted by the vulgate], was introduced; but which even in this way betrays its non-authenticity, and, besides, is less sustained. In the case of the received text, πάντες μὲν οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα, πάντες δὲ ,—there still arises, however, the objection, that the apostle could not assert concerning himself and all his readers, or all Christians of his time that they would not “sleep,” but would rather all “be changed,” [as is implied here by the position of the negative οὐ, which bears directly upon the verb, and not upon the adjective πἀντες all—making it mean, ‘all of us shall not sleep’]. Hence, a trajection of the negative is here assumed, πάντες ον̓, standing for ον̓ πάντες, and the clause taken to be equivalent, to οὐ πάντες κοιμηθ., meaning not all of us shall sleep;’ and ἀλλαγησόμεθα is interpreted in a broader sense, as including the idea of rising from the dead, which is opposed by the stricter signification of the term, and by the more exact intimation given in 1 Corinthians 15:52, where it is said that the dead also shall rise. Nor yet can the above-mentioned trajection of the negative be justified on the ground of giving the word πάντες, all, a more emphatic position, or from Numbers 23:13; Joshua 11:13 or Sir 17:30 (where it does not occur); and, besides, the assumption of a various range of meaning for ἀλλαγησόμεθα in such close succession has something arbitrary in it. The same is true also of the expedient of putting οὐ κοιμηθ. not sleep, in a parenthesis, q. d., ‘ we all (shall, indeed, not die, but yet) all shall be changed. [So Hodge, who, as above, broadens the scope of the verb rendered ‘changed,’ so as to denote not simply the transformation of the living, but also the reinvestiture of the dead, thus making it apply to all Christians generally. Stanley is singularly confused here, following Lachmann in his text, and rendering “we shall all sleep; but we shall not all be changed;’ yet, in his note, giving a decided preference for the Rec. Text, and rendering it, “We shall, all of us, not die, but be changed.” In the latter he follows Meyer and Winer (Gr. Gram. Pt. 3 § 61, 4 f.) who insist that the only translation consistent with Greek is as Kling gives it in his version—We shall all not sleep, but we shall be changed,—The intention of the apostle is to answer a question, which would naturally occur to some in view of the declaration that “flesh and blood could not inherit the kingdom of God.” If this were so, it might be asked, what would become of the living? While the dead would rise with new bodies, what would become of them who were expecting to survive till the advent. These are the parties whom he now has solely in his eye, and since the great crisis was supposed to be near at hand, he speaks here in the first person, and says ‘ we.’]. The difficulty in regard to πάντες, all, is relieved by the supposition that he had in mind the sum total of the survivors (among whom, he also reckoned himself), to whom alone the whole context relates. But that the words μὲν δὲ should stand in connection with the same emphatically repeated word πάντες, all, when they appear to relate to the contrast between ‘not sleeping’ and ‘being changed,’ is entirely in accordance with Greek usage (comp. Passow upon the words 1:176, b, above). They had better remain untranslated.—By ‘being changed’ he indicates the immediate transition from the earthly into the heavenly body, without the intervening process of death and the resurrection. This is to take place—In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,—Both these expressions indicate the same thing, and set forth, in a most striking manner, the instantaneousness of the transition, excluding the possibility of death coming in between, ἄτομον, an indivisible point of time. In this change a prevenient qualification, a preparation for this glorification, by the operation of the Spirit of Christ, is indeed not excluded; it is only asserted that this glorification would take place suddenly.—A second particular relating to the time of this change, is expressed by the words—at the last trump:—ἐν τῇ ἐσχ. σάλπ ἐν; is used as expressive of the time in which the last trumpet sounds, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where it is said of the Lord that He will descend from Heaven ἐν σαλπιγγι θεοῦ; “in the trumpet of God;” whereupon the dead will rise. [For this use of ἐν, see Jelf. Gr. Gram. § 622, 2. fin.]. The word σαλπίζειν is used to denote the trumpet blast accompanying the Theophanies, and resounding over the whole region of their manifestation, arousing and shaking all things there (comp. Exodus 19:16; Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14). The last trumpet refers to that great Theophany, or Christophany, by which all the revelations of God in this dispensation will be brought to their close. That this will coincide with the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15), is, by no means, improbable; because, there also John is speaking of the end of the world-power, and the coming in of the kingdom of God and of Christ—an event with which that here mentioned must synchronize. From this, however, we are not to conclude that Paul had in mind the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse, of which he supposed this to be the last; “for it is hardly proper to ascribe the peculiarity of John’s vision to the apostle Paul, as though the doctrine of the latter were moulded by the former.” Burger.—But in no case are we to suppose any allusion here to the seven trumpets, according to which the Rabbis were wont to exhibit the seven stages of the resurrection—the last announcing the instant when the dead were to stand upon their feet—since the apostle furnishes not the remotest hint of the kind. Moreover, to interpret the trumpet sound of those commotions and revolutions which were to introduce and accompany the judgment; or, as Olshausen does, of a powerful all-shaking operation of the Spirit; or, of an all-agitating κέλευσμα, command, or νεῦμα, nod, of God (Theoph.); or indefinitely of some sign that the judgment is to be held, is arbitrary. The trumpet blast, elsewhere spoken of as the signal for battle, (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:7), or for assembling, or for judgment, here comes as the signal for the great act of the all-victorious king, who will call his people out from among the quick and the dead into the glory of His heavenly life, and so shall gather them about himself. But Neander says: “We shall not be able to take the statement of the trumpet literally. It denotes the call to the last act of Divine omnipotence.”