CONFESSING THE FAITH
Lord, teach me the significance of Your resurrection.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 15:12–34
The Resurrection of the Dead
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
New International Version (NIV)
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Of all the problems plaguing this Corinthian Christian assembly, could any one of them be more damaging than a denial of the resurrection of the believer?
The cultural and religious context within which the followers of Jesus come to faith at Corinth was such that some of them were denying the possibility, not only of Christ’s resurrection, but of resurrection as such. Paul quotes this faction as saying “there is no resurrection of the dead” (12). Such language reflects the influence of Greek philosophy and religion, which treated the physical body as an encumbrance that detracted from the life of the spirit. What really mattered to the Greeks was the soul, which would be liberated from the body through death. Plato had described the body as “the prison of the soul” and, for those embracing such a worldview, a resurrection makes no sense. Thus, the same cultural pressures that led the Corinthians to regard spiritual gifts as of supreme importance also resulted in some of them devaluing the body and dismissing the hope of its triumph over death.
Paul’s response is emphatic, if not tart: the denial of the resurrection of Jesus Christ invalidates the Christian hope, both for humankind and for the created world. Yet, nearly two thousand years after this letter was written, we may still detect echoes of the Greek suspicion of the physical body and the material world among evangelical Christians. When evangelism is described as “soul-winning,” or when worship is focused exclusively on the spiritual life of the individual, the Christian hope is diminished and Paul’s confidence in the death and resurrection of Jesus heralding the renewal of all things is forgotten.
If the resurrection challenged certain commonly held beliefs among Corinthian converts, how does it confront the modernist worldview which we inherit?
Lord, I believe that You rose from the dead and that our forthcoming resurrection is inextricably tied in with Yours.