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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Corinthians 15

Verse 1

I make known (γνωριζω). See on 1 Corinthians 12:3 for this common verb. As if in reproach.

The gospel which I preached unto you (το ευαγγελιον ο ευηγγελισαμην υμιν). Cognate accusative, "the gospel which I gospelized unto you." Note augment η after ευ- like compound verb with preposition. Note repetition of relative (ο, εν ωι, δ ου, and τιν like relative) without κα (and), asyndeton.

Verse 2

In what words I preached it unto you (τιν λογο ευηγγελισαμην υμιν). Almost certainly τις (τιν λογο, locative or instrumental, in or with) here is used like the relative ος as is common in papyri (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 93f.; Robertson, Grammar, p. 737f.). Even so it is not clear whether the clause depends on γνωριζω like the other relatives, but most likely so.

If we hold it fast (ε κατεχετε). Condition of first class. Paul assumes that they are holding it fast.

Except ye believed in vain (εκτος ε μη εικη επιστευσατε). For εκτος ε μη see on 1 Corinthians 14:5. Condition of first class, unless in fact ye did believe to no purpose (εικη, old adverb, only in Paul in N.T.). Paul holds this peril over them in their temptation to deny the resurrection.

Verse 3

First of all (εν πρωτοις). Among first things. In primis. Not to time, but to importance.

Which I also received (ο κα παρελαβον). Direct revelation claimed as about the institution of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23) and same verbs used (παρεδωκα, παρελαβον). Four items given by Paul in explaining "the gospel" which Paul preached. Stanley calls it (verses 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) the creed of the early disciples, but "rather a sample of the exact form of the apostle's early teaching, than a profession of faith on the part of converts" (Vincent). The four items are presented by four verbs (died, απεθανεν, was buried, εταφη, hath been raised, εγηγερτα, appeared, ωφθη).

Christ died (Χριστος απεθανεν). Historical fact and crucial event.

For our sins (υπερ των αμαρτιων ημων). Hυπερ means literally over, in behalf, even instead of (Galatians 3:13), where used of persons. But here much in the sense of περ (Galatians 1:14) as is common in Koine. In 1 Peter 3:18 we have περ αμαρτιων, υπερ αδικων.

According to the Scriptures (κατα τας γραφας). As Jesus showed (Luke 22:37; Luke 24:25) and as Peter pointed out (Acts 2:25-27; Acts 3:35) and as Paul had done (Acts 13:24; Acts 17:3). Cf. Romans 1:2.

Verse 4

And that he was buried (κα οτ εταφη). Note οτ repeated before each of the four verbs as a separate item. Second aorist passive indicative of θαπτω, old verb, to bury. This item is an important detail as the Gospels show.

And that he hath been raised (κα οτ εγηγερτα). Perfect passive indicative, not ηγερθη like

rose of the King James' Version. There is reason for this sudden change of tense. Paul wishes to emphasize the permanence of the resurrection of Jesus. He is still risen.

On the third day (τη ημερα τη τριτη). Locative case of time. Whether Paul had seen either of the Gospels we do not know, but this item is closely identified with the fact of Christ's resurrection. We have it in Peter's speech (Acts 10:40) and Jesus points it out as part of prophecy (Luke 24:46). The other expression occasionally found "after three days" (Mark 10:34) is merely free vernacular for the same idea and not even Matthew 12:40 disturbs it. See on Luke 24:1 for record of the empty tomb on the first day of the week (the third day).

