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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
1 Corinthians 15

 

 

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Verse 1

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

Christ's resurrection rests on many eye-witnesses, including Paul, and is the great fact preached as the groundwork of the Gospel. They who deny resurrection in general must deny that of Christ; and the consequence will be that Christian preaching and faith are vain.

I declare - literally, 'I make known.' It implies some reproach that it should be now necessary to make it known to them afresh, owing to some 'not having the knowledge of God' (1 Corinthians 15:34 : cf. Galatians 1:11).

Wherein ye stand - ye now take your stand. Your present high standing, if ye suffer not yourselves to fall from it.


Verse 2

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Ye are saved - rather, 'ye are being saved.'

If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you. Bengal, etc, prefer, 'I declare unto you the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1) in what words I preached it unto you.' Paul makes known to them, as if anew, not only the fact of the Gospel, but also with what arguments he preached it. Translate, then, 'If ye hold it fast.' I prefer, 'By which ye are saved, if (as I presume is the case, indicative) ye hold fast (in memory and personal appropriation [ katechete (Greek #2722)]) with what speech I preached it unto you.'

Unless - which is impossible-your faith is vain, in resting on Christ's resurrection as an objective reality.


Verse 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;

I delivered unto you. A short summary of articles of faith was probably even then existing (cf. Ephesians 4:4-6; Hebrews 6:1, etc.; 1 John 4:2); and a profession of it was required of candidates for baptism, (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10).

First of all - literally, 'among the foremost points' (Hebrews 6:2). The atonement is, in Paul's view, of primary importance.

Which I also received - from Christ by special revelation (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23). Paul "delivered" what he "received;" not something of his own origination.

Died for our sins - i:e., to atone FOR them, for taking away our sins (1 John 3:5). ["For" is here huper (Greek #5228), 'in behalf of' So Galatians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Titus 2:14 : cf. Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 5:3 has dia (Greek #1223), implying that the object is the center round which the action concentrates. Romans 4:25 has anti (Greek #473), 'on account of.' In Matthew 20:28 anti (Greek #473), instead of, implying substitution, or vicarious satisfaction (cf. Greek, Matthew 17:27; Luke 11:11; 1 Corinthians 11:15).]

According to the Scriptures - which 'cannot be broken.' To deny the resurrection is to renounce the prophetic Scriptures, which it fulfills (Hosea 6:2). Paul puts their testimony before that of the witnesses to Christ's resurrection. So Christ quotes Isaiah 53:12 in Luke 22:37 (cf. Psalms 22:15. etc.; Daniel 9:26).


Verse 4

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Buried ... rose again (foretold, Isaiah 53:9). At the moment of His death the power of His inextinguishable life exerted itself (Matthew 27:52). The grave was to Him not the receptacle of corruption, but an avenue into life (Acts 2:26-28). "Rose again" - Greek, 'hath risen;' the state begun, and its consequences continue.


Verse 5

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

Seen of Cephas - Peter (Luke 24:34).

The twelve - the round number for "the eleven" (Luke 24:33; Luke 24:36). "The twelve" was their ordinary appellation. Possibly, too, Matthias was present (Acts 1:22-23). Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'the eleven;' but 'Aleph (') A B, "the twelve."


Verse 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.

Five hundred - probably on the mountain (Thabor, according to tradition) in Galilee, when His most public appearance, according to His special promise, was vouchsafed (Matthew 26:32; Matthew 28:7; Matthew 28:10; Matthew 28:16). He 'appointed' this place, remote from Jerusalem, so that believers might assemble there more securely. Such a multitude could not with safety have met in the metropolis after his crucifixion there. The number of disciples (Acts 1:15) at Jerusalem shortly after was 120, those in Galilee and elsewhere not being reckoned. Andronicus and Junius were perhaps of the number (Romans 16:7); for they were 'among the apostles,' all witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:22).

Remain unto this present - and, therefore, may be sifted to ascertain the trustworthiness of their testimony.

Fallen asleep - in the sure hope of awaking at the resurrection (Acts 7:60).


Verse 7

After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. Seen of James - the less, the brother of our Lord (Galatians 1:19). The Gospel according to the Hebrews (Jerome, 'Catalogus Scriptorium Ecclesiasticorum,' p. 170 D.) records that 'James swore he would not eat bread from the hour that he drank the cup of the Lord until he should see Him rising again from the dead.'

All the apostles. The term includes many others besides "the twelve" (1 Corinthians 15:5); perhaps the seventy, (Luke 10:1-42).


Verse 8

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

One born out of due time , [ too (Greek #3588) ektroomati (Greek #1626)] - 'the ONE untimely born' in the family of the apostles. As such a child, though born alive is yet not of the proper size, and scarcely worthy of the name of man, so "I am the least of the apostles," scarcely meet to be called one; a supernumerary taken into the college out of regular course; not led to Christ by gradual instruction, like a natural birth, but by a sudden power, as those prematurely born. Compare the similar image, and by the same spiritual power (1 Peter 1:3), "Begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus." Jesus' appearance on the way to Damascus is the one referred to.


