1 Corinthians 15:14
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) If Christ be not risen.—Better, but if Christ be not raised; and so all through this passage.

Then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.—The Apostles had preached a risen Christ, their converts had believed in a risen Christ, but now the proposition is, There is no resurrection; therefore Christ is not risen; therefore the preaching and the faith which are based on the delusion that He is risen are both vain and useless. The argument is still purely an appeal to historical evidence supporting an historical fact, and to the consequences involved in denying that fact (see 1Corinthians 15:16).

1 Corinthians 15:14-18. Then is our preaching — In consequence of a commission supposed to be given after his resurrection; vain — Without any real foundation, and destitute of truth; and your faith — In our preaching; is vain — Is grounded on falsehood and deception; yea, and we are false witnesses of God — Having testified that Jesus of Nazareth is his Son and the Messiah; that he hath atoned for sin; hath risen from the dead and ascended into heaven; hath obtained for his followers the Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces; a resurrection from the dead, and eternal life; and is constituted the final Judge of men and angels; — all which things, depending on his resurrection, are absolutely false, if he be not risen; and, of consequence, ye are yet in your sins — Unpardoned and unrenewed, without either a title to heaven or a meetness for it. So that there needed something more than reformation, (which was plainly wrought in them,) in order to their being delivered from the guilt of sin, and renewed after the divine image; even that atonement, the sufficiency of which God attested by raising our great Surety from the grave, and the influences of the Divine Spirit procured for us by that atonement. Then they who are fallen asleep in Christ — Who have died for him, or believing in him; are perished — Have lost their life and being together. This sentence shows, that in this discourse the apostle has the resurrection of the just principally in view, and that what he hath written concerning the excellent qualities of the bodies to be raised, is to be understood of the bodies of the saints only.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.And if Christ is not risen, then is our preaching vain - Another consequence which must follow if it be held that there was no resurrection, and consequently that Christ was not risen. it would be vain and useless to preach. The substance of their preaching was that Christ was raised up; and all their preaching was based on that. If that were not true, the whole system was false, and Christianity was an imposition. The word vain here seems to include the idea of useless, idle, false. It would be "false" to affirm that the Christian system was from heaven; it would be useless to proclaim such a system, since it could save no one.

And your faith is also vain - It is useless to believe. It can be of no advantage. If Christ was not raised, he was an impostor, since he repeatedly declared that he would rise Matthew 16:21; Matthew 18:22-23; Luke 9:22, and since the whole of his religion depended on that. The system could not be true unless Christ had been raised, as he said he would be; and to believe a false system could be of no use to any man. The argument here is one addressed to all their feelings, their hopes, and their belief. It is drawn from all their convictions that the system was true. Were they, could they be prepared to admit a doctrine which involved the consequence that all the evidences which they had that the apostles preached the truth were delusive, and that all the evidences of the truth of Christianity which had affected their minds and won their hearts were false and deceptive? If they were not prepared for this, then it followed that they should not abandon or doubt the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.

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. Now, (saith the apostle), if Christ be not raised, in what a case are you! And we also, who have preached his resurrection to you! Our preaching is vain and false, and your faith is so also, for the object of it faileth, which is a Christ risen from the dead. 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.

{5} And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

(5) The proof of that absurdity, by other absurdities: if Christ is not risen again, the preaching of the Gospel is in vain, and the credit that you gave to it is vain, and we are liars.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 15:14. Δέ] continues the series of inferences. Without the resurrection of Jesus, what are we with our preaching! what you with your faith! The former is then dealt with in 1 Corinthians 15:15 f., the latter in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19.

ἄρα] is the simple therefore, thus (rebus ita comparatis). See against Hartung’s view, that it introduces the unexpected (this may be implied in the connection, but not in the particle), Klotz, ad Devar. p. 160 ff.

κενόν and κενή are put first with lively emphasi.

οὐκ ἐγήγ.] i.e. has remained in the grave.

κενόν] empty, i.e. without reality (Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 2:8), without really existing contents, inasmuch, namely, as the redemption in Christ and its completion through the Messianic σωτηρία are the contents of the preaching; but this redemption has not taken place and the Messianic salvation is a chimera, if Christ has not risen. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:17; Romans 1:4; Romans 4:25; Romans 8:34.

καί] also. If it holds of Christ that He is not risen, then it holds also of our preaching that it is empt.

ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν] your faith in Jesus as the Messiah,[37] 1 Corinthians 15:11. Christ would, in fact, not be the Redeemer and Atoner, as which, however, He is the contents of your faith.[38] Comp. Simonides in Plato, Prot. p. 345 C: κενεὰνἐλπίδα, Soph. Ant 749: κενὰς γνώμας, Eur. Iph. Aul. 987, Hel. 36.

