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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians 15

 

 

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Verse 1-2

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

I. "I declare unto you"—

I.would recall to your remembrance—"the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received." There is an affecting allusion here to past times. There is a touch of tenderness, as the Apostle delicately recalls his own early ministry among the Corinthians and their acceptance of it. There are occasions in Christian experience when such a retrospect may be most seasonable and profitable, when it may be useful to remind Christians of the sort of welcome they were accustomed to give the gospel in days gone by. Surely it is good for us, when our confidence and affection are beginning to fail, when we are tempted to throw the blame of the failure on the gospel as preached to us in the old fashion, and to fancy that it might tell on us more in a new dress, to go back to the old time, and recall our early reception of it in the days of our soul's spiritual birth, our life's morning march when our bosom was young.

II. "I declare unto you the gospel,... wherein ye stand"—or have got a standing. It commanded your assent and consent once, your warm embrace and cordial acceptance. And well it might do so; you might well be willing to receive it as you did. For in it you have now got a position which you never otherwise could reach—a position of secure, stable, settled righteousness and peace.

III. By the gospel also "ye are saved." This gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. All the elements of salvation are provided for us and secured to us in this gospel—free forgiveness, complete acceptance in the sight of God, a sure standing in His favour, a new principle of holy loyalty. Surely, then, it is not a gospel to be lightly abandoned, or superseded, or changed!

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 2.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:1, 1 Corinthians 15:2.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 31.



Verses 1-4

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Paul's Gospel.

I. We have here Paul's gospel in its substance. "How that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures." (1) The great peculiarity, and the great blessedness and sign of the universal adaptation of Christianity, is, that it tells the story of things that happened on this green solid earth of ours. (2) Paul's gospel fastened, as its central fact, on the death and accompanying burial, and the consequent resurrection, of Jesus Christ. There is the vital centre of the gospel.

II. Note what we learn here of Paul's gospel in its power. He specifies two of its mighty influences upon men—"wherein ye stand," "by which also ye are saved."

III. Note what our text tells us of Paul's gospel in its conditions. (1) There must be a solid faith, not a faith which is lightly and without due cause taken up. (2) The other condition is that continuous grasp of the truth which makes the essence of the gospel. It is whilst you believe that the gospel is saving you.

A. Maclaren, Christian Commonwealth, May 27th, 1886.

References: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.—C. Kingsley, National Sermons, p. 285. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.—Homilist, vol. vi., p. 190. 1 Corinthians 15:2.—J. Edmunds, Sixty Sermons, p. 335. 1 Corinthians 15:3.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 261; W. J. Knox-Little, The Mystery of Sorrow, p. 1. 1 Corinthians 15:3, 1 Corinthians 15:4.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 105.


Verses 3-11

1 Corinthians 15:3-11

I. The gospel which Paul preached was very simple. (1) The articles of his creed were few and plain. "Christ died; He was buried; He rose again." (2) He delivered them "first of all." They were among the first things of which he spoke. He put them in the van and forefront of all his teaching. (3) He delivered them as that which he also received. They constituted his message and his mission, both of which came to him directly from the Lord.

II. Having described the gospel which he was accustomed to preach at Corinth, Paul indicates the character in which he preached it. He preached it as an apostle, as one who had actually seen the risen Lord. For it was their having actually seen the Lord after His resurrection that qualified the apostles for declaring that doctrine of the atonement which depends on the truth of it. Hence, Paul reminds the Corinthians how, in delivering to them that which he received concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, it was his practice to appeal to the testimony of the original apostles. It was his practice also to associate himself with them, as competent to bear the same testimony that they bore. He was consequently authorised to preach the same gospel that they preached, and to preach it in the same character in which they preached it—that of an eyewitness of the resurrection of Christ.

III. In what we testify and in what we teach we are all at one. This is the last consideration which Paul urges on behalf of the old doctrine, which some were for improving upon by their innovations. It has, he argues, this great recommendation, that, in declaring it, and in bearing witness to the great fact on which it rests, the apostles of the Lord are united and unanimous. "So we preach, and so ye believed."

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 13.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:5-8.—J. N. Norton, The King's Ferry Boat, p. 255. 1 Corinthians 15:6.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 191; T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. v., p. 1. 1 Corinthians 15:7.—T. Gasquoine, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 20 1 Corinthians 15:9.—G. Dawson, The Authentic Gospel, p. 205; H. Wonnacott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 238.


Verse 10

1 Corinthians 15:10

Sudden Conversions.

The conversion of St. Paul was a wonderful conversion, as our church in one place calls it, because it was so unexpected and (as far as the appearance went) so sudden. It may be useful to mention one or two kinds of what may be called sudden conversions, and to inquire which of them really took place in St. Paul's case.

I. First, some men turn to religion all at once from some sudden impulse of mind, some powerful excitement, or some strong persuasion. Such sudden conversions deceive for a time even the better sort of people.

II. In these cases of sudden conversion, when men change at once either from open sin, or again from the zealous partisanship of a certain creed, to some novel form of faith or worship, their lightmindedness is detected by their frequent changing—their changing again and again, so that one can never be certain of them. This is the test of their unsoundness—having no root in themselves their convictions and earnestness presently wither away. But there is another kind of sudden conversion, in which a man perseveres to the end, consistent in the new form he adopts, and which may be right or wrong, as it happens, but which he cannot be said to recommend or confirm to us by his own change. A man who suddenly professes religion after a profligate life, merely because he is sick of his vices, or tormented by the thought of God's anger, does no honour to religion.

III. When men change their religious opinions really and truly, it is not merely their opinions that they change, but their hearts, and this evidently is not done in a moment—it is a slow work. Nevertheless, though gradual, the change is often not uniform, but proceeds, so to say, by fits and starts, being influenced by external events and other circumstances. There was much in St. Paul's character which was not changed by his conversion, but merely directed to other and higher objects and purified. It was his creed that was changed and his soul by regeneration. That all-pitying, all-holy Eye, which turned in love upon St. Peter when he denied Christ and thereby roused him to repentance, looked on St. Paul also while he persecuted Him and wrought in him the sudden conversion.

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. viii., p. 217. (See also Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. v., p. 307.)


References: 1 Corinthians 15:10.—Beecher, Sermons, vol. ii., p. 59; H. J. Wilmot Buxton, The Life of Duty, vol. ii., p. 94; A. Blomfield, Church of England Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 53; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ix., p. 25; W. Page, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiv., p. 204; J. A. Carr, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 305; A. K. H. B., Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson, 3rd series, p. 216. 1 Corinthians 15:11.—Church of England Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 185. 1 Corinthians 15:12.—H. W. Beecher, Forty-Eight Sermons, vol. i., p. 257.


Verses 12-14

1 Corinthians 15:12-14

The Certainty of the Resurrection Demonstrated.

There are two propositions furnished by the Apostle in our text—each is comprehensive of many truths, and may be divided into more. The first is, that if there be no resurrection from the dead then Christ is not risen—a proposition which assumes or affirms that the resurrection of all men is a necessary consequence of the resurrection of Christ; so that to prove the one is to establish the other. The second, that if Christ be not risen "our preaching is vain and your faith is vain," a proposition which clearly makes Christianity nothing better than a worthless delusion if you take it from the article of the Redeemer's resurrection.

I. Consider first the necessary connection between the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of all men. If Christ rose, He rose not as an individual, but as head of the whole race; His was the resurrection of human nature, and therefore must all men eventually rise. If, on the other hand, the dead are to rise, Christ must have risen; they can rise only through human nature having been redeemed from its own dark image by the resurrection of Christ. All would agree in the statement that if men are not to die then is Adam not dead. They are bound by the same reasoning to assent to the proposition of our text, that if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.

II. Consider the indispensableness of the truth of the resurrection to the worth of Christianity. If Christ be not risen, we shall not rise. But if we shall not rise, our nature is still unredeemed, and the Mediator must have failed in the great work which He came to achieve. If Christ have not secured a resurrection for the body, He cannot have secured eternal happiness for the soul. If He succeeded He threw life into human dust, as well as ransomed the human spirit; if He failed He has as much left the soul in hell as the body in the grave. In pleading for the truth of the resurrection we are pleading for the whole Christian system.

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1502.


Verses 12-17

1 Corinthians 15:12-17

The fact of the resurrection of Christ and the belief in a general resurrection are intimately and inseparably connected. So the Apostle Paul here, as elsewhere, teaches. The resurrection of Christ and the general resurrection are so related to one another that they stand or fall together. If Christ is risen, then the dead rise; if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised.

