March 30, 2018
I Corinthians 15:12-19 (Modern King James Version)
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The Apostle Paul loved to use logic! (See, for example, Romans 5:8, 9; 8:31-39). He used it very effectively in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19 (Modern King James Version) – our rather lengthy featured Scripture. But I wanted to present the whole of Paul’s argument concerning the resurrection! And it is certainly an appropriate passage since Easter (the celebration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ) is but two days away!
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).
Bible scholars generally agree that the epistle to the Romans was written around 55 to 57 AD. At that time (until toward the end of the reign of Emperor Nero – 54 to 68 AD) Roman persecution was rather rare and sporadic. But the leading Jews (priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees) were more the instigators of this early persecution against Christians! (See John 9:22; Acts 8:1; 9:1, 2).
• However, we do have the record of the Roman historian Suetonius (c. 69 -122 AD). He wrote in The Lives of the Twelve Ceasars – “The Life of Claudius” (25.4), “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.”
✞ Some say Chrestus is a Roman misspelling of Christus, a designation for Christ. Others say it refers to an unknown person living in Rome. In Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chrestos (or Chrestus) in the Greek is χρηστός (pronounced khrase-tos’ ) the meaning is, “…fit for use, useful…of persons, kind, benevolent; of God…gracious….”
✞ Paulus Orosius (345-420 AD) in his Seven Books of History against the Pagans, (7.6), quoted Suetonius, writing:
In the ninth year of his reign, Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. Both
Josephus and Suetonius record this event, but I prefer, however, the account
of the latter, who speaks as follows: “Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome
because in their resentment against Christ they were continually creating
disturbances.” (emphasis added).
• Luke gives corroborative testimony in Acts 18:1 and 2: “…Paul…went to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquilla…who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome)….” Most likely, many other Jews fleeing from Rome had settled in this southern Grecian city (located on the isthmus connecting the Peloponnese with mainland Greece). It was also in Corinth, that “…the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him to the judgment seat…[of the] proconsul…Gallio…” (Acts 18:12). So apparently, there was persecution against Jews and Christians at that time and in this area!
Why did I go into this early persecution history? And what does it have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ? When believers experience hard times in their lives, they often think ahead to the resurrection and dwelling in glory with the Savior forever! Revelation 21:4 gives us a glimpse of what life in glory will be like: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” But all the promises of the future life are based on the resurrection – Christ’s resurrection as well as ours!
• The resurrection of believers will effect a great change in Christians!
✞ I Corinthians 15:53 – “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this [happens at the resurrection of the righteous – see Revelation 20:4, 5]… ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” (I Corinthians 15:54).
✞ Why is such a dramatic change needed? I Corinthians 15:50 – “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.” The corruption spoken of here refers to…
▸ …the corruption of sin in the pure and holy human life God originally created! (See Genesis 1:27, 31; Ecclesiastes 7:29).
▸ …the corruption of spiritual and physical life! Man was designed to live forever in fellowship with his Creator. But “…the soul who sins shall die…” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20), spiritually and eternally, as well as physically! (See Genesis 2:17; John 8:24; I Corinthians 15:23; Ephesians 2:1, 12; I John 3;14; Revelation 21:8).
• I Corinthians 15:22 and 23 – “…in Christ all [believers] shall be made alive [resurrected]. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
✞ The firstfruits were the first of the crops to ripen. These were harvested and presented to the Lord as a thank offering in anticipation of an abundant harvest to follow!
✞ Christ was the first to be resurrected having a glorified body! His resurrection body was physical (see Luke 24:39), but it was perfectly adapted to eternal spiritual living!
▸ He will live forever, never to die again! (See Romans 6:9; Hebrews 7:25).
▸ He was not limited as we are in our mortal bodies! (See Luke 24:30, 31: John 20:19, 26; Acts 1:9).
We have not even gotten to our theme – Without The Resurrection! But in our next blog we’ll examine Paul’s logic in I Corinthians 15:12 through 19.