1 Corinthians 15


29. Else--if there be no resurrection.
what shall they do?--How wretched is their lot!
they . . . which are baptized for the dead--third person; a class distinct from that in which the apostle places himself, "we" ( 1 Corinthians 15:30 ); first person. ALFORD thinks there is an allusion to a practice at Corinth of baptizing a living person in behalf of a friend who died unbaptized; thus Paul, without giving the least sanction to the practice, uses an ad hominem argument from it against its practicers, some of whom, though using it, denied the resurrection: "What account can they give of their practice; why are they at the trouble of it, if the dead rise not?" [So Jesus used an ad hominem argument, Matthew 12:27 ]. But if so, it is strange there is no direct censure of it. Some Marcionites adopted the practice at a later period, probably from taking this passage, as ALFORD does; but, generally, it was unknown in the Church. BENGEL translates, "over (immediately upon) the dead," that is, who will be gathered to the dead immediately after baptism. Compare Job 17:1 , "the graves are ready for me." The price they get for their trouble is, that they should be gathered to the dead for ever ( 1 Corinthians 15:13 1 Corinthians 15:16 ). Many in the ancient Church put off baptism till near death. This seems the better view; though there may have been some rites of symbolical baptism at Corinth, now unknown, perhaps grounded on Jesus' words ( Matthew 20:22 Matthew 20:23 ), which Paul here alludes to. The best punctuation is, "If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for them" (so the oldest manuscripts read the last words, instead of "for the dead")?

30. we--apostles ( 1 Corinthians 15:9 , 1 Corinthians 4:9 ). A gradation from those who could only for a little time enjoy this life (that is, those baptized at the point of death), to us, who could enjoy it longer, if we had not renounced the world for Christ [BENGEL].

31. by your rejoicing--by the glorying which I have concerning you, as the fruit of my labors in the Lord. Some of the earliest manuscripts and fathers read "our," with the same sense. BENGEL understands "your rejoicing," to be the enjoyable state of the Corinthians, as contrasted with his dying daily to give his converts rejoicing or glorying ( 1 Corinthians 4:8 , 2 Corinthians 4:12 2 Corinthians 4:15 , Ephesians 3:13 , Philippians 1:26 ). But the words, "which I have," favor the explanation--"the rejoicing which I have over you." Many of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate insert "brethren" here.
I die daily--This ought to stand first in the sentence, as it is so put prominently forward in the Greek. I am day by day in sight of death, exposed to it, and expecting it ( 2 Corinthians 4:11 2 Corinthians 4:12 , 2 Corinthians 1:8 2 Corinthians 1:9 , 11:23 ).

32. Punctuate thus: "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me? If the dead rise not, let us eat and drink," &c. [BENGEL]. If "merely as a man" (with the mere human hope of the present life; not with the Christian's hope of the resurrection; answering to "If the dead rise not," the parallel clause in the next sentence), I have fought with men resembling savage beasts. Heraclitus, of Ephesus, had termed his countrymen "wild beasts" four hundred years before. So Epimenides called the Cretians ( Titus 1:12 ). Paul was still at Ephesus ( 1 Corinthians 16:8 ), and there his life was daily in danger ( 1 Corinthians 4:9 ; compare 2 Corinthians 1:8 ). Though the tumult ( Acts 19:29 Acts 19:30 ) had not yet taken place (for after it he set out immediately for Macedonia), this Epistle was written evidently just before it, when the storm was gathering; "many adversaries" ( 1 Corinthians 16:9 ) were already menacing him.
what advantageth it me?--seeing I have renounced all that, "as a mere man," might compensate me for such sufferings, gain, fame, &c.
let us eat, &c.--Quoted from the Septuagint, ( Isaiah 22:13 ), where the prophet describes the reckless self-indulgence of the despisers of God's call to mourning, Let us enjoy the good things of life now, for it soon will end. Paul imitates the language of such skeptics, to reprove both their theory and practice. "If men but persuade themselves that they shall die like the beasts, they soon will live like beasts too" [SOUTH].

33. evil communications corrupt good manners--a current saying, forming a verse in MENANDER, the comic poet, who probably took it from Euripides [SOCRATES, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16]. "Evil communications" refer to intercourse with those who deny the resurrection. Their notion seems to have been that the resurrection is merely spiritual, that sin has its seat solely in the body, and will be left behind when the soul leaves it, if, indeed, the soul survive death at all.
good--not only good-natured, but pliant. Intimacy with the profligate society around was apt to corrupt the principles of the Corinthians.