I. It gives a stern living reality to the statement that Christ died for our sins. He died for our sins in the sense of dying in them, literally and fully in that sense. Our sins were the occasion of His death. They made it necessary. They were the cause of it. He could not have saved us from our sins otherwise than by dying for our sins. Had it been possible for Him to be holden of death, He must have continued to occupy the position and to bear the character of the guilty criminals whom He represented when He died.

II. The burial of Christ, viewed in the light of the Apostle's argument, is a fact of great significance. The agony is past; the curse is borne. But He is not yet freed from His vicarious partnership with us in our sins. His grave is to be with the wicked. The man Christ Jesus, as to His whole manhood, body as well as soul, has not yet got rid of our sins. They are with Him, they are upon Him, He is in them, while He lies, as to His dishonoured body, in that dark and narrow cell.

III. Up to the moment of His resurrection He is bearing our sins. But He is rid of our sins now. And if we are in Him, we are rid of them too, in the very same sense and to the very same extent that He is. There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ. Our faith in Him is not now vain, for He died for our sins and rose again for our justification.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 35.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:13-20.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 215.



Verse 14

1 Corinthians 15:14

This is the Apostle's way of saying, as strongly as he can, that there is no doubt whatever about the fact of our Lord's resurrection from the dead. He tells his readers that Christ is risen, because if He is not risen consequences must follow which he knows they will treat as plainly absurd.

I. "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain." "Our preaching." St. Paul associates himself with the older apostles who had seen the Lord Jesus on earth, and especially after His resurrection. He and they alike had been preaching a message to the world which, if Christ had not really risen from His grave, was vain, literally empty—a mere assortment of words and phrases without a soul—a doctrine which, if it could be called a doctrine, was devoid of all that entitled it to command the attention of human beings. The resurrection was the apostles' reason for preaching at all. The resurrection was the main substance of what they taught. If they were deceived as to its reality, their teaching had neither basis nor substance.

II. But the Apostle adds, "If Christ be not risen, your faith is also vain." (1) The most characteristic state in the habitual thought of a Christian is the conviction that, although utterly unworthy, he is a redeemed man. But if Christ be not risen from His grave, where is the justification of this? The resurrection pours a flood of light upon the passion. If Christ be not raised, there is no proof that He who suffered on Calvary was more than the feeble victim of an enormous wrong. (2) A second ruling feature of a Christian's habitual state of mind is that he is constantly looking forward to another life. But if Christ died and did not burst the fetters of death, it is trifling with the hopes and with the anxieties of the soul of man to tell us that He has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, or that He has opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. (3) A third feature of the state of mind created in the soul by Christian faith is belief in the possible perfection of man. If Christ be not risen, our faith in the perfection of man must perish irretrievably. (4) A last characteristic of the state of mind produced by Christian faith is confidence in the ultimate victory of good over evil. If Christ be not risen, our faith in the ultimate victory of good is only too surely vain. If Christ be risen indeed, then neither is the apostolic teaching vain, nor is the faith of Christians vain; and, therefore, to the end of time, the apostolic message will sway successive generations of men with a conviction of its truth and power, and the faith of Christians will be, as it has been, the strength and the consolation of millions as they pass through the world to the life which is beyond the grave.

H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 1092.

References: 1 Corinthians 15:14.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iii., p. 378; A. Ainger, Sermons in the Temple Church, p. 74; J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 185.


Verse 14-15

1 Corinthians 15:14-15

What Comes of a Dead Christ?

I. The first point the Apostle makes is this: that with the resurrection of Jesus Christ the whole gospel stands or falls.

II. Secondly, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ stands or falls the character of the witnesses.

III. Again, with the resurrection of Jesus Christ stands or falls the faith of the Christian.

IV. Lastly, with the resurrection of Christ stands or falls the heaven of His servants.

A. Maclaren, The Unchanging Christ, p. 136.



Verse 16-17

1 Corinthians 15:16-17

The Resurrection of Christ.

I. When Christ died, all died. His death was not for Himself, but for mankind. And by all being thus subjected to the punishment of sin in Him the sin of the world was taken away. But it remained that the positive results of redemption should be assured to us. He was delivered for our offences, but, in order to our justification, He must be raised again. His death for sin was the voluntary carrying out to the utmost of His assumption of that whole nature which had incurred death as the penalty of sin. But His resurrection was the sign that that penalty was all paid, and He, our representative, discharged.

II. Now, what have been to us, what to our world, the consequences of this resurrection of our Lord? Let us take them, by reversing the negative process of reasoning, in our text. If Christ be raised, the dead are also raised. We have dwelt much on Him as the head of our race. He, the Head, is raised, and is in glory. By this He has become the firstfruits of them that sleep. As truly as the first ears of the ripened grain are not alone, but are a sample of the innumerable multitude which are to follow, so truly our risen Saviour is but what His people shall be. Their bodies, like His body, shall pass into death. Their bodies, unlike His body, shall see corruption. But the mighty power of Him, their Head, abiding in and working in them, shall again bring their bodies, but changed and glorified, up out of the dead of the earth, and repossess them with their spirits, and beautify and invigorate them for a blessed eternity.

III. The great doctrine of the resurrection of the body was ever in old times the mark of the Christian creed. Still, it is to be feared, it remains a stumblingblock even now to some Christian minds. An immortality of the spirit they are prepared to grant, but a rising again of the body seems to them a strange and, indeed, a needless thing. Let us remind such persons that the salvation to be wrought for man by Christ must be as entire as that fall into sin, out of which it is to raise him. In that fall the body became an instrument of iniquity; by that salvation it must become an instrument of holiness. That salvation does not free it from death, the consequence of its inherited and actual sin; but it puts the man into communion with that energising Spirit, which shall quicken the whole man—body, soul, and spirit—into glorious and heavenly life.

IV. Our text draws for us another important inference from Christ's resurrection. "If Christ be raised, our faith is not vain; we are not still in our sins." That empty tomb witnesses that we are justified before God. That stone rolled away declares that our redemption is achieved. Now at length is the victory won for man. Now the kingdoms of this world are wrested out of the hand of the prince of this world, and are becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iv., p. 146.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:17.—W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 381.



Verse 18

1 Corinthians 15:18

Moral Certainty of the True Christian's Resurrection.

I. The Apostle means the words of the text to express what is most shocking and most impossible. If they who had lived all their days in patience and self-denial and love, had done all this for nothing; if they had set their hopes upon a fond dream, purifying their hearts and enkindling their best affections with the thought of Him to whom they were nothing, and who was nothing to them; if the only good men in the world should prove to have been the only foolish ones, the only ones who had lived in vain—then indeed our language and our very nature seem confounded; it would be well with us if we and all around us were but the creatures of a dream.

II. Many persons lessen by their conduct, both for themselves and others, the argument for belief in the resurrection; they so live that when they are gone, it would not seem in any way monstrous to think that they were perished for ever. By "perished" I mean what the word means in the text—that is, were become as though they had never been born, and were vanished into nothing. But conceive of one who, loving God in Christ, has been chastened by His fatherly hand in a long course of severe suffering. Conceive such a one, so young, so suffering, so sanctified, finding in the very last hour no abatement of pain, but a fearful increase of it; yet while they who stand by were most distressed, the faith and love of the sufferer were never clouded, and the trust in Christ and cheerful submission to His will never for a moment shaken. Conceive this; and shall not heaven and earth pass sooner than that one sleeping in Jesus should not also be raised up by the Spirit of Jesus, and presented by Him before the throne of His Father, to live for ever in the fulness of His blessing?

T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 103.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:18.—E. C. Wickham, Church of England Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 308.


Verse 18-19

1 Corinthians 15:18-19

I. "Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." They have perished. This does not mean that upon the supposition made they have ceased to exist. The question of the continued existence of men after death is not raised in the argument What the Apostle has in his view, as to those which had fallen asleep in Christ, is not their perishing in the sense of ceasing to exist either in the body or out of the body, but their perishing in the sense of not being saved, but lost. Was it a lie that these holy men and women grasped in their right hand when they walked so fearlessly through the valley of the shadow of death? And are their eyes now opened in that other world—to the sad and awful truth—that for all their faith in Christ they are yet in their sins; that they believed in One who died, indeed, for their sins, but is not, to this hour, Himself extricated from them?

II. In truth the innovation involves us all, the dead and the living, who have believed on Christ in one common ruin: "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." In this life we have hope in Christ, and there may be pleasure in such hope in Christ while it lasts. But it is a hope which, if there be, as there assuredly is, a hereafter, will be found to be utterly hollow and untrue. For it is the hope, it is the faith of our being saved from our sins. But we are not saved from our sins if Christ be not raised.

