I Corinthians 15



                        THE DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION (vs. 1-58)


This chapter, and the thirteenth, on Christian love, stand out, even among the writings

of  Paul, as pre-eminently beautiful and important. No human words ever written have

brought such comfort to millions of mourners as the words of this chapter, which form

a part of the Burial Service of almost every Christian community. It is the more deeply

imprinted on the memory of men because it comes to us in the most solemn hours of

bereavement, when we have most need of a living faith. The chapter falls into

six sections:


o       The evidence of Christ’s resurrection (vs. 1-11).

o       The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith in the general

                        resurrection (vs. 12-19).

o       Results to be deduced from Christ’s resurrection (vs. 20-28).

o       The life of believers an argument for the resurrection (vs. 29-34).

o       Analogies helpful for understanding the subject (vs. 35-49).

o        Conclusion and exhortation (vs. 50-58).



            The Evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (vs. 1-11)


1 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached

unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;"

Moreover. The δὲ - de -  of the original merely marks the transition to

a new topic. The gospel. He here uses the word with special reference to

the Resurrection, which is one of the most central and necessary doctrines

of the “good tidings,” and which always occupied a prominent place in

Paul’s preaching (Acts 17:18; 23:6), as well as in that of all the apostles

(ibid. 1:22; 4:2; I Peter. 3:21). Ye have received; rather, ye received.

The “also” is emphatic. The Corinthians had not been like Christ’s “own,”

who “received Him not” (John 1:11).


2 "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached

unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." By which also ye are saved;

literally, ye are being saved. It is as if some surprise was expressed at the necessity

for again making known to them a gospel which:


  • he had preached and
  • they also received; and
  • in which they now stood fast (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 6:13); and
  • by means of which they were now in a state of safety, they were of the

class of σῳζομένους - sozomenous - ones being saved - (Acts 2:47).


If ye keep in memory what I preached unto you. The order, which is peculiar, is,

“In what words I preached to you, if ye hold [it] fast.” Possibly the “in what

discourse depends on “I make known to you.” The duty of “holding fast”

what they had heard is often impressed on the early converts (ch. 11:2;

II Corinthians 6:10; I Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 10:23). Ye

have believed; rather, ye believed; i.e. ye became believers. In vain. The

word may either mean “rashly,” “without evidence,” as in classical Greek;

or “to no purpose,” “without effect,” as in Romans 13:4; Galatians 3:4; 4:11.

In this case they would have received the seed in stony places (Matthew 13:21).


3 "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how

that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;"  First of all;

literally, among the first things; but this idiom means “first of all.” It does not occur

elsewhere in the New Testament, but is found in Genesis 33:2; <II Samuel 5:8

(Septuagint). This testimony to the Resurrection is very remarkable, because:


  • It is the completest summary.
  • It refers to some incidents which are not mentioned in the Gospels.
  • It declares that the death and resurrection of Christ were a subject of

            ancient prophecy.

  • It shows the force of the evidence on which the apostles relied and the

            number of living eye witnesses to whom they could appeal.

  • It is the earliest written testimony to the Resurrection; for it was penned

            within twenty-five years of the event itself.

  • It shows that the evidence for the Resurrection as a literal, historical,

            objective fact, was sufficient to convince the powerful intellect of a hostile

            contemporary observer.

  • It probably embodies, and became the model for, a part of the earliest

            Creed of the Church


For our sins. - literally, on behalf of. The passage is remarkable as the only one in

which “on behalf of” is used with “sins” by Paul. In ch.1:13 we are told that He

died “on behalf of us” (Romans 5:8; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24). The

expressions involve the image of Christ as a Sin Offering for the forgiveness of sins. 

(For an in depth study, see Leviticus 4 and 5 – this web site – CY – 2010).  According

to the scriptures.  The chief passages alluded to are doubtless Isaiah 53:5,8; Daniel 9:26;

Psalm 22.; Zechariah 12:10; together with such types as the offering of Isaac (Genesis

22.) and the Paschal lamb, etc. Our Lord had taught the apostles confidently to refer

to the Messianic interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies (Luke 24:25, 46;

Acts 8:35; 17:3; 26:22-23; John 2:22; 20:9; I Peter 1:11). 


4 "And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to

the scriptures:"  And that He rose;  The burial was a single act; the Resurrection

is permanent and eternal in its issues!  According to the scriptures.  (Psalm 16:10;

Isaiah 53:10; Hosea 6:2; Jonah 2:10; compare Matthew 12:40; 16:4; Acts 2:31; 13:34). 


5 "And that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:"  Was seen of Cephas

(Luke 24:34). The appearances to the women (John 20:14, etc.) are omitted, as

being evidential rather to the apostles than to the world. The twelve (ibid. vs. 19, 26).

Some officious scribes have in some manuscripts altered the word into "the

eleven.” But “the twelve” is here the designation of an office, and great

ancient writers are always indifferent to mere pragmatic accuracy in trifles

which involve nothing. To witness to the Resurrection was a main function

of “the twelve” (Acts 2:23-24; 3:15; 10:40, etc.).


6 "After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of

whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen

asleep." Above five hundred brethren at once. We cannot be certain whether this

memorable appearance took place in Jerusalem or in Galilee. It is, however, most

probable that this was the appearance on the mountain (Matthew 28:16-17;

compare ibid. 26:32)  Of whom the greater part remain unto this present.

This sentence — a confident contemporary appeal to a very large number

of living witnesses, by one who would rather have died than lied — is of the

highest evidential value.  It shows that the Resurrection was not “a thing done

in a corner” (Acts 26:26)  Fallen asleep. The beautiful and common word for

death in the New Testament (Matthew 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60, etc.).

Hence the word “cemetery” — “a sleeping place.”


7 "After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles."  Seen of James.

The “James” intended is undoubtedly the only James then living, who was known

to the whole Christian Church, namely, “the Lord’s brother,” the author of the

Epistle, and the Bishop of Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9; Acts 15:13; 21:18). James the

son of Zebedee had by this time been martyred, and James the son of Alphaeus

was never much more than a name to the Church in general. There is no mention

of this appearance in the Gospel; but in the Gospel of the Hebrews was a curious

legend (preserved in St. Jerome, ‘De Virr. Illust.,’ 2.) that James had made a vow

that he would neither eat nor drink till he had seen Jesus risen from the dead, and

that Jesus, appearing to him, said, “My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man

is risen from the dead.” The truth of the appearance is strongly supported by the

fact that James, like the rest of the Lord’s “brothers,” “did not believe” in Christ

before the Crucifixion, whereas after the Resurrection we find him and the rest

of “the Lord’s brothers” ardently convinced (Acts 1:14). Of all the apostles.

(Acts 1:3; Luke 24:50). James the Lord’s brother was only an apostle in the

wider sense of the word.


8 "And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."

He was seen of me also. The reference undoubtedly is to the vision on the road

to Damascus (Acts 9:5; 22:14; 26:16).  As of one born out of due time. Literally,

as to the abortive born. The word means “the untimely fruit of a woman,” a child

born out of the due time or natural course; and hence “diminutive” and “weakly.”

The Greek ἐκτρώματι - ektromati -  miscarriage; abortion; premature birth and

is represented by the Latin abortivus. Paul, when he remembered the lateness of

his conversion, and his past persecution of the saints, regards himself as standing

in this relation to the twelve.  The next two verses explains what he meant.


9 "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an

apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." For I am the least of the

apostles” - In Paul there was a true and most deep humility, but no mock modesty.

He knew the special gifts which he had received from God. He was well aware

that to him had been entrusted the ten talents rather than the one talent.

He could appeal to far vaster results than had been achieved by the work of

any other apostle. He knew his own importance as “a chosen vessel,” (Acts 9:15)

a special instrument in God’s hands to work out exceptional results. But in himself

he always felt, and did not shrink from confessing, that he was “nothing”

(II Corinthians 12:11). The notion that he here alludes to the meaning of his

own name (Paulus, connected with παῦρος, φαῦρος, equivalent to “little”) is

very unlikely. In Ephesians 3:8 he goes further, and calls himself “less than the

least of all saints,” though even there he claims to have been the special apostle

of the Gentiles – That am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted

the church of God. This was the one sin for which, though he knew that

God had forgiven him (I Timothy 1:13), yet he could never quite forgive himself

(Galatians 1:13). This persecution was probably more deadly than has been usually

supposed, involving not only torture, but actual bloodshed (Acts 8:4; 9:1), besides

the martyrdom of Stephen. We can imagine how such deeds and such scenes would,

even after forgiveness, lie like sparks of fire in a sensitive conscience.


                        “Saints, did I say? with your remembered faces;

                        Dear men and women whom I sought and slew?

                        Oh, when I meet you in the heavenly places,

                        How will I weep to Stephen and to you!


10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was

bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly

than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

By the grace of God I am what I am.  And therefore he was“in nothing

behind the very chiefest apostles.” (II Corinthians 11:5) However humbly he

thought of himself, it would have been mere unfaithfulness to disparage his own

work (ibid. ch. 3:5-6). I labored more abundantly than they all.  Because God

wrought effectually in him (Galatians 2:8). The word used for “labor” implies the

extreme of toil (Matthew 6:28: Philippians 2:16), etc.  But the grace of God.

“It is God that worketh in you” (Philippians 2:13; Matthew 10:20; Colossians 1:29).


11 "Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”

Whether it were I or they; namely, who preached this gospel to you. It is not his

immediate object to maintain his independent apostolic claims, but only to appeal

to the fact of the Resurrection which was preached by all the apostles alike. So.

In accordance with the testimony just given (vs. 4-8). We preach. There are in the

New Testament two words for “preaching.” One is often rendered “prophesy,”

and refers to spiritual instruction and exhortation. The other, which is used here,

is κηρύσσομεν - kaerussomen - we are heralding - of uncertain affinity; to herald

(as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): — preach (-er), proclaim,

publish -  we proclaim,” or “herald” and refers to the statement of the facts

of the gospel — Christ crucified and risen (ch. 2:2; Acts 4:2; 8:5).

Besides these, there is the one word for "to preach the gospel," or "evangelize."


  • Christianity is Based upon Historical Facts. It is not founded upon human reason —

      upon any of its primitive axioms or logical conclusions. It is not founded upon human

      imagination; it is neither an ingenious hypothesis to account for any phenomena, nor a

      poetic myth to adumbrate any truth. It is based on facts. It is founded upon the

      personal history of one, and but one, individual, and that is Jesus Christ. 

