Resurrection: 1 Cor 15:50-58

In this post-Easter week, we conclude our look at Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15.

Fear and hope are two of the great motivators. Fear of what we have to lose, and hope of what we have to gain. We’re used to advertisers and politicians playing on these emotions, but it’s not a new thing. The great Greek and Roman orators (with whose work Paul would have been familiar) saw these as the two primary motivations in play when persuading an audience.

Early in 1 Corinthians 15, we’ve seen Paul build a rational case that if there is no resurrection of the dead, there is no hope. He carefully shows the Corinthians what they stand to lose if they abandon the Christian teaching about a bodily resurrection, and conform to Greek ideas about the soul and body. The first part of the chapter (esp. verses 12-19) was designed to make them (rightly) fear losing the very basis of their faith.

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Resurrection: 1 Cor 15:29-34

In this post-Easter week, we look at Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15.

Yesterday, Paul sold the benefits of Jesus’ bodily resurrection: he’s the firstfruits, the taster of what will happen to us, too. In today’s brief passage, Paul then points to the Corinthians’ own behaviour, that showed that they had hope in such a resurrection. He says:

1 Corinthians 15:29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
 

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Resurrection: 1 Cor 15:20-28

In this post-Easter week, we look at Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15.

Yesterday, we saw Paul arguing against “some” in the Corinthian church who claimed that there was no resurrection of the dead. (They were probably Greeks who viewed a bodily resurrection as absurd; in Greek thought, people hoped to escape from the prison of the body into the superior, spiritual realm.) Paul showed how Jesus’ bodily resurrection was integral to the gospel: without it, we would still be sinners and faith in Christ would be futile. Today, he turns to the benefits of Jesus’ (and our) bodily resurrection:

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Resurrection: 1 Cor 15:12-19

In this post-Easter week, we look at Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15.

Yesterday, Paul reminded his audience of the tradition about Jesus’ death and resurrection which he heard from eyewitnesses and passed on to them. He wanted to affirm again its reliability, and its status as the basis of the Christian faith:

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

But Paul did this in service of a bigger point, relating to our resurrection, in the future. Because some in Corinth were doubting this:

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Resurrection: 1 Cor 15:1-11

In this post-Easter week, we look at Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, in 1 Corinthians 15.

One of the common objections to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection is the long timeframe between the event (around 30 AD) and the four written gospels which testify to it (Mark is likely the earliest, in the 60s AD). Now of course, this 40-year gap is still within living memory, meaning the accounts could have been challenged by those who were around at the time if the gospel writers were simply making up stories. (If you publish made up stories about the late 1970s, there will be plenty of people around to correct you!)

More than that, in a mostly non-literate culture, the gospels weren’t primary; they reflected a long tradition of material about Jesus and his resurrection that was circulating by word of mouth. Unlike in our text-based culture, in the first century, writing these traditions down was a secondary task.

But still: there’s a gap between what’s often seen as our earliest historical evidence (Mark’s gospel) and the event itself, which can lead people to doubt the reliability of the resurrection accounts.

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