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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on 1 Corinthians

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15.1–58 : Arguments for the resurrection.

The issue is not identified until v. 12 : Some of the Corinthi ans are denying the resurrection of the dead. Paul's own term for the deceased is “those who have fallen asleep,” in 7.39; 11.30; 15.6,18,20; 1 Thess 4.13 . The recurrence of “dead,” along with the prominence of the antitheses “mortal‐immortal” and “perishable‐imperishable,” in Paul's arguments here suggests that, as people embedded in Hellenistic culture and influenced by the Alexandrian Jewish teacher Apollos, the skeptical Corinthians view their souls as separable from the bodies. Indeed, because they possessed wisdom their souls were immortal, so the resurrection of their “perishable” body, once it was “dead,” made no sense. Paul proceeds in clear steps.

15.1–11 : The proclamation of Christ's death and resurrection.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of the movement's early creed, vv. 3–5 , to establish common ground, and he expands the list of witnesses to the resurrection, including himself, to increase its credibility.

5 :

In the pre‐Pauline creed, in contrast to the Gospels, women are not among the earliest witnesses of Jesus' resurrection. Cephas, Peter.

7 :

James, probably “the Lord's brother” (Gal 1.19 ).

9 :

See Acts 9.4–5; 22.4–5; Gal 1.13 .

15.12–34 : The reality of the resurrection of the dead.

12–19 :

A logical argument: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ could not have been raised, which is the basis of salvation, so believers' faith would be in vain.

20–28 :

Paul reasserts the reality of Christ's resurrection and, in a sweeping historical perspective since Adam (see Gen 3.19 ), the subsequent events in the completion of the fulfillment of history now underway since his resurrection.

23–28 :

This passage should not be read as an elaborate sequence of final events, since order in v. 23 refers not to chronology but rank, with Christ, already resurrected, coming first, followed by the resurrection of those who belong to Christ.

24–26 :

The very purpose of Christ's kingdom or reign, in which he had been established in his resurrection, was to destroy every ruler and every authority and power, i.e., the Roman imperial rulers and institutions, which indeed claimed to be superhuman in their power, and finally the last enemy, the power of death.

26 :

On the personification of death, see vv. 54–55; Ps 49.14; Hos 13.14; Hab 2.5; Rom 5.14–17 .

27 :

Ps 8.6 .

29–34 :

Paul points out further that the reality of the resurrection of the dead constitutes the grounds for their own and his actions in three particular ways, explained in vv. 29, 30–32a, and 32b , respectively.

29 :

The Corinthian practice of vicarious baptism on behalf of the dead reflects their apparent belief that baptism in the “cloud” and the “sea” (see 10.2 ) as symbols of Wisdom brought immortality to the soul.M

32 :

Wild animals at Ephesus, a metaphor. The following quotation is from Isa 22.13 .

33–34 :

Paul sharply shames the skeptical Corinthians, calling them to “Sober up!” and deriding those who are full of wisdom and knowledge as having no knowledge of God. The quotation in v. 33 is from the fourthcentury BCE Greek poet Menander.

15.35–58 : With what kind of body?

For Paul the resurrection life would be social‐political, requiring embodied people.

35–41 :

He uses the analogy of a seed to establish the body as the principle of continuity from historical to resurrection life, and the analogy of heavenly bodies to imagine different kinds of bodies.

42–49 :

Paul now uses antitheses that the Corinthians use for body versus soul or for contrasting levels of spiritual status to characterize the historical and resurrection bodies, respectively. That is, he characterizes the embodied resurrection life in the same terms they use with regard to the immortality of their souls and their exalted spiritual status.

42 :

Perishable … imperishable, occur only here and in vv. 52–54 in Paul's letters.

43–44 :

For dishonor … glory, weakness … power, physical (lit. “soul‐like”) … spiritual, see 1.26; 2.6–3.4; 4.8–10 .

45–49 :

Paul's pointed insistence that the spiritual … man of heaven is second, while Adam, the physical (lit. “soul‐like”) … manfrom the earth was the first man, with quotation of Gen 2.7 , suggests that he is borrowing and reversing a Corinthian interpretation of Gen 1.26–27 as the origin of the prototype (or perhaps “image”) of the “spiritual” person and Gen 2.7 as the origin of the “physical/soul‐like” person.

50–58 :

In the final step of his argument—and of the whole body of the letter—Paul suddenly, in an almost ecstatic exclamation, launches into his own distinctive vision. As in 2.7–8 , he identifies this as a mystery, the technical term in Jewish revelatory literature for God's plan of fulfillment of history. This “mystery” seems particularly appropriate to the Corinthian situation, with its emphasis on suddenness and the transformation when the dead will be raised imperishable.

52 :

On the last trumpet, see Isa 27.3; Zech 9.14; 2 Esd 6.23; 1 Thess 4.16 .

54–57 :

An exclamation, by visionary anticipation, of the final victory over death (cf. v. 26 ), with thanksgiving to God.

54 :

Quoting Isa 25.8 (LXX).

55 :

Quoting Hos 13.14 .

56 :

Sin … law, see Rom 3.20; 7.7–8.2 .

58 :

The final encouraging exhortation that ends the body of the letter.

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