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1 Corinthians 15

15
The “heart and soul” of Paul's gospel
1Now for the fundamental truth of my teaching, — not mine, but what I received, the same that was given to me, and that I handed on to you, — 2the Gospel which supports you and is saving you, and will save you to the end, if your faith fail not! 3This is the heart and soul of that Gospel as I received it and gave it to you, and the whole of it is contained in this, that according to the meaning of the Scriptures 4the Christ died for our sins and was buried, and then according to the same truth of the Scriptures the Christ rose on the third day. 5The witnesses of this resurrection are first Cephas, then the twelve, 6then over five hundred brethren most of whom are alive at the present day, 7then James, then all the Apostles. These all saw him alive and triumphant after death, and the appearances were in the order I have mentioned. 8And last of all I myself saw the risen Christ, 9last as though I were the least and unworthiest of all, the persecutor that is to say of that divine Church of God, which is His infinite body. 10But the grace of God pierced even down to those depths where I lay, and made me such as I am, and abode with me, in my labours, labours exceeding those of all the others; for the grace of God has worked with me in an extraordinary manner in every way, not only in my first conversion from the lowest depths of opposition to God but in my subsequent labours. 11This then is the gist and burden of the message, I care not who it be that preaches it, whether I or they.
The Christ did conquer death
12Then what means this contention amongst some of you that the dead do not rise? 13-16But the Christ did rise. For death came through Adam, it came through a man, and through a man must come eternal life. If in Adam all die, then must death be conquered where it began, in a man. So rose the Christ from the dead. But if you say there is no resurrection from the dead, then neither did the Christ rise from the dead, and the whole of our teaching collapses, 17it falls to earth, empty, void, a perfect nothing, a falsity. 18The testimony we bear concerning God, namely, that He raised the Christ-man from the dead, has no meaning in it. 19If the Christ exists for this world only and has no eternal existence, we are the most miserable of all the dwellers on this planet!
20But the Christ has risen, and his rising is the commencement of a similar resurrection for the whole world. 21-22His re-appearance after death is like the first fruits of a mighty harvest. 23The increase and growth of this vast divine process will first include all who belong to him, when his eternal presence will become apparent throughout the world; 24and this process will continue till “the end” when there shall exist not one single power, influence or authority that moves contrary to His will, but everything will be subordinate to the infinite God and Father of All, the Creator. 25-27Everything that opposes must be reversed and subdued just there where it arose, namely in man on earth, until there be nothing left that opposes, and until death itself has been completely obliterated. That will be the end, when death is ended, and God is All-in-all, and even the Christ that saves and redeems exists only as the eternally perfect son subject to the infinite Father, there being no more enemies from which to save and redeem us, thus fulfilling the meaning of the Scriptures. For the reign of the Christ will continue on earth for a finite period, namely, until “He has made his enemies his foot-stool” (Ps. cx. 1), until all finite death-conditioned things are overruled. “He hath put all things under his feet” (Ps. viii. 6). 28All things, but not the Christ himself, for though the Christ has appeared amidst these things, he is not their subject, he is not conditioned by them, he is eternally, spiritually royal, existing only as subject to God, the All-in-all. 29That is the only significance of that practice which obtains amongst some of you, whereby the living are baptised on behalf of those already dead. It means that this progressive victory over death will ultimately include all who have died. The purpose of the Christ penetrates far beyond the little sphere of this life. But if you think that the Christ only comes to you on earth and for this life, what significance has this rite of baptism on behalf of those already beyond its pale? Unless they too are changed by the infinite operation of the Christ life, the rite is meaningless. And if the dead rise not, if there be no such victory and struggle at work, what is the significance of present struggles? 30-32I have faced the beasts in the circus before the crowd at Ephesus, I have run every risk, endured every danger, and won through them successfully — that is your boast, and the glory which you accord me for my service of the Christ; but if in this daily death of mine there is no underlying meaning, if it does not mean that even now Christ in me is fighting his victory over death, and successfully putting it under his feet and rescuing me from it, then what is the use of it all? I would rather say with the disobedient “Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die” (Is. xxii. 13) for there is no longer any meaning in my struggles. Beware! Do not let sleep overtake you, and your spiritual perception be cheated and fade. 33This is the result, as the tragic poet says, of that “bad company that doth corrupt the good.” 34There are those in your midst who have no knowledge of God. Protect yourselves against their influence.
Paul explains the resurrection
35And now you ask me, How? What is that body which dies not, but comes again? 36How can flesh and blood not perish for ever, but live on immortal? Does it seem so impossible? 37Yet even in nature we see the seed buried in the ground, becoming a shrivelled extinct husk, 38and out of that decay and dissolution springs the new body which the eternal power of God shapes and forms.
