What does 1 Corinthians 15:21 mean?
ESV: For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
NIV: For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
NASB: For since by a man death came, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
CSB: For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.
NLT: So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man.
KJV: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
Verse Commentary:
Christ, raised from the dead by God after His crucifixion, was the "firstfruits" of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). That is, He was the first, not the last, of all those who have died and will walk alive again in a physical body. But why is this true? Why does Christ's resurrection mean that those who are in Christ will also be resurrected?

Paul begins in this verse to make a connection between Christ and the first man, Adam. He does something similar in Romans 5:12–21, to show how sin passed to all people through the sin of Adam. In this and the following verse, though, Paul uses the example of Adam to show something different. Adam introduced death into the world when he sinned. His death, as the result of his sin, became the pattern for all people. Christ's resurrection, in a similar way, set the pattern for all who are forgiven for their sin through faith in Him. This makes Him the prototype, or the pioneer, of salvation for those who believe (Hebrews 2:10–11).
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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