What does 1 Corinthians 15:18 mean?
ESV: Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
NIV: Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
NASB: Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
CSB: Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.
NLT: In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!
KJV: Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
NKJV: Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is following the logic to show the consequences for the Christian faith if there is no resurrection from the dead, meaning that Christ Himself was not raised from the dead. Paul has shown that if Christ was not raised, the gospel is false. If the gospel is false, then there is no forgiveness for sin by God's grace and through faith in a non-resurrected Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). The Christian faith is not one of blind, reason-free gullibility. Rather, it's based on a claim of truth, inseparable from the resurrection of Jesus.

Of course, it's logically possible that Christianity could be false, and yet God still be real. So, as Paul notes, debunking the resurrection would not change the reality that sin separates humanity from God (Romans 3:23; 6:23). All those who die with their sin unforgiven by God will be separated from Him for eternity. If Christ was not raised from the dead, then all those who have already died were not saved, after all. Perhaps the Corinthians could think of many specific people they all knew from the Christian community who had died. The idea that all those people remained in their sin and separated from God would have been as much of a blow to them as it is for us to imagine.

Paul will add one more terrible consequence for those who trust in a non-resurrected Christ in the following verse before turning back to show what the reality of the resurrection means for those who believe in what is true.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 15:12–34 describes all the implications for Christians if there is no resurrection, at all. Most importantly, that would mean that Christ was not raised from the dead. If Christ was not raised, then Paul's preaching of the gospel was false, and the faith of those who believed it was worthless. All remain in their sins. Christ, though, was raised from the dead, and when He returns for those who are His, all who have died in Christ will be resurrected to new life, as He was after the crucifixion. Finally, Christ will reign on earth before delivering the kingdom to the Father.
Chapter Summary:
Paul provides thorough teaching about the resurrection of Christians from the dead. This is a direct counter to some group of Corinthians who did not believe in such a resurrection. He shows that natural death is not the end of life for Christians; it is the last step before receiving a glorified, resurrected body like that of the risen Christ. That ''spiritual'' body will be as different from our current bodies as a star is from a fish. In that moment, for all who have believed in Christ, living and dead, death will be defeated for good.
Chapter Context:
In chapters 12, 13, and 14, Scripture focused on the concept of spiritual gifts and how best to use them. This follows several other ideas where Paul corrected errors in the Corinthians' thinking. Chapter 15 contains extensive teaching on one last issue about which some Corinthians were confused or misled. Apparently, they harbored some doubts about the physical resurrection of Christians from the dead. After clearing up these confusions, Paul will address various other items, of a less doctrinal nature, and close out his letter.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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