1 Corinthians 15
by Pastor David Groendyk
There is one last major issue for the church in Corinth which Paul addresses. It seems some in the church were teaching that there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead (v. 12). Perhaps this was because they couldn’t understand what it would look like for someone to be raised (v. 35), or it could’ve been some other reason. Regardless, Paul is emphasizing the truth and importance of resurrection for Christians. For us living in a culture that often denies any sort of life after this one, it’s important for us to know what we believe and how it affects the way we live.
In verses 1–11, Paul explains that Christ’s own bodily resurrection is essential to the gospel we believe and proclaim. Christ died on the cross, was buried in the ground, and rose from the dead and even appeared to hundreds of people, thus proving his bodily resurrection. Paul even assures the Corinthians that the resurrected Christ appeared to him. The truth of that resurrection had a significant effect on Paul’s life. He considers his conversion and calling to be an apostle as a total and undeserving gift of God. But that gift has not led him to be lazy or passive. He’s worked harder than anyone else. Yet even that working he considers to be a grace of God in his life. Has the grace of God led to passivity in your life? We of all people have the greatest motivation and the greatest power in our lives to work for Christ.
In verses 12–34, Paul explains that Christ’s resurrection means that our own resurrection is certain. Christ’s own resurrection was the firstfruits, the very first in-gathering of a harvest that will be completed on the last day (v. 20). If we ourselves had no hope of being raised from the dead, then nothing in this life matters. We live a pitiable life if we have no hope for a life after this one (v. 19). All of our greatest, life-risking feats done in the name of Christ mean absolutely nothing if there is no resurrection (vv. 30–32). As believers, we must always keep in mind that this life and this world are not our home. We look forward to a better, permanent, rewarding life after this one. Therefore, let us live in this life accordingly, not giving ourselves over to the good things of this life and living in a drunken stupor (vv. 32–34). But we must live awake, always pursuing holiness and investing in the life after this one. How else should our own resurrection affect the way we live now?
In verses 35–49, Paul tells us what our resurrection bodies will be like. Admittedly, he probably doesn’t tell us everything that our itching ears want to hear, but he does tell us something important. Our bodies will be different than what they’re like now. Our current bodies are something like bare kernels compared to the full grown wheat of our resurrected bodies (v. 37). They will be brought alive and empowered by the Holy Spirit in a way that they don’t experience now (v. 44). They will be bodies that are made fit for their new heavenly homes (v. 49). But while Paul emphasizes the differences between our current and future bodies, don’t miss this fact: our resurrected bodies won’t be utterly brand new bodies, but a perfected version of our current bodies. That means that it matters what we do with our bodies now. As Paul made the point in 1 Corinthians 6, so he does now. What we do with our bodies matters. How should that affect the way we live now?
In verses 50–58, Paul gives one final charge. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Why ought we to be steadfast and immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord? Because we know that death itself will one day be conquered. Death has no victory and no sting. Death does not win. We are freed up to give our lives away to Christ in service to him because we know that this life is not all there is. Let us then do just that. How might you be able to give more of your life away in service to Christ? How should the hope of our resurrection give us courage to do that?