But it is not so. Christ is risen from the dead. He who was dead is alive for evermore. Therefore we, as well as our predecessors in the life of faith, have a hope which neither death nor sin can touch.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 48.



Verse 19

1 Corinthians 15:19

What is the exact hope respecting the future that we owe to our risen Lord? Is it the hope that we shall exist for ever? Is our continuous existence hereafter altogether dependent upon faith in communion with the risen Christ? No, this is not what the Apostle meant; our immortality is not a gift of the Redeemer, it is a gift of the Creator; and it is just as much a part of our being as any of the limbs of our body, or as reason, imagination, or any of the natural endowments of our mind.

I. We look forward as reasonable beings to immortality. But to what sort of immortality does this anticipation point? Is it, for instance, (1) the immortality of the race, and does the individual really perish at death? No, it is not this to which we men look forward. A race of beings does not really live apart from the individuals which compose it; only a person, only a feeling, thinking, and resolving centre and seat of life can be properly immortal. (2) Is it, then, an immortality of fame? How many in each generation could hope to share in such an immortality as this? (3) Is it an immortality of good deeds? No; the immortality of our actions is not an immortality which ever can satisfy the heart or the reason of man, since this yearning for immortality is above all things based on a sense of justice.

II. The hope in Christ is the hope of a blessed immortality. This He has won for us by His perfect and sufficient sacrifice on the cross, whereby our sins are blotted out; and His cross and His virtue is proved to us by His resurrection from the dead, that He lives in order that we may live also is the very basis of our hope in Him. Apart from this conviction, Christianity is indeed a dream; the efforts and sacrifices of Christian life are wasted; we are the victims of vain delusion, and we are of all men most miserable.

H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 209.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 562; H. P. Liddon, Easter Sermons, vol. i., p. 1; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 61; J. Fordyce, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 342; H.W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xxii., p. 36; J. G. Rogers, Ibid., vol. xxxvi., p. 59. 1 Corinthians 15:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 445; Ibid., Morning by Morning, p. 131; G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons and Addresses in Marlborough College, p. 126; J. Kennedy, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 369; J. B. Brown, Ibid., vol. viii., p. 347; A. Craig, Ibid., vol. xvi., p. 197; Plain Sermons, vol. vii., p. 118. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:21.—G. Huntington, Sermons for Holy Seasons, p. 99. 1 Corinthians 15:21.—E. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 185. 1 Corinthians 15:21-39.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 223.


Verses 20-23

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

I. The principle upon which the Apostle proceeds is the same when he reasons on the assumption of Christ's resurrection being admitted, as when he argues on the hypothesis of its being denied. That principle is the substantial oneness of Christ and His believing people. Your faith unites you to Christ and identifies you with Him. It commits you to share His fortune. It involves you in His destiny, whatever that may be. Your union with Christ, which would be your destruction if Christ were not risen, now that He is risen is your life and glory. Your union with Christ therefore is the explanation of the connection between His resurrection and yours. You are yourself in Him, and your resurrection, consequently, is also in Him—His resurrection is yours.

II. The two economies, the original and the remedial, the original economy of nature, or a law working death, and the remedial economy of grace, with its resurrection of the dead, have several features in common for those who have experience of both. (1) In both economies there is representation. It is by or through a representative man that death reaches you. It is by or through a representative man that the resurrection of life awaits you. Christ in His resurrection represents you, precisely as Adam, when he incurred death, represented you. (2) In both economies there is union. You are in the man Adam, by whom comes death. You are in the man Christ Jesus, by whom comes the resurrection of the dead. It is as being in Adam by nature that you all die the death which comes by him, and it is as by life in Christ by grace that you shall all be made alive with the life, the resurrection of the dead, which comes by Him. (3) Subordination. "Every man in his own order." Christ is Himself alone the firstfruits. That is His position, His rank, and His order. Most gladly and cheerfully do we concede it to Him.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 63.



Verse 22

1 Corinthians 15:22

The Christian's Life in Christ.

I. "In Christ shall all be made alive." We shall live then, not only as having our souls restored to our bodies, and our souls and bodies living on in the presence of Almighty God; great and unutterable as were this blessedness, there is a higher yet in store, to live on "in Christ." To dwell in God must be by His dwelling in us. He takes us out of our state of nature in which we were, fallen, estranged, in a far country, out of and away from Him, and takes us up into Himself. He cometh to us, and if we will receive Him, He dwelleth in us, and maketh His abode in us. He enlargeth our hearts by His sanctifying Spirit which He giveth us, by the obedience which He enables us to yield, by the acts of faith and love which He strengthens us to do, and then dwelleth in those who are His more largely. By dwelling in us He makes us parts of Himself, so that in the ancient Church they could boldly say, "He deifieth me—that is, He makes me part of Him, of His body, who is God."

II. Whether or no Christ giveth to the faithful soul to feel its own blessedness, or in whatever degree He makes the soul to hunger after Him, and so satisfieth the hungry soul with His own richness, the inward unseen presence of God in the soul is the gift of the gospel. This is its greatest, its one all-containing promise. They who obey the Spirit, who receive the Spirit of God to dwell in them, although in the body, are, St. Paul says, "not in the flesh, but in the Spirit"—they are encompassed, enfolded, enveloped in the Spirit. The Spirit is penetrating the whole man, and so imparting to the whole its own nature. As the iron, when placed in the fire, is no longer dark and heavy-looking and cold, but transparent and glowing and bright and kindled, and gives out light and warmth, and seems of another nature, so the whole soul and body of him who obeyeth the Spirit of God is in a course of change, becoming, as our Lord says, "full of light" and glowing, and on fire with love.

E. B. Pusey, Sermons from Advent to Whitsuntide, vol. i., p. 230.



Verse 24

1 Corinthians 15:24

The Certain End.

It is not possible to rule these words out of life. They are perpetually recurring. You tell of any process, you trace out how it is going to work on from step to step, you. see how cause opens into effect, and then effect, becoming cause, opens into still further effect beyond; but always, by-and-by, your thought comes to a stoppage and a change. The process is exhausted. "Then cometh the end." Your story has to round itself to that.

Let us think of this characteristic of life, and see what it means.

I. We may begin by noting this—which is the most striking thing about the whole matter—the way in which men's desire and men's dread are both called out by this constant coming of the ends of things. Look (1) at man's desire of the end. It is, in the most superficial aspect of it, a part of his dread of monotony. There is something very pathetic, it seems to me, in man's instinctive fear of being wearied with even the most delightful and satisfactory of all the experiences which he meets with in the world. Is it not a sign, one of the many signs, of man's sense that his nature is made for larger worlds than this, and only abides here temporarily and in education for destinies which shall be worthy of its capacities? "I would not live alway" has been a true cry of the human soul. (2) But this is the most superficial aspect of it. Very early in every experience there comes the sense of imperfection and failure in what we have already done, and the wish that it were possible to begin the game again. Already there are some things in life which the soul would fain get out of life. The first sketch has so marred the canvas that the perfect picture seems impossible. In many tones, yet all of them tones of satisfaction, men desire the end. (3) Turn now to the other side, and think of the dread with which men think of the coming of ends in life. There is (a) the sheer force of habit It is the inertia of life. That this should cease to be is shocking and surprising. (b) Very often one shrinks from the announcement of the coming end of the condition in which he is now living, because, when he hears it, he becomes aware how far he is from having yet exhausted the condition in which he is now living. (c) There is the great uncertainty which envelops every experience which is untried.

II. The workman's voice has not to summon out of the east the shadows of the night in which no man can work. God sends it. And, if around the instability of human life is wrapped the great permanence of the life of God, then is there not light upon it all? All satisfaction with the temporariness comes only from its being enfolded and embraced within the eternity of the Eternal.

Phillips Brooks, The Light of the World, p. 401


References: 1 Corinthians 15:24.—H. J. Wilmot Buxton, Waterside Mission Sermons, 2nd series, No. 20. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 384.