Verse 5

And that he appeared to Cephas (κα οτ ωφθη Κηφα). First aorist passive indicative of the defective verb οραω, to see. Paul means not a mere "vision," but actual appearance. John uses εφανερωθη (John 21:14) from φανεροω, to make manifest, of Christ's appearance to the seven by the Sea of Galilee. Peter was listed first (πρωτος) among the Apostles (Matthew 10:2). Jesus had sent a special message to him (Mark 16:7) after his resurrection. This special appearance to Peter is made the determining factor in the joyful faith of the disciples (Luke 24:34), though mentioned incidentally here. Paul had told all these four facts to the Corinthians in his preaching. He gives further proof of the fact of Christ's resurrection. There are ten appearances given besides the one to Paul. Nine are in the Gospels (Mary Magdalene in John and Mark, the other women in Matthew, the two going to Emmaus in Luke, Simon Peter in Luke and I Corinthians, the ten apostles and others in Luke and John and Mark, the eleven and others in John, the seven by the sea in John, to over five hundred in Galilee in Matthew and Paul and Mark, to the apostles in Jerusalem in Luke and Mark and Acts and I Corinthians) and one in I Corinthians above (to James). It will be seen that Paul mentions only five of the ten, one, that to James, not given elsewhere. What he gives is conclusive evidence of the fact, particularly when re-enforced by his own experience (the sixth appearance mentioned by Paul). The way to prove this great fact is to start with Paul's own witness given in this undoubted Epistle. The natural way to understand Paul's adverbs of time here is chronological:

then (ειτα),

then (επειτα),

then (επειτα),

then (ειτα),

last of all (εσχατον παντων).

To the twelve (τοις δωδεκα). The technical name. Only ten were present, for Judas was dead and Thomas was absent (John 20:24).

Verse 6

To above five hundred brethren at once (επανω πεντακοσιοις αδελφοις εφαπαξ). Επανω here is just an adverb with no effect on the case. As a preposition with the ablative see Matthew 5:14. This incident is the one described in Matthew 28:16 the prearranged meeting on the mountain in Galilee. The strength of this witness lies in the fact that the majority (ο πλειους) of them were still living when Paul wrote this Epistle, say spring of A.D. 54 or 55, not over 25 years after Christ's resurrection.

Verse 7

To James (Ιακωβω). The brother of the Lord. This fact explains the presence of the brothers of Jesus in the upper room (Acts 1:14).

To all the apostles (τοις αποστολοις πασιν). The Ascension of Christ from Olivet.

Verse 8

As unto one born out of due time (ωσπερε τω εκτρωματ). Literally, as to the miscarriage (or untimely birth). Word first occurs in Aristotle for abortion or miscarriage and occurs in LXX (Numbers 12:12; Job 3:16) and papyri (for miscarriage by accident). The verb τιτρωσκω means to wound and εκ is out. Paul means that the appearance to him came after Jesus had ascended to heaven.

Verse 9

The least (ο ελαχιστος). True superlative, not elative. Explanation of the strong word εκτρωμα just used. See Ephesians 3:8 where he calls himself "less than the least of all saints" and 1 Timothy 1:15 the "chief" (πρωτος) of sinners. Yet under attack from the Judaizers Paul stood up for his rank as equal to any apostle (2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23).

Because I persecuted the church of God (εδιωξα την εκκλησιαν του θεου). There were times when this terrible fact confronted Paul like a nightmare. Who does not understand this mood of contrition?

Verse 10

What I am (ο ειμ). Not,

who (ος), but

what (ο), neuter singular. His actual character and attainments. All "by the grace of God" (χαριτ θεου).

I laboured more abundantly than they all (περισσοτερον αυτων παντων εκοπιασα). This is sober fact as shown by the Acts and Paul's Epistles. He had tremendous energy and used it. Genius is work, Carlyle said. Take Paul as a specimen.

Verse 11

So we preach, and so ye believed (ουτως κηρυσσομεν, κα ουτως επιστευσατε). This is what matters both for preacher and hearers. This is Paul's gospel. Their conduct in response to his message was on record.

Verse 12

Is preached (κηρυσσετα). Personal use of the verb, Christ is preached.

