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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
Jesus Came Back to Life
1Brothers and sisters, I’m making known to you the Good News which I already told you, which you received, and on which your faith is based. 2In addition, you are saved by this Good News if you hold on to the doctrine I taught you, unless you believed it without thinking it over. 3I passed on to you the most important points of doctrine that I had received:
Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted.
4He was placed in a tomb.
He was brought back to life on the third day as the Scriptures predicted.
5He appeared to Cephas.#15:5 Cephas is the Aramaic name for the Apostle Peter. Next he appeared to the twelve apostles. 6Then he appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. (Most of these people are still living, but some have died.) 7Next he appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8Last of all, he also appeared to me.
I’m like an aborted child ⌞who was given life⌟. 9I’m the least of the apostles. I’m not even fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted God’s church. 10But God’s kindness  #15:10 Or “grace.” made me what I am, and that kindness was not wasted on me. Instead, I worked harder than all the others. It was not I who did it, but God’s kindness was with me. 11So, whether it was I or someone else, this is the message we brought you, and this is what you believed.
We Will Come Back to Life
12If we have told you that Christ has been brought back to life, how can some of you say that coming back from the dead is impossible? 13If the dead can’t be brought back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life. 14If Christ hasn’t come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also has no meaning. 15In addition, we are obviously witnesses who lied about God because we testified that he brought Christ back to life. But if it’s true that the dead don’t come back to life, then God didn’t bring Christ back to life. 16Certainly, if the dead don’t come back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life either. 17If Christ hasn’t come back to life, your faith is worthless and sin still has you in its power. 18Then those who have died as believers in Christ no longer exist. 19If Christ is our hope in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people.
20But now Christ has come back from the dead. He is the very first person of those who have died to come back to life. 21Since a man brought death, a man also brought life back from death. 22As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ. 23This will happen to each person in his own turn. Christ is the first, then at his coming, those who belong to him ⌞will be made alive⌟. 24Then the end will come. Christ will hand over the kingdom to God the Father as he destroys every ruler, authority, and power.
25Christ must rule until God has put every enemy under his control. 26The last enemy he will destroy is death. 27Clearly, God has put everything under Christ’s authority. When God says that everything has been put under Christ’s authority, this clearly excludes God, since God has put everything under Christ’s authority. 28But when God puts everything under Christ’s authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, since God had put everything under the Son’s authority. Then God will be in control of everything.
29However, people are baptized because the dead ⌞will come back to life⌟. What will they do? If the dead can’t come back to life, why do people get baptized as if they can ⌞come back to life⌟?
30Why are we constantly putting ourselves in danger? 31Brothers and sisters, I swear to you on my pride in you which Christ Jesus our Lord has given me: I face death every day. 32If I have fought with wild animals in Ephesus, what have I gained according to the way people look at things? If the dead are not brought back to life, “Let’s eat and drink because tomorrow we’re going to die!” 33Don’t let anyone deceive you. Associating with bad people will ruin decent people. 34Come back to the right point of view, and stop sinning. Some people don’t know anything about God. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
We Will Have Bodies That Will Not Decay
35But someone will ask, “How do the dead come back to life? With what kind of body will they come back?”
36You fool! The seed you plant doesn’t come to life unless it dies first. 37What you plant, whether it’s wheat or something else, is only a seed. It doesn’t have the form that the plant will have. 38God gives the plant the form he wants it to have. Each kind of seed grows into its own form. 39Not all flesh is the same. Humans have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds have another, and fish have still another. 40There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. Heavenly bodies don’t all have the same splendor, neither do earthly bodies. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon has another kind of splendor, and the stars have still another kind of splendor. Even one star differs in splendor from another star.
42That is how it will be when the dead come back to life. When the body is planted, it decays. When it comes back to life, it cannot decay. 43When the body is planted, it doesn’t have any splendor and is weak. When it comes back to life, it has splendor and is strong. 44It is planted as a physical body. It comes back to life as a spiritual body. As there is a physical body, so there is also a spiritual body.
45This is what Scripture says: “The first man, Adam, became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual does not come first, but the physical and then the spiritual. 47The first man was made from the dust of the earth. He came from the earth. The second man came from heaven. 48The people on earth are like the man who was made from the dust of the earth. The people in heaven are like the man who came from heaven. 49As we have worn the likeness of the man who was made from the dust of the earth, we will also wear the likeness of the man who came from heaven. 50Brothers and sisters, this is what I mean: Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom. What decays cannot inherit what doesn’t decay.
51I’m telling you a mystery. Not all of us will die, but we will all be changed. 52It will happen in an instant, in a split second at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will come back to life. They will be changed so that they can live forever. 53This body that decays must be changed into a body that cannot decay. This mortal body must be changed into a body that will live forever. 54When this body that decays is changed into a body that cannot decay, and this mortal body is changed into a body that will live forever, then the teaching of Scripture will come true:
“Death is turned into victory!
55Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?”
56Sin gives death its sting, and God’s standards give sin its power. 57Thank God that he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation ⌞of your faith⌟. Always excel in the work you do for the Lord. You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless.