Resurrection, Part 3

Turn to 1st Corinthians 15 and let’s get to work.  After giving some pretty lengthy insight and instruction on the much-needed spiritual gift of tongues in chapter 14 Paul, at chapter 15, enters into a new direction.  It is a really important part of the whole of scripture because Paul takes the time to articulate things about the afterlife that Yeshua himself doesn’t go into.  Being that Christians are almost always concerned with details about the afterlife this is a particularly instructive portion of Paul’s writings.  The fact of the matter is, if what Paul talks about here is correct, then Christianity is true.  If Paul is wrong, then I would see the faith as wrong.

Prior to Christ, what Paul writes here, was not happening.  All who died were separated from God, stuck in some form of sheol (known to Jews as the grave or the covered place) and all were relegated to an existence of formlessness, or at least being dispossessed of having any kind of body.  Yeshua brought the promise of a resurrection because without Him and His victory there would never be one nor any hope of any kind for a desired afterlife.  aTo be dispossessed of a body seems like it would present all people with a sorry state of affairs,  one where they would long for the days when they were mortal, material and housed in a frame of some sort.

But with Him and His resurrection we, the world, has the full value of the faith – we have not only been forgiven and saved by the grace of God, we have the promise of a better life beyond and this is what Paul gives us an insight into – the life beyond.  What caused Paul to enter into this discussion with   the church at Corinth?  It seems like there were a couple of reasons.  

First, the church at Corinth was part of Greece and the Greeks were constantly curious about matters that eluded them.  The resurrection was in all probability a topic of great interest and perhaps word got back to Paul that this was the case.  Because of their natural penchant to divide from each other it is likely that the church was breaking up over some sectarian notions and if, perhaps, a Sadducee snuck into the fray and introduced a denial of the resurrection, there could have been a real need to nip the issue quickly in the bud before the believers split over their differences.

The clarity of what Paul says about resurrection cannot be denied – it is absolutely stupendous – and so it seems like he found it necessary to set the record straight.

More obviously, however, is that some had in that setting actually denied the reality of a resurrection (as evidenced by what Paul says at verse 12) and so however the topic got messed up, Paul saw it necessary to address it.

From Acts 17:32, we know that among some of the Greeks, the doctrine of the resurrection was regarded as ridiculous; and we know from the Gospel accounts that there were Jews (Sadducees) who denied it altogether.  We also learn from 2nd Timothy 2:18 that some crazies were teaching that the resurrection had already come and gone. 

As a means to counteract these errors, and to put the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead on a firm foundation of irrefutable truth, Paul addresses it – head on.

For simplicities sake chapter 15 of 1st Corinthians could be divided into four parts and in those four parts four questions regarding the resurrection are solved. 

PART I (verses 1-34)

Whether there is any resurrection of the dead?  

PART II (verses 35-51)

With what body will the dead rise? 

PART III (verses 51-54)

What will become of those who shall be alive when the Lord Yeshua returns to both judge and save? 

And PART IV (verses 55-58)

What are the practical benefits of this doctrine?  

Along the way, he adds some things to the mix that are interesting and important insights and we will touch on them as we go.  So, let’s pick it up at verse one and work through this together as Paul begins this chapter by saying: 

1st Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, (or in addition to all I have written to you thus far in this epistle – and let me break this down into ten statements) 

I (Paul, an Apostle of the Lord Yeshua Christ)

declare unto you(believers at Corinth)

The Greek term for “declare unto you” means, “I make known, reveal, tell, narrate, inform, put in your mind or impress upon you.”  Greek scholars suggest that what Paul is doing is reminding them of what he had declared to them before and not that he was declaring to them anything new.  So he says,

I declare unto you . . .”

 . . . the gospel . . . (the Good News, the glad announcement).

Now, most Christians will appeal to these words of Paul as the way to define the Gospel or the Good News.  The question is asked, “What is the Good News?”  And then they will turn to this very chapter and read how Paul defines it.  Paul’s focus here is on the Resurrection of the Lord and Savior and yet in the introduction to this topic he takes the time to include the other elements that contribute to the Good News being Good. The things that he will include in the package called the good news is

  • how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
  • that he was buried, and
  • that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures

Some add to the definition of the Good News that “He was seen of Peter and others”  and while the witnesses add value to the story, Paul seems to limit the Good News to just three items,

  1. 1.That Christ died for our sins (according to the scriptures – which are the old Testament) that 
  2. 2.he was buried, 
  3. 3.and that he rose again on the third day (again, according to the scriptures).