Verses 24-28

1 Corinthians 15:24-28

I. There is a remarkable and significant transaction between the Son and the Eternal Father. "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Plainly, the kingdom here means, not the realms or territories over which kingly authority is exercised, but the kingly authority itself. It is not certain dominions that Christ delivers up, but the right of dominion. And the right of dominion then to be delivered up is evidently that which Christ wields, as having all things put under His feet. It is that by which He puts down all rule and all authority and power. It is His mediatorial sovereignty, His prerogative of supremacy and empire, as Messiah the Prince. But how does He deliver it up to God the Father? What does that imply? Does He so deliver it up that it passes from Him, and He ceases to reign? It can scarcely be that, we answer. Christ comes as His Father's delegate and viceroy to the world, invested with full power and absolute authority over the whole province and all within it. The universal power and authority thus conveyed to Him He is commissioned to use, on the one hand, for attaching all who are to be His adherents to Himself, and, on the other hand, for the overthrow of every hostile force. The war is long, the struggle is severe; but at last it is over. The Captain of salvation has gathered round Him the entire number of the people that are to be saved. His delegated authority He has been wielding on their behalf. He needs to wield it no more. In their name, as well as in His own, "He delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father."

II. Christ and His redeemed occupy the earth for ever. He continues to reign over the seed given to Him and purchased by Him. On earth, as elsewhere, God is all in all.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 77.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.—Homilist, 1st series, vol. i., p. 92.



Verse 25

1 Corinthians 15:25

The Quantity and Quality of the Evidence for the Resurrection.

Look:—

I. At the amount of evidence afforded. St. Paul sums it up (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). Can anything be more conclusive, within the limits which, for the very highest reasons, it seemed important to observe? Here was no tremulous expectation, no eager, excited expectation. The Cross had withered all their hopes. Far from watching for a resurrection, the women took spices to embalm Him. Far from being in a state of mind to invent a resurrection to fulfil their hopes, the apostles were much more in a state to regard the real resurrection as an illusion. But the evidence was simply overwhelming. "He showed Himself alive after His passion" by so many infallible proofs that there was no room for the faintest hesitation. They saw, and inevitably believed. And when demonstration to the most capable judges was complete, He was seen of five hundred brethren at once, and then the fact enshrined itself indisputably in human history. We have no means of sifting the evidence in detail and of examining the witnesses. But there were very powerful political and religious bodies who had the opportunity, and who had, moreover, the deepest interest in proving the resurrection to be an imposture. But it offered evidence which assured its acceptance, and planted it firmly in the deepest convictions of mankind.

II. The quality of the evidence is entirely that of disciples—those who knew the Lord after the flesh, and by whom, when the first incredulous surprise was conquered, the truth was eagerly welcomed and joyfully enshrined in their hearts. It is the evidence of those whose sympathies, affections, and hopes disposed them to believe. I attach the greatest importance to the evidence of the Apostle Paul. We can weigh the objections in the balance of the mind of a man who was a master of arguments, who had the widest learning and the keenest discernment, and who tells us what he thought by living and dying the martyr of the Resurrection. Saul of Tarsus, who knew everything about it, became a convert to the truth of the Resurrection; he lived through a long life of matchless trials and sufferings with one simple object—to preach it; and he lifted up his voice to proclaim his faith in it in the moment when that voice was hushed in death.

J. Baldwin Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 347.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 807. 1 Corinthians 15:26.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 721; vol. xxii., No. 1329; R. L. Browne, Sussex Sermons, p. 31; S. Minton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 305. 1 Corinthians 15:26, 1 Corinthians 15:27.—C. W. Furse, Sermons at Richmond, p. 72. 1 Corinthians 15:27.—Preacher's Monthly, vol., ii., p. 254.


Verse 28

1 Corinthians 15:28

Our Relations to Christ in the Future Life.

I. Going forward into the future life, so much appears to be determined, that we shall there know God unalterably and for ever as trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit. The Son, therefore, as discovered in trinity, is of course never to be merged, or passed out of sight, or in such a sense made subject. How, then, shall we understand the Apostle when he testifies that the Son shall be subject or retired from the view? He is speaking plainly of the Son as incarnate, or externalised in the flesh, visible outwardly and in the man form, and known as the Son of Mary. He it is that, after having as a king outwardly regnant put all things under His feet, is in turn to become subject also Himself, that God may be all in all, and the machineries hitherto conspicuous be for ever taken back as before the advent.

II. Trinity then, as Paul conceives, will remain, but the mortal Sonship, the man, will disappear, and be no more visible. And let us not too hastily recoil from this. It may be that we have been promising ourselves a felicity in the future world made up almost wholly of the fact that we shall be with Christ in His humanly personal form, and have used this hope to feed our longings, quite apart from all higher relations to His eternal Sonship. Our relations to Christ in the future life are to be relations to God in Christ and never to the Jesus in Christ. They centre in the triune Deity, and specially in the Eternal Word or Son, who is represented for a time in the person of Jesus. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part will be taken away. Christ will remain because the Eternal Son is in Him, but the Jesus, the human part, will be made subject, or taken away, because all that He could do for us in the revelation of God is done. Back there under that veil is the Son of Mary, the Child of her manger, the Healer that came about on foot, and slept uncovered by the roads and on the mountains, He that was bowed to suffering, He that could be hated and die—all this He is above, as characterised for us by what He was below, nowise exalted above it, but rather by it, for ever. Gone by as the Jesus, also as the Christ under time, He is yet the Eternal Son for ever Christed by His mortal story; so that we behold Him eternalised as our Christ, and hear Him saying as it were out of His humanity, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come." It is as if the Christ we loved were visible in all His dear humanities, though Trinity alone is left.

H. Bushnell, Sermons on Living Subjects, p. 442


References: 1 Corinthians 15:28.—G. Matheson, Moments on the Mount, p. 182. 1 Corinthians 15:29.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. vii., p. 278.


Verses 29-32

1 Corinthians 15:29-32

I. The first and chief puzzle of this passage is in the twenty-ninth verse. What is meant by being baptized for the dead? The meaning which most commends itself at least to the fancy and the heart is the one which, retaining the idea of substitution, makes it not a vicarious representation of the persons of the dead, but as it were the vicarious occupancy of the position which till death they filled. The vacancies left in the ranks of the Christian army when saints and martyrs fall asleep in Jesus are supplied by fresh recruits, eager to be baptized as they were and pledged by baptism to fall as they fell, at the post of duty and danger.

II. The Apostle points to the dangers which always and everywhere beset believers as thus baptized for the dead, and most emphatically describes his own condition as being one not merely of continual exposure to death, but of the continual endurance of death. It is singularly strong language that he uses. Where, he says, if the dead rise not, is that rejoicing of yours which I have, which is my joy in our Lord Jesus Christ? Wherefore, if the dead rise not, should I for so vain a dream of bliss be doomed to die daily?

III. And if, says Paul, your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus and which reconciles me to my dying daily—if that does not move you, what do you say to my actual, outward estate here in Ephesus, whence I am now writing to you? Speaking to you as men are wont to speak to one another of their trials, I tell you that here in Ephesus it has seemed to me as if it were rather with wild beasts than with human beings that I had to contend. Why provoke the resentment of wild beasts at Ephesus, if, after all, there is no resurrection of the dead?

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 91.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:31.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 828; H. J. Wilmot Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 174; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. ix., p. 334. 1 Corinthians 15:32.—Ibid., 3rd series, vol. vii., p. 339; C. S. Robinson, Sermons on Neglected Texts, p. 268 1 Corinthians 15:33.—G. Litting, Thirty Children's Sermons, p. 85; W. Braden, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 52.


Verse 33-34

1 Corinthians 15:33-34

I. We sometimes feel a difficulty in understanding why Paul should be so very earnest in insisting on the resurrection of the body. It seems as if he thought that without that element the belief of immortality might not only fail to exercise a good influence, but might even exercise an evil influence over one who so embraces it. The favourite doctrine of the gnostics that matter is in itself essentially and incurably corrupt, and is the cause of all corruption, compelled them to deny the possibility of a literal bodily resurrection. From this theory of theirs two practical conclusions flowed. It led them to throw the entire blame of whatever evil still adhered to them not on the renewed and risen soul, but on that dead and defiled body which would not let the soul purely and freely live. And worse than that, it led them to argue that the amount of evil, more or less, which might still adhere to them, was really very much matter of indifference. Since being all centred in the body, it would all be got rid of when the body was cast aside. Thus by brief stages their error led to sin. Well might the Apostle write the solemn warning, "Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners"!

II. The Apostle is here thinking of that deeper and wider view which he has been taking as to the bearing of the denial of the resurrection on the entire scheme of the gospel as a provision of life and salvation for the lost and guilty children of men. If Christ is not risen bodily, then all proof is wanting of His emancipation, and ours in Him from the penalty of sin. All proof is wanting of His righteous justification for us and our righteous justification in Him.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 109.



