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This is a most blessed Chapter, on the Subject of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. From Christ's Resurrection, the Apostle proves ours. And the blessed Effects of the Doctrine are shewn.
(1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: (5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: (6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. (9) For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (10) But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (11) Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
The great and leading point, to which, by God the Holy Ghost, the Apostle's mind was here directed, was to teach the Church the glorious doctrine of the Resurrection. And never can the Church of God be sufficiently thankful to the Lord the Spirit, for his servant's ministry on this momentous truth, as here set forth in this blessed chapter. Reader! let us both look up, and bless God for it, as we enter upon the perusal of it; and beg for grace, so to read, and understand, as to have that blessedness of participation, promised to the members of Christ s body, on whom the second death had no power, Revelation 20:6 .
The Apostle begins the subject, with calling the doctrine of the resurrection, in a comprehensive manner, the Gospel. And, in fact, so it is. For it forms the key-stone of the arch. On the troth of which, the whole building is knit together. And, it is worthy the Reader's observation, that after Christ's return to glory, and the descent of God the Holy Ghost upon the minds of the Apostles; their whole preaching was called, a witness of Christ's resurrection, Acts 1:22 . And the most galling part of the Apostles' ministry to the Jews was, that they preached, through Jesus, the resurrection from the dead, Acts 4:33; Acts 4:33 . Paul's preaching at Athens, was considered as a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection, Acts 17:18 . Reader! you may learn from hence, the infinite importance of the doctrine itself. It is, as Paul here told the Corinthians, the very source of salvation, from death and the grave; By which, said he, ye are saved: that is, in the resurrection of Christ. Not by our memory of it, or even by our stedfastness in the faith of it; for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a sure, certain, and unquestionable fact in itself, whether believed in or not. And blessed be God, the salvation of Christ's Church, is founded in Christ himself; not in the highest act of belief in his people. But the Apostle's meaning, when he saith: By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you; that is, your joy in it, and your comfort from it, shall be unbroken, and become to you an evidence, that ye are saved in Christ, with an everlasting salvation, by this holding fast, and retaining the cordial belief of it, in a practical use of it, upon your heart and conscience. To the same purport is what the Apostle adds, when he saith: unless ye have believed in vain. There can be no such thing as true believing in vain: For that faith which is of the Spirit of God, the faith of God's elect; Titus 1:1 , is a living principle in the soul, inwrought by the Holy Ghost at regeneration : and being from Him, and kept alive by Him, who is the Author and Finisher of faith, liveth and abideth forever. So that the Lord's redeemed ones, whom Christ himself calls, the children of the resurrection, Luke 20:36 , cannot but believe; neither can they believe in vain. The resurrection itself is in them a principle giving life. They have, by virtue of their union with Christ, part in the first resurrection; being by regeneration begotten to this lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 . Hence the principle is secured in Christ their Head, who hath said : Because I live, ye shall live also, John 14:19 . Their comfort, their joy, their happiness, will indeed be more, or less lively, according to the greater, or less degree of their daily actings of faith, upon the Person and finished work of Christ. But, their security is not in their views of Christ, but in Christ himself. That faith, or belief, which is vain, and floats but in the memory, can be nothing more than what is historical. If there were any of this description, which had crept into the Church at Corinth; the Church itself, from what the Apostle here said, might detect such characters, and mark the difference in themselves.
The Apostle, having paved the way for the great subject he had in view, now proceeds to remind the Church of the outlines of all his preaching, in relation to the Person, offices, character, royalty, perfections, and glory, of the Lord Jesus Christ. And Paul demands the attention of the Church yet more, because, what he had delivered unto them, he had received himself from the Lord. Reader! I pray you everlastingly to keep in recollection, this grand feature of Paul's ministry. From whom was Paul taught what he delivered to others? Nay, let himself answer the question. I certify to you, brethren, (said Paul, in his Epistle to the Church of Galatia,) that the Gospel which was preached of me, is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. See Galatians 1:10-16 . And, as Paul was miraculously converted by the Lord, from Heaven : Acts 9:1-22 , so was he specially ordained to the ministry, by the ordination of God the Holy Ghost, Acts 13:1-4 . Reader! you would do well, when at any time, Satan or the world tempt you, to pause, at any of the precious truths of God, delivered by Paul, to have these things in remembrance!
