The New Testament reading for Thursday, February 22 is:

1 Corinthians 15 (Listen)

The Resurrection of Christ

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers,1 of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy 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 toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope2 in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 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 “God3 has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”4 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;5 the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall6 also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55   “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Footnotes

[1] 15:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 31, 50, 58
[2] 15:19 Or we have hoped
[3] 15:27 Greek he
[4] 15:33 Probably from Menander's comedy Thais
[5] 15:45 Greek a living soul
[6] 15:49 Some manuscripts let us

(ESV)


English Standard Version: Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

New Testament Pastoral Commentary for 1 Corinthians 15
Author: Pastor Zach
Like many guys, I am not very adept at multi-tasking. For example, if Melody and I are sitting in bed one evening and she is one the phone while I am reading, I will often get to the bottom of a page and realize that I have no idea what I have just read. Why? Because I was too busy paying attention to her conversation and not to what I was reading. And I can't do two things at once. Or, let's say Melody is trying to have a conversation with me while I am watching TV. Often, after she realizes that my mind is drifting away from her and toward what's on TV, she'll say in her best frustrated tone, "Zach, stay with me!" To which I will reply, "I am with you." "Yes," Melody will say, "but you're not ALL THERE with me. Your face may be looking at me, but your mind is thinking about what's on TV."

Last month, sorrowfully, my wife's grandmother passed away. And, just like in most instances of bereavement, the night before the funeral there was a visitation with an open casket. So I went along with my wife and my two nephews, Noah and Nicholas. Noah, as a six year old, was having a hard time understanding what he was seeing. He would walk over to "Gi Gi" (that's what he calls Melody's grandmother) and he would stare into the casket, and then he would come back and ask me, "Uncle Zach, when is Gi Gi going to wake up?" To which I would have to somberly and sadly reply, "She's not going to wake up, Noah. She's died and gone to heaven." And it was then that Noah asked probably the most insightful question I have ever received from a six year old: "How can Gi Gi be in heaven when her body's in the casket?"

That, actually, is a really good question. And it's one that far too many adults fail to ask. The teaching of Scripture is indeed clear: those who die in Christ live with him in heaven. The words of Jesus to the thief on the cross right before he dies, "Today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43) leave no doubt about the precious hope of heaven that awaits us immediately upon our deaths. But it is not our bodies that ascend to heaven after we die, it is our souls. That is why, when John has his vision of heaven in Revelation, he sees not people's bodies, but their souls in heaven (e.g., Revelation 6:9). And yet, God would say along with my wife, "You may get to be with me when you die, but you're not ALL THERE with me. Your soul may be with me, but your body is still buried in the ground." But one day, that will change.

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep. But we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). In our reading for today from 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the resurrection that will take place on the Last Day, not of our souls, but of our bodies. When Jesus returns, Scripture teaches, our bodies and souls will once again be reunited with each other and we will be "all there" with Jesus. And six year old boys will no longer be confused.

You see, my friends, this is the ultimate hope of the Christian according to Scripture. Not just that when we die our souls get to go to heaven to be with Jesus, but that on the Last Day, Jesus will come and resurrect our bodies and we will live "all there" with Jesus. And so, we confess in the words of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in the resurrection of the BODY and the life everlasting." I'll most definitely offer a hearty "Amen" to that.