I Corinthians 15:1-20

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Text: I Corinthians 15:1-20

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

People deny many doctrines. Every Biblical doctrine has at some time or other been denied by some liberal or cultist.

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ is the most crucial doctrine of all Christianity, and has been denied by many liberals as well as cultists.

Romans 1:4 - And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

In I Corinthians 15:1-20 we see the fact and importance of the Bodily Resurrection of Christ.

I. THE GOSPEL OF PAUL - 15:1-11

1. The Reminder - 15:1-2

I Corinthians 15:1-2 - 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Moreover continues the discussion but takes it in a different direction. Paul has finished answering questions regarding spiritual gifts and is changing subjects in order to address questions regarding the resurrection.

I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you is I am declaring (i.e. making known or revealing) to you the good news which I proclaimed to you. Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth on his second missionary journey.

Which (i.e. the gospel or good news) also ye (i.e. you {plural}) have received (i.e. accepted).

Wherein (i.e. in which gospel) ye stand ( - The tense of stand tense indicates action which has been taken in the past and is a settled matter, and its translation emphasizes the result of its action. They stood on the gospel in the past, and they are still standing on it.

I Corinthians 15:2 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Verse 2 is in the form of a conditional statement. Ordinarily the condition is placed first. Here, however, the conclusion (By which also ye are saved) comes before the condition (if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you). This is done when the writer wants to emphasize the conclusion.

By which (i.e. through which (i.e. the gospel) you are saved. The gospel is an intermediate agent in salvation. As people believe the gospel message, God, the direct agent in salvation, saves them through it.

If ye keep in memory is assuming that you are keeping in memory or assuming that you are holding fast.

What I preached unto you (i.e. what I proclaimed to you).

Unless ye have believed in vain is if you did not believe in vain.

In vain - to no avail, to no purpose, or without result. It would be without result if the resurrection of Christ is not true or if there is no such thing as a resurrection from the dead.

2. The Elements of the Gospel - 15:3-4

I Corinthians 15:3-4 - 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.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received is for I handed over (i.e. gave over or entrusted) to you most prominent what I received

How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures is that Christ died on behalf of our sins according to the Scriptures.

I Corinthians 15:4 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

And that he was buried refers to His burial in the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, where His body remained until His resurrection from the dead.

And that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures is And that He has been raised (up), and its passive voice indicates that He did not raise Himself from the dead.

God the Father raised Him from the dead.

Furthermore, its tense indicates that something occurred in the past whose result has continued. He is in a state of having been raised from the dead.

The third day indicates that the resurrection took place on the third day. This means that He did not spend a full seventy-two hours in the tomb. The only day on which Christ spent twenty-four hours in the tomb was the day after the crucifixion. Partial days on the first and last days constitute two full days. So, Christ was buried prior to sundown on Friday. This counts as one day, even if His entombment was only minutes before sundown. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday constitutes the second day, and from sundown Saturday until sometime before dawn on Sunday constitutes the third day.

According to the scriptures indicates that Christ's resurrection from the dead was foretold in the Scriptures.

3. The Evidence of the Resurrection - 15:5-8

I Corinthians 15:5-8 - 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 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. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

And that he (i.e. the resurrected Jesus) was seen of Cephas (i.e. Simon Peter)

And that he was seen . . . then of the twelve (i.e. the twelve apostles minus Judas Iscariot who had already hanged himself)

I Corinthians 15:6 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.

After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once indicates that the resurrected Christ was seen by more than five hundred believers at the same time.

Of whom the greater part remain unto this present means of whom the majority are still alive

But some are fallen asleep means but some have died.

I Corinthians 15:7 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

After that, he was seen of James, His half brother. This appearance to James apparently resulted in James' conversion.

Then (he was seen) of all the apostles, i.e. the eleven apostles, not including Judas Iscariot.

I Corinthians 15:8 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time means that the last of all persons the resurrected Christ appeared to was Paul himself,

As of one born out of due time is to one characterized by untimely birth or to one characterized by miscarriage. This one is Paul.

