1 Corinthians 15:55

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave,[a] where is thy victory?

1 Corinthians 15:55 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 15:55

O death, where is thy sting?
&c.] These words, with the following clause, are taken out of ( Hosea 13:14 ) and that they belong to the times of the Messiah, the ancient Jews acknowledge; and the Chaldee paraphrase interprets them of the Logos, or Word of God, rendering them thus,

``my Word shall be among them to kill, and my Word to destroy;''

wherefore the apostle is not to be charged with a misapplication of them, nor with a perversion of them, as he is by the Jew F19: in the prophet they are thus read, "O death, I will be thy plagues, O grave, I will be thy destruction"; between which, and the apostle's citation of them, there is some difference; the word (yha) , which we render in both clauses, "I will be", the apostle translates "where", and that very rightly, and so it should be rendered there; and so it is by the Septuagint interpreters, who render the whole as he, with a little variation, "where is thy revenge, O death? where is thy sting, O grave?" and so the Arabic version of Hosea still nearer the apostle, "where is now thy victory, O death?" or "where is thy sting, O grave?" and even the Chaldee paraphrase on ( Hosea 13:14 ) renders the same word "where"; for instead of, "I will be thy king", the Targum reads, (Na Kklm) , "where is thy king?" and Aben Ezra, a Jewish writer of great note, on ( Hosea 13:14 ) observes, that there are some that say the word is to be inverted as if it was (xya) , "where", and he adds, and it is right; a like observation he makes on those words in ( 1 Corinthians 15:14 ) and that that is the true sense of the word in both verses, is attested by Ebn Jannahius Tanchuma F20; so that the apostle is thus far to be justified, in his citation of this passage: it is further to be observed, that instead of "thy plagues", he reads, "thy sting"; and I doubt not, but that among the many things which (rbd) signifies, as it must be owned it does signify the plague, or pestilence, see ( Psalms 90:6 ) and which perhaps is so called, from the venomous nature of it, and the poisonous sting that is in it, so likewise a sting, though there is no instance of it; certain it is, that bees are called (Myrbd) , and as Cocceius F21 observes, from their sting; and so in the Chaldee and Arabic languages, a bee, or a wasp, is called (arbd) ; and it is to such sort of creatures, that the allusion is here made; who having lost their stings, can do no hurt; and which will be the case of death in the resurrection morn, when risen saints will insult over it in this triumphant manner; having nothing more to fear from it, any more than a man has to be afraid of any animal whatever, that has lost its sting: and in the following clause,

O grave, where is thy victory?
instead of "destruction", as it must be allowed the word (bjq) signifies, see ( Psalms 90:6 ) the apostle reads victory; but then there is no difference in the sense; for the grave gets its victory over its thousands, and ten thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousands, and millions of millions, by the destruction of them, which now it glories in, and boasts of; but in the resurrection morn, when its destruction will be at an end, the triumphant saints may reasonably ask, where is its boasted victory, since it can destroy no longer.


F19 R. lsaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 87. p. 463.
F20 Apud Pocock. Not. Miscellan. ad Port. Mosis, p. 69, 70.
F21 Lex. Heb. in rad. (rbd) .

1 Corinthians 15:55 In-Context

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Footnotes 1

The King James Version is in the public domain.