—for the trumpet shall sound,—σαλπισει is impersonal, it shall sound, like ὕιει, it rains, and the like. It is unnecessary to suppose any definite subject here, whether God, or Christ (comp. “the trump of God,” 1 Thessalonians 4:16; and “the Lord God shall blow the trumpet,” Zechariah 9:14), or an angel (comp. Revelation 8:2).—The events following upon the sound of the trumpet are introduced by καὶ; first, the resurrection of the dead according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (comp. above 1 Corinthians 15:23), and that, too, in a state of incorruption (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:42).—and the dead shall be raised incorruptible;—then, the change of the living, which, as is shown from what follows, is also a transition into a state of incorruption. [This is in exact accordance with 1 Thessalonians 4:15. “Those who are alive when Christ comes shall not prevent,” i. e., take the precedence of, “them which are asleep”]. But to take the term “we” as a sort of generalization, by which he did not intend literally to denote himself and his cotemporaries, but only those living at the time of the Advent, and who belonged to an entirely different period, and so, as equivalent to ‘we Christians,’ i. e., those who shall then be alive [as Hodge and others], is entirely arbitrary. It is unquestionable that the apostle, although opposed to all fanciful expectations and designations of time (2 Thes. 11), regarded the second Advent as near, and hoped to survive to it; nor does what is said in 1 Corinthians 6:14, at all conflict with this (see above).—The event thus predicted is confirmed by a reference to the necessity of this change, pointing back to 1 Corinthians 15:50.—For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.—The epithets “corruptible” and “mortal” relate to the human body in its present state; but they are not to be distinguished, as though the former applied to the dead and the latter to the living (Bengel); for that which he designates as a mystery and has just made known, and that whereupon, therefore, the emphasis lies, is, that “we shall be changed.” Hence, he is speaking mainly of the living. To “put on” (ἐνδύσασθαι) a figure borrowed from clothing (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:49; 2 Corinthians 5:3, “not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon”). The maintenance of a personal identity, with a change in the quality of the vesture, is here unmistakably implied; according to de Wette, the figure is one of an inward purification (Luke 26:49; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10); according to Osiander of adornment and manifestation of the change—both doubtful. The aorist infinitive indicates the instantaneousness of the process. The repetition of the verb gives emphasis, and preserves the symmetry of the sentence.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57. He here announces in a solemn manner, enhanced by the literal repetition of what he has just said, that this event will consummate the victory over the last enemy, and in it will be fulfilled the prophecy which predicts the cessation of all death at that time. [“The argument closes in a burst of almost poetical fervor, (as in the corresponding passage, Romans 8:31).” Stanley].—And when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality,—[“a repetition in a triumphant spirit, of the description of the glorious change.” Alford].—then shall come to pass—γενήσεται here expresses the thought elsewhere conveyed by πληροῦσθαι, τελεῖσθαι.—the saying that is written,—The declaration is found in Isaiah 25:8, in a passage announcing the final consummation of God’s kingdom, and is cited, not according to the LXX., but according to the original Hebrew, except that בִּלַע הַפָּוֶת, he will destroy death, is turned into the passive “is swallowed up;” and לָנֶצַּח is translated as elsewhere in several passages in the LXX., e. g., Amos 1:11; Amos 8:8, εἰς νῖκος, into victory; while it properly means entirely, altogether (comp. Hupfeld on Psalms 13:2), which also suits the passage in Isa. (others: “altogether”)—Death is swallowed up into victory.—κατεπόθη the same idea that is expressed in καταργεῖται (1 Corinthians 15:26). “It is a remarkable expression, denoting the swallowing up of the all-swallower.” (Vitringa).—Εἰς νῖκος can here be interpreted neither as equivalent to ‘forever,’ nor yet to ‘entirely;’ nor can we take it as an adverb, ‘victoriously’ (Flacius); but it indicates the result of being swallowed up—“into victory,” i. e., so that victory is gained, and the enemy is overcome. To this the following triumphal song is well appended. An argument may be urged against Osiander’s local interpretation of εἰς, (by which victory is personified and represented as a ravenous beast, as though the expression meant ‘swallowed up in the jaws of victory’), from the want of the article, as also from to τὸ νῖκος of 1 Corinthians 15:55. Inasmuch as in this whole context death must mean physical death, the doctrine of the restoration of all things, as suggested by Olshausen, has here no support.—The reference to the prophecy fulfilled at the resurrection culminates in a triumphal song, in uttering which, the Apostle seems transported in spirit to the moment of that grand consummation.—Where,—ποῦ, 1 Corinthians 1:20; Romans 3:27.—thy sting,—By κέντρον we are not to understand a goad, which death may be supposed to use in tilling his field, since without sin he could have no power over us [Billr. and Scholt.]; nor yet as something which calls out the power of death over us, awakes its slumbering might to tyrannize over us (Olsh.); but death is here figured as a venomous beast, armed with a poisonous, deadly sting—a scorpion, for example, [or a serpent like a viper in allusion to Genesis 3:0, and Numbers , 21]—O Death!—In this direct address the personification of death comes out more forcibly than in 1 Corinthians 15:54.—Where thy victory, O Death?