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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
1 Corinthians 15



Other Authors
Verse 1

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

The gospel which I preached unto you (το ευαγγελιον ο ευηγγελισαμην υμινto euaggelion ho euēggelisamēn humin). Cognate accusative, “the gospel which I gospelized unto you.” Note augment η after ευeu̇ like compound verb with preposition. Note repetition of relative (ο εν ωι δι ουhoclass="normal greek">τινι en hōiκαιdi hou and tini like relative) without kai (and), asyndeton.

Verse 2

In what words I preached it unto you (τινι λογοι ευηγγελισαμην υμινtini logoi euēggelisamēn humin). Almost certainly τιςtis (τινι λογοιtini logoi locative or instrumental, in or with) here is used like the relative οςhos as is common in papyri (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 93f.; Robertson, Grammar, p. 737f.). Even so it is not clear whether the clause depends on γνωριζωgnōrizō like the other relatives, but most likely so.

If we hold it fast (ει κατεχετεei katechete). Condition of first class. Paul assumes that they are holding it fast.

Except ye believed in vain (εκτος ει μη εικηι επιστευσατεektos ei mē eikēi episteusate). For εκτος ει μηektos ei mē see note on 1 Corinthians 14:5. Condition of first class, unless in fact ye did believe to no purpose (εικηιeikēi 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 πρωτοιςen prōtois). Among first things. In primis. Not to time, but to importance.

Which I also received (ο και παρελαβονho kai parelabon). Direct revelation claimed as about the institution of the Lord‘s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23) and same verbs used (παρεδωκα παρελαβονparedōkaαπετανενparelabon). Four items given by Paul in explaining “the gospel” which Paul preached. Stanley calls it (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, εταπηapethanen was buried, εγηγερταιetaphē hath been raised, ωπτηegēgertai appeared, Χριστος απετανενōphthē).

Christ died (υπερ των αμαρτιων ημωνChristos apethanen). Historical fact and crucial event.

For our sins (υπερhuper tōn hamartiōn hēmōn). περιHuper means literally over, in behalf, even instead of (Galatians 3:13), where used of persons. But here much in the sense of περι αμαρτιων υπερ αδικωνperi (Galatians 1:14) as is common in Koiné. In 1 Peter 3:18 we have κατα τας γραπαςperi hamartiōnclass="translit"> huper adikōn

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

Verse 4

And that he was buried (και οτι εταπηkai hoti etaphē). Note οτιhoti repeated before each of the four verbs as a separate item. Second aorist passive indicative of ταπτωthaptō old verb, to bury. This item is an important detail as the Gospels show.

And that he hath been raised (και οτι εγηγερταιkai hoti egēgertai). Perfect passive indicative, not ηγερτηēgerthē 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 (τηι ημεραι τηι τριτηιtēi hēmerāi tēi tritēi). 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 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 (και οτι ωπτη Κηπαιkai hoti ōphthē Kēphāi). First aorist passive indicative of the defective verb οραωhoraō to see. Paul means not a mere “vision,” but actual appearance. John uses επανερωτηephanerōthē (John 21:14) from πανεροωphaneroō to make manifest, of Christ‘s appearance to the seven by the Sea of Galilee. Peter was listed first (πρωτοςprōtos) 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 Revelation-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 (ειταeita), then (επειταepeita), then (επειταepeita), then (ειταeita), last of all (εσχατον παντωνeschaton pantōn).

To the twelve (τοις δωδεκαtois dōdeka). 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 αδελποις επαπαχepanō pentakosiois adelphois ephapax). ΕπανωEpanō 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 (οι πλειουςhoi pleious) 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 (ΙακωβωιIakōbōi). 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 πασινtois apostolois pasin). The Ascension of Christ from Olivet.

Verse 8

As unto one born out of due time (ωσπερει τωι εκτρωματιhōsperei tōi ektrōmati). 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 τιτρωσκωtitrōskō means to wound and εκek is out. Paul means that the appearance to him came after Jesus had ascended to heaven.

