1 Corinthians 15:6
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brothers at once; of whom the greater part remain to this present, but some are fallen asleep.
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(6) Fallen asleep.—The same word is used of Stephen’s death (see Acts 7:60), so also in 1Corinthians 15:18.

1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 15:6

There were, then, some five-and-twenty years after the Resurrection, several hundred disciples who were known amongst the churches as having been eyewitnesses of the risen Saviour. The greater part survived; some, evidently a very few, had died. The proportion of the living to the dead, after five-and-twenty years, is generally the opposite. The greater part have ‘fallen asleep’; some, a comparatively few, remain ‘unto this present.’ Possibly there was some divine intervention which supernaturally prolonged the lives of these witnesses, in order that their testimony might be the more lasting. But, be that as it may, they evidently were men of mark, and some kind of honour and observance surrounded them, as was very natural, and as appears from the fact that Paul here knows so accurately {and can appeal to His fellow-Christians’ accurate knowledge} the proportion between the survivors and the departed. We read of one of them in the Acts of the Apostles at a later date than this, one Mnason, an ‘original disciple.’

So we get a glimpse into the conditions of life in the early Church, interesting and of value in an evidential point of view. But my purpose at present is to draw your attention to the remarkable language in which the Apostle here speaks of the living and the dead amongst these witnesses. In neither case does he use the simple, common words ‘living’ or ‘dead’; but in the one clause he speaks of their ‘remaining,’ and in the other of their ‘falling asleep’; both phrases being significant, and, as I take it, both being traced up to the fact of their having seen the risen Lord as the cause why their life could be described as a ‘remaining,’ and their death as a ‘falling asleep.’ In other words, we have here brought before us, by these two striking expressions, the transforming effect upon life and upon death of the faith in a risen Lord, whether grounded on sight or not. And it is simply to these two points that I desire to turn now.

I. First, then, we have to consider what life may become to those who see the risen Christ.

‘The greater part remain until this present.’ Now the word remain is no mere synonym for living or surviving. It not only tells us the fact that the survivors were living, but the kind of life that they did live. It is very significant that it is the same expression as our Lord used in the profound prophetic words, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’ Now we are told in John’s Gospel that ‘that saying went abroad amongst the brethren,’ and inasmuch as it was a matter of common notoriety in the early Church, it is by no means a violent supposition that it may be floating in Paul’s memory here, and may determine his selection of this remarkable expression ‘they remain,’ or ‘they tarry,’ and they were tarrying till the Master came. So, then, I think if we give due weight to the significance of the phrase, we get two or three thoughts worth pondering.

One of them is that the sight of a risen Christ will make life calm and tranquil. Fancy one of these 500 brethren, after that vision, going back to his quiet rural home in some little village amongst the hills of Galilee. How small and remote from Him, and unworthy to ruffle or disturb the heart in which the memory of that vision was burning, would seem the things that otherwise would have been important and distracting! The faith which we have in the risen Christ ought to do the same thing for us, and will do it in the measure in which there shines clearly before that inward eye, which is our true means of apprehending Him, the vision which shone before the outward gaze of that company of wondering witnesses. If we build our nests amidst the tossing branches of the world’s trees, they will sway with every wind, and perhaps be blown from their hold altogether by such a storm as we all have sometimes to meet. But we may build our nests in the clefts of the rock, like the doves, and be quiet, as they are. Distractions will cease to distract, and troubles will cease to agitate, and across the heaving surface of the great ocean there will come a Form beneath whose feet the waves smooth themselves, and at whose voice the winds are still. They who see Christ need not be troubled. The ship that is empty is tossed upon the ocean, that which is well laden is steady. The heart that has Christ for a passenger need not fear being rocked by any storm. Calmness will come with the vision of the Lord, and we shall abide or ‘remain,’ for there will be no need for us to flee from this Refuge to that, nor shall we be driven from our secure abode by any contingencies. ‘He that believeth shall not make haste.’

It is a good thing to cultivate the disposition that says about most of the trifles of this life, ‘It does not much matter’; but the only way to prevent wholesome contempt of the world’s trivialities from degenerating into supercilious indifference is, to base it upon Christ, discerned as near us and bestowing upon us the calmness of His risen life. Make Him your scale of importance, and nothing will be too small to demand and be worthy of the best efforts of your work, but nothing will be too great to sweep you away from the serenity of your faith.