How say some among you? (πως λεγουσιν εν υμιν τινεσ?). The question springs naturally from the proof of the fact of the resurrection of Christ (verses 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and the continual preaching which Paul here assumes by condition of the first class (ει--κηρυσσετα). There were sceptics in Corinth, possibly in the church, who denied the resurrection of dead people just as some men today deny that miracles happen or ever did happen. Paul's answer is the resurrection of Christ as a fact. It all turns on this fact.

Verse 13

Neither hath Christ been raised (ουδε Χριστος εγηγερτα). He turns the argument round with tremendous force. But it is fair.

Verse 14

Vain (κενον). Inanis, Vulgate. Old word, empty. Both Paul's preaching and their faith are empty if Christ has not been raised. If the sceptics refuse to believe the fact of Christ's resurrection, they have nothing to stand on.

Verse 15

False witnesses of God (ψευδομαρτυρες του θεου). Late word, but ψευδομαρτυρεω, to bear false witness, old and common. The genitive (του θεου) can be either subjective (in God's service) or objective (concerning God). Either makes good sense.

Because we witnessed of God (οτ εμαρτυρησαμεν κατα του θεου). Vulgate has adversus Deum. This is the more natural way to take κατα and genitive,

against God not as equal to περ (concerning). He would indeed make God play false in that case,

if so be that the dead are not raised (ειπερ αρα νεκρο ουκ εγειροντα). Condition of first class, assumed as true. Note both περ intensive particle

indeed and αρα inferential particle

therefore .

Verse 16

Repeats the position already taken in verse 1 Corinthians 15:13.

Verse 17

Vain (ματαια). Old word from adverb ματην (Matthew 15:9), devoid of truth, a lie. Stronger word than κενον in verse 1 Corinthians 15:14.

Ye are yet in your sins (ετ εστε εν ταις αμαρτιαις υμων). Because the death of Christ has no atoning value if he did not rise from the dead. In that case he was only a man like other men and did not die for our sins (verse 1 Corinthians 15:3).

Verse 18

Then also (αρα κα). Inevitable inference.

Have perished (απωλοντο). Did perish. Second aorist middle indicative of απολλυμ, to destroy, middle, to perish (delivered up to eternal misery). Cf. 1 Corinthians 8:11.

Verse 19

We have hoped (ηλπικοτες εσμεν). Periphrastic perfect active indicative. Hope limited to this life even if "in Christ."

Only (μονον) qualifies the whole clause.

Most pitiable (ελεεινοτερο). Comparative form, not superlative, of old adjective ελεεινος, to be pitied, pitiable. If our hope is limited to this life, we have denied ourselves what people call pleasures and have no happiness beyond. The Epicureans have the argument on us. Paul makes morality turn on the hope of immortality. Is he not right? Witness the breaking of moral ties today when people take a merely animal view of life.

Verse 20

But now (νυν δε). Emphatic form of νυν with - added (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:18). It is the logical triumph of Paul after the reductio ad impossibile (Findlay) of the preceding argument.

The first-fruits (απαρχη). Old word from απαρχομα, to offer firstlings or first-fruits. In LXX for first-fruits. In papyri for legacy-duty, entrance-fee, and also first-fruits as here. See also verse 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 8:23, etc. Christ is "first-born from the dead" (Colossians 1:18). Others raised from the dead died again, but not so Jesus.

That sleep (των κεκοιμημενων). Perfect middle participle as in Matthew 27:52 which see. Beautiful picture of death from which word (κοιμαομα) comes our χεμετερψ.

Verse 21

By man also (δα δι' ανθρωπου). That is Jesus, the God-man, the Second Adam (Romans 5:12). The hope of the resurrection of the dead rests in Christ.

Verse 22

Shall be made alive (ζωοποιηθησοντα). First future passive indicative of ζωοποιεω, late verb (Aristotle) to give life, to restore to life as here. In verse 1 Corinthians 15:36 ζωοποιειτα is used in the sense of natural life as in John 5:21; John 6:63 of spiritual life. It is not easy to catch Paul's thought here. He means resurrection (restoration) by the verb here, but not necessarily eternal life or salvation. So also παντες may not coincide in both clauses. All who die die in Adam, all who will be made alive will be made alive (restored to life) in Christ. The same problem occurs in Romans 5:18 about "all," and in verse 1 Corinthians 15:19 about "the many."