Verse 34

1 Corinthians 15:34

Who then are these Corinthian disciples, that they have not so much as the knowledge of God? Plainly enough our Apostle is not charging them here with ignorance, but with some lack of the Divine illumination which ought, if they are true disciples, to be in them. They certainly know God in the traditional and merely cognitive way.

I. We shall best understand the point assumed in this impeachment if we raise the distinction between knowing God and knowing about God. Doubtless it is much to know about God—about His operations, His works, His plans, His laws, His truth, His perfect attributes, His saving mercies. This kind of knowledge is presupposed in all faith, and constitutes the rational ground of faith, and so far is necessary even to salvation. But true faith itself discovers another and more absolute kind of knowledge—a knowledge of God Himself; immediate, personal knowledge, coming out of no report or statement, or anything called truth, as being taught in language. It is knowing God within, even as we know ourselves.

II. We have every one two kinds of knowledge relating to ourselves. One is what we know mediately about ourselves, through language, and one that which we have immediately as being conscious of ourselves. Under the first we learn who our parents were and what others think of us, what effects the world has on us, what power we have over it, and what is thought to be the science, it may be, of our nature as an intelligent being. Under the second we have a knowledge of ourselves so immediate, that there is no language in it, no thought, no act of judgment or opinion; we simply have a self-feeling that is intuitive and direct. Now, we were made to have first such an immediate knowledge of God as of ourselves, to be conscious of God, only this consciousness of God has been closed up by our sin, and is now set open by our faith; and this exactly is what distinguishes every soul enlightened by the Spirit and born of God.

III. But there is an objection to this mode of conceiving holy experience as implying an immediate discovery of God. What is the use, in this view, some will ask, of a Bible or external revelation? what use of the incarnation itself? Are not these advances on our outward knowledge superseded and made useless when we conceive that God is offered to immediate knowledge and experience? In one view they are, and in another they are not. Does it follow that, because we have an immediate knowledge of heat, we have therefore no use at all for the scientific doctrine of heat, or the laws by which it is expounded? Suppose it is a part of our interest in this article of heat that we be able to generate more of it, or use it differently and with better economy. So far we have a use in knowing about heat, as well as in knowing heat. In the same way it is of immense consequence to know everything possible about God, that we may find out the more perfectly how to know God.

H. Bushnell, Sermons on Living Subjects, p. 114.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:34.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 81. 1 Corinthians 15:35.—Ibid., 3rd series, vol. i., p. 28; W. J. Woods, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 398; W. J. Keay, Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 213.


Verses 35-38

1 Corinthians 15:35-38

I. Death, dissolution, decay, decomposition—whichever may be the body subjected to that process—is not only no obstacle in the way of that body living again, but affords a presumption that if it is to live again at all, it may be to live in a superior condition; it may be to live possessed of a new nature, a new organisation, adapted to the new sphere into which it is to be introduced. In the case of the seed the bare grain is cast into the ground to die, the resurrection is to a new life, to a life altogether new and fresh. The dead seed is quickened into a new life. So if the body is to exist again, it may be under a new law of life. Death is not the destruction, but the quickening of it.

II. The body which you are to receive in the resurrection may differ from that which you have now—very much as what springs out of the ground and presents itself to view in late autumn in the shape of a luxuriant shock of corn, differs from the bare seed dropped into the ploughed earth in spring. The body that now is and the body that is to be are not to be exactly the same.

III. Still, there is real identity. "To every seed his own body." It is to be such a body as God may be pleased to give, but still it is to be its own body. It is to be a body which the individual himself and all who knew him may and must recognise as his own. It may be changed from what it was when the tomb received it—weak, wasted, worn. It may wear the bloom of summer life, instead of the cold bleak deadness of the bare grain. It will not, however, be so changed but that the instinct of conscience will feel it to be the body in which the deeds of this life were done.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 134.


The Analogy of Nature.

This is St. Paul's answer to objections against the resurrection of the body. The objector took his stand upon supposed impossibilities. "How are the dead raised up?" (as if death were extinction) "and with what body do they come?" (as if corruption were annihilation). St. Paul's answer is drawn, not from faith, but from nature. "Death," he says, "is a condition of life. Death does not extinguish the seed; it must die before it can be quickened, and 'thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain.'" The change or corruption of the seed is not annihilation, but the germination of a new form, a more perfect structure, the blade, the stalk, and the ear. Nature refutes your fancied impossibility by her perpetual facts. The resurrection is before your eyes. You believe it already. Nature has her resurrection as well as grace; both are kingdoms of God, and His omnipotence is in both alike. There is a relation of virtue and power, as between seed and fruit; so between the body sown and the body that shall be raised from the dead. We shall consider, not the particular subject of St. Paul's controversy, the resurrection of the body, but the form of his argument, which we are wont to call the analogy of nature. It is of great moment that we should well understand its use; for no argument is so strong within its sphere, and none more fatal if pressed too far. Within its legitimate range it makes nature divine; when pushed beyond it reduces faith to a natural religion. Let us see, then, how far it is good, and when it becomes bad.

I. The argument from analogy is good and unanswerable. (1) First, when it is used, as by St. Paul in this place, to refute objections. It is plainly absurd to argue against revelation, or any specific doctrines of revelation, on the ground of difficulties and supposed impossibilities the like of which may be found already to exist in the acknowledged facts of nature. (2) The argument from analogy may be used to some extent affirmatively also. What was simple refutation becomes a presumptive proof. We may now say, "You cannot deny these facts in nature; you acknowledge that nature is from God; the faith is so far a counterpart of nature, bears the same features, the tokens of one and the same hand: how can you deny that the faith too is from God?" This is not offered as a positive or constructive proof. It is a strong presumption, a high probability, but revelation awaits its own proper evidence. It does but reduce the assailant to his defence, and throws the burden upon the objector.

II. This analogical way of reasoning may be bad and destructive. (1) It would be mere infidelity to take the analogy of nature as the measure or limit of revelation. For this, in fact, has been the normal argument of freethinkers. In truth, as has been said by a great master of analogy, we can be no judges of the wisdom of God in the order we find established in the world; and nothing but the knowledge of another world, to which we might compare it, would give the criterion for such a judgment. Let us, then, while we trace the unity and harmony of all God's works, both in nature and in grace, beware how we limit the manifold fulness of Divine procedure.

H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 152.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:35-38.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 306; Homilist, 1st series, vol. vi., p. 328. 1 Corinthians 15:35-45.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 232. 1 Corinthians 15:36, 1 Corinthians 15:37.—H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiii., p. 241. 1 Corinthians 15:37, 1 Corinthians 15:38.—G. Dawson, The Authentic Gospel, p. 308. 1 Corinthians 15:38.—H. Batchelor, The Incarnation of God, p. 101; C. S. Brooks, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 161; H. J. Wilmot Buxton, The Children's Bread, p. 88.


Verses 39-42

1 Corinthians 15:39-42

Pursuing the line of thought indicated in the previous verses with reference to the question "How are the dead raised up?" the Apostle may be supposed to ask, "Is not the question answered now? If not, there are still three other facts, or analogies founded on facts, which may reconcile you to the idea of the dead rising again, with bodies substantially the same, and yet with such difference as God may see fit to make."

I. Bodies on earth differ from each other as to the kind of flesh they possess. If God can form here, on the earth, so many different sorts of body, all of flesh, but of flesh all but indefinitely and endlessly diversified; how should it be thought a thing incredible that He should provide for His risen saints bodies suited to their new condition?

II. Heavenly bodies differ from earthly. God gives to the multitudinous stars bodies as it hath pleased Him; and can He not find bodies for the saints to be raised up in? Can He not find for them bodies so much better than those they have now, as the flesh of men is better than the flesh of beasts, fishes, birds? Can He not find for them bodies differing from their present ones, as the glory of celestial bodies in the firmament above differs from the glory of terrestrial here below?

III. Among the heavenly bodies themselves there is diversity. The Creator's power for dealing with matter so as to fit it for mind at any stage of advancement is not to be measured merely by the forms and fancies our flesh takes on earth. The heavenly orbs move freely, and among them there is gradation. Matter is capable of indefinite elevation through the several kinds of earthly flesh and the gradations of glory in the heavenly bodies; why may it not rise higher still?

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 147.



Verse 41

1 Corinthians 15:41

This is part of St. Paul's great argument for immortality. The reasoning is quite clear. He speaks of the splendour of heavenly things. He has been claiming man's resurrection on the strength of Christ's resurrection. Christ has risen and entered into His glory; man, because he is one in human nature with Christ, must rise.