Verse 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.

Least. 'Paulus' means least.

I persecuted the church of God. Though God forgave him, Paul could hardly forgive himself for his past sin.


Verse 10

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

By the grace ... and his grace. The repetition implies the prominence of God's grace in his mind as the sole cause of his marvelous conversion and subsequent labours. Though "not meet to be called an apostle," God's grace has given him the meetness needed for the office (Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15). Translate, 'His grace which was (showed) toward [ eis (Greek #1519)] me.'

What I am - occupying the honourable office of an apostle. Contrast the self-sufficient prayer of another Pharisee (Luke 18:11).

But I laboured - by God's grace (Philippians 2:16).

Than they all - than any of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:7).

Grace of God which was with me - (cf. Mark 16:20.) 'Aleph (') B Delta G omit "which was." A C read as English version [ hee (Greek #3588) sun (Greek #4862) emoi (Greek #1698)]. This reading makes "the grace of God" everything, and Paul nothing, in his 'labours' after conversion. The reading that omits "which was" implies Paul's cooperation: still, "not I, but grace," implies that though Paul's human will. when sanctified, concurred with God, yet "grace" so preponderated that his co operation is regarded as nothing, and grace as the sole agent (cf. Matthew 10:20; 1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Philippians 2:12-13).


Verse 11

Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

Whether it were I or they (the apostles) - who "laboured more abundantly" (1 Corinthians 15:10), the subject of our preaching was the truth stated in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.


Verse 12

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

If. Since it is an admitted fact that Christ IS preached by us eye-witnesses as having risen from the dead, how is it that some of you (while admitting Christ's resurrection) deny what is a necessary consequences-namely, the general resurrection? Christ's resurrection is said to be "from [ ek (Greek #1537)] the dead:" the general resurrection is said to be "the resurrection of the dead."

Some - Gentile reasoners (Acts 17:32; Acts 26:8) who would not believe it because they did not see "how" it could be (1 Corinthians 15:35-36). They maintained a spiritual resurrection (2 Timothy 2:17-18; Romans 6:4-6), not corporal, in opposition to Matthew 22:23-32.


Verse 13

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

If there be no general resurrection, which is the consequent, then there can have been no resurrection of Christ, which is the antecedent. The head and the members stand on the same footing (Hebrews 2:17); what does not hold good of them, does not hold good either of Him: His resurrection and theirs are inseparably joined (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:22; John 14:19). Christ's resurrection would have been objectless, if it did not entails ours.


Verse 14

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

Your faith is also vain (1 Corinthians 15:11). The Greek for "vain" here is empty, unreal [ kenon (Greek #2756)]; in 1 Corinthians 15:17 [ mataia (Greek #3152)], it is without use, frustrated. The principal argument of the first preachers of Christianity was, that God had raised Christ from the dead (Acts 1:22; Acts 2:32; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:33; Acts 13:37; Romans 1:4). If this were false, the faith built on it must be false too.


Verse 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.

Testified of God - i:e., concerning God, or 'against God;' the Greek preposition [ kata (Greek #2596)], with the genitive, implies, not direct antagonism (as the accusative), but indirect, to the dishonour of God: taking His name in vain, invoking it to attest a lie (Exodus 20:7). If forgery of a king's coin is penal, how much more forgery against the King of kings: miracles are His coin.

If so be - as they assert. It is not right to "talk deceitfully for" the glory of God (Job 13:7). 'Pious frauds' are dishonouring to the God of truth.


Verse 16

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

The repetition implies the unanswerable force of the argument.


Verse 17

And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Vain. Ye are, if the case be as the sceptics maintain, frustrated of all which "your faith" appropriates: ye are still under the everlasting condemnation of your sins (even in the disembodied state here referred to), from which Christ's resumption is our justification (Romans 4:25 : "saved by his life," Romans 5:10). His death atones for our sin; but we could not have had faith in, and so be saved by, that atonement, but for his resurrection.


Verse 18

Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Fallen asleep in Christ - in communion with Christ as His members. 'In Christ's case the term used is death, to assure us of the reality of His suffering; in ours, sleep, to give us consolation. In His case, His resurrection having taken place, Paul shrinks not from the term death; in ours, the resurrection being still only a matter of hope, he uses falling asleep' (Photius, 'Quaestiones Amphilochiae,' 197).

Perished. Their souls are lost in misery in the unseen world.