I do not think it necessary to swell these pages, in making observations on this sermon of the Apostle's, the heads of which he hath here given, of what he had before preached to the Corinthian Church. Of the death Of Christ, according to the prediction of the scriptures of the Prophets; the Evangelists have very fully related. The Reader would find it profitable, as he peruseth the wonderful history, to compare the one with the other: Genesis 3:15 ; Psalms 22:0 ; Psalms 69:0 ; Isaiah 53:0 ; Daniel 9:0 ; Zechariah 13:7; Zechariah 13:7 . And let him also consult the typical representations, under the law : Exodus 12:0 ; Leviticus 16:0 ; Numbers 21:9 with John 3:14 . So again, of the resurrection of Christ, which Paul also noticeth, that it was according to the Scriptures, Psalms 16:10 ; Isaiah 26:19 ; Hosea 6:2 .
We cannot sufficiently admire the air of holy triumph, with which the Apostle here speaks, of the many appearances of Christ to his disciples, after he arose from the dead. Five hundred brethren at once, and which, saith Paul at the time he wrote this Epistle, (which was not above five and twenty years from the period of Christ's resurrection,) the greater part remain unto this present. As much as to say, whoever doubts the fact, may get full assurance of its truth from the persons themselves. Paul's personal knowledge of Christ's resurrection arose from no less than four distinct manifestations, which the Lord Jesus made of himself to the Apostle. See Acts 9:0 ; Acts 18:9-10 ; Acts 22:17-21 ; Acts 23:11 . I might have included also those other two instances recorded, Acts 27:23-25 , and 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 , for it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove that Christ, who, in his mediator-office and character, is frequently called the Angel of the Covenant, (Malachi 3:1 .) was not in the one, and did not manifest himself to his servant in the other, Luke 23:43 .
I must not detain the Reader in a long notice of Paul's humbleness of soul, in the account he here gives of himself. The chief object of this chapter is to be contemplating what Paul saith of our Lord, and not the servant. But by the way, let not the Reader overlook how much grace humbles, when the greatest of all the Apostles calls himself the least of all saints. Reader! what are we, what is every man in his highest attainments, if considered but for a moment, without Christ. And, oh! what a blessed thing must it be for you, for me, for all the chosen seed, when we can say as Paul here did, by the grace of God I am what I am! Yes! it is all of grace, God's original choice, our regeneration, calling, redeeming, justifying, sanctifying, adopting, and ultimately being glorified; the whole Church trace all their mercies to grace, from one eternity to another, and every step in the way, during the present time-state in which the Church is conducting home to glory, hath this inscription marked as we go, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6 .
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? (13) But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: (14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. (16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: (17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
It appears very plain, from what the Apostle hath here said, that there were some among the Corinthians who denied the resurrection of the dead, for Paul saith, how say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead? So that it was not the men of Corinth; among the heathens of that city, neither of the Jews who might be living there, or the Sadducees of that place; but, evidently, some who professed a general belief in Christ, and mingled with the Lord's people, which constituted what was called the Church at Corinth. Reader! pause over it, and remark, how very early heresies sprung up in the Church, to disturb its peace. We read of many in the Apostolic writings, 2Ti_1:15; 2Ti_2:17-18 ; 1 John 2:18-19 ; Jude 1:18; Jude 1:18 .
What a beautiful chain of reasoning the Apostle makes use of, by way of preparing the minds of the Corinthians for the full and cordial reception of this glorious and foundation-article of our most holy faith. He adopts a well-known figure in rhetoric, of admitting what a man knows to be wrong, in order the more fully to prove from it, what a man knows to be right; and then by a climax riseth to the complete conviction of the truth, from shewing the folly of the opposite principles. The Corinthians were all well assured, by the most incontestible matter of fact, that Christ himself had arisen from the dead. This doctrine was uniformly preached among them, and as cordially believed. But, notwithstanding this, though the resurrection of Christ necessarily involved in it, the fullest assurance of the certain resurrection of his members, as the greater includes the less, and as the Head, the body; yet there were some, who, though they believed in the one, doubted the other.