      Christ “died,” He was “buried,” and He “rose.” from the grave.  These facts are

      well attested. After His resurrection, Paul tells us here that He “was seen of Cephas,”

      of “the twelve,” then of “five hundred,” and then of “me also.”


  • Christianity is Designed for the Removal of Evil.  Why did these facts take place?

      What is the aim of the whole? Christ “died for our sins.” The great end of Christianity

      is to “put away sin” from the world, (Hebrews 9:26) to put it away from the hearts,

      literature, institutions, customs, and governments of mankind. Let sin be put away, and

      all evil is put away; natural evil is but the effect of moral. Philosophically, there is no

      system on earth suited to destroy man’s sinful disposition and to change his heart

            but Christianity, and historically nothing else has ever done it. Let the fact ring louder

            and louder through the world, that the grand end of Christianity is to “put away sin.”


  • Christianity is to be Preached with this Design. “By which also ye are saved, if ye

      keep in memory [hold fast] what I preached unto you.”  Paul preached that they

      might be saved, but they could only be saved as they renounced and hated sin. The

      passage suggests three ideas in relation to Paul’s preaching with this view:


ü      He preached Christ convincingly. He says, “The gospel which I preached

       unto you, which also ye... received.” They believed his gospel!


ü      He preached Christ scripturally. He showed those facts in the light

                        of the Scriptures, “according to the Scriptures.”


ü      He preached Christ humbly. The expression “born out of due time”

                        evidently indicates his humility; and then in the next verse he says, “Nor I

                        am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle.”

                        Let the gospel of Christ, a system which cures the evils of the moral world

                        by taking away its sins, be preached, as Paul preached it - convincingly,

                        scripturally, and humbly.



                          The Resurrection of Christ is the Basis of Our Faith

                                    in the General Resurrection (vs. 12-19)


12 "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among

you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Now if Christ be preached that He

rose from the dead.  Paul sees that if One has risen from the dead, the fact of that

miracle, taken in connection with the rest of the gospel, furnishes Christians with a

sufficient proof that they shall rise. “For,” he had already said to the Thessalonians,

if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus

will God bring with Him” (I Thessalonians 4:4; see also Romans 8:11) – How say

some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  These deniers of the

resurrection are usually called “the Corinthian Sadducees.”  After the state of social

and moral laxity of which we have been reading, we can scarcely be surprised

at the existence of any disorder or anomaly in the Church of Corinth. Yet it comes

with something of a shock on our paralyzed sense of astonishment to read that some

of these Christians actually denied a resurrection! The fact at once proves two

remarkable truths, namely:

  • that the early Christian Church had none of the ideal purity of doctrine which

is sometimes ecclesiastically attributed to it; and

  • that there was in the bosom of that Church a wide and most forbearing



We have no data to enable us to determine what were the influences which led to the

denial of the resurrection.


  • They can hardly have been Jewish. The mass of Jews at this time shared the

views of the Pharisees, who strongly maintained the resurrection (Acts 23:6).

If they were Jews at all, they could only have been Sadducees or Essenes.



Ø      the Sadducees were a small, wealthy, and mainly political sect, who

had no religious influence, and can certainly have had no

Ø      representatives at Corinth; and the Essenes, though they had considerable

influence in Asia, do not seem to have established themselves in Greece,

nor are we aware that they were hostile to the doctrine of the resurrection.

  • Probably, then, they were Gentiles. If so, they may have been:


Ø      either Epicureans, who disbelieved in a future life altogether;

Ø      or Stoics, who held that the future life was only an impersonal

absorption into the Divine.


Both these schools of philosophers "jeered" at the very notion of a bodily resurrection

(Acts 17:32). In II Timothy 2:18 we read of some, like Hymenaeus and Philetus,

who erred, saying "that the resurrection was past already." These teachers were

incipient Gnostics, who spiritualized the resurrection, or rather said that the term

was only applicable to the rising from the death of sin to the life of righteousness.

The Corinthian doubters seem from the arguments which Paul addresses to them,

to have been rather troubled with material doubts which they may have inherited

from their Gentile training.  Take Christ’s words about the subject.   Verily, verily,

I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me,

hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from

death unto life.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is,

when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall

live……..Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are

in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done

good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the

resurrection of damnation.  (John 5:24-25, 28-29) – (See Ezekiel 37:1-14****)


13 “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:” 

Then is Christ not risen. If the possibility of a resurrection be generically denied,

it cannot in any instance be true. Yet you admit as Christians that Christ rose! and

His resurrection “has begotten us again to a lively hope” (I Peter 1:3; see

II Corinthians 4:14; I Thessalonians 4:14; John 14:19).


14 “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is

also vain.”  Vain. You accepted our proclamation (κήρυγμαkaerugma - heralding),

yet it would be utterly void if its central testimony was false. The word translated

“then” has a sort of ironic force — “after all,” or “it seems.” The whole

argument is at once an argumentum ad hominem (responding to arguments by

attacking a person's character (something to common on the American political

scene nowadays – CY – 2018), and a reductio ad absurdum (a common form of

argument which seeks to demonstrate that a statement is true by showing that a false,

untenable, or absurd result follows from its denial, or in turn to demonstrate that a

statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from

its acceptance. Your faith is also vain. For it would be faith in a crucified

man, not in the risen Christ.


15 “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified

of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the

dead rise not.”  We are found.   The word means, “we are proved to be,”

convicted of being false witnesses.  False witnesses of God.   The conflict is not

between truth and mistake, but between truth and falsehood.  We have testified of

God that He raised up Christ:  rather, the Christ. “This Jesus hath God raised up,

whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32; 4:33; 13:30). 


16 “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised” - This verse is a repetition

of v. 13, to emphasize the argument that the Christian faith in the Resurrection rests

not on philosophic theory, but on an historic fact.


17 “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

Vain; rather, frustrate. The word used (ματαίαmataia - vain) is different

from the word used (κενὴ - kenaeempty; for naught) in v. 14.   Ye are yet in

your sins.  Because a dead Redeemer could be no Redeemer. Christ’s resurrection

is the pledge of His Divine power. He was “raised for our justification” (Romans

4:25). It is only “as a Prince and Savior” that “God hath exalted Him to give

repentance and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31; Romans 5:10). 


18 “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” 

Which are fallen asleep in Christ. Christians whose bodies

have sunk into the sleep of death. Are perished. A notion which he feels

that Christians must reject as utterly impossible. All that goodness, faith,

tenderness, love, have not been dissolved to nothing.


19 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most

miserable.”  If in this life only we have hope in Christ. The word to

which “in Christ” should be joined is uncertain; the order in the original is,

“If in this life in Christ we have hoped only.” The “only” seems therefore to

qualify the whole sentence: “If we have merely hoped in Christ, and that

only in this life.” We are of all men most miserable; literally, we are more

pitiable than all men. The remark only has an absolute bearing when

Christians really are suffering from persecutions, as they did in Paul’s

day (II Corinthians 1:5; II Timothy 3:12). But to some extent all

Christians have to bear their cross, and if all that they give up and suffer is

sacrificed to a delusion, they deserve most pity in one sense, because they

have been most conspicuously befooled. In another sense they are still the

happiest of men; for their delusion, judged by its fruits, is more blessed

than the dreary blank which is the only alternative.


But this is not so because Christ did arise from the grave and His resurrection

“has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in

heaven for you” (I Peter 1:3-4; see II Corinthians 4:14; John 14:19; I Thessalonians 4:14).


In the above paragraph, the apostle Paul refers to two great facts fundamental to Christianity”


o        The General Resurrection of the Dead

o        The Resurrection of Christ Himself


·         If there is no general resurrection  “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ

      are perished.” If dead men do not rise, then our fellow disciples who have departed this

      life, and who believed in a risen Christ, are no more. Those thousands who from the day

     of Pentecost accepted Christ, lived according to His teaching, and who quitted this world,

     have perished. Can you believe it? Are they quenched in eternal midnight?


  • If there is no resurrection, there is no more pitiable condition in this life than that of

      mankind at large. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men

             most miserable.”  Man is always hoping; man is always, therefore, enduring one

            of the greatest elements of suffering, viz. disappointment. It is implied that the hope of

            a Christian, if false, will make him of all men the most to be pitied. Of course it is not

            intended to teach that, but apart from the resurrection of Christ, man has no evidence

            of a future state.  It is implied that the higher the object of our hope, and the more of

            the soul that goes into it, the more overwhelmingly crushing will be the disappointment.

            The man who has thrown his whole soul into Christianity, and who reaches a point

            where he is convinced of its imposture, is at that moment “of all men the most

            miserable.”  (But thanks be unto God, this is not our lot – the testimony of Scripture

            is “It is a faithful saying:  For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with

            Him:  If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him:  if we deny Him, He also

            will deny us:  If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful:  HE CANNOT

            DENY HIMSELF!”II Timothy 2:11-13 – CY – 2010)  CHRIST AND

            CHRIST ALONE can take men out of their sins and He alone gives LIFE AND

             THAT ETERNALLY!



            Results to be Deduced from the Fact of Christ’s Resurrection

  (vs. 20-28)


20 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them

that slept.”   But now. Since the supposition that Christ has not risen involves so

many suppositions which you will rightly reject as absurd, we may assume the eternal

fact that Christ has been raised. And become the firstfruits of them that slept. As the

wave sheaf (Leviticus 23:10), which was the first-fruits of the harvest, is also a pledge

of the harvest, so Christ is the first-fruits and pledge of THE RESURRECTION OF



21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” 

(See Romans 5:12,17; 6:21,23) 


22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

As in Adam all die. All of us partake of Adam’s nature, and

are therefore liable to the death which that nature incurred as the law and

condition of its humanity. In Christ shall all be made alive. It is

Paul’s invariable habit to isolate his immediate subject; to think and to treat

of one topic at a time. He is not here thinking directly and immediately of

the resurrection in general. In this verse, writing to Christians who are “in

Christ,” he is only thinking and speaking of the resurrection of those who

are “in Christ.” That any can be nominally “in Christ,” yet not really so, is

a fact which is not at present under his cognizance; still less is he thinking

of the world in general. In other words, he is here dealing with “the

resurrection of life” alone, and not also with the “resurrection of judgment”

(John 5:26-29). Still, as far as his words alone are concerned, it is so

impossible to understand the phrase, “shall all be made alive,” of a

resurrection to endless torments, that his language at least suggests the

conclusion that “the principle which has come to actuality in Christ is of

sufficient energy to quicken all men for the resurrection to the blessed life”

(Baur, ‘Life of St. Paul,’ 2:219).  In Adam’s character, the character of

selfishness, carnality, unbelief, all unregenerate men live today; his principles pulsate

in all hearts.  In the character of Christ, in His self sacrificing love, spotless purity,

and holy reverence, all the godly live today. Now, those who live in the character of

Adam must die, not merely in the sense of the dissolution of the soul from the body,

but in the more awful sense of the dissolution of the soul from God; whereas those

who live in the character of Christ live by a vital connection with the eternal Fountain

of all life. The influence of Adam’s character on the race is destructive; that of Christ’s

is quickening and restorative. “All shall be made alive.” Shall there be a universal



23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that

are Christ’s at His coming.”  In his own order. The word in classic Greek means

“a cohort.” Here it must either mean “rank” or be used as in St. Clement

(‘Ad. Corinthians,’ 1:37), in the sense of “order of succession.” They that

are Christ’s.  The dead in Christ” (I Thessalonians 4:16). At His coming.