Verse 19

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

If our hopes in Christ were limited to this life only, we should be, of all men, most robe pitied-namely, because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial, and after all are doomed to disappointment in our cherished hope; for our salvation, even of the soul (not merely of the body), hangs on Christ's resurrection,without which His death would not avail us (Ephesians 1:19-20; 1 Peter 1:3). The pagan are "without hope" (Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). We should be even worse, for we should be also without present enjoyment (1 Corinthians 4:9). The immortality of the soul apart from the body is not in Scripture made our hope, but in connection with the raised body.


Verse 20

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Now - as the case really is.

And become. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate.

The first-fruits - the earliest and most costly, and so consecrated to God; the earnest that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. An appropriate image, for this letter was written about the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7): the day after the Passover Sabbath was that for offering else first-fruits (Leviticus 23:10-11); the same was the day of Christ's resurrection (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).


Verse 21

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

By man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. The first-fruits are of the same nature as the ensuing harvest: so Christ, our life, is of the same nature as we men to whom He brings it; just as Adam, the death-bringer by sin, was of the same nature as men on whom he brought it.


Verse 22

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

In Adam all - in union of nature with Adam, the representative head of mankind in their fall.

In Christ shall all - in union of nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their recovery. The seed of life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the seed of death brought in by Adam. All sinned in Adam; all rise in Christ, (cf. Romans 5:12, etc.)


Verse 23

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

But every man in his own order , [ tagmati (Greek #5001)] - rank. The Greek is not abstract, but concrete: image from troops, 'each in his own regiment.' Though all shall rise, not all shall be saved; nay, each shall have his proper place-Christ first (Colossians 1:18); after Him the godly who die in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:16), in a separate band from the ungodly; then "the end" - i:e. the resurrection of the rest of the dead. Christian churches, ministers, and individuals, seem about to be judged first "at His coming" (Matthew 25:1-30); then "all the nations" (Matthew 25:31-46). Christ's own flock shall share His glory "at His coming," which is not to be confounded with "the end" or general judgment (Revelation 20:4-6; Revelation 20:11-15). The latter is not here discussed, but only the tint resurrection-namely, that of those united with Him by justifying faith; not even the judgment of all Christian professors (Matthew 25:1-30) at His coming, but only the glory of them "that are Christ's," who alone, in the highest sense, "obtain the resurrection from the dead" (Luke 14:14; Luke 20:35-36; Philippians 3:11). Christ's second coming is not a mere point of time, but a period beginning with the resurrection of the just, and ending with the general judgment. The ground of the universal resurrection (Acts 24:15) is the union of all mankind in nature with Christ, their representative head, who has done away with death, by His death in their stead: the ground of believers' resurrection is not merely this, but their personal union with Him as their "Life" (Colossians 3:4), effected causatively by the Holy Spirit, instrumentally by faith as the subjective, and ordinances as the objective means.


Verse 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.

Then , [ eita (Greek #1534)] - after that: next in the succession of 'orders' or 'ranks.'

The end - the general resurrection, final judgment, and consummation (Matthew 25:46).

Delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father - (cf. John 13:3.) Seemingly at variance with Daniel 7:14, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away." Really, His giving up the mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the end for which it was established has been accomplished, is in harmony with its continuing everlastingly. The change then to take place shall be in the manner of administration, not in the kingdom itself: God shall then come into direct connection with the earth, instead of mediatorially, when Christ shall have fully and finally removed everything that severs the Holy God and a sinful earth, (Colossians 1:20). The glory of God is the end of Christ's mediatorial office (Philippians 2:10-11). His co-equality with the Father is independent of, and prior to, the latter, and shall therefore continue when its function shall have ceased. The Son's power is from the Father, who is not without the Son, but whose power illustrates itself in the Son. Christ's manhood, too, shall everlastingly continue, though, as now subordinate to the Father. The throne of the Lamb (no longer mediatorial), as well as of God, shall be in the heavenly city (Revelation 22:3). The Unity of the Godhead and the unity of the Church shall be simultaneously manifested at Christ's second coming (cf. Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 14:9; John 17:21-24). 'Aleph (') A B G Delta, Origen, for "shall have delivered up" (2 Aorist Subj.), read, 'delivereth up,' which suits better. It is "when He shall have put down all rule," that 'He delivereth up the, kingdom to Him who is God and the Father.' (So the Greek.)

Put down all rule. The effect produced during the millennary reign of Himself and His saints (Psalms 2:6-9; Psalms 8:6; Psalms 110:1), to which passages Paul refers, resting his argument on the words, "all" and "until:" a proof of verbal inspiration of Scripture (cf. Revelation 2:26-27). Meanwhile He 'rules in the midst of His enemies' (Psalms 110:2). He is called "the King" when He takes His great power (Matthew 25:34; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 11:17). The Greek [ katargeesee (Greek #2673)], "put down," is, 'done away with,' 'abolish' (2 Timothy 1:10). "All" must be subject to Him, whether hostile powers, as Satan and his angels, or kings and angelic principalities (Ephesians 1:21).


