1 Corinthians 15:12-34 - The Resurrection of the Dead

1. What false teaching was being spread among the Corinthians (Verse 12)?

A: Most Greeks did not believe that people’s bodies would be resurrected after death. They saw the afterlife as something that only happened to the soul. According to Greek philosophers, the soul was the real person, imprisoned in a physical body, and at death the soul was released.

2. In this chapter, Paul argues the issue of the resurrection from many angles and presents his arguments several times over. Why?

A: The resurrection of Christ is the center and cornerstone of the Christian faith.

3. Summarize the seven “if-thens” in Verses 12 to 19 from first to last. (Some are repeated; there are actually just three of them.)

A:        IF         THEN
1. Dead are not raised
2. Christ is not raised
3. Your faith is futile
Christ is not raised
Preaching is useless
We are to be pitied more than all men

4. Let’s look at Paul’s “if-then” statements in a positive way: IF Christ was raised from the dead, THEN, what are the implications of this?

A: If Christ rose from the dead as both he and the prophets promised, then we know what he said is true. If Christ was raised, then we know he is the son of God. If Christ was raised, then we know that he lives and represents us to God. If Christ was raised, we know our sins are forgiven. If Christ was raised, we know we will all be raised. In Christ was raised, our preaching is worthwhile. If Christ was raised, our faith gives us hope. If Christ was raised, we believers are the most blessed of all men.

Can you see from this why the resurrection is the center element of Christianity?

5. In Verse 19, why does Paul say that believers should be pitied if Christianity only had earthly value? What is the implication of this today?

A: In Paul’s day, Christianity often brought a person persecution, ostracism from his family and society, and, in many cases, poverty. There were few tangible benefits from being a Christian 2000 years ago.

More important, especially for today, is the fact that if Christ had not been resurrected, Christians would not have their sins forgiven and would have no hope of eternal life. If you do not believe that Christ was resurrected but you believe in God, you should be a Jew, still looking for Christ the savior.

6. What are “firstfruits” (Verses 20, 23)? Why does Paul make the analogy of Christ with firstfruits? (Leviticus 23:10-20)

A: Firstfruits were the first part of the harvest that faithful Jews brought to the temple as an offering. In Lev 23:10, God instructs Moses saying, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest.” These verses go on to describe offering young male lambs, goats, and loaves of bread as peace offerings to the Lord.

Paul says Christ is like the firstfruits as he is the first one to rise from the dead and never die again. (Lazarus and others that Christ raised from the dead then died a natural death later on.) So Christ is the forerunner for us and the proof of our eventual resurrection to eternal life.

7. Paul’s thoughts in Verses 20-28 about Adam and Christ are also expressed in Romans 5:12-20 in a slightly different way. How would you summarize these verses?

A: Actually, the single verse of Romans 5:19 is perhaps the best summary: For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

8. What does Paul mean in Verses 31-32 when he says, “I die every day” and “I fought wild beasts?” Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever felt that life is futile?

A: Paul is speaking of his daily exposure to danger as a Christian and facing opposition to his Christian teaching. While today we may not experience physical danger or open hostility from being a Christian, there are many people who are not receptive and don’t want to hear about it. How do you feel about politicians that represent themselves as Christians and behave in decidedly non-Christian ways?

9. Paul cites a reference from Isaiah in Verse 32 and what looks like a proverb in Verse 33 but is actually a quote from the Greek poet Menander. What is his point? Does this apply today?

A: Keeping company with people who say, “let us eat, drink, and make merry, for tomorrow we die,” and with people who don’t believe in Christ’s resurrection could corrupt good Christian character. Obviously, this is just as applicable today as it was in Paul’s day.

10. When you are with people who doubt or deny the resurrection, who before a meal say “bon appetite’ rather than grace, who are morally good people but not Christians, who are ignorant of God (vs 34), how do you behave?
A. Don’t make waves, talk about non-controversial subjects.
B. Tell them that they are going to hell in a handbasket.
C. Tell them about God’s love.
D. Excuse yourself and find another group.
E. Something else __________________________________________________

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