1 Corinthians 15J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
A reminder of the gospel message: the resurrection is an integral part of our faith
15 1-2 Now, my brothers, I want to speak about the Gospel which I have previously preached to you, which you accepted, in which you are at present standing, and by which, if you remain faithful to the message I gave you, your salvation is being worked out—unless, of course, your faith had no meaning behind it at all.
3-8 For I passed on to you Corinthians first of all the message I had myself received—that Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures said he would; that he was buried and rose again on the third day, again as the scriptures foretold. He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve, and subsequently he was seen simultaneously by over five hundred Christians, of whom the majority are still alive, though some have since died. He was then seen by James, then by all the messengers. And last of all, as if to one born abnormally late, he appeared to me!
9-11 I am the least of the messengers, and indeed I do not deserve that title at all, because I persecuted the Church of God. But what I am now I am by the grace of God. The grace he gave me has not proved a barren gift. I have worked harder than any of the others—and yet it was not I but this same grace of God within me. In any event, whoever has done the work whether I or they, this has been the message and this has been the foundation of your faith.
If the resurrection is the heart of the gospel how can any Christian deny life after death?
12-19 Now if the rising of Christ from the dead is the very heart of our message, how can some of you deny that there is any resurrection? For if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, then Christ was never raised. And if Christ was not raised then neither our preaching nor your faith has any meaning at all. Further it would mean that we are lying in our witness for God, for we have given our solemn testimony that he did raise up Christ—and that is utterly false if it should be true that the dead do not, in fact, rise again! For if the dead do not rise neither did Christ rise, and if Christ did not rise your faith is futile and your sins have never been forgiven. Moreover those who have died believing in Christ are utterly dead and gone. Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind be the most to be pitied!
But Christianity rests on a fact—Christ did rise
20-23 But the glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all who sleep the sleep of death. As death entered the world through a man, so has rising from the dead come to us through a man! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of the Christ of God all men shall be raised to life, each in his proper order, with Christ the very first and after him all who belong to him when he comes.
24-27 Then, and not till then, authority and power, hands over the kingdom to God the Father. Christ’s reign will and must continue until every enemy has been conquered. The last enemy of all to be destroyed is death itself. The scripture says: ‘He has put all things under his feet’. But in the term “all things” it is quite obvious that God, who brings them all under subjection to Christ, is himself excepted.
28 Nevertheless, when everything created has been made obedient to God, then shall the Son acknowledge himself subject to God the Father, who gave the Son power over all things. Thus, in the end, shall God be wholly and absolutely God.
To refuse to believe in the resurrection is both foolish and wicked
29-32 Further, you should consider this, that if there is to be no resurrection what is the point of some of you being baptised for the dead by proxy? Why should you be baptised for dead bodies? And why should I live a life of such hourly danger? I assure you, by the certainty of Jesus Christ that we possess, that I face death every day of my life! And if, to use the popular expression, I have “fought with wild beasts” here in Ephesus, what is the good of an ordeal like that if there is no life after this one? ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’
33-34 Don’t let yourselves be deceived. Talking about things that are not true is bound to be reflected in practical conduct. Come back to your senses, and don’t dabble in sinful doubts. Remember that there are men who have plenty to say but have no knowledge of God. You should be ashamed that I have to write like this at all!
Parallels in nature help us to grasp the truths of the resurrection
35-38 But perhaps someone will ask, “How is the resurrection achieved? With what sort of body do the dead arrive?” Now that is talking without using your minds! In your own experience you know that a seed does not germinate without itself “dying”. When you sow a seed you do not sow the “body” that will eventually be produced, but bare grain, of wheat, for example, or one of the other seeds. God gives the seed a “body” according to his laws—a different “body” to each kind of seed.
39 Then again, even in this world, all flesh is not identical. There is a difference in the flesh of human beings, animals, fish and birds.
40-41 There are bodies which exist in this world, and bodies which exist in heaven. These bodies are not, as it were, in competition; the splendour of an earthly body is quite a different thing from the splendour of a heavenly body. The sun, the moon and the stars all have their own particular splendour, while among the stars themselves there are different kinds of splendour.
42-44 These are illustrations here of the raising of the dead. The body is “sown” in corruption; it is raised beyond the reach of corruption. It is “sown” in dishonour; it is raised in splendour. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. As there is a natural body so will there be a spiritual body.
45 It is written, moreover, that: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’.
46-49 So the last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. But we should notice that the order is “natural” first and then “spiritual”. The first man came out of the earth, a material creature. The second man came from Heaven and was the Lord himself. For the life of this world men are made like the material man; but for the life that is to come they are made like the one from Heaven. So that just as we have been made like the material pattern, so we shall be made like the Heavenly pattern.
50 For I assure you, my brothers, it is utterly impossible for flesh and blood to possess the kingdom of God. The transitory could never possess the everlasting.
The dead and the living will be fitted for immortality
51-53 Listen, and I will tell you a secret. We shall not all die, but suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, every one of us will be changed as the trumpet sounds! The trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised beyond the reach of corruption, and we who are still alive shall suddenly be utterly changed. For this perishable nature of ours must be wrapped in imperishability, these bodies which are mortal must be wrapped in immortality.
54 So when the perishable is lost in the imperishable, the mortal lost in the immortal, this saying will come true: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ ‘O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’
55-57 It is sin which gives death its power, and it is the Law which gives sin its strength. All thanks to God, then, who gives us the victory over these things through our Lord Jesus Christ!
58 And so brothers of mine, stand firm! Let nothing move you as you busy yourselves in the Lord’s work. Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted.