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1 Corinthians chapter 15

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20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24Then 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. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For 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. 28And 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. 29Else 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? 30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If 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. 33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37And 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: 38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39All 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. 40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41There 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. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43It is sown in dishonour; 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 a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

What does 1 Corinthians chapter 15 mean?

Will Christians really be raised from the dead as Christ was after the crucifixion? Some of the Corinthians did not think so. A group of them either believed false teaching or blended Christian ideas with the Greco-Roman philosophies of their day. Perhaps they imagined life completely ends in death. More likely, they thought the human spirit continues into the afterlife without a body of any kind.

Paul writes this chapter to correct their thinking, teaching about what resurrection from the dead means for born-again believers.

He begins by reminding the Corinthian Christians of what they believed when he taught them the gospel of Jesus. They believed in both the death of Christ for their sins and the physical resurrection of Christ from the dead on the third day. In short, they believed the gospel. Since so many eyewitnesses to Christ's resurrection were still living, the Corinthians could choose to remain confident that Christ did indeed walk alive out of His tomb (1 Corinthians 15:1–11).

Having established that the Corinthians do believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Paul challenges their unbelief in the coming resurrection of all who trust in Christ. He begins to show why this is so significant by working out the logical implications of believing there is no resurrection from the dead. It starts with this: If nobody is resurrected from the dead, then Christ was not resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:12–13).

That would mean that Paul's preaching of the gospel was false and worthless, as was the faith of anyone foolish enough to believe it. In fact, Paul and the other apostles would be guilty of misrepresenting God the Father by claiming that He raised Christ from the dead. Even worse, if the gospel is false, all who have believed in Christ for their forgiveness of their sins by God remain unforgiven and destined for hell. In fact, those who have already died are already separated from God forever (1 Corinthians 15:14–18).

Truly Christians are to be pitied more than anyone if our hope in Christ ends in death. Especially given all the hardships endured for the sake of faith, a resurrection-less end would be a disaster (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Thankfully, Paul declares once more that Christ has been raised from the dead. Further, He was but the first of all who will follow Him. Just as death came to all people through one man, Adam, resurrection will come to all in Christ when He returns for all those who belong to Him. At that time, Christ will defeat every power on earth and the Father will cause everything to be under His authority. Once that is secure, Jesus will deliver the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:20–28).

After declaring that he would not continue to lead the dangerous and costly life of an apostle of Jesus if there was not resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:29–34), Paul begins to describe what the resurrected body will be like. Shallow thinking, or superstitions of that era, might have assumed "resurrection" meant a reanimated corpse. Or, they might have wondered how a rotting or corrupted body could exist in a heavenly realm. Instead, Paul described our current bodies as the seed that will die to make way for a far better body built to exist in eternity. That body will be as different from our current bodies as a man is from a star or the moon (1 Corinthians 15:35–41).

The natural-born physical bodies of believers are perishable, temporary, dishonorable, and weak. They will be raised imperishable, eternal, glorified, and powerful. These natural bodies, made as Adam's was from the stuff of earth (Genesis 2:7), will be transformed into bodies like the one Christ was raised with and made of the stuff of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:42–49).

Though it is hard to comprehend, when Christ returns, both the dead in Christ and those who still live will be transformed in an instant into these new and glorified heavenly bodies that will never die. Death will be swallowed up in victory, never to hurt anyone again (1 Corinthians 15:50–58).

This concludes the main doctrinal content of Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth. What follows in chapter 16 is mostly tying up loose ends, addressing scattered issues, and giving his closing remarks.
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