—In this clause the Rec. Text has ἅφη, Hades, the kingdom of the dead, instead of θάνατε repeated. By “victory,” in this case, we would understand the detention in Hades of those who had departed to it; and this would be destroyed if Hades were compelled to give up the dead in a resurrection. But the reading ᾅδη is perhaps a correction made in accordance with the LXX version of Hosea 13:14. This passage undoubtedly floated before the mind of the Apostle, and apparently in the form in which it appears in the LXX in so far as we translate the passage, “From the power of Sheol will I ransom them; from death will I deliver them,” thus: “O death, I will be thy plagues; O Grave, I will be thy destruction.” But אֱהִי [translated I in our version] may be also=אַיֵּה, as in Hosea 13:10, [where it occurs in the sense of ποῦ, where,] (comp. Fürst, Handwörterbuch, s. v., אֱהִי 1 Corinthians 1:30). But instead of דְבָרֶיךָ thy plagues (plural of דֶּבֶר=the mille viæ leti, the thousand ways of death), others appear to have read דָּרְבָנְךָthy sting, (Fürst, s. v., דֶּבֶר); and קָטָבְךָ may be translated thy overthrow, viz., that which thou workest; in which case it is=τὸ νῖκος σου, thy victory, (comp. Schmieder on Hosea 13:14). This prophecy opens for us a bright view into the last glorious epoch, like as Isaiah 25:8; and the thought mounts from the state of not dying, implied in the loss of death’s sting, to that of resurrection from the dead (Meyer Exodus 3:0). If we now unite this passage in Isa. to the citation from Hosea, which is not inadmissible, then we have here a combination of texts as in Romans 11:8, and eleswhere. [Hodge says the Apostle does not quote Hosea, but expresses an analogous idea in analogous terms].—To this triumphal song there is appended, first, a short explanation respecting the sting of death, which serves to confirm the statement that death is swallowed up (1 Corinthians 15:56). “It affords,” says Meyer, “a firm doctrinal basis for the certainty of victory over death, furnished in the Gospel system.”—The sting of death is sin;—The parallel here between κέντρον and δύναμις. might seem to indicate the propriety of taking the former in the sense above given, viz., that of a goad, implying that that which set death in motion, and rendered it active, is sin. But there is no necessity for this; and the connection with 1 Corinthians 15:55, where “sting” being parallel with “victory,” cannot denote that by which death is goaded, does not allow of it. The meaning is, rather, that death, like a scorpion, has a sting, a fatal power imparted to it by means of sin (comp. 1Co 6:23; 1 Corinthians 5:12). But in relation to sin he adds—and the strength of Sin is the law.—This has been understood, either of the sin-awakening, and the sin-strengthening power of the law in the sense of Romans 7:7 if.; or of its condemning power (2 Corinthians 3:6 ff.; chap. 9); or both ideas have here been combined (Osiander). The first interpretation is the correct one. As death has no sting, no fatal power, when sin is done away, and therefore is destroyed, as death; so sin has no power, is become weak and nullified, when the law is removed. The law is indeed the revelation of the Divine will in the form of a command or prohibition, which both presupposes, and calls out the opposition of man against God. So long as this stands in authority, sin, and accordingly death, has power. And here the question arises, Does the Apostle intend to infer from the nullification of the power of death at that period, that then sin and the law are done away? Or does he presuppose this as a matter evident of itself, and from it draw a conclusion in support of the destruction of death, and for the resurrection? Or does he mean to indicate that sin and the law stand in the way of this consummation? The following verse most readily connects itself with the last supposition; since here God is praised as the one who, through Jesus Christ, ensures a victory over every thing which obstructs the grand consummation; or, more exactly, the victory over death, of which mention has been before made; since in communion with Him we are delivered from the law, and, together with this, from the power of sin, and hence also from death (Romans 8:1). Thus is this complete victory exhibited to us in connection with the redemption secured by Christ, which is nothing less than a deliverance from law and sin; and the whole is referred back to God, the Author of our redemption, with ascriptions of thanksgiving.—But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.—The present participle τῷ διδόντι, he giving us, may be taken as a vivid representation of the future in the form of the present, showing the absolute certainty of the thing; or it may denote the simple fact considered by itself apart from all idea of time; or, finally, it may represent God to us as the One who continually gives us the victory by taking away the condemnation of the law, and so destroying the power of sin in a life of faith, which is nothing less than a fellowship with Christ, who is the end of the law, and the destroyer of sin’s power. [“This He is: 1. Because He has fulfilled the demands of the law. It has no power to condemn those who are clothed in His righteousness. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Christ, by His death, hath “destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). That is, in virtue of the death of Christ, by which the demands of justice are satisfied, Satan, the great executioner of divine justice, has no longer the right or power to detain. If, therefore, it be the law which gives sin its reality and strength, and if sin gives death its sting, He who satisfies the law destroys the strength of sin, and consequently the sting of death. It is thus that Christ deprives death of all its power to injure His people. It is for them disarmed and rendered as harmless as an infant. 2. But Christ not only gives us this victory through His justifying righteousness, but also by His almighty power, He new creates the soul after the image of God; and, what is here principally intended, He repairs all the evils which death had inflicted. He rescues our bodies from the grave, and fashions them like unto His glorious body, even by that “power whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philippians 3:21). Hodge].