Verse 23

Order (ταγματ). Old military term from τασσω, to arrange, here only in N.T. Each in his own division, troop, rank.

At his coming (εν τη παρουσια). The word παρουσια was the technical word "for the arrival or visit of the king or emperor" and can be traced from the Ptolemaic period into the second century A.D. (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 368). "Advent-coins were struck after a parousia of the emperor." Paul is only discussing "those that are Christ's" (1 Corinthians 3:23; Galatians 5:24) and so says nothing about judgment (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Verse 24

Then cometh the end (ειτα το τελος). No verb γινετα in the Greek. Supply "at his coming," the end or consummation of the age or world (Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:49; 1 Peter 4:7),

When he shall deliver up (οταν παραδιδω). Present active subjunctive (not optative) of παραδιδωμ with οταν, whenever, and so quite indefinite and uncertain as to time. Present subjunctive rather than aorist παραδω because it pictures a future proceeding.

To God, even the Father (τω θεω κα πατρ). Better, "to the God and Father" or to "His God and Father." The Kingdom belongs to the Father.

When he shall have abolished (οταν καταργηση). First aorist active subjunctive with οταν, indefinite future time. Simply, "whenever he shall abolish," no use in making it future perfect, merely aorist subjunctive. On καταργεω see 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:10; 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Rule (αρχην),

authority (εξουσιαν),

power (δυναμιν). All forms of power opposing the will of God. Constative aorist tense covering the whole period of conflict with final victory as climax.

Verse 25

Till he hath put (αχρ ου θη). Second aorist active subjunctive of τιθημ, "till he put" (no sense in saying "hath put," merely effective aorist tense for climax. Αχρ (ου), μεχρ (ου), εως (ου) all are used for the same idea of indefinite future time.

Verse 26

The last enemy that shall be abolished is death (εσχατος εχθρος καταργειτα ο θανατος). A rather free translation. Literally, "death (note article, and so subject) is done away (prophetic or futuristic use of present tense of same verb as in verse 1 Corinthians 15:24), the last enemy" (predicate and only one "last" and so no article as in 1 John 2:18).

Verse 27

He put (υπεταξεν). First aorist active of υποτασσω, to subject. Supply God (θεος) as subject (Psalms 8:7). See Hebrews 2:5-9 for similar use. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:8.

But when he saith (οταν δε ειπη). Here Christ must be supplied as the subject if the reference is to his future and final triumph. The syntax more naturally calls for God as the subject as before. Either way makes sense. But there is no need to take ειπη (second aorist active subjunctive) as a futurum exactum, merely "whenever he shall say."

Are put in subjection (υποτετακτα). Perfect passive indicative, state of completion, final triumph.

It is evident that (δηλον οτ). Supply εστιν (is) before οτ.

He is excepted who did subject (εκτος του υποταξαντος). "Except the one (God) who did subject (articular aorist active participle) the all things to him (Christ)."

Verse 28

And when all things have been subjected (οταν δε υποταγη τα παντα). Second aorist passive subjunctive of υποτασσω, not perfect. Merely, "when the all things are subjected unto him." The aorist subjunctive has given translators a deal of needless trouble in this passage. It is prophecy, of course.

That God may be all in all (ινα η ο θεος παντα εν πασιν). The final goal of all God's redemptive plans as Paul has so well said in Romans 11:36. Precisely this language Paul will use of Christ (Colossians 3:11).

Verse 29

Else (επε). Otherwise, if not true. On this use of επε with ellipsis see on 1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:14.

Which are baptized for the dead (ο βαπτιζομενο υπερ των νεκρων). This passage remains a puzzle. Stanley gives thirteen interpretations, no one of which may be correct. Over thirty have been suggested. The Greek expositors took it to be about the dead (υπερ in sense of περ as often as in 2 Corinthians 1:6) since baptism is a burial and a resurrection (Romans 6:2-6). Tertullian tells of some heretics who took it to mean baptized in the place of dead people (unsaved) in order to save them. Some take it to be baptism over the dead. Others take it to mean that Paul and others were in peril of death as shown by baptism (see verse 1 Corinthians 15:30).

At all (ολως). See on 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 30

Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? (τ κα ημεις κινδυνευομεν πασαν ωραν?). We also as well as those who receive baptism which symbolizes death. Old verb from κινδυνος (peril, danger), in N.T. only here and Luke 8:23. Paul's Epistles and Acts (especially chapter 1 Corinthians 15:19) throw light on Paul's argument. He was never out of danger from Damascus to the last visit to Rome. There are perils in Ephesus of which we do not know (2 Corinthians 1:8) whatever may be true as to an Ephesian imprisonment. G. S. Duncan (St. Paul's Ephesian Ministry, 1930) even argues for several imprisonments in Ephesus. The accusative of time (πασαν ωραν) naturally means all through every hour (extension).

Verse 31

I protest by that glorying in you (νη την υμετεραν καυχησιν). No word for "I protest." Paul takes solemn oath by the use of νη (common in Attic) with the accusative. Only here in N.T., but in LXX (Genesis 42:15). For other solemn oaths by Paul see 2 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:10; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Romans 9:1. For καυχησις see on 1 Thessalonians 2:19. The possessive pronoun (υμετεραν) is objective as εμην in 1 Corinthians 11:24.

I die daily (καθ' ημεραν αποθνησκω). I am in daily peril of death (2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Romans 8:36).

Verse 32

After the manner of men (κατα ανθρωπον). Like men, for applause, money, etc. (1 Corinthians 4:9; Philippians 3:7).

If I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus (ε εθηριομαχησα εν Εφεσω). Late verb from θηριομαχος, a fighter with wild beasts. Found in inscriptions and in Ignatius. Those who argue for an Ephesian imprisonment for Paul and Ephesus as the place where he wrote the imprisonment epistles (see Duncan's book just mentioned) take the verb literally. There is in the ruins of Ephesus now a place called St. Paul's Prison. But Paul was a Roman citizen and it was unlawful to make such a one be a θηριομαχος. If he were cast to the lions unlawfully, he could have prevented it by claiming his citizenship. Besides, shortly after this Paul wrote II Corinthians, but he does not mention so unusual a peril in the list in 2 Corinthians 11:23. The incident, whatever it was, whether literal or figurative language, took place before Paul wrote I Corinthians.

What doth it profit me? (τ μο το οφελοσ?). What the profit to me?

Let us eat and drink (φαγωμεν κα πιωμεν). Volitive second aorist subjunctives of εσθιω and πινω. Cited from Isaiah 22:13. It is the outcry of the people of Jerusalem during the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. At Anchiale near Tarsus is a statue of Sardanapalus with the inscription: "Eat, drink, enjoy thyself. The rest is nothing." This was the motto of the Epicureans. Paul is not giving his own view, but that of people who deny the resurrection.

Verse 33

Be not deceived (μη πλανασθε). Do not be led astray (πλαναω) by such a false philosophy of life.

Evil company (ομιλια κακα). Evil companionships. Old word, ομιλια, from ομιλος (a crowd, gang, bunch). Only here in N.T. Good manners (ηθη). Old word (kin to εθος) custom, usage, morals. Good morals here. This line of poetry (iambic) occurs in Menander. It may be a current proverb. Paul could have gotten it from either source.

Verse 34

Awake up righteously (εκνηψατε δικαιως). Wake up as if from drunkenness. Εκνηφω, only here in N.T. sin not (μη αμαρτανετε). Stop sinning.

