We go on to 1 Cor 15:1-19
The most important event in all of human history is the resurrection of Messiah Yeshua. If He had not risen from the dead, then our faith would be absolutely worthless and we would be a people without hope.
v1: Brethren: Brothers and sisters. Fellow believers. What Paul reveals here is uniquely for the believing community. We’re the ones who have this hope. We’re the ones that G-d has made these promises to. We are the ones who need to respond in accordance to this truth.
- Gospel: Glad tidings, good news – about one message in particular – the message of redemption and restoration. Redemption puts us into a position whereby the will of G-d can be manifested, whereby we can worship G-d.
- Stand: Standing is an important word. It is related to being in a position or in a state of being whereby we can become a useful vessel, a powerful instrument, in the things relating to the purposes of G-d.
v2: (The gospel)…by which also you are saved: This Gospel message (Yeshua as the only means to G-d) is the only way of salvation. Salvation is not something we do; it is something which we receive. G-d has done the work of salvation; we are the recipients of that perfect work of redemption through Messiah.
- Preached: Evangelised.
- Unless you believed in vain: This person said they believed, but in actuality they didn’t believe. They had not truly accepted the truth, had not understood it, or had not agreed to the Biblical framework of the gospel.
v3: Delivered to you first of all: Meaning that this was of the greatest importance.
- That which I also received: We all receive the same gospel. It is not different from one person to the next. There is only ONE truth. There is no such thing as ‘your truth’ and ‘my truth’.
- Messiah died for our sins: This is the primary message of the gospel…the good news.
- Scriptures: Paul is referring to the Old Testament Scriptures (the Hebrew Bible or Tanach). In the Prophets, in the Writings, In the Law – The primary purpose of the Redeemer, the Anointed One, the Messiah, is to deal with our sins.
v4: Death, burial and resurrection are the three integral parts of the gospel.
- In Hebrew the number 3 is a number that speaks about victory, it speaks about a conclusion of a divine purpose (eg When Abraham bound Isaac – Gen 22 – it was on the third day that the story reached its climax and the purposes of G-d were carried out. The third day is a day of success, a day of salvation).
v5: Cephas: Simon Peter
v6: The greater part remain: Of those 500 men, most of them were still alive at the time when Paul wrote this epistle.
- Some have fallen asleep: Died. The reason why Paul uses these words “fallen asleep”, in relation to death, is that the expectation of those who are asleep is that they are going to wake up. Death is spoken about as sleep because there’s an expectation of resurrection.
v7: James: Probably Yeshua’s brother (Matt 13:55, John 7:1-4. Gal 1:19).
v8: Last of all: At the end of all.
- Born out of due time: Paul uses a term here that kind of refers to himself as having an untimely birth. This expression is a term of humility. It does not mean that Paul was born at the wrong time. Even though Paul was not fulfilling the purposes of G-d never-the-less Yeshua also appeared to him (Acts 9:3-5).
v9: I am the least of the apostles…not worthy to be called an apostle: When Paul was born into this world, for a long period of time, he was a persecutor of the things of G-d. He had embraced teachings that were against the revelation of G-d. He was far removed from the things of G-d, yet Yeshua made Himself known to him.
v10: Grace: This is what changed Paul – and this is what changes you and me. Paul emphasises grace in this verse by repeating it three times. Although the grace of G-d did save Paul it is the workings of grace in Paul’s life that he emphasises. This working of grace caused Paul to behave differently.
- Not in vain: Not empty. Not without purpose.
- I laboured more abundantly: The grace of G-d had worked mightily in Paul’s life. When Paul was born his life did not reflect the purposes of G-d – he was a persecutor of G-d’s people – but never-the-less by the grace of G-d he became an apostle.
v11: They: Referring to the other apostles.
- So we preach (proclaim) and so you believed: Through the proclamation of the gospel people come to faith. That was true back then, it was true 500 years ago, and it’s still true today. That’s why this proclamation is so vital – it brings people to faith by giving them access to the grace of G-d.
v12: How do some among you say: There is a conflict going on in this congregation about the next topic that Paul addresses.
- There is no resurrection of the dead: Denial of the resurrection. This was a false teaching that Paul deals with in this section.
v13: This verse deals with the consequences or outcome if there’s no resurrection from the dead.
- Messiah is not risen: It is vitally important that we understand that Yeshua did not raise Himself from the dead. G-d the Father raised Him to life. Yeshua could have raised Himself from the dead (John 10:17-18), but because He was the submissive Son of G-d He did not raise Himself to life again. G-d the Father raised Him up (Acts 2:24, Gal 1:1)
v14: Resurrection is foundational to our faith. If Messiah didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is worthless/void/empty.
- Your faith is also vain: If there is no resurrection then all falls to pieces.
v15: If there is no resurrection then we become false witnesses, or bear false testimony, in regard to G-d.
v17: Futile: Paul uses a different word to ‘vain’ here.
- Still in your sins: Without hope.
v18: Those who have fallen asleep…have perished: If Messiah didn’t rise from the dead there’s no confirmation of His work, and His testimony (when He said that He would rise again on the third day – Luke 24:46) would have been invalid. He would have been a liar. If Messiah were a liar none of His works could be trusted and there would also be no forgiveness of our sins. Without the resurrection everything would fall apart – our faith would crumble. Those who have died would be without hope. The resurrection is NOT an allegory. It literally happened.
v19: If in this life only we have hope: If the reality of the situation is that there’s no resurrection, there’s no Kingdom, there’s no afterlife and Messiah is only for now (for this life) then we are the people who should be the most pitied. Our faith demands a resurrection. Our faith demands a Kingdom belief – if there is neither then our faith is worthless.