The twelve apostles were disciples of Christ who had spent three and one-half years with Jesus during His public ministry. With the exception of Judas Iscariot, they were already saved at the time of their call to be apostles. Paul lacked this opportunity to mature gradually under the tutelage of Jesus; therefore, he considered himself to be like a premature child compared to the twelve apostles. He went instantly from being a persecutor of Christ to being an apostle sent by Christ.

4. The Fruit of the Gospel - 15:9-11

I Corinthians 15:9-11 - 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. 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. 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

For I am the least of the apostles indicates Paul's view of himself in relation to those who were apostles before him.

I am not meet to be called an apostle is I am not fit to be addressed as an apostle, and the reason is because I persecuted the church of God, i.e. the local church or assembly in Jerusalem as well as other local churches elsewhere. The before church in the Greek text treats church generically as a class or group of things.

Paul never quite got over the fact that he had persecuted believers prior to his accepting Christ as his personal Savior. Although he had accepted God's forgiveness, he never forgot where he came from.

I Corinthians 15:10 - 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.

But by the grace of God I am what I am. Although Paul believed he was not worthy to be an apostle, he knew that whatever he was, he was by the grace of God. Also, he had labored more abundantly than the other apostles; yet, he recognized that it was only the grace of God working in him.

And his (i.e. God the Father's) grace (or favor) which was bestowed upon me (or given to me) was not in vain (i.e. was not without effect or was not without result).

But I laboured (i.e. toiled or worked hard) more abundantly (i.e. even more) than they all suggests than all the rest of the apostles. It may mean more than any of the apostles; or, as is more likely, it may mean more than all twelve of the apostles put together.

Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Yet not I (where I is emphatic) suggests that Paul is not the real force behind his labor.

But the grace of God which was with me suggests that it was really God's grace which labored abundantly in and through Paul.

I Corinthians 15:11 - 11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

Therefore whether it were I or they (i.e. the other apostles) suggests that it really does not matter who proclaimed the gospel to the Corinthians. The important thing is that it was proclaimed among them and that they believed it.

So we (i.e. Paul and the other apostles) preach (or proclaim Christ)

And so ye believed suggests and so you Corinthians believed the gospel.

II. THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST DOUBTED - 15:12

I Corinthians 15:12 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?

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead

Now indicates a continuation of the thought with a slight change of direction. Paul returns to the thought expressed in verse 2 unless ye have believed in vain. The structure of verse 12 is that of a conditional statement whose condition, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. It is proclaimed that Christ rose from the dead.

How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? means, How are certain ones among you asserting that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Were these people, who were saying that there is no resurrection of the dead, genuinely saved? Yet, they are described as some among you, which suggests that they were professing believers and members of the church in Corinth. What does the Scripture say?

Romans 10:9 - That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

It is no wonder they had such problems in the church at Corinth if some vocal group of people within the church was unsaved. This is one of the reasons we believe in a regenerated church membership.

This is why we must preach the Bible, the whole counsel of God, not just certain themes or topics. It helps people get straightened out in their theological thinking. It also weeds people out who are in disagreement with the Scriptures.

This is also why we don't rush people through the baptistry the instant they make a profession of salvation. Remember that baptism brings people into membership in the local church. It gives the Holy Spirit a chance to weed some out who may not be genuinely saved. It also gives the Holy Spirit a chance to work in the hearts of some who are not yet saved to get them saved. It also gives people an opportunity to check us out to see if they really want to be part of the church.

III. THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST - 15:13-19

I Corinthians 15:13-19 - 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. 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. 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. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Of course, there is a resurrection, but Paul is debating the issue by showing the consequences of there being no resurrection. Some are claiming that there is no such thing as a resurrection. Paul's tactic is to reduce this claim to an impossibility.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

1. With Respect to Christ - 15:13

I Corinthians 15:13 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead suggests, Assuming that there is no resurrection of the dead.

Then is Christ not risen is, Then Christ has not been raised.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

2. With Respect to Preaching and Faith - 15:14-17

I Corinthians 15:14 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

And if Christ be not risen is assuming that Christ has not been raised (from the dead)

Then is our preaching vain, i.e. to no purpose, without result, senseless, without any basis

And your faith is also vain, i.e. to no purpose, without result, senseless, without any basis

I Corinthians 15:15 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.

