Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Take our poll

Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 15

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-28

The Glorious Gospel

1 Corinthians 15:1-28


The Apostle Paul said: "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand."

1. Paul had received his Gospel from Heaven. He proclaimed that which God had given him. For this cause Paul spoke of his Gospel as the Gospel of Christ. He certified that it was not after man, saying, "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ."

2. The people received the Gospel from Paul. He says: "The Gospel * * which also ye have received." When we find the people of the pew heretical, it is, usually, because the minister in the pulpit is heretical. If the pulpit sounds forth a true message under the power of the Holy Ghost, the hearers may receive it.

3. The people not only received, but they STOOD in the Gospel. The expression, "Wherein ye stand," carries great weight. If we receive a truth we must stand not only upon it, but within it. The Gospel should be the environment which shelters us from every error.

4. The people were saved by the Gospel, PROVIDING their faith was genuine. Here is the way 1 Corinthians 15:2 reads: "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."

It is necessary, not only to have a real faith, but a real faith in a real Gospel. The faith that saves is the faith that receives the Atonement, that believes in the resurrection, and the Coming of the Lord.

5. Paul plainly declared the Gospel which he had received, and which he had delivered unto the Corinthians. That Gospel carried a threefold message.

(1) Paul said: "I delivered unto you first of all * * that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." This is the first great fundamental of the faith the fact that the One sent of God, the Anointed of God, the Son of God, died upon the Cross, the Just for the unjust.

He who has no crucified Christ has no Saviour, He is one who believes in vain.

(2) Paul said also: "That He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." Here is a statement that is also vital to salvation. If we believe Christ died, but do not believe in His resurrection, we are of all men most miserable. Such faith is also vain, We will treat this more fully later on.

(3) Paul said, likewise, that the Gospel included the return of Christ. The Second Coming of Christ is indissolubly linked to the resurrection of the saints; and the resurrection of the saints, is indissolubly linked to the Second Coming of Christ: while both are indissolubly linked to the Gospel.


We call 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 an attest to the infallible proofs of the resurrection of our Lord, inasmuch as each verse brings out one or more definite witnesses, who personally saw the Risen Christ.

1. He was seen of Cephas. Cephas is none other than Peter. We are all familiar with the fact of Peter's entrance, with John, into the empty tomb. We are also familiar with how Christ, afterward, met Peter alone. The scene was so sacred that the Bible merely says He "hath appeared to Simon." At least Peter knew Christ was risen.

2. He was seen of the Twelve. The first time He met the Twelve, Thomas was not with them. He had entered, the door being shut. He had breathed upon them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." The second time He appeared to the Twelve, Thomas was with them; and, to Thomas, He said: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing."

3. After that He was seen of five hundred brethren at once. Here was a great group of believers who certified the resurrection.

4. After that He was seen of James. James also was an eyewitness of the resurrection in some remarkable way.

5. Then He was seen of all the Apostles. This may have been when the disciples returned from their all night of fishing.

6. Last of all He was seen of Saul of Tarsus, as one born out of due time.

With these various post-resurrection appearances of Christ, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus was established. The people, as a whole accepted the fact that the Christ, who had been crucified, was risen indeed.


1. Paul the persecutor of the Church of God. We are all familiar with the story of Saul of Tarsus, clothed with authority, as he went down to Damascus. We also know how Christ appeared unto him by the way and the suddenness of his conversion, as he cried, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"

2. Paul the sinner saved by grace. In 1 Corinthians 15:10 , Paul says: "By the grace of God I am what I am." In Galatians it tells us that God had separated Saul of Tarsus from his mother's womb, and called him by His grace. What a wonderful grace that was!

3. Paul, the laborer more abundantly. Paul said: "I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." We delight to follow the Apostle in his great missionary journeys, as he went about preaching Christ.

Truly, a great sinner saved, had made a great soldier and servant and preacher. When we think of Paul's journeying amid perils of waters, perils of robbers, perils of his own countrymen, perils of the heathen, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, and perils among false brethren, we simply bow our heads and ask God to help us to make full proof of our ministry.


1. If Christ rose from the dead, how can the resurrection of saints be denied? Evidently, there were some who preached that Christ rose, but they did not preach that the saints would rise. Paul questions their contentions. He says, "If Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Then Paul adds: "If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen." This last statement of the Apostle makes us remember the words of our Lord: "Because I live ye shall live also." His resurrection positively assures ours. Our resurrection is positively dependent on His.