Again, the vision of the risen Christ will also lead to patient persistence in duty. If we have Him before us, the distasteful duty which He sets us will not be distasteful, and the small tasks, in which great faithfulness may be manifested, will cease to be small. If we have Him before us we have in that risen Christ the great and lasting Example of how patient continuance in well-doing triumphs over the sorrows that it bears, by and in patiently bearing them, and is crowned at last with glory and honour. The risen Christ is the Pattern for the men who will not be turned aside from the path of duty by any obstacles, dangers, or threats. The risen Christ is the signal Example of glory following upon faithfulness, and of the crown being the result of the Cross. The risen Christ is the manifest Helper of them that put their trust in Him; and one of the plainest lessons and of the most imperative commands which come from the believing gaze upon that Lord who died because He would do the will of the Father, and is throned and crowned in the heavens because He died, is-By patient continuance in well-doing let us commit the keeping of our souls to Him: and abide in the calling wherewith we are called.

And, again, the sight of the risen Christ leads to a life of calm expectancy. ‘If I will that He tarry till I come’ conveys that shade of meaning. The Apostle was to wait for the Lord from Heaven, and that vision which was given to these 500 men sent them home to their abodes to make all the rest of their lives one calm aspiration for, and patient expectation of, the return of the Lord. These primitive Christians expected that Jesus Christ would come speedily. That expectation was disappointed in so far as the date was concerned, but after nineteen centuries it still remains true that all vigorous and vital Christian life must have in it, as a very important element of its vitality, the onward look which ever is anticipating, which often is desiring, and which constantly is confident of, the coming of the Lord from Heaven. The Resurrection has for its consequences, its sequel and corollary, first the Ascension; then the long tract of time during which Jesus Christ is absent, but still in divine presence rules the world; and, finally, His coming again in that same body in which the disciples saw Him depart from them. And no Christian life is up to the level of its privileges, nor has any Christian faith grasped the whole articles of its creed, except that which sets in the very centre of all its visions of the future that great thought-He shall come again.

Questions of chronology have nothing to do with that. It stands there before us, the certain fact, made certain and inevitable by the past facts of the Cross and the Grave and Olivet. He has come, He will come; He has gone, He will come back. And for us the life that we live in the flesh ought to be a life of waiting for God’s Son from Heaven, and of patient, confident expectancy that when He shall be manifested we also shall be manifested with Him in glory.

So much, then, for life-calm, persistent in every duty, and animated by that blessed and far-off, but certain, hope, and all of these founded upon the vision and the faith of a risen Lord. What have fears and cares and distractions and faint-heartedness and gloomy sorrow to do with the eyes that have beheld the Christ, and with the lives that are based on faith in the risen Lord?

II. So, secondly, consider what death becomes to those who have seen Christ risen from the dead.

‘Some are fallen asleep.’ Now that most natural and obvious metaphor for death is not only a Christian idea, but is found, as would be expected, in many tongues, but yet with a great and significant difference. The Christian reason for calling death a sleep embraces a great deal more than the heathen reason for doing so, and in some respects is precisely the opposite of that, inasmuch as to most others who have used the word, death has been a sleep that knew no waking, whereas the very pith and centre of the Christian reason for employing the symbol are that it makes our waking sure. We have here what the act of dying and the condition of the dead become by virtue of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

They have ‘fallen asleep.’ The act of dying is but a laying one’s self down to rest, and a dropping out of consciousness of the surrounding world. It is very remarkable and very beautiful that the new Testament scarcely ever employs the words dying and death for the act of separating body and spirit, or for the condition either of the spirit parted from the body, or of the body parted from the spirit. It keeps those grim words for the reality, the separation of the soul from God; and it only exceptionally uses them for the shadow and the symbol, the physical fact of the parting of the man from the house which here he has dwelt in. But the reason why Christianity uses these periphrases or metaphors, these euphemisms for death, is the opposite of the reason why the world uses them. The world is so afraid of dying that it durst not name the grim, ugly thing. The Christian, or at least the Christian faith, is so little afraid of death that it does not think such a trivial matter worth calling by the name, but only names it ‘falling asleep.’

Even when the circumstances of that dropping off to slumber are painful and violent, the Bible still employs the term. Is it not striking that the first martyr, kneeling outside the city, bruised by stones and dying a bloody death, should have been said to fall asleep? If ever there was an instance in which the gentle metaphor seemed all inappropriate it was that cruel death, amidst a howling crowd, and with fatal bruises, and bleeding limbs mangled by the heavy rocks that lay upon them. But yet, ‘when he had said this he fell asleep.’ If that be true of such a death, no physical pains of any kind make the sweet word inappropriate for any.