The Apostle begins, therefore, with, taking the objection of those unbelievers upon their own ground, If there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. The thing being admitted as impossible in one instance, implies an impossibility in the other. For Christ arose as a public head of his body the Church. And, therefore, the resurrection of the dead must bring up with it the resurrection of all his members. His is the exemplar of all that is to follow. His resurrection became an earnest of theirs. The very object of his resurrection became a proof and pledge of it. For he died in a public capacity for his people. And he arose in the same public capacity for them. The great object of his incarnation, sufferings, obedience, death, and resurrection, formed but one and the same complete act in reference to them. So that if one link in the chain be lost, the whole is lost. And, if Christ be not risen, all preaching is vain, and there can be no faith in Christ, but what is alike vain!
Neither is this all. For, worse consequences, if possible, arise. In the supposition, that Christ be not risen, those who were specially chosen to be the witnesses of his resurrection, become false witnesses: yea, false witnesses of God! For they assert what is not then true, that God raised him from the dead, and exalted him as a Prince and a Savior at his right hand on the majesty on high. And, yet he did not raise him, neither was Christ justified in the Spirit; if so be he arose not as the Head of his body the Church, and God brought him not from the dead, as the Great Shepherd of his sheep, through the blood of the everlasting Covenant! Reader! before you proceed further, pray turn to those sweet Scriptures, Romans 1:4 ; 1 Corinthians 6:14 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; Hebrews 13:20 ; Revelation 1:17-18; Revelation 1:17-18 .
And to sum up the whole in this negative way of arguing, if, saith the Apostle, Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins, and they which have fallen asleep in Christ, that is, died triumphantly in Christ, in full assurance of rising again in Him, and by Him, at the last day, are sunk to rise no more. And, in this case, all our high hopes of immortality and glory, in the presence of God and, the Lamb, are done away forever.
Reader! pause over the solemn statement, as here drawn up by the Apostle, on the supposition of the possibility, that there was no resurrection of the dead. And, although you know from an infallible Teacher, and by infallible teaching, which can be liable to no error, that all the reasoning here used, and worked up to such an height, begins from false premises, and, consequently, could end but in false conclusions; yet learn from it, what God the Holy Ghost plainly intended from it, for the greater joy and comfort of his whole Church and people; how truly blessed it is to have such a chain, as we have, of impregnable evidences to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, and accompanied with all its blissful consequences to ourselves, that our faith might not be founded in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
(20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
The Apostle having refuted all that the mistaken views of men would have formed to themselves, on the presumption that there was no resurrection, now comes to his favorite topic, to show the blessedness which ariseth, it, the unanswerable conviction that there is. And, he proceeds to make it appear, and more or less, from this place to the close of the chapter, he dwells with rapture in the contemplation, that, in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Church not only behold him as risen, but in that glorious capacity, as the Head and forerunner of every individual of his people. For, saith Paul, he is become the first fruits of them that slept. As the first sheaf in the field, in the reaping season, soonest ripe, soonest gathered, and first brought in, is but the pledge and earnest of all that is to follow; so Christ the first in resurrection, for it behoved him in all things to have the preeminence, Colossians 1:18 ) is but as that pure corn of wheat which fell into the ground, which by dying, bringeth forth much fruit. See John 12:24 and Commentary.
I beg the Reader to admire with me the unanswerable and striking allusion, which Paul makes, by way of illustrating the doctrine of death and the resurrection, in the case of the two Adams. One involving the whole generation in death, by sin, the other including by regeneration all his in life. By man came death, by man came life. In Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive. And the reasoning is unanswerable. There is a vast propriety in it.; For if I, a poor sinner, am involved in sin, and all the consequences of sin, by reason of my being born from the seed and race of Adam; so by a parity of reason, it is but just, that I should be included in righteousness, even the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ, in being born of his seed, and being descended from Him. And so I am, if I can prove my relationship to the one, as I do to the other. And here lies the great point of decision. Now I, and every sinner, most fully prove, that we are of the Adam-race of sin, being evidently born of his corrupt stock, sinning, as he sinned, and feeling the consequence of it, as he felt. The question is, can I prove that I am of the seed of Christ, in being new-born in Christ, and made the child of God by adoption and grace? This is the ground of the Apostle's reasoning, and most answerable it is in proof. For, as I never should have been involved, either in the sin or condemnation of Adam, had I not been proved to have been his by generation; so, by the like proof, unless I have testimony that I am Christ's by regeneration, I cannot lay claim to all the blessed consequences which result wholly from this source, . Let the Apostle's words be weighed in this standard, and the judgment must be without error. As in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive.
