Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1Co 15:1-58. The Resurrection Proved against the Deniers of It at Corinth.
Christ's resurrection rests on the evidence of many eye-witnesses, including Paul himself, and is the great fact preached as the groundwork of the Gospel: they who deny the resurrection in general, must deny that of Christ, and the consequence of the latter will be, that Christian preaching and faith are vain.
1. Moreover—"Now" [Alford and Ellicott].
I declare—literally, "I make known": it implies some degree of reproach that it should be now necessary to make it known to them afresh, owing to some of them "not having the knowledge of God" (1Co 15:34). Compare Ga 1:11.
wherein ye stand—wherein ye now take your stand. This is your present actual privilege, if ye suffer not yourselves to fall from your high standing.
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
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.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
3. I delivered unto you—A short creed, or summary of articles of faith, was probably even then existing; and a profession in accordance with it was required of candidates for baptism (Ac 8:37).
first of all—literally, "among the foremost points" (Heb 6:2). The atonement is, in Paul's view, of primary importance.
which I … received—from Christ Himself by special revelation (compare 1Co 11:23).
died for our sins—that is, to atone FOR them; for taking away our sins (1Jo 3:5; compare Ga 1:4): "gave Himself for our sins" (Isa 53:5; 2Co 5:15; Tit 2:14). The "for" here does not, as in some passages, imply vicarious substitution, but "in behalf of" (Heb 5:3; 1Pe 2:24). It does not, however, mean merely "on account of," which is expressed by a different Greek word (Ro 4:25), (though in English Version translated similarly, "for").
according to the scriptures—which "cannot be broken." Paul puts the testimony of Scripture above that of those who saw the Lord after His resurrection [Bengel]. So our Lord quotes Isa 53:12, in Lu 22:37; compare Ps 22:15, &c.; Da 9:26.
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
4. buried … rose again—His burial is more closely connected with His resurrection than His death. At the moment of His death, the power of His inextinguishable life exerted itself (Mt 27:52). The grave was to Him not the destined receptacle of corruption, but an apartment fitted for entering into life (Ac 2:26-28) [Bengel].
rose again—Greek, "hath risen": the state thus begun, and its consequences, still continue.
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
5. seen of Cephas—Peter (Lu 24:34).
the twelve—The round number for "the Eleven" (Lu 24:33, 36). "The Twelve" was their ordinary appellation, even when their number was not full. However, very possibly Matthias was present (Ac 1:22, 23). Some of the oldest manuscripts and versions read, "the Eleven": but the best on the whole, "the Twelve."
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
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).
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
7. seen of James—the Less, the brother of our Lord (Ga 1:19). The Gospel according to the Hebrews, quoted by Jerome [On Illustrious Men, p. 170 D.], records that "James swore he would not eat bread from the hour that he drank the cup of the Lord, till he should see Him rising again from the dead."
all the apostles—The term here includes many others besides "the Twelve" already enumerated (1Co 15:5): perhaps the seventy disciples (Lu 10:1) [Chrysostom].
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
8. One born out of due time—Greek, "the one abortively born": the abortion in the family of the apostles. As a child born before the due time is puny, and though born alive, yet not of the proper size, and scarcely worthy of the name of man, so "I am the least of the apostles," scarcely "meet to be called an apostle"; a supernumerary taken into the college of apostles out of regular course, not led to Christ by long instruction, like a natural birth, but by a sudden power, as those prematurely born [Grotius]. Compare the similar image from childbirth, and by the same spiritual power, the resurrection of Christ (1Pe 1:3). "Begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus." Jesus' appearance to Paul, on the way to Damascus, is the one here referred to.
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
9. least—The name, "Paulus," in Latin, means "least."
I persecuted the church—Though God has forgiven him, Paul can hardly forgive himself at the remembrance of his past sin.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
10. by … grace … and his grace—The repetition implies the prominence which God's grace had in his mind, as the sole cause of his marvellous conversion and subsequent labors. Though "not meet to be called an apostle," grace has given him, in Christ, the meetness needed for the office. Translate as the Greek, "His grace which was (showed) towards me."
what I am—occupying the honorable office of an apostle. Contrast with this the self-sufficient prayer of another Pharisee (Lu 18:11).
but I laboured—by God's grace (Php 2:16).
than they all—than any of the apostles (1Co 15:7).
grace of God … with me—Compare "the Lord working with them" (Mr 16:20). The oldest manuscripts omit "which was." The "not I, but grace," implies, that though the human will concurred with God when brought by His Spirit into conformity with His will, yet "grace" so preponderated in the work, that his own co-operation is regarded as nothing, and grace as virtually the sole agent. (Compare 1Co 3:9; Mt 10:20; 2Co 6:1; Php 2:12, 13).
Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
11. whether it were I or they—(the apostles) who "labored more abundantly" (1Co 15:10) in preaching, such was the substance of our preaching, namely, the truths stated in 1Co 15:3, 4.
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
12. if—Seeing that it is an admitted fact that Christ is announced by us eye-witnesses as having risen from the dead, how is it that some of you deny that which is a necessary consequence of Christ's resurrection, namely, the general resurrection?
some—Gentile reasoners (Ac 17:32; 26:8) who would not believe it because they did not see "how" it could be (1Co 15:35, 36).
But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
13. If there be no general resurrection, which is the consequent, then there can have been no resurrection of Christ, which is the antecedent. The head and the members of the body stand on the same footing: what does not hold good of them, does not hold good of Him either: His resurrection and theirs are inseparably joined (compare 1Co 15:20-22; Joh 14:19).
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
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.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
15. testified of God—that is, concerning God. The rendering of others is, "against God" [Vulgate, Estius, Grotius]: the Greek preposition with the genitive implies, not direct antagonism (as the accusative would mean), but indirect to the dishonor of God. English Version is probably better.
if so be—as they assert. It is not right to tell untrue stories, though they are told and seem for the glory of God (Job 13:7).
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
16. The repetition implies the unanswerable force of the argument.
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
17. vain—Ye are, by the very fact (supposing the case to be as the skeptics maintained), frustrated of all which "your faith" appropriates: Ye are still under the everlasting condemnation of your sins (even in the disembodied state which is here referred to), from which Christ's resurrection is our justification (Ro 4:25): "saved by his life" (Ro 5:10).
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
18. fallen asleep in Christ—in communion with Christ as His members. "In Christ's case the term used is death, to assure us of the reality of His suffering; in our case, sleep, to give us consolation: In His case, His resurrection having actually taken place, Paul shrinks not from the term death; in ours, the resurrection being still only a matter of hope, he uses the term falling asleep" [Photius, Quæstiones Amphilochiæ, 197].
perished—Their souls are lost; they are in misery in the unseen world.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
19. If our hopes in Christ were limited to this life only, we should be, of all men, most to be pitied; namely, because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial and persecution, and, after all, are doomed to bitter disappointment in our most cherished hope; for all our hope of salvation, even of the soul (not merely of the body), hangs on the resurrection of Christ, without which His death would be of no avail to us (Eph 1:19, 20; 1Pe 1:3). The heathen are "without hope" (Eph 2:12; 1Th 4:13). We should be even worse, for we should be also without present enjoyment (1Co 4:9).
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
20. now—as the case really is.
and become—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
the first-fruits—the earnest or pledge, that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. The time of writing this Epistle was probably about the Passover (1Co 5:7); the day after the Passover sabbath was that for offering the first-fruits (Le 23:10, 11), and the same was the day of Christ's resurrection: whence appears the appropriateness of the image.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
21. by man … by man—The first-fruits are of the same nature as the rest of the harvest; so Christ, the bringer of life, is of the same nature as the race of men to whom He brings it; just as Adam, the bringer of death, was of the same nature as the men on whom he brought it.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
22. in Adam all—in union of nature with Adam, as representative head of mankind in their fall.