Verse 25

For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

Must - because Scripture foretells it.

Till - there be no further need of His mediatorial kingdom, its object having been realized.

Enemies under his feet (Luke 19:27; Ephesians 1:22).


Verse 26

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Shall be - Greek (1 Corinthians 15:24), 'is being done away with' (Revelation 20:14; cf. Revelation 1:18). Christ's victory, already won, is earnest of the final 'abolition' of Death; the abolition is being effected continuously up to the consummation (John 5:24; John 6:36). It is to believers especially this applies (1 Corinthians 15:55-57); even to unbelievers death is done away with by the general resurrection. Satan brought in sin, and sin death! So they shall be "destroyed" (rendered utterly powerless) in the same order (1 Corinthians 15:56; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 20:14).


Verse 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.

All things - including death (cf. Ephesians 1:22; Philippians 3:21,; Hebrews 2:8; 1 Peter 3:22 ). It is said, "hath put," for what God has said is as it were already done, so sure is it. Paul here quotes the 8th Psalm in proof of 1 Corinthians 15:24, end, "For (it is written) He hath put all things," etc. Under his feet - as His footstool (Psalms 110:1). In perfect and lasting subjection.

When he - namely, God, who by His Spirit inspired the Psalmist.


Verse 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.

Son also himself be subject - not as creatures are, but as a Son, voluntarily subordinate to, though co-equal with the Father. In the mediatorial economy the Son had been in a manner distinct from the Father; Now His kingdom shall merge in the Father's, with whom He is one: not that there is any derogation from His honour; for the Father wills "that all should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father" (John 5:22-23; Hebrews 1:6).

God ... all in all - as Christ is all in all (Colossians 3:11 : cf. Zechariah 14:9). Then and not until then, "all things" shall be subject to the Son, and the Son subordinate to the Father while co-equally sharing His glory. Contrast Psalms 10:4; Psalms 14:1. Even, the saints do not fully realize God as their "all" (Psalms 73:25) now, though desiring it; then each shall feel, God is my all.


Verse 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?

Else - if there be no resurrection.

What shall they do? - what profit do they get?

Baptized for the dead - third person: a class distinct from that in which the apostle places himself - "we" (1 Corinthians 15:30): first person. There is no reference to baptizing a living person in behalf of a friend who died unbaptized-a heretical practice unknown in the Church before the times of Marcion. Benget translates, 'over (immediately upon [ huper (Greek #5228)]) the dead' - i:e., who will be gathered to the dead immediately after baptism (cf. Job 17:1). The fruit they get from their baptism is, that they should be gathered to the dead forever. Many in the ancient Church put off baptism until near death. But the "for" scarcely bears this meaning in the Greek Testament. Rather, as in Philem 13, it means, 'baptized to take the place of the dead' saints (2 Timothy 2:2) 'Of what use are fresh witnesses for Christianity, baptized to minister instead of those dead!' Olshausen takes it, A full number of believers is to be made up before Christ's coming and the resurrection; so every one baptized, by filling up the number, is baptized on behalf of the dead in the Lord (Revelation 6:10-11). But the Greek [ ti (Greek #5100) kai (Greek #2532) before kinduneuomen (Greek #2793) corresponding to ti (Greek #5100) kai (Greek #2532) before baptizontai (Greek #907)] favours the former view, 'Why are they then baptized for the dead? Why then (why too) stand we in jeopardy every hour?' Why are they baptized, filling up the place the martyred dead, at the ask of sharing the same fate? Why too stand we in jeopardy every hour? Probably some symbolical rite of baptism or dedication of themselves to follow the martyred dead even to death, grounded on Matthew 20:22-23, is alluded to; or, without such rite, "baptized" is used as it is in 1 Corinthians 10:2. The best punctuation is, 'If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for them?' So 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read, instead of "for the dead."


Verse 30

And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

We - apostles (1 Corinthians 15:9; 1 Corinthians 4:9).


Verse 31

I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

By your (so 'Aleph (') B Delta G f g, Vulgate)

Rejoicing - by the glowing which I have concerning you, as the fruit of my labours. A and Origen read 'our,' with the same sense. 'Aleph (') A B, Vulgate insert 'brethren' here. Delta G f g omit it.

I die daily. This ought to stand first in the sentence, as it is so put prominently in the Greek. I am day by day exposed to and expecting death (2 Corinthians 4:11-12; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 2 Corinthians 11:23).


