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1 Corinthians 15 The Hope of the Resurection

The Hope of the Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:12-58

The Bible Teaching Commentary

Paul J. Bucknell

Introduction of 1 Corinthians 15 | Defending Resurrection (15:12-34)
Explaining the Resurrection (15:35-49) | Proclaiming the Resurrection (15:50-58)
Bible Study Questions for 1 Corinthians 15:12-58


The Hope of the Resurrection is part of The Bible Teacher's Commentary which exposits 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 with many colorful charts in such a way that one can understand, defend, explain and even proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Bible Study questions are included.

Recently, a sister wanted to know more about spiritual investing. She claimed she was making loads of money. She acknowledged God had gifted her in this way.

Most of us hearing this wish they had such a gift. But she had a concern. She knew she had to use it rightly and was looking for a right way to invest it. Why did she do it? Why was she interested in making spiritual investments?

Some things are hard to understand. If you do not have an eternal perspective, then many things such as the person above or other things mentioned in the Bible are beyond comprehension.

Life after Death

Without a firm confidence in life after death, many things we do will seem ridiculous. Why tithe? Why give to the poor? Why not cheat? Hebrews 11 lists a number of men and women who lived for the future. They were so sure of the importance of what happened after life on earth, that it greatly shaped what they did no earth. These are the men of faith.

Though ridiculed by the world, they are highly esteemed by God. They were able to accomplish more with less, gain all with nothing, face dangers, endure hardships and establish great works of God.

1 Corinthians 15 and the after life

Our passage today, 1 Corinthians 15, gives us another angle or perspective of the future that enables us to see why living in light of the future is so important. Let me prepare you. Paul’s argument is tight. There is no room for a middle ground. You have to take a stand for or against. What you decide will make a great difference on the well being of your life and those around you. Your life is literally dependent upon it.

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In essence, nothing about Christianity makes sense if the resurrection is not true. If Jesus did not rise from the dead even Paul says that we are fools. But on the other hand, if Jesus did rise, then everything that He said was and is true. The only thing that counts is the eternal. If this is so, then we had better think again about the purpose for our lives. Where are we making our investments? What do we hope to gain?

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What about the Resurrection?

In the previous verses of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, we read about the fact or historicity of the resurrection. Most of you realize that there are some people that deny such a thing as the resurrection.

• Some claim that the resurrection never occurred.

• Others say it did occur, but it doesn’t seem to have affected their lives.

Which is worse? The latter group.

Perhaps we can better understand this better if we step into the Book of Acts, which records the birth of the Christian church.

What would the book of Acts be like if they were not utterly convinced of the resurrection of Christ? Indeed, we would have no book. There would be no Spirit of God. There would be no miracles.

My question is, “What happened?” Is the church now so dead that these miracles and boldness is not present? We still have many who proclaim Christ. Then it must be that they don’t really understand or believe that Jesus is alive. As we go through this passage, let’s keep this in mind: What we believe shapes what we do. This is so true when it comes to the teaching of the resurrection.

1) The fact of Christ’s resurrection over the power of death

2) The powerful grace of God at work in a Christian

3) The resurrection hope steers the believer.

This is our main discussion. We have an almost unbelievable 46 verses to bring together in one session together today. You might ask, “Why did Paul speak so long on this topic?” We perhaps would think that if he did speak so long that he would speak longer on its historicity. But he closed this argument in a few verses. The argument was closed. Too many people had seen Jesus alive. If they had objections, they could go and talk with them since many were still living!

Outline of 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians will help us gain a wonderful handle on how the resurrection makes a different on my present life.

Outline of 1 Corinthians

Paul responds to the Corinthians in two ways.

Responding to Reports (1-6)


Replying to
their Letter


1 Corinthians is split up in two large parts.
Chapters 1-6 discuss Paul's response to different reports he had heard about the Corinthian church. They tend to be more touchy topics. Chapters 7-16 discuss issues that the Corinthians themselves had brought up in some letter mentioned in 7:1. These issues are more what one might think addressed in public: issues about worship, spiritual gifts, and doctrinal controversies.

All the way through this second section from chapter 7 right to the end in chapter 16 we see the issues that the Corinthian Christians brought up to the apostle in a letter. Each answer from Paul forms a major part of the letter he wrote to them. Each section is marked off by the exact same words ‘now concerning’ (Greek: peri de).

1 Corinthians 7-16 divisions 'now concerning'

1 Corinthians 15 is different. Paul did not similarly start this section with a ‘Now concerning.”

Understanding 1 Corinthians 15

There are two possibilities.

(1) Chapter 15 a subsection of what preceded it, the section on spiritual gifts and proper worship.

(2) Or it could be a separate discussion on a doctrinal controversy the church was then facing. They perhaps did not bring it up but due to its great influence on their lives it needed to be discussed.

In either case, Paul discerned he needed to talk extensively about this important aspect of Christian faith and life that they had neglected to ask about.

Paul had answered many of the Corinthian questions. But the questions were missing something. He felt compelled to positively set forth what was to be done regarding their gatherings together. In other words, yes, there were many instructions. They should worship this way. The sisters were to act this way.

Prophecies were to be handled this way. And the list could go on and on. But as long as we look at these things, we will miss the main point of things! These things are not the gospel. They might be there as a result of the gospel. But they will never properly understand any of these issues if they do not properly comprehend the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Insert 1 Corinthians 15 into this part of 1 Corinthians.

Let me ask you, “Have you ever got tied down so much in the particulars that you lost your focus on the major things of life?” It can happen in your marriage, your personal Christian life or the life of your church as we see here. Let me give you an illustration. Any one who takes pictures knows that he can focus either on the foreground or on the background, the close or the far.

He is saying that for us to be a healthy church, we need to focus on the large and glorious things like love and the gospel. Other things will stay in perspective only if we keep focus on these major things. Paul uses the significant word ‘gospel’ twelve times in this letter to the Corinthians.


In either case the gospel and the resurrection was not something that they had brought up in their letter, but something that they should have brought up. Paul squeezes this long section in and then continues with their questions later on in 16:1. Now let’s go on and see how what one believes about the resurrection is directly related to the vibrancy of their Christian lives.

Three major topics of 1 Corinthians 15

1) Some deny the resurrection of the dead (15:12)
2) Some don’t understand the resurrection (15:35)
3) An affirmation of the resurrection (15:50)

Outline of 1 Corinthians 15From the three major topics, we can form three major outline points.

A. Defending the Fact of Resurrection (15:12-34)

B. Explaining the Nature of Resurrection (15:35-49

C. Proclaiming the Glory of the Resurrection (15:50-58)


Click to read the Defending the Resurrection (15:12-34)