in Christ … all—in union of nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their recovery. The life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the death brought in by Adam.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
23. But every man in his own order—rather, "rank": the Greek is not in the abstract, but concrete: image from troops, "each in his own regiment." Though all shall rise again, let not any think all shall be saved; nay, each shall have his proper place, Christ first (Col 1:18), and after Him the godly who die in Christ (1Th 4:16), in a separate band from the ungodly, and then "the end," that is, the resurrection of the rest of the dead. Christian churches, ministers, and individuals seem about to be judged first "at His coming" (Mt 25:1-30); then "all the nations" (Mt 25:31-46). Christ's own flock shall share His glory "at His coming," which is not to be confounded with "the end," or general judgment (Re 20:4-6, 11-15). The latter is not in this chapter specially discussed, but only the first resurrection, namely, that of the saints: not even the judgment of Christian hollow professors (Mt 25:1-30) at His coming, is handled, but only the glory of them "that are Christ's," who alone in the highest sense "obtain the resurrection from the dead" (Lu 14:14; 20:35, 36; Php 3:11; see on Php 3:11). The second coming of Christ is not a mere point of time, but a period beginning with the resurrection of the just at His appearing, and ending with the general judgment. The ground of the universal resurrection is the union of all mankind in nature with Christ, their representative Head, who has done away with death, by His own death in their stead: the ground of the resurrection of believers is not merely this, but their personal union with Him as their "Life" (Col 3:4), effected causatively by the Holy Spirit, and instrumentally by faith as the subjective, and by ordinances as the objective means.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
24. Then—after that: next in the succession of "orders" or "ranks."
the end—the general resurrection, and final judgment and consummation (Mt 25:46).
delivered up … kingdom to … Father—(Compare Joh 13:3). Seeming at variance with Da 7:14, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away." Really, His giving up of the mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the end for which the mediatorial economy was established has been accomplished, is altogether in harmony with its continuing everlastingly. The change which shall then take place, shall be in the manner of administration, not in the kingdom itself; God shall then come into direct connection with the earth, instead of mediatorially, when Christ shall have fully and finally removed everything that severs asunder the holy God and a sinful earth (Col 1:20). The glory of God is the final end of Christ's mediatorial office (Php 2:10, 11). His co-equality with the Father is independent of the latter, and prior to it, and shall, therefore, continue when its function shall have ceased. His manhood, too, shall everlastingly continue, though, as now, subordinate to the Father. The throne of the Lamb (but no longer mediatorial) as well as of God, shall be in the heavenly city (Re 22:3; compare Re 3:21). The unity of the Godhead, and the unity of the Church, shall be simultaneously manifested at Christ's second coming. Compare Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9; Joh 17:21-24. The oldest manuscripts for "shall have delivered up," read, "delivereth up," which suits the sense better. It is "when He shall have put down all rule," that "He delivereth up the kingdom to the Father."
shall have put down all rule—the effect produced during the millennary reign of Himself and His saints (Ps 110:1; 8:6; 2:6-9), to which passages Paul refers, resting his argument on the two words, "all" and "until," of the Psalmist: a proof of verbal inspiration of Scripture (compare Re 2:26, 27). Meanwhile, He "rules in the midst of His enemies" (Ps 110:2). He is styled "the King" when He takes His great power (Mt 25:34; Re 11:15, 17). The Greek for "put down" is, "done away with," or "brought to naught." "All" must be subject to Him, whether openly opposed powers, as Satan and his angels, or kings and angelic principalities (Eph 1:21).
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
25. must—because Scripture foretells it.
till—There will be no further need of His mediatorial kingdom, its object having been realized.
enemies under his feet—(Lu 19:27; Eph 1:22).
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
26. shall be—Greek, "is done away with" (Re 20:14; compare Re 1:18). It is to believers especially this applies (1Co 15:55-57); even in the case of unbelievers, death is done away with by the general resurrection. Satan brought in sin, and sin brought in death! So they shall be destroyed (rendered utterly powerless) in the same order (1Co 15:56; Heb 2:14; Re 19:20; 20:10, 14).
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
27. all things—including death (compare Eph 1:22; Php 3:21; Heb 2:8; 1Pe 3:22). It is said, "hath put," for what God has said is the same as if it were already done, so sure is it. Paul here quotes Ps 8:6 in proof of his previous declaration, "For (it is written), 'He hath put all things under His feet.'"
under his feet—as His footstool (Ps 110:1). In perfect and lasting subjection.
when he—namely, God, who by His Spirit inspired the Psalmist.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
28. Son … himself … subject—not as the creatures are, but as a Son voluntarily subordinate to, though co-equal with, the Father. In the mediatorial kingdom, the Son had been, in a manner, distinct from the Father. Now, His kingdom shall merge in the Father's, with whom He is one; not that there is thus any derogation from His honor; for the Father Himself wills "that all should honor the Son, as they honor the Father" (Joh 5:22, 23; Heb 1:6).