The word here used for the second Advent is παρουσίᾳ, - parousia - which means

literally, presence. It is implied (apparently) both here and in I Thessalonians

4:15-17; Revelation 20:5, that there shall be an interval — how long or how

short we do not know —  between this resurrection of the just and the final

resurrection. But all the details are left dim and vague. 


24 “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom

to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and

all authority and power.”  Then cometh the end.  That “end of all things,”

beyond which the vision of Christian eschatology does not look but the time will

come when moral evil shall be entirely exterminated from the earth, and when

death shall be swallowed up in victory. Christ, having finished the work that was

given Him to do, resigns His office. THEN COMETH THE END!  When He

shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father! The “kingdom”

delivered up is not that of the co-equal Godhead, but the mediatorial kingdom.

The Divine kingdom “shall have no end” (Luke 1:33), and “shall not pass away”

(Daniel 7:14). But the mediatorial kingdom shall end in completion when the

redemptive act has achieved its final end.   When He shall have put down;

rather, shall have annulled or abolished –  All rule and all authority and

power.”  Because then “the kingdoms of the world” shall all have become

the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign for ever and

ever” (Revelation 11:15) 


25 “For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” 

He must reign. He must reign in His mediatorial kingdom as

the God Man. He hath put. The “He” probably means Christ Himself

(compare Psalm 2:9; Hebrews 10:13), though it makes no real

difference in the sense if we understand it of God, as in Psalm 110:1.


26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”  This rendering might

imply that other enemies should still exist, though Death should be the last who

would be destroyed. The original is more forcible, and implies, “Last of enemies

doomed to annulment is Death;” or, as in Tyndale’s version, “Lastly, Death

the enemy shall be destroyed;” or, as in the Rhemish Version, “And at the last,

Death the enemy scal be distried.”  The present, “is being annulled,” is the

praesens futurascens, or the present of which the accomplishment is regarded

as already begun and continuing by an inevitable law. Death and Hades and

the devil, who hath the power of death,” are all doomed to abolition (II Timothy

1:10; Hebrews 2:14; Revelation  20:10,14).  And in this mountain shall the LORD

of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat

things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.  And He will destroy in this

 mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread

over all nations.  He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe

away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from

off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.  And it shall be said in that day, Lo,

this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the LORD; we

have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.  (Isaiah 25:6-9)


27 "For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are

put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under

Him."  But when He saith. The “He” refers to God. This indirect method of quotation

is common in the rabbis.  For He hath put all things under His feet.  The reference

is to Psalm 8:4-8 , and the words, spoken of man in general, are here Messianically

transferred to the federal Head of humanity, the ideal and perfect God Man,

Jesus Christ. (For the fuller explanation of the matter, see Hebrews 2:5-10.)  

But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted,

which did put all things under Him.  So our Lord says, “All things are delivered

unto me of my Father” (Matthew 11:27).  The universal dominion of Christ is also

insisted on in Ephesians 1:20-22; I Peter. 3:22.


28 "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son

also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that

God may be all in all."  Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him.

The words can only be taken as they stand. The attempts to explain them have

usually been nothing but ingenious methods of explaining them away. Of these

the one usually adopted by the Fathers is the limitation of the statement to Christ’s

human nature (John 5:26, 27, 30) and mediatorial kingdom, just as we find here in

ch. 11:3 - “The head of Christ is God.” We can easily “darken counsel by words

without knowledge” (Job 38:2) in dealing with this subject, and hide an absolute

ignorance under a semblance of knowledge; but anything and everything which

we can say in “explanation” of this self-subjection of the Son to the Father is

simply involved in the words which follow – that God may be all in all.” 

“All things in all things” or “all things in all men.” The words involve a complete

and absolute supremacy.  It is quite an easy matter for commentators to say that

the scope of the words “must be confined to believers,” if they chose to make

“all” mean “some.” Such methods often lead to an irreligious religionism

and a heterodox orthodoxy. The reader will find the same phrase in Colossians 3:11.

I confine myself to the comment of the profound and saintly Bengel: “There is

implied something new, but also supreme and eternal. All things, and therefore

all men, without any interruption, no created thing claiming a place, no enemy

creating opposition, all shall be subordinated to the Son, the Son to the Father.

All things shall say, ‘God is all things to me.’ This is the consummation;

this the end and summit.  Further than this not even an apostle can go.”


Some of the truths that this passage suggests:



            BY CHRIST. The New Testament is full of the doctrine that Christ reigns

            over our world. This doctrine explains several otherwise inexplicable things

            in the history of man.


ü      The perpetuation of the human race on the earth. Death was

      threatened on Adam the same day on which he should sin. He sinned, and

      died. not that day, but lived for centuries, and became the father of an

      immense and ever multiplying family. And why? The Biblical doctrine of

      mediation is the only principle that explains it.


ü      The coexistence of sin and happiness in the same individual. Under

      the government of absolute righteousness, we should antecedently expect

      that such an association would never exist. We are told that there is perfect

                        happiness in heaven, and we can understand it, because perfect holiness is

                        there. But here there are sin and happiness, comparative holiness and great

                        suffering. The mediative government is the only principle that explains this.


ü      The offer of pardon and the application of remedial influences to the

                        condemned and corrupt. Under a righteous government how is this to be

                        explained? It is explicable only on the ground that “He is exalted to be a

                        Prince and a Savior,”


  • That Christ conducts the government of our world IN ORDER TO PUT DOWN

      ALL HUMAN EVILS. There are two classes of evil referred to here:


ü      Moral. “All rule, all authority and power.” Sinful principles are the

                        moral potentates of this world. Christ’s government is to put them down

                        from governments, churches, books, hearts, etc.


ü      Physical. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Death is the

                        totality of physical evils. CHRIST WILL DESTROY THIS!


  • That when these evils are entirely put down, CHRIST WILL RESIGN HIS


      The time will come when moral evil shall be entirely exterminated from the earth,

      and when death shall be swallowed up in victory. Christ, having finished the work

      that was given Him to do, resigns His office. “Then cometh the end.”


  • That when Christ shall have resigned His administration, GOD “WILL

            BE ALL IN ALL.” What does this mean?


ü      All men after this will subjectively realize the absolute One as they have

                        never before. The atmosphere of their nature purified, he shall appear

                        within them as the central orb, making the finite manifest and glorious in

                        the conscious light of the Infinite.



            Arguments from the Practice and Lives of Christians (vs. 29-34)



The three arguments used in these verses are: If there be no resurrection:


1. Why do some of you get yourselves baptized on behalf of your dead friends?

2. Why do we face lives of daily peril?

3. How would it be otherwise possible to resist Epicurean views of life?



29 "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not

at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"  This clause can have but one

meaning, and that its obvious one, namely, that, among the many strange opinions

and practices which then prevailed, was one which was entirely unwarranted but

which Paul does not here stop to examine — of persons getting themselves baptized

as it were by proxy for others who had died. Doubtless some of the deaths alluded

to in ch. 11:30 had happened to persons who had been cut off before they were

actually baptized; and their friends had as it were gone through the rite in their stead,

in the hope of extending to them some of its benefits. It is argued that Paul could

not possibly mention such a practice without reprobation; but that is an a priori

assumption not warranted by Paul’s methods (see ch.10:8; 11:6). He

always confines his attention to the question immediately before him, and

his present object is merely to urge a passing argumentum ad hominem.

There is nothing at all surprising in the existence of such an abuse in the medley

of wild opinions and wild practices observable in this disorganized Church.  It

accords with the known tendency of later times to postpone baptism, as a rite which

was supposed to work as a charm. We also find that the actual practice of baptism

on behalf of the dead lingered on among Corinthians (Epiph., ‘Haer.,’ 28:7) and

Marcionites (Tertullian, ‘De Resurrect.,’ 48; ‘Adv. Marc.,’ 5:10). St. Chrysostom

tells us further that the proxy who was to be baptized used to be concealed under

the bier of the dead man, who was supposed to answer in his name that he desired

to be baptized. How perfectly natural the custom was may be seen from the fact that

among the Jews also a man dying under ceremonial pollution was cleansed by proxy.

The “interpretations” of this verse are so numerous that it is not even possible to give

a catalogue of them.  Many of them are not worth recording, and are only worth

alluding to at all as specimens of the willful bias which goes to Scripture, not to

seek truth, but to support tradition. They are mostly futile and fantastic, because

they pervert the plain meaning of the plain words. It is a waste of time and space

to give perpetuity to baseless fancies. Such are the notions that “for the dead”

can mean “for our mortal bodies”.  (Chrysostom); or “for those about to die”

(Estius, Calvin, etc.); or “over (the sepulchres of) the dead” (Luther); or

“to supply the vacancies left by the dead” (Le Clerc, etc.). Equally

unwarrantable are the “explanations” (?) which make those who are being

“baptized” mean those who are “passing through a baptism of suffering” (!).

Not a single argument which is worth a moment’s consideration can be

urged in favor of any one of these, or scores of similar views. If we are to

get rid of everything that is surprising on the ground that it is “immensely

improbable,” we may as well discard Scripture at once, and reconstruct

early Christian history out of our own consciousness. (Like many liberal

secularists and pseudo -theologians of the day - CY - 2018).  It has been very

usual to represent it as we think that it ought to have been, and not as it was.

The disuse of this vicarious baptism among orthodox Christians may have

been due to the discouragement of it by  Paul when he went to Corinth,

and “set in order” various erroneous customs (ch.11:34).The disuse of this

vicarious baptism among orthodox Christians may have been due to the

discouragement of it by Paul when he went to Corinth, and “set in order”

various erroneous customs (ch. 11:34). 


