Now let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, a of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is built on this wonderful message.
And it is this Good News that saves you if you firmly believe it -- unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me -- that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.
He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said.
He was seen by Peter b and then by the twelve apostles.
After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers c at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now.
Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.
Last of all, I saw him, too, long after the others, as though I had been born at the wrong time.
For I am the least of all the apostles, and I am not worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted the church of God.
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me -- and not without results. For I have worked harder than all the other apostles, yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach. The important thing is that you believed what we preached to you.
But tell me this -- since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead?
For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either.
And if Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless.
And we apostles would all be lying about God, for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, but that can't be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins.
In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished!
And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.
But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.
So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ.
Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life.
But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will be raised.
After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having put down all enemies of every kind. d25
For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.
And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
For the Scriptures say, "God has given him authority over all things." e (Of course, when it says "authority over all things," it does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.)
Then, when he has conquered all things, the Son will present himself to God, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.
If the dead will not be raised, then what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?
And why should we ourselves be continually risking our lives, facing death hour by hour?
For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in you.
And what value was there in fighting wild beasts -- those men of Ephesus f -- if there will be no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection, "Let's feast and get drunk, for tomorrow we die!" g33
Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character."
Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don't even know God.
But someone may ask, "How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?"
What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn't grow into a plant unless it dies first.
And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a dry little seed of wheat or whatever it is you are planting.
Then God gives it a new body -- just the kind he wants it to have. A different kind of plant grows from each kind of seed.
And just as there are different kinds of seeds and plants, so also there are different kinds of flesh -- whether of humans, animals, birds, or fish.
There are bodies in the heavens, and there are bodies on earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the beauty of the earthly bodies.
The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their beauty and brightness.
It is the same way for the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die.
Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power.
They are natural human bodies now, but when they are raised, they will be spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, so also there are spiritual bodies.
The Scriptures tell us, "The first man, Adam, became a living person." h But the last Adam -- that is, Christ -- is a life-giving Spirit.
What came first was the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later.
Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven.
Every human being has an earthly body just like Adam's, but our heavenly bodies will be just like Christ's.
Just as we are now like Adam, the man of the earth, so we will someday be like Christ, the man from heaven.
What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever.
But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed.
It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died i will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die.
For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
When this happens -- when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die -- then at last the Scriptures will come true: "Death is swallowed up in victory. j55
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" k56
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.
How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)