We will get deeper into this short list and the beauty of it in a minute but in this version of the Good News, we have Mark open his Gospel up with the following:

“The beginning of the gospel (Good News) of Yeshua Christ, the Son of God. . .” and from there delivers 16 chapters the tell the story of the Good News.  We can be dogmatic and limit our definition of the Good News to Paul’s short list provided here or we can be broad and rambling and suggest (like Mark sort of does) that the whole tale of Yeshua’s birth, life, miracles, death and resurrection define the Good News for us as a whole, but in the end, while everything Yeshua experienced, said, did and didn’t do are part of the Good News, the reality of it all culminates, is endorsed and is ratified in the finished product of His resurrection.  Paul will actually say something to this effect later on in this chapter.  But here he begins with, 

I (Paul, an Apostle of the Lord Yeshua Christ) declare unto you the Good News . . .

“which I preached unto you” (when I was in Corinth)

According to Acts 18:1, it was Paul who founded the church at Corinth and so it was proper that he would remind them what he had taught them at the beginning – especially if they had wandered off into realms of error and division.  It seems reasonable that if the founder who had preached truths to them wrote to correct them that they would listen.  Paul adds,

“which also ye have received”

In other words, “which you received and embraced and admitted at that time to be true.”  To me, Paul is saying that, “they were converted to the Good News that he preached to them.”  And they not only received or were converted to what they received but he adds, “and wherein you stand.”  In other words, “The doctrines and story of the Good News – long version or short – is what you all stand upon as Christians,” Paul seems to say.  Without them, they would be standing on another foundation – that of Judaism or Philosophy or paganism. We will soon read where Paul hinges the value of the Christian Good News on the reality of the resurrection and goes so far as to say that if all Yeshua offers was only applicable to this life, His followers would be “most miserable.”  At this point we get the remainder of his comments on the subject, saying at verse 2

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 

“By which also ye are saved,” 

Okay.  I have to step out here and make something clear that I see in the Apostolic Record and that if it is not repeated, it will be lost on our tendency to apply everything we read herein to ourselves.  The Nation of Israel was promised a Messiah.  They expected a material Messiah that would rule and reign over the nation and emancipate it from any and all bondage (like to the Romans) . . . “saving them,” as it were. This view was garnered and embraced over the course of their history as they were inclined to read scripture without spiritual eyes and were blind to its more lofty meanings.  

400 years of silence ensued after Malachi, and we enter into a scene where there is a wild man raised in the desert eating locusts and wild honey, never cutting his hair (or beard) and dressed in camel’s hair and a leather girdle.  Some of his first recorded words are found in Matthew 3:7 where we read:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”

The implication of these very words are:

“There is a WRATH THAT IS COMING that this people needs to be saved from.”

In other words, John the Baptist was saying, “I am preparing the way for the promised Messiah who will save this people from the wrath to come.”  Three verses later John the Baptist adds:

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Context strongly suggests that Yeshua the Messiah came to save them from this fiery prophesied onslaught headed their way.  When we read other passages, like

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name YESHUA: for he shall save his peoplefrom their sins.”

We tend to think of this saving as being from God and His wrath and therefore from an afterlife place called hell and/or the Lake of Fire.  There is an application of this meaning going on here, and it would occur for them by looking to their Messiah in faith and receiving the Good News.  But the primary “saving” that John the Baptist,Yeshua and His chosen apostles were focused on was those Jews (and later some Gentiles) being saved from the approaching promised destruction.  This is what Yeshua came to save His own people from – an actual, material, literal destruction promised them.  They were a material nation, under material laws, and were being saved by the material life, death and resurrection of their material savior, Yeshua Christ.

When Yeshua asks the Pharisees in Matthew 23:33 “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Christians today interpret His comments as his ability to save them from an eternal fiery pit called hell, when in context and reality, Yeshua was asking them how they expected to escape actually burning in a literal location called Gehenna (which the King James translators translated to hell) where many Jews’ bodies were tossed into during the war with Rome.  So, remember, “saved” in the apostolic record has its initial application to being saved from a promised destruction that was literally headed their way.   The aftermath “salvation” (for them and for the rest of the world) is a byproduct, in the Record of the initial salvation being offered.  So even when Paul writes in that if we 

“Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth you will be saved,” 

the primary application in that day was for them to be saved . . .

  1. 1.From the coming wrath
  2. 2.To God’s heavenly Kingdom
  3. 3.And therefore, from painful afterlife correction in hell and/or the Lake of Fire.