1 Corinthians 15:58. He concludes with an earnest exhortation to stedfastness and to advancement in Christian activity. And this which he introduces with an endearing epithet—My beloved brethren,—he joins first to a thankful allusion to the God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ; and thus the whole exposition comes at last to its close. This is evident also from the corroborative clause.—wherefore—since God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.—be ye stedfast unmovable,—suffer not yourselves to be shaken from the foundation of your faith and hope by any person or thing. “Ἐδραῖοι, stedfast,—‘do not turn yourselves from the faith of resurrection;’ ἀμετακίνητοι, unmovable,—‘be not led away by others.’ Bengel.—To this still another quality is annexed.—always abounding in the work of the Lord,—This is not to be taken as subordinating what precedes, as Meyer, who interprets: “so that ye distinguish yourselves in furthering the work of the Lord by your stedfastness in the Christian faith and life;” but it is still another feature of good conduct resulting from the conviction spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:57, viz., excelling in activity for the cause of Christ. By ἔργοντοῦκυρίου we are not to understand, either Christ’s work in a preëminent sense, i.e., the church (as the Romanists); nor yet a divine and blessed life (de Wette); but the work which Christ Himself undertook in obedience to the Father’s commission, and which He has commanded His followers to carry forward. In this are comprised both the proclamation and spread of the Gospel and the furtherance of the common weal by the reformation of individuals and of society. “It is something in which every Christian should coöperate through word and work in his own sphere.” Burger. To such activity he encourages them by a general assurance of success.—knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.—By κόπος he means an activity full of effort, involving burdens and self-denials for the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom. All this were vain and fruitless if our salvation were not to be consummated in triumph, if no victory over death and no resurrection were to be hoped for. But since this hope is sure, we know that our efforts will not fail of their goal,—that the glorious end will be reached at last which will compensate us for all our toil. The phrase “in the Lord” belongs, not to the subject (Meyer), but to the predicate, or rather to the whole clause. The profitableness of our labor is established in Christ. In fellowship with Him is its objects surely attained.
[Obs. 1. In order to appreciate the force of the Apostle’s reasoning throughout this whole chapter, it will be necessary to connect it with that general scheme of historical development in which his great argument moves. In speaking of the “other world,” or “the world to come,” it is common to understand by these expressions some mysterious realm existing outside of, or apart from the material world into which we are introduced by death, and where departed spirits are supposed to be now living. Not unfrequently are these terms used interchangeably with “eternity.” On such an interpretation, it is not easy to see why the Apostle should make a future happy existence so contingent upon the resurrection; or, indeed, what necessity there is for a new body, if in our disembodied state we are so completely introduced into fellowship with Christ, and the glories of heaven. Nor can we discover a reason why the resurrection should not take place with every individual immediately after death, according to the theory of Bush and the Swedenborgians. To keep the soul, that would “not be unclothed but clothed upon,” waiting for centuries before it can assume its new vesture, seems almost like an arbritrary and needless appointment. But the difficulty here presented is all removed when we come to reflect that the term translated “world” (αἴων) is not a designation of space, denoting any particular realm in which people live, but of time. It properly means an age—a distinct cycle of years through which certain great transactions similar in kind are carried on to their consummation, and which is to be followed by another of a different kind. Now it is through a series of these ages, or aeons, that Paul considers the work of the world’s redemption to be progressively carried on, all separated by certain great crises. The “present age” is that period which dating from the Fall is to last until the second coming of Christ. At this point the “future age” will begin to date, and this will be the age of redemption completed—the age of the Messiah’s Kingdom and Glory. And the expression for ‘eternity’ is generally in the plural—‘ages’, or ‘ages upon ages,’ to signify the ceaseless procession of time, under which conception eternity was ordinarily represented.
From this exposition will be seen the impropriety of speaking of souls at death passing at once into “the other” or “future world” or age. That future world or age has not yet come in; and no one can be said to enter it until Christ appears to set up His Kingdom. It is then only that the earth will be in readiness for the reception of the risen saints. And inasmuch as the glory which they are waiting for is to be found here, it will be seen why a resurrection is necessary,—why they want a body at all, and a glorified body, since it is in this as their organ that they will be fitted to dwell in a glorified earth and enjoy the felicity of that age. According to Paul’s theory, man is not to be separated from this lower creation of which he forms a part and of which he is the lord. The world was viewed by him as one complete whole, termed in Romans 8:0 “the creature” (κτίσις) which as it had been involved in the curse of the Fall was also to be restored in its completeness as the theatre of the Redeemer’s glory. But the time of its restoration could not occur, until all the redeemed of earth were brought in and the number of the elect completed. It is then that the Redeemer will appear to set up His Kingdom and around Him the whole church will be glorified together, none “preventing,” i.e., anticipating the other in the fruition of future glory.
