April 2, 2018
I Corinthians 15:12-19 (Modern King James Version)
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Today is the day after Resurrection Sunday (Easter), and we are examining Paul’s logical argument concerning the resurrection found in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19 (Modern King James Version).
But if Christ is proclaimed…that He was raised from the dead, how do some
among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no
resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has
not been raised, then our proclamation is worthless, and your faith is also
worthless. And we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we
testified of God that He raised Christ; whom He did not raise if the dead are
not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. And if
Christ is not raised, your faith is foolish; you are yet in your sins. Then also
those that fell asleep in Christ were lost. If in this life only we have hope in
Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (Modern King James Version).
I believe the reason why the Corinthian Christians were arguing concerning the resurrection was because they had suffered persecution! And the resurrection pointed toward a future blessed and free eternal life! (See I Corinthians 15:53, 54; Philippians 3:21; Revelation 21:4, 5).
• One source of early persecution was the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem (priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees). They “…had agreed already that if anyone confessed that…[Jesus] was the Christ, he would be put out of [excommunicated from] the synagogue.” (John 9:22).
✞ Excommunication meant no one was to interact with the banned person – employ him, buy from him, or sell to him!
✞ This is why the early Christians in Jerusalem…
▸ “…had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:44 and 45).
▸ …were sent a financial gift “…from [believers in] Macedonia and Achaia…for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:26 – see also Galatians 2:10).
• Saul of Tarsus (who later became Paul, the apostle) led a Jewish sanctioned severe persecution against ‘heretic’ Christians! (See Acts 8:1; 9:1, 2; Acts 22:4; 26:11; I Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13, 23).
• More specifically, the persecution affecting the Corinthian Jews and Christians was “…because [the Roman emperor] Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome.” By the way, early in Church history, pagan Gentiles often did not differentiate between Jews and Christians.
And so, experiencing persecution may have directed Corinthian believers’ thoughts toward the resurrection!
But “…some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead…”! (I Corinth-ians 15:12). Paul’s logical argument in the next verses of our featured Scripture, tells us what would it mean if “…if there is no resurrection of the dead….” (I Corinthians 15:13). I have combined some of the apostle’s logical thoughts when he is writing about the same point in different verses.
• I Corinthians 15:13 and 16 – “If there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised….For if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.”
✞ Without faith to believe, Scriptures about the resurrection read much like a fairy tale! “Raised to life after you have died? You’ve got to be kidding!” Although it had happened a number of times in the Bible record, it seems the majority of people – especially the Gentiles – reacted to the idea of the dead being resurrected much as did some of the Athenians in Acts 17:32: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said [to Paul] ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’ ” But that the dead were raised is recorded…
▸ …three times in the Old Testament…
➨ The widow of Zarephath’s son whom Elijah raised (see I Kings
➨ The Shunammite woman’s son whom Elisha raised (see II
Kings 4:18 – 25, 32 – 37).
➨ An Israelite man whose dead body touched Elisha’s bones (see
II Kings 13:21).
▸ …several times in the New Testament – by Jesus and His disciples…
➨ The widow of Nain’s son (see Luke 7:11-15).
➨ Jairus’ daughter (see Luke 8:48-55).
➨ Lazarus of Bethany (see John 11:14, 38-44).
➨ The saints in Jerusalem at Jesus’ death (see Matthew 27:50-54).
➨ Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) whom Peter raised (see Acts
➨ Eutychus whom Paul raised (see Acts 20:7-12).
✞ Since it says that “…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 15:20 – see also verse 23), that is, He is the first to be resurrected with a glorified body; His resurrection gives us an anticipation of a great harvest of believers also being resurrected in the future! (See Daniel 12:2, 3; Luke 20:35; John 5:29; Romans 6:5; 8:22, 23; I Corinthians 15:22; Philippians 3:21; I Peter 1:3; Revelation 20:4-6). So, in that sense, Jesus is the resurrection pattern! And if the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised – and we are in trouble!…as it says in verses 14 and 15.
We will cover the next four points in Paul’s logical argument in our next blog.