No knowledge of God (αγνωσιαν θεου). Old word for ignorance, in N.T. only here and 1 Peter 2:15. Ignorance of God, agnosticism. Some today (agnostics) even take pride in it instead of shame (εντροπην, turning in on oneself). See on 1 Corinthians 6:5 for εντροπη.

Verse 35

But some one will say (αλλα ερε τις). Paul knows what the sceptics were saying. He is a master at putting the standpoint of the imaginary adversary.

How (πως). This is still the great objection to the resurrection of our bodies. Granted that Jesus rose from the dead, for the sake of argument, these sceptics refuse to believe in the possibility of our resurrection. It is the attitude of Matthew Arnold who said, "Miracles do not happen." Scientifically we know the "how" of few things. Paul has an astounding answer to this objection. Death itself is the way of resurrection as in the death of the seed for the new plant (verses 1 Corinthians 15:36).

With what manner of body (ποιω σωματ). This is the second question which makes plainer the difficulty of the first. The first body perishes. Will that body be raised? Paul treats this problem more at length (verses 1 Corinthians 15:38-54) and by analogy of nature (Cf. Butler's famous Analogy). It is a spiritual, not a natural, body that is raised. Σωμα here is an organism.

Flesh (σαρξ) is the σωμα for the natural man, but there is spiritual (πνευματικον) σωμα for the resurrection.

Verse 36

Thou foolish one (αφρων). Old word (α privative, φρην), lack of sense. It is a severe term and justified by the implication "that the objector plumes himself on his acuteness" (Robertson and Plummer). Proleptic position of συ (thou) sharpens the point. Sceptics (agnostics) pose as unusually intellectual (the intelligentsia), but the pose does not make one intelligent.

Except it die (εαν μη αποθανη). Condition of third class, possibility assumed. This is the answer to the "how" question. In plant life death precedes life, death of the seed and then the new plant.

Verse 37

Not the body which shall be (ου το σωμα το γενησομενον). Articular future participle of γινομα, literally, "not the body that will become." The new

body (σωμα) is not yet in existence, but only the seed (κοκκος, grain, old word, as in Matthew 13:31).

It may chance (ε τυχο). Fourth class condition as in 1 Corinthians 14:10 which see. Paul is rich in metaphors here, though usually not so (Howson, Metaphors of St. Paul). Paul was a city man. We sow seeds, not plants (bodies). The butterfly comes out of the dying worm.

Verse 38

A body of its own (ιδιον σωμα). Even under the microscope the life cells or germ plasm may seem almost identical, but the plant is quite distinct. On σπερμα, seed, old word from σπειρω, to sow, see on Matthew 13:24.

Verse 39

The same flesh (η αυτη σαρξ). Paul takes up animal life to show the great variety there is as in the plant kingdom. Even if evolution should prove to be true, Paul's argument remains valid. Variety exists along with kinship. Progress is shown in the different kingdoms, progress that even argues for a spiritual body after the body of flesh is lost.

Of beasts (κτηνων). Old word, from κταομα, to possess, and so property. See Luke 10:34.

Of birds (πτηνων). Old word from πετομα, to fly, winged, flying. Only here in N.T.

Verse 40

Celestial (επουρανια). Old word, from επ, upon, ουρανος, heaven, existing in heaven. Paul now rises higher in the range of his argument, above the merely

terrestrial (επιγεια, upon earth, επι, γε) bodies. He has shown differences in the bodies here on earth in plants and in the animal kingdom and now he indicates like differences to be seen in the heavens above us.

Is one (ετερα μεν)

--is another (ετερα δε). Antithesis that admits glory for bodies on earth and bodies in the heavens. Experience does not argue against a glory for the spiritual body (Philippians 3:21).