On such a scheme we discover a foundation for the Apostle’s argument which identifies a blessed immortality, with the fact of a future resurrection, and seemingly ignores the possibility of an existence in some purely spiritual state, such as Pagan philosophy dreams of. The process of redemption underlying this scheme of history has been well represented by Fairbairn (Hermeneutical Manual, p. 367) under four successive stages and developments indicated by four fundamental gospel terms. “We see it beginning in the region of the inner man—in the awakening of a sense of guilt and danger, with earnest strivings after amendment (μετάνοια, repentance); then, through the operation of the grace of God, it discovers itself in a regenerated frame of spirit, the possession of an essentially new spiritual condition (παλιγγενεσία, regeneration) this once found, proceeds by continual advances, and fresh efforts to higher and higher degrees of spiritual renovation (ἀνακαίνωσις, renewing), while according to the gracious plan and wise disposal of God, the internal links itself to the external, the renovation of soul paves the way for the purification of nature, until, the work of grace being finished, and the number of the elect completed, the bodies also of the saints shall be transformed, and the whole material creation shall become a fit habitation for redeemed and glorified saints (αποκατάστασις, restoration). What a large and divine-like grasp in this regenerative scheme! How unlike the littleness and superficiality of man! How clearly be-speaking the profound insight and far-reaching wisdom of God! And this not merely in its ultimate results, but in the method also and order of its procedure! In beginning with the inner man, and laying the chief stress on a regenerated heart, it takes possession of the fountain head of evil, and rectifies that which most of all requires the operation of renewing agency. As in the moral sphere, the evil had its commencement, so in the same sphere are the roots planted of all the renovation, that is to develop itself in the history of the Kingdom. And the spiritual work once properly accomplished, all that remains to be done shall follow in due time; Satan shall be finally cast out; and on the
ruins of his usurped dominion, the glories of the new creation shall shine forth in their eternal lustre.”
For a list of works on this whole subject of the nature and destiny of the soul, the reader may consult the appendix to the History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, by Alger, where nearly five thousand works on this engrossing theme are enumerated and described by Ezra Abbot. Among the best of the moderns are Delitzsch, Psychologie, 2. Ed.; Bleek, Seelenlehre; Heard, on the Tripartite nature of man. Consult also articles in Bib. Sacra, 17:303; 13 p. 159].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
The risen saint’s retrospect and triumph. From the heights of a salvation completed the spirit looks back, in thought, on the dangers and difficulties through which it is to pass, and then, in contrast, to the deliverance provided for it in its several essential particulars; and such a review awakens it anew to the praise of God’s grace which through the power of Christ removed all obstacles, and gave it that victory in which it is to obtain the fulfilment of all the divine promises. But from this also there springs the earnest determination to remain stedfast in the maintenance of the grace conferred, and constantly to excel in furthering the great word of salvation in the joyful confidence that every sincere effort will result in securing at last a perfect communion with Christ who in His own person has overcome all obstacles and invites His followers to share in His victory.
The attainment of our salvation proceeds through three inseparably connected stages—the doing away: 1. of the law; 2. of sin; 3. of death. The law is done away (so far as it calls out and intensifies an opposition to God), through the revelation of the perfect love of God, who sent His only-begotten Son, the holy and righteous One, to take upon himself and endure the curse of the law, or to become sin and a curse for us, and so to redeem us from curse and from judgment, and to secure our justification. Thus, sin is forgiven; we are accepted in the beloved; and a loving child-like communion is established which involves a participation in the divine glory. Through the manifestation of this love, the law is changed from being a summary of stringent exactions and prohibitions enforced by fearful threatenings, into a proclamation of the will of a Father now reconciled to us in Christ, and who is thus recognized as meaning kindness in every requirement, who forbids nothing but what is injurious, enjoins nothing but what is necessary and beneficial, obliges us to suffer nothing but what is subservient to our best good, and disciplines us because He loves us.—By this means, also, the power of sin is broken, and instead thereof a disposition to love awakened, which grows ever stronger and stronger, masters more and more perfectly all opposing tendencies and impulses, and brings the whole life with all its organs and powers more resolutely and undividedly, more willingly and joyfully, into the service of God’s holy love, and thus promotes the sanctification of the whole man.—By this same means also death is robbed of its sting. For believers who pursue after holiness, death appears no longer as an extinction of life causing pain and fear, and making us dreary and desolate; but as an entrance into the rest of Christ, which leads to a glorious renewal of life (comp. John 8:51; John 11:25 ff.; Romans 6:8 ff; Romans 8:11; Romans 8:38 ff.), in which our perfect victory over death, and, together with this, the consummation of our redemption, is made gloriously manifest.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Corinthians 15:51. Hed.: Who then will fear the last great day! To become whole at once, is this a plague? In an instant mortal will be swallowed up of life.—At the resurrection men will have indeed new, yet not other bodies; their own, only changed.
1 Corinthians 15:53. What after all is beauty of body, and the finest garments; all must molder;—the resurrection will, for the first time, clothe us in beautiful and lasting array.
1 Corinthians 15:54 f. There are three it is finished: 1. at the creation,—for then all was very good; 2. at the redemption—achieved through the blood of Christ; and that was better; 3. at our sanctification and the eternal joy and glory which follow thereupon; which is the best of all. Then our mouth will be full of laughter and our tongue full of praise.—Death lies prostrate, and has now no more power. Life leaps aloft and exclaims: ‘Thus subdued, where, O Death, art thou now? and where that sting wherewith thou didst give men their deadly wound?’—Believers are now delivered from all dying.’ Wondrous triumph!
