Devotional guide 1 Corinthians #6: 1 Cor 15-16

Devotional guide 1 Corinthians #6: 1 Cor 15-16 September 23, 2022

Monday: Read 1 Cor 15:1-11

1 Corinthians 15 is the longest extended speech of Paul on a single topic. This chapter is famously known as the resurrection chapter. Notice that the chapter does not begin with “now concerning.” Paul is no longer addressing their letter to him.

Paul is, however, addressing a problem in the church in Corinth. This issue appears to be that “some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (12).

In 15:1-11, Paul begins by asserting the fact of Christ’s resurrection. This may not have been a point of contention. The Corinthians likely agreed with Paul on this point. In fact, Paul acknowledges this in 15:11 when he says that what he says here is what he preached and what they believed. Paul, in fact, uses their affirmation of Christ’s resurrection as the basis for his argument in the rest of the chapter.

Paul begins by reminding them of the Gospel (1). He begins with Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and His appearance to Peter and the 12 (3-5). It is widely believed that 15:3-5 is the oldest Christian creed we have.

In 15:6-7, Paul adds a catalog of others to whom Christ appeared (500 others; James [brother of Jesus], all the apostles [i.e., in addition to the 12 who were mentioned in 15:5). The argument is simple: Christ was seen by all these people, how could you deny His resurrection? Again, the Corinthians likely agreed with Paul on these points.

In 15:8-10, Paul adds his own experience. That Christ appeared to Paul is an important fact that Paul appeals to in 2nd Corinthians as justification for his legitimacy as an apostle.

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • What are things you hold on to when your faith is tested? For many, it is the fact of Christ’s resurrection. When times are tough and our faith is challenged we are reminded that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that a resurrection awaits us also.
  • The next time you are struggling ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of what awaits us!

Tuesday: Read 1 Cor 15:12-28

In 15:12-34, Paul sets forth the implications of not believing and believing. He does so by taking up two contradictory positions: their belief in Christ’s resurrection and their denial of their own resurrections.

Paul begins by assuming their position and then noting that “if there is no resurrection of the dead” (13), then Christ was not raised (13), and if He was not raised, then his preaching and their faith are in vain (14) and “worthless” (17).

In 15:20-28, Paul contends that since Christ has been raised, then so will we. Christ’s resurrection after all is the “first fruit” (20). Paul then notes that Christ is currently reigning from heaven until he has “put all His enemies under His feet” (25).

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • There is often a lot of discussion about the end times in our churches. Unfortunately, too many people place too great of a focus on the future. Paul clearly believes that the end (or the eschaton) has begun in Christ. Jesus’ resurrection has set in motion the reign of God. What do you think is the significance of the fact that Christ is already reigning? Does it offer you hope?

Wednesday: Read 1 Cor 15:29-36

In 15:29-34, Paul continues to argue from the absurdity of their position in light of their present activities. What he means by their being baptized for the dead is difficult to determine (29). Paul also notes, why are we continuing to suffer, including being sent to the beasts?

Paul closes his discussion of the resurrection by responding to objections. Paul notes, “someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” (35). Paul responds quite sharply to this objection: “You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (36). Such resurrections, in other words, happen daily in nature.

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • Paul will argue that our belief in the resurrection of Jesus should serve as the motivation for our actions (see 15:58). Paul notes here that it is the reason why he suffers. What is it about Paul’s convictions of the future resurrection of the people of God that enabled him to endure suffering?
  • Are you willing to strengthen your resolve to endure for the kingdom in light of the resurrection that awaits us? Ask the Lord for help!

Thursday: Read 1 Cor 15:37-58

The fact of resurrection forms the basis of Paul’s argument for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The body that dies is the body that rises. This doesn’t mean that what dies rises in exactly the same shape that it was in previously (37-38).

In fact, Paul argues extensively, that the form of the body that dies differs from the form that rises: he says it is sown perishable and raised imperishable (42); sown in dishonor and raised in glory (43); sown in weakness and raised in power (43); sown a natural body and raised a spiritual body (44).[2]

Paul concludes, “Therefore, my beloved brothers” (58). This line suggests that what follows is very significant. It also suggests that based on the fact that Jesus has risen and so shall we, we should act accordingly. Paul says, “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (58). In other words, the proper conduct on the part of the people of God should be the result of our understanding of Christ’s victory.

 Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus guarantees our future resurrection. Therefore, Paul is convinced that our work for the kingdom is not in vain (58). In fact, for Paul, our future resurrection is the motivation for his labors for Christ.
  • Too many Christians today seem to act as though they have no need to bother since they will be resurrected someday. What do you think Paul would say to someone who used their belief that since they will be raised they do not need to do any work for the kingdom in the present?

Friday: Read 1 Cor 16:1-24

Paul closes the body of the letter with a reminder that he is taking a collection for the churches in Jerusalem and Judea (1-3). Paul advises them to set aside some money each week. Paul’s advice to set it aside on the “first day of the week” (2) is one of the primary indications that the Christian community was meeting on Sunday.

Paul encourages those in Corinth to make sure Timothy has no cause to be afraid (10). Timothy was likely a young man and may have struggled with insecurity.

Paul reiterates—what is easy to overlook—that everything we do should be done in love (14).

 Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • The advice to set aside a little money each week is excellent advice for anyone trying to save. We will look at the issue of giving in 2nd Corinthians. For now, we should note that Paul is not advising everyone to set aside money. He is advising those in Corinth to do so in order that the money might go to the poor in Jerusalem and Judea. I suspect, then, that Paul was not advising the poor, who had no money to give, to set aside money for the poor in Jerusalem. Neither was he advising the poor in Jerusalem to set aside a sum of money.
  • The change of meeting from Saturday to Sunday follows from the resurrection of Jesus. Since communion was central to the early church gatherings, and since communion was a remembering of Jesus’ death and resurrection, it only makes sense that the day to do this is Sunday. Of course, in our world, work and family schedules are complex. Since most communities gather on Sundays it seems best for most Christians to gather on a Sunday. But some simply can’t. Those who can’t are encouraged to find other opportunities to gather for regular worship and fellowship with a body of believers.

 

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[1] This guide is meant to be done either as a group study over the course of 2 or 4 meetings (Day 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20), or as a private devotion over the course of 4 weeks (or a calendar month—5 lessons per week).

[2] Paul is not saying that it is a spiritual body and not a physical one. He means that it is a spirit dominated body. Note that the whole argument of this chapter has been that just as Christ was raised bodily so shall we be.

About Rob Dalrymple
Rob Dalrymple is married to his wife Toni and is the father of four fabulous children, and two grandchildren. He has been teaching and pastoring for over 33 years at colleges, seminaries, and the local church. He has a PhD (Westminster Theological Seminary) in biblical interpretation. He is the author of four books (including Follow the Lamb: A Guide to Reading, Understanding, and Applying the Book of Revelation & Understanding the New Testament and the End Times: Why it Matters) as well as numerous articles and other publications.  He is currently completing a commentary on the book of Revelation titled, “Revelation: a Love story” (Cascade Books, pending 2024). You can read more about the author here.

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