Verse 32

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

Punctuate - "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," etc. If 'merely as a man' (with the mere human hope of the present life; not with the Christian's hope of the future resurrection: answering to "If the dead rise not," the parallel clause in the next sentence) I have fought with beastlike men-Demetrius and his craftsmen. Heraclitus, of Ephesus, had termed his countrymen 'wild beasts' 400 years before. So Epimenides called the Cretians (Titus 1:12). Paul's Roman citizenship exempted him from literal fighting with wild beasts in the arena. He was still at Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8), where his life was daily in danger (2 Corinthians 1:8). Though the tumult (Acts 19:29-30) had not yet taken place (for after it he set out immediately for Macedonia), this letter was written just before it, when the storm was gathering; "many adversaries" (1 Corinthians 16:9) were already menacing him (cf. Romans 16:4; Acts 18:18-19; Acts 18:26).

What advantageth it me? - seeing I have renounced all that, 'as a mere man,' might compensate me for such sufferings, gain, fame, etc.

Let us eat ... Quoted from Septuagint Isaiah 22:13 describes the reckless indulgence of the despisers of God's call to mourning-Let us enjoy the good things of life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of sceptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. "If men but persuade themselves that they should die like, the beasts, they soon will live like beasts too' (South).


Verse 33

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Be not deceived - as though denial of the resurrection were a mere harmless speculation (1 Corinthians 6:9): nay, association with such unbelievers will corrupt good morals.

Evil communications corrupt good manners - a current saying, from the Thais of Menander, the comic poet, who took it, from Euripides (Socrates, 'Historia Eccleslastica,' 3: 16). "Evil communications" refer to conversatons with those who deny the resurrection. Their notion was that the resurrection is merely spiritual, that sin has its seat solely in the body, and will be left behind when the soul leaves it, if, indeed, the soul survive at all.

Good - not only good-natured, but pliant. Intimacy with the profligate around was apt to corrupt the principles of the Corinthians.


Verse 34

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Awake - literally, 'Out of the sleep' [ ekneepsate (Greek #1594)] of carnal intoxication into which ye are thrown by these sceptics (1 Corinthians 15:32; Joel 1:5).

To righteousness - literally, righteously, in contrast with "sin" and corrupt manners (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Sin not - in sinful pleasures. The Greek expresses a continued abstinence from sin. They who live in sinful pleasures readily persuade themselves of what they wish-namely, that there is to be no resurrection.

Some - the same as in 1 Corinthians 15:12.

Have not the knowledge (literally, have ignorance) of God - know not His power in the resurrection (Matthew 22:29). Stronger than, 'are ignorant of God.' Habitual ignorance: willful, positive error, not merely negative, for they prefer to keep, rather than part with, their sins, in order to know God (cf. 1 Samuel 2:12; John 7:17; 1 Peter 2:15).

To your shame - that you Corinthian Christians, who boast of knowledge, should maintain contact with those so ignorant of God as to deny the resurrection.


Verse 35

But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

How? It is folly to deny a fact of REVELATION because we do not know the "how." Some measure God's power by their intelligence, and won't admit, even on His assurance, what they cannot explain. Ezekiel answer of faith to the question is the truly wise one (Ezekiel 37:3). So Jesus argues not on principles of philosophy, but wholly from 'the power of God,' declared by His word (Matthew 19:26).

Come. The dead are said to depart, or be deceased; those rising again, to come. The objector could not understand how the dead rise, and with what kind of a body they come. Is it to be the same body? If so, how is this, since the resurrection bodies will not eat or drink, or beget children, as the natural bodies do? hides, the latter have mouldered into dust. How, then, can they rise again? If it be a different body, how can the personal identity he preserved? Paul answers, In one sense it will be the same, in another, a distinct body. It will be a body, but a spiritual, not a natural body.


Verse 36

Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

Fool - with all thy boasted philosophy (Psalms 14:1).

That which thou - appeal to the objector's own experience: 'The seed which thou thyself [ su (Greek #4771)] sowest.' Paul, in this verse and 1 Corinthians 15:42, answers 1 Corinthians 15:35, "How?" and in 1 Corinthians 15:37-41; 1 Corinthians 15:43, 'With what kind of body?' He converts the very objection (the death of the natural body) into an argument. Death, so far from preventing quickening, is the necessary prelude of it, just as the seed "is not quickened" into a new sprout, with increased produce, "except it die" (suffer a dissolution of its previous organization). Christ by His death for us has not reprieved us from death of the life we have from Adam; nay, He permits the law to take its course on our flesh, but brings from Himself new and heavenly life out of death (1 Corinthians 15:37).


Verse 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:

Not that body that shall be - but beautiful, and no longer a "bare grain," but clothed with blade and ears, yielding many grains, instead of only one. The plant falls back again into the same wheat as its seed: but Paul's comparison of the heavenly body is to the living plant; not to the bare grain produced subsequently. There is not an identity of all the particles with the old body: for the perpetual transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the germ remains the same. Every such germ ("seed," 1 Corinthians 15:38) 'shall have its own body,' and be instantly recognized, as each plant now is known from the seed that was sown (see note, 1 Corinthians 6:13). So Christ illustrated the truth that His death was the prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of the regeneration of the many who believe (John 12:24). Progress is the law of the spiritual, as of the natural world. Death is the avenue, not to mere revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection and regeneration (Matthew 19:28; Philippians 3:21). Compare "planted," etc., Romans 6:5.


