Today we read 1 Cor 15:29-34
v29: This is a very confusing verse if we do not come from a Jewish background, or if we don’t learn the Jewish context of Scripture. In Judaism, when someone dies the body is prepared for burial. An aspect of this preparation involves immersing or baptising the dead person (a ritual act of cleansing). Cleansing for what? The hope here is that they are cleansed before judgement – after death comes judgment (Heb 9:27). In Judaism they practice the baptism of the dead because of their faith in a resurrection. Resurrection is part of the message of the patriarchs – they believed in the resurrection (Heb 11:17-19).
- If the dead do not rise: Every single person (believer or unbeliever) is going to be raised from the dead or experience resurrection (see Rev 20:12-13, Dan 12:2). At the Great white throne judgment all the believers will have already been raised from the dead (at the rapture. Believers are not judged at this great white throne judgment), but here all the rest (the spiritually dead) are then raised from the dead and judged accordingly.
v30: Why do we stand in jeopardy every hour: Why did Paul do what he did – day after day? Why did he face danger and threats of death? Knowing that eternal judgment was on the horizon, for every single person who does not believe, led Paul to lay down his life for the sake of warning others. He did not want others to perish. Resurrection hope impacted Paul’s ministry significantly – he knew death was not his end. He was not afraid of death in his earthly body. He was concerned about the spiritual death of others. Paul’s life was in danger from the Sadducees who controlled the Sanhedrin at the time. The Sadducees rejected the
resurrection of the dead. They rejected the Kingdom. Therefore, they were against Paul and condemned him because of his faith in the resurrection and his belief in a coming Kingdom.
v31: I affirm: This is like a promise or a vow. Paul is saying that this is something that is absolutely true.
- Boasting: Paul took great satisfaction, great pleasure, in people who were dead in their sin (heading for eternal condemnation) being raised to life in Messiah. Paul was willing to risk death for this pleasure.
- L-rd: Yeshua is not only our Saviour, but He is also our L-rd – we need to live lives that are submitted to Him.
- I die daily: Paul died daily to his own wants, desires and will. He put his own life on the line so that he could serve Messiah.
v32: In the manner of men: From a human perspective.
- Fought with beasts at Ephesus: Paul met with great resistance in Ephesus (Acts 19).
- Advantage: Profit.
- If the dead do not rise: Paul would not have done what he did if he did not believe that his actions had eternal consequences. This tells us that what we do with our lives – the decisions that we make, the actions that we carry out – need to be made from an eternal perspective, realizing that there are real consequences.
- Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die: Quoted from Isaiah 22:13. If the dead are not raised, if there’s no Kingdom, if there’s no resurrection into the Kingdom then there is nothing better to do than just to enjoy this life. We, however, know that death is not the end. After death, every person will either experience eternal life or eternal death. If we truly believe this we would behave noticeably different. We would be like Paul – willing to put ourselves in danger each day, because our profit is a resurrection and resurrection is inherently connected to Kingdom.
v33: Do not be deceived: Those who belong to the world are easily deceived. They don’t belong to G-d but are controlled by satan who is the father of lies, a deceiver by nature (John 8:44).
- Evil: Those things that are opposed to the things of G-d.
- Company: The people that we associate with or have fellowship with need to be people who are committed to the will of G-d. Obviously, we’re called to share our faith or be an influence to non-believers but Paul here is talking about the community or company we are closely bound to.
- Good habits: Morals or behaviour. If we subject ourselves to improper influence, it’s going to change our thought processes and ultimately our behaviour and the testimony that we have.
v34: Awake to righteousness: This is a commandment. Paul is exhorting us to make the right decisions, using G-dly discernment, so that we manifest righteousness in our lives.
- Do not have the knowledge of G-d: The implication of this verse is that these ones are against the knowledge of G-d. They do not want to know G-d’s thoughts or His truth as they want to continue sinning.
- Shame: When we are against knowing something that the Word of G-d reveals it produces shame in our lives. There are only two ways to live: living with the discernment of G-d manifests righteousness, living against knowing the things of G-d leads to shame.