1 Corinthians 15 has been a chapter of encouragement to me time and time again. Although this chapter isn’t one I would’ve thought to memorize until more recently, I’ve found myself coming back to the valuable truths held within its verses. Whether you’ve already memorized it or are coming up to memorizing it for the National Bible Bee Competition, this chapter addressed to the Corinthians is filled with abounding hope both for this life and the life to come.
As we endure various trials as Christians, we need to have our mind fixed on the eternal promises of God written in His Word. Through the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, we can find the strength and comfort we need to endure to the end.
Christ died for our sins according to Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3), but He did not stay in the grave. Rising again three days later, He appeared to many after His resurrection, including Cephas, James, the twelve apostles, and Paul. Because of Christ’s many eyewitnesses and the testimony of His resurrection in Scripture, we have no reason to doubt Him. We can be confident that Jesus did indeed accomplish what He said, conquering sin for us in His death (vs. 3) and defeating death in His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:55-57). As Paul writes, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” He placed his confidence in the words of Jesus and questioned those who doubted it.
Sometimes we can lose sight of the truth of Christ’s resurrection in our lives and live feeling defeated by the evil and sorrow all around us. Our eyes can shift from the promises of Scripture onto our present circumstances, and the fact that Jesus rose from the dead can seem to be more one of “common knowledge” rather than “truth that transforms the way we live our daily lives”. Christ never meant for the hope of His resurrection to be something we think about once every spring, or appreciate only when we first become a believer. Rather, it is to be the very center of our Christian faith, filling us with purpose and launching us into this world to be a light amidst the darkness. The joy of Christ’s resurrection should be so prominent in our lives that it overflows into all we say and do.
Later on in the chapter, Paul begins to write a list of “if” scenarios, to explain to his readers the hope that has been given to us more clearly. He starts by saying “if” there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen (v. 13). And if Christ is not risen, then preaching is in vain, and so is faith (v. 14).
If this were the case, then those who proclaim the gospel in Scripture are found to be false witnesses of God Himself for testifying that He raised up Jesus from the dead, when in reality, He did not. The apostles would be counted as liars not only before men, but before God (vs. 15). If this is true the dead do not rise from the dead, but are forever lost (v. 18). After all, if the Son of God Himself could not conquer death, who could?
We’d still be in bondage to our sin, crying out for someone to save us from its grasp and deliver us from death, the wages of it. Thus summarizing our entire life into one word – miserable. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” If Christ did not rise, our hope of the gospel is only for this world, and that is our end.
But then Paul’s various “what if” scenarios diminish with a single sentence in verse 20 – “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept”. In Christ’s resurrection, He proved Himself to be the Savior, promising that His own would one day rise from the grave too. This undeniable fact affects our present and our future. It gives us hope when those we love have fallen asleep in Christ. It reminds us when grief weighs upon our shoulders that this is not all there is, but just as Christ rose, so will we. We can gain hope in life and in death just as Paul did.
Jesus, rising again in victory, made our future resurrection possible. Now, with an irreplaceable source of hope and joy in what’s to come, we can run our race with confidence knowing that one day we’ll be united together with Him. And so 1 Corinthians 15 concludes, “…Afterward they [shall all be made alive] that are Christ’s at his coming.”
Our hope as believers doesn’t just start and end here on this earth. It will soon become a reality in eternity. In fixing our minds on things above as Colossians 3:2 instructs us, we can please God with how we live our daily lives. How does 1 Corinthians 15 encourage you to live with an eternal perspective today? “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Written by NBB Alumna: Hannah Kohner