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1 Corinthians 15

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Signorelli Resurrection

Resurrection of the Flesh (c. 1500) by Luca Signorelli - based on 1 Corinthians 15: 52: "the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto.

1 Corinthians: 15 is the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians by Paul the Apostle. The first eleven verses are the earliest account of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus in the New Testament. The rest of the chapter stresses the primacy of the resurrection for Christianity. Readings from the text are given at Easter Sunday services and funerals - where mourners are assured of the "sure and certain expectation of the resurrection to a better life".

Resurrection of Jesus: 1-11

The chapter begins with a recitation of a statement of faith that Paul had himself received when he was baptised into the Christian faith. The account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus in verses 3-7 appears to be an early pre-Pauline credal statement.[1]:

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (King James Version)

The antiquity of the creed has been located by many biblical scholars to less than a decade after Jesus' death, originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community.[2] Concerning this creed, Campenhausen wrote, "This account meets all the demands of historical reliability that could possibly be made of such a text,"[3] whilst A. M. Hunter said, "The passage therefore preserves uniquely early and verifiable testimony. It meets every reasonable demand of historical reliability."[4]

Resurrection of the dead: 12-58

Jesus and the believers 12-19

In verses 12-19, St Paul, in response to some expressed doubts of the Corinthian congregation, whom he is addressing in the letter, adduces the fundamental importance of the resurrection as a Christian doctrine. Paul presents a catalog of witnesses of the resurrected Christ as evidence of the resurrection, citing the resurrection of Jesus as the test case.

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.(King James Version)

Last enemy: 20-28

In verses 20-28, Paul states that Christ will return in power and put his "enemies under his feet" (25) and even death, "the last enemy" shall be destroyed (26).

Baptism for the dead: 29

In verse 29 Paul cites the practice of Baptism for the dead as testimony for the doctrine of the resurrection. This principle of vicarious work for the dead is an important work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the dispensation of the fulness of times. (See D&C 128.)

29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (King James Version)

Although no other references to proxy baptisms for the dead are made in the Bible, the fact that Paul cited it as evidence of the resurrection is legitimate proof that the early Church practiced the ordinance.

Be not deceived: 33-4

Verse 33 has a quotation from classical Greek literature. According to the church historian Socrates of Constantinople[5] it is from a Greek tragedy of Euripides, but modern scholarship, following Jerome[6] attributes it to the comedy Thaĩs by Menander, or Menander quoting Euripides. It might not have been a direct quote by Paul: "This saying was widely known as a familiar quotation."[7]

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Resurrection of the body: 35-58

The chapter concludes with an account of the nature of the resurrection. At the Last Judgement the dead will be raised and both the living and the dead transformed into "spiritual bodies" (44):[8]

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Through the power of Christ "Death is swallowed up in victory" (54). Referencing a verse in Hosea, Paul asks: "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?" (55), equating sin with death and the Judaic Law which have now been conquered and superseded by the victory of Christ.

References

  1. Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) p. 47; Reginald Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1971) p. 10; Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90; Oscar Cullmann, The Earlychurch: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 64; Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, translated James W. Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress 1969) p. 251; Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament vol. 1 pp. 45, 80–82, 293; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) pp. 81, 92
  2. see Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus—God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90; Oscar Cullmann, The Early church: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 66–66; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) pp. 81; Thomas Sheehan, First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity (New York: Random House, 1986 pp. 110, 118; Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection translated A. M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1977) p. 2; Hans Grass, Ostergeschen und Osterberichte, Second Edition (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1962) p. 96; Grass favors the origin in Damascus.
  3. Hans von Campenhausen, "The Events of Easter and the Empty Tomb," in Tradition and Life in the Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) p. 44
  4. Archibald Hunter, Works and Words of Jesus (1973) p. 100
  5. The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates ... , London: George Bell, 1897. book III, chapter 16, verse 114, page 194. See also the introductory essay to Samson Agonistes by John Milton, Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is call'd Tragedy.
  6. Commentarium ad Titum 100.1
  7. Hans Conzelmann 1 Corinthians: A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, translated by James W. Leach Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975 ISBN 0-8006-6005-6 footnote 132 pages 278-279
  8. E.P. Sanders (1991) Paul. Oxford University Press: 29-30. For a homiletic application, see "When I Get to the End of the Way" (References).

External links

1 Corinthians: 15


A Refresher Course on the Resurrection of the Dead

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