Among the writings of Paul, 1 Corinthians is the letter which teaches the church what it means to be a Christian community.
The opening verses (ch1 vv1-9) have the effect of defining where the church comes from and what it’s based on, and I will want to show how the rest
of the teaching follows on from that.
I was drawing out a definition of the church in the attached thread;
Defining the church
Part of the definition was that the church are waiting for the “revealing” of Christ.
So the next and final concern is to how this connects with the expectation of their own resurrection (ch15).
vv1-4 Paul begins by ”going back to basics” and reminding them of the fundamentals of the gospel.
For they need to “stand firm” in this teaching.
They were taught, in the first place, that Christ died (and was buried) “on account of our sins”, and that this happened “in accordance with the
They were also taught that Christ had been raised-again, in accordance with the scriptures.
vv5-11 Further evidence of the Easter Resurrection comes from a list of the chief witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ, culminating with
He perplexes the commentators by calling himself an “abortion”- EKTROMA.
Does he mean that he was immature?
Is he calling himself an ugly monstrosity?
But it seems straight-forward enough to me; the point of comparison between Paul and an abortion is “abnormal timing”.
An abortion is born abnormally early, while Paul’s point about himself is that he was born (as an apostle) abnormally late.
The parallel may not be exact, but I think it’s close enough by the usual standards of Paul’s metaphors.
vv12-19 There are “some among you” who deny the possibility of a resurrection of believers.
Paul deals with the challenge by tracking down the effects of their claim on the Christian gospel.
If resurrection is not possible, then Christ himself cannot have been raised.
If Christ was not raised, then the whole testimony of Paul and the other Apostles has been false.
In fact, they have spoken falsely about God himself.
And if Christ was not raised, then believers have NOT been saved from their sins.
Their faith will have been “in vain”.
So they will not enter into eternal life, and neither will those believers who have died already.
If believers have abandoned one world without gaining another, if their hope in Christ does not carry them beyond this life, then they are more
pitiable than anyone else.
Now we can see the importance of beginning this discussion with “Christ died for our sins”.
Paul is driving home the lesson that, if the resurrection hope is abandoned, the whole gospel begins to unravel.
vv29-34 So if the dead are not raised, the Christian gospel is invalidated.
And if the gospel is invalid, then every action prompted by the gospel is a waste of time.
There would be no point in undertaking the hardships of preaching, as Paul had done.
There would be no point in bothering to live a righteous life.
One might as well adopt the hedonistic motto- “Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”- because the premise would be true.
vv20-22 Conversely, the whole purpose of Christ’s coming is fulfilled when his people are raised from the dead.
The purpose of Christ is to replace death with life.
We are all, “in Adam”, in our current state of humanity, subject to death.
But everyone who is “in Christ” will be made alive.
vv23-26 The difference between the resurrection of Christ and our own resurrection is in the timing.
Christ was raised first, as a fore-runner, as the “first-fruits of the harvest”.
Those who belong to him will be raised “when he comes”.
We know that we will be raised, because he “puts all his enemies under his feet”, and “death” is one of those enemies.
In fact death is the ultimate enemy, and the destruction of death is the climax of the process.
As for the sequence of these events, it seems to me that the logic of Paul’s argument ties together, very firmly, the coming of Christ and the
subjection of his enemies.
For he links the resurrection with the coming of Christ, and the resurrection has to be an aspect of the destruction of death.
This makes it impossible for us to place an interval between them.
Therefore the preceding “he must reign”(v25) would be a description of what’s happening now.
While “then” (v24), that is the time when he subjects his enemies and hands the kingdom back to the Father, would mean “on the occasion of his
coming”, rather than later.
vv35-38 Paul then deals with objections which people have put forward.
They ask “How are the dead raised?”- They see the fact of death as an obstacle.
They ask “With what kind of body do they come?”- They see the fleshly nature of the body as an obstacle to bringing it into a spiritual life.
On both points, Paul finds an answer in the analogy of sowing seeds.
In the first place, don’t they see that the “death” of the seed (that is, the planting in the ground) is a positive necessity
future life of the plant?
In the same way, by analogy, the “planting” of the human body in the earth is a necessity, not an obstacle, to the future resurrection.
In the second place, who says it has to be the same kind of body?
The example of the seed is helpful again, because there is a dramatic difference between the body of the seed which is sown, and the body of the same
plant when it rises from the soil.
In the same way, there is a difference (with an underlying continuity) between the human body buried in the ground and the resurrection body.
(The function of vv39-41 is to show them how many different kinds of body are observable even within this world, demonstrating the point that
different kinds of body are possible)
vv42-44 For example, the new body is imperishable, not perishable.
The new body is raised in glory and in power, instead of in dishonour and in weakness.
Finally, the new body is PNEUMATIKOS (from the word “Spirit”).
He’s not talking about the material of the body- had he meant that, he would have described the old body as SARKIKOS, or “fleshly”.
Instead he calls the old body PYSCHIKOS.
This is the difference between being “soul-oriented” or “soul-governed”, in the old body, or being “Spirit-governed” in the new body.
The material will be “what God has chosen” (v38).
vv45-50 This difference relates to the difference between being “in Adam” and “in Christ”.
Adam was “dust from the earth”, but Christ is “from heaven”.
In our current humanity, we are modelled upon Adam.
But those of us who are “from heaven” (v48) will be remodelled on “the man from heaven”.
“Flesh-and-blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven”; this was precisely their objection to the premise of resurrection.
But Paul has given the answer that the new body is not going to be “flesh –and-blood”.
vv51-53 There will be a sudden, instantaneous change.
The dead will be raised in the new kind of body, the living will be changed without passing through death.
Our current nature is perishable and subject to death, but we will be “putting on” a state of freedom from death.
vv54-56 Finally, Paul comes back to the point that this is not just a victory over death, but over the whole complex of “sin-and-death” which
Christ came to destroy.
In other words, the promise of the resurrection is inseparable from the fundamental teaching of the gospel, about the coming of Christ and the
purpose of his death on the Cross.
Knowing that the victory has been won, they should remain “steadfast” as he said at the beginning.
For they have the assurance that their work in the Lord will not, after all, be “in vain”.
edit on 2-12-2013 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)