Verse 9

The least (ο ελαχιστοςho elachistos). True superlative, not elative. Explanation of the strong word εκτρωμαektrōma just used. See note on Ephesians 3:8 where he calls himself “less than the least of all saints” and 1 Timothy 1:15 the “chief” (πρωτοςprōtos) 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 (εδιωχα την εκκλησιαν του τεουediōxa tēn ekklēsian tou theou). 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 ειμιho eimi). Not, who (οςhos), but what (οho), neuter singular. His actual character and attainments. All “by the grace of God” (χαριτι τεουchariti theou).

I laboured more abundantly than they all (περισσοτερον αυτων παντων εκοπιασαperissoteron autōn pantōn ekopiasa). 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 και ουτως επιστευσατεhoutōs kērussomenkai houtōs episteusate). 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 (κηρυσσεταιkērussetai). Personal use of the verb, Christ is preached.

How say some among you? (πως λεγουσιν εν υμιν τινεσpōs legousin en humin tineṡ). The question springs naturally from the proof of the fact of the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-11) and the continual preaching which Paul here assumes by condition of the first class (εικηρυσσεταιei̇̇kērussetai). 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 εγηγερταιoude Christos egēgertai). He turns the argument round with tremendous force. But it is fair.

Verse 14

Vain (κενονkenon). 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 (πσευδομαρτυρες του τεουpseudomartures tou theou). Late word, but πσευδομαρτυρεωpseudomartureō to bear false witness, old and common. The genitive (του τεουtou theou) can be either subjective (in God‘s service) or objective (concerning God). Either makes good sense.

Because we witnessed of God (οτι εμαρτυρησαμεν κατα του τεουhoti emarturēsamen kata tou theou). Vulgate has adversus Deum. This is the more natural way to take καταkata and genitive, against God not as equal to περιperi (concerning). He would indeed make God play false in that case, if so be that the dead are not raised (ειπερ αρα νεκροι ουκ εγειρονταιeiper ara nekroi ouk egeirontai). Condition of first class, assumed as true. Note both περper intensive particle indeed and αραara inferential particle therefore.

Verse 16

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

Verse 17

Vain (ματαιαmataia). Old word from adverb ματηνmatēn (Matthew 15:9), devoid of truth, a lie. Stronger word than κενονkenon in 1 Corinthians 15:14.

Ye are yet in your sins (ετι εστε εν ταις αμαρτιαις υμωνeti este en tais hamartiais humōn). 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 (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Verse 18

Then also (αρα καιara kai). Inevitable inference.

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

Verse 19

We have hoped (ηλπικοτες εσμενēlpikotes esmen). Periphrastic perfect active indicative. Hope limited to this life even if “in Christ.”

Only (μονονmonon) qualifies the whole clause.

Most pitiable (ελεεινοτεροιeleeinoteroi). Comparative form, not superlative, of old adjective ελεεινοςeleeinos 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 (νυνι δεnuni de). Emphatic form of νυνnun with ι̇i 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 (απαρχηaparchē). Old word from απαρχομαιaparchomai 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 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 κεκοιμημενωνtōn kekoimēmenōn). Perfect middle participle as in Matthew 27:52 which see. Beautiful picture of death from which word (κοιμαομαιkoimaomai) comes our χεμετερψcemetery f0).

Verse 21

By man also (δαι δι αντρωπουdai di' anthrōpou). 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 (ζωοποιητησονταιzōopoiēthēsontai). First future passive indicative of ζωοποιεωzōopoieō late verb (Aristotle) to give life, to restore to life as here. In 1 Corinthians 15:36 ζωοποιειταιzōopoieitai 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 παντεςpantes 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 Romans 5:19 about “the many.”

Verse 23

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

At his coming (εν τηι παρουσιαιen tēi parousiāi). The word παρουσιαparousia 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 τελοςeita to telos). No verb γινεταιginetai 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 παραδιδωιhotan paradidōi). Present active subjunctive (not optative) of παραδιδωμιparadidōmi with οτανhotan whenever, and so quite indefinite and uncertain as to time. Present subjunctive rather than aorist παραδωιparadōi because it pictures a future proceeding.

