On the third day he rose again from the dead . . .
1 Corinthians 15 (NIV)
The Resurrection of Christ
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
Suggesting a married Jesus is one thing, but questioning the Resurrection undermines the very heart of Christian belief.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Because of the reference to the third day, and because in Matthew 12:40 Jesus refers to three days and three nights, some have thought it necessary for Jesus to spend at least 72 hours in the grave. This upsets most chronologies of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and is unnecessary, being unaware of the use of ancient figures of speech. Eleazar ben Azariah (around the year 100 a.d.) said: “A day and a night make a whole day, and a portion of a whole day is reckoned as a whole day.” This demonstrates how in Jesus’ day, the phrase three days and three nights did not necessarily mean a 72-hour period, but a period including at least the portions of three days and three nights.
5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
In Paul’s list of appearances of the Risen Lord two are specially interesting.
There is the appearance to Peter. In the earliest account of the Resurrection story, the word of the messenger in the empty tomb is, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). In Luke 24:34 the disciples say, “The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon.” It is an amazing thing that one of the first appearances of the Risen Lord was to the disciple who had denied him. There is all the wonder of the love and grace of Jesus Christ here. Peter had wronged Jesus and then had wept his heart out; and the one desire of this amazing Jesus was to comfort him in the pain of his disloyalty. Love can go no further than to think more of the heartbreak of the man who wronged it than of the hurt that it itself has received.
There is the appearance to James. Without doubt this James is the brother of our Lord. It is quite clear from the gospel narrative that Jesus’ own family did not understand him and were even actively hostile to him. Mark 3:21 tells us that they actually sought to restrain him because they believed him to be mad. John 7:5 tells us that his brothers did not believe in him. Perhaps James’ contempt turned into wondering admiration so that when the end came, he was torn with remorse for the way in which he had treated his brother. Here once again we have the amazing grace and love of Christ. He came to bring peace to the troubled soul of one who had called him mad and who had been his opponent.
It is one of the most heart-moving things in all the story of Jesus that two of his first appearances, after he rose from the tomb, were to men who had hurt him and were sorry for it. Jesus meets the penitent heart far more than halfway.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
The Resurrection of the Dead
“Everything depends on our retaining a firm hold on this doctrine in particular; for if this one totters and no longer counts, all the others will lose their value and validity.”
12 But IF it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 IF there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And IF Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
“If Jesus rose, then this gospel is what is professes to be; if He rose not from the dead, then it is all deceit and delusion.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For IF the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And IF Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19IF only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
There is no IF about it! Look at what rests on the resurrection:
The divinity of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 1:4).
The sovereignty of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 14:9).
Our justification rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 4:25).
Our regeneration rests on the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 1:3).
Our ultimate resurrection rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 8:11).
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
In Ephesians 1:10, Paul reveals God’s eternal purpose in history: that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him. Paul wrote of the “gathering together” of all things in Jesus, or of the “summing up” of all things in Him. Here, in 1 Corinthians, he looks forward to the time when all things are resolved in Jesus Christ and He presents it all to God the Father, giving glory to the God who authored this eternal plan of the ages.
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Here, Paul refers to God the Son’s desire to glorify God the Father through all eternity. Importantly, each person of the Trinity desires to glorify another person of the Trinity. The Son glorifies the Father (John 17:4), the Father glorifies the Son (John 17:5), and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14). This aspect of the nature of God is something God wants us to walk in, having a concern for the glory of others, and not our own (Philippians 2:3-4).
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
Here is another verse that has caused much consternation. Many interpretations have been presented — that Paul is speaking of a pagan custom, that some Corinthian Christians were being baptized for friends or relatives who had already died, that “baptism” here actually refers to martyrdom . . . I leave it to you to wrestle with this!
30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
To say that there is no resurrection is not a sign of superior knowledge; it is a sign of utter ignorance of God.
HERE is “Hear the Bells Ringing!” sung by a group called Second Chapter of Acts. “He is risen! Alleluia!”
New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
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