(24) Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (25) For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (27) For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. (28) And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
I detain the Reader at those verses, just to observe to him, that when it is said, the Lord Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to God even the Father, and that the Son also himself shall be subject unto him. that put all things under him, that God may be all in all; the meaning plainly is, according to all the analogy of scripture, that as all the purposes for which the kingdom of grace, during the present time-state of the Church, are answered, and for which, indeed, the very time-state of the Church eras appointed; the kingdom of grace will cease; for at the end of it begins the open display of the kingdom of glory. But all this doth not refer to the Person of Christ, as if the Lord Jesus would cease to be mediator; or, as if all communications of glory then will not be as much in Him, and through Him, as are the communications of grace now Christ's kingdom of grace ceaseth; but Christ never ceaseth to be Christ, that is, God-man in nature. Never to all eternity will he cease to be the Head of his body the Church, the fulness which filleth all in all, Ephesians 1:22-23 . He is, and was, and will be, the everlasting mediator of communication to the Church, here in grace, and hereafter in glory. And all our approaches, drawings nigh, enjoyments, felicities, glory, manifestations from, and communions with Jehovah; in his threefold character of Person, will flow in upon the Church in all the individuals which constitute the one body of Christ the Church, from Him, and through Him, who is the Head of all things, to his body the Church, according to what the Prophet, commissioned by the Holy Ghost, declared, the Lord shall be unto thee am everlasting light, and thy God thy glory, Isaiah 60:19 ; Revelation 22:5 .
(29) Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (30) And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? (31) I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (32) If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die. (33) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (34) Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Perhaps there is not a passage in the whole Bible attended with greater difficulty to understand, than this before us, of the being baptized for the dead. Various have been the opinions, both of the learned, and the unlearned upon it. By the learned, I mean the taught of God, John 6:45 . And by the unlearned, men who profess great knowledge of the wisdom of this world, but were never taught of God. And numbers there are of this latter class which have written upon the word of God. From such, however, nothing can be learnt in divine things, no more than from the blind who fancy, but have no conception of colors. But, among the learned, the taught of God, there doth not appear to have been any who have been taught by God the Holy Ghost, concerning this baptism for the dead. And, therefore, what God hath not thought proper to explain, it should seem to be the wisdom of the Church rather to be silent upon, than by presuming on conjectures, to be in danger of attempting to be wise above what is written. I only venture, therefore, to observe upon it, that it serves to strengthen the views which the Gospel gives of the baptisms of the Spirit, so essentially necessary, as the Lord Jesus himself declared them, and so unimportant every other, where the Holy Ghost doth not accompany their use. Luke 24:49 with Acts 1:8; Acts 1:8 .
(35) But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? (36) Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: (37) And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: (38) But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. (39) All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. (40) There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. (41) There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. (42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: (43) It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: (44) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (45) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (46) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (47) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (48) As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. (49) And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. (50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Who they were which put the question, how are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? is not said; but we have reason to he thankful it was put, that the Apostle, under divine teaching, might answer it as he hath here completely done, and that God the Holy Ghost hath caused both question and answer to be recorded. No form of words can be more plain, than Paul hath used, to bring the Church acquainted with the pleasing doctrine. And no images or similitudes more striking, in a way of illustration I do not think it necessary to add a word on this point, which the Lord himself hath explained. The striking figure of the corn, which by dying and rotting in the earth is made to live; and the diversity of flesh, to shew that there will be diversity of degrees in the resurrection; and the different glories of the heavenly bodies, which is another similitude as taken from them, in illustration of the same; these all beautifully explain while they prove the doctrine. But, passing by these, which are so plain as to need no comment, I would beg to offer an observation or two on that part which the Apostle dwells upon, in reference to the resurrection, when considering Christ the second Adam, so called, as a quickening spirit. The last Adam (saith he) was made a quickening spirit. And the Apostle draws this most precious and blessed conclusion from it, that as in the Adam-nature of the first man, such are they that are earthy; so, in the received nature of the second Man, are they that are heavenly. All which corresponds to what Christ himself taught, that as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them: even so the Son quickeneth whom he will, John 5:21 .
I beg the Reader's close attention, to this point. It is in my view most sweet and blessed. And every truly regenerated child of God, conscious of his union and oneness With Christ, will find it, under the Holy Ghost's teaching, most sweet and blessed indeed.