We have here not only the designation of the act of dying, but that of the condition of the dead. They are fallen asleep, and they continue asleep. How many great thoughts gather round that metaphor on which it is needless for me to try to dilate! They will suggest themselves without many words to you all.

There lies in it the idea of repose. ‘They rest from their labours.’ Sleep restores strength, and withdraws a man at once from effort on the outer world, and from communication from it. We may carry the analogy into that unseen world. We know nothing about the relations to an external universe of the departed who sleep in Jesus. It may be that, if they sleep in Him, since He knows all, they, through Him, may know, too, something-so much as He pleases to impart to them-of what is happening here. And it may even be that, if they sleep in Him, and He wields the energies of Omnipotence, they, through Him, may have some service to do, even while they wait for their house which is from heaven. But there is no need for, nor profit in, such speculations. It is enough that the sweet emblem suggests repose, and that in that sleep there are folded around the sleepers the arms of the Christ on whose bosom they rest, as an infant does on its first and happiest home-its mother’s breast.

But then, besides that, the emblem suggests the idea of continuous and conscious existence. A man asleep does not cease to be a man; a dead man does not cease to live. It has often been argued from this metaphor that we are to conceive of the space between death and the resurrection as being a period of unconsciousness, but the analogies seem to me to be in the opposite direction. A sleeping man does not cease to know himself to be, and he does not cease to know himself to be himself. That mysterious consciousness of personal identity survives the passage from waking to sleep, as dreams sufficiently show us. And, therefore, they that sleep know themselves to be.

And, finally, the emblem suggests the idea of waking. Sleep is a parenthesis. If the night comes, the morning comes. ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ They that sleep will awake, and be satisfied when they ‘awake with Thy likeness.’ And so these three things-repose, conscious, continuous existence, and the certainty of awaking-all lie in that metaphor.

Now, then, the risen Christ is the only ground of such hope, and faith in Him is the only state of mind which is entitled to cherish it. Nothing proves immortality except that open grave. Every other foundation is too weak to bear the weight of such a superstructure. The current of present opinion shows, I think, that neither metaphysical nor ethical arguments for the future life will stand the force of the disintegrating criticism which is brought to bear upon that hope by the fashionable materialism of this generation. There is one barrier that will resist that force, and only one, and that is the historical facts that Jesus Christ died, and that Jesus Christ has risen again. He rose; therefore death is not the end of individual existence. He rose; therefore life beyond the grave is possible for humanity. He rose; therefore His sacrifice for the world’s sin is accepted, and I may be delivered from my guilt and my burden. He rose; therefore He is declared to be the Son of God with power. He rose; therefore we, if we trust Him, may partake in His Resurrection and in some reflection of His glory. The old Greek architects were often careless of the solidity of the soil on which they built their temples, and so, many of them have fallen in ruins. The Temple of Immortality can be built only upon the rock of that proclamation-Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. And we, dear brethren, should have all our hopes founded upon that one fact.

So then, for us, the calm, peaceful passage from life into what else is the great darkness is possible on condition of our having beheld the risen Lord. These witnesses of whom my text speaks, Paul would suggest to us, laid themselves quietly down to sleep, because before them there still hovered the memory of the vision which they had beheld. Faith in the risen Christ is the anchor of the soul in death, and there is nothing else by which we can hold then.

As the same Apostle, in one of his other letters, puts it, the belief that Christ is risen is not only the irrefragable ground of our hope that we, too, shall rise, but has the power to change the whole aspect of our death. Did you ever observe the emphasis with which He says, ‘If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him?’ His death was death indeed, and faith in it softens ours to sleep. He bore the reality that we might never need to know it, and if our poor hearts are resting upon that dear Lord, then the flames are but painted ones and will not burn, and we shall pass through them, and no smell of fire will be upon us, and all that will be consumed will be the bonds which bind us. He has abolished death. The physical fact remains, but all which to men makes the idea of death is gone if we trust the risen Lord. So that, between two men dying under precisely the same circumstances, of the same disease, in adjacent beds in the same hospital, there may be such a difference as that the same word cannot be applied to the experiences of both.

