What does 1 Corinthians 15:54 mean?
ESV: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
NIV: When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
NASB: But when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written: 'DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP in victory.
CSB: When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory.
NLT: Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: 'Death is swallowed up in victory.
KJV: So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
NKJV: So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Verse Commentary:
The significance of this moment, still in the future, cannot be over-emphasized. Paul is speaking of the moment when all God's promises to share eternal glory with those who come to Him by faith in Christ will begin to come true. In this moment, every single person who has ever believed in Jesus, dead and alive, will be finally and fully transformed into the glorified reality God has planned for His children since before time began (1 Corinthians 15:42–44; 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17; 1 John 3:2).

Our death-stained natural bodies will be gone forever, replaced by glorified, immortal bodies that will exist eternally with our Father. Finally, the ancient prophecies will be fulfilled. Paul paraphrases two of those statements in this and the following verse. First, he references Isaiah 25:8 to declare that this will be the moment when death is defeated for good, when it is "swallowed up in victory."
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 15:50–58 powerfully concludes Paul's teaching on the resurrection of Christians: when the last trumpet blasts and Christ returns for those who belong to Him. In that moment, all believers in Jesus, living and dead, will be transformed into the glorified, eternal bodies God has promised us. Death will be defeated forever, never to hurt anyone again. Sin brings death, and the law is the power of sin, but God has given us the victory over death by forgiving our sin through faith in Jesus and by His grace.
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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