1 Corinthians 15:57. Through His perfect obedience and atoning work Christ has rendered satisfaction for our sins, and conquered death. Of this fact His victorious resurrection is a witness. This victory becomes ours through faith, and gives us the power to overcome sin and death likewise. This will be made manifest when Christ has raised our bodies to glory.—No one can confidently expect this victory but he who can say, ‘my faith also has overcome the world both within and without me’ (1 John 5:4 f.).—What can be more comforting to a Christian than that there should be granted him such a victory over physical death through Christ—that from being the punishment of sin it should become to him a blessing, a happy exit from all misery, and a joyful entrance into glory, and so, a triumph?
1 Corinthians 15:58. So long as we do not seek to become steadfast in Christianity, to be well grounded in faith, upon the Rock Christ, and to be immoveable against all the storms of temptation, so long will all labor in the practice of Christianity be, for the most part, useless. Indeed, not so much as earnest labor, as idleness and sleepy existence.
Berlenb. Bibel:—If we do not put on Jesus Christ and the new man from day to day, then the corruptible and the new incorruptible humanity of the glorified Saviour will not be so speedily fused together. He who would share in this much wished for change must have his heart changed here.—The art of transformation God alone understands. What happens now is only preparatory. Hence, no one must regard such divine operations and purifications as a burden.
1 Corinthians 15:54. The victory of Christ will then first be fulfilled in us when the corruptible shall have put on incorruption (regeneration in a complete sense Matthew 19:28). This victory has already taken place; but it must be fulfilled in all for whom it has been achieved separately and actually, both in this world and in the next. It will be actually begun in each one, when, in his soul, sin and its wages, death, have been subdued in victory over sin, through Christ’s new resurrection power, and, on the other hand, an innocent divine life has been begotten in us.
1 Corinthians 15:55. A consolation which is now concealed from our eyes, in order that we may walk by faith. Death must be disarmed of its means of hurt if we can appropriate this language.
1 Corinthians 15:56. This he introduces after his song of triumph in order that we may not jubilate after too wild a sort. If the sting of death is to be entirely renounced, sin itself must be once for all entirely annihilated.—The power of sin shows itself in the torments of conscience and in its urging men against their will and better resolutions to do what they know to be wrong. This power, especially that of accusation and condemnation, which every penitent experiences at his conversion is given to sin by the law, when it shows to him what he has merited from God, in all his thoughts, and words, and deeds. And although now such a person earnestly resolve to deliver himself from sin and begin to guard himself against his old habits, and to strive against his evil inclinations, he will nevertheless not often succeed. The law of sin in the members strives against the spirit, so that we do not that which we gladly would.
1 Corinthians 15:57. God gives us victory, one after the other. If we at any time have already overcome any lust, this happened not from any power of nature, but of grace which has been secured through our Lord Jesus Christ. He who has this grace strong in him may boast in the Lord and in the power of His might.—What boots it, though we daily console ourselves with all these sayings respecting Christ’s victory, and are yet not daily obedient to him?—Our enemies are not overcome for us in any such way that they need not also be overcome in us through the power of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:58. Firm and immoveable shall we become, if we earnestly hold to the centre.—Striving, watching, praying, the work of faith and the labor of love—this is what will preserve God to us. Let us only be found diligent therein.—The work is ours in respect to its exercises; it is not ours in respect to its origin.
1 Corinthians 15:51 ff. Every divine truth furnishes its own contribution to faith, partly, in preparing the heart for it; partly, in actually awakening it; partly, in promoting its growth; partly, in furthering its activity and fruitfulness; and partly, in leading it on to its glorious end.
1 Corinthians 15:54 ff. God’s work cannot remain unfinished. The patient waiting of believers, and the sighing of God’s creatures will not remain unheard. But for this, we must give God time.—The power of hope brought to light we have to enjoy in the extremities of death; but the song of victory: O, Death, where is thy sting? will chiefly be sung amid the joys of the resurrection. There is no encouragement in the scriptures for a haughty contempt of death. Even in the New Testament, all comfort in reference to it, is derived from communion with Christ, and from that fellowship in love, in which death can effect no break nor separation.
1 Corinthians 15:56. Faith bows itself beneath the judgment of God; seizes the shield of the hope of salvation; and every where shows that it has more to do with God, and His honor, and the sanctification of His name and the fulfilment of His work, and that it is enough for us that with all this, God has intimately in woven our salvation also. The sting, by which Death can do us the most hurt, is sin, or the sentence, that death through sin has come into this world, and is now its wages. And the law on its awakening in the conscience, first shows this enemy in its full strength. Do not, however, try to avoid it on this account. He who shrinks from entering into the pain and anguish occasioned by the law, will be deficient in consolation and joyful thanksgiving to God. To become free from the fear of death at a bound, would to many a one seem right; but the victory given us through Christ, has its stages. We are called out of sin into grace, die unto the law in its power, come into subjection to Christ Jesus and the rule of His Spirit, learn thereby how there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, and also what is revealed to our hope even for this mortal body. Therefore (1 Corinthians 15:58), he who has so learned to know sin and grace, death and life, and discovers in himself the germ of eternal life through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, can stand fast against all inward fickleness, be immovable against external temptations, and avoid all weariness, and instead, rather abound more and more in the work of the Lord, faith in whom is the spring of every thing else.
1 Corinthians 15:54 f. The Christian experiences indeed the natural dread of death, but not its inward terrors. Through Christ he becomes stronger than nature. Death has for him no more terror, because it brings to him no destruction of being, no judgment, no pain and punishment. Such a song of triumph no wisdom of this world can strike up. Only the fact of redemption tunes us to such peans.