Verse 38

But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

As it hath pleased him - at creation, when He gave to each of the (kinds of) seeds (so the Greek is for "to every seed") a body of its own (Genesis 1:11, "after its kind," suited to its species). So God will give to the blessed at the resurrection their own body, such as pleases Him, and is suitable to their glorified state: a body special to the individual, substantially the same as that sown.


Verses 39-41

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.

Suitability of bodies, however various to their species: the flesh of the several species of animals; bodies celestial and terrestrial; the various kinds of light in the sun, moon, and stars. Flesh - animal organism. Our resurrection bodies shall be really flesh, though glorified and spiritualized; not mere phantoms. So some of the oldest creeds (Tertullian, 'De Virg. vel,' 100:i.; Cyril, Ruffinus, Augustine) expressed it, 'I believe in the resurrection of the flesh.' Compare as to Jesus' own resurrection body, Luke 24:39; John 20:27; to which ours shall be made like, and therefore shall be flesh, but not of animal organism (Philippians 3:21) and liable to corruption. 1 Corinthians 15:50 implies, it is not "flesh and blood" in the animal sense; for these "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Not the same - not of the same nature and excellency. As the kinds of flesh, however widely differing, do not cease to be flesh, so the kinds of bodies, however differing from one another, are still bodies. All this illustrates the difference of the celestial body from its terrestrial seed, while substantially identical.

Beasts - quadrupeds.

Another of fish, and another of birds. So G. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta read thus, 'another FLESH of birds, and another of fish:' the order of nature.

Verse 40. Celestial bodies - not the sun moon, and stars, which are first introduced 1 Corinthians 15:41, but the bodies (organisms) of angels, as distinguished from those of earthly creatures.

The glory of the celestial (Luke 9:26).

Glory of the terrestrial (Matthew 6:28-29; 1 Peter 1:1-24).

One ... another. The two wholes, celestial and terrestrial bodies, are contrasted by terms [ hetera (Greek #2087)

... hetera (Greek #2087)] distinct from those contrasting the individuals classed under them [ allee (Greek #243) ... allee (Greek #243)].

Verse 41. One glory of the sun, and another of the moon. The analogy is not to prove different degrees of glory among the blessed (whether this be or not indirectly hinted), but this: As the various fountains of light, which is so similar in its properties, differ (the sun from the moon, and the moon from the stars; and even one star from another, though all seem so much alike); so it is no unreasonable doctrine that our present bodies differ much from our resurrection bodies, though still continuing bodies (cf. the simile, Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43). Also that of seed in the same parable (Matthew 13:24; Galatians 6:7-8).


Verse 42

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Sown - following up the image. A delightful word instead of burial.

In corruption - liable to corruption: not merely a prey when dead to corruption; as the contrast shows, "raised in incorruption - i:e., not liable to corruption.


Verse 43

It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

In dishonour - answering to "our vile body" (Philippians 3:21); literally, 'our body of humiliation:' liable to various humiliations of disease, injury, and decay.

In glory - the garment of incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:42-43) like His glorious body, which we shall put on (1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 Corinthians 15:53; 2 Corinthians 5:2-4).

In weakness - liable to infirmities (2 Corinthians 13:4).

In power - answering to a "spiritual body" (1 Corinthians 15:44 : cf. Luke 1:17, "spirit and power"). Not liable to the weaknesses of our present bodies (Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 21:4).


Verse 44

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

A natural body - literally, 'an animal [ psuchikon (Greek #5591)] body;' a bodily organism of "flesh and blood" (1 Corinthians 15:50), to suit the animal soul, which predominates in it. The Holy Spirit in the spirit of believers is an earnest of a superior state (Romans 8:11): meanwhile in the body the animal soul preponderates; hereafter the Spirit shall predominate, and the animal soul be subordinate.

Spiritual body - a body moulded by the Spirit, and its organism not conformed to the lower and animal (Luke 20:35-36), but to the higher and spiritual life (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

There is ... 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f, Vulgate, 'IF there is a natural (or, animal-souled) body, there is also a spiritual body.' It is no more wonderful that there should be a body fitted to man's future life, in which the spirit preponderates, than that there is (as we all see) one fitted to his present life, in which the animal soul preponderates. Man, standing on the limits of earth and heaven, has a twofold corporeality.


Verse 45

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. So - in accordance with the distinction between the natural, or animal-souled, and the spiritual bodies.

It is written (Genesis 2:7), "Man became (was made to become) [ egeneto (Greek #1096) eis (Greek #1519)] a living soul" - i:e., endowed with an animal soul, the living principle of his body.