I. St. Paul bases the argument for immortality on the richness and splendour of this mortal life. Because this world is so great and beautiful, therefore there must be another greater and still more beautiful. St. Paul makes heaven not a compensation, but a development. His doctrine seems to teach that immortality is not a truth to be distinctly striven for as an end, but a truth which will hold itself around the man who deeply realises the meaning of life, the man who realises living, how identity and variety blend and unite to make the richness and solemnity of living. To quicken identity with variety, to steady variety with identity, is to make a man always keep himself and yet always feel the power of new conditions around him.

II. Consider the consequences of this truth of identity and variety. (1) It will produce self-respect. If you can only know two things—first, that you are a different creature from any that the world has ever seen since Adam, and, secondly, that you are a branch of the tree of life from which sprang Isaiah and St. John—there must come self-respect from both these truths when they are really wrought and kneaded into the substance of the human nature. "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars." There is the ground of self-respect. (2) Then see how inevitably respect for others is bound up in such self-respect as this. The absorbing character of great enthusiasm is a matter of the commonest observation. He who cares very earnestly for anything is apt to care very little for other things, and to be indignant that other people do not care as much as he does for the thing he cares for. But surely it must be possible for men to be profoundly devoted to their own work and yet profoundly thankful for the work which other men are doing, work which they cannot do, and whose details and methods it is not in their nature to understand! "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." That every thing should reach its best, that every man should do his best in his own place, in his own line, that every star should shine brightly in its own sphere, comes to be the wish and prayer and purpose of my life. (3) To Paul this truth was a proof of immortality. We want the life of earth now, the life of heaven by-and-by, and all clear with its own glory, and our humanity capable of them both, capable of sharp timely duty here and now, capable also of the supernal, transcendal splendour of the invisible world when the time shall come: the glory of the star first, the glory of the sun at last.

Phillips Brooks, The Light of the World, p. 63.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:41, 1 Corinthians 15:42.—J. H. Thom, Laws of Life after the Mind of Christ, 2nd series, p. 284.



Verses 42-44

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

I. This body of ours is a body that, whenever and however sown, is sown in corruption, in dishonour, and in weakness. These are the three capital faults of our present mortal bodies. And the three faults are intimately connected and mutually related. They grow into one another; they flow from one another; first corruption, then dishonour, lastly weakness. (1) Corruption is liability to dissolution and decay. The body that is to be sown in corruption is a body capable, or susceptible, of decomposition. It may be broken up. And when it is broken up, its fragments, or fragmentary remains, may be resolved into the constituent elements, or component particles, of which they consist. (2) But dishonour also belongs to what is sown: to the bare grain, to the mortal frame. Under the rich and rare clothing of joyous health, of radiant and smiling bloom, we watch the slow and secret gnawing of the insidious element of corruption that is too surely to undermine it all. The honour that is so perishable is scarcely honour at all. (3) As corruptibility implies dishonour, so it occasions, or causes, weakness. It paralyses physical strength. It paralyses both strength of endurance and strength for action and performance.

II. None of these defects will be found in the resurrection body. That body is incorruptible, indestructible, a meet companion for the immaterial and immortal soul. It is to be no clog or restraint, through its impotency, on the free soul; but apt and able, as its minister, strong to do its pleasure.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 159.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:43.—F. Basset, Church of England Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 238.



Verse 44

1 Corinthians 15:44

We dare not even imagine the full meaning of this phrase—a spiritual body. But there are three ideas with regard to it which we may venture to indicate. We hint at three of its probable characteristics.

I. In the first place, it takes the impress or stamp of the higher spiritual principle of Divine intelligence, or intelligence divinely enlightened and inspired, as easily and spontaneously—as much in the way of its being a matter of course—as naturally, in short, as the present body assumes the character, attitude, and expression of the lower principle of mere animal life—of animal feeling and emotion. It is as good an index of what is spiritual, as the present body is of what is animal in man.

II. The body is an inlet, as well as an outlet. It is the index or image of what is within. But it is also an avenue inwards for things without. It takes the stamp or impress of the inner life, whatever that may be, for which it is adapted. It takes the stamp and impress also of the outer world, and conveys that stamp and impress of the outer world to the living principle, the master that it serves. The spiritual body will be true and faithful as the spirit's minister; and it will be apt and able too. It will lay the entire universe of God under contribution, not at all, in any sense or in any measure, to the lower principle of animal life and feeling, but wholly and exclusively to the higher principle of pure intelligence and Divine thought.

III. The body is an instrument by which the spirit works. The spiritual body will be sleepless, unfatigued, needing neither food nor rest, made like with the angels. How may the redeemed in glory, with those glorious spiritual bodies of theirs, be ever plying the glad and busy task of acting out the impulses of their own spiritual nature, and doing the pleasure of the Lord that bought them!

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 170.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:44.—F. W. Aveling, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 120. 1 Corinthians 15:45.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 362.


Verses 45-49

1 Corinthians 15:45-49

The two bodies, the natural and the spiritual, are connected with the first Adam and the second Adam respectively. That is the teaching of these verses. The Apostle is anxious to strengthen in the minds of those to whom he is reasoning the conviction that there is a spiritual body as well as a natural body.

I. "The first man Adam was made a living soul." The statement of the Apostle is a quotation from Genesis 2:7. Had Adam not fallen, it might have been said of him that he became, not a living soul, but a living spirit; his material frame being now accommodated and assimilated, not to the lower "soulish" principle of the animal life, but to the higher principle of life, spiritual and Divine. Even in that case, however, he could not be said to become a life-giving or quickening spirit. That honour belongs to the second Adam alone. At the best, the first Adam would only have been a receiver of the new spirituality, or spiritual vitality, in his body, which was to supersede and displace its original merely animal vitality. It would have been to him personally a gift of grace. It was not his to give to his posterity.

II. "The last Adam was made a quickening spirit." Where, and how? At his resurrection, and by His resurrection. It cannot be His incarnation that is here referred to. He was then made, He then became—in the first Adam, and as the seed of the woman in the first Adam—simply a living soul. As a quickening spirit, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, dying for us and rising again, quickens spiritually our whole human nature in all its parts. There must, therefore, be a spiritual body. It is no devout imagination to speak of such a thing. Nay more, the Apostle apparently looks upon the spiritual body as the fitting sequel and, as it were, complement of the natural.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 190.



Verse 46

1 Corinthians 15:46

Consider:—

I. The dispensations of revealed religion. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The gospel is more excellent than the law. The law was the shadow; the gospel is the substance. The law was bondage; the gospel is liberty. That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural. First the law, and then the gospel—first Moses, then Christ—first thunder, earthquake, terror; then love.

II. In the second place, the upward progress is seen in Christian experience and the development of Christian character. The history of any thoughtful Christian soul, from the cradle to the grave, would manifest this.

III. This upward progress is seen in the increase of the spiritual kingdom in the world. The progress is not rapid. But let the Church of God calm her heart. Let us learn to wait and work. "He that believeth shall not make haste."

T. Jones, Penny Pulpit, new series, No. 659.

Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:46-58.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 239.



Verse 47

1 Corinthians 15:47

God always looks upon men as placed under some federal or representative head. There is no doubt it is so in a degree now in every family: God deals with the family through the father, and according to the character of the father. But the principle is true on a much larger scale. Adam was not a mere man; he was the representative head of the whole human race. Had he stood, all would have stood; when he fell, all fell.

I. It surely ought to take away every fear that any child of God may have about the Second Advent, to know that He who shall sit upon the throne of glory will be the second Man. There, though perfect and glorified, He will still be in all things just like unto us; only not like what we now are, like we shall become at that moment. As He stooped to man when He was upon earth, He will stoop then; the look with which He looked on John, the accent with which He spoke to many, will be the look and the accent of the King of kings. The body will be distinguishable, but perfect; though with some process that we cannot follow, it will be all spiritual; and there will be seen there, just as when Thomas saw, the very marks of His wounds. To these wounds every sinner shall turn and say, "I plead those wounds"; and with the light which encircles that head with many crowns He will look and say, "For me Thou didst thus rise; for me Thou didst put on this glory; for me Thou art radiant with that dignity."

II. The humanity of the second Man is ours. We are in it, we shall be like it; just as the first man was of the earth, earthy, that we might be earthy, the second Man is the Lord from heaven, that we may be heavenly.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 263.