1 Corinthians 15:56. That which makes death so fearful is the consciousness of sin, and the fear of damnation. But sin is terrible on account of the holy law of God. This law shows us at once its guilt and its curse.
1 Corinthians 15:57. With this song of praise the Christian celebrates the victory over these great enemies, Death, Sin and Satan. These enemies Christ has already overcome, and celebrated His triumph in the unseen world (Colossians 2:15). Without his aid, no one could overcome these mighty enemies. This victory is not our merit, but a grace given us by God through Christ. The atonement, and the hope of eternal life are closely connected. Everything which Christ has is ours, and this should be our daily medicine.
1 Corinthians 15:58. The work of our Lord is, a. what works in us; b. what we bring to pass in His strength. No pure, humble work is ever in vain. The Lord’s work succeeds, and he does not suffer his followers’ work to fail.
W. F. Besser:
1 Corinthians 15:55. For him whom hell no more frights with its torments there is a victory over hell also at the last day, when Christ will be revealed as the Man who has the keys of death and of hell. Whence now have we the right, and derive we the courage to sing such a song of triumph as we feel welling up even in this our mortal body? It stands not in our power to avoid the sting of death; but what is impossible with us has been made possible by God in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:58. In order to become stedfast through faith in the hope of the Gospel, and to stand immovable in the citadel of Apostolic doctrine we should seek the aid of the Holy Ghost. But in the Christian life there is no firm endurance without constant watchfulness. If we would abound in the work of the Lord, we must allow the work of His great love to operate in us, and stand in faithful co-operation with that love, in order that every one according to his gift and office, may devote himself to the edification of the Church, with the word of truth and with the labor of love (1 Corinthians 12:14). He who works in the Lord, and directs his eye to the day of harvest say’s with Paul: “I die daily,” and quiets his heart in patience, being joyful in hope.
Gerock:—Faith’s song of triumph at the grave of the risen: “O, Death, where is thy sting?” Thy sting whereby thou, a. robbest me me of my dearest (1 Corinthians 15:52); b. and threatenest my own body (1 Corinthians 15:51); c. and frightenest my poor soul (1 Corinthians 15:56); d. and destroyest the work of my hands (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Luther:—“Thanks be unto God,” etc. This may we also sing, and so keep perpetual Easter, that we may extol and praise God for such a victory, which was not achieved through us, nor won in fight (for it is too high and great), but has been graciously given to us of God—who pitieth our sorrows out of which none could help us, and sent unto us His son, and let Him undertake the conflict. Sin, Death and Hell has He overcome, and given unto us the victory, so that we may say: ‘It is our victory,’ so that we may accept it with earnestness, and not give God the lie, neither be found ungrateful for it, but maintain it with firm faith in our hearts, and strengthen ourselves therein, and always sing of this victory in Christ, and go on, joyful therein until we see Him also in our own body. To this, may God help us through His own dear Son, and to Him be all glory and praise forever and ever. Amen!”
1 Corinthians 15:51. The Commemoration of the faithful departed.—Newton: 1 Corinthians 15:51. The general resurrection. I. The mystery. 1. Beyond the reach of fallen man to discover without a revelation from God. 2. Still unintelligible without a further revelation through the influence of the Spirit. II. What to be expected—universal changes. III. Suddenness of event—in a moment. IV. The grand preceding signal—the trumpet sound. Improvement. 1. A joyful day to believe 2. In view of it what manner of men ought we to be.
1 Corinthians 15:54. Death swallowed up in victory. How predicable of Christians. I. They were once dead in law—but forgiven. II. Once dead in sin—but quickened. III. Once under the tyranny of Satan—but made conquerors over him. IV. Once subject to woes and sufferings—but sorrow and sighing are turned to joy and gladness. V. Once reaped the bitter fruits of sin—but grace triumphs over every evil.—1 Corinthians 15:55-57.—Triumph over death and the grave. I. Death armed with a powerful sting. 1. What the sting Isaiah 2:0. How sharpened by the law. II. Death disarmed by the death of Christ. III. The doxology—emphatic in every word. 1. Thanks to God—His work. 2. Who giveth us the victory—a victory indeed. 3. Through Jesus Christ. This song best sung when the whole redeemed are collected together.—Howe:
