1Co 15:1-11 Recall that the Corinthians had written to Paul with questions about various topics that he had been addressing (see 1Co 7:1, 8:1, 12:1). What topic does he now begin to address? See 1Co 15:12. In light of this topic, what is Paul’s purpose in 1Co 15:1-11? Is it to give a one paragraph summary of the gospel that believers could use to evangelize the world, or is it to highlight the central importance of the resurrection to the gospel by which one is saved in answer to those in Corinth who held that there was no resurrection? See 1Co 15:11. Since Paul does not mention repentance in these verses, does that mean it is not a central part of the gospel? See Mat 3:2,8,12, 4:17, Luke 13:1-5, Acts 2:37-38, 17:30, 26:20, Rom 2:4, Heb 6:1, 2 Pet 3:9. What is the importance to the resurrection of the many eyewitness accounts Paul describes? What does 1Co 15:2 teach us about the importance of correct doctrine for salvation?
1Co 15:12-19 What arguments does Paul give in each of these verses to rebut the belief which some held that there was no resurrection from the dead? What is the two-fold meaning of 1Co 15:17? See John 2:18-22, Rom 1:4 and Rom 6:1-13. For morality in this life, what does 1Co 15:19 teach us about the importance of a belief in immortality? See also 1Co 15:32. How does this highlight the great danger of such beliefs as evolution, communism and humanism that deny man’s immortality?
1Co 15:20-28 In what sense was Jesus the first fruits from the dead? How was His resurrection from the dead different from that of Lazarus (John 11) or the widow’s son from Nain whom He raised from the dead (Luke 7:11-15)? What hope does the first fruits of a harvest give a farmer? What hope does the first fruits of Christ’s resurrection from the dead give us? What do 1Co 15:24-28 teach us about God’s ultimate purpose in our redemption and the meaning of the kingdom of God?
1Co 15:29-32 1Co 15:29 is one of the least understood verses in Scripture, with many proposed interpretations but none agreed upon. What does it mean? Would it be wise to build a doctrine upon such a verse that is obscure? Note: One interpretation that makes sense in light of the verses that follow is to understand Paul’s words as a baptism of fire, meaning trials and hardships (see Mar 10:38-39, Mat 3:11) which many like Paul suffered on behalf of those who are dead in their sins. What does Paul mean that he fought with wild beasts in Ephesus (from where he was writing this letter)? Note: as a Roman citizen it would have been unlawful for Paul to have been thrown to the lions. See Acts 19:23-20:1, 2 Cor 1:8-10, Tit 1:12, 2 Pet 2:12, Jude 1:10. What is his point in mentioning that he fought with wild beasts in Ephesus in relation to his argument about the resurrection? What do his words again teach us about the connection between morality and a belief in the resurrection? Given this understanding, if Christians wish to restore morality to the American public sphere, where should they start?
1Co 15:33-34 In what regard were the Corinthians in danger of being deceived? Is it possible we could be deceived in the same way? How could a belief that there is no resurrection corrupt good morals? Who was the “bad company” corrupting the good morals of the Corinthians? In what regard did the Corinthians need to become sober or “awake to righteousness” (KJV)? With all there is to know in life, is it acceptable to have no knowledge of God? Note: the Greek word for “have no knowledge” is that from which we get our word agnostic. How does Paul describe ignorance of God and sound doctrine?
1Co 15:35-38 What two questions does Paul anticipate from the skeptics in Corinth concerning the resurrection from the dead? How does he answer them? Such skeptics often present themselves as wise and hide their unbelief behind an air of intelligence; how does Paul regard them?
1Co 15:39-41 What do these verses teach us about how our resurrection body may differ from our present bodies, and how one resurrection body may differ from another? What can we learn from these verses about how God uses the natural world to teach us about the spiritual? What might the transformation of a caterpillar worm into a butterfly teach us about the nature of our own resurrection? If a skeptic had never seen such a transformation, might he also not believe in such an incredible change?
1Co 15:42-49 Specifically, how shall our resurrection bodies differ from our present bodies? How was this true of Christ’s resurrection body? What else might we learn about the nature of our resurrection bodies from the nature of Christ’s resurrection body? See Luke 24:13-16,31,36-43, John 20:14,19,26-27, 21:1,4. What does Paul mean by a natural body as opposed to a spiritual body? Note: “natural” is from the Greek word psychikos which refers to the soulish, physical, animal life of a natural man. How was the first man, Adam, different from the last Adam, Christ? See 1Co 15:45. What does it mean to be earthy? See NASB text note on 1Co 15:47. What does the contrast Paul is drawing between the earthy and the heavenly teach us about the nature of our future resurrection bodies?
1Co 15:50-53 In light of the resurrection of the dead, one question remained unanswered: what about those who have not died but are alive when Christ returns—must they also die? How does Paul answer this question? How does 1Co 15:52 accord with Paul’s teaching in 1 Thess 4:15-17 on the events surrounding Christ’s return?
1Co 15:54-58 George Bernard Shaw once said, “The statistics on death are quite impressive”. Throughout history, death has victoriously swallowed up all but three (can you name them?) of the people who ever lived so as to become man’s greatest and most feared enemy. In what sense is sin the sting of death? See Gen 2:17, Rom 5:12. In what sense is the law the power of sin? See Rom 5:13, 7:5-11. How does God in Christ Jesus nullify death’s victory over the Christian, and indeed, turn it completely upside down so that death is no longer something to be feared, but something to be joyously anticipated and its state even entered into while we are yet living? See Rom 6:11, 7:4,6, Phil 3:10-11. How does the gospel of Jesus Christ remove the sting of death and its power over man? How should our belief in the resurrection and assurance of our final victory over death impact our present lives? See 1Co 15:58.