Verse 41

For one star differeth from another star in glory (αστηρ γαρ αστερος διαφερε εν δοξη). A beautiful illustration of Paul's point. Αστερος is the ablative case after διαφερε (old verb διαφερω, Latin differo, our differ, bear apart). On αστηρ see Matthew 2:7 and αστρον Luke 21:25. Stars differ in magnitude and brilliancy. The telescope has added more force to Paul's argument.

In glory (εν δοξη). Old word from δοκεω, to think, to seem. So opinion, estimate, then the shekinah glory of God in the LXX, glory in general. It is one of the great words of the N.T. Jesus is termed the glory in James 2:1.

Verse 42

So is the resurrection of the dead (ουτως κα η αναστασις των νεκρων). Paul now applies his illustrations to his argument to prove the kind of body we shall have after the resurrection. He does it by a series of marvellous contrasts that gather all his points. The earthly and the risen beings differ in duration, value, power (Wendt).

It is sown (σπειρετα). In death, like the seed (1 Corinthians 15:37).

In incorruption (εν αφθαρσια). Late word from α privative and φθειρω, to corrupt. In LXX, Plutarch, Philo, late papyrus of a Gnostic gospel, and quotation from Epicurus. Vulgate incorruptio. The resurrection body has undergone a complete change as compared with the body of flesh like the plant from the seed. It is related to it, but it is a different body of glory.

Verse 43

In weakness (εν ασθενεια). Lack of strength as shown in the victory of death.

In power (εν δυναμε). Death can never conquer this new body, "conformed to the body of His glory" (Philippians 3:21).

Verse 44

A natural body (σωμα ψυχικον). See on 1 Corinthians 2:14 for this word, a difficult one to translate since ψυχη has so many meanings. Natural is probably as good a rendering as can be made, but it is not adequate, for the body here is not all ψυχη either as soul or life. The same difficulty exists as to a spiritual body (σωμα πνευματικον). The resurrection body is not wholly πνευμα. Caution is needed here in filling out details concerning the ψυχη and the πνευμα. But certainly he means to say that the "spiritual body" has some kind of germinal connection with the "natural body," though the development is glorious beyond our comprehension though not beyond the power of Christ to perform (Philippians 3:21). The force of the argument remains unimpaired though we cannot follow fully into the thought beyond us.

If there is (ε εστιν). "If there exists" (εστιν means this with accent on first syllable), a condition of first class assumed as true.

There is also (εστιν κα). There exists also.

Verse 45

Became a living soul (εγενετο εις ψυχην ζωσαν). Hebraistic use of εις in predicate from LXX. God breathed a soul (ψυχη) into "the first man."

The last Adam became a life-giving spirit (ο εσχατος Αδαμ εις πνευμα ζωοποιουν). Supply εγενετο (became). Christ is the crown of humanity and has power to give us the new body. In Romans 5:12-19 Paul calls Christ the Second Adam.

Verse 46

Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural (αλλ' ου πρωτον το πνευματικον, αλλα το ψυχικον). Literally, "But not first the spiritual, but the natural." This is the law of growth always.

Verse 47

Earthly (χοικος). Late rare word, from χους, dust.

The second man from heaven (ο δευτερος ανθρωπος εξ ουρανου). Christ had a human (ψυχικον) body, of course, but Paul makes the contrast between the first man in his natural body and the Second Man in his risen body. Paul saw Jesus after his resurrection and he appeared to him "from heaven." He will come again from heaven.

Verse 48

As is the earthly (οιος ο χοικος). Masculine gender because of ανθρωπος and correlative pronouns (οιοσ, τοιουτο) of character or quality. All men of dust (χοικο) correspond to "the man of dust" (ο χοικος), the first Adam.

As is the heavenly (οιος ο επουρανιος). Christ in his ascended state (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 2:20; Philippians 3:20).

Verse 49

We shall also bear (φορεσομεν κα). Old MSS. (so Westcott and Hort) read φορεσωμεν κα. Volitive aorist active subjunctive, Let us also bear. Ellicott strongly opposes the subjunctive. It may be merely the failure of scribes to distinguish between long o and short o. Paul hardly means to say that our attaining the resurrection body depends on our own efforts! A late frequentative form of φερω.

