1 Corinthians 15:54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” NKJV
Paul now concludes this chapter by proclaiming the glorious victory we who are “in Christ” will win in Him at the moment of our physical death, even though it is always our inclination (because of the way our bodies are designed) to fight hard with all the resources at our disposal to live as long as humanly possible in these tents or earthen vessels our bodies. However, from God the Father’s perspective and that of our Lord Jesus Christ our death is a delight as described in this manner by the Psalmist when he wrote, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalmist 116:15). Paul with his certain knowledge of this truth declares that as soon as this decaying flesh is put off, death will be instantly destroyed, decimated, and defeated for every one of us who have been born twice. Paul’s words he wrote here in 1 Corinthians 15:54 are drawn from the words spoken by the Lord God through the Prophet Isaiah when he said, “He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8). This confirms that this was God’s Promise to His people from the beginning and “in Christ” or in Christ death for sin and resurrection for justification, God the Father has made good on His Promise to His people.
1 Corinthians 15:55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” NKJV
Paul appears to turn the focus of his discourse away from addressing the Corinthian believers to speaking directly to death itself and the author or originator of death the devil and denounces its hold or grip over him, the Corinthian believers and all believers in Christ of every generation exactly as the writer of Hebrews declared with these words, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Paul declares that through the Cross of Christ and His Resurrection from the grave deaths ability to hurt believers has been extracted or removed as one would remove the bee’s stinger or the snake’s venom sack. Paul with this question was again drawing from the Old Testament Scripture written by the Prophet Hosea when he said, “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight” (Hosea 13:14). The answers to each one of these two questions Paul answered in 1 Corinthians 15:54, but he still wants these believers and us today to be ever assured of this fact and reality, so he declares this truth to the culprit death and the devil (Revelation 20:10 & Revelation 20:14).
1 Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. NKJV
Paul declares that it is all due to our sin nature that we die in the first place as Paul declared by these words earlier on in this same chapter when he said, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Adam’s sin passed down to all of humanity is what makes death so fearful and frightening to every person, but when we encounter our Lord Jesus Christ and are made alive “in Him” the dread of our pending death is removed or taken away and then we begin to anticipate death, knowing it will usher us into Christ Presence and Love as well as destroy all of our sin “in us” and “around us” forever as we are clothed with our glorified body. It is the “law of God” that holds us captive as we look into it and see its complete perfection and our complete imperfection as Paul summarized for us in his letter to the Roman believers with these words in Romans 7:7-16.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 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 toil is not in vain in the Lord. NKJV
God’s Law is Holy and Perfect, but we are unholy and sinful and therefore, the law is bondage to us and only in our intimate union with Christ can we have victory over our sin, not through trying harder to keep the law, but “in Him” or in His Nature is perfection for we must go to Him to receive the victory God the Father has already given us, as it is declared in this manner by the writer of Hebrews, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16). It is an unchangeable fact and eternal truth that we are victorious “in Christ” now and at the moment of our physical death. With this fact in mind, we must endeavor to be like a rock formed by a volcanic eruption firm and fixed on doing what our Lord Jesus Christ has commissioned and gifted each one of us to do for His Kingdom.
“Hosea had prophesied of Israel’s restoration under figure of a resurrection, and Paul grasps his words and fills them with a larger meaning. He modifies them, in a manner on which we need not enlarge, to express the great Christian thought that death has conquered man but that man in Christ will conquer the conqueror. With swift change of metaphor he represents death as a serpent, armed with a poisoned sting, and that suggests to him the thought, never far away in his view of man, that death’s power to slay is derived from-or, so to say, concentrated in-sin; and that at once raises the other equally characteristic and familiar thought that law stimulates sin, since to know a thing to be forbidden creates in perverse humanity an itching to do it, and law reveals sin by setting up the ideal from which sin is the departure. But just as the tracks in Paul’s mind were well worn, by which the thought of death brought in that of sin, and that of sin drew after it that of law, so with equal closeness of established association, that of law condemnatory and slaying, brought up that of Christ the all-sufficient refuge from that gloomy triad-Death, Sin, Law. Through union with Him each of us may possess His immortal risen life, in which Death, the engulfer, is himself engulfed; Death, the conqueror, is conquered utterly and forever; Death, the serpent, has his sting drawn, and is harmless. That participation in Christ’s life is begun even here, and God ‘giveth us the victory’ now, even while we live outward lives that must end in death, and will give it perfectly in the resurrection, when ‘they cannot die anymore,’ and death itself is dead.” Alexander MacLaren
“What triumph rings through those last four verses! As generations of Christians have stood around the mortal remains of their beloved, they have uttered these words of immortal hope. The trumpet’s notes will call those who have died and the saints that are still alive on the earth, into one mighty host of transfigured and redeemed humanity. Oh, happy day! Then we shall be manifested, rewarded, and glorified with Christ. All mysteries solved, all questions answered! Till then let us abound always in the work of the Lord.” F. B. Meyer
“Death, even for many an honest believer is not something that we think about often because although we trust our Lord we are still battling weaknesses, sin, and also fear at times because it is still many unanswered questions we have over things here that don’t make sense to us and can only be explained for us by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” 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…