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? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 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. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22)
The Validity of the Resurrection of the Dead:
Some at Corinth had argued that there was no resurrection of the dead. He replies that this is absolutely contrary to the proclamation that Christ has been raised.
Paul states a series of conclusions flowing from the contention that the dead do not rise: (1) There is no resurrection of Christ; (2) preaching that he has been raised is then empty and meaningless; (3) their resultant faith in Christ is also meaningless; and (4) his own testimony about Christ’s resurrection is false, because it claims God did something he really did not do.
Paul draws additional hypothetical conclusions from the thesis that Christ has not risen from the dead: (1) Faith is not only vain or meaningless, it is also fruitless; (2) believers still carry the guilt of their sins and are not justified; (3) there is no hope for those who have died in Christ-- they have perished; (4) therefore putting up with persecutions and hardships is futile; and finally, (5) we are most to be pitied among men.
Six benefits of the Resurrection:
Paul is proclaiming the good news that the resurrection of Jesus meets our deepest needs and longings. But in doing this he is not putting us at the center. He is putting Jesus as the center, and God who raised him from the dead. Paul says there are six things that would be in shambles if Christ did not rise from the dead.
• “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless.” But since Christ has been raised, our preaching is not useless.
• “ . . . and so is your faith.” But since Christ has been raised, our faith is not useless or in vain.
• If Christ has not been raised, “we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.” But since Christ has been raised, we are not false witnesses about the work of God.
• “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” But since Christ has been raised, the apostles and we are not still in our sins.
• If Christ has not been raised, “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” But since Christ has been raised, the dead in Christ have not perished.
• If Christ has not been raised, then “we are to be pitied more than all men.” But since Christ has been raised, we are not to be pitied.
Guarantee of Resurrection from the Dead:
In a conclusive way, Paul introduces some vitally important affirmations. Paul implies, none of the Corinthian believers would deny that an integral part of the Gospel is the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, they must now accept the sequel-- Christ guarantees the resurrection of the Christian dead, as the word “firstfruits” teaches. By “firstfruits” Paul brings to bear the rich imagery of the Old Testament. The “firstfruits”-- the first sheaf of the harvest offered to the Lord (Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest” Leviticus 23:10)-- was not only prior to the main harvest but was also an assurance that the rest of the harvest was coming. So with Christ, who preceded his people in his bodily resurrection and he is also the guarantee of their resurrection at his Second Coming.
The man who brought death is Adam, and the one who will bring about the resurrection of the dead is Christ. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” 1 Corinthians 15:35). All who are represented in Adam-- that is the whole human race died. All who are in Christ-- that is God’s redeemed people-- will be made alive at the resurrection.
The greatest news!
The greatest news in the entire world is that God and his Son are most glorified in you when you are most contented in them. And to make that true God raised his Son Jesus from the dead to reign for evermore. In raising Jesus from the dead:
• God gave us forgiveness and glorified Jesus as the all-sufficient forgiver.
• God gave us a friend to count on and glorified Jesus as utterly reliable.
• God gave us guidance and unchanging truth and glorified Jesus as the absolute foundation for truth and righteousness;
• God gave us a life that is not pitiable but enviable, a ministry that is not in vain but fruitful. He gave us a life that glorified Jesus as the source and goal of all life and all ministries.
• God gave us everlasting joy that will not be ended by death, and glorified Jesus as the author of life, the victor over death and the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep.
• God gave us the hope that we shall live forever in joy. We do not come to an empty end after a full and valuable life. Eternal life awaits us beyond this life, beyond the grave.
In John 5:25 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” As the source of life, he is promising all those who are spiritually dead a new and eternal life if they would listen to his voice.