My dear friends, we have each of us to pass through that last struggle; but we may make it either a quiet going to sleep with a loved Face bending over our closing eyes, like a mother’s over her child’s cradle, and the same Face meeting us when we open them in the morning of heaven; or we may make it a reluctant departure from all that we care for, and a trembling advance into all from which conscience and heart shrink.

Which is it going to be to you? The answer depends upon that to another question. Are you looking to that Christ that died and is alive for evermore as your life and your salvation? Do you hold fast that Gospel which Paul preached, ‘how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures’ ? If you do, life will be a calm, persevering, expectant waiting upon Him, and death will be nothing more terrible than falling asleep.1 Corinthians 15:6-7. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once — None of the evangelists have expressly mentioned this appearance, but Matthew seems to hint at it, Matthew 28:10; for probably this appearance was made in Galilee, to which Jesus commanded his disciples to repair, promising that they should there see him; and to which, in obedience to his order, the eleven went, and where, doubtless, many others of his disciples assembled from all parts of the country, Christ having appointed a certain mountain, probably that on which he was transfigured, where he would be seen of them. See note on Matthew 28:16. “As the greatest part of our Lord’s disciples lived in Galilee, it was highly proper, for their consolation, that he should show himself alive there in that public manner. For thus, besides the apostles, numbers, who had often attended him during his ministry in Galilee, and who were well acquainted with his person, having an opportunity to converse with him, could satisfy themselves by the testimony of their own senses concerning the truth of his resurrection, and attest it to others on the surest evidence. These, therefore, may have been the five hundred brethren of whom St. Paul speaks. And their testimony was appealed to by the apostle with the greatest propriety when proving the resurrection of Christ, because such a multitude cannot be supposed to have agreed for so long a time in publishing a falsehood to the world, without any one of them ever betraying the imposture, or even varying in their account of the fact.” Of whom the greater part remain unto this present — About twenty-eight years after the event, constituting a cloud of witnesses to this glorious and infinitely important event; but some are fallen asleep — Doubtless in Jesus, with whom they were gone to dwell. After that he was seen of James

Of this appearance there is no mention in the gospels; but the fathers speak of it, and tell us that the person thus honoured was James the Less, or younger, our Lord’s brother, that is, his cousin-german, and the author of the epistle which bears his name. Eusebius (Chronicles, p. 43) says, this appearance happened in the first year after our Lord’s resurrection. But, from the order in which Paul hath placed it here, it seems more probable that it took place before our Lord’s ascension, at which all the apostles were present, as mentioned in the next clause.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.Above five hundred brethren at once - More than 500 Christians or followers of Jesus at one time. This was probably in Galilee, where the Lord Jesus had spent the greater part of his public ministry, and where he had made most disciples. The place, however, is not designated, and, of course, cannot be known. It is remarkable that this fact is omitted by all the evangelists; but why they should have omitted so remarkable a proof of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, is unknown. There is a slight circumstance hinted at in Matthew 28:10, which may throw some light on this passage. After his resurrection, Jesus said to the women who were at the sepulchre, "Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." And in 1 Corinthians 15:16 it is said, "The eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them." Jesus had spent most of his public life in Galilee. He had made most of his disciples there.

It was proper, therefore, that those disciples, who would, of course, hear of his death, should have some public confirmation of the fact that he had risen. It is very probable, also, that the eleven who went down into Galilee after he rose would apprize the brethren there of what had been said to them, that Jesus would meet them on a certain mountain; and it is morally certain that they who had followed him in so great numbers in Galilee would be drawn together by the report that the Lord Jesus, who had been put to death, was about to be seen there again alive. Such is human nature, and such was the attachment of these disciples to the Lord Jesus, that it is morally certain a large concourse would assemble on the slightest rumor that such an occurrence was to happen. Nothing more would be necessary anywhere to draw a concourse of people than a rumor that one who was dead would appear again; and in this instance, where they ardently loved him, and when, perhaps, many believed that he would rise, they would naturally assemble in great numbers to see him once more. One thing is proved by this, that the Lord Jesus had many more disciples than is generally supposed. If there were five hundred who could be assembled at once in a single part of the land where he had preached, there is every reason to suppose that there were many more in other parts of Judea.

The greater part remain unto this present - Are now alive, and can be appealed to, in proof that they saw him. What more conclusive argument for the truth of his resurrection could there be than that 500 persons had seen him, who had been intimately acquainted with him in his life, and who had become his followers? If the testimony of 500 could not avail to prove his resurrection, no number of witnesses could. And if 500 people could thus be deceived, any number could; and it would be impossible to substantiate any simple matter of fact by the testimony of eye-witnesses.

