WHAT IS THE
RESURRECTION OF 1 CORINTHIANS 15?
I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have
received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in
memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered
unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for
our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he
rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that he was seen
of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred
brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but
some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the
apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due
time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an
apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God
I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain;
but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of
God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach,
and so ye believed. Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead,
how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if
there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ
be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea,
and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God
that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise
not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be
not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which
are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope
in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from
the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-20)
In 1 Corinthians 15, the "Resurrection Chapter", Paul begins talking
about the Gospel being death, burial and resurrection for more reasons
than that simply because it happened! It is the basis for our understanding
of our own resurrection! Paul did not talk about the death, burial, resurrection
and another step about changing in clouds, as I knew one man to propose,
as the origin where Jesus really got His spiritual body. There is nothing
in the Bible that says His body changed in the clouds. The body we will receive
is similar to the body Jesus had in his resurrection from the grave. So
the Gospel issue is mentioned to introduce the point of our resurrections.
Paul is showing a pattern in Christ that we will experience in our resurrection.
He does not mention the names of people who witnessed the resurrection
just to show that Jesus arose. That is also part of the introduction to
the point of the pattern of our resurrection. The Body Jesus had when he
was seen by so many, is the body we will have when we are resurrected. Seeing
no relevance of these first two points with the rest of the chapter's context
concerning our resurrection, causes us to be offkey in our thoughts about
what body we will have. We do not thereby see the contextual flow and pattern
of thought in Paul's foundational notes of Christ's resurrection and his
new body compared to our resurrections into which our bodies will be changed.
Paul spoke so much about Jesus' "resurrected-from-the-grave" body, because
that is the body we will have in the resurrection.
We must not leave all these former points in the early part of this chapter
as disjointed from the entire context. Let us recognize and see the
contextual flow and link of these first thoughts with the overall issue
of our resurrection bodies. Paul spoke about more than the fact that
Jesus is the resurrection. He said that the kind of body Jesus was raised
with in resurrection is the same kind of body we shall have in our resurrection.
To claim our resurrection bodies are "spiritual" in the sense of being unseen
and non-physical, more like non-bodies than bodies, is error. However, they
are termed "spiritual" bodies. But some make the mistake of thinking
a spiritual body is not physical. Our resurrection is going to involve
physical bodies as Jesus had when He was resurrected from the grave, not
a so-called body he got only after going into the clouds. We shall follow
Him in resurrection by getting a body like Jesus had in resurrection from
the grave. Paul would not be talking about the body Jesus obtained
when He came from the grave if we are not going to see our present physical
bodies changed into those similar to such. We would not be reading these
references in the first part of the chapter if our new bodies are not going
to be like the one with which He arose from the grave. Paul would not relate
our bodily resurrection to Jesus Christ's bodily resurrection in the manner
in which he did if our bodies will not be like the body with whcih Jesus
We all agree Jesus rose from the dead, and so will we. However, we must
not miss the point here in that Paul spoke of our resurrection that is
going to be as His resurrection was when He came out of the grave with a
body that could be touched and seen. All these verses at the first of the
chapter are saying His resurrection Body is the body we shall have in our
resurrection. Many teach that our resurrection bodies will not be like
His Body from the Grave, but will be some sort of non-corporeal bodies.
The fact is that the Spiritual Body of Jesus was the one with which He came
from the grave. Our resurrection includes the same type of body Jesus
had in His resurrection.
We must not fail to connect Paul's thoughts in speaking about Jesus'
resurrection body to show what our resurrection bodies will be like. The
reason Paul links the actuality of our resurrections with Jesus Christ's
in a body that was seen by over 500 people, is because the spiritual body
we shall receive in our resurrection is that same sort of body -- visible
and tangible. The resurrection involves both the thought of rising
and a body like Jesus had. If all that we will experience is Jesus' resurrection
, but not getting the same sort of body with which He arose, but another
body of some other strange characteristics, Paul would not have concentrated
so much about that body that was seen by 500 people.
People who propose we will not resurrect physically agree Jesus did indeed
resurrect. However, Paul connects Jesus' "raising up" with our resurrection,
because Paul is going to speak later about our spiritual bodies. Our resurrection
is inextricably linked to receiving changed bodies which are better called
"spiritual bodies," as He links Jesus' resurrection with the sort of Body
he rose with from the grave that was seen by over 500 people.
The reason Paul says our faith is in vain if Jesus is not raised up,
as He was described in verses 4-8, is because our hope is resurrection in
a new spiritual body, that is like His spiritual body that came out of the
grave. We cannot cut off the issue of the body that was seen by 500 people
with His Resurrection, and how that is the basis of the talks of our resurrection
with a spiritual body later in the chapter. Some propose in essence that
Paul only relates the fact that Jesus resurrected when he speaks of our resurrection
later on. But the truth of the matter is that Paul speaks of Jesus' body
that He received in His resurrection, and then speaks of our spiritual bodies
we will get in our resurrections. We must not miss that link. It's a parallel
experience we will have with Christ. Do not chop off the thought of the
body Jesus came from the grave with, from His resurrection, and consider
that body the same one that He was buried with, and then say it was unchanged.
But Paul is saying that our changed bodies will be changed from earthly
ones to the sort with which Jesus came from the grave. The body from the
grave of Jesus is the spiritual body, because there was no blood in it,
and it was enlivened by God's Spirit and supernatural life. That body had
wounds in it that an earthly body could not have and live!
What part of us is asleep? Paul said something slept. What part slept?
Spirit, soul or body? The fact is that the body sleeps, because Paul said
elsewhere that the experience of being absent from the body is to be present
with the Lord. What happens to the body when something leaves it and is
then present with the Lord? The body stays behind and is not with the
Lord. It has to be! Otherwise, how can something leave the body and
be present with the Lord if the BODY is present with the Lord as well?
There is not absence from the body in that case. However, the body
stays behind, while the spirit and soul go to be present with the Lord.
And that same body that is left behind, laying and sleeping, will be changed
and reunited to our souls and spirits in the resurrection. That body is
changed to be like Jesus' body with no blood causing it to live, but supernatural
power of God's Spirit quickening Him. Hence, it's a spiritual body.
Some propose that "THIS LIFE" in verse 19 refers to our earthly flesh.
This is partly correct. This Life refers to the existence before
our resurrections. It is the existence before we get spiritual bodies.
Paul said we get spiritual bodies when we are resurrected. What body did
Jesus receive when He resurrected? He received the one that was seen
by 500 people. Paul said that our resurrection will occur when we receive
our new bodies, because Jesus got His body in His resurrection. So, "this
life" refers to existence before we receive new bodies in the resurrection,
just as the body Jesus received in His resurrection.
Many do not see any correlation between the thoughts of Jesus' body from
the grave with the thought of our bodies in the resurrection from our graves.
Paul taught that our resurrections will follow the pattern of His resurrection.
That is why Paul mentions the body He rose with so specifically, as well
as coming from the dead.