Different kinds of bodies
39We see every type and pattern of shape and form given to various existences as their bodies, we see the elements of flesh and blood taking on the form of every type of being, man, beast, fish, bird — all distinct and separate entities with appropriate bodies. 40On the same principle the form of body appropriate to the heavenly and spiritual things of God's creation is quite other than those which we see clothing things on earth. The things on earth all have their own special beauties, forms, types and their own splendour. And when we come to that which is spiritual and heavenly, we find that that too has its own appropriate expression and glory. 41The sun, moon and stars are glorious bodies, each with its own distinct glory and splendour. 42-44And the Spirit has in a similar manner its own appropriate distinct body, the spiritual species can by no possibility overrun into and mix with a distinct species of earthly things. Hence the contrast so difficult to grasp in the resurrection of the dead, whereby the spiritual species with its appropriate body appears in substitution of the former human expression of life. On the one hand weakness, corruption, dishonour, comparable to the body of a seed which rots and dissolves beneath the layer of soil; and on the other hand power, glory and incorruption, of which the green shapely stalk of corn may be taken as a simile. But the absolute distinctness of species on earth is a lesson to us, whereby the mind grasps the significance of the great spiritual category of things wholly distinct from the earthy. These things possess spiritual bodies and have no connection with earthy bodies. Their glory is distinct.
The distinction between Adam and Christ
45This is the distinction implied by the Bible between Adam, “formed of the dust of the ground,” who became “a living soul,” and that other man who is wholly spiritual with a spiritual body, 46and is conditioned by Spirit only, who gives him his appropriate form. 47This man is of heaven, not of earth, a different order of being, in a different state of existence from that of Adam. 48Now we have known the former man, and we shall also know that distinct and separate man who is a spiritual being. 49We have borne that image which is the appearance of an earthy physical man, we shall also bear that distinct heavenly stamp, the peculiar spiritual mode of being. 50-51For physical flesh and its laws are remote from the life and laws of the kingdom of God. Do not think that one can pass over into and inherit the other. Nature knows of no such amalgamation as that throughout her infinite being. 52Rather there must be a total and absolute change, a complete reversal of the mode of being, which is what the Scriptures imply by “the sounding of the last trump,” when in a timeless instant the spiritual order of being, 53the incorruptible and the eternal comes as a new order of life, a new dress, a new clothing, a new body for man. 54That is the moment at which death draws back its foot; it is at the coming of that new body and life and organism which declare and express the immortality and being of Spirit. Then is it that the words come true: “He hath swallowed up death in victory” (Is. xxv. 8). 55“Where is thy sting, O death? Where is thy victory, O grave?” (Hos. xiii. 14), 56because the law which constituted the peculiar life of the old flesh, the law which made that life perishable, and which was in itself the power of sin, antagonistic to the new law of life, that law has given place to the new nature governed by God. 57He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, and to him arise our thanks and praise therefore. 58Hence no labour of ours is vain, hence we remain steadfast and unmoved, because the work is that of the infinite God, and His action is irrepressible, abounding and never vain.
15
1Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. 9For I am the least of the apostles, who is not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was given to me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11Whether then it is I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.
12Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. 14If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. 15Yes, we are also found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn’t raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. 18Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable.
20But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. 22For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ’s, at his coming. 24Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27For, “He put all things in subjection under his feet.”#Psalm 8:6 But when he says, “All things are put in subjection”, it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him. 28When all things have been subjected to him, then the Son will also himself be subjected to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all. 29Or else what will they do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead aren’t raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? 30Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? 31I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If I fought with animals at Ephesus for human purposes, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, then “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”#Isaiah 22:13 33Don’t be deceived! “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” 34Wake up righteously, and don’t sin, for some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. 35But someone will say, “How are the dead raised?” and, “With what kind of body do they come?” 36You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37That which you sow, you don’t sow the body that will be, but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind. 38But God gives it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40There are also celestial bodies, and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial differs from that of the terrestrial. 41There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown perishable; it is raised imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.
45So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” #Genesis 2:7 The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let’s#NU, TR read “we will” instead of “let’s” also bear the image of the heavenly. 50Now I say this, brothers,#The word for “brothers” here and where context allows may also be correctly translated “brothers and sisters” or “siblings.” that flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s Kingdom; neither does the perishable inherit imperishable.
51Behold,#“Behold”, from “ἰδοὺ”, means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection. I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”#Isaiah 25:8
55“Death, where is your sting?
Hades,#or, Hell where is your victory?”#compare Hosea 13:14
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.