Updated 4 Sep 2019
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1 Corinthians 15
Paul has been asked many questions concerning life in Corinth and now he addresses the question of the resurrection of the dead. It is amazing how soon after the resurrection of Jesus, that fundamental questions began to be asked.
The Gospel Preached by Paul
Paul was consistent in his preaching of the gospel and he urges the Corinthians to respond wholeheartedly to it. He states that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, Christ was buried according to the scriptures and Christ was raised according to the scriptures. These events in the life and ministry of Christ are crucial to our salvation. Paul adds that, after Jesus rose from the dead, there were several appearances to the disciples and he states that more than 500 people saw Jesus alive.
Paul also mentions that, last of all, Christ appeared to him. This encounter on the Damascus road was obviously life-changing for Paul. He preaches with confidence because he, like the other apostles, saw the Lord.
The Resurrection of the Dead
The reality of the risen Christ is fundamental to the belief that all the dead shall be raised. Because Christ was raised from the dead, so all the dead will be raised. This is for all people, not just believers! To believe that Jesus is alive today, is a crucial part of our testimony. We have hope to face and come through death, because our Saviour came through death. Death came into the world because of Adam's sin but eternal life becomes possible because of Christ's faithfulness. The literal resurrection of Christ is crucial to our hope. Jesus has destroyed the enemy of death and he has, therefore, defeated death itself. Even in times of persecution and suffering for Christians, the knowledge that we will be with Jesus after death, is very powerful!
It seems that there was a custom among some, for believers who had died but had not been baptised, for a baptism to take place on their behalf. The belief was that they would then share in the resurrection. In actual fact, the future of a believer, baptised or not, is unaffected, because the victory of Jesus is for all true believers.
The Resurrection Body
Scripture teaches that a time will come when all the dead will be raised. Believers to enjoy Christ’s presence and unbelievers to face eternal judgement. So the question is asked, "What will be the nature of the body that is raised at the very last day?" Paul tells us that the body we were born with, will perish but the body that we are raised with, will last for eternity. The body that we are raised with, will not grow old and, for believers, it will be like the body of Christ. The resurrected Jesus came in a body that was recognisable to the disciples but it had qualities that were different. The new body that we have will be like that of Jesus. We will inherit the Kingdom of God, because we have an imperishable body that will never die or experience pain or sickness.
The Mystery of the Resurrection
The time when Jesus returns and raises all the dead, will happen dramatically and suddenly. There will be a loud trumpet blast and, in an instant, all will be raised, death will be conquered, the sting of death will be taken away, the power of sin will be broken and we will be ready to dwell with God forever!
Paul is sharing these truths with us, because he wants believers to be full of confidence and to have no doubts regarding their eternal destiny. Remember that the early church faced great opposition and persecution. The suffering of some early Christians was immense. Even today, there are parts of our world where Christians are tortured and persecuted. Paul's clear affirmation that Christ has risen is an exhortation for us to stand firm, to not allow anything to distract us and to give ourselves to God's work. Our work for the Lord will not be in vain. He will reward those who are faithful, despite the most gruelling trials.
Points to Consider:
- Does our gospel witness waver or are we constant in what we share with unbelievers?
- The reality that Christ rose from the dead is very important. In what way does your testimony reveal the truth that Jesus has risen from the dead?
- How important is Christ's resurrection to understanding our own resurrection and what will be different about our resurrected body?
- Do we really understand the full extent of Jesus' conquest over death?
- How can we practically encourage one another to keep going, even in the midst of trials and difficulties?
God bless you!
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 15
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