1 Corinthians 15:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 15:19, NIV: If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:19, ESV: If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

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

1 Corinthians 15:19, NASB: If we have hoped in Christ only in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:19, NLT: And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

1 Corinthians 15:19, CSB: If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

What does 1 Corinthians 15:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

What would be the point of a version of Christianity in which Christ was never raised from the dead? People who do not believe in resurrection from the dead must confront this essential question. The picture is bleak. If Christ was not raised from the dead, then the gospel is false and those who teach it are liars. Those who believe it have wasted their time and are still unforgiven by God for their sin and bound for hell. Those who have already died suffer in that eternal death already.

Perhaps this group of misled Corinthians believed in annihilation of both body and spirit at death, as many in the culture believed. If so, they would have viewed the benefits of faith in Christ to be limited only to this life before absolute death. Paul begins here to reject that any such experience would be worthwhile. If our hope in Christ is a hope that ends with our physical death in this life, what a waste of time!

This lament is especially poignant for people like Paul, who suffered extreme persecution for their faith. If Jesus Christ was not literally raised from the dead, then the physical and emotional abuse Paul suffered was truly pointless (2 Corinthians 11:24–28). Here, again, reason and logic shine through in Christianity: if there is no life to come, it makes sense to view people who believe in it with pity. Some today do exactly that. Paul says they are right to do so—if Christ and those who follow Him are not resurrected to new life.

Of course, this is not the end of Paul's logical process. The same logic that makes Christians "pitiable" for their faith and suffering, if Christ is not raised, makes their experiences meaningful and worthwhile if Christ is risen. Thankfully, He is risen, indeed (Matthew 28:6)!