I Corinthians 15:27-34

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Text: I Corinthians 15:27-34



In Corinth the local church had all kinds of problems. There were contentions in the church. There was immorality in the church. There were abuses of the Lord's Supper.

There were abuses of the gift of tongues. There were even questions regarding the resurrection. In I Corinthians 15:21-34 we see the universality of the resurrection and the order of the resurrections.

In I Corinthians 15:1-11 we saw the Proof of Christ's Resurrection.

1. He was seen of Cephas

2. He was seen of the Twelve

3. He was seen of above 500 brethren at once

4. He was seen of James

5. He was seen of all the apostles

6. He was seen of Paul

We also saw the Importance of Christ's Resurrection in I Corinthians 15:12-19 .

Without it there is no resurrection at all.

Without it our preaching is vain, i.e, empty of content.

Without it your faith is vain, i.e. worthless.

Without it we are false witnesses, i.e. liars.

Without it you are yet in your sins.

Without it we are of all men most miserable.

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

I have mentioned that in I Corinthians 15:21-34 , there are some difficult verses: verse 29, verse 31, verse 32, and verse 34. I would like to try to help straighten these out for you.

We have seen -


I Corinthians 15:21-22 - 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.

We are in the process of seeing -


I Corinthians 15:23 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming (i.e. at the rapture).

I Corinthians 15:24 - 24 Then cometh the end (i.e. the end of the millennium), when he (i.e. Christ) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he (i.e. Christ) shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (Although the reference to rule, authority, and power could be understood as referring to human powers, it is best to understand them in this passage as referring to demonic beings or powers.)

I Corinthians 15:25 25 For he (i.e. Christ) must reign, till he (i.e. God the Father) hath put all enemies under his (i.e. Christ's) feet (i.e. subjected them to Christ).

I Corinthians 15:26 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

I Corinthians 15:27 27 For he (i.e. God the Father) hath put all things under his (i.e. Christ's) feet. But when he (i.e. it = the Scripture) saith all things are put under him (i.e. Christ), it is manifest that he (i.e. God the Father) is excepted, which (i.e. Who) did put all things under him (i.e. Christ).

For he hath put all things under his feet means that God the Father has put all things under Christ's feet.

When he saith all things are put under him means when it (i.e. the Scripture) says that all things are subjected unto Christ.

It is manifest means it is plain or it is clear.

That he is excepted, which did put all things under him means that God the Father is not included in these all things that He has subjected to Christ. He will always be in authority over Christ, and Christ will always be subject to God the Father.

I Corinthians 15:28 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.

And when all things shall be subdued unto him is and whenever all things shall be subjected unto Christ. All things will definitely be subjected unto Christ at some time in the future, but its time is as yet uncertain.

Then is at that time.

Shall the Son (i.e. Christ) also be subject unto him (i.e. unto the Father) that (i.e. the One Who) put all things under him (i.e. Christ).

I Corinthians 15:29 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?

That verse 29 is difficult to understand is evidenced by the fact that many explanations have been offered for what it says. Let me state at the outset: this passage is controversial, and it is possible we won't all come to the same conclusion. I will teach this as I understand it, and I'll explain why I believe what I believe.

Who are these dead people and who are being baptized for them?

As I see it, the ones being baptized are unsaved people. Those for whom they are being baptized have died and could be anybody. For example, a Mormon might be baptized for you, believing that he is providing something good for you, just in case, after you have died, you might change your thinking and adopt his beliefs. His baptism for you specifically would then count for you. It is a baptism by proxy (i.e. a baptism in the place of {or in the stead of} someone else.

The reference to baptism for the dead is referring to a cultic practice in Corinth, and Paul is stating that even these unbelievers believed in a resurrection from the dead as is evidenced by their practice of baptizing living persons on behalf of the dead, even though it did them no good.

The dead are best understood as being people who died as unbelievers and are suffering for their sins in hades while awaiting the great white throne judgment after which they will be cast into the lake of fire.

These persons being baptized for the dead erroneously believed that baptism was a necessary requirement for salvation. Much like the Mormons in modern times, people who were still alive would then be baptized by proxy (i.e. in the stead of or in the place of) others who had died, just in case that, in the afterlife when given a second chance to believe whatever this cult taught, these dead people would become believers in whatever this cult taught. Since these people could not be baptized for themselves after death and since (in this cult's thinking) baptism was a requirement for salvation, someone who was still alive would have to be baptized for these dead persons; and this baptism by others would then be credited to them as if they themselves had actually been baptized.

Of course, the Bible nowhere teaches baptism on behalf of people who have died. There is also no such thing taught in the Scriptures as a second chance for salvation after death. In fact, the opposite is true. There is no second chance.

Furthermore, the Bible does not teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.

That this is the correct understanding of this passage is evidenced by the switch in pronouns from we or you to they.

The questions what shall they do? and why are they then baptized for the dead? ponder the wisdom of unsaved persons practicing baptism for the dead if there is no resurrection. Shall they do, where they is the ones who are being baptized for the dead, is in contrast to we in verse 30 and to your (a reference to the Corinthian believers to whom Paul is writing) in verse 31 and implies that they are unbelievers and not part of the church at Corinth.

I Corinthians 15:29-31 - 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? 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.

The use of they in verse 29 rather than we as in verse 30 and your as in verse 31, is instructive in that it suggests that Paul and the Corinthian believers were not involved in this practice.

If the dead rise not at all, is, for sake of discussion, assumed to be true. Of course, it is actually false. But, some are being baptized for the dead, and Paul proceeds to ask, Why are they (i.e. these cultists) then baptized for the dead? Their practice is contradicting the claim being made some in the church in Corinth that the dead do not rise at all.

