Paul and the Resurrection

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What does Paul say about the resurrection?

He says a lot about resurrection, but probably the most concise place is in 1 Corinthians 15. He goes through an entire defense of bodily resurrection. He begins with defending the resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). He points to all the believers who have firsthand, eyewitness testimony about the resurrection of Jesus, seeing him after he was crucified.

Paul’s next part of his argument is that we believe in the resurrection of Christ. If we believe in his resurrection, we also believe in the bodily resurrection of believers. If we don’t believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, then our faith is futile. Our faith is founded on the resurrection of Christ. It is the linchpin to all that we believe (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Then he goes on to affirm that Jesus has indeed been raised from the dead. And this affirms that he has reversed the sin of Adam. There is also in order to resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was the first fruits, the first that allowed for believers to be raised from the dead. Second, all of those saints who are now in the graves will be raised. Jesus has to be raised from the dead so that he can take his rightful place and everything can be submitted under him (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

In 1 Corinthians 15:29-34, Paul mentions a practice we have no historical record of, but that the Corinthians must’ve been doing. It seems they may have been baptizing one another on behalf of family members that were already dead. Perhaps these were unsaved family members. But he goes on to say that there’s no point in any tenant of the faith, even the fact that Jesus forgives sins, if we do not believe in the resurrection. All of the hope of our life begins in the fact that God raises us from the dead as he did Christ.

Then Paul speaks about how the dead are raised back to life. He talks about the body as a seed that is sewn dead in the ground and raised as a completely different type of body. He says that there different types of bodies for everything under the sun (1 Corinthians 15:35-41).

The transformation our bodies go through begins in the natural and ends in the spiritual. It begins as perishable, temporal. But then it ends and is raised to new life as a spiritual body. This change prepares the body to be imperishable, used by us forevermore (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

Finally, Paul talks about the great mystery of exactly how God will work out our resurrection. Right now we are flesh and blood but we cannot inherit the imperishable this way. He introduces the mystery that not every Christian will die before Christ returns. Even those who are dead in Christ, those who will go first in the resurrection, will be changed. The transformation will occur in the air as we go to be with Christ forevermore. It will happen so fast that we will blink our eyes and the change will happen (1 Corinthians 15:50-53

When this event takes place, the perishable human beings putting on the imperishable body of Christ for eternity, the Scriptures from the prophets will be fulfilled in which death is swallowed up in victory for all the believers in Christ. Jesus gives us victory over sin and death through the cross and the resurrection. This gives us all the hope and faith to trust in the resurrection of Christ as the final word of our faith. We must live out our faith because of the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

There are certainly other places where Paul talks about the resurrection from the dead. But this is one of the most comprehensive areas of his letters where he talks about the resurrection from the dead.

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