[Read 1 Cor. 15]

From the beginning of this chapter R. Sha’ul makes it crystal clear that the absolute belief in the resurrection is essential for the Good News. (Vs. 1-2) Stern says that some Corinthians were “simply expressing a common Greek opinion – the Athenians too had mocked Sha’ul when he spoke of Yeshua’s resurrection (Ac 17:31-33), just before his first visit to Corinth. Influenced by eastern philosophy, many regard the body as evil or inferior, unworthy of eternal life (Ro 7:5N). Immortality of the soul, yes; but resurrection of the body, no – and this view is widely held today.” [1] The resurrection cannot be pushed to the side; it is the central truth of Messiah Yeshua!

In verses 3-5 we have one of the earliest creeds reiterated by Sha’ul. For a little background, this letter to the believers in Corinth was composed in Ephesus in about 55 CE which makes it only about 24 years after Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection. This creed, which was already in circulation by the time Sha’ul copied it down, is far too early to allow any sort of legend to corrupt the story. Sha’ul even mentions that there are those still around that were eye witness. It is like he is saying, “If you don’t believe me, go ask them!” As an example, would any of you believe me if I told you that Taiwan was the biggest medal winner of the 2000 Canberra Olympics? Why? So in this passage we see that the earliest believers claimed that Yeshua: 1) Died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 2) He was buried, 3) He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures 4) He then appeared to Kefa, the Twelve and then to 500 at one time. The Scripture prophesied the Messiah’s Death and resurrection in many places including: Isa. 53:8-10, Ps. 16:10-11, 18, 22:15-16, 69:4, Jonah, Hos. 6:2, Dan. 9:24, Zech. 11:13, 12:10, 13:7.  (For more on the need of Messiah to die please see: Isa. 52:13-53:12; 59:2, Gen. 2:17, 3:21, 4:3-5, 22:11-14; Heb. 9-10, Lk. 24:25-27).

Sha’ul goes on to acknowledge that his position as an emissary is only by God’s grace, but that is irrelevant since it is not only he who is proclaiming Yeshua’s resurrection. (Vs. 9-11) Sha’ul then rhetorically asks the statement they have been saying, “There is no resurrection of the dead.”[2] Notice how he then structures his argument. If we say there is no resurrection, then Messiah did not rise, then our proclaiming is useless, and your believing is useless, and we of all people are the most pitiful! BUT Now Messiah has been raised from the dead!

Sha’ul then goes into a little Torah study to emphasize some of the Scriptures that Yeshua’s resurrection fulfilled. He starts with Sfirat HaOmer. You may ask, “What does Sfirat HaOmer have to do with Sha’ul’s argument?” But its other name is the Feast of Firstfruits, and depending on your interpretation of (Lev. 23:9-14) it is supposed to occur on the 16th of Nisan or the first Sunday after Passover. I will show you later that either interpretation works in the case of Yeshua. The promise imbedded in this Feast is, if Adonai is faithful to provide the harvest of the first fruits, then He is faithful to provide the latter harvest. Sha’ul shows that just as Yeshua was raised to life on the Feast of First fruits, so also we are assured of our own physical resurrection at the second harvest. This second resurrection is talked of in (Rev. 20: 1-6) Furthermore Sha’ul goes on to mention the third bodily resurrection that is at the end of the age which is also mentioned in (Rev. 20:7-15). Don’t let anyone convince you there is no eternal judgement.

Sha’ul then goes on to attack their logical consistency. It seems that there was a practice in Corinth of being baptized for the dead.  Regardless of what this actually means (since it is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture), Sha’ul is showing that it is inconsistent to be baptized for the dead, and then say there is no resurrection.[3] It is the same as people today that say they do not believe in an afterlife and then tell you that that believe that their loved ones are “looking down on them.”

Sha’ul then personally demonstrates his own trust in Yeshua’s resurrection by pointing out that the suffering he was experiencing was only due to his belief in the resurrection of Yeshua. If there truly is not afterlife then there truly is not reason to live with any sort of morality. And how many millions of believers in Yeshua have given their life to testify to their faith in Yeshua’s resurrection?

In verses 35-49, Sha’ul actually goes into the details of what resurrection life will look like. When the World wants to mock the Resurrection they come up with ideas like: Frankenstein, vampires, zombies, walking skeletons, ghosts and the like. All of these are a mockery of real physical resurrection life. You can almost hear Sha’ul sneering as he writes verses [35 – 38]. After relating to the earthly realm and the celestial realm, he then explicitly exclaims,

“So also is the resurrection of the dead:

Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption!

Sown in dishonour, raised in glory!

Sown in weakness, raised in power!

Sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body!” (Vs. 42-44)

In verses 44b-49, Sha’ul closes out the argument he had started in vs. 21-22, where he is showing Yeshua as the second and improved Adam. “And just as we have borne the image of the one made from dust, so also shall we bear the image of the One from heaven.”

Sha’ul “is now ready to wrap up this section. He has made his points – both that there will indeed be a day of resurrection and that those in [Messiah] who are raised will have glorious, new bodies. But before he leaves this topic, he decides to end on a glorious note with a description of what [the second] resurrection day will be like.”[4] Sha’ul quotes, Isa. 27:13, 25:8 and Hos. 13:14, and refers to Zech. 9:14 and I will close by reading it once again. [Read vs 51-58 emphatically!]

[1] Stern, David H., Jewish New Testament Commentary, (Jewish New Testament Pub.,1992), 484

[2] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Tree Of Life Version (TLV), 2014.

[3] Verlyn Verbrudgge, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed Vol. 11., Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2008. Pg. 399

[4] Verbrudgge, Pg. 403.


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