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The Proof of the Resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 – Message Notes Only

Jul 5, 2020


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This chapter is one of the most important in the entire Scripture.  It speaks to the very core of our faith.

"...Christ died for our sins...and that He was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures."

(Vs. 3-4)

His resurrection validates His sacrificial atonement and our salvation.

No other religion, or belief system, is based on the simple faith of its leader's resurrection from the dead.

 ...that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

(Rms. 10:9-10)

We need to understand what resurrection is.

It is not spiritual, but physical. The word is: anastasis nekron (Gk.) which literally means: the standing up of a corpse.

We need to understand in this passage the Apostle Paul was not speaking about a spiritual resurrection, as he would later in his second epistle to the Corinthians about a believer’s death.

 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

(2 Cor. 5:6-8)

The Corinthian believers were predominately Greek.  Greeks had no belief in a bodily resurrection, actually, they scorned the thought. (Acts 17:30-32)

Most Greek philosophers believed the human body was a prison for the soul, and they welcomed death as deliverance from bondage.

This attitude had crept into the Corinthian church and Paul needed to address it.

The truth of the resurrection had serious doctrinal and practical implications for life and the Church.

 Then and now!


Verse 1

            "...the Gospel which I preached to you..."

                * Not Paul's gospel, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

                * The good news of our salvation in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 1:11)

            "...in which you stand..."

                 * We stand on "The Rock" of our faith (Matt. 16:16-18) by simple belief in His grace.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

(Rms. 5:1-2)

Verse 2

             "...by which also you were saved...that Word I that preached to you..."

                  * For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who                                    believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  (Rms. 1:16)

             "...unless you believed in vain..."

                  * Or unless your salvation is not real, you did not truly believe.

Some of the Corinthians disbelieved in the future resurrection of believers.

But they did not dispute Christ's resurrection or that it is a foundation of our faith and salvation. (Rms. 10:9-10)

The Apostle will now prove to them that Christ is the basis for all believer’s future resurrection from the grave.

Verse 3

             "...that which I also received..."

                * Paul received the Gospel straight from the Source:

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (Gal. 1:11-12)

              "...that Christ died for our sins..."

                  * Isaiah 53:5-6, 10

              "...according to the Scriptures..."

                   * The Old Testament Scriptures.

                   * The New Testament Gospels had not yet been written.

Genesis 22:1-18

Verse 4

              "...He was buried...and rose...the third day...according to the Scriptures."

                   * Again O.T. Scriptures (Hos. 6:2, Jonah 1:17, 2:10)

 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Ps. 16:9-11)

And even Jesus spoke the same truth:

Luke 24:44-47

These verses are consistent with God's servants suffering before their exaltation, but especially true of God's servant suffering for sin. (Isa. 53)

So, Paul's first proof of resurrection is of Christ's, as foretold in the Scriptures, and the Corinthians changed lives from the Gospel.

His next proof will be that of many witnesses that saw Christ after His bodily resurrection. 

Verse 5

              "...He was seen by Cephas..."

                   * "Cephas" - Peter (Lk. 24:34, Jn. 21:7, 13-19), after the women disciples!

              "...then by the twelve..."

                  * In Jerusalem, the Galilee and Bethany. (Matt. 28:16-17, Lk. 24:50, Jn. 21) 

Luke 24:33-43

 Verse 6

              "...He was seen by over 500 brethren at once..."

                   * There is no such thing as a mass hallucination as some claim the disciples had individually.

Verse 7

              "...seen by James..."

                    * The half-brother of Jesus. (Gal. 1:9)

             "...by all the Apostles..."

                    * As He taught them prior to His ascension to the Father. (Acts. 1:1-12)

And now Paul will use himself as a witness.

Verse 8

              "Then last of all, He was seen by me also..."

                     * On the road to Damascus as Paul was on his way to persecute "the Way" (Christians). (Acts 9:1-2)

Acts 9:3-20

          "...one born out of due time..."

               * "Born" - Born again (Jn. 3:3), Paul was not with "the Twelve." He came to know Christ later.

Verse 9

              "...the least of the Apostles...not worthy...to be an apostle."

                  * Paul thought himself "chief" among sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)

              "...because I persecuted the Church."

                   * An understatement:

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

(Acts 8:3) 

Verse 10

              "...by the grace of God, I am what I am..."

                   * God's grace - Being given what we don't deserve, in Paul's mind - "Apostle to the Gentiles."

                   * Paul knew that all that he did was of God's grace.

...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

(Phil. 2:13)

Verses 11-12

              "Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been                 raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? "

"If the resurrection is the heart of the Gospel, how can any Christian deny life after death?"

                                          J. B. Phillips

But this is what some of the Corinthians were doing, and by so doing they voided the Gospel.

Verse 13

              "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen."

                  * Simple logic; but by denying this truth, they caused pain for many in the Church that lost loved ones.

                  * Paul had to address this with the Thessalonians also:

 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18

We will rise from the grave for two very different purposes and two very different places:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.

(Dan. 12:2)

Verse 14

             "Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom                    He did not raise up--if in fact the dead do not rise."

                   * If Christ is not risen, the whole Gospel and its promises are a lie, and a lie can never save you.

"Christ is either Lord, lunatic or liar."

C. S. Lewis

Verses 15-16

                 "...false witnesses of God..."

                      * Paul, being a Rabbi, certainly understood the consequences of this:

 Deuteronomy 19:15-20

Testifying falsely about God invited severe punishment.

                    "...we have testified of God that He raised up Christ..."

                    "...whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held                           by it." (Acts 2:24)

Why couldn't Christ be held by death?

He was sinless; "The wages of sin is death..." (Rms. 6:23) 

Verses 17-18

                  "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep                       in Christ have perished."

But our faith is not "futile," Christ "was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised because of our justification." (Rm. 4:25)

Christ's resurrection validates the atonement.

When Jesus was crucified, the check was written.

When we rise from the dead on the last day, the day of Christ's return (1 Thess. 4:16) the check will be cashed!

Verse 19

             "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."

 If all the trials, tribulation and persecution Christians have and will suffer (2 Tim. 3:12) in this life, and there is no life after death, then why be a Christian? 

A future without hope of resurrection is meaningless.

 And that's what the unsaved Gentiles believed.

 Not so for believers:

John 11:21-26


Do you believe this?

 Mary did:

 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."

(Jn. 11:27)

It's that simple:

          Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

          That He came to take away your sins.

          That He died and was buried.

          That He rose the third day.

 And by this, you will rise in Him on that glorious day, whether dead or alive.

 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17

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