Verse 50

Cannot inherit (κληρονομησα ου δυναντα). Hence there must be a change by death from the natural body to the spiritual body. In the case of Christ this change was wrought in less than three days and even then the body of Jesus was in a transition state before the Ascension. He ate and could be handled and yet he passed through closed doors. Paul does not base his argument on the special circumstances connected with the risen body of Jesus.

Verse 51

A mystery (μυστηριον). He does not claim that he has explained everything. He has drawn a broad parallel which opens the door of hope and confidence.

We shall not all sleep (παντες ου κοιμηθησομεθα). Future passive indicative of κοιμαομα, to sleep. Not all of us shall die, Paul means. Some people will be alive when he comes. Paul does not affirm that he or any then living will be alive when Jesus comes again. He simply groups all under the phrase "we all."

But we shall all be changed (παντες δε αλλαγησομεθα). Second future passive indicative of αλλασσω. Both living and dead shall be changed and so receive the resurrection body. See this same idea at more length in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Verse 52

In a moment (εν ατομω). Old word, from α privative and τεμνω, to cut, indivisible: Scientific word for atom which was considered indivisible, but that was before the day of electrons and protons. Only here in N.T.

In the twinkling of an eye (εν ριπη οφθαλμου). Old word ριπη from ριπτω, to throw. Only here in N.T. Used by the Greeks for the flapping of a wing, the buzz of a gnat, the quivering of a harp, the twinkling of a star.

At the last trump (εν τη εσχατη σαλπιγγ). Symbolical, of course. See on 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Matthew 24:31.

Verse 53

Must put on (δε ενδυσασθα). Aorist (ingressive) middle infinitive, put on as a garment.

Immortality (αθανασιαν). Old word from αθανατος, undying, and that from α privative and θνησκω, to die. In N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 6:16 where God is described as having immortality.

Verse 54

Shall have put on (ενδυσητα). First aorist middle subjunctive with οταν whenever, merely indefinite future, no futurum exactum, merely meaning, "whenever shall put on," not "shall have put on."

Is swallowed up (κατεποθη). First aorist passive indicative of καταπινω, old verb to drink down, swallow down. Perfective use of κατα- where we say "up," "swallow up." Timeless use of the aorist tense. Paul changes the active voice κατεπιεν in Isaiah 25:8 to the passive. Death is no longer victory. Theodotion reads the Hebrew verb (bulla, for billa,) as passive like Paul. It is the "final overthrow of the king of Terrors" (Findlay) as shown in Hebrews 2:15.

Verse 55

Victory (νικος). Late form of νικη.

O death (θανατε). Second instance. Here Paul changes Hades of the LXX for Hebrew Sheol (Hosea 13:14) to death. Paul never uses Hades.

Thy sting (σου το κεντρον). Old word from κεντρεω, to prick, as in Acts 26:14. In Revelation 9:10 of the sting of locusts, scorpions. The serpent death has lost his poison fangs.

Verse 56

The power of sin (η δυναμις της αμαρτιας). See Romans 4:15; Romans 5:20; Romans 6:14; Romans 6:7; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:1-5 for Paul's ideas here briefly expressed. In man's unrenewed state he cannot obey God's holy law.

Verse 57

But thanks be to God (τω δε θεω χαρις). Exultant triumph through Christ over sin and death as in Romans 7:25.

Verse 58

Be ye steadfast, unmovable (εδραιο γινεσθε, αμετακινητο). "Keep on becoming steadfast, unshaken." Let the sceptics howl and rage. Paul has given rational grounds for faith and hope in Christ the Risen Lord and Saviour. Note practical turn to this great doctrinal argument.

Work (εργον),

labour (κοπος, toil). The best answer to doubt is work.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.