Study Sheet for I Corinthians 15:12-34 (click here for Study Notes)
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is not resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day-I mean that, brothers-just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
Do no be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God-I say this to your shame. (NIV)
Belief in the resurrection has always been a stumbling block for many, including the Saducees (Acts 23:8), who did not believe in the resurrection or in the existence of angels, and for the Greeks.
1. The Corinthians were steeped in the Greek philosophy that the soul was good and true, and the body was merely a tomb which shackled the immortal soul. How did the Corinthians' background color their understanding of the promise of the resurrection? (see John 11:24; Acts 17:32; 23:8; 2 Tim. 2:18)
2. How did Jesus' humanity counteract the widespread Greek belief that the body was temporary and corrupt?
3. Why is it not possible to disbelieve the resurrection and to still teach and believe Christianity? (see 1 Thess. 4:14; John 20:9; Acts 2:24, 30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; Heb. 13:20; 1 Peter 1:21)
4. Why would Paul say we are still in our sins and are to be pitied more than all men if we don't believe the resurrection? (Romans 4:25; Matt. 9:24, I Cor. 4:9)
Paul declares that Jesus is the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep," and that as "death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man."
1. What is the significance of Jesus' being the "firstfruits", and how was this part of His experience foretold in the Old Testament? (ver. 23; Exodus 23:16, 19; Acts 26:23)
2. How did death come "through a man", and why is it significant that the resurrection of the dead "comes also through a man"? (I Cor. 15:44,45; Romans 5:12,16, 17; Gen. 2:17; 3:1-7; Romans 6:23; 3:9; Acts 15:11)
3. Who are the "dead", and how are verses 21 and 22 significant besides their promise of the resurrection? (Romans 5: 12-21; Eph. 2:1-7)
4. Why is it significant, especially for people with a background in the teaching of soul sleep, that Paul refers to those who will be resurrected as the "dead in Christ" or as "those who have fallen asleep"? (see ver. 6, 18, 23)
After the resurrection, Paul says, "then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power."
1. What is the kingdom which Jesus gives to the Father? (see Daniel 2:44; 7:14, 27; Matt. 21:43-44; Psalm 2:6-9; 2 Peter 1:10,11)
2. When does Jesus reign over this kingdom and destroy "all dominion, authority and power"? (see Rev. 20:1-6; Is. 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-4; Matt. 11:12; 12:28; 21:31, 43; Luke 17:21; 22:29)
3. What role do we as Christ followers play in this kingdom? (I Cor. 6:2; Luke 2:22-29-30)
"For he 'has put everything under his feet,' " Paul quotes from Psalm 8:6.
1. Who "has put everything under his feet," and what does "everything" include? (Psalm 8:6; Matt. 28:18; Col. 1:18,19)
2. What "enemies" will Jesus destroy besides death? (see 2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 20:14; 21:4)
3. How does this ultimate authority of Christ's affect his followers? (Phil. 3:21; Eph. 1:18-20; 3:7, 10,11; Col. 1:22)
Paul re-emphasizes that the resurrection is central to the power of the gospel by enigmatically asking if the resurrection is not a reality, why are people being baptized for the dead? Most commentators agree that this passage is obscure.
1. Paul also asks why he endangers himself every day if the resurrection is not a reality. How was he endangering himself, and what does he mean when he says, "I die every day"? (Romans 8:35-37; 2 Cor. 11:26, 27; 6:4,5; 1 Cor. 4:11)
2. What does Paul mean when he says, "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die' "? (see Is. 22:13; Luke 12:19)
3. Paul quotes from Menander, a well-known Greek playwright: "Bad company corrupts good character." How does this quote apply to this passage about the resurrection, and why does Paul juxtapose it to the warnings, "Do not be misled" and "Cometo your sensesand stop sinning,"? (1Cor. 6:9; Gal. 6:7; James 1:16)
4. What are the implications of Paul's warning to stop sinning followed by this comment, "For there are some who are ignorant of God"? (Gal. 4:8; Romans 1:28; I Thess. 4:4,5; 2 Chron. 13:8,9; Is. 37:19; 1 Cor. 8:4,5)
1. Have you known someone in whom you observed the power of Jesus' resurrection? What did you see?
2. Have you experienced this resurrection power in your life? Explain.
3. Does this passage in 1 Corinthians challenge your understanding of death/life or of end-time events? If so, how?
4. What new insight has this passage given you?
Paul ends this section of his letter with a reminder that a true follower of Christ is called to suffer, and with a warning against deception.
1. Have you suffered for the gospel? Explain.
2. In what ways have you been deceived and "ignorant of God"?
3. In what area of your life do you suspect you may be harboring deception or rationalization to avoid the truth?
4. What belief or person(s) do you need to submit to Christ, asking him
to reveal the truth to you and to release you from error?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised October 8, 2000.