2. If Christ rose not from the dead, our preaching is vain, our faith is also vain. Christ has written "Vanity of vanities" over every pulpit that denies the literal, corporeal resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Even the Cross of Christ is without value, apart from the resurrection of Christ. Likewise, both the Cross of Christ and the resurrection of Christ, are without value excepting they certify the resurrection of saints.

We preach Christ who "died, yea, rather who is risen again. The Book of Romans says that Jesus Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power, * * by the resurrection from the dead."

3. If Christ rose not we are found false witnesses of God. The Apostle positively proclaimed that God had raised up Christ, and had exalted Him, giving Him a seat at His own right hand in the Heavenlies. He also preached that the dead in Christ would rise. Now he says that if his preachment is not true, then he is a false witness. One thing is true: if Christ rose from the dead, the saints shall rise; and, if the saints rise not, then Christ is not risen.


1. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain." When we think of the Christian Church, of those who have died for the faith, who have gladly given up their lives for the Christ whom they loved and trusted, then we remember that if Christ be not raised from the dead their faith was all in vain. And if we did not know the verity of the Lord's resurrection, we would stand aghast.

If the Risen Christ be taken away from the Church, the Church, at once, is thrown over into the realm of other false religions.

2. "If Christ be not raised, * * ye are yet in your sins." There is no such thing, therefore, as remission of sins, apart from the resurrection of our Lord. We know that the death of Christ saves us; we know, however, that if Christ be not raised, His Blood held no value, inasmuch as His resurrection is the one God-given proof that Christ was God.

When we read: "If Christ be not raised, * * ye are yet in your sins," we cannot but think that, apart from the resurrection of Christ, how dark our hearts would be.

3. If Christ be not raised * * we are of all men most miserable." Any religion that touches only the brief span of our earthly life is worth but little at the most. The present life is "but a vapor which passeth away." It is the great eternal, beyond, that really amounts to everything. What are a few brief days, compared to eternity.

It is folly to argue that we die like a dog and pass into eternal oblivion. We know that life exists forever. However, if we do not know this, then we know not that Christ is risen. Yea, we know not anything. Every hope in our sky is blotted out; every foundation of our faith is taken away.

V. THE GREAT AFFIRMATION (1 Corinthians 15:20-22 )

The three verses before us contain three great affirmations concerning the Christian's hope.

1. "Now is Christ risen from the dead." The Apostle Paul, after having shown us the great and abhorrent perspective consequent to an unraised Christ, now throws such possible negations to the winds by stating an unchangeable affirmation: "Now is Christ risen from the dead."

He knows Christ rose from the dead, because He was seen of him on the Damascus road. He heard His voice. He saw His presence forthshining, as brighter than the noonday sun. Thus assured, he says: "Now is Christ risen."

We, too, can say the same. We have never seen His face, but we have felt His power; we have realized His presence with us by the way.

2. "Now is Christ * * become the firstfruits of them that slept." "First fruits" are the harbinger of a coming harvest. If Christ rose as the First Fruits, we shall rise as those: "afterward they that are Christ's at His Coming."

This is the result of the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:21 .

3. The contrast between the first and the second man. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is now making His third affirmation, by presenting a true comparison between Adam and Christ. Adam is the first man: he brought death; Christ is the Second Man: He brings the resurrection of the dead. Adam is the first Adam: in him all die; Jesus Christ is the Last Adam: in Him all shall be made alive; that is, all shall be raised.

This affirmation is plainly established in the fifth chapter of Romans. Read 1 Corinthians 15:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:17 .


The chapter clearly states that all, both saints and wicked, shall be raised. Now, in 1 Corinthians 15:23 we read that every man shall be raised "in his own order" ; that is in his own group or company.

1. Christ the First Fruits. His resurrection has already taken place, and having taken place, it, as the first fruits gives assurance of the resurrections which are to follow.

2. Afterward they which are Christ's at His Coming. Language could not be plainer than this. Saints are to be raised at the Coming of the Lord Jesus. This is set forth in many Scriptures. In this same chapter in Corinthians, is one Scripture: "I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." When? When the trumpet sounds. Then, the story of the resurrection of the saints at His Coming is unmistakably set forth. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 .