[37] The reading ἡμῶν, which Olshausen prefers from a total misapprehension of the connection, has only the weak attestation of D* min. and some vss. and Fathers, and is a mechanical repetition of the preceding ἡμῶν.

[38] Comp. Krauss, p. 74 ff.1 Corinthians 15:14-15. The implicit affirmative conclusion just intimated P. will develop afterwards. He has first to push the opposing axiom to further consequences. (1) if the fact is untrue, the testimony is untrue—“But if Christ is not raised, vain therefore is our proclamation, vain also your faith”.—κενός (see note on οὐ κενή, 10; and cf. κενόω, 1 Corinthians 1:17, etc.) signifies void, unsubstantial (inanis, Vg[2312])—a hollow witness, a hollow belief, while μάταιος (1 Corinthians 15:17; see parls.) is “vain” as ineffectual, frustrate. For κήρυγμα, see note on 1 Corinthians 1:21; on its distinction from λόγος (2), see 1 Corinthians 2:4 : ἡμῶν includes P. and his colleagues (1 Corinthians 15:11). For ἄρα, see 1 Corinthians 5:10.—If “the message is empty,” declaring a thing that is not, “the faith is also empty,” building on the thing that is not; preaching and faith have no genuine content; the Gospel is evacuated of all reality.—For the character of P. and his fellow-witnesses this conclusion has a serious aspect: “We are found moreover (to be) false witnesses of God”—men who have given lying testimony, and that about God, “the worst sort of impostors” (Gd[2313])! τοῦ Θεοῦ is objective gen[2314], as the next clause shows; it is always “God” to whom P. imputes the raising of Christ, who by this act gave His verdict concerning Jesus (Romans 1:4, Galatians 1:1, Ephesians 1:20; Acts 2:36; Acts 13:30-39; Acts 17:31).—δὲ καὶ calls emphatic attention to another and contrasted side of the matter in hand.—εὑρισκόμεθα approaches the sense of ἐλεγχόμεθα or ἁλισκόμεθα (see parls.)—“discovered” in a false and guilty position.—Nothing can be stronger evidence than this passage to the objective reality, in Paul’s experience, of the risen form of Jesus. The suspicion of hallucination, on his own part or that of the other witnesses, was foreign to his mind; the matter stood on the plain footing of testimony, given by a large number of intelligent, sober, and responsible witnesses to a sensible, concrete, circumstantial fact: “Either He rose from the grave, or we lied in affirming it”—the dilemma admits of no escape.—ὅτι ἐμαρτυρήσαμεν κ.τ.λ.: “in that we testified against God that He raised up the Christ—whom He did not raise, if indeed then (as ‘some’ affirm) dead (men) are not raised up”. κατὰ τ. Θεοῦ, adversus Deum (Vg[2315], Est., Mr[2316], Hn[2317], Gd[2318], Ed[2319], Sm[2320]), as always in such connexion in N.T. (see 1 Corinthians 4:6 and parls.), not de Deo (Er[2321], Bz[2322], Al[2323], El[2324], A.V.); the falsehood (ex hyp.) would have wronged God, as, e.g., the ascription of miracles to God traduces Him in the eyes of Deists.—ἤγειρε τὸν Χριστόν, “the Messiah,” whom “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3 f.; cf. Luke 24:46, Acts 17:3; Acts 26:22 f., etc.) God was bound to raise from the dead.—εἴπερ ἄρα, si videlicet (Bz[2325]), supposing to be sure; see 1 Corinthians 8:5; and 1 Corinthians 5:10, for ἄρα.

[2312] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2313] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[2314] genitive case.

[2315] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2316] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[2317] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[2318] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[2319] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[2320] P. Schmiedel, in Handcommentar zum N.T. (1893).

[2321] Erasmus’ In N.T. Annotationes.

[2322] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[2323] Alford’s Greek Testament.

[2324] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[2325] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).14. vain] i.e. useless, in vain, as we say. Literally, empty. Vulg. inanis. “You have a vaine faith if you believe in a dead man. He might be true man, though He remained in death. But it concerns you to believe that He was the Son of God too. And He was ‘declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.’ Romans 1:4.” Dr Donne, Sermon on Easter Day.1 Corinthians 15:14. Κενὸνκενὴ, vain—vain) contrary to what you yourselves have acknowledged, 1 Corinthians 15:11.—κενὴ, without reality, differs from ματαία, vain, 1 Corinthians 15:17, without use.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. Vain (κενὸν)

Empty, a mere chimaera.

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