21 May, 2024

April 28 Study | Resurrection

by | 22 April, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: 1 Corinthians (Part 2) 
Theme: The Powerful Church 
Lesson Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 16-27, 50-58 
Supplemental Texts: 1 Corinthians 15:5-15, 28-49; 1 Peter 1:3-9 
Aim: “Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). 

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By Mark Scott

Mockery and ridiculing are not very becoming for a Christian. Professional football players can even be penalized and fined for taunting. But mocking, ridiculing, and taunting are totally acceptable for the Christian when it comes to the subject of death. The resurrection (both Jesus’ and ours) makes a mockery of death. It is the ultimate joke on the devil.  

Many of the problems in the Corinthian church can be traced back to a faulty view of the resurrection and eschatology. Some had an over-realized eschatology (i.e., believing that Christians already exist in an exalted state like heaven and therefore they can do anything they want in the here and now). Some had an under-realized eschatology (i.e., believing the resurrection is so far removed from believers that even if it did take place it wouldn’t matter). This may explain why Paul devoted 58 hefty verses to the resurrection. Paul based his mockery of death because of the resurrection on the following arguments. 

The Historical Argument of the Gospel
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 

Other religions spoke about resurrections (and more likely, reincarnation), but Christianity is unique in that the earliest believers claimed that a resurrection—Jesus’ resurrection—had actually happened. The collaborative eyewitness accounts are overwhelming. No judge who sits on the bench could deny the multiple attestations for the resurrection of Jesus (see Judge Herbert Casteel’s book Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and consider the debate between Gary Habermas and Anthony Flew). The resurrection of Jesus is a matter of fact. He came forth from the grave. Acceptance of this fact is a matter of faith. Resurrection is at the heart of the gospel. The gospel that Paul preached and that the Corinthians accepted and stood upon and by which they were saved centered on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Paul declared this historic event and the gospel message that flows from it as of first importance. Additionally, the Scriptures testified to the fact. Several resurrection appearances were cited in verses 5-11. Could over 500 people be wrong about seeing Jesus? Considering the number of people who saw the resurrected Jesus, that 3,000 were baptized on the Day of Pentecost (not much later) is not surprising. 

The Logical Argument of Faith
1 Corinthians 15:16-27 

Paul used impeccable logic to argue for the resurrection. First, he laid out what was at stake if there were no resurrection. His argument had nine points. If there were no resurrection, he argued, then Christ would not be raised, preaching was vain, people were still in their sins, and those who died in the Lord before Jesus returned simply perished. James S. Stewart’s famous sermon on this text was entitled, “If Christ Be Not Raised, What Then?”  

Second, Paul laid out what was at stake if there was a resurrection. His argument again had nine points. If there was a resurrection, he argued, then Jesus was the firstfruits of the resurrection and he was the second Adam, God’s enemies are destroyed, death is forever gone, and God would be vindicated. Here is the logic: If resurrection is possible, then Jesus could well have been raised from the dead. And if Jesus was raised from the dead, then the resurrection of believers follows.  

Paul continued his logical argument in verses 28-34. If resurrection does not happen, then baptism is ridiculous (v. 29), enduring things in life would be silly (vv. 30-32a), and moral behavior does not matter at all (vv. 33b-34). But if resurrection does happen, then those very things come into clear focus. 

The Eschatological Argument of Victory
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 

A seeming objection to resurrection by some in the Corinthian church had to do with the nature and state of the resurrection body. Paul argued in verses 35-49 that in the future the resurrected body would be totally different—just like Jesus’ resurrected body was different following that famous first day of the week. Paul illustrated his involved argument with farming (seeds being sown and having to die in the soil to produce), animals, birds, fish, sun, moon, and stars. He argued there was an essential difference between the natural world on earth and the supernatural world in heaven. 

In the ultimate future, the human body would not endure. Therefore, the body must undergo a complete change. This will happen in the eschaton. It will happen quickly when Jesus returns. The old world will be swallowed up in the new world. Death itself will be swallowed up and forever mocked. Paul used Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 to garner his biblical support (see vv. 54-55). Death is gone, and Jesus has fulfilled the law. God is to be praised for this eschatological victory. Therefore, the resurrection becomes the motivation for being happy in the service of the king (v. 58).  

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