I said, a few months ago, that I’d begin a Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 in April. Okay, it’s April 30, so I’m technically starting in April. Circumstances just delayed things a bit, and (to be honest) I still question whether or not my readers actually want a Bible Study. Nevertheless, I believe the topic of Christ’s resurrection needs much more attention than it receives, and that belief compels me to walk you through this chapter.
Let’s look at the first section of the chapter today, and get a basic overview of its argument. Next week we can break it down in more detail, but for now I simply want to acquaint you with the passage and stimulate your thinking a bit. I really hope you’ll use the Comments Section or The Outspoken TULIP’s Facebook Page to ask questions and/or share your observations based on the text.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ~~1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV)
As you come to this chapter, you need to remember that Paul has just spent 14 chapters addressing a wide variety of problems in the Corinthian church. These problems stemmed from a deplorable lack of unity within the church. Now Paul, in addressing yet another of their factions (namely a group that denies the resurrection), teaches doctrine for the purpose of promoting unity.
Paul draws attention back to the Gospel that he personally preached to them when he founded that church. In verses 3-4, he reiterates that basic Gospel, which includes Christ’s resurrection. These two verses make it clear that the doctrine of the resurrection is necessary in presenting the Gospel.
Yet typical Gospel presentations in today’s evangelical culture virtually ignore the resurrection, instead emphasizing substitutionary atonement. As vital as it is to understand that Jesus died for our sins, however, it’s just as vital to embrace the fact that He has risen from the dead.
Therefore, Paul spends verses 5-11 enumerating various eyewitnesses to Christ’s bodily resurrection. As we’ll learn when we examine those verses more closely, he names those eyewitnesses to establish that Jesus really did rise from the dead. He proactively refutes those who would relegate the resurrection to mere symbolism by providing verifiable evidence of Christ’s resurrection, and consequently of the resurrection that believers will experience.
As you read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, what points stand out to you? How do those points further Paul’s argument? Do they change your perspective on the Gospel? Would their teaching on Christ’s resurrection have an effect on how you present the Gospel? Does this section raise any questions that you’d like me to explore as we go through this Bible Study? Again, please use the Comments Section or the Facebook Page to offer your thoughts and questions on this Study. We’ll resume this Bible Study next Monday, Lord willing.