God … all in all—as Christ is all in all (Col 3:11; compare Zec 14:9). Then, and not till then, "all things," without the least infringement of the divine prerogative, shall be subject to the Son, and the Son subordinate to the Father, while co-equally sharing His glory. Contrast Ps 10:4; 14:1. Even the saints do not fully realize God as their "all" (Ps 73:25) now, through desiring it; then each shall feel, God is all to me.
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
29. Else—if there be no resurrection.
what shall they do?—How wretched is their lot!
they … which are baptized for the dead—third person; a class distinct from that in which the apostle places himself, "we" (1Co 15:30); first person. Alford thinks there is an allusion to a practice at Corinth of baptizing a living person in behalf of a friend who died unbaptized; thus Paul, without giving the least sanction to the practice, uses an ad hominem argument from it against its practicers, some of whom, though using it, denied the resurrection: "What account can they give of their practice; why are they at the trouble of it, if the dead rise not?" [So Jesus used an ad hominem argument, Mt 12:27]. But if so, it is strange there is no direct censure of it. Some Marcionites adopted the practice at a later period, probably from taking this passage, as Alford does; but, generally, it was unknown in the Church. Bengel translates, "over (immediately upon) the dead," that is, who will be gathered to the dead immediately after baptism. Compare Job 17:1, "the graves are ready for me." The price they get for their trouble is, that they should be gathered to the dead for ever (1Co 15:13, 16). Many in the ancient Church put off baptism till near death. This seems the better view; though there may have been some rites of symbolical baptism at Corinth, now unknown, perhaps grounded on Jesus' words (Mt 20:22, 23), which Paul here alludes to. The best punctuation is, "If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for them" (so the oldest manuscripts read the last words, instead of "for the dead")?
And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
30. we—apostles (1Co 15:9; 1Co 4:9). A gradation from those who could only for a little time enjoy this life (that is, those baptized at the point of death), to us, who could enjoy it longer, if we had not renounced the world for Christ [Bengel].
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
31. by your rejoicing—by the glorying which I have concerning you, as the fruit of my labors in the Lord. Some of the earliest manuscripts and fathers read "our," with the same sense. Bengel understands "your rejoicing," to be the enjoyable state of the Corinthians, as contrasted with his dying daily to give his converts rejoicing or glorying (1Co 4:8; 2Co 4:12, 15; Eph 3:13; Php 1:26). But the words, "which I have," favor the explanation—"the rejoicing which I have over you." Many of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate insert "brethren" here.
I die daily—This ought to stand first in the sentence, as it is so put prominently forward in the Greek. I am day by day in sight of death, exposed to it, and expecting it (2Co 4:11, 12; 1:8, 9; 11:23).
If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
32. Punctuate thus: "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me? If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink," &c. [Bengel]. If "merely as a man" (with the mere human hope of the present life; not with the Christian's hope of the resurrection; answering to "If the dead rise not," the parallel clause in the next sentence), I have fought with men resembling savage beasts. Heraclitus, of Ephesus, had termed his countrymen "wild beasts" four hundred years before. So Epimenides called the Cretians (Tit 1:12). Paul was still at Ephesus (1Co 16:8), and there his life was daily in danger (1Co 4:9; compare 2Co 1:8). Though the tumult (Ac 19:29, 30) had not yet taken place (for after it he set out immediately for Macedonia), this Epistle was written evidently just before it, when the storm was gathering; "many adversaries" (1Co 16:9) were already menacing him.
what advantageth it me?—seeing I have renounced all that, "as a mere man," might compensate me for such sufferings, gain, fame, &c.
let us eat, &c.—Quoted from the Septuagint, (Isa 22:13), where the prophet describes the reckless self-indulgence of the despisers of God's call to mourning, Let us enjoy the good things of life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of such skeptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. "If men but persuade themselves that they shall die like the beasts, they soon will live like beasts too" [South].
