WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21
SCRIPTURE: 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.