The last Adam - the LAST Head of humanity, who is to be fully manifested in the last day, which is His day (John 6:39). He is so called in Job 19:25; note there. (Compare Romans 5:14.) In contrast to "the last," Paul calls "man" "the FIRST Adam."

Quickening - not only living, but making alive (John 5:21; John 6:33; John 6:39-40; John 6:54; John 6:57; John 6:62-63; John 11:25; Romans 8:11; "Christ IS the resurrection and the life;" not merely gives them: the gift is not held by the recipient independently of the Giver, but by the believer becoming "one spirit" with Him (Isaiah 26:19; 1 Corinthians 6:17). As the animal-souled body (1 Corinthians 15:44) is the fruit of our union with the first Adam, an animal-souled man, so the spiritual body is the fruit of our union with the second Adam, the quickening Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). Since He became representative of all humanity in His union of the two natures, He exhausted in His own person the sentence of death passed on all, and giveth spiritual and everlasting life to whom He will.


Verse 46

Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

Afterward. Adam had "a living soul," framed for eternal life by eating the tree of life (Genesis 3:22): still, his body was but an animal-souled, not a spiritual body, such as believers, shall have; much less was he a 'life-giving spirit,' as Christ. The natural principle ruled in him. His soul had the germ rather than the fullness of the spirit, such as man shall have when restored, 'body, soul, and spirit,' by the second Adam. As the first and lower Adam came before the second and heavenly Adam, and as we are born naturally before we are in soul born again of the Spirit, so the animal-souled body comes first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body - i:e., that in which the spirit predominates over the animal soul.


Verse 47

The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Of (from) the earth. Being sprung from the earth, he is "earthy" (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19) - i:e., not merely earthly or born upon the earth, but terrene, or of earth; literally, 'of heaped clay' [ choikos (Greek #5517)], and so transitory. Adam means red earth.

The Lord. So C. Omitted in 'Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, opposed to "earthy." From heaven (John 3:13; John 3:31) - heavenly and everlasting. Humanity in Christ is generic. In Him man appears in his true ideal, as God originally designed him. Christ is the representative man, the federal head of redeemed man.


Verse 48

As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

As is the earthy - namely, Adam.

They also that are earthy - all Adam's posterity in their natural state (John 3:6-7).

The heavenly - Christ.

They also that are heavenly - His people in their regenerate state (Philippians 3:20-21). As the former precedes the latter state, so the natural bodies, precede the spiritual.


Verse 49

And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

As , [ kathoos (Greek #2531)] - 'even as' (see Genesis 5:3).

We shall also bear - wear as a garment. So B. 'Aleph (') A C Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'let us also bear' [ foresomen (Greek #5409)]. It implies the divine appointment (cf. "must," 1 Corinthians 15:53), and faith assenting to it. An exhortation, yet implying a promise (Romans 8:29). The conformity to the image of the heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and souls (Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).


Verse 50

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Now this I say - I concede this much to your objections against the earthly bodies rising again (see notes, 1 Corinthians 15:37; 1 Corinthians 15:39).

Flesh and blood - of the same mortal, corruptible, sin-tainted nature as our (1 Corinthians 15:39, note, 1 Corinthians 15:44) animal-souled bodies.

Cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore the believer acquiesces gladly in the sentence which appoints the death of the present body as the preliminary to the resurrection-body of glory. Hence, he "dies daily" to the flesh, as preliminary to his regeneration here and hereafter (John 3:6; Galatians 2:20). As being born of the flesh constitutes a child of Adam, so being born of the Spirit, a child of God.

Cannot - not merely is the change of body possible, but necessary. The resurrection-body will be still a body, though spiritual, substantially retaining personal identity (note, 1 Corinthians 15:39), even as the glorified soul hereafter will be identical with the regenerated soul here.

The kingdom of God - which is not animal, but spiritual. Corruption doth not inherit, though it is the way to incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:36; 1 Corinthians 15:52-53).


Verse 51

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

Behold - calling attention to the "mystery" heretofore hidden in God's purposes, but now revealed.

You - emphatic, 'I tell (namely, by the word of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:15) YOU [ humin (Greek #5213) legoo (Greek #3004)], Who think you have so much knowledge, "a mystery" (cf. Romans 11:25) which your reason could never have discovered. 'Aleph (') C G g, Origen, 2,552 b 100: Greek manuscripts Didymus, in Jerome, and Acacius read, 'We shall all sleep, but we shall not all be changed'-plainly a corrupt reading, inconsistent with 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and with the argument here, which is, that a change is necessary (1 Corinthians 15:53); Fear not death, as if these found living at Christ's coming were to be better off. Nay, they too must undergo the great "change." The English version is supported by B, Greek manuscripts in Jerome, Origen 1,589 f, Syriac and Coptic versions. The Greek is, literally, 'We all shall not sleep, but,' etc. The putting off of the corruptible body for an incorruptible by an instantaneous change (like the beautiful butterfly bursting from its larva-envelope into the sunlight) will, in the case of "the quick," be equivalent to death, appointed to all men (Hebrews 9:27). Of this Enoch, and Elijah are types. The "we" implies that Christians in that age and every successive age since were designed to stand waiting, as if Christ might come in their time, and they be found among "the quick."