For these reasons, salvation (or them being saved from this primary threat – material death) is entirely conditional in the Apostolic Record, and is predicated on them believing on Yeshua and enduring to the end.  This is why Paul follows up the line of them being saved with the next line

if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you unless ye have believed in vain.”

This message is central to every single story, illustration, parable and prophecy given to the people in that age and recorded in what Christian’s call, the New Testament; it was, “look to Him in faith and live,” if you fail your safety here is not assured.

When we read Yeshua teaching the Parable of the Sower, when we read Paul’s warnings, or of John and Yeshua words to the Seven Churches, don’t be misguided by the traditions of Man and the focus on them being “saved” only from afterlife hell.  That was part of the salvation promised them but again the primary application of their salvation was from eminent material death by Roman hands.

This is the setting of that day and age and to mix these rules all up with our age and our desires to see saved as primarily referring to “from hell” is to misappropriate its parameters and fail to see the utter victory Yeshua has had in His life, death and resurrection over all things once and for all.  Let me put it to you this way:

  • Yeshua was wrapping up that age (with its approaching final day of wrath) by and through His life, death and resurrection.
  • In that day, all were dead in sin because of Adam and his transgression.
  • From Adam to Yeshua, all who died were “dead in sin” and they went to sheol (or the covered place) separated from God, needing reconciliation through blood that was not from bulls and goats but was from the blood of God’s only human Son – the promised Messiah.
  • He came and His death, burial and resurrection were the worlds DEATH, BURIAL, and RESURRECTION.

Not just those individuals who believed on Him, but His death, burial and resurrection were on behalf of the world.  Because the wages of sin is death, we ask, “who died for the world?”  Yeshua of Nazareth.  “How did He die?”  In every way – physically and spiritually.  What did His death accomplish?  “God’s grace for the world with all effects of the Fall taken care of in full. 

So, we are all born not dead in sin (which would amount to ignorance, fear, dread and alienation from God) but all are born dead with Christ who died for all as the final victor over sin and death. We might even say that He took the whole world into the grave with Him at His death.  However, all have not been raised to new life in Christ.  That comes by faith on Him. In other words, the world has been totally reconciled to God by Christ – and no sin remains that can separate any of us. Listen to 2nd Corinthians 5:14 where Paul says:

“that because one died for all, then are all dead.”

This speaks to the universal condition of the world today in light of Yeshua’s final finished victory. We might go so far as to suggest that the world has been brought back into the original Garden (of Eden) state spiritually and that we are blank slates before God, justified in most ways, but not sanctified, which comes only by faith.  All of this was done by God’s grace!  That is how good God is.  Through His Son’s singular death, the whole world died with Christ – who was the world’s substitute.  But then Paul adds, speaking to another phase the world is invited to receive,

“And since He died for all, theywhich liveshould not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them AND rose again!”

Yeshua death was only part of His contribution to the citizens of this world. It paid in full the sin brought in by Adam.  But His resurrection was efficacious in the lives of ONLY those who believe.  In verse 14 cited abover Paul speaks of “Christ dying for ALL, and therefore ALL being dead,” but in verse 15 he speaks of a more limited number – referring to them as “they” (not all, but they) and says,

And since He died for all, THEY WHICH LIVE  . . .??  . . . should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them AND rose again.”  Here is where His resurrection and faith in it becomes operative.  In this verse Paul applies not the death and resurrection of Christ to all but His resurrection only to those (the they) “which live,” meaning, those who rise up to new life in Him.

Get it?

There is a resurrection of damnation (which Yeshua described) but there is also a resurrection to life – and this is what Paul is speaking about . . . “that since he died for all (the world) they which live (believers risen to new life) should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him which (not only) died for them (but Paul adds) AND rose again!

So, while we know all will be resurrected, we also know that only those who rise up out of that universal grave with Him in His resurrection really rise up to new life! The rest will experience a resurrection of damnation – whatever that means.  Because the World was buried with Christ who died for all, there is no more fiery hellish separation at the physical  death of any – he has had the victory over all of that and at the end of that age hell was cast away as Revelation describes.  We might think of the world and our place in it before we knew Christ as a marked up white board and if we died before He completed His finished work for the world, we would all go to sheol (hell) because nothing could wipe the slate clean but His blood. (Hebrews 9:22)  But Yeshua died for the sins of the world, and the world was taken to His grave with Him and the slate was wiped clean!  The wages of sin were paid.  Period.  But notice something important, while we have all returned to being blank slates (or justified) we remain dead. We are still in the grave (so to speak). So, where forgiveness of sin has been had, the life that hangs in the balance has been ultimately fruitless.  Why? Because most people have not nor will rise back up with Christ in His VICTORY over the grave!  They remain dead with Christ (not dead in sin, but dead with Christ) all the while ignoring that there is so much more being offered them by and through the Spirit that raised Him.