We are tempted to ask in what sense our Lord could be called the second Man, whereas there were so many millions of men intervening between Him and the common ancestor Adam. The answer is, in brief, that the others were mere copies of the first—differing, indeed, in detail of character and nature, but fundamentally the same, and presenting the same radical defects; whereas Christ introduced a new kind of man, not after the pattern of Adam, and became the head of a new family of man. Thus Adam and Christ, dividing all human life between them, are rightly called the first and second man respectively. Let us look into this more closely, and first inquire into the differences between Adam and Christ. Now, these differences are two—difference of origin and difference of nature.

I. Of origin. "The first man is of the earth, earthy." Whatever may be said, and truly said, of the Divine and unearthly parentage of Adam, it is nevertheless true that, according to his physical nature, he and his belong essentially to this earth. The second man was the Lord from heaven. His origin was as distinctly Divine and heavenly as Adam's origin was earthy. He stepped down into the ranks of created life; He assumed that humanity which was perhaps on its physical side developed from the very lowest form of existence; but He Himself, in His true, unaltered personality, was the Lord and ruler of the universe, whose dwelling-place is in heaven.

II. This was the difference of origin, and there was a second—of nature and character. Not only does every single child that grows up afford a fresh example of the tendency to do wrong, but it is more and more a principle of science to assert the hereditary character of all such tendencies. If the instinct by which the young bird feeds itself be the experience of its remote ancestors, transmitted to it by hereditary descent, how much more readily shall we believe that the moral evil which began in Adam has become an inseparable characteristic of his race! But Christ was not sinful, and the consequence of His holiness, so peculiar to Himself among the children of men, was that death and the grave had no claim upon Him. He tasted death for every man else, but not for Himself. Adam and Christ divide mankind between them, not only as the two types, but as the two authors of all human life. We have life from God by both of these—indirectly, through Adam, and from him polluted and mortal; directly, through Christ, and from Him pure and immortal; both live on in us, the first man and the second Man.

R. Winterbotham, Sermons and Expositions, p. 306.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:48.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 341. 1 Corinthians 15:49.—E. L. Hull, Sermons, 3rd series, p. 12; M. Dix, Sermons Doctrinal and Practical, p. 298; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 188. 1 Corinthians 15:50.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. ix., p. 334.


Verses 50-53

1 Corinthians 15:50-53

The two main propositions contained in this verse are the following—the first, Flesh and blood is corruption; the second, The kingdom of God is incorruption.

I. Flesh and blood is corruption. To say that bodies corrupted by sin, or by the fall, cannot enter heaven would be simply an irrelevant truism, and would be held to be so by the parties with whom Paul is dealing. It is the admission, or the assertion, that flesh and blood, even in its best state, is corruption, and cannot therefore inherit incorruption; which alone meets their view fairly, and lays the foundation for the inference or conclusion that what is composed of flesh and blood must be changed into something better. The corruption, then, here spoken of is not an evil quality or effect superinduced on the bodily frame by sin; it is the essential property of flesh and blood, as originally made. (1) The body necessarily limits and renders fragmentary any knowledge of the Godhead. (2) It is the antagonist of the Divine life in us; we have to wrestle against it. (3) It has become mortal. On account of sin it is doomed to die. Remaining on the earth unchanged, flesh and blood is sure to die. The sentence on guilty man, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," takes full and universal effect. "His breath goeth forth; he returneth to his earth."

II. The kingdom of God is incorruption. It is a state or condition of things in which there is nothing perishable, no corruption. What it is positively is not here said. The kingdom of God, the heavenly world—in a word, heaven—is not here described. The elements which enter into its pure and holy joy are not specified. But it is identified with incorruption. (1) Death is out of the question, and hence there can be no room or occasion for such arrangements as are here necessary to stave off death. (2) In the kingdom of God there can be nothing to intercept or obscure the beatific heavenly blessedness of the pure in heart.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 206.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 346.



Verse 51

1 Corinthians 15:51

The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed.

I. The early Church commemorated the dead, (1) out of love to them and to their image. She could no longer behold them and break bread with them; but she could prolong their presence by the vivid recollection of their beloved image, and by the consciousness of a united adoration; she knew that while she tarried praying without, they were but within the precinct of an inner court, nearer to the eternal throne. (2) And next, she commemorated them in faith to keep up the conscious unity of the Church. They were not severed, but only out of sight. The communion of saints was still one. Nothing was changed but the relation of sight, as when the head of a far-stretching procession, winding through a broken, hollow land, hides itself in some bending vale; it is still all one, all advancing together; they that are farthest onward in the way are conscious of their lengthened following; they that linger with the last are drawn forward, as it were, by the attraction of the advancing multitude. Even so they knew themselves to be ever moving on; they were ever pressing on beyond the bounds of this material world. (3) Again, they commemorated their sleeping brethren in faith, that they might give God the glory of their salvation from this evil world. In the commemoration of the saints they showed forth the manifold grace of Christ, and the manifold fruits of His mysterious passion; and thus, while they lovingly cherished their memories, they also and above all glorified the King's saints.

II. Consider, next, of what especial moment is this affectionate remembrance of saints in feasts and eucharists in the Church of these latter times. (1) First of all, it is a witness against what I may call the Sadduceeism of Christianity. Most earthly are the images of the sleeping saints, even in better minds; as for the rest of men, they soon forget them. When they have buried their dead out of their sight, the unseen world closes up with the mouth of the grave, and they turn back to their homes and muse in sadness how they may begin to weave the same web over again, and make a new cast for happiness and begin life afresh. And why is all this? What should put so unnatural a face upon the very instincts of the heart but the cold tradition of a Christian Sadduceeism? Against this, then, the commemoration of the Church is a direct and wholesome witness. (2) Another most excellent benefit of this commemoration is its tendency to heal the schisms of the visible Church. In all the contests of the Church on earth all her members, be they never so much divided (so that it be not by heresy or schism), still hold communion with the court of heaven. They all find the common head in the King, and a common fellowship in the communion of saints. And as the saints of Christendom are the hallowed bond even of divided churches, so is the hallowed ancestry of each particular church a bond of unity with its several members.

H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. i., p. 320.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:51.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 94; Todd, Lectures to Children, p. 222; H. J. Wilmot Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 186; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 86. 1 Corinthians 15:51, 1 Corinthians 15:52.—J. Edmunds, Sermons in a Village Church, p. 111. 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Corinthians 15:53.—Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. ix., p. 205. 1 Corinthians 15:53.—J. Taylor, Saturday Evening, p. 333.


Verse 53-54

1 Corinthians 15:53-54

What the change is to be of which the Apostle speaks, and how it is to be effected, it is needless to inquire particularly. It may be more profitable to notice some lessons which it suggests.

I. By an irresistible argument, a fortiori it bars the door against whatever is unholy, impure, sensual, or vile. If even physical corruptibility is inadmissible there, what shall we say of moral defilement? Is the body better than the spirit? If we cannot pass into these realms of light and glory with a body corruptible and mortal, how can we reach them with mind, heart, and soul polluted and unclean?

II. How high and holy is that fellowship with Christ into which we are brought as members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones! He took our natural body, corruptible and mortal, that we might take His spiritual body, incorruptible, immortal. In respect of our corporeal as well as our spiritual nature, we are married, we are united to Christ.

III. What a motive have we in this to be spiritually-minded and heavenly-minded; and to be so more and more as our union to Christ grows closer and the time of our being glorified with Him draws nearer. Surely the things which should chiefly engage my mind and interest my heart, in the view of what I am then to be and where I am to be, are the pursuits for which my risen body in that heavenly world will be adapted, rather than those for which my natural body here on earth is fitted! Surely I may be expected to give myself to the acquiring of those tastes and habits that will be found to be congenial when I am raised in Christ incorruptible in body as well as in spirit, to be with Him in glory for ever!

IV. Finally, what a reason is there, in this high hope, for patient waiting all the days of our appointed time, till our change come!—"This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 229.



Verse 54

1 Corinthians 15:54

I. Death in this world is the great devourer. He swallows up all living things. Power has no weapon to resist his onset. Worth has no protection against his rancour, nor wisdom against his rules. None are humble enough to be overlooked and pitied. None are good enough to be reverenced and spared. None are high enough to have the right to bid him stand at bay. The king of terrors, formidable to all, is himself afraid of none. He seizes and swallows up the whole family of man. But the destroyer will himself be destroyed.

