9 March 2015

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (v. 17)

Psalm: Psalm 119:113-128


As we move through Lent we now have a week of texts from Paul's first letter to the Church in Corinth that are all focused on death and resurrection.

When Peter says Paul is difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:16) maybe he is thinking about texts like this. In today's passage Paul lays out pretty much every possible combination of belief in resurrection of Jesus and of others. It is easy to get lost in that long list, so can we simplify it?

Paul is certain Jesus is raised from the dead. Paul is certain that the dead are raised from the dead. He is certain that these support each other, that it is not possible to believe one but not the other.

Paul says that if either of these is not true (which means both as they support each other) then all Christians, their teaching, their faith and their lives are all in vain and they should all be pitied.

Then Paul summarises saying that it is all ok for Christians, for their teaching, their faith and their lives because in fact both are true. Jesus has been raised and there is resurrection for the dead.

In his book Mere Christianity, C S Lewis said of Jesus, "You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Centuries earlier Paul is citing the resurrection as Jesus not giving us the option of seeing him as a great human teacher.

To Ponder

  • Which do you feel is more important? The resurrection of Jesus or the death of Jesus on the cross. Why?
  • What does resurrection mean for you today?
  • Do you express a hope in Jesus beyond this life? How and why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dave Warnock

Dave Warnock is a Methodist minister in the Leicester North Circuit based in Syston, Leicester. He is passionate about lots of things (including Scripture, discipleship, gender/sexual equality, pacifism and cycling) and loves being part of the Methodist people.