34. Awake--literally, "out of the sleep" of carnal intoxication into which ye are thrown by the influence of these skeptics ( 1 Corinthians 15:32 , Joel 1:5 ).
to righteousness--in contrast with "sin" in this verse, and corrupt manners ( 1 Corinthians 15:33 ).
sin not--Do not give yourselves up to sinful pleasures. The Greek expresses a continued state of abstinence from sin. Thus, Paul implies that they who live in sinful pleasures readily persuade themselves of what they wish, namely, that there is to be no resurrection.
some--the same as in 1 Corinthians 15:12 .
have not the knowledge of God--and so know not His power in the resurrection ( Matthew 22:29 ). Stronger than "are ignorant of God." An habitual ignorance: wilful, in that they prefer to keep their sins, rather than part with them, in order to know God (compare John 7:17 , 1 Peter 2:15 ).
to your shame--that you Corinthian Christians, who boast of your knowledge, should have among you, and maintain intercourse with, those so practically ignorant of God, as to deny the resurrection.

35. How--It is folly to deny a fact of REVELATION, because we do not know the "how." Some measure God's power by their petty intelligence, and won't admit, even on His assurance, anything which they cannot explain. Ezekiel's answer of faith to the question is the truly wise one ( Ezekiel 37:3 ). So Jesus argues not on principles of philosophy, but wholly from "the power of God," as declared by the Word of God ( Matthew 19:26 , 10:27 , 12:23 , Luke 18:27 ).
come--The dead are said to depart, or to be deceased: those rising again to come. The objector could not understand how the dead are to rise, and with what kind of a body they are to come. Is it to be the same body? If so, how is this, since the resurrection bodies will not eat or drink, or beget children, as the natural bodies do? Besides, the latter have mouldered into dust. How then can they rise again? If it be a different body, how can the personal identity be preserved? Paul answers, In one sense it will be the same body, in another, a distinct body. It will be a body, but a spiritual, not a natural, body.

36. fool--with all thy boasted philosophy ( Psalms 14:1 ).
that which thou--"thou," emphatical: appeal to the objector's own experience: "The seed which thou thyself sowest." Paul, in this verse and in 1 Corinthians 15:42 , answers the question of 1 Corinthians 15:35 , "How?" and in 1 Corinthians 15:37-41 1 Corinthians 15:43 , the question, "With what kind of body?" He converts the very objection (the death of the natural body) into an argument. Death, so far from preventing quickening, is the necessary prelude and prognostication of it, just as the seed "is not quickened" into a new sprout with increased produce, "except it die" (except a dissolution of its previous organization takes place). Christ by His death for us has not given us a reprieve from death as to the life which we have from Adam; nay, He permits the law to take its course on our fleshly nature; but He brings from Himself new spiritual and heavenly life out of death ( 1 Corinthians 15:37 ).

37. not that body that shall be--a body beautiful and no longer a "bare grain" [BENGEL]. No longer without stalk or ear, but clothed with blade and ears, and yielding many grains instead of only one [GROTIUS]. There is not an identity of all the particles of the old and the new body. For the perpetual transmutation of matter is inconsistent with this. But there is a hidden germ which constitutes the identity of body amidst all outward changes: the outward accretions fall off in its development, while the germ remains the same. Every such germ ("seed," 1 Corinthians 15:38 ) "shall have its own body," and be instantly recognized, just as each plant now is known from the seed that was sown truth that His death was the necessary prelude of His putting on His glorified body, which is the ground of the regeneration of the many who believe ( John 12:24 ). Progress is the law of the spiritual, as of the natural world. Death is the avenue not to mere revivification or reanimation, but to resurrection and regeneration ( Matthew 19:28 , Philippians 3:21 ). Compare "planted," &c., Romans 6:5 .

38. as it hath pleased him--at creation, when He gave to each of the (kinds of) seeds (so the Greek is for "to every seed") a body of its own ( Genesis 1:11 , "after its kind," suited to its species). So God can and will give to the blessed at the resurrection their own appropriate body, such as it pleases Him, and such as is suitable to their glorified state: a body peculiar to the individual, substantially the same as the body sown.