To God, even the Father (τωι τεωι και πατριtōi theōi kai patri). Better, “to the God and Father” or to “His God and Father.” The Kingdom belongs to the Father.

When he shall have abolished (οταν καταργησηιhotan katargēsēi). First aorist active subjunctive with οτανhotan indefinite future time. Simply, “whenever he shall abolish,” no use in making it future perfect, merely aorist subjunctive. On καταργεωkatargeō see note on 1 Corinthians 6:13; note on 1 Corinthians 13:8; 1 Corinthians 13:10; noteon 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Rule (αρχηνarchēn), authority (εχουσιανexousian), power (δυναμινdunamin). 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 (αχρι ου τηιachri hou thēi). Second aorist active subjunctive of τιτημιtithēmi “till he put” (no sense in saying “hath put,” merely effective aorist tense for climax. Αχρι ̔οὐ μεχρι ̔οὐ εως ̔οὐAchri ‛hou'mechri ‛hou'heōs ‛hou' all are used for the same idea of indefinite future time.

Verse 26

The last enemy that shall be abolished is death (εσχατος εχτρος καταργειται ο τανατοςeschatos echthros katargeitai ho thanatos). 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 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 (υπεταχενhupetaxen). First aorist active of υποτασσωhupotassō to subject. Supply God (τεοςtheos) as subject (Psalm 8:7). See Hebrews 2:5-9 for similar use. Cf. Psalm 8:1-9.

But when he saith (οταν δε ειπηιhotan de eipēi). 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 ειπηιeipēi (second aorist active subjunctive) as a futurum exactum, merely “whenever he shall say.”

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

It is evident that (δηλον οτιdēlon hoti). Supply εστινestin (is) before οτιhoti

He is excepted who did subject (εκτος του υποταχαντοςektos tou hupotaxantos). “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 υποταγηι τα πανταhotan de hupotagēi ta panta). Second aorist passive subjunctive of υποτασσωhupotassō 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 ηι ο τεος παντα εν πασινhina ēi ho theos panta en pasin). 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 (επειepei). Otherwise, if not true. On this use of επειepei with ellipsis see note on 1 Corinthians 5:10; note on 1 Corinthians 7:14.

Which are baptized for the dead (οι βαπτιζομενοι υπερ των νεκρωνhoi baptizomenoi huper tōn nekrōn). 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 (υπερhuper in sense of περιperi 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 1 Corinthians 15:30).

At all (ολωςholōs). See note on 1 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 30

Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? (τι και ημεις κινδυνευομεν πασαν ωρανti kai hēmeis kinduneuomen pasan hōraṅ). We also as well as those who receive baptism which symbolizes death. Old verb from κινδυνοςkindunos (peril, danger), in N.T. only here and Luke 8:23. Paul‘s Epistles and Acts (especially chapter Acts 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 ωρανpasan hōran) naturally means all through every hour (extension).

Verse 31

I protest by that glorying in you (νη την υμετεραν καυχησινnē tēn humeteran kauchēsin). No word for “I protest.” Paul takes solemn oath by the use of νηnē (common in Attic) with the accusative. Only here in N.T., but in lxx (Genesis 42:15f.). 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 καυχησιςkauchēsis see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:19. The possessive pronoun (υμετερανhumeteran) is objective as εμηνemēn in 1 Corinthians 11:24.

I die daily (κατ ημεραν αποτνησκωkath' hēmeran apothnēskō). 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 αντρωπονkata anthrōpon). Like men, for applause, money, etc. (1 Corinthians 4:9.; Philemon 3:7).

If I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus (ει ετηριομαχησα εν Επεσωιei ethēriomachēsa en Ephesōi). Late verb from τηριομαχοςthēriomachos 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 τηριομαχοςthēriomachos 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? (τι μοι το οπελοσti moi to opheloṡ). What the profit to me?

Let us eat and drink (παγωμεν και πιωμενphagōmen kai piōmen). Volitive second aorist subjunctives of εστιωesthiō and πινωpinō 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 πλαναστεmē planāsthe). Do not be led astray (πλαναωplanaō) by such a false philosophy of life.

