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1 Corinthians 15:1-11

“A Resurrection People”

As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the hope of future resurrection, the church is challenged to embrace resurrection life as a daily reality (all 365 days a year). There are several elements to Paul’s opening argument in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, which help us to better understand how this can be done. Before addressing these, I will briefly set the stage.

The church at Corinth had significant personal, social, and theological issues, which led to substantial division in the Church. Many have seen chapters 1—14 as Paul dealing with these very specific issues from a practical perspective before moving to chapter 15 where he must deal with a significant theological concern from a theological perspective. However, this is to miss the truth that Paul is both practical and theological throughout (indeed, this is the calling and work of a pastor). A different way of viewing this epistle is to recognize how Paul deals with specific “surface” issues in chapters 1—14 by helping the Corinthians to understand the theological truths that undergird why they should be united rather than divided. Then, in chapter 15, Paul addresses the “surface” theological issue of bodily resurrection, which ultimately seeks to help the Corinthians embrace a practical truth, namely, that they are called to die to their sinful, selfish desires in the present so as to embody resurrection life in the here and now. Our short passage begins this argument, which is developed and brought to fruition in the rest of the chapter. When reading through the whole of chapter 15, we see that Paul deals with death as much as he deals with resurrection. These two go hand and hand. In Paul’s understanding, death always precedes resurrection both physically and spiritually. Paul presents Christ death and resurrection and proof of this truth and the Gospel as the ongoing evidence of a new resurrection reality.

Now we can briefly highlight five important elements of Paul’s words in 15:1-11, which help us to embrace resurrection life in the present. First, Paul articulates a process of “receiving” and “extending” the Gospel. We are reminded that the faith journey does not take place in a vacuum. Even this great apostle received assistance from others after his encounter with Christ on the Damascus road—Ananias, Peter, James, and Barnabas, just to name a few. Paul would have depended on others to inform him about the details of Jesus