1 Corinthians Chapter 15

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This important and deeply interesting chapter, I have spoken of as the third part of the epistle. See the Introduction. It is more important than any other portion of the epistle, as it contains a connected, and laboured, and unanswerable argument for the main truth of Christianity, and, consequently, for Christianity itself; and it is more interesting to us as mortal beings, and as having an instinctive dread of death, than any other portion of the epistle. It has always, therefore, been regarded with deep interest by expositors, and it is worthy of the deepest attention of all. If the argument in this chapter is solid, then Christianity is true; and if true, then this chapter unfolds to us the most elevated and glorious prospect which can be exhibited to dying, yet immortal man.

There were, probably, two reasons why the apostle introduced here this discussion about the resurrection.

First. It was desirable to introduce a condensed and connected statement of the main argument for the truth of Christianity. The Corinthians had been perplexed with subtle questions, and torn by sects and parties; and it was possible that in their zeal for sect and party, they would lose their hold on this great and vital argument for the truth of religion itself. It might be further apprehended, that the enemies of the gospel, from seeing the divisions and strifes which existed there, would take advantage of these contentions, and say that a religion which produced such fruits could not be from God. It was important, therefore, that they should have access to an argument plain, clear, and unanswerable, for the truth of Christianity; and that thus the evil effects of their divisions and strifes might be counter- acted.

Secondly. It is evident, from 1Cor 15:12, that the important doctrine of the resurrection of the dead had been denied at Corinth, and that this error had obtained a footing in the church itself. On what grounds, or by what portion or party it was denied, is unknown. It may have been that the influence of some Sadducean teacher may have led to the rejection of the doctrine; or it may have been the effect of philosophy. From Acts 17:32, we know that among some of the Greeks, the doctrine of the resurrection was regarded as ridiculous; and from 2 Tim 2:18, we learn that it was held by some that the resurrection was passed already, and, consequently, that there was nothing but a spiritual resurrection. To counteract these errors, and to put the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead on a firm foundation, and thus to furnish a demonstration of the truth of Christianity, was the design of this chapter.

The chapter may be regarded as divided into four parts, and four questions in regard to the resurrection are solved.

(1.) Whether there is any resurrection of the dead? 1Cor 15:1ff.

(2.) With what body will the dead rise? 1Cor 15:35ff.

(3.) What will become of those who shall be alive when the Lord Jesus shall come to judge the world? 1Cor 15:51ff.

(4.) What are the practical bearings of this doctrine? 1Cor 15:55ff.

I. The dead will be raised, 1Cor 15:1ff. This Paul proves by the following arguments, and illustrates in the following manner:

(1.) By adducing reasons to show that Christ rose from the dead, 1Cor 15:1ff.

(a.) From the Scripture, 1Cor 15:1ff.

(b.) From the testimony of eye-witnesses, 1Cor 15:5ff.

(2.) By showing the absurdity of the contrary doctrine, 1Cor 15:12ff.

(a.) If the dead do not rise, it would follow that Christ has not risen, 1Cor 15:13.

(b.) If Christ is not risen, he is preached in vain, and faith is reposed in him for nought, 1Cor 15:14.

(c.) It would follow that the apostles would be false witnesses and wicked men; whereas, the Corinthians had abundant reason to know the contrary, 1Cor 15:15.

(d.) The faith of the Corinthians must be vain if he was not risen, and they must regard themselves as still unpardoned sinners, since all their hope of pardon must arise from the fact that his work was accepted, and that he was raised up, 1Cor 15:16, 1Cor 15:17.

(e.) If Christ was not risen, then all their pious friends who had believed in him must be regarded as lost, 1Cor 15:18.

(f.) It would follow that believers in Christ would be in a more miserable condition than any others, if there was no resurrection, 1Cor 15:19.

(g.) Baptism for the resurrection of the dead would be absurd and in vain, unless the dead arose; it would be vain to be baptized with the belief, and on the ground of the belief that Christ rose, and on the ground of the hope that they would rise, 1Cor 15:29.