I shall not in this place stay to dwell on that grand point, (though it is the foundation of every other,) in respect to the blessedness of the resurrection itself, I mean that Christ's resurrection is the sole cause of ours. This I will take for granted, the child of God hath been taught by the Holy Ghost, and knows it as a practical and living principle in his renewed nature. Daily experience in his access to the throne, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, hath brought home the sweet truth to his soul, that Christ was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification, Romans 4:25 ; This he bottoms his joy, and hope, and comfort wholly upon. But what I have now particularly in view is from what the Apostle hath here said of Christ, the second Adam, as a quickening spirit, to observe how blessedly secured the resurrection of the Lord's people, is from this divine principle. It is by virtue of the union and oneness with Christ, as members of his body, of his flesh; and of his bones, that Christ quickens his people, and raiseth up the bodies of his saints at the last day.
Now, in proof of this most precious and soul-refreshing doctrine, there are one or two interesting points to be attended to, which set this subject in the clearest light, and which not only explain the principles of the resurrection, as all coming from Christ himself, but render the expectation of it a joy unspeakable, and full of glory. I beg the Reader to examine them one by one.
And first. Taught as we are to consider Christ and his people one, and to behold, him as a quickening spirit, it immediately follows, that from that quickening, as the Head of his body the Church, every individual member of his body shall be raised, and brought into life at the last day. This was what Jesus himself preached at the grave of Lazarus, when he said, I am the resurrection and the life, John 11:25 . And the same his servant Paul was commissioned to tell the Church, when he said, your life is hid with Christ in God, when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory, Colossians 3:3-4 . So that Christ himself is the life of his people, precisely, as the head of an human body is the life of that body, and the efficient principle of communicating new life to the dust of his saints, is in him, and front him. This the Lord himself preached by Ezekiel also, when he said, 0 my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, 0 my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you. Then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken, and performed it, saith the Lord, Ezekiel 37:12-14 . So, again, by the Prophet Isaiah, the same blessed truth is proclaimed, and certified to be accomplished in the same way. Yea, God the Father gives his Personal word in the confirmation of it also. Thy dead men, said God the Father to his dear Son, as Christ mediator, thy dead men shall live. To which Christ is represented as answering, together with my dead body shall they arise. Then comes Christ's call to his dead: Awake and sing ye that dwelt in dust. Compare this with what the Holy Ghost hath said by Paul concerning them which sleep in Jesus, when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to the end. Then God the Father takes up the conversation again, and by a beautiful figure, explains how the glorious act shall be accomplished: thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out her dead, Isaiah 26:19 . As in the wintry season of the year, there is nothing in the whole vegetable creation, so unpromising as the dry sticks of herbs, and yet from their root there comes forth in the spring moisture to give them new life and verdure; so Christ, the root of his people, in the morning of the resurrection, reanimates the dust of his mystical body, and his dew is the sole cause of their renewed life. To this effect also is that sweet promise. Psalms 110:3 .
From hence it very fully appears, that in Christ's resurrection, the resurrection of his people is not only secured, but by it effected. Christ himself is the sole efficient cause. It is accomplished by their union with him, according to what he said, because I live ye shall live also, John 14:19 . And what I be the Reader most particularly to consider, indeed it is the grand point I am laboring under God the Spirit, teaching to impress upon his mind, that the resurrection of the just. (justified believers in Christ,) differs wholly from the ungodly, the unregenerate, and uncalled. The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and come forth, John 5:28 . But this is said to be effected on the graceless dead by the naked power of God, in hearing his voice. Not so, the members of Christ's mystical body. They arise from their union with Him, as a quickening spirit. And the Holy Ghost gives his further confirmation to it, by his servant Paul, when speaking to the Church, If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness; that is, the body not being renewed, because it was never intended while in the present time-state, when the spirit at regeneration is made holy in Christ, returns, at the time appointed, as a body of sin and death, to the dust of the earth, and there remains until the morning of the resurrection. But the spirit being life because of righteousness, that is, being one with Christ, and interested in Christ's righteousness; the body sleeps in Jesus, and is His by redemption also. And, therefore, the Holy Ghost adds by the Apostle: But, if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit which dwelleth in you, Romans 8:10-11 . The indwelling Spirit of Christ becomes the sole efficient cause of raising the body from the grave of death at the resurrection, as the Spirit of Christ became the sole efficient cause of raising the soul from the grave of sin at regeneration. I hope that I have explained myself to the Reader's apprehension, on this most soul comforting subject, and from those precious scriptures of God, very fully shewn, the sweetness of that glorious office-character of Christ, as it concerns his people, that as Paul hath here said, the last Adam is a quickening Spirit. Secondly. It is another grand point in the doctrine of the resurrection to have in view, and, under divine teaching, always to keep in remembrance, and live in the enjoyment of, that the bodies of believers will arise the same identical bodies as they go down to the grave. As Christ arose the very same body as was put into the sepulchre, so shall his people. As was the Head, so must be the members. Job was taught this precious truth, and rejoiced in it, ages before redemption-work was accomplished : Job 19:25-27 .