30 "And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?”  The verb means “Why do we

incur peril?”The best commentary on this is II Corinthians 11:24-28.  Cicero says

(‘Tusc. Disp.,’ 1:15) that “no one would be so mad as to live in labor and perils

if our instinctive anticipation of future life were taken away.”


31 "I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I

die daily."  I protest. The particle of adjuration here used (νὴ - nae - by) is found

nowhere else in the New Testament. By your rejoicing. This is an erroneous translation.

The words mean “by my glorying in you.” Paul’s one subject of earthly glory, his

“hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing,” was the conversion of Churches (Romans

15:16-17).  In Christ Jesus our Lord.  His boasting was not a worldly boasting,

but was sanctified by its reference to the work of Christ -  I die daily.  Paul

died daily” a double death — the ever deepening death unto sin and unto the

world; and the daily death of sufferings borne for Christ’s sake (see II Corinthians

4:10-11). It is the latter to which he here alludes. “For thy sake are we killed all

the day long” (Romans 8:36).



Daily Dying (vs. 30-31)


“Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?  The apostles, in their efforts to extend the gospel, endured great afflictions and involved themselves in terrific perils, and if

there be no future life, Paul asks, why should they have done so? “Why

stand we in jeopardy every hour?” Why should we thus “die daily”? But

there is a daily dying in the case of every man.


  • There is a daily dying that is INEVITABLE to humanity.


Ø      There is a daily dying of our corporeal frame. In each human body the

seed of death is implanted, the law of mortality is at work. The water

does not more naturally roll to the ocean than the human frame runs

every moment to dissolution. Life streams from us at every pore. This

fact should teach us:


o        That worldly mindedness is an infraction of reason. What a monstrous absurdity it is to set our supreme affections upon objects from which we are departing every moment. ("Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth."  Colossians 3:2)  As the ship of the emigrant in full sail is bearing him every moment further and further from his native shore, so destiny is bearing every man further and further from his connection with this earth, No anchor can stop this ship of destiny.  (This world is not our home and we need to be like Abraham and "look for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker

is God!"  Hebrews 11:10 - CY - 2018)


o        That sorrow for the departed should be moderated. Why indulge in

grief for those who are gone? Their departure was in obedience to the

resistless law of their nature, and that same law is daily bearing us whither they are gone.


o       That Christianity is an invaluable boon to mortals. It does two things;


§         it teaches us that there is a future world of blessedness, and

§         points us the way by which that blessed world is reached.


Ø      There is a daily dying of our social world. We live not only with others,

but by them. Without society we might exist, but live we could not. Our

contemporaries are the objects of our sympathies, the subjects of our

conscious life; they engage our thoughts, they affect our hearts, they

originate our motives, they stimulate our conduct, and all this is much of

our life. But this social world in which we live, and by which we live, is

dying daily. The social circumstances which feed our life are changing

every day. The thoughts, the love, the grief, the anger, the fear, the hopes,

which were once elements of life to us, have passed away because the

objects of them have gone.


Ø      There is a daily dying of our mental activity. The motives that influence

us to action are elements of life, and they are constantly dying. For

example, the leading purpose that a man has is, for the time, one of his

strongest motives of action, but the leading purpose of every man is a

dying thing. It is dead as a motive both when it is frustrated, as is

constantly the case, and also when it is fully realized. A realized

purpose has lost its motivity. Thus we die daily in mind.


  • There is a daily dying that is OPTIONAL to humanity. This optional

death is of two kinds, the criminal and the virtuous.


Ø      There is the criminal. There are noble things in man that are dying daily,

for which he is responsible. In the depraved soul, sensibility of conscience,

generosity of impulse, elasticity of intellect freedom of thought, spirituality of feeling — these, that constitute the highest life of man, die daily in the corrupt soul. The sinner is constantly murdering these, and their blood cries to Heaven for vengeance. “To be carnally minded is death.”  (Romans 8:6)


Ø      There is the virtuous. There are certain things that men should and ought

to crucify — selfishness, sensuality, love of the world, etc. The highest life of man is a daily dying to all that is mean, false, mercenary, unspiritual, and uncharitable. The apostle felt this when he said, “I,” that is, my carnal self, “am crucified with Christ;” nevertheless, “I,” that is, my spiritual self, “live,” etc.  (Galatians 2:20)


32 "If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus,

what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink;

for to morrow we die."  After the manner of men. The phrase is a qualification

of the strong metaphor, “I fought with beasts.” It is equivalent to “humanly speaking.”

This is Chrysostom’s view. It is the most reasonable, and accords with the use of the

phrase in Romans 3:5; Galatians 3:15.  Meyer, however, explains it to mean “with

mere human motives.” I have fought with beasts.  Not literally, for in that case he

would have mentioned it in II Corinthians 11 as one of his deadliest perils, and

it must have been recorded by St. Luke in his full account of Paul’s life at

Ephesus. A Roman citizen was legally exempt from this mode of punishment. The

word points to some special peril incurred in resisting the hostility of the worshippers

of Artemis (Acts 20:19), but not to the tumult in the theatre, which did not happen till

after this letter was dispatched (ch.16:8-9). The metaphor is not uncommon. Thus in

II Timothy 4:17 Paul alludes to Nero (probably) as “the lion.” David often compares

his enemies to wild beasts (Psalm 22:21). When his jailor informed Agrippa of the

death of Tiberius, he did so in the words, “The lion is dead.” St. Ignatius writes of the

ten soldiers who were conducting him to Rome as “ten leopards.” Epimenides, in the

line quoted by Paul in Titus 1:12, spoke of the Cretans as “evil wild beasts,” and the

pseudo-Heraclitus gives this same uncomplimentary title to these very Ephesians.

Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.  Perhaps the “if the dead are not raised”

belongs to this clause. He means that such an Epicurean maxim, if never excusable,

would at least be natural, if men could only look to life in the present. The sentiment

is found on the lips of the despairing and the sensual alike in Isaiah 22:13, and in

the writings of the heathen (Horace, ‘Od.,’ 1:4, 13-17). Paul would be all the more

familiar with it because it formed the infamous epitaph of a statue of Sardauapalus,

which he must have often seen in his boyhood at Anchiale, near Tarsus. It represented

the debased king as snapping his fingers, and using almost these very words.  It is

strange that similar passages should be found even in the Talmud. Shemuel said to

Rav Yehudah, “Seize and eat, seize and drink; for the world is like a wedding feast

(soon over)”Eiruvin,’ fol. 54, 1).


33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners."

Be not deceived.  Do not be led astray by such maxims. They can only arise from

that too great familiarity with the heathen against which I have already put you on

your guard.   Evil communications corrupt good manners.  An iambic line

from the ‘Thais’ of Menander, and perhaps taken by Menander from a play of

Euripides.  More accurately it means “evil associations corrupt excellent morals.” 

According to the best reading (χρηστὰ - chaesta - good - not χρησθ - chaesth - kind)

Paul does not quote it as an iambic, and in itself it does not offer the least shadow of

proof that Paul was familiar with classic literature.  It is just such a line as he might

have seen carved on the Hermae of any Greek town, or preserved in any chrestomathy

or gnomology which may have chanced to pass through his hands. His other classic

quotations (from Epimenides, Titus 1:12; and Aratus or Cleanthes, Acts 17:28)

are of the same common and proverbial character. It is very unlikely that he would

have deliberately quoted from the immoral play of a corrupt comedian like Menander.

II Timothy 2:16-18 gives the sentiment:


“But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more

ungodliness.  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.” 


34 "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God:

I speak this to your shame." Awake to righteousness.  The word rendered “awake”

means “awake at once from a drunken sleep.” This verb does not occur elsewhere in

the New Testament. The word rendered “awake” in Ephesians 5:14 and Romans 13:11

is a different one. The metaphor, however, occurs in the simple verb in I Thessalonians

5:6,8; II Timothy 4:5; I Peter 5:8, etc. The word rendered “to righteousness” is literally

an adverb, righteously. It may mean “as is fit.” And sin not.  Here the present tense,

be not sinning,” is contrasted with the instantaneous aorist, “awake.”  For some

have not the knowledge of God: The original is stronger, “have an ignorance.”

They have not a vacuum of nescience (lacking knowledge; ignorance), but a

plenuum (a space completely filled) of ignorance. I speak this to your shame;

rather, I am speaking to shame you. The object of all I am saying is to excite

your shame — not, as in some previous instances, “to spare you.”



                        Material Objections Answered (vs. 35-49)


35"But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what

body do they come?"  But some man will say.  The objection is that of some

philosophical materialist.  The resurrection of the body was a difficulty alike to

Sadducees and Gentiles. Paul meets this difficulty by natural analogies, which are

intended to show that the resurrection body, though identical with the mortal body so

far as the preservation of personal identity is concerned, is yet a glorified body, so that

the objections urged on the ground that it is impossible to preserve the same material

particles which have passed into dust, are beside the mark.  How are the dead raised up?  This question is one which, of course, admits of no earthly answer – “and with what body do they come? literally, with what kind of body? Paul, while he only answers the question indirectly and by analogy, implies that the resurrection body is the same body, not so much by way of material identity as of glorified individuality.  (The book of Job in the Old Testament is the earliest book written in the Bible, [that I can gather] and

has some very hard questions in it but Job’s answer to this question in Corinthians

is a revelation from God – “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He

shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:  And though after my skin worms

destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself,

and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within

me.”  {Job 19:25-27} – Job may not have understood everything, like ourselves, but

his faith was firm “Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him”Job 13:15 – this too

is my testimony – “to whom shall we go?  John 6:68 – Only God has the words

of life. - CY – 2010) 


36 "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:"

Thou fool” - The expression is too strong, and it is unfortunatevthat in English it

seems to run contrary to the distinct censure of such language by our Lord.

But here the Greek word is Ἄφρων - aphron - properly mindless, i.e. stupid,

(by implication) ignorant, (special) egotistic, (practically) rash, or (moral) unbelieving:

 fool (-ish), unwise.   “O unreasonable!” (the nominative is used for the vocative);

Vulgate, insipiens; Wickliffe, “unwise man.” It is merely a reproach for neglecting

to exercise the understanding. The word “fool!” -  Μωρός - moros’ - dull or stupid

(as if shut up), heedless, (moral) blockhead, (apparently) absurd: — fool (-ish,

- ishness) - forbidden by our Lord (Matthew 5:22) has quite a different meaning,

and implies quite a different tone. It involves moral depravity or obstinacy (Matthew

7:26; 23:17). The milder Ἄφρων is used in II Corinthians 11:16,19; 12:11; Ephesians

5:17; and by our Lord Himself.  That which thou sowest.  The “thou” is emphatic.