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
33. evil communications corrupt good manners—a current saying, forming a verse in Menander, the comic poet, who probably took it from Euripides [Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16]. "Evil communications" refer to intercourse with those who deny the resurrection. Their notion seems to have been that the resurrection is merely spiritual, that sin has its seat solely in the body, and will be left behind when the soul leaves it, if, indeed, the soul survive death at all.
good—not only good-natured, but pliant. Intimacy with the profligate society around was apt to corrupt the principles of the Corinthians.
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
34. Awake—literally, "out of the sleep" of carnal intoxication into which ye are thrown by the influence of these skeptics (1Co 15:32; Joe 1:5).
to righteousness—in contrast with "sin" in this verse, and corrupt manners (1Co 15:33).
sin not—Do not give yourselves up to sinful pleasures. The Greek expresses a continued state of abstinence from sin. Thus, Paul implies that they who live in sinful pleasures readily persuade themselves of what they wish, namely, that there is to be no resurrection.
some—the same as in 1Co 15:12.
have not the knowledge of God—and so know not His power in the resurrection (Mt 22:29). Stronger than "are ignorant of God." An habitual ignorance: wilful, in that they prefer to keep their sins, rather than part with them, in order to know God (compare Joh 7:17; 1Pe 2:15).
to your shame—that you Corinthian Christians, who boast of your knowledge, should have among you, and maintain intercourse with, those so practically ignorant of God, as to deny the resurrection.
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
35. How—It is folly to deny a fact of REVELATION, because we do not know the "how." Some measure God's power by their petty intelligence, and won't admit, even on His assurance, anything which they cannot explain. Ezekiel's answer of faith to the question is the truly wise one (Eze 37:3). So Jesus argues not on principles of philosophy, but wholly from "the power of God," as declared by the Word of God (Mt 19:26; Mr 10:27; 12:23; Lu 18:27).
come—The dead are said to depart, or to be deceased: those rising again to come. The objector could not understand how the dead are to rise, and with what kind of a body they are to come. Is it to be the same body? If so, how is this, since the resurrection bodies will not eat or drink, or beget children, as the natural bodies do? Besides, the latter have mouldered into dust. How then can they rise again? If it be a different body, how can the personal identity be preserved? Paul answers, In one sense it will be the same body, in another, a distinct body. It will be a body, but a spiritual, not a natural, body.
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
36. fool—with all thy boasted philosophy (Ps 14:1).
that which thou—"thou," emphatical: appeal to the objector's own experience: "The seed which thou thyself sowest." Paul, in this verse and in 1Co 15:42, answers the question of 1Co 15:35, "How?" and in 1Co 15:37-41, 43, the question, "With what kind of body?" He converts the very objection (the death of the natural body) into an argument. Death, so far from preventing quickening, is the necessary prelude and prognostication of it, just as the seed "is not quickened" into a new sprout with increased produce, "except it die" (except a dissolution of its previous organization takes place). Christ by His death for us has not given us a reprieve from death as to the life which we have from Adam; nay, He permits the law to take its course on our fleshly nature; but He brings from Himself new spiritual and heavenly life out of death (1Co 15:37).
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
37. not that body that shall be—a body beautiful and no longer a "bare grain" [Bengel]. No longer without stalk or ear, but clothed with blade and ears, and yielding many grains instead of only one [Grotius]. There is not an identity of all the particles of the old and the new body. For the perpetual transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a hidden germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the germ remains the same. Every such germ ("seed," 1Co 15:38) "shall have its own body," and be instantly recognized, just as each plant now is known from the seed that was sown (see on 1Co 6:13). So Christ by the same image illustrated the truth that His death was the necessary prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of the regeneration of the many who believe (Joh 12:24). Progress is the law of the spiritual, as of the natural world. Death is the avenue not to mere revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection and regeneration (Mt 19:28; Php 3:21). Compare "planted," &c., Ro 6:5.