In the Book of Revelation we read of the first resurrection, and then we read, "The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." God truly said: "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection."

3. Then cometh the end. There are various Scriptures which foretell the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, without distinctly setting forth the fact that the thousand year period, or that any period of time, may lie between the two resurrections, There are other Scriptures which likewise teach that all shall be raised. These latter Scriptures, however, plainly designate the fact that the resurrection of the two classes, will not be simultaneous. Thus, the threefold statement of our key verses is fully established by Scripture.

VII. CHRIST THE CONQUEROR (1 Corinthians 15:25-28 )

1. 1 Corinthians 15:25 says that Christ "must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet." We know according to Hebrews, that He hath not yet put all things under His feet. Satan is still loose; the wicked still rule. However, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again to set up His Kingdom and He will rule and reign upon the earth, until He shall have put down all other rule, and all other authority and power. The length of His reign according to Revelation 20:1-15 , will be one thousand years. During that period Christ will establish peace upon the earth.

2. 1 Corinthians 15:26 says, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." At the end of the thousand years, the wicked dead will be raised. Read Revelation 20:11 , Revelation 20:12 .

At that time, when the sea shall give up the dead that are in it; and death and hell shall deliver up the dead which are in them; and the raised dead shall be judged before the great white throne, then it is that death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

3. 1 Corinthians 15:24 says : "Then (when all above is accomplished), cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father." Christ is to reign forever and ever. He reigns, however, one thousand years upon the renewed and blessed earth; then, with death and hell cast into the lake of fire, and with all things having been put under His feet, the Kingdom is transferred to the new Heavens and the new earth, where we read of: "The throne of God and of the Lamb." At that time the Son also, Himself, shall be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.


"Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man" the emphasis being on the word "judge."

Obviously, here is an authentic story illustrative of how the light of His life did, and does, its searching, gracious work in the lives and hearts of men and women. This is an illustration of what happened then, and of what will always happen wherever the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ is truly realized.

I remember years ago hearing Dr. Fullerton, whose gracious messages linger, I am sure, in many memories today tell how Dr. Meyer, during his ministry in Leicester, called to see a member of his congregation. He found that member had just been washing, for it was a Monday (a bad day for a minister to visit), and this good saint had been busy. She had finished her work, and the clothes were hung out on the green to dry. The doctor was invited into her spotless kitchen, for she had cleaned up, and now was preparing to have a cup of tea; she invited the doctor to join her, which he gladly did.

Looking out of the window, he saw the clothes hanging up to dry, and he made the remark, characteristically, how white the clothes were, how beautiful was her handiwork; and she was pleased. They sat and had their cup of tea, but while they talked the sky became overcast, and snow fell. Soon the whole land outside in view of the window was covered with a white garment of snow, and the doctor lifted up his eyes and said, "Look! these clothes that were so white: see them now they are gray." "Oh, sir," she said, "what can stand against God Almighty's white?" Rev. J. R. S. Wilson.

Verses 29-58

How Are the Dead Raised Up?

1 Corinthians 15:29-58


There are two rather startling questions asked and answered in the opening verses; that is, from 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 .

1. The first question, "What shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?"

There are two ordinances in the Church baptism and the Lord's Supper. The one before us is that of baptism, and the question is asked, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then why are we baptized for the dead? That baptism is connected with the death and the burial of Christ, we have no doubt. In Romans it also tells us that we are baptized into His death; that is, when He died, we died.

The question before us suggests that if we are baptized merely for the dead, and there is no resurrection, then we with Him (apart from the resurrection), would have had to stay buried in the grave.

2. The second question is, "Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?" What the Holy Spirit is suggesting is that the Christian's life is always in peril, and death faces him at all times. To him, however, there is no need to fear, because of the certainty of the resurrection of the dead. For this cause Christians can face the terrors of death without a quiver without any feeling of jeopardy.

The Apostle next protests against the "no-resurrection adherents," by announcing the rejoicing which he has in Christ Jesus the Lord. He said: "I die daily," and yet, he rejoiced daily. Then the Apostle adds a third question.

3. The third question is, "What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?" The Apostle says, "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me," apart from the resurrection?