Verse 52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The last trump - at the sounding of the trumpet on the last day (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Or, the Spirit hints that the other trumpets mentioned subsequently in the Apocalypse shall precede, and that this shall be the last (cf. Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14). As the law was given with the sound of a trumpet, so the final Judgment according to the law (Hebrews 12:19 : cf. Exodus 19:16). As the Lord ascended "with the sound of a trumpet" (Psalms 47:5), so He shall descend (Revelation 11:15). The trumpet convoked the people on solemn feasts, especially on the first of the seventh month (the type of the completion of time: seven indicating perfection): on the tenth was the atonement, and on the fifteenth the feast of tabernacles, commemorative of completed salvation out of spiritual Egypt (cf. Psalms 50:1-7; Zechariah 14:18-19). Compare, His calling Lazarus from the grave "with a loud voice," John 11:43, with John 5:23; John 5:28.

The trumpet shall sound, and - immediately, in consequence.


Verse 53

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

This - pointing to his own and their body.

Put on - as a garment (2 Corinthians 5:2-3).

Immortality - athanasia (Greek #110). Here only, besides 1 Timothy 6:16, the word "immortality" is found (note, 1 Corinthians 15:19). The immortality of the soul, distinct from the body, is a notion derived from pagan philosophers. Scripture does not contemplate the anomalous state brought by death as the consummation to be looked for (2 Corinthians 5:4), but the resurrection.


Verse 54

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Then - not before. Death has as yet a sting even to the believer, in that his body is under its power until the resurrection. But then the sting and power of death shall cease forever.

Death is swallowed up in victory. Hebrew, Isaiah 25:8, 'He (Yahweh) will swallow up death in victory' - i:e., forever, in Hebrew idiom (Jeremiah 3:5). Christ will swallow it up so victoriously that it shall never regain its power (cf. Hosea 6:2; 2 Corinthians 5:4; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:4).


Verse 55

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

From Hosea 13:14 substantially, but freely quoted by the warrant of the Spirit. The Hebrew may be translated, 'O death, where are thy plagues? where, O hades, is thy destruction?' The Septuagint, 'Where is thy victory [ dikee (Greek #1349)] (literally, in a lawsuit), O death? where is thy sting, O hades?' "Sting," the cause, answers to the Hebrew, 'plagues,' the effect. Appropriate as to the old serpent (Genesis 3:1-24; Numbers 21:6). Thou who hast stung with plagues others, shalt be stung thyself. "Victory" answers to the Hebrew, 'destruction.' Compare Isaiah 25:7, "destroy ... veil ... over all nations" - namely, victoriously destroy it-and to "in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54), which he triumphantly repeats. The "where" implies their past victorious destroying power and sting, now gone forever; obtained through Satan's triumph over man in Eden, which enlisted God's law on Satan's side against man (Romans 5:12; Romans 5:17; Romans 5:21). The souls in Hades being freed out of it by the resurrection, death's sting and victory are gone. For "O grave" (so C, literally, Hades; 'Aleph (') B Delta G f g, Vulgate, Irenaeus, Cyprian) read "O death," the second time.


Verse 56

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

If there were no sin, there would be no death. Man's transgression of the law gives death its lawful power.

Strength of sin is the law. Without the law, sin is not discerned or imputed (Romans 3:20; Romans 4:15; Romans 5:13). The law aggravates sin by making its contrariety to God's will apparent. Christ's people are no longer "under the law" (Romans 6:14).


Verse 57

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

To God. The victory was in no way due to ourselves (Psalms 98:1).

Giveth - a present certainty.

The victory - which death and Hades sought, but which, notwithstanding the opposition of them, the law, and sin, we have gained. The repetition (1 Corinthians 15:54-55) is appropriate to a heart full of the triumph.


Verse 58

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Beloved. Sound doctrine kindles Christian love. Doubters of the resurrection have no motive to zeal in the Lord's work.

Steadfast - not turning aside from the faith of yourselves.

Unmoveable - not turned aside by others (1 Corinthians 15:12; Colossians 1:23).

The work of the Lord - the promotion of Christ's kingdom (Philippians 2:30).

Not in vain - as deniers of the resurrection would make it (1 Corinthians 15:14; 1 Corinthians 15:17).

In the Lord - applying to the whole sentence and its clauses Ye, being in the Lord by faith, know that your labour in the Lord (i:e., according to His will) is not to be without its reward in the Lord (through His merits and according to His gracious appointment).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-15.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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