Evil company (ομιλιαι κακαιhomiliai kakai). Evil companionships. Old word, ομιλιαhomilia from ομιλοςhomilos (a crowd, gang, bunch). Only here in N.T. Good manners (ητηēthē). Old word (kin to ετοςethos) 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 (εκνηπσατε δικαιωςeknēpsate dikaiōs). Wake up as if from drunkenness. ΕκνηπωEknēphō only here in N.T. sin not (μη αμαρτανετεmē hamartanete). Stop sinning.

No knowledge of God (αγνωσιαν τεουagnōsian theou). 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 (εντροπηνentropēn turning in on oneself). See note on 1 Corinthians 6:5 for εντροπηentropē f0).

Verse 35

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

How (πωςpōs). 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 (1 Corinthians 15:36.).

With what manner of body (ποιωι σωματιpoiōi sōmati). 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 38-54) and by analogy of nature (Cf. Butler‘s famous Analogy). It is a spiritual, not a natural, body that is raised. ΣωμαSōma here is an organism.

Flesh (σαρχsarx) is the σωμαsōma for the natural man, but there is spiritual (πνευματικονpneumatikon) σωμαsōma for the resurrection.

Verse 36

Thou foolish one (απρωνaphrōn). Old word (αa privative, πρηνphrēn), 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 συsu (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 αποτανηιean mē apothanēi). 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 γενησομενονou to sōma to genēsomenon). Articular future participle of γινομαιginomai literally, “not the body that will become.” The new body (σωμαsōma) is not yet in existence, but only the seed (κοκκοςkokkos grain, old word, as in Matthew 13:31).

It may chance (ει τυχοιei tuchoi). 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 σωμαidion sōma). Even under the microscope the life cells or germ plasm may seem almost identical, but the plant is quite distinct. On σπερμαsperma seed, old word from σπειρωspeirō to sow, see Matthew 13:24.

Verse 39

The same flesh (η αυτη σαρχhē autē sarx). 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 (κτηνωνktēnōn). Old word, from κταομαιktaomai to possess, and so property. See note on Luke 10:34.

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

Verse 40

Celestial (επουρανιαepourania). Old word, from επιepi upon, ουρανοςouranos heaven, existing in heaven. Paul now rises higher in the range of his argument, above the merely terrestrial (επιγειαepigeia upon earth, επι γεepiετερα μενge) 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 δεhetera men) - is another (hetera de). Antithesis that admits glory for bodies on earth and bodies in the heavens. Experience does not argue against a glory for the spiritual body (Philemon 3:21).

Verse 41

For one star differeth from another star in glory (αστηρ γαρ αστερος διαπερει εν δοχηιastēr gar asteros diapherei en doxēi). A beautiful illustration of Paul‘s point. ΑστεροςAsteros is the ablative case after διαπερειdiapherei (old verb διαπερωdiapherō Latin differo, our differ, bear apart). On αστηρastēr see Matthew 2:7 and on αστρονastron see Luke 21:25. Stars differ in magnitude and brilliancy. The telescope has added more force to Paul‘s argument.

In glory (εν δοχηιen doxēi). Old word from δοκεωdokeō 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 και η αναστασις των νεκρωνhoutōs kai hē anastasis tōn nekrōn). 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 (σπειρεταιspeiretai). In death, like the seed (1 Corinthians 15:37).

In incorruption (εν απταρσιαιen aphtharsiāi). Late word from αa privative and πτειρωphtheirō 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 αστενειαιen astheneiāi). Lack of strength as shown in the victory of death.

In power (εν δυναμειen dunamei). Death can never conquer this new body, “conformed to the body of His glory” (Philemon 3:21).

Verse 44

A natural body (σωμα πσυχικονsōma psuchikon). See note on 1 Corinthians 2:14 for this word, a difficult one to translate since πσυχηpsuchē 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 πσυχηpsuchē either as soul or life. The same difficulty exists as to a spiritual body (σωμα πνευματικονsōma pneumatikon). The resurrection body is not wholly πνευμαpneuma Caution is needed here in filling out details concerning the πσυχηpsuchē and the πνευμαpneuma 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 (Philemon 3:21). The force of the argument remains unimpaired though we cannot follow fully into the thought beyond us.

