Jesus arisen from the dead November 29 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Corinthians 15

The Resurrection and Its Importance

Why is the resurrection of Christ important? And, if it is so important, why do most Christians only talk about it at Easter? Could it be that many Christians do not see the necessity of it? After all, they might argue, isn’t the most important point of the gospel the fact that Jesus died for us? Perhaps, many do not talk of the resurrection of Christ because they seek to make the gospel message more acceptable to our culture. Many people concede the existence of a historical Jesus, although they may deny his miracles. They might even recognize that he died as a martyr. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, however, seems ridiculous to most people. Why should we ostracize ourselves from the world by talking of Christ’s resurrection?

While Paul was on his third missionary journey, he wrote to the Christians in the city of Corinth because they were divisive and to settle some of their questions. They had received some erroneous teaching saying there is no resurrection of the dead.

What is the Gospel and Why is the Resurrection Important?

The gospel given by the apostles is what they witnessed personally: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, … was buried, and … was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NIV). This is the message Christians are to share with their family, friends, neighbors and the rest of the world.

All three aspects of the gospel are important, but because the Corinthian believers had received false teaching about the resurrection (1Corinthians 15:33,58), the Apostle Paul documents Christ’s appearances. Paul testifies that Christ appeared to Peter and all of the twelve apostles and more than 500 Christians at the same time, most of whom were still living. Then Christ appeared to James, the Lord’s brother, to all of the apostles again, and later to Paul (1Corinthians 15:5-8).

Since Christ died and was resurrected, we can be sure God accepted his sacrifice for our sins and those of the whole world. If Jesus were just a martyr, we could not be sure of that.

Because Christ was resurrected, believers are encouraged to share their faith. While others have died as martyrs for their ideologies, none have been resurrected to life. If Christ was not raised, Paul rightly concludes, we are liars and any converts to Christianity are still in their sins. But, Christ is raised, and he will raise our bodies from the dead when he comes for his church (1Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Paul refers to Christ as the second Adam. The first Adam brought death by his sin. The second Adam brought life by his death, much like a seed. A seed by all appearances is dead, but when buried in the ground it brings forth life. Christ died, was buried, and brought forth spiritual life, which is available to all. Jesus Christ is called the firstfruit of the harvest (1Corinthians15:20). When we are born again, this time to spiritual life by believing in his death, burial and resurrection for us, we are part of his harvest which will be gathered to him.

Paul also argues for the resurrection by debating against familiar Corinthian cultural practices. The Corinthians were influenced by false teachings of the popular Eleusinian mystery. “Part of the rites of initiation into this pagan religion were washings of purification in the sea, without which no one could hope to experience bliss in the hereafter” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©. 1985, p. 544). In other words, the Corinthians were practicing baptism for the dead so that the dead might experience bliss in eternity.

Paul said if the resurrection were not true then why were many of the Corinthians being baptized for the dead if the they would not be raised? He probably said this sarcastically because baptism for the dead is not a Biblical teaching. In fact, Paul refers to that group as “those” who practice baptism for the dead, not “we.” There is no value in this ceremony—their eternity is sealed. There is no purgatory from which to deliver dead people from the punishment of their sins. Purgatory is a Catholic teaching which originated centuries later than the teachings of the Bible. Salvation is by God’s grace through our faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, not by our religious practices (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our hope for salvation is in the resurrection of Christ, not prayers for the dead.

Not only does Paul argue against Corinthian teachings, he also argues for the resurrection from a logical perspective. If the resurrection is not true, why would he (and millions of Christians throughout history) risk life and limb for it? People do not normally take great and dire risks for lies.

How will the Dead in Christ be Raised?

Paul says they will be changed from mortal flesh and dust to an immortal spirit in the wink of an eye when Christ returns. “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man [Jesus] from heaven” (1Corinthians 15:49, NIV).

When will the Resurrection Occur?

According to 1Corinthians 15:52 it will happen when we hear the trumpet call of God. At that moment, our mortal bodies will be changed into immortal bodies. There will be no more sin and death. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Corinthians 15:57, NIV). This is the greatest reason for the teaching of the resurrection—we will raised to new life because of the resurrection of Christ! The resurrection of Christ is a message of hope and victory. Do we have this hope within us? Jesus Christ offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life, and the confidence that we will be resurrected to a new life (more...).

Note: a good resource for further proof of the resurrection of Christ can be found in The Case for Christ, by Lee Stobel, © 1998, Zondervan, ISBN 10: 0-310-20930-7 or ISBN 13: 978-0-310-209030-0. Also see 7 Reasons Why I Believe in the Resurrection of Christ by Chip Ingram.

Lessons to Live By

  • Let us not be deceived by false teachings which deny the literal resurrection of Christ, and let us not leave out the resurrection of Christ when we present the gospel; it is essential that people understand the power of God to save.
  • The resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life. It encourages us to share our faith with others.
  • We will someday be changed! No more death or sickness will plague us. We will be free of our infirmities with a new spiritual body!

Footnote: since Judas Iscariot was dead, perhaps Paul was including Matthias as the twelfth apostle (Acts 1:21-26)

Focus Verses

1Corintians 15:57-58 (NIV) “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

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A Look Ahead: When experiencing tough times we need the Camaraderie of fellow believers in Christ. Find out more in our Next Lesson.

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