This installment is the last of our series on Paul’s letter to the church of Corinth, now known as the Bible book of 1 Corinthians. Let’s dive right in:
…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to be present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of time. 1 Cor. 15:2 – 8. NKJV
Thus, Paul begins making the case for the first and most important event at the cross: that of Jesus’ salvation death and resurrection – of which there were many witnesses. Indeed, Paul makes that salvation connection next:
…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:20 – 26. NKJV
Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him (God) who put all things under Him, (Jesus) that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15:28 NKJV
When Christ was transformed at His resurrection into this new God-Man existence, He became His Father’s agent of Man’s resurrection. Jesus is the first fruit of the ‘resurrection harvest’ of humanity, at the end of time. He guaranteed resurrection for God’s children by wiping out the spiritual death, (which ultimately results in physical death as well) brought on us by Adam’s original sin.
That cleansing is only available to those who accept Christ’s invitation for salvation – which frees God’s children from the ravages of time and death. Given that this is so, Paul now attempts to get the Corinthians to clean up their act and prepare themselves for Christ’s return:
Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character.
Awake [from your drunken stupor and return] to sober sense and your right minds, and sin no more. 1 Cor. 15:33, 34. AMP
Paul then tells them how God will make it possible for them to rise from their graves:
The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust, the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor in not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:42 – 58. NKJV
Wow! Christ’s work at the cross enables us to be resurrected as both righteous, and transcendent of the Law. We get a new body, made in His image, which never wears out! Our physical sufferings are a forgotten memory, and we stand ready to enter into an eternity of the unimaginable; and it’s all about The Love…
Such a deal! Makes a great case for connecting with our God through Jesus, yes?
(Well, because our message today was a quite a bit shorter than usual, I’m going to insert a short historical segue that will lead us into the Bible book of 2 Corinthians:
The date is approximately 55 A.D. Nero is the present ruler of Rome.
Paul paid a second visit to the church of Corinth which did not work out very well, although we are not given much details about the ‘why.’ He then returned to the city of Ephesus, whereupon Paul sent the Corinthians a ‘tearful’ letter - implied to be one that expressed his disappointment of their spiritual state, as well as his dismay over the manner in which they received him.
Unfortunately, just like Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, this tearful letter was lost as well.
During Paul’s stay in Ephesus, he preached against idolatry – the outcome of which produced a loss of revenue for a certain silversmith who fashioned and sold pagan idols. The silversmith stirred up a the unbelievers to riot against Paul.
Paul left Ephesus and traveled to the region of Macedonia. He wanted to return to Corinth, but he first waited for a report that was to come from his brother in Christ, Titus. Titus sent a good report, informing Paul that the Corinthians were happily waiting for his return.
Paul’s first response was to send a letter to encourage the faithful – a letter we now know as the Bible book of 2 Corinthians.)
Good night, and God bless.