It merely means “Even the analogy of human sowing ought to remove thy difficulty.

The growth of the seed shows that there may be personal identity under a complete

change of material conditions.” Is not quickened, except it die.  The metaphor is

used by our Lord (John 12:24, “Except a grain of wheat fall into the

earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit”). It is

also found in the Talmud.



Man: His Birth, Death, and Resurrection (v. 36)


“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.” I shall

take the verse as suggesting three great facts in man’s existence.


  • MAN’S BIRTH. The text suggests — I do not say it was intended to

teach — that man’s birth is a sowing of his existence in the earth. The

sowing of the grain of which the apostle speaks is not, I think, so

analogous to the burial of his body as to the birth of his existence. The

sowing of the grain takes place before its death. It dies after it is sown. But

in the burial of the body the man has previously died. Birth, and not burial,

then, must be considered as sown. Man, at birth, is sown into the earth like

seed, in two respects.


(1) The seed existed before it was sown; man existed before he was born.

(2) The seed required sowing in order for its development. Man required

birth into this world in order for the development of his powers. What the

soil is to the seed the external universe is to the soul — the developing

agent. As a seed, however, man differs from all other germinant existences

on this earth in several respects.


Ø      He has a self-formative power. The germs of all other life run into forms

by the necessity of their nature. The grain has no power of determining

what shape it shall take in its growth; man has. Man has the power of

determining whether he shall grow into:


o       a beast,

o        a fiend, or

o       an angel.


Ø      He has boundless possibilities. All other germinant existences on earth

exhaust themselves in their growth. The time comes when they reach their

culmination and decay sets in. Not so with man. He is a seed that shall

grow forever. At birth, then, we are sown into this world — immortal

seeds we all are which the hand of the great Husbandman scatters over

the earth.


  • MAN’S DEATH. His death is here represented as a reduction of the

body to earth, not the reduction of himself. “That which thou sowest is not

quickened, except it die.” In the grain it is not the germ, but the husk, the

shell, which dies. The wrappage of the germ was made to rot. Nothing was

necessary to the development of the life which it contained. The human

body is the mere shell and wrappage of the man. It was made to die. Death

is an essential element in the constitution of the world. It is in all material

existences. It has been said that one-seventh of our earth’s crust is

comprised of limestone, and limestone contains the sepulchres of departed

existences. We feed on death, and by our own death become food for

future existences. The husk is not the germ, the body is not the man. It is

his house that must crumble, it is his garment that must wear out.


  • MAN’S RESURRECTION. What is his resurrection? A springing up

of his being from the earth. After the death of the grain there is a

resurrection of the seed that comes forth into new forms of life and beauty.

It is not the husk that rises, but the germ. After the burial of the body the

man comes forth into new life. The body rots, THE MAN RISES!  Whether

Paul refers here to the resurrection of the body from the grave or not, one thing

is clear, that at death there is a real resurrection of the soul. As when the

husks of the seed rot in the earth the seed itself is quickened, so when the

body falls into the dust the soul springs forth into new life — a life of woe

or bliss, according to its moral character. There is a resurrection, a

standing up of every soul at death. “The dust returns to dust, the soul to

God who gave it.” Will the body itself rise from the grave after it has gone

to dust? It may, and we see some evidence to enable us to cherish the

cheering hope. Whether this be a delusion or not, one thing is certain —

the soul rises up at the fall of the body to its dust, and this is a most real

and solemn resurrection. "We know that when the earthly house of this

our tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God above, a house not

made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  (II Corinthians 5:1)


37 "And that which thou sowest thou sowest not that body that shall be,

but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:"  Not that body

that shall be. This deep remark should have checked the idly and offensively

materialistic form in which the doctrine of the resurrection is often taught.

But bare grain. Wickliffe, “a naked corne.” In this passage, almost alone in

all his Epistles, Paul, who does not seem to have been at all a close observer

of external phenomena, uses metaphors drawn from natural life. His usual

metaphors are chiefly architectural and agonistic (associated with conflict) - derived,

that is, from buildings and games.  That he was not a student of nature arose, no

doubt, partly from his Semitic cast of mind, but chiefly from his being short

sighted, and from his having spent most of his early life in large cities. It may

chance; if it so happen, (see note on ch. 14:10). The English word “chance”

occurs but four times in the whole Bible (I Samuel 6:9; Ecclesiastes 9:11).

In Luke 10:31 the words rendered “by chance” mean rather “by coincidence.”


38 "But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed

his own body."  But God giveth it a body. The material body of each

living organism results from those laws of assimilation which God has made a part

of His secret of life. They are not the life, only the instrument and expression and

manifestation of the life. The life of Hamlet is not in its essence the physical life of

“the machine which is to him Hamlet,” but the spiritual life which is linked on

earth to that perpetual flux of material particles which we call the body, but is

independent of those particles. As it hath pleased Him; literally, as He

willed. And in the word “as” lies the scope for all theories about the part

played by what are called “natural laws.” Their action is a part of God’s

will. To every seed his own body. Each of the seeds sown is provided with

a body of its own, which is not identical with the seed, but results from the

germ of life in the seed.


39 "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men,

another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds."

All flesh is not the same flesh. In other words, animal organisms differ from

each other, just as do the vegetable. Another… of beasts. “The germinal power of

the plant transmutes the fixed air and the elementary base of water into grass or

leaves, and on these the organic principle in the ox or the elephant exercises an

alchemy still more stupendous. As the unseen agency weaves its magic eddies,

the foliage becomes indifferently the bone and its marrow, the pulpy brain and the

solid ivory. That which you see is blood, is flesh, is itself the work, or shall

I say the translucence of the invisible energy which soon surrenders or

abandons them to inferior powers (for there is no pause nor chasm in the

activities of nature) which repeat a similar metamorphosis according to

their kind: these are not fancies, conjectures, or even hypotheses, but facts”

(Coleridge, ‘Aids to Reflection ‘).


40 "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial:  but the glory of the

celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” The words are often

misunderstood. The “celestial bodies” are not the sun, moon, and stars of the next

verse — for that would be a false antithesis to “bodies terrestrial” — but bodies

(or organisms) which belong to heavenly beings, such as the resurrection body of

our Lord and of glorified saints, or even in some sense of angels (Matthew 22:30).


41 "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and

another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in

glory."  There is one glory of the sun. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as

the sun” (Matthew 13:43). The point of the illustration is the difference between

the earthly and the resurrection body; not the supposed differences between the

saints themselves in glory.  This is not a question under consideration, and Paul,

as we have seen, is not in the habit of mixing up half a dozen different questions

in the same immediate argument. St. Augustine says of the saints, "Their splendor

is unequal; their heaven is one." This may be very true, but to deduce it from this

verse is to press into the argument an illustration used for another purpose.

For one star differeth from another star in glory.  All the righteous shall shine

as “the brightness of the firmament and ... as the stars forever and ever”

(Daniel 12:3), and their future bodies shall differ from their present, as one star

differs from another.  (Think of the import of this:  no two of us look alike,

we have different traits, finger prints, etc., does not this mean that we will all be

perfectly different!  (CY - 2018)


42 "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is

raised in incorruption:"  So also is the resurrection of the dead.”  In like

manner the dead, when raised, shall have bodies which differ from their body

of humiliation (Philippians 3:21). It is sown in corruption.“Dust thou art, and

unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). It is raised in incorruption.

The word means strictly, “incorruptibility.” The resurrection body will not be

subjected to earthly conditions (Luke 20:35-36). 


43 "It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness;

it is raised in power:"  It is sown in dishonor. “The awful and intolerable

indignity of dust to dust.” In glory. “Though ye have lain among the pots,

yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove, that is covered with silver wings, and

her feathers like gold” (Psalm 68:13). The expression shows that, throughout,

Paul is thinking exclusively of the resurrection of the saints.


44 "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a

natural body, and there is a spiritual body."  A natural body. The adjective

is the word ψυχικόν - psuchikon - soulish, which is so difficult to translate; it

means a body only animated by the ψυχή - psyche, or natural life - the invisible

immaterial, part of man. A spiritual body. The apparent contradiction in terms is

inevitable. The thing meant is a body which is not under the sway of

corporeal desires or of intellectual and passionate impulses, but is wholly

dominated by the Spirit, and therefore has no desire or capacity to fulfill the

lusts of the flesh. There is. The better supported reading (א, A, B, C, D, F,

G), is, if there is a natural body, etc. The existence of the one is no more

impossible than the existence of the other.



The Resurrection Body (vs. 35-44)


“With what body do they come?” v. 35 – “Why should it be thought a thing

incredible with you that God should raise the dead?”  - (Acts 26:8) Has not God who

has engaged to do it all sufficient power?  Scepticism parades the difficulties connected with

the work of the resurrection. Let them be a million times more than the fancy of the infidel

can figure to himself, will they amount to anything as an argument against its accomplishment?

Nay, the difficulty of a work should always be estimated by the capacity of the agent

engaged to perform it. What is impossible for one being to perform, can be achieved by

another with the greatest facility. Where Omnipotence is the agent, the talk about difficulties

is manifestly absurd. What would baffle and overmaster the combined power of all created

existences, Almightiness can effect by a single fiat. “Is there anything too hard for the

Lord?” (Jeremiah 32:17; “With God nothing is impossible” – (Luke 1:37) Incredible!

Changes are constantly going on in the creation bearing some resemblance to the event.

Spring is a resurrection of buried life. Unnumbered graves, some that have been sealed

for centuries, are opened every hour by the warm touch of the vernal ray.   Incredible!

It meets the universal longings of the human heart. The cry of all generations is this:

“We would not be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed

up in life.” (II Corinthians 5:4) The world’s heart waitsfor the adoption, to wit, the

redemption of the body.” (Romans 8:23) Incredible! It is unmistakably stated in that

gospel which has been demonstrated Divine. To the question, “If a man die shall he live

again?” (Job 14:14) we have in the Bible replies the most varied, expressive, and full.


“That which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be.” (v. 37) - There

is a difference between the dead seed sown, and the living plant that springs from it.

You drop into the earth a bare grain, and what comes up? Not a bare grain, but a

green stalk, which grows, perhaps, to a tree with many branches, rich foliage, lovely

blossoms, and delicious fruits. There is not a particle on that tree of the bare grain that

you buried. It will be thus with the resurrection body; it will not be the bare grain that

was put into the earth, but something else, that will come up. The resurrection body will

be no more identical with the buried one than the majestic tree of the forest is the same

in particle or bulk as the acorn from which it sprang. “With what body do they come?”

(v. 35) The apostle enables us to reply further —  With a body that WILL HAVE


THE DUST.  Jesus said “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it

abideth alone:  but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit”(John 12:24) The plant,

though very dissimilar to the bare grain, has a vital connection with it. It grows out of it,

and is of the same order; there is an unbroken continuity.  If the resurrection of the body

from the grave means anything, it must mean that something from the old body comes up

and takes a fresh form.  What else is meant by such expressions as this: “All that are in

the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth”? (John 5:28-29)

It is true that this connection between the buried and the raised body is far more inexplicable

than the connection between the buried grain and the up growing plant, or between the

chrysalis and the moth. In neither of these cases is life really extinct; death is only apparent.

There is an unbroken continuity traceable from the smallest seed to the mightiest tree, from

the embryo in the shell to the monarch of the air. But no continuity is traceable between the

raised and the buried man.  (May we leave that to God’s care and timing – I have a

misplaced copy of an editorial in the local paper which Paul Harvey once wrote called

“Heaven’s Jurassic Park” in which he talks about cloning and ends with the statement

“Perhaps God has made us scientifically recallable!: - CY – 2010)  Whatever

theories are accepted as satisfactory, we hold to the scriptural fact that the new body will

have an organic connection with the old; otherwise, the resurrection of the body is nothing

but a pure fiction. Further, in answer to the sceptic’s question, “With what body do they

come?” the apostle’s language enables us to give another reply.


In His SovereigntyGod giveth it body as it hath pleased Him.” (v. 38)  God clothes life.

“To every seed his own body.”  (Ibid.)  God clothes life with the fittest body.All flesh

is not the same flesh.” (v. 39)  Life has boundless varieties, but God gives to each its fitting

body.  Paul points to the life of “beasts” and “fish,” and “birds;” to each He has given

bodies. The hare and the elephant, the wren and the eagle, the minnow and the leviathian,

all have bodies fitted to the peculiarities of their distinctive life.  God clothes life according to

His own pleasure. Giveth it a body as it has pleased him.” He chose the form, the hue,

the gait of each life. Our resurrection body will be as it “hath pleased Him.” Then it will

be beautiful, for He is the God of all taste, the Fountain of all beauty, the Standard of all

Aesthetics. Then it will be useful, for He is the God of benevolence.  Exquisitely suited to

our present sphere are the bodies through which He streams into us the most exquisite

sensations, and through which we convey and work out the best things within us. It will

be glorious. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and

another glory of the stars:” (v. 41) so also with the resurrection of the just. Once more,

to the question of the sceptic the apostle answers:



“It is sown in corruption.” (v. 42) - Between the buried body and the resurrection

body we have a series of antitheses, showing the vast superiority of the one to the other.


  • The one is corruptible, the other is incorruptible. It is sown in corruption;

      it is raised in incorruption.” Our present frames are frail and dying. The

      resurrection body will be incorruptible; it will be deathless as the immortal spirit itself.


  • The one is degraded; the other is glorious. Our present corporeal system is

      dishonored, but it is raised in glory. How great the difference between the

      corrupting seed and the stately plant and full-blown flower!


  • The one is weak, and the other is powerful. How feeble is our present

            body! It is not like the oak that can stand the storms of centuries, but like

            the frail flower that withers in an hour. “All flesh is grass, and all the

            goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:  The grass withereth,

            the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it:

            surely the people is grass.  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:

            but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)   It is raised

            in power — power that shall never fatigue with labor or wear out by time.    

            (I remember sitting out in the open on our farm in the late 1950’s or

            early 60’s and reading the following passage from Psalm 103:13-18 –

            “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that

            fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. 

            As for man, his days are as grass:  as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 

            For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know

            it no more.  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting

            upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; To

            such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments

            to do them.” – I remember looking at our alfalfa field and thinking about the hay

            that was to be mown and how we are “as grass”  - Now a half-century later,

            that place is now under the Somerset-Pulaski County, KY airport – a couple

            of years ago I was back near where I thought the place was but it was no

            where to be found – APART FROM GOD SUCH IS OUR PLIGHT –

            “surely the people is grass” -  Oh, Reader, people need the Lord – there was

            a cemetery behind our barn and though it is now removed and no earthly

            person knows where it is, GOD KNOWS – and will call Robert Cowan –

            1788-1845 to stand before the throne just like He will you and me – When

            I first traveled to Hopkinsville – at the Logan County-Todd County line,

            some farmer had a sign – “Prepare to meet thy God” – [Amos 4:12] – Oh,

            may we do so today – see “How to be Saved” – entry # 2 on this web site –

            CY – 2010)


  • The one is natural; the other is spiritual. The present body is called a

            “natural body,” (v. 44) probably because it is more the organ of the animal than

            the spiritual; and the future body the spiritual, because it will be the organ

            of the intelligent and immortal mind. Man has in him two principles of life

            — the animal, which connects him with the material and local, and the

            rational, which connects him with the spiritual and the infinite. The body

            of the one falls at death, and will be required no more; the human body is the

            mere shell and wrappings of man.  IT WAS MADE TO DIE -  the perfected

            body of the other will be taken up at the resurrection, and will be continued

            forever. What is death to him who has this hope? Not the king of terrors,

            but the angel of immortality bearing to him the passport of an ever blessed

            future.  “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was:  and the spirit

            shall return unto God who gave it”(Ecclesiastes 12:7)


45 "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul;

the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." The first man Adam was made

a living soul;  (Genesis 2:7). The last Adam. A rabbinic expression also for the

Messiah.  A quickening Spirit. “The Son quickeneth whom He will” (John 5:21;

compare Romans 6:23). The best comment on the expression will be found in

Romans 8:2,11. Christ is “a quickening,”a life giving, “Spirit,” here mainly

in the sense that we shall only be raised by “the power of His resurrection”

(John 5:24-25), but also in the sense that His Spirit dwelleth in us, and is





The Two Adams (v. 45)


“The first man, Adam” (v. 45) - A specification of some of the points between the two

Adams of resemblances and of dissimilarity will suggest a line of spiritual thought at once

interesting, instructive, and practical.




ü      The existence of each rose not in the ordinary course of nature. Neither

                        came by the ordinary laws of human generation. The first was formed out

                        of the dust of the earth, and derived his spirit from the breath of God. The

                        second was conceived of the Holy Ghost. The pedigree of each is

                        unparalleled in the history of the race.


ü      The existence of each commenced free from the slightest taint of sin.

                        The first was created in the image of God; all his faculties were well

                        balanced and free from all bias to wrong. The latter was “harmless,

                        undefiled, separate from sinners.”  (Hebrews 7:26)


ü      The existence of each had a nature capable of temptation. Temptability

                        is an attribute of all created intelligences. Where there is no power to go

                        wrong there is no virtue in keeping right. The first Adam was tempted, and

                        he was conquered; the second was tempted, and He triumphed.

                         (Matthew 4:1-11)


ü      The character of each exerts a momentous influence upon the whole

                        race. The character of the first generated a moral atmosphere in which

                        myriads of his posterity were born and brought up — an atmosphere of

                        sensuality, ambition, selfishness, unbelief, etc. “God is not in all his

                        thoughts”  - (Psalm 10:4) -  The character of the second generated a moral

                        atmosphere into which His true disciples enter by faith in Him — an

                        atmosphere that is morally salubrious, sunny, and invigorating.  He who lives

                        in the first atmosphere is still in Adam and is earthly. He who lives in the

                        second atmosphere is Christly and is spiritual.




ü      The one had a sublimer connection with God than the other. Adam at

                        first was a Divine man, the offspring, representative, and steward of God.

                        The second was God Man. God was in Him in a special sense, unfolding

                        truths, working miracles, and reconciling the world unto Himself. He was

                        God “manifested in the flesh.” The one yielded to the devil; the other

                        conquered him. The first gave way to the tempter; the second stood against

                        him, resisted him, and bruised his head.


ü      The one possessed a higher type of moral excellence than the other. The

                        character of the first was innocence, not holiness. Holiness implies

                        intelligence, convictions, efforts, habits, etc. This had not Adam; hence he

                        gave way to the first and simplest temptation. This holiness Christ had in

                        the sublimest degree; and He triumphed over principalities and powers of

                        evil, and made a “show of them openly.”  (Colossians 2:15)


ü      The influence of the one upon the race has been infinitely pernicious,

                        that of the other infinitely beneficent. The first planted that upas, whose

                        pestiferous branches have spread over all the men that have been and that

                        are, and whose poisonous fruit all have tasted and been injured. The other

                        planted that tree of life, which is growing day by day, and is destined to

                        grow until its branches, bearing fruit for the healing of the nations, shall

                        spread over the world and give life to all.


ü      The moral influence of the one is destined to decrease, of the other to

                        increase. Though the moral influence of the first Adam has been universal

                        and imperial for ages, and is so still, it is destined to contract in its

                        dimensions and to weaken in its power. The influence of the second, on the

                        contrary, is to widen its sphere and increase its power, until it shall

                        encompass the wide world, and strike the highest moral inspirations into all

                        souls. “Where sin abounded, grace will much more abound.” (Romans

                        5:20)  The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our

                        Lord, and of his Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.

                        (Revelation 11:15)


46 "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural;

and afterward that which is spiritual.”  The imperfect precedes the perfect. 


47 "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from

heaven.”  Earthy. Made of "the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7).  Is the Lord

from heaven. The words “the Lord” are a gloss, not found in א, B, C, D, E, F, G.

The verse remarkably resembles John 3:31, and probably oral reminiscences of our

Lord’s discourses were current among the apostles long before the Gospels were

written. Tertullian attributes the insertion of “the Lord” to Marcion.


48 "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly,

such are they also that are heavenly.” Men resemble their first parent Adam;

Christians, their spiritual Redeemer, Christ (Philippians 3:20-21). 


49 "And as we have born the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image

of the heavenly.” We shall also bear the image of the heavenly (for the fact,

see Romans 8:29; I John 3:2). “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth

not yet appear what we shall be:  but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall

be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” For “we shall bear,” the best

manuscripts (א, A, C, D, E, F, G, etc.) read “Let us bear.” Our reading is,

however, supported by B, and this is just one of the cases in which

manuscript evidence (or as it is called “diplomatic evidence”) has a

minimum value, and other evidence (paradiplomatic) is decisive. For:


(1) the pronunciation of the indicative and subjunctive at that time was

almost identical, because in conversation the vowels seem to have been

much slurred; and


(2) there was a universal tendency to substitute hortative for direct forms,

with a view to edification (as in ch. 14:15; Romans 6:2, 8; II Corinthians 5:11, etc.).