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
38. as it hath pleased him—at creation, when He gave to each of the (kinds of) seeds (so the Greek is for "to every seed") a body of its own (Ge 1:11, "after its kind," suited to its species). So God can and will give to the blessed at the resurrection their own appropriate body, such as it pleases Him, and such as is suitable to their glorified state: a body peculiar to the individual, substantially the same as the body sown.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
39-41. Illustrations of the suitability of bodies, however various, to their species: the flesh of the several species of animals; bodies celestial and terrestrial; the various kinds of light in the sun, moon, and stars, respectively.
flesh—animal organism [De Wette]. He implies by the word that our resurrection bodies shall be in some sense really flesh, not mere phantoms of air [Estius]. So some of the oldest creeds expressed it, "I believe in the resurrection of the flesh." Compare as to Jesus' own resurrection body, Lu 24:39; Joh 20:27; to which ours shall be made like, and therefore shall be flesh, but not of animal organism (Php 3:21) and liable to corruption. But 1Co 15:50 below implies, it is not "flesh and blood" in the animal sense we now understand them; for these "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
not the same—not flesh of the same nature and excellency. As the kinds of flesh, however widely differing from one another, do not cease to be flesh, so the kinds of bodies, however differing from one another, are still bodies. All this is to illustrate the difference of the new celestial body from its terrestrial seed, while retaining a substantial identity.
another of fishes … another of birds—Most of the oldest manuscripts read thus, "another FLESH of birds … another of fishes": the order of nature.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
40. celestial bodies—not the sun, moon, and stars, which are first introduced in 1Co 15:41, but the bodies of angels, as distinguished from the bodies of earthly creatures.
the glory of the celestial—(Lu 9:26).
glory of … terrestrial—(Mt 6:28, 29; 1Pe 1:24).
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
41. one glory of … sun … another … of … moon—The analogy is not to prove different degrees of glory among the blessed (whether this may be, or not, indirectly hinted at), but this: As the various fountains of light, which is so similar in its aspect and properties, differ (the sun from the moon, and the moon from the stars; and even one star from another star, though all seem so much alike); so there is nothing unreasonable in the doctrine that our present bodies differ from our resurrection bodies, though still continuing bodies. Compare the same simile, appropriate especially in the clear Eastern skies (Da 12:3; Mt 13:43). Also that of seed in the same parable (Mt 13:24; Ga 6:7, 8).
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
42. sown—Following up the image of seed. A delightful word instead of burial.
in corruption—liable to corruption: corruptible: not merely a prey when dead to corruption; as the contrast shows, "raised in incorruption," that is, not liable to corruption: incorruptible.
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
43. in dishonour—answering to "our vile body" (Php 3:21); literally, "our body of humiliation": liable to various humiliations of disease, injury, and decay at last.
in glory—the garment of incorruption (1Co 15:42, 43) like His glorious body (Php 4:21), which we shall put on (1Co 15:49, 53; 2Co 5:2-4).
in weakness—liable to infirmities (2Co 13:4).
in power—answering to a "spiritual body" (1Co 15:44; compare Lu 1:17, "Spirit and power"). Not liable to the weaknesses of our present frail bodies (Isa 33:24; Re 21:4).
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
44. a natural body—literally, "an animal body," a body moulded in its organism of "flesh and blood" (1Co 15:50) to suit the animal soul which predominates in it. The Holy Spirit in the spirit of believers, indeed, is an earnest of a superior state (Ro 8:11), but meanwhile in the body the animal soul preponderates; hereafter the Spirit shall predominate, and the animal soul be duly subordinate.
spiritual body—a body wholly moulded by the Spirit, and its organism not conformed to the lower and animal (Lu 20:35, 36), but to the higher and spiritual, life (compare 1Co 2:14; 1Th 5:23).
There is, &c.—The oldest manuscripts read, "IF there is a natural (or animal-souled) body, there is also a spiritual body." It is no more wonderful a thing, that there should be a body fitted to the capacities and want of man's highest part, his spirit (which we see to be the case), than that there should be one fitted to the capacities and wants of his subordinate part, the animal soul [Alford].
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
45. so—in accordance with the distinction just mentioned between the natural or animal-souled body and the spiritual body.
it is written—(Ge 2:7); "Man became (was made to become) a living soul," that is, endowed with an animal soul, the living principle of his body.
the last Adam—the LAST Head of humanity, who is to be fully manifested in the last day, which is His day (Joh 6:39). He is so called in Job 19:25; see on Job 19:25 (compare Ro 5:14). In contrast to "the last," Paul calls "man" (Ge 2:7) "the FIRST Adam."