But some are fallen asleep - Have died. This is the usual expression employed in the Scripture to describe the death of saints. It denotes:

(1) The calmness and peace with which, they die, like sinking into a gentle sleep;

(2) The hope of a resurrection, as we sink to sleep with the expectation of again awaking; see the John 11:11 note; 1 Corinthians 11:30 note.

6. five hundred—This appearance was probably on the mountain (Tabor, according to tradition), in Galilee, when His most solemn and public appearance, according to His special promise, was vouchsafed (Mt 26:32; 28:7, 10, 16). He "appointed" this place, as one remote from Jerusalem, so that believers might assemble there more freely and securely. Alford's theory of Jerusalem being the scene, is improbable; as such a multitude of believers could not, with any safety, have met in one place in the metropolis, after His crucifixion there. The number of disciples (Ac 1:15) at Jerusalem shortly after, was one hundred and twenty, those in Galilee and elsewhere not being reckoned. Andronicus and Junius were, perhaps, of the number (Ro 16:7): they are said to be "among the apostles" (who all were witnesses of the resurrection, Ac 1:22).

remain unto this present—and, therefore, may be sifted thoroughly to ascertain the trustworthiness of their testimony.

fallen asleep—in the sure hope of awaking at the resurrection (Ac 7:60).

Of this appearance to above five hundred brethren at once the Gospels say nothing; but it is probably thought to be understood of that great meeting of the disciples in Galilee, where our Saviour promised to meet them, Matthew 26:32 28:7, after his resurrection. Wherever it was, the apostle saith, that the greater part of them were yet in a capacity to give a living testimony to the resurrection of Christ, though some of them were dead. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once,.... Not at, or near Jerusalem, for the number of the disciples that were together there, made but about an hundred and twenty, Acts 1:15 but in Galilee, where Christ, in the days of his flesh, had most chiefly conversed, most frequently preached and wrought his miracles, and where the number of his disciples and followers were very large: here he promised his disciples to go before them, and show himself to them after his resurrection, as he accordingly did, Matthew 26:32. And this being signified by the apostles to the brethren there, it is no wonder that there was such a number of them gathered on that occasion:

of whom the greater part remain unto this present; and so might be personally applied unto for the truth of this, was it necessary; it being but about five or six and twenty years ago at the writing of this epistle:

and some were fallen asleep; were dead, as it might be reasonably thought there were among so many, and in such a length of time; though doubtless these had surviving friends, relations, and acquaintance, to whom they had communicated this important case, and who were ready to attest what they had heard them in the most solemn manner declare.

After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at {d} once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

(d) Not at several different times, but together and at one instant.

1 Corinthians 15:6 exhibits a change in the construction—which does not continue further with ὅτι—but still belongs to the contents of the παρέδωκα and παρέλαβον down to ἀποστ. πᾶσιν (in opposition to Hofmann); for the point of view of the ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον reaches thus far, and it is only at 1 Corinthians 15:8 that personal experience comes in instead of it. Nor is it to be inferred from the transition from the dependent to the independent construction (so frequent also, as we know, in Greek writers), which naturally corresponds with the concrete vividness of the representation, that Paul had not included this appearance and those which follow in his preaching at Corinth, but, on the contrary, was now communicating them to his readers as something new (van Hengel). 1 Corinthians 15:8 is especially opposed to this view, since Paul, in referring to the appearances of the Risen One, had certainly not been silent upon that made to himself (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:1).

ἐπάνω] adverbial, not prepositional, Mark 14:5. Comp. ὑπέρ. Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 410. Τινές, referred to by Chrysostom, were mistaken in holding it to mean: above, over their head.

πεντακοσ.] Consequently the number of the believers in general was already much greater than that of those who were assembled, Acts 1:15. The remarks to the contrary by Baur and Zeller, according to whom the small number 120 is plainly shown by our passage to be incorrect, are not conclusive, since the appearance here mentioned may, without any arbitrariness, be placed at so early a stage that many pilgrims to the Passover may be conceived as still present in Jerusalem when it took place, and among these many extraneous disciples of Jesus, especially Galileans. The 120 who assembled afterwards were the stock of the congregation of Jerusalem itself. Comp. on Acts 1:15. On the other hand, it is possible that the Lord appeared to the 500 brethren also in Galilee in an assembly of so many of His disciples there (Schleiermacher, Ewald). More precise evidence is wanting. Matthew 28:16 ff. has nothing to do with our passage (in opposition to Lightfoot and Flatt), but applies only to the eleve.