Here the exhortation would ruin the texture of the argument.


“And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the

heavenly.”  (v. 49)  Every man, in the first stages of his life, bears the image of the “earthy.”

He is sensual, selfish, godless. This fact, which is too obvious to need or even to justify

illustration, is at once the crime and the calamity of the race. But whilst we do bear this image

at first, we should strive to bear the other. “We shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”

Let us do it:


  • Because it is right. This heavenly image, embodying all virtue, realizes the soul’s

      highest ideal of excellence. It is just that for which we unconsciously hunger, and

      for which we shall hunger forever unless we get it.


  • Because it is practicable.


ü      We have the model in its most imitable form. Christ is the model. He

                        has left us an example that we should “follow His steps” – (I Peter 2:21).

                        He was pre-eminently spiritual, benevolent, godly; and never was there a

                        character more imitable than Christ’s — the most admirable, the most

                        transparent, and the most unchangeable. We can never imitate a

                        character that we cannot understand, admire, and find always the same.

                        Christ was all this.


ü      We have the means in the most effective forms. The gospel reveals the

                        model, supplies the motives, and pledges the spiritual influences of heaven.


ü      Because it is urgent. To do this is the grand mission of life. Unless the

                        work is fulfilled, our existence becomes a failure and a curse. To pass from

                        the “earthy” to the “heavenly,” is to pass from darkness to light, from sin

                        to holiness, from Satan to God, from Pandemonium to Paradise.



                                    Conclusion and Exhortation (vs. 50-58)


50 "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the

kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Now this I say.  This sums up my meaning. Flesh and blood.  Our mortal nature

and human organism; our “earthly house of this tabernacle” (II Corinthians 5:1;

Luke 20:35).  Inherit incorruption.   A body liable to corruption, with all its

loathly accompaniments, cannot enter into the “inheritance incorruptible, and

undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (I Peter 1:4). 


51 "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall

all be changed,"  Behold, I shew you a mystery.  I make known unto you

a truth now made known to me by revelation. We shall not all sleep, but

we shall all be changed. There is a great diversity of readings in this verse,

noticed even by St. Jerome and St. Augustine. St. Jerome says that all the

Latin manuscripts had “we shall all rise,” and that the Greek manuscripts

wavered between “we shall all sleep” and “we shall not all sleep.” Some

Greek manuscripts had “we shall all rise, but we shall not all be changed.”

This reading cannot be right, for it contradicts the next verse. There is little

doubt that the reading of the Authorized version is right. It accounts for all

the variations. They arose from a desire to shelter Paul from an

apparent mistake, since he and his readers did all sleep. But:


(1) Paul may have written under that conception of the imminence of

Christ’s personal return which he expresses in I Thessalonians 4:15-17,

where he evidently imagines that the majority of those to whom he was

writing would be of those who would be “alive, and remain unto the

coming of the Lord;” or:


(2) even if he no longer entertained that expectation, the “we” may

naturally apply to the continuity of the Christian Church. For in

II Corinthians 4:14 he uses “us” of those who shall die and be raised. The

universal expectation of the immediate return of Christ in the first century



  1. from their non apprehension of the truth that the close of the old

dispensation was the “coming” to which our Lord had primarily referred

in His great eschatological discourse (Matthew 24:34), and


  1. from the fact that watchfulness was intended to be the attitude of the

Church, and the day and hour of Christ’s coming were kept absolutely

unrevealed (ibid. v. 36; ch. 25:13).


52 "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the

trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and

we shall be changed."  The trumpet shall sound. The Lord, he says, in

I Thessalonians 4:16, “shall descend from heaven with… the voice of the

archangel, and with the trump of God.”  The trumpet is, of course, only a

natural symbol. It is also found in rabbinic writers, and in the Old

Testament (Zechariah 9:14), as well as in Revelation 11:15. We

shall be changed. The dead shall be changed by resurrection, the living by

transition, into a glorified body. (see John 5:24-30)  Paul, dealing with the

essence of the question as it bore on the difficulties of his readers, says

nothing here:


(1) of those who will arise to judgment, or

(2) of any intermediate condition.


As to the former question, he scarcely ever alludes to it with any

definiteness, but seems with deliberate choice to contemplate the final and

absolute triumph of good (Romans 8:19-23; 11:30-36). To the

intermediate state he does not here allude. He is here only speaking of

death and glorious resurrection. In II Corinthians 5:1-4 he says all that

he has to say on this latter question. It was not prominent in the minds of

the early Christians, who, as Calvin says, were awaiting the return of Christ

“from hour to hour.”


53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put

on immortality.” - When we are “clothed upon” by our “house from heaven,”

and have put off “this tabernacle,” in which we groan being burdened, then

“mortality WILL BE SWALLOWED UP OF LIFE!" (II Corinthians 5:3-4, where

we also find the metaphor of a robe of immortality, mixed up with the metaphor

of a building).



Mortality Exchanged for Immortality (v. 53)


  • That what is mortal in the ELEMENTS OF HUMAN CHARACTER must be

      exchanged for the immortal. Analyze the character of unrenewed men — alas!

      the vast majority, not only of  the human race, but even of professing Christians —

      and you will find moral principles that must die out if there be a God of justice and

      benevolence in the universe. Such principles, for example, as avarice, envy, pride,

      malice, ambition, and selfishness, which is in truth the root of all evil. The human

      mind was never formed to be inspired, or indeed to be influenced in any measure

      by these.  The fact that they are antagonistic to the moral constitution of the

            human soul, to the character of the Maker and Manager of the universe, and to the

            order and well-being of all, show that they must sooner or later die out of existence.

            (In the New Heaven there will be no night, no tears, no death, no sorrow, no more

            pain – Revelation 21:4 – a place “wherein dwelleth righteousness” – [II Peter 3:11]

            In that place “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither

            whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie:  but they that are written

            in the Lamb’s book of life” – {Revelation 21:27})  Paul had  hope that human

            souls will one day put off this mortal and “put on” the immortal — “Righteousness,

            joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost,” is what makes up the kingdom of God

            (Romans 14:17).  Jesus said  “Marvel not that I say unto you, Ye must be

            born again.”  (John 3:7)




ü      Our political institutions are mortal. Human governments are constantly

                        dying. They spring up and flourish for a certain time, and then are swept

                        from the earth. The unwisdom in their method of management, the

                        unrighteousness of some of their laws, the avarice, the tyranny, and

                        haughtiness of those in power, and their constant fattening upon the

                        overtaxed millions, give mortality to governments. Man will one day put

                        off these mortal governments and put on the immortal, the government of

                        common sense, common justice, common benevolence. Men are craving

                        not for the aristocratic or democratic, but for the theocratic, the reign of

                        God, which is the reign of honesty and love. “The kingdoms of this world

                        will one day become the kingdoms of our Lord,” (Revelation 11:15)

                        God is the “Desire of all nations”  - (Haggai 2:7)


ü      Our ecclesiastical institutions are mortal. Almost all denominations have

      problems with error. The great “cloud of witnesses,” the Church

                        of the Firstborn” -  (Hebrews 12:1,23) reached their blessed destiny

                        before churches or chapels existed. “God is a Spirit: and they that w

                        orship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

                        Indeed, whatever institutions, political, ecclesiastical, or social,

                        that have in them a mixture of error, unwisdom, and injustice, must be

                        exchanged for the immortal, namely, a “kingdom that cannot be moved.”

                        (Hebrews 12:28)


  • That what is mortal in the types of HUMAN GREATNESS MUST BE EXCHANGED FOR THE IMMORTAL!  In all men there is, in more or less intensity, a thirst for greatness, but their ideas or types of greatness widely differ.  Some see the highest greatness in the millionaire, some in the triumphant conqueror, some in the man with a crown on his head, some in the fools who boast of their ancestry and their high-sounding titles. But such types of greatness as these are utterly false. They agree neither with reason nor the conscience of humanity. Because they are false they are mortal, and

            they will have to be exchanged for the immortal. The time will come when

            men will regard Christ as the only true type of greatness. They will give

            Him the “Name above every name.”  (Philippians 2:9)  In all things in their

            dally life and conversation, He will have the preeminence.  (Colossians 1:18)


  • What a glorious change awaits humanity! Paul speaks of the resurrection of the body,

      an event which is confessedly mysterious: it may be far, far distant, or it may be today

      and this we have no power to hasten or impede. But there is a more glorious

      resurrection - a resurrection of the human soul from the false, the unrighteous, the

      impure, to the true, the right and the holy — a resurrection, thank God, taking place

      every day in the world, and a resurrection which all men may either hasten or impede

      - their duty the former, their crime the latter. “Awake to righteousness and

            sin not.” (v. 34)


54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall

have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,

Death is swallowed up in victory.” Death is swallowed up in victory. A free citation

from the Hebrew of Isaiah 25:8.  The words “into victory” are the Septuagint rendering

in other passages (Amos 1:11; 8:8) for the Hebrew lanetsach, for ever. The metaphor,

"is swallowed up,” implying the swallowing of the all swallower,” is found in the

rabbis (compare Hebrews 2:14-15). 


                                    Corporeal Transformation (vs. 50-54)


Paul here speaks of a bodily transformation that is indispensable, certain, instantaneous,

and glorious.


  • Here is a transformation that is INDISPENSABLE. “This I say, brethren, that

            flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (v. 50)  Its indispensability

            is not for this state of things, but for the state of bliss in the celestial world. “Flesh

            and blood,” of course, means our mortal nature.  “Cannot inherit the kingdom of

            God,” the heavenly world. He does not say why it cannot — whether the state of

            the atmosphere, or the means of subsistence, or the force of gravitation, or the forms

            and means of vision, or the conditions of receiving and communicating knowledge,

            or the nature of the services required. He does not go into reasons, but boldly states

            the fact that it could not be. “Flesh and blood” can no more exist yonder, than the

            tenants of the ocean can exist on the sun burnt hills. In such corporeal transformations

            there is nothing extraordinary, for naturalists point us to spheres of existence where

            they are as regular as the laws of nature.


  • Here is a transformation that is CERTAIN. “Behold, I show you a mystery.”

      (v. 51)  The word “mystery” here does not point to the unknowable, but to the

      hitherto unknown.  What the apostle means is — I state to you as a fact that which

      has not hitherto been fully known, viz. that “we shall all be changed.” “We shall

      not all sleep.” Had Paul an idea either that he himself would escape death, or that

      the resurrection day was just at hand? If he had, he here shows himself, as in some

      other places, not infallible, but otherwise; for he did die, and at that period the

      resurrection day was far away in the abysses of the future. His words, however,

      clearly teach:


ü      That some would be living when the day dawned. “As it was in the days

                        of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man: they ate, they

                        drank” – (Matthew 24:37-39)


ü      That both those who were living in the earth and sleeping in the dust

                        would undergo corporeal transformation. “We shall all be changed.”


  • Here is a transformation that is INSTANTANEOUS.In a moment, in the

      twinkling of an eye,” (v. 52) - that is, in the shortest conceivable period. At a

            moment when the living population least expects it, the blast of the

            “trumpet” shall be heard, and the transformation be effected. “The day of

            the Lord WILL COME as a thief in the night” – (II Peter 3:10)


  • Here is a transformation that is GLORIOUS. “For this corruptible

            must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (v. 53)

            The transformation is from mortality to immortality, from the dying to the

            undying; “death will be swallowed up in victory.” (v. 54) – “The idea,” says

            one, “may be taken of a whirlpool or maelstrom that absorbs all that comes near

            it.” The sense is, He would remove or abolish death forever from mankind.


55 "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"  O death, where

is thy sting? A triumphantly fervid exclamation of the apostle, loosely cited from

Hosea 13:14. The apostles and evangelists, not holding the slavish and

superstitious fetish worship of the dead letter, often regard it as sufficient to give the general sense of the passages to which they refer.   O grave, where is thy victory?

In the best attested reading (A, B, C, D, E, F, G), “death” is repeated, and

in the best manuscripts this clause precedes the last. But if the reading, “O

Hades,” were correct, our translators, since they held it here impossible in

accordance with their views to render it by “hell,” ought to have taken

warning, and seen the pernicious inapplicability of that rendering in other

places where they have used it to express this same Greek word. Here

“Hades” has probably been introduced into the Greek text from the Septuagint,

which uses it for the Sheol of the original.


56 "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." The sting of

death is sin. Because DEATH is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). Death is

represented as a venomous serpent,  (I highly recommend:



  # 6 - this website - CY - 2018) 


The strength of sin is the law. The best comment on this expression is to be found

in the Epistle to the Romans 4:15; 7:10-12.  It must be admitted that this passing

allusion to a distinct doctrine does not seem, at first sight, to harmonize with the

glorious unity of the subject.  No one can read it without a slight sense of jar,

because it seems to introduce the element of dogmatic controversy. But this

sense of incongruity is removed when we remember how intensely Paul felt that

man is confronted with the horror of a broken Law, which at once reminds him

of a Being infinitely holy, and of his own self condemnation (Romans ch.7;

II Corinthians 3.). It is the sense that the Law in its deathful aspect is annulled,

and the sinful soul delivered, which prompts the outburst of the next verse. 


57 "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our

Lord Jesus Christ." The victory consists in the defeat of death

by the Resurrection, and the forgiveness of sin through CHRIST'S

ATONMENT, and the nailing to His cross of the torn and abrogated Law

which made us slaves to SIN and DEATH!   (Colossians 2:14). In all these

things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). Through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Who, by fulfilling the Law, has

robbed it of its condemning power (Romans 8:1), and by His death

“hath destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil”

 (Hebrews 2:14-15).



The Idea of Death (vs. 55-57)


 “O death, where is thy sting?” (v. 55) - These words, which are a shout of victory

evoked by what has preceded, suggest to us the popular and the Christian ideas of death.



  • THE POPULAR IDEA. The language implies that the bulk of the race

            view death not as the writer did; that the idea to them had a “sting” a

            “victory,” and a connection with felt guilt.


ü      The popular idea has a sting. “O death, where is thy sting?” This is

      a vivid personification of the last enemy. The world sedulously shuts up its

                        heart against the idea; but there is not an individual into whose bosom it

                        does not force its way at times, (the fear of death was a lifetime reality –

                        “them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject

                        to bondage” – Hebrews 2:15) and like a serpent it stings. There is no

                        idea that stings an ungodly man like the idea of death.


ü      The popular idea has a victory. It not only stings like a serpent, but

                        crushes like a conqueror. I speak not of the victory which death obtains

                        over the body, but I speak of a more crushing “victory” than this — a

                        victory over the soul. Whenever the idea takes possession of a worldly

                        mind, it is a victor; the soul is prostrated, the man is unmanned.


ü      The popular idea has a felt connection with sin. “The sting of death is

                        sin; and the strength of sin is the Law.” (v. 56)  The sinner’s sense of

                        guilt will be according to his knowledge of Law, and the terror of death will

                        be according to his sense of guilt. It is felt guilt that gives a “sting” and

                        “victory” to the idea of dying. All that is horrific in the idea starts from a

                        sin-stricken conscience. Such, then, is the popular idea of death. Wherever,

                        whether in Christian or heathen lands, in ancient or modern times,

                        Christianity is not received in its moral significance and spirit, you find it.




ü      The idea has neither “sting” nor “victory.” “O death, where is thy sting?

                        O grave, where is thy victory? By implication they once existed, but they

                        are gone.


ü      The Christian idea has, instead of “sting” and “victory,” rapture and

                        triumph. “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory.” (v. 57)

                        The victor has become the victim; the anguish of the sting has given place

                        to the ecstasy of the song.  “death and hell were cast into the lake of

                        fire” – (Revelation 20:14)


ü      The Christian idea comes to man through one medium. The old terrific

                        and popular idea of death has given way to a bright and a glorious one,

                        “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 57) How does Christ give this idea?

                        By awakening in the soul a new spiritual life. But how does a new

                        spiritual life do this? Because it involves the following things:


Ø      A stronger sympathy with the God of our destiny than with

      any other being. Where there is a moral oneness with that God in

      “whose hand our breath is,” (Daniel 5:23) there never can be any

      dread of death. But a dread of God must give a dread of death.


Ø      A stronger sympathy with the spiritual than with the material.

      Much of the fearfulness of death springs from the idea of separation

      from the dear objects of our attachment. Wherever, therefore, the

      supreme attachments are on the material, or sensual, the idea of

      death must be distressing (“to be carnally minded is death”

      (Romans 8:6) on account of the separation it involves; but where

      the most sympathy is with the unseen and the eternal, death will

      be regarded, not as severing connections, but as uniting them in

      closer fellowship.


Ø      A stronger sympathy with the future world than with the

       present.  Where the prevailing sympathies of the soul are with the

      Divine, spiritual, and the future, the idea of death will be bright and

      jubilant. This threefold sympathy, then, is essential in the nature of

                                    things to the existence of this felicitous and triumphant idea of death.


58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always

abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is

not in vain in the Lord."  Therefore. Seeing that you ought not to despair, but to

share in this confidence of triumph. Steadfast. Firmly fixed in your own

conviction (Colossians 1:23; II John 1:9). Unmoveable. By others

(Ephesians 4:14). Abounding in the work of the Lord.   Doing diligently and ungrudgingly the work of your lives, which is His work. That your labor is

not in vain. The thought of the verse is the same as that of Galatians 6:9,

“And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap,

if we faint not.”


Some general facts are very observable in this glorious chapter.


1. One is that Paul does not meet doubt by angry denunciation, or by crushing it

with the iron mace of impatient authority. What would now be thought of

Christians who denied the resurrection? Doubtless they were net mere

speculative deniers of the resurrection, like Hymenaeus and Philetus

(II Timothy 2:17), but recent Gentile converts, who could not get over their

pagan difficulties. Yet Paul meets them by personal appeals, by helpful

analogies, by lofty reasoning, by the glowing force of inspiring convictions.

Instead of taking refuge — more ecclesiastico — in anathema and

excommunication, he meets error by the counter presentation of ennobling



2. Another noteworthy fact is that Paul’s hope of the resurrection

rests, like all his theology, on the thought that the life of the Christian is a

life “IN CHRIST!.”


3. A third is his superiority to false analogies — like those

of the butterfly and the phoenix — which sufficed many ancient reasoners.

Even Christian writers like St. Clement of Rome continued to appeal to the

phoenix as a proof of the resurrection. The greatest ancient thinkers — like

Tacitus — believed in the existence of that fabulous bird, and even in the

genuineness of a specimen of it which had been exhibited at Rome. Was

there no “grace of superintendency” at work which prevented the sacred

writers from adopting the universal error of their day? Had Paul

appealed to the phoenix, centuries of Christian writers would have

continued to maintain the existence of that creature; and science, laughing

the belief to scorn, would (most unjustly) have made any allusion to it a

proof of mental weakness, and of the falsity of the doctrine which it was

supposed to prove.


4. A fourth point to be observed is the wisdom with

which Paul holds himself aloof from speculative fancies, tie does not,

like Plato, appeal to the doctrine of “reminiscence” (anamnesis), or of

unfulfilled ideas. He does not, like Kant, build any argument on man’s

failure to obey “the categorical imperative” of duty. He points to the sinless

Man — to the fulfilled idea of CHRIST!  His argument, which all could

understand, is summed up in the words, “YE ARE CHRIST'S, and

CHRIST IS RISEN! Your resurrection from the death of sin to

the life of righteousness is a pledge of your participation in



Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life:  he that believeth in me, though he

were dead, yet shall live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never

die.  Believest thou this?”  (John 11:25-26)  For Paul, Christ was in Eden, in Abraham,

Moses, David, Isaiah, Hosea; and the Old Testament was what it was and all it was because

Christ was in every one of its doctrines and institutions.  (Luke 24:27,45-49)  The present

Christ to him — the Christ of Damascus, and Arabia, and Jerusalem, and Athens, and

Ephesus, and Corinth — was the Christ of the past, (and also of the present, He is the

Christ of New York, Chicago, Amsterdam, Bogata, Tokyo, Paris, London, Nairobi,

Seoul, or London – CY – 2010) and He was this because He was the “Lamb slain

from the foundation of the world.”  (Revelation 13:8)  “Jesus Christ, the same

yesterday, today and for ever.” – (Hebrews 13:8)  He, “by Himself purged our

sins” – (ibid. 1:3) and the witness of the angels is “this same JESUS……..shall

so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” – (Acts 1:11)

and may our prayer be “even so come, LORD JESUS” – (Revelation 22:20)



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