39-41. Illustrations of the suitability of bodies, however various, to their species: the flesh of the several species of animals; bodies celestial and terrestrial; the various kinds of light in the sun, moon, and stars, respectively.
flesh--animal organism [DE WETTE]. He implies by the word that our resurrection bodies shall be in some sense really flesh, not mere phantoms of air [ESTIUS]. So some of the oldest creeds expressed it, "I believe in the resurrection of the flesh." Compare as to Jesus' own resurrection body, Luke 24:39 , John 20:27 ; to which ours shall be made like, and therefore shall be flesh, but not of animal organism ( Philippians 3:21 ) and liable to corruption. But 1 Corinthians 15:50 below implies, it is not "flesh and blood" in the animal sense we now understand them; for these "shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
not the same--not flesh of the same nature and excellency. As the kinds of flesh, however widely differing from one another, do not cease to be flesh, so the kinds of bodies, however differing from one another, are still bodies. All this is to illustrate the difference of the new celestial body from its terrestrial seed, while retaining a substantial identity.
another of fishes . . . another of birds--Most of the oldest manuscripts read thus, "another FLESH of birds . . . another of fishes": the order of nature.

40. celestial bodies--not the sun, moon, and stars, which are first introduced in 1 Corinthians 15:41 , but the bodies of angels, as distinguished from the bodies of earthly creatures.
the glory of the celestial--( Luke 9:26 ).
glory of . . . terrestrial--( Matthew 6:28 Matthew 6:29 , 1 Peter 1:24 ).

41. one glory of . . . sun . . . another . . . of . . . moon--The analogy is not to prove different degrees of glory among the blessed (whether this may be, or not, indirectly hinted at), but this: As the various fountains of light, which is so similar in its aspect and properties, differ (the sun from the moon, and the moon from the stars; and even one star from another star, though all seem so much alike); so there is nothing unreasonable in the doctrine that our present bodies differ from our resurrection bodies, though still continuing bodies. Compare the same simile, appropriate especially in the clear Eastern skies ( Daniel 12:3 , Matthew 13:43 ). Also that of seed in the same parable ( Matthew 13:24 , Galatians 6:7 Galatians 6:8 ).

42. sown--Following up the image of seed. A delightful word instead of burial.
in corruption--liable to corruption: corruptible: not merely a prey when dead to corruption; as the contrast shows, "raised in incorruption," that is, not liable to corruption: incorruptible.

43. in dishonour--answering to "our vile body" ( Philippians 3:21 ); literally, "our body of humiliation": liable to various humiliations of disease, injury, and decay at last.
in glory--the garment of incorruption ( 1 Corinthians 15:42 1 Corinthians 15:43 ) like His glorious body ( Philippians 4:21 ), which we shall put on ( 1 Corinthians 15:49 1 Corinthians 15:53 , 2 Corinthians 5:2-4 ).
in weakness--liable to infirmities ( 2 Corinthians 13:4 ).
in power--answering to a "spiritual body" ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ; compare Luke 1:17 , "Spirit and power"). Not liable to the weaknesses of our present frail bodies ( Isaiah 33:24 , Revelation 21:4 ).

44. a natural body--literally, "an animal body," a body moulded in its organism of "flesh and blood" ( 1 Corinthians 15:50 ) to suit the animal soul which predominates in it. The Holy Spirit in the spirit of believers, indeed, is an earnest of a superior state ( Romans 8:11 ), but meanwhile in the body the animal soul preponderates; hereafter the Spirit shall predominate, and the animal soul be duly subordinate.
spiritual body--a body wholly moulded by the Spirit, and its organism not conformed to the lower and animal ( Luke 20:35 Luke 20:36 ), but to the higher and spiritual, life (compare 1 Corinthians 2:14 , 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ).
There is, &c.--The oldest manuscripts read, "IF there is a natural (or animal-souled) body, there is also a spiritual body." It is no more wonderful a thing, that there should be a body fitted to the capacities and want of man's highest part, his spirit (which we see to be the case), than that there should be one fitted to the capacities and wants of his subordinate part, the animal soul [ALFORD].

