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1 Corinthians 15:2

ESV and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
NIV By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
NASB by which you also are saved, if you hold firmly to the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
CSB and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.
NLT It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you — unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.
KJV By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

What does 1 Corinthians 15:2 mean?

Paul has set out to clear up some misunderstanding among the Christians in Corinth about resurrection. He began in the previous verse by asking them to remember the gospel as he first preached it to them when establishing the church in Corinth.

Paul will insist that the content of the gospel, and their belief in all of it, is the foundation for everything that is true. He has reminded them that they received the gospel as it was presented to them; they continue to have a right standing before God because of their faith in the truth of the gospel.

Now Paul adds that they are in the process of being saved by the gospel right now. When Paul and other New Testament writers talk about salvation, they often use the past, present, and future tenses. Those in Christ have been saved, in the sense that our sins are forgiven and our place in eternity is secure. We are being saved; God is active right now in sanctifying us to be like Christ. We will be saved when the moment comes for us to stand before God in eternity, and we're freed from all sin.

There's a problem, however. Paul describes those who have received the gospel as "being saved" if they hold firmly to the truth as he preached it to them. The word "if" is easily interpreted as "since," because this statement is tied to them holding fast to the word preached to them. But the Corinthians have believed the gospel in vain if they did not and are not believing the gospel as he preached it to them. In other words, if anyone is believing a false version of the gospel of Jesus, that person should not think that they have any standing before God.

The part of the gospel Paul will emphasize in this chapter is faith in Christ's resurrection, as well as His death. Both must be believed to hold to the gospel as Paul preached it to them.
What is the Gospel?
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