Christians were constantly in jeopardy, and were frequently thrown to the beasts. They gladly died for their Lord. They died, however, knowing that they should yet stand, in their bodies, before their Lord. If there is no resurrection Paul argued the uselessness of it all, and argued the world's conception; "Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die."

4. Paul's great contentions.

(1) Paul first says: "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." He throws this in, quickly, because the Spirit would have us to know that Christ did rise, and that we must not join the wicked in evil communications, but the rather suffer, if need be, even unto death.

(2) Paul also, through the Spirit, urges the saints to "Awake to righteousness, and sin not"; "for," (says he), "some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."

When the Risen Christ, and the resurrection of saints become a vital doctrine to believers, then Christianity at once becomes the vital energizing power in life.

I. HOW ARE THE DEAD RAISED UP? (1 Corinthians 15:35-38 )

There are two questions instead of one before us.

1. The first question is, "How are the dead raised up?" In answer to this question, a statement is made; "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." The Holy Spirit is enforcing the fact that resurrection presupposes death. Our Lord on one occasion said: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone." It is death, and death alone, which makes possible resurrection life.

Death is the doorway to a fuller life. "That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die."

2. The second question is: "With what body do they come?" The reply is simple: "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."

The conclusion is clear, as well as final. The body that is raised is not the body that dies. The body that dies is a body of flesh, and bones, and blood, for the life of this body is the blood; the body which is raised is without blood. All of this proves that the resurrection body is not the same as the body which is buried.

When wheat is sown, wheat is grown. If corn is sown, corn is grown. Thus, every seed has its own body a body bearing the image and likeness of the original body. We believe more than this is true. As the new grain is formed from the death of the old grain that is sown; so, likewise, the new body that is raised, is formed from the body that was sown.

What we are endeavoring to explain is that the resurrection is real, and that the same body which is sown, actually gives birth to the body which is raised, according to the power wherewith God is able to subdue all things unto Himself.


1. Our new bodies will be distinct from all other bodies in the resurrection. Our key verses tell us "All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." Thus, in the resurrection, there will be a distinctive kind of flesh for risen saints.

2. Our new bodies will carry a distinctive glory. 1 Corinthians 15:40 reads: "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another." There is, therefore, in the resurrection, a new glory, and perhaps the glory of one body will be distinct from the glory of another. 1 Corinthians 15:41 goes on to say; "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars." Then there is added this significant statement: "One star differeth from another star in glory." One resurrection saint will differ from all other raised saints.

Individual personalities, as well as the individuality of faces, will be carried with us into the life to come.


1. The present body is corruptible; the resurrection body is incorruptible. The word "corruption," here means a body which decays. Of the present body it is written: "Dust thou art, to dust returneth." The resurrection body will never see corruption. Only such a body could inherit an incorruptible glory.

In 1 Peter 1:3-4 we read that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ the saints were begotten again unto a lively hope. That lively hope anticipates an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you.

2. The present body is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. Everything about the body which we now bear carries dishonor and shame. It needs to be constantly washed and cared for, clothed in every way. The new body is raised in glory,

3. The present body is a body of weakness; the resurrection body is a body of power. During all of our lifetime, we realize that we are dwelling in an earthly frame subjected to the ravages of disease. How wonderful it will be to have, in the Glory, a resurrection body foreign to all weakness, and clothed with all power.

4. The present body is a natural body; the resurrection body is a spiritual body. The body which we will have in the resurrection will not be a spirit-body, but a body adapted to spiritual life. It will be a body which is not carnal, but spiritual.


1. The first man Adam was made a living soul; the Last Adam was made a quickening Spirit. This verse throws further light upon 1 Corinthians 15:44 , which we have just considered, even the difference between our earthly, natural body, and our Heavenly, spiritual body.

1 Corinthians 15:46 goes on to tell us "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." Thus it is that the two Adams describe for us two bodies. The body which we now have, is a body patterned after the body of the first Adam. The body which we shall have, will be patterned after the body of the Last Adam.

There are many Scriptures which establish this latter statement. We refer you to Philippians 3:20 , Philippians 3:21 .

2. As is the earthy such are they also that are earthy: and as is the Heavenly such are they also that are Heavenly. 1 Corinthians 15:49 adds; "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly." It is a glorious privilege to observe the Lord Jesus after His resurrection, and during those forty days in which He appeared to many. His resurrection body, is a Divinely given clue to the body which we shall bear throughout all of the endless aeons of eternity.

We delight to see the Lord entering the upper room, "the doors being shut." We delight in hearing the Lord say: "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have." What varied suggestions to our new bodies, are here.

It is a pleasure, also, to observe Christ standing by the shore and calling out to the disciples, as He said: "Children, have ye any meat?" It throws light upon our resurrection body.


1. We have before us the resurrection as a prime necessity. The present body cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, therefore, stands distinct from the present earth life, which we now live.

Some of these differences we may know. For instance, everything which is of the earth is earthy; everything which is of the Kingdom of God is Heavenly. Everything which is of the earth is temporal; everything which is of the Kingdom of God is eternal. Everything which is of the earth is corruptible; everything which is of the Kingdom of God is incorruptible. Everything earthly is defiled; everything Heavenly is undefiled.

Nothing which is abominable, nothing which makes a lie, can enter into the Kingdom of God. "The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murders, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."

2. We have before us not alone the power of God in changing the corruptible body into the incorruptible; but we have this power manifested through His shed blood, in changing the sinful life into the holy life. The deeds of carnality and the works of the flesh are indissolubly linked to the corruptible body. The righteousness of God, in Christ, which is the heritage of all saints, will be the life that will indwell the resurrection body.

The redeemed saints which John saw gathered before the throne, had washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb, therefore were they before the throne of God. Oh, the mighty power of the Cross of Calvary! No wonder in Heaven we will shout, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain."


1. The mystery of mysteries. There are many mysteries set forth in the Word of God, but here is the mystery that, to us, at least, is climactic. The Spirit puts it this way: "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."

The hymn writer put it this way:

"Soon will the Saviour from Heaven appear,

Oh, what a promise! His Coming is near!

Saints will be changed in a moment of time,

Oh, what a Rapture and glory sublime!"

2. The rapidity of the change. The twinkling of an eye is brief, to say the least; and yet, we shall be changed even as rapidly as that.

The change will be more marvelous than that of the ugly scrub girl who, when touched with the fairy's wand, in fable lore, became the beautiful Cinderella. Our change will be real. The Apostle Peter said, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This change will be the change whereby He, in His power, is able to subdue all things unto Himself.

With what rapture did the disciples, upon the Mount of Transfiguration, behold their Lord as He was transfigured before them! This transfiguration was a marvelous change. His face was white and glistening, and His raiment was shining white. So shall we, at His Coming, be changed.

VII. THE SHOUT OF VICTORY (1 Corinthians 15:54-58 )

1. Death shall be swallowed up in victory. This is the promise of God. We know that the wages of sin is death, and that sin when it is finished bringeth forth death. At the Coming of the Lord, with the resurrection of saints, the great change will acclaim forever that death is conquered, and God in Christ is Victor.

2. The glorious shout. Here are the words which the Holy Spirit sounds forth as He sees the raptured saints changed, and death swallowed up in victory. How exultant! How overwhelming is the cry: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

Exultant days lie ahead; days of joy and rejoicing; days of unparalleled exultation. The Lord will descend from Heaven with a shout. At His shout, dead bodies will leap from their graves to be changed and indwelt by ransomed spirits. Living saints will simultaneously be caught up together with them at the shout. They too shall be changed. Then, as the dead and the living are upward caught, they, seeing their Lord in all of His glory, shall also shout the shout of victory.

3. The great thanksgiving day. When the believers in their resurrection and ascension and change realize that sin and death have been broken, then they will cry "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

5. The final plea. It is written: "Therefore, my beloved brethren be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

It is not necessary for us to enlarge upon this. Nothing can baffle the ardor and enthusiasm of the saint who has caught the deeper and fuller meanings of the resurrection of Christ, and the subsequent resurrection of saints as set forth in 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 .


Death for the time being is the triumph of the enemy. There was no man in this country more used in bringing the knowledge of the truth of the Coming of Christ before Christians than Edward Irving. Mr. Irving had a beautiful little boy who died, and he went in beside the dead child and prayed God to avenge him of death. God showed him resurrection, and that is the triumph of Christ. The great success of the enemy has been to get Christians to look for death and not for resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:54 ).

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/1-corinthians-15.html.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile