1 Corinthians 15:1-28: Resurrection and the Gospel
April 23, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
In this passage, Paul first reminds the Corinthians of the essentials of his gospel. And then he emphasizes that the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is an essential part of that gospel.
First, the gospel that he preached, he reminds them, is that by which they are saved. There is no other way to be saved than by the gospel. So often, churches, institutions, and Christian movements have had a tendency to marginalize the gospel. But we must keep the gospel at the heart of all that we do: it is that that saves us. But then, he also notes, that is only the case if we hold firmly to the word that Paul preached. There must be a response to the gospel (faith), but that response must also be ongoing (faithfulness).
Then Paul outlines the elements of the gospel. What is striking about the way he describes what he says is the way he emphasizes the factuality of the gospel that he preaches. This really happened. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a philosophy. Is not a way of life. It is not an idea. It is news about something that happened. We cannot emphasize that enough: people tend to want to assess the gospel by whether they agree with it or by whether it works. But the point of the gospel is this happened. We need to persuade people, then, not so much of the importance of the practice of being a Christian, as the truthfulness of the fact of Christ’s resurrection.
Now, having brought the evidence for the resurrection, Paul then spends the rest of this chapter first (as we will see in our section today) emphasizing that the resurrection is essential for the Christian faith and (as we will see tomorrow) then describing the implications of the gospel for the world and for the Christian life in that world.
Why is the resurrection essential? Because without it, if the resurrection did not happen, then Christianity is pointless. Christianity is either the most important thing in the world, if true; or absolutely no importance whatsoever, if false. And the linchpin of all that is the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For some reason, about which no one is entirely clear because it is not specified in the text, the Corinthians had begun to say – or someone preaching to them had begun to say – that the resurrection had already taken place. What they meant by that is not clear; we don’t know. But it’s possible that they meant some “over-realized eschatology” whereby the message was that you already have all you need through faith in Jesus. That sort of message sounds encouraging, but in the end it is cruel. Because soon enough we come across difficulties and sufferings. And we need to know there is a further hope beyond the grave.
But instead, Paul exalts, Christ is raised, the firstfruits. That is, because he was raised, we can know that the rest of the crop of resurrection – the Christians who trust in Christ – will also in their time be raised too from the dead. All this is ultimately for the glory of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So that “God may be all in all.”
Today, then, rejoice in the truth of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It means, if you trust in Jesus, you too will be raised! And that (as we shall see tomorrow) has huge implications for the kind of hope that you can have, as well as the way you live now.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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