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The First Letter Of Paul To The Corinthians: Chapter 15

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1Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, c Gk brothers of the good news d Or gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters c Gk brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. e Gk fallen asleep 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have died a Gk falle in Christ have perished. 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. a Gk falle 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, b Or Then come the rest when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For “God c Gk he has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. 28When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

29Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf‐?

30And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? 31I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, d Gk brothers as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

33Do not be deceived:

“Bad company ruins good morals.”

34Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

42So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life‐giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is a Other ancient authorities add the Lord from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will b Other ancient authorities read let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.

50What I am saying, brothers and sisters, c Gk brothers is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, d Gk fall asleep but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved, a Gk beloved brothers be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Notes:

c Gk brothers

d Or gospel

e Gk fallen asleep

a Gk falle

b Or Then come the rest

c Gk he

d Gk brothers

a Other ancient authorities add the Lord

b Other ancient authorities read let us

c Gk brothers

d Gk fall asleep

a Gk beloved brothers

Text Commentary view alone

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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