1 Corinthians 15:2
By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you.—Better, if ye hold fast with what word I preached the gospel to you, unless you believed in vain. The idea here is not, as implied in the English version, that they were converted, and yet that heretofore no results have followed from their belief; it is the same thought which comes out more fully in 1Corinthians 15:17. They are saved by their faith in the gospel as preached by St. Paul, unless (which is impossible) the whole gospel be false, and so their faith in it be vain and useless.

15:1-11 The word resurrection, usually points out our existence beyond the grave. Of the apostle's doctrine not a trace can be found in all the teaching of philosophers. The doctrine of Christ's death and resurrection, is the foundation of Christianity. Remove this, and all our hopes for eternity sink at once. And it is by holding this truth firm, that Christians stand in the day of trial, and are kept faithful to God. We believe in vain, unless we keep in the faith of the gospel. This truth is confirmed by Old Testament prophecies; and many saw Christ after he was risen. This apostle was highly favoured, but he always had a low opinion of himself, and expressed it. When sinners are, by Divine grace, turned into saints, God causes the remembrance of former sins to make them humble, diligent, and faithful. He ascribes to Divine grace all that was valuable in him. True believers, though not ignorant of what the Lord has done for, in, and by them, yet when they look at their whole conduct and their obligations, they are led to feel that none are so worthless as they are. All true Christians believe that Jesus Christ, and him crucified, and then risen from the dead, is the sun and substance of Christianity. All the apostles agreed in this testimony; by this faith they lived, and in this faith they died.By which also ye are saved - On which your salvation depends; the belief of which is indispensable to your salvation; see the note on Mark 16:16. The apostle thus shows the "importance" of the doctrine. In every respect it demanded their attention. It was that which was first preached among them; that which they had solemnly professed; that by which they had been built up; and that which was connected with their salvation. It does not mean simply that by this they were brought into a salvable state (Clarke, Macknight, Whitby, Bloomfield, etc.), but it means that their hopes of eternal life rested on this; and by this they were then "in fact" saved from the condemnation of sin, and were in the possession of the hope of eternal life.

If ye keep in memory - Margin, as in the Greek, "if ye hold fast." The idea is, that they were saved by this, or would be, if they faithfully retained or held the doctrine as he delivered it; if they observed it, and still believed it, notwithstanding all the efforts of their enemies, and all the arts of false teaching to wrest it from them. There is a doubt delicately suggested here, whether they did in fact still adhere to his doctrine, or whether they had not abandoned it in part for the opposite.

Unless ye have believed in vain - You will be saved by it, if you adhere to it, unless it shall turn out that it was vain to believe, and that the doctrine was false. That it was "not" false, he proceeds to demonstrate. Unless all your trials, discouragements, and hopes were to no purpose, and all have been the result of imposture; and unless all your profession is false and hollow, you will be saved by this great doctrine which I first preached to you.

2. ye are saved—rather, "ye are being saved."

if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you—Able critics, Bengel and others, prefer connecting the words thus, "I declare unto you the Gospel (1Co 15:1) in what words I preached it unto you." Paul reminds them, or rather makes known to them, as if anew, not only the fact of the Gospel, but also with what words, and by what arguments, he preached it to them. Translate in that case, "if ye hold it fast." I prefer arranging as English Version, "By which ye are saved, if ye hold fast (in memory and personal appropriation) with what speech I preached it unto you."

unless—which is impossible, your faith is vain, in resting on Christ's resurrection as an objective reality.

By which also ye are saved; by the believing, receiving, of which doctrine, you are already in the way to salvation (as it is said, John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned; and John 3:36: He hath everlasting life, and shall be eternally saved): but not unless ye persevere (for that is meant by keeping in memory the doctrine which I have preached unto you); and this you must do, or your believing will signify nothing, but be in vain to your souls. By which also ye are saved,.... It was the means of their salvation, and had been made the power of God unto salvation to them. Salvation is inseparably connected with true faith in Christ as a Saviour, and with a hearty belief of his resurrection from the dead, which is the earnest and pledge of the resurrection of the saints; and because of the certainty of it in the promise of God, through the obedience and death of Christ, and in the faith and hope of believers, which are sure and certain things, they are said to be saved already. To which the apostle puts in the following provisos and exceptions; the one is,

if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you; or rather, "if ye hold fast, or retain"; that is, by faith, the doctrine preached to you, and received by you, particularly the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead; for the salvation that is connected with it does not depend upon the strength of the memory, but upon the truth and steadfastness of faith: it is the man that perseveres in the faith and doctrine of Christ that shall be saved; and everyone that has truly believed in Christ, and cordially embraced his Gospel, shall hold on, and out to the end; though the faith of nominal believers may be overthrown by such men, as Hymenaeus and Philetus, who asserted, that the resurrection was past already; but so shall not the faith of real believers, because the foundation on which they are built stands sure, and the Lord has perfect knowledge of them, and will keep and save them. The other exception is,

unless ye have believed in vain: not that true faith can be in vain; for that is the faith of God's elect, the gift of his grace, the operation of his Spirit; Christ is the author and finisher of it, and will never suffer it to fail; it will certainly issue in everlasting salvation: but then as the word may be heard in vain, as it is by such who are compared to the wayside, and to the thorny and rocky ground; and as the Gospel of the grace of God may be received in vain; so a mere historical faith may be in vain; this a man may have, and not the grace of God, and so be nothing; with this he may believe for a while, and then drop it: and since each of these might possibly be the case of some in this church, the apostle puts in these exceptions, in order to awaken the attention of them all to this important doctrine he was reminding them of.

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

(b) Which is very absurd, and cannot be, for they that believe must reap the fruit of faith.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. by which also ye are saved] i.e. are in a state of safety, the verb being in the present tense. The idea includes safety from sin as well as its punishment. See St Matthew 1:21.

if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you] Literally, if ye hold fast the discourse with which I proclaimed good tidings to you.1 Corinthians 15:2. Σώζεσθε, ye are saved) The future in sense, 1 Corinthians 15:18-19.—εἱ κατέχετε, if ye keep) If here implies a hope, as is evident from what follows, unless, etc.Verse 2. - By which also ye are saved; literally, ye are being saved. It is as if some surprise was expressed at the necessity for again making known to them a gospel which

(1) he had preached and

(2) they also received; and

(3) in which they now stood fast (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 6:13); and

(4) by means of which they were now in a state of safety, they were of the class of sozomenoi (Acts 2:47). If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you. The order, which is peculiar, is, "In what words I preached to you, if ye hold [it] fast." Possibly the "in what discourse" depends on "I make known to you." The duty of "holding fast" what they had heard is often impressed on the early converts (1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 10:23). Ye have believed; rather, ye believed; i.e. ye became believers. In vain. The word may either mean "rashly," "without evidence," as in classical Greek; or "to no purpose," "without effect," as in Romans 13:4; Galatians 3:4; Galatians 4:11. In this case they would have received the seed in stony places (Matthew 13:21). If ye keep in memory what, etc.

I see no good reason for departing from the arrangement of the A.V., which states that the salvation of the readers depends on their holding fast the word preached. Rev. reads: through which ye are saved; I make known, I say, in what words I preached it unto you, if ye hold it fast, etc. This is certainly very awkward, making Paul say that their holding it fast was the condition on which he preached it. American Rev. as A.V.

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