Study Notes on 1 Corinthians 15
This is a very important and also very difficult chapter. I hope you find these notes edifying.
1 Corinthians 15
This is known as the resurrection chapter and it's a very important chapter but also a very difficult one in places with a variety of opinions. Don't miss the forest for the trees and be sure to see the major points.
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
So as the epistle comes to a close Paul will remind them of the gospel and he places a large emphasis on Christ's resurrection which apparently some at Corinth did not understand.
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
The gospel saves. Nothing else saves. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
To believe in vain is connected with verse 14. You believe in vain if you don't believe in the bodily resurrection of our Lord! If you believe a different "gospel" or a different Jesus then you are not saved.
The next two verses are the gospel concisely stated.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
This was not "Paul's gospel" this is THE gospel of Jesus Christ who died not for Himself, but for OUR SINS. Incredible love.
You can't believe just part of that. You can't JUST believe that Jesus died. Acknowledging that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again in body is the gospel message.
See John 20:26-28
The next few verses provide proof of that resurrection.
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
Peter and the 12. Even though Judas was dead at this point and Matthias was not yet selected (Acts 1:26), "the twelve" is a title for that group of disciples.
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
Over 500 others saw Jesus alive as well after His public crucifixion. Most are still alive but some have died (fallen asleep) by now. This was probably in Galilee (Matthew 28:10-16) but we can't say for certain.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
James, the brother of Christ and pastor of the church at Jerusalem.
There is a lot of eyewitness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many "infallible proofs" as Luke records in Acts 1:1-3.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Paul was the last of the apostles. Being an apostle was an office only for those that had seen Jesus Christ.
See Galatians 1:11-13.
Paul had great humility because of his former sin against Christianity. Good for us all to remember as well. We should be aware of our own sin and that should keep us from pride.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
He gives all glory to God as we all should for anything we do for the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
Whether Paul preached or other apostles preached, it was by that preaching that people believe.
See Romans 10:13-15
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
Like in the beginning of the chapter when we see the gospel message, how can it be preached that Christ rose again and yet some in Corinth didn't understand that or even deny that?
Either Greek philosophy or the Sadducees (Acts 23:8) might have influenced the church at Corinth in this way.
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
This is how important the bodily resurrection of Jesus is. If you don't believe it, you are not saved.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
If Christ didn't rise from the dead then we are all liars.
The dead will rise up as promised. Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Christ was raised and our bodies will be raised also and reunited with our souls just as was for Christ.
John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
Again, don't miss the big points of this chapter by getting lost in details of chronology or just focusing on the difficult verses. Christ HAS risen so we are NOT dead in our sins; we are saved and have been freely given eternal life.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If Christ is not risen then there is only destruction after death.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
If this life is all there is then we have a false hope! We may as well pursue money and possessions if this is all there is!
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
Firstfruit means the beginning of something that will be completed. It's a pledge that because this happened, the rest will follow. Because Christ rose from the dead, never to die again, believers will rise also.
See Leviticus 23:10-11 for the usage of firstfruits.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
See Romans 5:18-19.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 for a great passage on the Second Coming and the Rapture. At the Second Coming, the bodies of those who died believing in Christ will be resurrected and then the believers alive at that time will meet Christ in the air.
This is still to come: 2 Timothy 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
After the Second Coming, Christ will reign for 1,000 years (Revelation 20) and put all enemies under His feet and then hand the Kingdom to the Father. That mission will be accomplished.
Psalm 110:1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Great verse. Someday death will be no more. This is after the millennial reign of Christ, after Satan's rebellion.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
Christ puts all under His reign but obviously that excludes Himself.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
At the end of the millennium after Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20) and after the Great White Throne judgment, Christ will hand the Kingdom, all things unto God the Father that God may be all things to all people.
Christ isn't "subject unto Him" as in less than God because Christ IS God, yet Christ still has His humanity that He put on to accomplish certain things. Once those things are accomplished He will hand the Kingdom to God. There will no longer be need for the mediatorial office of God and Man Christ Jesus, but only God.
The Trinity is not something easy to understand and that's ok. See 1 Timothy 3:16.
29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
This sounds like a difficult verse but it really isn't. The bulk of the chapter is about proving the resurrection so Paul points to baptism as being symbolic of that. Why baptize if the dead rise not? Baptism points to Christ's resurrection! See Romans 6:1-5.
30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Garner-Howes: "If there is no resurrection? Why jeopardize our jobs, our lives, and our reputations as a minority among the heathen, if there is no resurrection?"
Romans 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Could refer to the mob at Ephesus in Acts 19.
If there is no life after death then just party on! But don't be deceived by rejecting the resurrection.
34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Specifically, don't sin by rejecting a critical portion of the gospel. It is a shame that Paul spent so much time in Corinth (Acts 18), yet there were still ignorant people acting poorly there.
35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
Adam Clarke: "The second part of the apostle's discourse begins at this verse. What shall be the nature of the resurrection body?"
That which you sow in the ground, like a seed, won't be made alive unless the seed is essentially destroyed. Once a seed gives life to the plant it is dead and no longer a seed.
See John 12:23-25.
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
Our resurrection bodies will be much different than our earthly bodies, just as a seed is much different than the plant that comes from it. Perhaps this is why many people did not immediately recognize Jesus after His resurrection.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
All flesh is not equal, there are differences. A verse refuting evolution by the way, because each kind of animal produces the same kind of animal.
This verse and the next several verses answer the question from verse 35. We will have very different bodies in the resurrection it seems.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
It seems there will be different "levels" of glory in resurrected bodies.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
Just like a seed is sown but is "resurrected" as some beautiful flower. Our bodies live in sin here, but will be sinless and perfect in heaven.
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
Two different bodies. Our souls in heaven will be reunited with our new spiritual bodies in the resurrection.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Quoted from Genesis 2:7, affirming the historical account of Adam being the first man. Adam was made a living soul when life was breathed into him, and the last Adam, Jesus, is a life-giving spirit (see v. 22 above).
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
Simply, the spiritual body comes later. First, our natural bodies that we have now.
First Adam, secondly Christ.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
The earth is corrupt and cursed with sin, but in heaven there is no sin. We bear one image now but a different one in heaven.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
There is a clear difference between our bodies that decay here on earth and the bodies we will be given.
See Philippians 3:21.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
A very clear rapture verse. Not everyone will die, but everyone will be changed and given a glorified spiritual resurrection body.
This “last trump” is the same trumpet mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Matthew 24:31.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
This describes putting on our new body like putting on new clothes.
It is written in Isaiah 25:8.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Quoted from Hosea 13:14 showing that God has power over death.
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
See Romans 5:20-21, sin hath reigned unto death.
A lot of this is covered in Romans. Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Can also look at Romans 7:9-13, or Romans 4:15.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
A beautiful verse that stands alone. Our victory is in Christ.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Therefore work for the Lord because the battle is already won!