45. so--in accordance with the distinction just mentioned between the natural or animal-souled body and the spiritual body.
it is written--( Genesis 2:7 ); "Man became (was made to become) a living soul," that is, endowed with an animal soul, the living principle of his body.
the last Adam--the LAST Head of humanity, who is to be fully manifested in the last day, which is His day ( John 6:39 ). He is so called in Job 19:25 ; (compare Romans 5:14 ). In contrast to "the last," Paul calls "man" ( Genesis 2:7 ) "the FIRST Adam."
quickening--not only living, but making alive ( John 5:21 , John 6:33 John 6:39 John 6:40 John 6:54 John 6:57 John 6:62 John 6:63 , Romans 8:11 ). As the natural or animal-souled body ( 1 Corinthians 15:44 ) is the fruit of our union with the first Adam, an animal-souled man, so the spiritual body is the fruit of our union with the second Adam, who is the quickening Spirit ( 2 Corinthians 3:17 ). As He became representative of the whole of humanity in His union of the two natures, He exhausted in His own person the sentence of death passed on all men, and giveth spiritual and everlasting life to whom He will.

46. afterward--Adam had a soul not necessarily mortal, as it afterwards became by sin, but "a living soul," and destined to live for ever, if he had eaten of the tree of life ( Genesis 3:22 ); still his body was but an animal-souled body, not a spiritual body, such as believers shall have; much less was he a "life-giving spirit," as Christ. His soul had the germ of the Spirit, rather than the fulness of it, such as man shall have when restored "body, soul, and spirit," by the second Adam ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ). As the first and lower Adam came before the second and heavenly Adam, so the animal-souled body comes first, and must die before it be changed into the spiritual body (that is, that in which the Spirit predominates over the animal soul).

47. of the earth--inasmuch as being sprung from the earth, he is "earthy" ( Genesis 2:7 , 3:19 , "dust thou art"); that is, not merely earthly or born upon the earth, but terrene, or of earth; literally, "of heaped earth" or clay. "Adam" means red earth.
the Lord--omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
from heaven--( John 3:13 John 3:31 ). Humanity in Christ is generic. In Him man is impersonated in his true ideal as God originally designed him. Christ is the representative man, the federal head of redeemed man.

48. As is the earthy--namely, Adam.
they . . . that are earthy--All Adam's posterity in their natural state ( John 3:6 John 3:7 ).
the heavenly--Christ.
they . . . that are heavenly--His people in their regenerate state ( Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:21 ). As the former precedes the latter state, so the natural bodies precede the spiritual bodies.

49. as--Greek, "even as" (see Genesis 5:3 ).
we shall also bear--or wear as a garment [BENGEL]. The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "We must also bear," or "let us also bear." It implies the divine appointment (compare "must," 1 Corinthians 15:53 ) and faith assenting to it. An exhortation, and yet implying a promise (so Romans 8:29 ). The conformity to the image of the heavenly Representative man is to be begun here in our souls, in part, and shall be perfected at the resurrection in both bodies and souls.

51. Behold--Calling attention to the "mystery" heretofore hidden in God's purposes, but now revealed.
you--emphatical in the Greek; I show (Greek, "tell," namely, by the word of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ) You, who think you have so much knowledge, "a mystery" (compare Romans 11:25 ) which your reason could never have discovered. Many of the old manuscripts and Fathers read, "We shall all sleep, but we shall not all be changed"; but this is plainly a corrupt reading, inconsistent with 1 Thessalonians 4:15 1 Thessalonians 4:17 , and with the apostle's argument here, which is that a change is necessary ( 1 Corinthians 15:53 ). English Version is supported by some of the oldest manuscripts and Fathers. The Greek is literally "We all shall not sleep, but," &c. The putting off of the corruptible body for an incorruptible by an instantaneous change will, in the case of "the quick," stand as equivalent to death, appointed to all men ( Hebrews 9:27 ); of this Enoch and Elijah are types and forerunners. The "we" implies that Christians in that age and every successive age since and hereafter were designed to stand waiting, as if Christ might come again in their time, and as if they might be found among "the quick."

