It seems that the Corinthian church had some false ideas about the resurrection. In this chapter the apostle Paul deals with these problems and reminds us the importance of the resurrection in our lives as Christians. Note what he wrote in 1 Cor. 15:12, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul uses the resurrection of Jesus to prove that there is a resurrection from the dead. Read John’s account of the resurrection, John 20:1-18.
The gospel is the “Good News” about Jesus, read 1 Cor 15:1-4. The good news that He came to earth and died for our sins and on the 3rd day was resurrected from the dead. The gospel is at the very centre Christianity. Without the gospel we would have nothing.
This is what Paul points out to the Corinthians. The believed the gospel and they obeyed it. Now, arguably, the most important part of the gospel is that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. If Jesus had not been resurrected he would have just another teacher. His resurrection proved that He was the Son of God and that the price had been paid for our sins.
Paul points out that the resurrection was a verifiable fact. The Corinthians could go and speak to the witnesses of the resurrection. Paul lists the witnesses, 1 Cor 15:5-8, and includes all the apostles and more than 500 brethren. He states the resurrection as a fact that could be proven. This is something that could stand up in a court of law. Having proven that the resurrection of Christ to place, Paul then asks why some say there is no resurrection, 1 Cor 15:12.
No resurrection from the dead?
Paul states, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised” 1 Cor 15:13. This of course would present many problems. Firstly he says it would prove us false teachers, it would mean that we do not have sins forgiven. It would mean that those who have died “in Christ” have perished. It would mean that we have no hope at all. Paul points out the ridiculous conclusions one would have to draw from this belief, that there is no resurrection from the dead.
Paul however gives us hope. He writes, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” 1 Cor 15:20. Jesus’ resurrection has led the way for our resurrection. In Christ we shall be made alive and this resurrection will come about at the end, 1 Cor 14:24, on the last day.
We are dead while still in our sins. We are baptised for the forgiveness of our sins, Acts 2:38. Baptism leads us out of death into life, Rom 8:10. Why be baptised if there is no hope for us, if there is no resurrection?
How are the dead raised?
When we die we will have new “body”, 1 Cor 15:42. We will be changed in the same was as a grain of wheat changes. In order for us to undergo that change we have to die. We die in a perishable body; we will be raised in an imperishable body. We now have a natural (physical) body, but we will have a spiritual body come the resurrection. Again we can see Jesus as the one who has gone first. He lived in the flesh, He died, was in the tomb and on the third day resurrected. As we are now earthly, we will be heavenly.
The Mystery of the Resurrection
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed” 1 Cor 15:51. When a Christian dies it is often referred to as sleep. The reason for this is because it is just a temporary state. We will not remain “asleep”, we shall be changed, see 1 Cor 15:52, also 1 Thess 4:16-17. Then death will be forever defeated, Rev. 20:11-15. The victory has already been won, it was won on the cross and the evidence of this victory is the resurrection.