And Paul most decidedly confirms the same, when saying, this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Indeed, on the supposition that this was not the case, the doctrine of the resurrection would be lost. If the Lord gave to his people a new body, this would not be resurrection, but a creation. And in this sense, what is become of the mystical body of Christ? Wonderfully changed it will be indeed, and prepared for the everlasting enjoyment of God in glory. So Paul describes. And blessed be God, so we shall find it. It will be no longer the subject of sin, and sorrow, and temptation, and evil. It was sown a natural body, it will be raised a spiritual body. And, as spirits are not liable to bodily infirmities, all the cares and disquietudes to which our flesh is heir, in this mortal state , will be known and felt no more. But, identity will be preserved. The very person that I now am, and that you now are, will be then the same. The hand that is writing those humble lines of the Poor Man's Commentary, and the eye that reads them, or the ear that hears them, will be the same. Changed from weakness to power, and from dishonor to glory, we shall be but, personally, the very beings we now are. Jesus will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things, unto himself. Philippians 3:21 .
I must detain the Reader no longer. But may the Lord the Holy Ghost lead every truly called, and regenerated believer into an heart-felt enjoyment of these soul-refreshing things. In the blessed expectation of it, we may all cry out with Job; 0 hide me in the grave, and keep me secret till the set time, and remember me! All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Job 14:13-14 .
. But the miraculous and instantaneous change from mortality to immortality, which he here asserts, and which is to be wrought without passing through death, this is a mystery nowhere else spoken of. Reader! You and I find unceasing cause to bless God for Paul's ministry. Where, and when, the Lord taught him this, whether when caught up to the third heaven, or in any of the other visions he was favored with, is not so material for us to know, as to have received his testimony, as the Lord commissioned him to deliver.
The song of triumph with which Paul closes this most blessed chapter, is what all true believers in Christ, with equal joy, are called upon to join in. And while we sing them, because all our triumphs are in Christ, let no one forget that they are the Lord's own words, proclaimed in a way of Covenant promise, and which Paul, taught of the Lord, hath converted into an hymn of praise, as God's promises in Christ, which are all yea and Amen, should be. See Hosea 13:14 . Oh! for grace to join the holy song. Christ hath destroyed death by his death. He hath taken out the sting of death, which is sin, by taking it away, and healing the wounds of sin by his blood. Acquitted now, there can be no condemnation then. When a redeemed believer dies, he dies in Christ, and to Christ, and is one with Christ. Jesus speaks: Fear not I have the keys of hell and of death. Amen. Revelation 1:18 .
On! thou that art the resurrection and the life! Hail! thou glorious Almighty Lord Jesus! Thou hast indeed declared thyself to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by thy resurrection from the dead. And thou hast thereby shewn to the fullest demonstration, that in thy life thy people live, and by thy resurrection theirs also is secured, thyself becoming the first fruits of them that slept. Praises to thy great and glorious name! Sin is now pardoned. Justice is now satisfied. Law is now fulfilled. Satan conquered. Hell subdued, and heaven open to all believers!
Oh! ye faithful in Christ! rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Death hath no longer a sting; the passage through the grave is but the valley of the shadow of death, for the substance is done away. Christ hath perfumed the grave with his holy body. It is no longer the territories of the devil, but the chamber of rest to the Lord's people. From thence, clear views are now seen of the city of the living God. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us unto this lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! Blessed be God the Son, who is the resurrection and life of his people. And blessed be God the Holy Ghost, who by the washing of regeneration, which he hath shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior, hath made us partakers of the divine nature, that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life! Amen and Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29