If there is (ει εστινei estin). “If there exists” (εστινestin means this with accent on first syllable), a condition of first class assumed as true.

There is also (εστιν καιestin kai). There exists also.

Verse 45

Became a living soul (εγενετο εις πσυχην ζωσανegeneto eis psuchēn zōsan). Hebraistic use of ειςeis in predicate from lxx. God breathed a soul (πσυχηpsuchē) into “the first man.”

The last Adam became a life-giving spirit (ο εσχατος Αδαμ εις πνευμα ζωοποιουνho eschatos Adam eis pneuma zōopoioun). Supply εγενετοegeneto (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 πσυχικονall' ou prōton to pneumatikonalla to psuchikon). Literally, “But not first the spiritual, but the natural.” This is the law of growth always.

Verse 47

Earthly (χοκοςcho). Late rare word, from χουςchous dust.

The second man from heaven (ο δευτερος αντρωπος εχ ουρανουho deuteros anthrōpos ex ouranou). Christ had a human (πσυχικονpsuchikon) 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 χοικοςhoios ho choikos). Masculine gender because of αντρωποςanthrōpos and correlative pronouns (οιοσ τοιουτοιhoiosχοκοιtoioutoi) of character or quality. All men of dust (ο χοκοςcho) correspond to “the man of dust” (οιος ο επουρανιοςho cho), the first Adam.

As is the heavenly (hoios ho epouranios). Christ in his ascended state (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 2:20; Philemon 3:20.).

Verse 49

We shall also bear (πορεσομεν καιphoresomen kai). Old MSS. (so Westcott and Hort) read πορεσωμεν καιphoresōmen kai 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 περωpherō f0).

Verse 50

Cannot inherit (κληρονομησαι ου δυνανταιklēronomēsai ou dunantai). 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 (μυστηριονmustērion). 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 κοιμητησομεταpantes ou koimēthēsometha). Future passive indicative of κοιμαομαιkoimaomai 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 αλλαγησομεταpantes de allagēsometha). Second future passive indicative of αλλασσωallassō 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 ατομωιen atomōi). Old word, from αa privative and τεμνωtemnō 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 ριπηι οπταλμουen ripēi ophthalmou). Old word ριπηripē from ριπτωriptō 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 τηι εσχατηι σαλπιγγιen tēi eschatēi salpiggi). Symbolical, of course. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16; note on Matthew 24:31.

Verse 53

Must put on (δει ενδυσασταιdei endusasthai). Aorist (ingressive) middle infinitive, put on as a garment.

Immortality (ατανασιανathanasian). Old word from ατανατοςathanatos undying, and that from αa privative and τνησκωthnēskō 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 (ενδυσηταιendusētai). First aorist middle subjunctive with οτανhotan whenever, merely indefinite future, no futurum exactum, merely meaning, “whenever shall put on,” not “shall have put on.”

Is swallowed up (κατεποτηkatepothē). First aorist passive indicative of καταπινωkatapinō old verb to drink down, swallow down. Perfective use of καταkatȧ where we say “up,” “swallow up.” Timeless use of the aorist tense. Paul changes the active voice κατεπιενkatepien 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 (νικοςnikos). Late form of νικηnikē

O death (τανατεthanate). 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 κεντρονsou to kentron). Old word from κεντρεωkentreō 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 αμαρτιαςhē dunamis tēs hamartias). See Romans 4:15; Romans 5:20; Romans 6:14; Chapter 7; Galatians 2:16; 3:1-5:4 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 (τωι δε τεωι χαριςtōi de theōi charis). Exultant triumph through Christ over sin and death as in Romans 7:25.

Verse 58

Be ye steadfast, unmovable (εδραιοι γινεστε αμετακινητοιhedraioi ginestheεργονametakinētoi). “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 (κοποςergon), labour (kopos 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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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