(h.) It would be in vain that the apostles and others had suffered so many toils and persecutions, unless the dead should rise, 1Cor 15:30ff.

In the course of this part of his argument, (1Cor 15:20ff,) Paul introduces an illustration of the doctrine, or a statement of an important fact in regard to it -- thus separating the argument in 1Cor 15:19 from the text, which occurs in 1Cor 15:29. Such interruptions of a train of thinking are not uncommon in the writings of Paul, and indicate the fulness and richness of his conceptions, when some striking thought occurs, or some plausible objection is to be met, and when he suspends his argument in order to state it. This interjected portion consists of the following items:

(1.) A triumphant and joyful assurance that Christ had in fact risen; as if his mind was full, and he was impatient of the delay caused by the necessity of slow argumentation, 1Cor 15:19, 1Cor 15:20.

(2.) He illustrates the doctrine, or shows that it is reasonable that the certainty of the resurrection should be demonstrated by one in human nature, since death had been introduced by man, 1Cor 15:21, 1Cor 15:22. This is an argument from analogy, drawn from the obvious propriety of the doctrine, that man should be raised up in a manner somewhat similar to the mode in which he had been involved in ruin.

(3.) He states the order in which all this should be done, 1Cor 15:23ff. It is possible that some may have held that the resurrection must have been already passed, since it depended so entirely and so closely on the resurrection of Christ. Compare 2 Tim 2:18. Paul, therefore, meets this objection; and shows that it must take place in a regular order; that Christ rose first, and that they who were his friends should rise at his coming. He then states what would take place at that time, when the work of redemption should have been consummated by the resurrection of the dead, and the entire recovery of all the redeemed to God, and the subjection of every foe.

II. What will be the nature of the bodies that shall be raised up? 1Cor 15:35ff. This inquiry is illustrated,

(1.) By a reference to grain that is sown, 1Cor 15:36ff.

(2.) By a reference to the fact that there are different kinds of flesh, 1Cor 15:39.

(3.) By a reference to the fact that there are celestial bodies and earthly bodies, 1Cor 15:40.

(4.) By the fact that there is a difference between the sun, and moon, and stars, 1Cor 15:41.

(5.) By a direct statement; for which the mind is prepared by these illustrations, of the important changes which the body of man must undergo, and of the nature of that body which he will have in heaven, 1Cor 15:42ff. It is

(a.) incorruptible, 1Cor 15:42;

(b.) glorious, 1Cor 15:43;

(c.) powerful, 1Cor 15:43;

(d.) a spiritual body, 1Cor 15:44;

(e.) it is like the body of the second man, the Lord from heaven, 1Cor 15:45ff.

III. What will become of those who shall be alive when the Lord Jesus shall return to raise the dead?

Ans. They shall be changed instantly, and fitted for heaven, and made like the glorified saints that shall be raised from the dead, 1Cor 15:51ff.

IV. The practical consequences or influences of this doctrine, 1Cor 15:55ff.

(1.) The doctrine is glorious and triumphant; it overcame all the evils of sin, and should fill the mind with joy, 1Cor 15:55ff.

(2.) It should lead Christians to diligence, and firmness of faith, and patience, since their labour was not to be in vain, 1Cor 15:58.


1: Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; edit

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

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; edit

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

5: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: edit

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. edit

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

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

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. edit

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. edit

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

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? edit

13: But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: edit

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

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. edit

16: For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: edit

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

18: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. edit

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

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

21: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. edit

22: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. edit

23: But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. edit

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. edit

25: For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. edit

26: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. edit

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. edit

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. edit

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? edit

30: And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? edit

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

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. edit

33: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. edit

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

35: But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? edit

36: Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: edit

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: edit

38: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. edit

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. edit

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. edit

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. edit

42: So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: edit

43: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: edit

44: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. edit

45: And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. edit

46: Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. edit

47: The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. edit

48: As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. edit

49: And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. edit

50: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. edit

51: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, edit

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. edit

53: For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. edit

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. edit

55: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? edit

56: The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. edit

57: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. edit

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. edit

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