ἐφάπαξ] not: once, for all (Bretschneider, comp. Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10), but, as it is usually understood: at once, simul (Luc. Dem. enc. 21). The former sense would need to be given by the context, which, however, from the largeness of the number, naturally suggests the latter. Van Hengel, too, wrongly insists upon the meaning semel, holding that this appearance took place only once, whereas 1 Corinthians 15:5 applies to several appearances. The peculiar importance of this appearance lies precisely in the simul (Vulgate), ἀνύποπτος δὲ τῶν τοσούτων ἡ μαρτυρία, Theodoret. This ἐφάπαξ and the multitude of the spectators exclude all the more decidedly the idea of a visionary or ecstatic seeing, although some have ascribed all the appearances of the Risen One to this source (see especially, Holsten, zum Ev. des Paul. u. Petr. p. 65 ff.). Here we should have upwards of 500 visions occurring at the same time and place, the same in substance and form, and that, too, as psychological acts of the individual mind.

οἱ πλείους] the majority, 1 Corinthians 10:5. Luther gives it wrongly: “many still.”

μένουσιν] superstites sunt. Comp. on John 21:22; Php 1:25. Ἔχω μάρτυρας ἔτι ζῶντας, Chrysostom. It may be added that the definite affirmation, οἱ πλείους μένουσιν, shows how earnestly the apostolic church concerned itself about the still surviving witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, and how well it knew them.1 Corinthians 15:6 carries forward ὤφθη into a new sentence, independent of παρέδωκαὅτι: the four remaining manifestations P. recites without indicating whether or not they formed a part of his original communication.—ἔπειτα (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1Co 15:46, 1 Corinthians 12:28) ὤφθη κ.τ.λ.: “After t at (deinde) He appeared to above (ἐπάνω, cf. Mark 14:5) five hundred brethren once for all” (semel, Bz[2275]). Nowhere else has ἐφάπαξ the meaning simul, at once (so Vg[2276], and most interpreters, in violation of usage). This was the culminating manifestation of the risen Jesus, made at the general gathering to which His brethren were invited by Him in a body, as it is related in Matthew 28:7; Matthew 28:10, Mark 16:7; the appearance to “the eleven” described in Matthew 28:16 ff. is recorded as the sequel to this summons, and implies the presence of a larger assembly (see esp. the words οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν in 1 Corinthians 15:17), such as P. alludes to; the great charge of Matthew 28:18 ff., closing the First Gospel, corresponds by its importance to this ἐφάπαξ.—P. writes a quarter of a century after the event; the followers of Jesus were mostly young in age for “the majority” (οἱ πλείονες) to have been still alive. On ἕως ἄρτι, see 1 Corinthians 4:13.

[2275] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[2276] Latin Vulgate Translation.1 Corinthians 15:6. Ἔπειτα, after that) advancing to a greater number.—ἐπάνω πεντακοσίοις, more than five hundred) A remarkable appearance. Paul puts himself behind all these.—οἱ πλείους, the greater part) About 300 at least; οἱ πλείους, the majority were providentially preserved in life so long for the very purpose of bearing testimony [as they had obtained an authority akin to that of the apostles.—V. g.]; comp. Joshua 24:31.—μένουσιν, remain) in life. The opportunity of thoroughly sifting these witnesses remained unimpaired [undiminished.] Andronicus and Junius may be presumed to have been of that number, Romans 16:7.—καὶ, also) It was not of less importance to bring forward these as witnesses. They had died in this belief.—ἐκοιμήθησαν, have fallen asleep) as those, who are to rise again.Verse 6. - Above five hundred brethren at once. We cannot be certain whether this memorable appearance took place in Jerusalem or in Galilee. It is, however, most probable that this was the appearance on the mountain (Matthew 28:16, 17; comp. Matthew 26:32). Of whom the greater part remain unto this present. This sentence - a confident contemporary appeal to a very large number of living witnesses, by one who would rather have died than lied - is of the highest evidential value. It shows that the Resurrection was not "a thing done in a corner "(Acts 26:26). Fallen asleep. The beautiful and common word for death in the New Testament (Matthew 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60, etc.). Hence the word "cemetery" - "a sleeping place."
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