Paul Confronts their doubts about Christ Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:12-20 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. NKJV
Paul having just finished giving such a strong testimony of his own personal revelation of our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and also earlier on in this same chapter reiterated the gospel to them that he preached to them when he first came to them is taken somewhat by surprise to discover that some of the Corinthian believers were questioning Christ Resurrection from the dead. Paul having spent most of his life in the Jewish religion and knew that this was the position of the religious Jewish sect known as the Sadducees (Mark 12:18) and it had no place in the fellowship of the Church of God. The skeptics were not and are not confined to these long ago people in the ancient city of Corinth, for we have had in every generation men and women who doubt the truth of Christ virgin birth, His Miracles such as walking on the water and others and yes surely many have said that He never rose from the grave in a new body. Some in every generation (including today) proclaim that His Resurrection was merely a “spiritual” resurrection and not a resurrection of His Physical Body as our Lord Jesus clearly made evident when He appeared to the disciples with these words documented for us in the Scripture, “While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be to you.’ But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ (Luke 24:36-44).
Despite these well documented and authenticated words from our Lord Jesus Christ Himself that surely all these Corinthian believers were taught or declared to them by the original Apostles who were still alive at this time, there were still skeptics or doubters among them. We recall even Thomas one of the original twelve doubted our Lord was resurrected from the dead and only believed when he saw Him standing before him (John 20:28-29). Therefore, it is no strange thing that we still to this very day have doubters, even among those who claim to be Christians. Paul now begins to confront their skepticism by declaring the distressing consequences if Christ did not rise from the grave or tomb as he and all the other Apostles have testified to from their own eyewitness accounts to Him being alive from the dead. First, Paul declares that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then every person preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) is doing it with empty and useless words that can mean nothing nor can do anything for the souls of men which renders their faith in Christ likewise empty and useless or of no value to them eternally. The whole thing has been like a dream or a figment of one’s imagination or a good story of fiction that makes for a good stage play or in our day TV series or Motion Picture. For the truth of the matter is that if Christ Jesus our Lord did not rise from the dead, then He was just another Man who was deluded into thinking He was God and could not and did not absolve or dismiss or cancel the sins of anyone.
Finally, Paul declares the most depressing and the most deplorable thing of all if Christ did not rise from the dead is that everyone (including Abraham) have perished. This English word Paul uses here perish is translated from the Greek word apollumi which is a strong word meaning to destroy fully or to abolish or to put an end to. If this were the truth, then it would give acceptance or validity to the position of the Sadducees, but we know our Lord Jesus refuted their position thoroughly and completely when he said to some of them these words, “Jesus said to them, ‘The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.’” (Luke 20:34-38).
Paul was well grounded and fixed in the truth of Christ Resurrection (having seen him personally and believed His words as Luke records above) and declares to these Corinthian believers and to us that if Christ had not been resurrected from the dead, then we all are the most miserable of all men upon the earth because we live not for this life alone, but our real life happens when we die and if Christ is not raised from the dead, then we will not be raised from the dead and our faith life and walk is all for nothing and so is our persecution for righteousness sake, for we would be better off to follow the pattern of eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die (1 Corinthians 15:32). However, hold the phone because Paul declares to these skeptics in Corinth and in every generation all the way to today that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and become the first fruits of all who have died in Him and will die in Him. This English word first fruits is translated by the Greek word aparche which means a beginning of sacrifice, it has the idea of the Jewish sacrifice of the first fruits of their crops and animals to the LORD in the Old Testament, but here Paul uses it to speak of Christ being the first human being to be raised from the dead to live forevermore (Revelation 1:17-18) and all who trust Him and are born again of His Spirit will follow after Him in like manner (Hebrews 2:9-15 & 1 John 3:1-2).
“The argument here goes to show, first, that our resurrection is intimately connected with Christ’s. There must be such a thing, because he, as the representative of humanity, arose from the dead, in a human body which, though more ethereal in its texture, was easily recognizable by those who had known Him previously. Mary was recalled by the well-known intonations of her Master’s voice. Thomas was compelled to believe, in spite of his protestations to the contrary. In fact, all of our Lord’s friends were convinced against themselves. They credited the tidings of the risen Lord as idle tales. Therefore, says the Apostle, it is far easier to admit that man will rise than to face the difficulties of a still buried Christ, a vain faith, a vain gospel, and a false testimony from so many accredited witnesses.” F. B. Meyer
“The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact that should not be disputed, but in reality it is and has been ever since around A.D. 30 at the time of His death. If He did not rise from the dead, then He was not and is not God and no one need to pay much attention to Him or any of His Words, but if He did rise from the dead, then that is the most significant and important event in the history of humanity and likewise every single Word He ever spoke are the only Words of any importance to all of humanity.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…