Why? suggests for what reason? Are they . . . baptized is are they being baptized, and its present tense indicates that this was customary or normal for them (i.e. for these cultists) but was not normal for believers.

I Corinthians 15:30 30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?

Verses 30-31 indicate that Paul's physical life is in constant danger. The reason he puts up with this situation is that he might proclaim the gospel to the unsaved so that they might ultimately have their sins forgiven and experience the resurrection from the dead. He also knows that, if he dies, he will one day be raised from the dead. He has nothing to fear in death if there is a resurrection.

Why stand we in jeopardy? is why are we in danger?, why are we running a risk?, or why are we in peril? Its present tense describes life as it always is for Paul. He lives in danger. Every hour is every time of day. It, too, suggests that throughout every hour of the day Paul and other believers are living in danger of being killed.

I Corinthians 15:31 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

I protest, where I is Paul, is the translation of a word which indicates a strong affirmation. It is understood in the sense of I affirm. By your rejoicing, where your is plural and refers to the Corinthian believers, speaks of Paul's rejoicing over them or boasting about them rather than the Corinthian believers rejoicing over something. It is understood in the sense of by (my) rejoicing over (or in) you or by (my) boasting about you.

In Christ Jesus our Lord indicates that Paul's boasting over them is as a result of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought about their salvation and is continuing to work in their lives.

What Paul is affirming is I die daily, i.e., I am dying daily. Daily is day by day or day after day. It means that Paul is facing physical death on a daily basis.

It has nothing to do with dying spiritually to himself on a daily basis which is frequently preached in some pulpits. It is an unscriptural idea and a misunderstanding of what happened at salvation. Believers died to sin at the instant of their salvation and will never need to die to sin again, and they are once and for all time to reckon themselves to be dead unto sin.

Galatians 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Romans 6:1-11

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin (i.e. our being dead to sin is an existing state starting with the time of our salvation), live any longer therein?

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul was facing persecution and death on a daily basis because he preached the gospel, which included the resurrection. Paul could have avoided all of this if the resurrection were not true or if he had not preached it; but the resurrection is true, and he did not avoid proclaiming it.

I Corinthians 15:32 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.

Paul's whole life is a waste if there is no resurrection. He might just as well eat and drink, enjoying life to the fullest as a non-Christian, and die like everyone else if there is no resurrection from the dead; but there is a resurrection from the dead and he can't do that (he can't just eat and drink, enjoying life to the fullest as a non-Christian, and die like everyone else).

However, I have fought with beasts is I fought with wild animals. It is not likely literally true because if literally true, it is nowhere else to be found in the Scriptures.

It doesn't seem possible that so significant an event as fighting with wild animals in Ephesus could have occurred without some mention of it in Acts.

Furthermore, Roman citizens could not be forced to fight with wild animals in an arena; and Paul was a Roman citizen.

More than likely the wild beasts is a reference to some very dangerous opponents Paul encountered in Ephesus.

I Corinthians 15:33 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Be not deceived indicates that an action already in progress must be discontinued or stopped and is understood in the sense of stop being deceived or stop being misled.

Evil communications are evil (or bad) associations (or companies).

Corrupt means ruin, destroy, or spoil; and its tense indicates something that is normally, if not always, true. What evil communications corrupt is good manners, where good is understood in the sense of useful, suitable, or worthy; and manners is understood in the sense of customs or habits.

Paul is advising the Corinthian believers that if they associate too closely with those who deny the resurrection, it will adversely affect the way they think and live. It would be better to avoid them. Paul wrote in Romans 16:17 ,

Romans 16:17 - Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

I Corinthians 15:34 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

In verse 34 the Corinthian believers are urged to wake up and deal with things in their church because, in their carelessness, they have allowed some to become part of their church membership who still have no knowledge of God.

Awake is used literally of one recovering from a drunken revel in the sense of sober up and, figuratively, in the sense of come to your senses; and its tense indicates that its action is to be undertaken at once and without delay.

To righteousness is the translation of an adverb which means righteously, uprightly, justly, or in a just manner. Here it is used in the sense of as you should.

Sin not. Its tense indicates that its action is already in progress and needs to be stopped or discontinued and is understood in the sense of stop sinning.

For introduces Paul's reason for telling them to come to their senses, as they should, and stop sinning: some have not the knowledge of God.

Some is certain ones. The number, although indeterminate, is more than a few but less than many.

Have not the knowledge of is have ignorance of or have no knowledge of.

I speak this to your shame, where I is Paul and your is plural and refers to the Corinthian believers, is, For shame I am speaking (this) to you.

I speak is I am speaking or I am asserting, and Paul is doing this by writing this epistle.

This, which is in italics because it has been supplied by the translators, refers to some have not the knowledge of God.

To your shame is for shame (or humiliation) to you or for your shame (or humiliation).

Paul was attempting to shame the Corinthian believers so that they might be more serious about the things of God and living for Him.

Although verse 34 is often preached to encourage witnessing to unsaved people, it is better understood in the context as indicating that, due to the carelessness of the church people, some unsaved persons who have no knowledge of God had been added to the membership of the church and were introducing or advocating some of the things Paul had to address in this epistle. It suggests that one of the main reasons the Corinthians had such problems in their church was that they had a bunch of unsaved people in their church membership.


Everyone will be resurrected

Everyone will live forever, including those who don't believe in the resurrection. They will either be resurrected in what is described as the first resurrection and spend eternity in heaven, or they will be resurrected at the Great White Throne Judgment and spend eternity in hell. When is it you are going to be resurrected?

Be certain you are genuinely saved and will participate in the first resurrection.

What does the way you are living say about the resurrection you will be participating in? If you are not really living for the Lord but only put on this appearance when you are in church, are you really certain that you have been genuinely saved?