Bible Basics :
The Importance of the Resurrection of Christ
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared…1 Corinthians 15:3-5 NASB
First Corinthians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Corinth around the year 56 A.D. The letter was written in order to address many of the issues that were facing the church at this time. In chapter 15 Paul specifically addresses the issue of the resurrection of the dead. Why? Because many within the church were denying the bodily resurrection of the dead.
The Holman Christian Standard Study Bible states, “This chapter represents the most comprehensive discussion of the resurrection in the entire Bible.” If you want to know what the Bible teaches about the resurrection of the dead, this chapter is an essential read.
Paul begins by laying out for his readers the basic elements of the gospel:
- Christ died for our sins as foretold in the Old Testament (v.3)
- Christ was buried (v.4)
- Christ was resurrected bodily from the dead as foretold (v.4)
- The resurrected Christ appeared to numerous witnesses (vv. 5-8)
Basic tenets of the gospel
Notice that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the basic tenets of the gospel message. This means that if there is no resurrection of the dead then Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead and if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead then there is no gospel message and if there is no gospel message then consequently there is no salvation!
Paul also reminds the Corinthian doubters that there were many people who witnessed Jesus risen from the dead:
- Cephas (v.5) – Cephas is the Aramaic name of Peter.
- The Twelve (v.5) – “The twelve” was a collective title for the twelve disciples. Although Judas was dead and some were scattered at this time the title nevertheless remained.
- Five hundred brethren (v.6) – Paul states that there were over 500 believers that had seen the resurrected Christ at one time. An important point to note is that at the time of Paul’s writing most of them were still alive – therefore if Paul was lying they would have certainly come forward and called him on it.
- James (v.7) – James is the half-brother of Jesus. James is an important witness because prior to seeing the resurrected Christ he was a non-believer.
- All the apostles (v.7) – Paul also states that there were more apostles than just the 11 remaining disciples who also saw the resurrected Christ.
- Paul (v.8) – Paul refers to his encounter with the risen Christ while on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9).
In spite of such evidence, some may have objected that Paul was preaching a different message than the other apostles. In verse 11, Paul writes, “Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.”
It is clear that Paul wants his readers to understand the severe consequences of denying the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead:
- The apostles preaching was vain (v.14)
- The Christian’s faith is vain (v.14)
- The apostles were liars (v.15)
- The Christian is still condemned by his sins (v.17)
- Those who had died believing in Christ were now in Hell (v.18)
- Christians are to be pitied most of all men (v.19)
Thank God that in verse 20 the apostle declares such thinking as foolishness because, “Christ has been raised from the dead…” In the remainder of the chapter Paul goes on to explain the victorious results of the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead – namely that those who are united with Him will rise unto life eternal.(See The Foolishness of the Cross)
Are you united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection? If not, you must repent and believe the gospel! Spend some time this week reading 1st Corinthians chapter 15 and learn what the Bible teaches regarding the bodily resurrection from the dead.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart.
Alfred H. Ackley, 1887-1960
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First published March 24, 2016. Last updated or republished April 8, 2019.