Monday, March 22, 2010

Christ As God's Wisdom And Power: Resurrection From The Dead: 1 Corinthians 15

Theme: Christ is God's wisdom...

2. For answering questions (7-16)
     E. About the resurrection (15:1-58)

Chapter 15 gives reasons to believe in resurrection (1-34) and explains the nature of resurrection (35-58).

Reasons to believe in resurrection (1-34).  

Because Scripture foretold it (1-4). The gospel message was that Christ died for our sins and rose the third day "according to the Scriptures". OT passages predicted Christ's death (Isaiah 53:5-12), and resurrection (Psalm 16:8ff; cf. Acts 2:24-32). Luke 16:31 says that if someone doesn't believe the testimony of Scripture about the fact of hell, he would not be persuaded even if someone from hell rose and warned him. Thus, Scripture is God's means of persuading people about resurrection from the dead. 

Because salvation depends on it (12-19). If there is no resurrection, then Christ did not rise from the dead. If Christ did not rise from the dead, then His payment for sin was ineffective. If His payment for sin was ineffective, then believers are still in their sins, their dead loved ones are gone forever, and their faith and preaching is vain. Salvation depends on Christ's resurrection from the dead.

Because God's glory requires it (20-28). One of God's grand purposes is to put all things in subjection to Christ, who will then subject Himself to God.  Thus, God will be seen as the supreme victor and object of glory. The last enemy to be put in subjection to Christ is death itself. If there is no resurrection, then Christ will not have shown Himself the victor over death, and God will not be "all in all". God's glory requires resurrection. 

Because resurrection hope motivates godly living (29-34). If one did not have the hope of rising from the dead, he would live by the principle, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." Those who do not believe in resurrection will only look for ways to enjoy life while they can. The hope of resurrection, on the other hand, gives believers courage to endure hardships and danger for God. This is what gave Paul courage when forced to fight wild beasts at Ephesus (32).

There are many proposals as to what verse 29 means. One view is that "those...who are baptized for the dead" refers to a heretical teaching which influenced the Corinthians, and taught you could insure the dead of heaven by being baptized for them. Another is that it refers to people who became believers and were baptized because of the testimony of christians who had since died.  

The most likely meaning seems to be that it refers to new believers, who, by being baptized, publicly testify to their faith, thus taking the place of believers who have died. In that sense, they are baptized "in the place of" (another literal meaning of the grammar) dead believers. The  passage certainly does not teach that one can insure a dead person of heaven by being baptized for him. This idea is taught nowhere in the Bible, contradicts Paul's statement that Christ sent him not to baptize but to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17), and teaches a gospel other than salvation by grace, apart from works (cf. Galatians 1:9).  

The nature of resurrection (35-58). As a seed is dead when it is put in the ground, but grows into a new form of living plant, so believers, though they are placed in the ground dead, will be raised with a new body (cf. Romans 8:18-25). Resurrection bodies will be glorious (39-41,43), imperishable (42), immortal (53), powerful (43), spiritual (44-48), and will bear the image of Christ's body (49). Believers will receive resurrection bodies instantly (51-52), whether they are dead or alive (51), at the time when Christ returns to rapture the church (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).

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The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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