quickening—not only living, but making alive (Joh 5:21; 6:33, 39, 40, 54, 57, 62, 63; Ro 8:11). As the natural or animal-souled body (1Co 15:44) is the fruit of our union with the first Adam, an animal-souled man, so the spiritual body is the fruit of our union with the second Adam, who is the quickening Spirit (2Co 3:17). As He became representative of the whole of humanity in His union of the two natures, He exhausted in His own person the sentence of death passed on all men, and giveth spiritual and everlasting life to whom He will.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
46. afterward—Adam had a soul not necessarily mortal, as it afterwards became by sin, but "a living soul," and destined to live for ever, if he had eaten of the tree of life (Ge 3:22); still his body was but an animal-souled body, not a spiritual body, such as believers shall have; much less was he a "life-giving spirit," as Christ. His soul had the germ of the Spirit, rather than the fulness of it, such as man shall have when restored "body, soul, and spirit," by the second Adam (1Th 5:23). As the first and lower Adam came before the second and heavenly Adam, so the animal-souled body comes first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body (that is, that in which the Spirit predominates over the animal soul).
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
47. of the earth—inasmuch as being sprung from the earth, he is "earthy" (Ge 2:7; 3:19, "dust thou art"); that is, not merely earthly or born upon the earth, but terrene, or of earth; literally, "of heaped earth" or clay. "Adam" means red earth.
the Lord—omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
from heaven—(Joh 3:13, 31). Humanity in Christ is generic. In Him man is impersonated in his true ideal as God originally designed him. Christ is the representative man, the federal head of redeemed man.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
48. As is the earthy—namely, Adam.
they … that are earthy—All Adam's posterity in their natural state (Joh 3:6, 7).
they … that are heavenly—His people in their regenerate state (Php 3:20, 21). As the former precedes the latter state, so the natural bodies precede the spiritual bodies.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
49. as—Greek, "even as" (see Ge 5:3).
we shall also bear—or wear as a garment [Bengel]. The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "We must also bear," or "let us also bear." It implies the divine appointment (compare "must," 1Co 15:53) and faith assenting to it. An exhortation, and yet implying a promise (so Ro 8:29). The conformity to the image of the heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, in part, and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and souls.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
50. (See on 1Co 15:37; 1Co 15:39). "Flesh and blood" of the same animal and corruptible nature as our present (1Co 15:44) animal-souled bodies, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore the believer acquiesces gladly in the unrepealed sentence of the holy law, which appoints the death of the present body as the necessary preliminary to the resurrection body of glory. Hence he "dies daily" to the flesh and to the world, as the necessary condition to his regeneration here and hereafter (Joh 3:6; Ga 2:20). As the being born of the flesh constitutes a child of Adam, so the being born of the Spirit constitutes a child of God.
cannot—Not merely is the change of body possible, but it is necessary. The spirit extracted from the dregs of wine does not so much differ from them, as the glorified man does from the mortal man [Bengel] of mere animal flesh and blood (Ga 1:16). The resurrection body will be still a body though spiritual, and substantially retaining the personal identity; as is proved by Lu 24:39; Joh 20:27, compared with Php 3:21.
the kingdom of God—which is not at all merely animal, but altogether spiritual. Corruption doth not inherit, though it is the way to, incorruption (1Co 15:36, 52, 53).
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
51. Behold—Calling attention to the "mystery" heretofore hidden in God's purposes, but now revealed.
you—emphatical in the Greek; I show (Greek, "tell," namely, by the word of the Lord, 1Th 4:15) YOU, who think you have so much knowledge, "a mystery" (compare Ro 11:25) which your reason could never have discovered. Many of the old manuscripts and Fathers read, "We shall all sleep, but we shall not all be changed"; but this is plainly a corrupt reading, inconsistent with 1Th 4:15, 17, and with the apostle's argument here, which is that a change is necessary (1Co 15:53). English Version is supported by some of the oldest manuscripts and Fathers. The Greek is literally "We all shall not sleep, but," &c. The putting off of the corruptible body for an incorruptible by an instantaneous change will, in the case of "the quick," stand as equivalent to death, appointed to all men (Heb 9:27); of this Enoch and Elijah are types and forerunners. The "we" implies that Christians in that age and every successive age since and hereafter were designed to stand waiting, as if Christ might come again in their time, and as if they might be found among "the quick."
