|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:12-19 Having shown that Christ was risen, the apostle answers those who said there would be no resurrection. There had been no justification, or salvation, if Christ had not risen. And must not faith in Christ be vain, and of no use, if he is still among the dead? The proof of the resurrection of the body is the resurrection of our Lord. Even those who died in the faith, had perished in their sins, if Christ had not risen. All who believe in Christ, have hope in him, as a Redeemer; hope for redemption and salvation by him; but if there is no resurrection, or future recompence, their hope in him can only be as to this life. And they must be in a worse condition than the rest of mankind, especially at the time, and under the circumstances, in which the apostles wrote; for then Christians were hated and persecuted by all men. But it is not so; they, of all men, enjoy solid comforts amidst all their difficulties and trials, even in the times of the sharpest persecution.
Verse 14. - Vain. You accepted our proclamation (kerugma), yet it would be utterly void if its central testimony was false. The word translated "then" has a sort of ironic force - "after all," or "it seems." The whole argument is at once an argumentum ad hominem and a reductio ad absurdum. Your faith is also vain. For it would be faith in a crucified man, not in the risen Christ.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And if Christ be not risen,.... If this is a truth, and must be taken as granted, as it must be, if there is no resurrection at all:
then is our preaching vain; false, empty, delusory, unprofitable, and useless; not only that part of it which more especially concerns the resurrection of Christ, but even the whole of it; preaching Christ as the Son of God, which was the subject of the apostle's ministry, and which he set out with, is to no purpose, if he is not risen; for one considerable proof of his sonship depends upon his resurrection, which is the declaration of it; for who can believe him to be the Son of God, if he is detained under the power of the grave? one reason why he could not be held of death, and the pains and cords of it, any longer than was necessary, and was his pleasure, was because he was the Son of God, as well as surety of his people, who had paid the whole debt: so the preaching of his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death, is of no use and avail, if he has not abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, first in himself, and then for his people:
and your faith is also vain; either the grace of faith, by which they believed on Christ, or the doctrine of faith; or since this is repeated, 1 Corinthians 15:17 the one may be meant here, and the other there. The doctrine of faith they had given their assent to, not only respecting the resurrection of Christ, but any other truth relating to his person and office, must be vain and empty, and without any foundation; even that faith which is one, uniform, harmonious, and consistent, which was once delivered to the saints; which they are to stand fast in, to strive, contend, and fight for, and not part with at any rate, upon any account whatever; and yet this, and the preaching and belief of it, are useless and insignificant things, if Christ is not risen; such wretched absurdities must follow upon the denial of that truth.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. your faith … vain—(1Co 15:11). The Greek for "vain" here is, empty, unreal: in 1Co 15:17, on the other hand, it is, without use, frustrated. The principal argument of the first preachers in support of Christianity was that God had raised Christ from the dead (Ac 1:22; 2:32; 4:10, 33; 13:37; Ro 1:4). If this fact were false, the faith built on it must be false too.
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