SESSION 20 — “To a Church in Crisis, With Love,” a Bible study of 1 & 2 Corinthians

Text: 1Corinthians 15:1-34 

With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I teach today. May you hear and believe, and not be deceived by false teachers.

Last time, in Chapter 14, Paul dealt with the fixation that the infants in Christ at Corinth seem to have, regarding the gift of tongues. There has been much strife among them, and much listening to false teaching. But I tell you the truth — if the believers at Corinth were all filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul would not have had to write to them and visit them!

If I were to give this a title, it would be, “The Truth About Resurrection.” 

Before I proceed, though, you must know that there are two kinds of resurrection, as Jesus teaches and warns —

John 5:28 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good (who believed into Christ and obeyed Him) to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil (who rejected Christ or disobeyed Him) to a resurrection of judgment.”

Be in the former category, rather than the latter, dear ones!

And know that, though your body be in the ground, your spirit is with the Lord, when you die —

2Corinthians 5:6   Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight — 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Hallelujah! 

Now, on to Chapter 15:1-34! We will look at the rest of this chapter next time.

Verse 1 —

Paul says, Now I make known (declare) to you, brethren! That means they do not know!

What does he declare to them? The gospel which he preached to them, which they received, and in which they stand. Something is being done and said in the church at Corinth that requires Paul to again declare the gospel to them. The divine love of God in his heart compels him to bring them back to the truth of the gospel!

Verse 2 —

This gospel Paul preached to them is the gospel which they received from Paul and in which they stand, and by which they are saved. But there is an “if.”

It is the gospel in which they are saved IF they hold fast (hold, keep, retain) the word which Paul preached to them. Otherwise, their professed faith is in vain (worthless, empty, meaningless). 

They are saved IF! Beloved, I pray that you see that there is a condition for our continued salvation! We must all hold fast to the true gospel of Jesus Christ by which we are saved, for it is possible to believe in vain (to stand before Him empty-handed), as Paul warns the believers at Corinth —

2Corinthians 5:20   Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (Some are no longer reconciled to God!)

2Corinthians 6:1   And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain (being empty-handed)

Beloved, the cure is to be filled with the Holy Spirit so you discern false teaching and become steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58)!

Verses 3-4 —

Paul now repeats the gospel to them, which was the first thing he taught them — that is, the gospel which he himself received (see Acts 9). Why must he repeat this to a church? The same reason as today, beloved. Some are teaching a different gospel in the church. 

What is the real gospel? Are you able to speak it right now, with conviction and power, beloved?

# 1 — That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures

This is according to Isaiah’s prophecy, and many others —

Isaiah 53:5  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, 

He was crushed for our iniquities; 

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, 

And by His scourging we are healed (a mended relationship with God).

6  All of us like sheep have gone astray, 

Each of us has turned to his own way; 

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all 

To fall on Him.

Glory to God! Christ died for OUR sins! He did not come for any other reason! Jesus says —

John 12:27   “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”

# 2 — That He was buried and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.

Jonah 1:17   And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

You may ask, What has that got to do with Jesus’ resurrection? Jesus answers you, and the crowds around Him, and the Jewish leaders who questioned Him, using “the sign of Jonah” to speak of His resurrection —

Matthew 12:39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” 

Verses 5-8 —

Paul repeats to them what he testified to the believers at Corinth, after preaching the gospel to them. His testimony is that many saw the risen Christ, thus confirming His resurrection — 

— The risen Christ appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve (minus Judas, who committed suicide after betraying Him). 

— The risen Christ appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Most were alive as Paul wrote this letter, but some had fallen asleep (their bodies had died). 

— The risen Christ appeared to his half-brother, James, and then to all the apostles (those who would be the future leaders of the church) prior to His ascension (Acts 1:9-11).

— The risen Christ appeared to Paul, as one untimely born (born late). It was on the road to Damascus, in Acts 9. 

Why does Paul have to repeat the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Some in the church at Corinth are being led to believe that it never happened. They are listening to false teachers!

Beloved, who are you listening to? I tell you that unless you know the Word of God and are filled with His Spirit, you will easily be led astray!

Verses 9-11 —

Because he was late in coming to belief in Christ, Paul considers himself to be the least of the apostles (the lowest, smallest). He considers himself not fit, by his own doing, to be an apostle. Why? Because he persecuted the church greatly, until he met Jesus on that road.

But Paul is what he is by the grace of God — the unmerited favor shown to him, first of all. But grace also is defined as the Lord’s work in the heart, and its reflection in the life. Beloved, all of us should say the same! Has He worked in your heart, changing it entirely? If so, His heart work will be reflected in your life! 

Paul confesses that God’s grace toward him did not prove empty or meaningless, for by God’s grace, he labored more than all of them. But it was not Paul who was working, but God who was working with him. We should all be able to say it, beloved! How powerful to know that, if we are filled with Him, the Lord does the work, and we are simply His vessels!

But whether it was Paul who preached, or the others, they all preach the same gospel, the same one by which those in Corinth believed.

Verse 12 — 

Here is the crux of the extreme danger in the church at Corinth. The risen Christ has been preached to them by Paul. But now, some among them say there is no resurrection of the dead!

False teachers are among them, wolves in sheep’s clothing, just as in the church at Ephesus, whom Paul prophetically warned at his last meeting with them —

Acts 20:29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

I also believe that some in the church are willing to believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected, but they are appalled to think their own bodies will be resurrected from their moldy graves. So they have decided that their own bodies will not be resurrected. Paul’s next words give evidence of their false belief regarding resurrection, fueled by false teaching and their own imaginations.

Verses 13-14 — 

Paul says, If there is no resurrection from the dead, even Christ was not resurrected. If He was not raised, then the apostles’ preaching is worthless, and the Corinthians’ faith also is worthless! He had to be resurrected, to prove that He is the Christ (see Romans 1:4)!

Verse 15 —

Even worse, if there is no resurrection, then Christ was not raised, and the apostles are guilty of lying about God by saying Christ was raised! IF in fact God did not raise Christ, then none of the dead are raised. So the believers at Corinth cannot say, “Jesus was resurrected” and at the same time say, “but we will not be resurrected.”

Verses 16-19 —

Paul continues to reason with the believers at Corinth —

—For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has not been raised. 

— And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless, Paul tells the Corinthians. You are still in your sins. It is true of ALL of us, including some of today’s commentators and pastors who say Christ’s resurrection is a fable. Shame on them!

— If Christ has not been raised, those who have fallen asleep in Christ (died as believers) have perished (gone to eternal destruction)!

— And we who have hoped in Christ in this life are to be pitied more than any others. 

Verse 20 —

But now, Paul says!!! Now, hear the truth! Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 

He was the first whose body died and who was resurrected, never to die again. So all who die, believing in Him, are resurrected to eternal life with Him, in heaven.

(NOTE: Lazarus was raised to this life, but DID have to die again, to receive eternal life.)

Verses 21-22 —

By one man (Adam) came death. By Adam’s sin, we all came under the wrath of God, because we carry Adam’s sin nature within us. We rebel from the time we are born. No one is good, not even one (Romans 3:10 and forward).

BUT, by a man (Jesus Christ) came resurrection of the dead. If we repent and believe into Jesus, we will be raised to a resurrection of eternal life! And remember, as I said at the first of this teaching, your spirit immediately goes to Jesus when you die.

Paul then says, as in Adam all die (all perish because all are born with the sin nature all humans inherited from Adam), so also in Christ all will be made alive! We are not sentenced to perishing, unless we refuse to believe, as Jesus says —

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Verses 23-26 —

Paul reiterates what he has already taught the believers at Corinth. Here is how the resurrection will occur —

— First Christ, the first fruits

— Then those who are His, at His coming. He is coming again? Yes! I will teach it in the next session, from Verses 50 onward.

— Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father. That will happen when Christ has abolished all rule and authority and power. 

— For Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. Satan and those who are his will be totally defeated, at the end of things.

— The last enemy that will be abolished is death. There will be no more death, in the new heaven and the new earth.

Verses 27-28 —

— For He (God the Father) has put all things in subjection under His (Jesus Christ’s) feet. 

— When God the Father says, “All things are put in subjection” to Christ, God the Father does not include Himself in that which is put in subjection to His Son. Though the Father and the Son are equally God, the Father is the final authority.

— Then, when all things are subjected to Christ, Jesus Christ Himself will subject Himself to the Father, so God the Father may be all in all. Again, the Father is the final authority. 

Verse 29 —

Commentators have puzzled over this verse, but I believe it is meant to be taken literally. We already understand that some of the believers at Corinth do not think there is a resurrection from the dead, although they believe Christ was resurrected. 

What, then, can they do about their relatives who have died without knowing Christ? Ah! They will be baptized on their dead relatives’ behalf, as proxy for them. This is heresy, a completely false teaching that they have either invented or have been taught! (NOTE: The Mormons follow this heresy, even today.)

Verse 30 —

If Christ was not resurrected, Paul asks, why are both the apostles and believers in danger every hour? Why would they be willing to be persecuted even to death, for the sake of a fable? But they are compelled by and captives of God’s divine love! Thus, they preach the gospel, regardless of the consequences, so some may be saved! And they gladly go to their deaths, knowing full well that their spirits will go to the Lord immediately after they die, and their bodies will be resurrected at the end of things!

Verse 31 —

Paul speaks the truth to them. He affirms something to them, and boasts of bringing the believers at Corinth to faith, by the power of Jesus Christ who indwells him. He always boasts in Christ!

What does he affirm? That he dies daily. What does he mean? He is always in danger of death, just as he testifies in 2Corinthians 11:23-27! 

NOTE: This passage is often taken out of context by many preachers who teach that you must re-crucify your sin nature all day, every day. But when your sin nature is crucified, it is never raised from the dead! Thanks be to God!

Verse 32 — 

Paul and the rest do not preach from human motives (to gain a big audience and fill their own pockets). If that was Paul’s motive, why would Paul have fought wild beasts (demons, per the whole chapter of Acts 19) at Ephesus? It would profit him nothing, if he is only preaching in order to gain a following!

If the dead are not raised, we might as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we perish! Paul speaks this, to show them the absurdity of their belief that they will not be resurrected.

Verse 33-34 —

Paul directly reproves the believers at Corinth now. Quoting their Greek literature, he says, Bad company (false teachers within or outside their church that are teaching there is no resurrection) corrupts good morals.

Then he directly rebukes them, commanding them to become sober-minded (wake up from a stupor), as they ought (are required to be)! Wake from your stupor, O Corinthians and O church! 

Then Paul adds, Stop sinning! How are they sinning? In all the ways we have seen from the first chapter onward, and in not believing in their own resurrection!

He goes further — some (of you) have no knowledge (are ignorant) of God!

He speaks this to the believers at Corinth, to their shame! They must repent of their unbelief and seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit so they may know their God in a holy, intimate way! 

Beloved, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you know God intimately, and the Father and the Son fully indwell you. Therefore, you know that Christ is alive, by His very presence inside of you, and His Spirit confirms to you that you will be resurrected! Hallelujah!

Next time, Paul (and I, by the Spirit) will teach what our resurrected bodies will look like, and when and how the final resurrection will come. Stay tuned!

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