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
52. the last trump—at the sounding of the trumpet on the last day [Vatablus] (Mt 24:31; 1Th 4:16). Or the Spirit by Paul hints that the other trumpets mentioned subsequently in the Apocalypse shall precede, and that this shall be the last of all (compare Isa 27:13; Zec 9:14). As the law was given with the sound of a trumpet, so the final judgment according to it (Heb 12:19; compare Ex 19:16). As the Lord ascended "with the sound of a trumpet" (Ps 47:5), so He shall descend (Re 11:15). The trumpet was sounded to convoke the people on solemn feasts, especially on the first day of the seventh month (the type of the completion of time; seven being the number for perfection; on the tenth of the same month was the atonement, and on the fifteenth the feast of tabernacles, commemorative of completed salvation out of the spiritual Egypt, compare Zec 14:18, 19); compare Ps 50:1-7. Compare His calling forth of Lazarus from the grave "with a loud voice," Joh 11:43, with Joh 5:25, 28.
and—immediately, in consequence.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
53. this—pointing to his own body and that of those whom he addresses.
put on—as a garment (2Co 5:2, 3).
immortality—Here only, besides 1Ti 6:16, the word "immortality" is found. Nowhere is the immortality of the soul, distinct from the body, taught; a notion which many erroneously have derived from heathen philosophers. Scripture does not contemplate the anomalous state brought about by death, as the consummation to be earnestly looked for (2Co 5:4), but the resurrection.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
54. then—not before. Death has as yet a sting even to the believer, in that his body is to be under its power till the resurrection. But then the sting and power of death shall cease for ever.
Death is swallowed up in victory—In Hebrew of Isa 25:8, from which it is quoted, "He (Jehovah) will swallow up death in victory"; that is, for ever: as "in victory" often means in Hebrew idiom (Jer 3:5; La 5:20). Christ will swallow it up so altogether victoriously that it shall never more regain its power (compare Ho 6:2; 13:14; 2Co 5:4; Heb 2:14, 15; Re 20:14; 21:4).
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
55. Quoted from Ho 13:14, substantially; but freely used by the warrant of the Spirit by which Paul wrote. The Hebrew may be translated, "O death, where are thy plagues? Where, O Hades, is thy destruction?" The Septuagint, "Where is thy victory (literally, in a lawsuit), O death? Where is thy sting, O Hades? … Sting" answers to the Hebrew "plagues," namely, a poisoned sting causing plagues. Appropriate, as to the old serpent (Ge 3:14, 15; Nu 21:6). "Victory" answers to the Hebrew "destruction." Compare Isa 25:7, "destroy … veil … over all nations," namely, victoriously destroy it; and to "in victory" (1Co 15:54), which he triumphantly repeats. The "where" implies their past victorious destroying power and sting, now gone for ever; obtained through Satan's triumph over man in Eden, which enlisted God's law on the side of Satan and death against man (Ro 5:12, 17, 21). The souls in Hades being freed by the resurrection, death's sting and victory are gone. For "O grave," the oldest manuscripts and versions read, "O death," the second time.
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
56. If there were no sin, there would be no death. Man's transgression of the law gives death its lawful power.
strength of sin is the law—Without the law sin is not perceived or imputed (Ro 3:20; 4:15; 5:13). The law makes sin the more grievous by making God's will the clearer (Ro 7:8-10). Christ's people are no longer "under the law" (Ro 6:14).
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
57. to God—The victory was in no way due to ourselves (Ps 98:1).
giveth—a present certainty.
the victory—which death and Hades ("the grave") had aimed at, but which, notwithstanding the opposition of them, as well as of the law and sin, we have gained. The repetition of the word (1Co 15:54, 55) is appropriate to the triumph gained.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
58. beloved—Sound doctrine kindles Christian love.
steadfast—not turning aside from the faith of the resurrection of yourselves.
unmovable—not turned aside by others (1Co 15:12; Col 1:23).
the work of the Lord—the promotion of Christ's kingdom (Php 2:30).
not in vain—as the deniers of the resurrection would make it (1Co 15:14, 17).
in the Lord—applying to the whole sentence and its several clauses: Ye, as being in the Lord by faith, know that your labor in the Lord (that is, labor according to His will) is not to be without its reward in the Lord (through His merits and according to His gracious appointment).