Yea is emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed, really, or in fact

And we are found false witnesses of God is we are discovered to be lying witnesses of God

Because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ provides the reason Paul, Silas, and Timothy are discovered to be lying witnesses.

We (i.e. Paul, Silas, and Timothy) have testified (i.e. have borne witness or have attested)

Of God (i.e. against God or in contradiction to God) that he (i.e. God the Father) raised up Christ

Whom (i.e. Christ) he (i.e. God the Father) raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

If so be that the dead rise not is a condition whose structure indicates that it is assumed, for sake of discussion, to be true. It is actually false.

Since the condition is false, the conclusion must also be false. The conclusion is Whom he raised not up and it is false. God the Father did raise up Christ from the dead.

I Corinthians 15:16 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.

In verse 16 Paul explains his statement in verse 15.

For if the dead rise not is a condition whose structure indicates that it is assumed, for sake of discussion, to be true. However, it is actually false.

Then is not Christ raised is the conclusion of this conditional statement. Inasmuch as the condition is false, this conclusion must also be false. If the dead do not rise from the dead, then Christ could not have been raised from the dead. BUT the dead do rise, and Christ has been raised from the dead.

I Corinthians 15:17 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

And if Christ be not raised is another condition whose structure indicates, for sake of discussion, that it is assumed to be true. Once again, however, it is actually false. Christ has been raised from the dead.

Your faith is vain is the first conclusion of this conditional statement. It means your faith (i.e. your belief or trust) is useless (without result or to no purpose). Once again, however, inasmuch as the condition is actually false, this conclusion must also be false. Your faith is not in vain.

Ye are yet in your sins is a second conclusion in this conditional statement. It means that your sins have not yet been forgiven, canceled, or pardoned. Inasmuch as the condition is false, the conclusion must also be false. You are not still in your sins. Your sins have been completely and forever forgiven.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

3. With Respect to the Dead - 15:18

I Corinthians 15:18 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ (those who have trusted Christ as Savior who have subsequently died) are perished (i.e. lost forever with no hope of heaven)

This is a third conclusion for the conditional statement begun in verse 18. Again, inasmuch as the condition is false, this conclusion is likewise false. Those, who have trusted Christ as Savior and have subsequently died, have not perished. They are in the very presence of Christ at this time.

What would be the result of there being no resurrection?

4. With Respect to the Living - 15:19

I Corinthians 15:19 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

In view of the fact that Paul's entire life and ministry, including all the suffering he and the Corinthian believers have endured, are based on their hope in Christ, if there is no hope of a resurrection beyond the grave, they are the most pitiable people on the planet.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ is a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. Once again, however, the condition is actually false; so if is understood in the sense of assuming that.

We are of all men most miserable suggests we are of all humanity most pitiable. However, inasmuch as the condition is false, this conclusion must also be false. We are not of all humanity most pitiable. We are not of all men most miserable.

IV. THE GRAND PROCLAMATION - CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD - 15:20

I Corinthians 15:20 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

Far from being the most miserable or pitiable person on earth as a result of there being no resurrection from the dead, Paul is very happy in life knowing that Christ has indeed risen from the dead. Christ has also become the first one raised from the dead to die no more, and His resurrection is the first of many. All believers will likewise be raised from the dead.

But now is Christ risen from the dead

Now is an emphatic form used to introduce the real situation which exists in contrast to the unreal conditional clauses in verses 13-19. It is used in the sense of as a matter of fact.

Is Christ risen from the dead is has been raised from the dead, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

But now is Christ . . . become the firstfruits of them that slept

(Is) become is became, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes its existing result.

Firstfruits is first portion. It means that Christ is the first one raised from the dead Who is no longer subject to death and is the promise that there are more to come, i.e. who will likewise be raised from the dead and no longer subject to death. All others in the Bible, who were raised from the dead, died a second time.

Of them that slept is of the ones who have slept, i.e. of the ones who have died.

CONCLUSION:

We must remember that without the Bodily Resurrection of Christ from the dead, there is no salvation. That Bodily Resurrection demonstrated God's seal of approval upon Christ's sacrifice for our sins.

There is no doubt that He rose from the dead as He said. He was observed on many occasions. Further testimony is borne by the changed lives touched by the Gospel message.