I Corinthians 15 centers around the idea of resurrection – not only of Christ but of ourselves as well. The saints at Corinth do not deny that Jesus is bodily raised from the dead. What they have a problem with is our own bodily resurrection. In the first few verses, Paul establishes three facts about the resurrection: the resurrection as the source, the course, and the force of the Bible.
The Resurrection Driving the Gospel
Verses 1-4 record Paul stating that their faith is based on the doctrine of Christ’s death and resurrection. That Christ died and was raised is a nutshell of the gospel. Spiritually, sin puts us under the condemnation of death, and Christ’s death and resurrection provides us with a path of reconciliation with God. If He had died and remained in the grave, we would be without hope, but the resurrection provides foundation for our hope.
From here, Paul describes how the resurrection is verified in the gospel. It is the course of the gospel. He brackets the process of the death, burial, and resurrection with the phrase “according to the scriptures” in verses 3-4. Psalm 16:8-10 is quoted in Acts 2:25-29, and Peter applies this passage to Christ. From here, Paul appeals to eye witnesses in verses 5-8 of I Corinthians 15. He walks among others for forty days before His ascension to Heaven.
Finally, the resurrection is the motivator of the gospel. I Corinthians 6:9-10 speaks of the sins in which these brethren had once been involved, but they had been redirected by the gospel – God’s power of salvation according to Romans 1:16. In chapter 15: 9-10, Paul then uses himself as proof of the power of the resurrection. After seeing the Lord, Paul recognizes his own need for salvation. I Timothy 1:13 records Paul describing himself in hostile terms, but his exposure to the resurrection fundamentally changes his character. It requires him to redirect his energies.
Applying Ourselves In the Resurrection
When we think of the resurrection, we should be like Paul and let that message of the risen Messiah motivate us to examine ourselves, change our character, and redirect our energies. Being a successful Christian is not a passive experience. We must be energetic for the Lord.
If indeed Christ is raised and we will be raised, there are some glorious results. I Corinthians 15:20-23 describes a great gathering of the faithful – made alive to be united with Christ and with each other. We will be raised to never face death again. It is the culmination of God’s plan according to verses 24-28 when all shall come under subjection to God, and the spiritual kingdom – of which we are a part – will be given over to God, abolishing death for all time.
Anticipation of this event should produce perseverance within us. I Corinthians 15:29 begins asking a series of questions regarding the point of our faith and the resultant trials if we have no hope of resurrection. However, that hope should sustain us and give us the confidence to look forward to that day when we will be reunited with our Lord. Paul is dramatically changed by the power of the resurrection, and we can be likewise changed. Our hope and confidence drive us to put away our sinful selves and fully center our lives around Christ who was raised and who will raise us.
lesson by Tim Smelser