II. "Death is swallowed up in victory." It is victory that swallows up death. This is the second idea suggested by the oracle. And it admits of being subdivided into two. In the first place, death is swallowed up, or destroyed—victoriously, triumphantly, finally and for ever. In the second place, death is swallowed up and destroyed, merged and lost, in victory. In either view, victory is on the field, determining, on the one hand, the manner of death's destruction, and on the other hand, the fruit of it. In the first place, death is swallowed up or destroyed in victory; victoriously, in the open field, in open fight and triumph. It is by open conquest that death's ruin is effected, and not by stealth and stratagem. The victory in which death is swallowed up the Apostle has already described in a previous part of the chapter. It is the restitution of all things. It is the glorious advent of the Lord. He returns in triumph to this earth which was the scene of His suffering and shame. And at His bright appearing His saints start forth in immortal beauty from their tombs, and a renovated world rejoices in the endless life, the unchanging and unclouded sunshine of paradise at last restored.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 248.


Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:55.—Todd, Lectures to Children, p. 99.



Verse 55

1 Corinthians 15:55, 1 Corinthians 15:56.

The Triumph over Death.

I. The most remarkable feature of the triumph over death is the acknowledgment of death's victory and of the manner of it. The triumph is thus seen to be a triumph of a humbling and mortifying character. The triumphal song is chiefly occupied with a recognition of death's unworthy conquest, now happily and gloriously reversed. A sting and a victory belonged to him once, but where are they now? Death, then, has a victory. He is a conqueror, the conqueror. All other conquerors yield to him; he yields to none. He lends his aid to other conquerors. By means of him and his instruments of destruction, they succeed. But whatever else they may conquer, they cannot conquer him. He, on the contrary, vanquishes them. Neither science nor power, neither arts nor arms, can vanquish him. The traces of his victory are everywhere. It is such a victory as a sting might be expected to win. For surely a sting is a vile sort of weapon, and any victory achieved by it must be vile.

II. Death is the humiliation of man. Sin is his sting. He comes to conquer, introduced by sin. Sin treacherously throws open the gates, and allows him entrance into the city. And entering, he compels the traitor to become his tool. Sin is his weapon as well as his warrant. Literally and emphatically the sting of death is sin.

III. But victory is ours. It is a victory that is ever brightening as we press on in our Christian course and calling. The security of it is ever more and more distinctly seen. The peace of it is ever more and more deeply felt. The high hope which it animates is ever more and more eagerly grasping the fulness of its eternal heavenly joy.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 266.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:56.—J. M. Gibson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 56. 1 Corinthians 15:56, 1 Corinthians 15:57.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 23; F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 3rd series, p. 212; Homilist, 1st series, vol. i., p. 98.


Verse 57

1 Corinthians 15:57

St. Paul speaks in this chapter as if the resurrection of Christ were the victory over the grave. Was it impossible then, for men, before the resurrection of Christ, to look beyond the grave?

I. The apostles unquestionably speak of our Lord's resurrection as an unprecedented fact in the world's history. But they say that its importance to human beings lay in this, that it declared Jesus to be the Son of God with power. It was an act retrospective and prospective. It revealed the Head of the human race. It revealed the relation of the human race, in the person of its Head, to the Father of all. That which was manifested to be true, when He who had taken on Him our nature, and had died as we die, rose out of death because He could not possibly be holden of it, had been true always. Those who believed in Christ could not doubt that man was to learn his condition from Christ, that he could learn it only from Christ. The evidence for the resurrection lay in all the history, in all the experiences and life of men, up to that hour. Fishermen and tent-makers could not establish it. If there was such a Person, such a Head of man, such a Son of God, as they said was denoted by this event, God would show that there was; if not, there was no gospel.

II. It is God who giveth us the victory. We are in as much danger of fancying that He is not the God of Life, but of death that is bent on our destruction, as the Jews or Greeks were. And next, it is most needful to remember that this victory is a gift. Therefore give up thy life to God, that He may use it as He knows best. Let Him have thy vigour, to turn it against the foes of thy country and of men. Let Him have thy feebleness, that His fatherly love and sympathy, and the obedience that He wrought out in Christ by suffering, may shine forth in thee. Be sure that He has most various methods of manifesting the power of His Son's resurrection here; but that, if thou trustest in Him, and dost not faint, the end will be the same; all shall share alike in the victory.

III. It is a victory. Immortality is not natural if by natural is meant that which would befall us supposing we were not voluntary spiritual beings. It belongs to us only as voluntary spiritual beings. If we surrender that condition, we surrender our immortality, we take up our position as mortal. But we cannot surrender it; we feel and know that we cannot, even when we are trying most to do it, even when we are stooping to the deepest ignominy. And therefore let us not for a moment cease to connect resurrection with faith, with hope; therefore with conflict. We cannot, if we connect Christ's resurrection with ours, if we judge of ours by His. He set His face as a flint, His garments were the garments of One who trod the wine-fat. It was an agony, though it was the agony of submission. His sweat was as drops of blood, though the issue was, "Father, not My will, but Thine be done." Therefore God gave Him the victory, the perfect victory of spirit and soul and body.

F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 299.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:57.—G. B. Ryley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 116; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xxiv., p. 402; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 112; J. J. S. Perowne, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 230.


Verse 58

1 Corinthians 15:58

I. The duty which is connected with our being steadfast and unmovable in the faith of the resurrection, and of the resurrection life, is (1) to be about the work of the Lord; (2) to abound in it; (3) to abound in it always.

II. The motive—your labour is not in vain. It is in the Lord that your labour is not in vain—empty, or void of result and issue. You enter into the work of the Lord as the Lord Himself entered into the work given Him to do. It belongs to Him to see that your labour in His work shall not be in vain. His labour is not in vain, (1) because He has gone, in that very body, the same man precisely that He was on earth, the same man complete, to present Himself before the Father whose will He has done and whose work He has finished, saying, "Behold, I and the children whom Thou hast given Me." He asks sentence to be passed on Himself in that body, and on what He has done and suffered in that body. He asks for a judicial award. The mere bettering of His condition, as a natural consequence and gracious owning of His past and forgotten history, will not suffice. He asks for a verdict on that history, as a history not buried in oblivion's indulgent tomb, but raised for righteous judgment. (2) And then, secondly, His labour is not in vain, since not only in His risen body does He challenge judgment on Himself and His work, but, with that same risen body, He takes the work up and follows it out. He carries on in heaven the work which He had on hand on earth. He resumes it that He may carry it out to its endless issues of blessedness and glory in the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. And as the Lord's own labour in the work is thus not in vain, so yours is not in vain in Him; and that for the same twofold reason.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 346.


The truth concerning the resurrection is of vital moment. It touches the very essence and heart's core of the gospel of Christ. The view which you take of it, whatever that may be, must colour the whole of your Christianity—your whole Christian faith and your whole Christian life. So the Apostle teaches.

I. Thus, in the first place, it touches the credibility of those on whose testimony your faith rests. "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." This of itself is surely a very serious consideration.

II. Not only is the Lord's authority, or Divine authority, thus involved in the question of the resurrection; the reality also of His great work of propitiation is at stake. If there is, and can be, no such thing as a resurrection of the body; if the very notion of it is to be contumeliously dismissed with a sneer, as a resurrection of relics, a resurrection of corruption—then Christ is not risen. What took place on the third day after His crucifixion may have been some mysterious removal or annihilation of that which was buried. It follows, either, on the one hand, that death is not to men the penalty of sin, and, on the other, that Christ has not redeemed men from the penalty of sin.

III. Our standing as believers, our justification, our peace, is intimately connected with that doctrine of the resurrection, in the faith of which you are exhorted to be steadfast and unmovable. It is a doctrine as essential to your completeness in Christ as it is to His completeness for you.

IV. Lastly, for its bearing upon your holiness of character and your diligence in duty, you do well to be steadfast and unmovable in your belief of the doctrine of the resurrection.

R. S. Candlish, Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 325.


References: 1 Corinthians 15:58.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1111; T. T. Munger, The Freedom of Faith, p. 193; Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 198; J. B. Heard, Ibid., vol. xiii., p. 216; D. Burns, Ibid., vol. xxiii., p. 88; Dean Bradley, Ibid., vol. xxix., p. 225; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 412. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.—E. Bersier, Sermons, 1st series, p. 91. 1 Corinthians 16:1-9.—F. W. Robertson, Lectures on Corinthians, p. 247. 1 Corinthians 16:2.—E. M. Goulburn, Thoughts on Personal Religion, 1 Corinthians 16:3.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 249. 1 Corinthians 16:6.—W. Morison, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 24. 1 Corinthians 16:7-9.—H. P. Liddon, Church Sermons, vol. ii., p. 225.



 


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/1-corinthians-15.html.

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