52. the last trump--at the sounding of the trumpet on the last day [VATABLUS] ( Matthew 24:31 , 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ). Or the Spirit by Paul hints that the other trumpets mentioned subsequently in the Apocalypse shall precede, and that this shall be the last of all (compare Isaiah 27:13 , Zechariah 9:14 ). As the law was given with the sound of a trumpet, so the final judgment according to it ( Hebrews 12:19 ; compare Exodus 19:16 ). As the Lord ascended "with the sound of a trumpet" ( Psalms 47:5 ), so He shall descend ( Revelation 11:15 ). The trumpet was sounded to convoke the people on solemn feasts, especially on the first day of the seventh month (the type of the completion of time; seven being the number for perfection; on the tenth of the same month was the atonement, and on the fifteenth the feast of tabernacles, commemorative of completed salvation out of the spiritual Egypt, compare Zechariah 14:18 Zechariah 14:19 ); compare Psalms 50:1-7 . Compare His calling forth of Lazarus from the grave "with a loud voice," John 11:43 , with John 5:25 John 5:28 .
and--immediately, in consequence.

53. this--pointing to his own body and that of those whom he addresses.
put on--as a garment ( 2 Corinthians 5:2 2 Corinthians 5:3 ).
immortality--Here only, besides 1 Timothy 6:16 , the word "immortality" is found. Nowhere is the immortality of the soul, distinct from the body, taught; a notion which many erroneously have derived from heathen philosophers. Scripture does not contemplate the anomalous state brought about by death, as the consummation to be earnestly looked for ( 2 Corinthians 5:4 ), but the resurrection.

54. then--not before. Death has as yet a sting even to the believer, in that his body is to be under its power till the resurrection. But then the sting and power of death shall cease for ever.
Death is swallowed up in victory--In Hebrew of Isaiah 25:8 , from which it is quoted, "He (Jehovah) will swallow up death in victory"; that is, for ever: as "in victory" often means in Hebrew idiom ( Jeremiah 3:5 , Lamentations 5:20 ). Christ will swallow it up so altogether victoriously that it shall never more regain its power (compare Hosea 6:2 , 13:14 , 2 Corinthians 5:4 , Hebrews 2:14 Hebrews 2:15 , Revelation 20:14 , 21:4 ).

55. Quoted from Hosea 13:14 , substantially; but freely used by the warrant of the Spirit by which Paul wrote. The Hebrew may be translated, "O death, where are thy plagues? Where, O Hades, is thy destruction?" The Septuagint, "Where is thy victory (literally, in a lawsuit), O death? Where is thy sting, O Hades? . . . Sting" answers to the Hebrew "plagues," namely, a poisoned sting causing plagues. Appropriate, as to the old serpent ( Genesis 3:14 Genesis 3:15 , Numbers 21:6 ). "Victory" answers to the Hebrew "destruction." Compare Isaiah 25:7 , "destroy . . . veil . . . over all nations," namely, victoriously destroy it; and to "in victory" ( 1 Corinthians 15:54 ), which he triumphantly repeats. The "where" implies their past victorious destroying power and sting, now gone for ever; obtained through Satan's triumph over man in Eden, which enlisted God's law on the side of Satan and death against man ( Romans 5:12 Romans 5:17 Romans 5:21 ). The souls in Hades being freed by .the resurrection, death's sting and victory are gone. For "O grave," the oldest manuscripts and versions read, "O death," the second time.

56. If there were no sin, there would be no death. Man's transgression of the law gives death its lawful power.
strength of sin is the law--Without the law sin is not perceived or imputed ( Romans 3:20 , 4:15 , 5:13 ). The law makes sin the more grievous by making God's will the clearer ( Romans 7:8-10 ). Christ's people are no longer "under the law" ( Romans 6:14 ).

57. to God--The victory was in no way due to ourselves ( Psalms 98:1 ).
giveth--a present certainty.
the victory--which death and Hades ("the grave") had aimed at, but which, notwithstanding the opposition of them, as well as of the law and sin, we have gained. The repetition of the word ( 1 Corinthians 15:54 1 Corinthians 15:55 ) is appropriate to the triumph gained.

58. beloved--Sound doctrine kindles Christian love.
steadfast--not turning aside from the faith of the resurrection of yourselves.
unmovable--not turned aside by others ( 1 Corinthians 15:12 , Colossians 1:23 ).
the work of the Lord--the promotion of Christ's kingdom ( Philippians 2:30 ).
not in vain--as the deniers of the resurrection would make it ( 1 Corinthians 15:14 1 Corinthians 15:17 ).
in the Lord--applying to the whole sentence and its several clauses: Ye, as being in the Lord by faith, know that your labor in the Lord (that is, labor according to His will) is not to be without its reward in the Lord (through His merits and according to His gracious appointment).

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