In this vein every believer rises with Christ (as a blank slate) but then, following Paul’s advice, realize (by the Spirit) that they “should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him which died for them and rose again!  The next verses Paul shares in 2nd Corinthians are very telling as he says:

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 

And as these new creatures, believers begin to mark up their blank slates with completed orders from the King, like

I forgave.

I went the extra mile.

I lived unto the Spirit.

I loved as commanded . . . etc., etc., etc.

It is by these things that the souls who choose to live by faith (not only those who have died because Christ died) but that the souls who live will receive a resurrected body like what Paul is about to describe in 1st Corinthians 15.  Those who remain a blank slate, due to the substitutionary death of Him but fail to live through Him and His resurrection are facing a very different fate.  I do not believe it is a state of punishment.  That was paid for by Christ.  But I do believe that all people will reap spiritually what they choose to sow physically in their existences.  Those who sowed to the spirit will reap accordingly.  Those who sowed to the flesh will do the same.  God is just.  He is not a respecter of persons.  This is something upon which all souls can hang their hats. 

So, Paul here, to these believers at Corinth, has said he preached to them the Gospel and then adds,

2 By which also ye are saved (and we talked about what this meant to them, and then he adds), if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 

The better Greek here is “if ye hold fast to what I preached to you….” Where the King James adds, unless you believed in vain, “it could be read, “unless your faith was worthless, not sustainable, like the faith growing on rocky or thorny ground, or idle.”  In other words, while most of the other translations seem to suggest that Paul is saying that they will be saved “if” they remember what Paul preached to them UNLESS their faith was false.

I reject this.  The Greek word is IKAY and it best means “idle.” So I suggest that Paul is saying what James was saying – that

They will be saved if they remember what he taught them – unless, however, the faith they professed was without merit, was idle, and was only what we might call, “said faith” (which is really no faith at all).

At this point Paul recites to them what he has labeled the Gospel, and he begins by saying,

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, 

Paul here refers to the fact that he had received these doctrines from Lord Yeshua by inspiration.  He tells us so in 1st Corinthians 11:23 and in Galatians 1:12.  He is also sure to tell them that he was not teaching them his own doctrine but that which he himself has received.  And then he gives us the short stack definition of the Gospel or Good news, saying

  1. A.How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
  2. B.And that he was buried, and 
  3. C.that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Isn’t it remarkable that Paul himself does not include anything that men and women include today in their definition of the Good News?

He says NOTHING about the Virgin birth.

Nothing about the pre-existence of Yeshua as God.

Nothing about the Trinity.

Nothing about the second coming.

Nothing about water baptism.

Nothing about being a member of the Body.

Nothing about repentance.

Nothing.

If we are to assume that the short-stack Gospel description is viable, which many do, and that this isn’t just a technical loophole, then we have a whole lotta loosening up to do among ourselves, don’t we?  

Let’s wrap this blog up and address these three points that make up the Good news:

  1. 1.How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

Now, Paul could be speaking of the types of His death found in scripture.  These might include references like,

Psalm 22:15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 

 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:

Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

But in the end this passage clearly shows that Yeshua death was not merely a religious martyr but that his actual blood was to be shed for sin.

  1. 2.And that he was buried

Again, does this refer to the scripture, and if so, could he have meant passages like Jonah and the fish, Joseph tossed into a ditch and/or

Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

  1. 3. “that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

Again, we don’t know if he was talking about the types and pictures of resurrection in the Old Testament (like that of Abraham and Isaac or Abrahams apparent trust that God would bring His Son back from the dead) but some believe that Paul was citing Hosea 6:2 which says

“After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

Perhaps he was referencing Psalm 16:10, where we read:

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

We can’t be sure.  But what we can say, definitively, is that Paul states plainly that the Gospel can be defined in these three points,

  1. That Yeshua the Messiah died for the sins of the world, 
  2. that he was buried, 
  3. and that he rose again on the third day.

And that these things were supported by the prophetic words contained in the Tanakh or Old Testament. (because the scripture was the Tanakh to them in that day).

Shawn McCraney
Shawn McCraney
Articles: 108

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