Online Bible Commentary
Hope in Christ
1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the Christians in Corinth, Greece from Ephesus, Asia (present day Turkey) in A.D. 54-56, during his third missionary journey. These teachings while written to the first century church in Corinth are applicable to all Christians.
In this chapter, Paul is responding to some false teaching in the church in Corinth. The false teaching was that some teachers were denying the bodily resurrection of Christians. They claimed that our spirits would keep living after death, but in a disembodied state.
So Paul, in this chapter, is correcting this false teaching. Chapter fifteen is, perhaps, the most comprehensive study of bodily resurrection in the entire Bible.
In this passage, Paul writes of the consequences of not believing in bodily resurrection. Paul has already been to Corinth once, on his second missionary journey, and has preached that Christ “has been raised from the dead” (v. 12a).
The fact that Christ was bodily resurrected is well supported by eyewitness accounts. Over five hundred people witnessed the resurrected Christ, many of whom were still alive at the time of this writing some twenty-five years later (v. 6).
So, the evidence is clear. Paul, therefore, wonders why some of the Corinthians “say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (v. 12b).
This teaching is contrary to Paul’s teaching. Therefore, it is false teaching. Previously, Paul wrote “the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 13:37).
Paul’s teachings are from the Lord, Himself. Previously, he wrote “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12).
Next, Paul reasons that if there is no bodily resurrection of Christians then Christ, Himself, “is not resurrected” (v. 13). And if there is no bodily resurrection of Christ then the apostles’ “preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (v. 14). The preaching would be lies and our faith would be worthless, in vain.
And if the apostles’ teachings are lies they would be “false witnesses of God” (v. 15). Paul and the other apostles would be no better than the false teachers Paul is correcting.
God raised Christ from the dead to show that believers would also be raised from the dead. Any claim that Christians are not bodily resurrected would also be a claim that Christ was not risen, and eyewitness accounts do not support that argument (v. 16).
Furthermore, “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (v. 17). If Christ is not bodily resurrected, Christians have no hope. They are still in their sins and destined for eternal separation from God. Heaven is not a possibility. The entire Christian faith relies on the bodily resurrection of Christ.
Those Christians who have “fallen asleep”, died, have “perished” (v. 18). The word translated “perish” is the Greek word apolonto which means lost or ruined. They are lost or ruined because they are spending eternity in Hell.
In conclusion, Paul writes that if there was no bodily resurrection of Christ, then there is no bodily resurrection of Christians and, therefore, Christians “are of all men the most pitiable” (v. 19). We would be pitied because we would have lived our lives for a lie.
Thankfully though, we Christians have not lived our lives for a lie. The bodily resurrection of Christ is a fact, witnessed by more than five hundred people.
We can be assured of bodily resurrection, because Christ was bodily resurrected. When we die our spirit and soul entwined ascend to Heaven where we are given a heavenly body.
Then when Christ returns at the Rapture we will be joined with our resurrected bodies. We will rule with Christ for eternity as every knee is bowed to Him.
Those who doubt Him, including these false teachers of Paul’s time, will realize the error of their ways. But it will be too late for them. They have spent their time on earth denying Him and His teachings and they will have to face the consequences of their decision.
For Christians, our faith in the Lord will be rewarded. Our obedience to His teachings as expressed in the Bible will earn His watch care over us in this life and His rewards in Heaven in the next life.
Because He is risen, we also will be risen. We will not be pitied by men but instead we will pity those who rejected Christ.
Our hope in Christ will not be in vain. Our hope in Christ will result in bodily resurrection and eternal life in His glory.