1 Corinthians 15:54. The Christian’s triumph over death. I. The explication of its rational import. 1. The import—God’s general determination to put a perpetual end to death. a. Death as here spoken of supposes a certain limited subject, viz.: such as are Christ’s. b. It extends to the whole of that subject—the inner and the outward man. c. Presupposes a war. d. Where this war ends not in victory on the one side, it ends in victory on the other. 2. The reasonableness of the import. a. God’s glory requires it. b. The felicity of the redeemed requires it. II. The use of the doctrine. 1. If asserted to be believed. 2. Full of comfort; a. in reference to departed friends; b. in reference to our own death. III. A monition to us since spoken only of some and not of all. IV. This doctrine should cause us to abstain from rash censures of providence that God lets death reign over so great a part of His creation for so long a time. John Logan:—1 Corinthians 15:55-57. The Christian’s victory over death. Christ sets us free: I. From the doubts and fears that are apt to perplex the mind from the uncertainty in which a future state is involved. II. From the apprehensions of wrath proceeding from the consciousness of sin. III. From the fears that arise in the mind upon the awful transition from this world to the next. Spurgeon:—1 Corinthians 15:56-57. Thoughts on the last battle. I. The sting of death—Sin. 1. Because it brought death into the world. 2. Because it is that which shall make death most terrible. 3. If sin in the retrospect be the sting of death, what must sin in the prospect be? II. The strength of sin—the Law. 1. In this respect that the law being spiritual it is quite impossible for us to be without sin. 2. It will not abate one tittle of its stern demands. 3. For every transgression it will exact a punishment. III. The victory of faith. 1. Christ has taken away the strength of sin in that He has removed the law. 2. In that, He has completely satisfied it by His perfect obedience. 3. By having brought life and immortality to light through the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:511 Corinthians 15:51.—The Rec. is satisfactorily authenticated, [πάντες μέν οὐ κοιμθησόμεθα, πάντες δὲ ]. The origin of the other readings is easily explained from the apparent difficulty of this. Lachmann [and Stanley] have πάντες [μὲν] κοιμηθησόμεθα, οὐ πάντες δὲ . Others have πάντες μὲν , οὐ πάντες δὲ . [The μὲν has in its favor A. C. (2d. hand), D. (2d and 3d hand), E. F. G. K. L. Sinait., Vulg., later Syr., Copt., and a few eccles. writers, hut against it B. C. (1st hand), D. (1st hand), the Syr. (Pesch.), Aeth., and Orig. Jerome testifies that in his day all the Latins had omnes quidem resurgemus, but that the Greeks were divided between omnes dormiemus, and non omnes dormiemus. Augustine also mentions that both Greeks and Latins were divided about it. It was very likely to have originated in an attempted conformity with the subsequent δὲ. For placing the οὐ before κοιμηθ., so that it may qualify that word, and not after, with the comma before it, so that it may quality ἀλλαγ., we have B. D. (2d and 3d hand), E. K. L., almost all the cursives, with the Goth., Syr., (both), Copt., Aeth., Arab. versions, and many of the best Greek and Latin writers. Among the other MSS. there is an almost inextricable confusion, suggesting that they are not reliable. They appear to have sprung from the idea that otherwise Paul would assert (contrary to fact) that he, and those to whom he wrote, were not to die. See all the readings discussed elaborately in Reiche and Tischendorf.—C. P. W.]
1 Corinthians 15:521 Corinthians 15:52.—Lachmann has ἀναστήσονται, but the evidence for that reading is not quite convincing. [It is sustained by A. D. E. F. G., 2 cursives, Orig. (one ms.), Chrys. (one ms.), Damasc., Theophyl. (marg.); but B. C. K. L. M., Sinait., several copies of the Latin, Vulg. (resurgunt), Orig. (5 times). Dialog., Chrys. (one ms.), Cyr., Theodt., have ἐγερθήσονται.—C. P. W.]
1 Corinthians 15:541 Corinthians 15:54.—The whole sentence τὸ φθαρτὸν τ. ἐνδύσ. αφθαρσ. και is omitted in C. (1st hand), Sinait., (1st hand), 2 cursives, the Vulg., Goth., Copt., Aeth. (both), Marcion (in Epiph.), Athan., Iren. (Lat.), Hilar., Aug. (once), Ambrst., Fulg., Oros., Bede. By A., the Arm., version, and some unimportant MSS., it is inserted after τὸ θνητ. τ. ἐνδύς. ἀθαν.; D. (1st hand, not in the Lat. 1st hand), entirely omits this latter sentence. Doubtless by homœoteleuton.—C. P. W.]
1 Corinthians 15:551 Corinthians 15:55.—The κέντρον and νῖκος are arranged in the reverse order by a number of good MSS. [B. C. J. M. Sinait. (1st hand), Vulg., Copt. Aeth., Arm., Slav., Eus., Athan., Didym., Cyr., Damasc, Iren. (Lat.), Tert., Jer., Ambr.] This was done probably, to make the sentence conform to the Septuagint. Such, too, was doubtless the origin of the substitution of ᾀδη for the second θάνατε [in A. (2d hand), K. L. M. Sinait., (3d hand), several cursives, the Goth., Syr. (both), Orig., Athan. (once), Cyr., Epiph. For θάνατε twice we have B. C. D. E. F. G. I., 2 cursives, the Ital., Vulg., Copt., Aeth., Arm., Euseb., Athan. (once), Nyss., Iren. (Lat.), Tertul., Cypr., Ambr., August. Wordsworth, gives as a reason for the change of ᾅδη into θάνατε, that the primitive Christians, who would not be surprised at a personification of θάνατος, would have been shocked at such a bold apostrophe as the Apostle here derived from his Hebrew Scriptures to Hades, on the ground that it would countenance the heathen notion of a personal deity so named.—C. P. W.]
[Calvin remarks: “There is here no difference in the Greek MSS. [which is true, so far as those he had to deal with went], but in the Latin versions there are three different readings. The first is, We shall, indeed, all die, but we shall not all be changed. The second is, We shall, indeed, all rise again, but we shall not all be changed. [This is the reading of the Vulgate followed by Wickliffe and the Rheim’s version.] The third is, We shall not, indeed, all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” This diversity he ascribes to the fact, “that some readers, who are not the most discerning, dissatisfied with the true reading, ventured to conjecture a reading which was more approved by them”].
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter