Bible Study Courses » 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 Exploring the Passage (2024)

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. According to the apostle Paul, how is the gospel defined? See 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 (printed below)

Now, brothers, I remind you of the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, on which also you stand, (2) and by which you are saved—if you hold firm to the word which we preached to you, otherwise you have believed in vain. (3) I delivered to you as of first importance that which I also received, namely, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; (4) and that he was buried; and that he has been raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; (5) and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

According to the apostle Paul, the gospel consists of two historical facts that were foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures and are of the utmost spiritual significance. The first is the fact that Christ died for our sins; the second is the fact that He was raised from the dead on the third day. The fact of His death is verified by His burial, and the fact of His resurrection is verified by eyewitnesses.

2. What doctrinal error were some within the Corinthian church guilty of advocating? See 1 Corinthians 15:12 (printed below)

Now if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12)

It should be noted that the Corinthian Christians were not denying the personal resurrection of Christ. What they were denying is the final resurrection of all believers on the last day.

3. How does the apostle Paul address and refute this doctrinal error? See 1 Corinthians 15:13,20 (printed below)

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised…(20) But now the fact is Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. (1 Corinthians 15:13,20)

The apostle’s argument is that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then that fact would rule out the possibility of Christ’s own resurrection (note verses 12-13,15-16). Conversely, if Christ was raised from the dead, the fact of His resurrection proves that there is, in fact, the resurrection of the dead. In other words, Paul is pointing out that the fundamental, underlying question is this: Does God raise the dead, or doesn’t He? The question is not, Can God raise those who have just died (like Christ), or can He also raise those whose bodies have already decomposed? God has the power to raise the dead no matter what their state of decomposition; but does He raise the dead? The answer the apostle gives to this fundamental question is, Yes, God does raise the dead; the proof of this being the fact that He raised Christ.

4. According to verses 20-23 (printed below), what is the connection between Christ’s resurrection and the final resurrection of all believers?

But now the fact is Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. (21) Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. (22) Just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (23) But each in his own turn: the first fruits, which is Christ; then those who belong to Christ when he appears in glory. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

Not only is Christ’s personal resurrection the proof that God does raise the dead, Christ’s resurrection is also the pledge of our final resurrection on the last day (verses 20-23). Christ in His resurrection is “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death“—i.e.; those Christians who have died. That is to say, there is a direct connection, a living, organic connection, between Christ’s own resurrection and our resurrection. In verse 23 Paul informs us of the divinely established time table: Christ has the honor of being personally and individually resurrected as the first fruits; then, at Christ’s return, all who belong to Him shall be resurrected to share fully in His resurrection life.

5. Why is the resurrection of the body essential if the Christian is to live in the kingdom of God when that kingdom manifests itself in all of its glory? See 1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (printed below)

Now I tell you this, brothers, flesh and blood are not able to inherit the kingdom of God; neither can that which decays inherit what is imperishable. (51) Listen, I will tell you a mystery. Not all of us will fall asleep in death, but all of us will be transformed—(52) in a moment of time, in the blinking of an eye, at the sounding of the last trumpet. The trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised to an imperishable existence, and we will be transformed. (53) This body which decays must clothe itself with what is imperishable; indeed, this mortal body must clothe itself with what is immortal. (1 Corinthians 15:50-53)

It is impossible for our earthly body in its present form to dwell in the kingdom of God—the reason being the fact that it is impossible for “that which decays” to inherit “what is imperishable.” That which is subject to decay and decomposition cannot exist in the realm of the eternal. By way of illustration: just as our present earthly body is not suited to survive in space, how much less is it suited for the immediate presence of God in His eternal kingdom! Thus, if we are to inherit the kingdom of God, our bodies must undergo a transformation. Note: the resurrection is not only a return from the grave and a reuniting of the body and soul; it is also a transformation, so that we may be enabled to experience life in the kingdom of God. By virtue of the resurrection we shall share in Christ’s own incorruptible and immortal being.

Bible Study Courses  » 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 Exploring the Passage (2024)
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