What does 1 Corinthians 15:55 mean?
ESV: "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
NIV: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
NASB: WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR VICTORY? WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR STING?'
CSB: Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?
NLT: O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? '
KJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
NKJV: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
Verse Commentary:
Paul is describing the moment when, at Christ's coming, every believer in Jesus, living and dead, will be transformed into glorified bodies to spend eternity with God. This is the moment all of creation is waiting for (Romans 8:19). This is the moment mentioned by the prophets of God. Paul referenced Isaiah 25:8 in the previous verse: "Death is swallowed up by victory."

Now he references Hosea 13:14 to taunt death about its coming once-and-for-all defeat: "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

It's true that Jesus' resurrection from the grave was the beginning of the end for death and the "one with the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14), but for now believers still physically die. The moment we are given redeemed, glorified resurrection bodies is the instant described here: the end of the end for death. This will culminate in the complete and total elimination of death and evil (Revelation 20:14). For now, those who are in Christ will continue to experience an inner groaning, a sense of incompletion, until this longed-for moment, when our bodies are redeemed by this promised, death-defeating transformation (Romans 8:23).
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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