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1 Corinthians 15





This chapter begins with the unassuming word “Now”.  But it is an important word.  In the previous chapters, Paul was attempting to answer questions that the Corinthian church had sent to him in their letter.  Having addressed those, Paul now turns to a doctrinal issue of incredible importance.  So, the word “Now” points to a significant change in topics.  He writes in this chapter primarily about the resurrection.

Before he gets into that topic, Paul gives a masterful and concise description of the Gospel.  The first piece of this, in verse 3, is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture.  There are two important things here.  One is that Christ died for our sins.  The wages of sin is death.  Jesus died in our place for our sins. He was our substitute in that He died in our place.  He was the satisfaction in that His death satisfied God’s wrath against all sin.  The other aspect of this first piece is this happened “according to the Scripture”.  In other words, Jesus’ death on Calvary’s Cross was God’s predetermined plan.  It was what God had always intended on happening.

The second piece in verse 4 is that He was buried.  There are a couple of things of importance here.  One, His burial proved His death.  There are some that would say Jesus swooned or passed out on the cross and that what would be called His resurrection was not that at all but was instead a return to consciousness.  But remember His death was required to fulfill the demands of Scripture.  Two, His physical burial was necessary for His physical resurrection.  And, as we will see, His physical resurrection is not only proof of the validity of the Gospel, it is also the basis for the resurrection of the saints.

The third piece also in verse 4 is that He was raised on the third day.  As Paul says later in this chapter, if Jesus is not raised from the dead, we are still in our sins.  His resurrection is not only the proof of who He is and the irrefutable evidence of the Messianic prophecies but it is also the basis of the Christian faith.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then all of this is futile. 

The fourth piece found in verses 5-8 is about Jesus’ post resurrection appearances.  He appeared to different people at different times.  He appeared to individuals, to small groups of people, and to a crowd.  It is one thing to die for the sins of others.  It is one thing to be buried because you have died.  But it is another thing altogether to be bodily raised from the grave.  The Scripture reminds us that there were more than sufficient witnesses to corroborate the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.

In verse 12, we find that apparently some in Corinth did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead.  In fact, their argument was there no resurrection from the dead for anyone.   It seems more than a bit odd that “Christians” didn’t believe in the resurrection.  But you might remember in Judaism at that time one of the groups of religious leaders were the Sadducees.  They didn’t believe in anything of a spiritual nature.  For example, they didn’t believe in a resurrection or going to heaven or angels or any other such thing.  So, it is possible that some of that influence had leaked into Corinth.

Regardless of the source of that heretical notion that Jesus was not bodily resurrected from the dead, the obvious reality is some of those folks did not believe in the resurrection.  So, Paul presents an incredible argument about the absolute necessity of the resurrection.  He even linked it to the fact that if Jesus is not resurrected then we have no hope of resurrection.  He went on to say that if Jesus is not resurrected our faith is futile, our hope is empty, and our future is bleak.  We might as well “eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (verse 32) and there will be nothing after that point.

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1 Corinthians 14





In chapter 12, Paul spoke extensively about spiritual gifts.  In chapter 13, Paul reminds us of the primacy and superiority and eternality of love in relationship to spiritual gifts.  In today’s chapter, Paul takes on a specific gift but does so in relationship to another one of the spiritual gifts. 

This chapter has a lot to say about the gift of speaking in tongues.  Much of what Paul says about this gift is in comparison to the gift of prophecy.  But the overarching theme of the entire chapter is really about order in our worship services and church gatherings (verse 40).  The basis for this is in verse 33 where Paul reminds us that God is not a God of confusion or chaos but of peace.

I want you to notice that of all the spiritual gifts, the one that Paul singled out as something we should desire is the gift of prophecy.  Because the Bible has been completed, the gift of prophecy is no long a telling of the future.  It is straightforward telling of the truth which can include what God has already told us about the future.

Space does not allow me to drill down too deep into this chapter.  But there are some things that I necessarily need to point out.  For example, in verses 4-5, Paul tells us that someone who speaks in tongues builds himself up.  But someone who prophesies builds up the church.  The exception to that is if there is someone who can interpret what was said.  The question is how would someone know if there were someone present who could interpret.  And if the one who speaks in tongues then interprets what he said, why didn’t he just say it in a known language to begin with?  The key here is the gifts that we practice should build up the church.

In verse 6, Paul says that if he came speaking in tongues, there would be no benefit to the church unless he also came with a revelation (This is an act of the early apostles.  Since the revelation of the Bible is complete, additional revelations have ceased.).  Paul then mentions three spiritual gifts that would be a benefit and build up the local church: knowledge, prophecy, teaching.

From there Paul makes a comparison to known languages around the world that might be unknown to listeners.  For example, someone could be teaching the Bible in Russian.  That person could be doing a terrific job but because I don’t understand any Russian, that person’s teaching would not be a help to me and I would not be built up by it.  So, if someone speaks in tongues in the church, everyone else is left out.  And the church will not be encouraged, edified, or strengthened. 

Paul makes a most interesting statement in verse 18.  He said that he spoke in tongues more than all of the folks in the Corinthian church.  There are a few interesting things to think about here.  To my knowledge, none of the other apostles are said to have spoken in tongues.  Second, although Paul said that he spoke in tongues, there is no Scriptural evidence that he did that in any church.  Third, he said he would rather speak five words of prophecy than to speak thousands of words in tongues.

Paul goes on to say that if unbelievers show up at church and people are speaking in tongues, those unbelievers will think that church is out of its mind (v.23).  But if prophecy (a bold proclaiming of the truth) is employed, than those who are lost will be convicted and will know that God is among you.

As we progress through the chapter to verse 26, Paul speaks some more about the church being in order when it gathers for worship or other events.  His foundational premise is to make sure everything that is done be done for the building up of the church.  In relationship to one of the main topics of this chapter, Paul returns to the issue of tongues.  He places strict limitations on the practice of that gift and requires an interpreter be present.  If there is no interpreter, Paul says, then no one should speak in tongues.

Prophecy, on the other hand, can be practiced by everyone there.  The “two or three prophets speaking” in verse29 refers to two or three at a time.  It is not a limitation on how many can prophecy (v. 31). 

And again, we come to the statement that God is not a God of confusion or chaos.  He is instead a God of peace.  And we know from the totality of Scripture that God is not a God of disorder but of order.  We also know that He is not a God of anarchy but He is a God of authority who has put several levels of authority over our lives.

I suspect there are some questions about women remaining silent in church (verse 34).  There are a couple of issues here.  One is Paul rightfully says women should be submission.  That by the way is true of all of us, not just women.  We all should live our lives in submission to the proper authorities.  But the big question is the remaining silent thing, right?

This probably has more to do with the physical arrangement of where people sat in church than anything else.  In the synagogues of that day, men sat at the front.  Women and children sat at the back.  It is more than possible that the early churches were arranged the same way.  That would mean for a wife to address her husband during church she would have to shout over the crowd to him.  Or for a woman to address the one teaching, she would have to shout over the crowd.  So, this is probably more of an issue of maintaining order in worship than anything else.  After all in chapter 11, Paul addressed women praying and prophesying.

**I know this devotion is longer than one page.  But I needed additional space to cover this.  And even with that I didn’t get to all of the chapter.

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