1 Corinthians 15

This devotional is written by Arabella Northey.

1 Corinthians 15

Listen to the reading on Sound Cloud
The resurrection of Christ
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

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 baptised for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptised 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.

The resurrection body
35 But someone will ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?' 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: people have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 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.'

55 'Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?'

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.


Listen to the reflection on Sound Cloud
Dear Church of Corinth, hope all is well with you? How is my favourite cultural hub? What a great 18 months I spent there with you all. Have you been distracted lately by the sums of money that pass through the port or other religious groups competing for your attention? I am still in Ephesus and though we are separated by the Aegean Sea, I wish so much that I could be with you. I am grateful for all your questions and sorry to hear of some of the problems that you have encountered. Let me begin to guide you back to Jesus' teaching and invite the Holy Spirit to highlight what is important. Yours, Apostle Paul.

This is a quick take on how I imagine Paul penning his infamous letter to the people of Corinth. He knew each of the key players intimately and as an educated Roman citizen was aware of the tricky nature of their problems. Remember, the Christian world-view does not exist in 1st Century Corinth. He was dealing with new converts. They did not have a New Testament to open or a recorded version of Jesus' ministry. It was probably easy for other religious groups (pantheists, Egyptian and Roman polytheism and Judaism) to construct clever arguments to cause divisions in the church and its followers. Being a Christian at this time was a risky business.

In 1 Corinthians 15, the challenge is the denial of Jesus' resurrection. Something that many believers take for granted today, it is the central premise of our Easter celebration.

What is Paul highlighting as we read through the passage?
  1. That Christ was resurrected 
  2. That the dead will be resurrected
  3. The description of our resurrection bodies and the contrast to our physical bodies.

The creed, a statement of our beliefs, is often recited in church and confirms what Paul is writing: that Christ died for our sins, just as written in the scriptures. Jesus was buried, many confirmed this event. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day as had been prophesied; Paul even quotes the prophets. No doubts from his perspective! He challenges the Greek philosophers and local culture - bodily resurrection actually happens not just to Jesus, but to all of us. We can stand firm on the knowledge that death will be defeated, we shall be forgiven and eternal life guaranteed.

REFLECTION on the passage:
  1. What do the scriptures say about Jesus' death and resurrection?  
  2. Who witnessed these events?
  3. Why does he highlight the witnesses?
  4. Why is it important to accept resurrection?
  5. What is Jesus' mission on the earth?
  6. How does this concept of eternal life affect our actions today?
  7. What are the differences between the physical and resurrection body?
  8. Why should we continue to hope even in the face of challenges?

Lord, I thank you that we have your word on which to pin our hopes. When we feel in the clutches of death or challenges, let your word spring forth and by your Holy Spirit remind us that your death swallowed our guilt, sin and shame. Thank you Lord that you have given us triumphant and everlasting life, let me adopt that mindset today and throw myself into the life ahead.

No Comments