Just added, a new message in our series on 1 Corinthians:
Outline notes are available from this message:
We have already noted in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 the arguments and evidence for bodily resurrection:
All of chapter 15 has been about the resurrection
The resurrection is under attack, and so Paul not only states the facts but presents the proof for the resurrection, important for a generation increasingly removed from the truth of the Word of God.
Not only the FAITH but the FACTS behind that FAITH!
1.The Proof of Resurrection (15:1-10)
Text of scripture
Triumph of Resurrection
Testimony of Eye witnesses
Transformed life of the Apostle Paul
2.The Problem if there is no Resurrection (15:11-19)
We need a Living Saviour for:
Justification by Faith (Isaiah 53; Romans 4)
Relationship with God (Romans 5)
Salvation (Romans 5)
Reconciliation (Romans 5)
Redemption (Romans 8)
High Priestly ministry (Hebrews 2,4,7)
Resurrection (John 11)
Home in Heaven (John 14)
3.Pictures of Resurrection (15:20-23)
Christ the firstfruits – Leviticus 23
4.Purpose of God in human Politics (15:24-28)
5.Promise of Victory over Death (15:26-27)
6.Practical Christian Living (15:29-34)
What were the Christians at Corinth rejecting?
Some verses in 1 Co 15 seem to suggest that they rejected anything after death: 15:12, 18, 19?
Did they teach that death was the end, that faith failed at the coffin?
There’s seems to have been a negative doctrine, focused on what they reject, what they do not believe, what they actually believed is a little vague!
Probably not life after death per se! It would be difficult to envisage any meaningful faith without life after death.
More probably what they really rejected was the doctrine of literal bodily resurrection of the believers, this seems explicit by the time we reach 1 Co15:35ff, as Paul defends precisely this. They struggle with the MECHANISM and the MEANS of resurrection.
What exactly did they believe?
That is not so clear!
Did they spiritualise the resurrection away?
Perhaps like Hymenaeus and Philetus who claimed that the resurrection had already happened, perhaps at conversion?
“And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”(2Ti 2:17-18)
It is not so clear exactly what the Corinthians did believe, perhaps because:
1. 1 Corinthians is a precise record of the truth and not of error. It is not essential to preserve the details of the error, only the details of the truth.
2. It would seem fairly clear that the Corinthians themselves were a bit hazy on exactly what they did believe! In fact the bulk of 1 Corinthians 15 is aimed at bringing these Corinthians on a journey, so that they can see precisely where this error is leading them; 1 Co 15:12; 15:29ff. It seems quite clear that they had not properly thought out where their believes were leading them.
Error comes in at least 3 flavours:
- Failure – failure to hit the target, when we have tried to hit the target – the meaning of the Greek word for sin; ‘ἁμαρτάνω’
- Fraud – a sometimes carefully, and cunningly constructed alternative to the truth, a complex system of deception which can be difficult to crack; systems such as the Babylonian religious system, or the Egyptian occult system.
- Folly – Human folly, rejecting the truth not because we have a realistic or plausible alternative but because ultimately we react in unbelief to God and His Word and we have knee jerk in our human prejudice and reject the testimony of God. ‘The fool has said in his heart there is no God.’ This is a knee jerk reaction on the basis of ignorance, unbelief, feeling and an inability to grasp the truth.
We see in this section, the impact of the resurrection on:
1.Sacrament (v29)- The death that we die, The life that we live.
2.Service (v30-32) – The Risks that we take.
3.Sanctification (v33-34) – The Holiness we Pursue, Sin we Reject.
It is the resurrection which gives meaning to:
1.Sacrament (v29) – What about the POWER? – The Life that we Live and the Death that we Die
Gordon D Fee notes 40 different interpretations of this verse!
Another writer suggests close to 200 different suggestions!
There are a number of possible translations / interpretations here:
post mortem vicarious baptisms
On first reading of this verse this may seem to be the ‘natural’ way to take this verse, the most obvious meaning.
There are a number of problems with this however:
a) It is heretical – difficult to think of Paul using it as an example outwit making it clear that it is wrong. ‘It is more likely that Paul would not have mentioned a practice he though to be in error withou condemning it’ (CK Barrett p363).
b) No biblical record of this practice
c) Apparently no historical record of such a practice
baptisms over graves
Metaphorical baptism or non water baptism – spiritual baptism, ie in the sense of Matthew 20:22,23; Mark 1:8; 10:38,39. One big problem here lies in the implication of verse 29 that we ought not only to die but be raised in newness of life (v29) in our baptism. When baptism is used spiritually however often the idea of coming up out of or through the other side of that baptism is absent. The emphasis is invariably on the immersive, overwhelming experience of the baptism as a picture of immersion in the experience, of depth, of deep, dark, trials and tribulations rather than coming out the other side.
believers taking the place of those who have died
a) Seems quite a benign / harmless idea
b) The problem is, it’s not true! Never are Christians baptised to replace other believers! We are baptised in our identification with Christ!
c) No one is ever baptised to replace anyone else!
baptism and salvation with a view to being reunited with loved ones
Some uncertainties over the exposition of the verse but one thing is clear; the connection between baptism and death (cf. Romans 6).
Baptism speaks of our new life in Christ, but there is a catch; God has never been able to and cannot ever, not since the garden of Eden give eternal life to a fallen human nature. With the fall in Eden came the barring of the way to the tree of life.
To receive the new life in Christ I must let go of the old life in Adam.
In my baptism I not only claim new life in Christ, I also denounce death in Adam.
Calvary is not only the judgement of God poured out upon Christ for sin but it is also, consequentially the end, the finality and futility of all who pursue sin and live in rebellion against God.
The whole birth, life, sin and death has been stamped for demolition at Calvary as God has begun again in Christ – the last Adam and a new creation.
Our baptism only makes sense if there is a resurrection
WE Vine notes that the Greek text does not include punctuation and suggests the following translation:
“Else what shall they do which are baptised? It is for the dead, if the dead are not raised at all. Why are they baptised for them?”
If there is no risen Christ then baptism is not ‘into Christ’ we are not being buried with Him in baptism unto death and raised again in newness of life!
Death and the dead are the victors, it is a baptism for the dead / death.
If there is no resurrection then only 1/2 of our baptism means anything!
We go down, but we never come up!
That may be the way some live the Christian life, it ought not to be!
Down but never up.
Down trodden and never up looking!
In verse 29 a connection is made which goes beyond the point previously made in chapter 15; the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is not only the foundation of our future resurrection, but in baptism we see the truth that Christ’s resurrection is also the foundation of our present life in Christ.
In baptism we see pictured not only the promise of future resurrection (Rom 6:5,8) in Christ but of our present new life in Christ (Rom 6:4).
When we are baptised we are re-enacting the death burial and resurrection of Christ, so that all I have is due to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
His death and burial and resurrection have become mine.
Not only a:
but also a:
Present Experience of a living relationship with Christ
It is this present new life which only makes sense, which is empowered by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; His life sustains us.
If Christ had never been raised from the dead would this make any difference to my Christian life???
Reality of that Christian life
Relationship with Christ and communication through Him
Awareness of His presence
Boldness in testimony
Evidence and proof of the Gospel – content of my preaching