First Corinthians 15


Key Verse: 15:12

Since you believe in Christ’s Resurrection, how can you not believe in the resurrection?


It appears that an influential group of teachers are opposing Paul’s teaching concerning the physical, or bodily, resurrection in Corinth.


Paul’s response is in this chapter 15 in three parts:

  1. 15:1-11 – Paul reestablishes the gospel
    1. These are objective truths

                                                              i.      Jesus Died

                                                            ii.      Jesus was resurrected

    1. Two Themes from 14:33-38 are picked up here:

                                                              i.      Paul’s apostolic doctrine was common doctrine for all true believers

                                                            ii.      Paul’s apostolic doctrine was what influenced their beginning

  1. 15:12-34 – The contradiction of their position.  Their doctrines are conflicting and illogical.
    1. The main problem with their doctrine:  Christ was raised, but there is no resurrection??
    2. Paul then balances their illogical doctrine with three hypothetical logical conclusions.

                                                              i.      15:12-19 – Christ was not raised so the Christian faith is a lie

                                                            ii.      15:20-28 – Christ was raised and so we will all be raised.  Christ was the first fruits, or the beginning, of resurrection that will have it’s ultimate fulfillment in the destruction of death itself.

                                                          iii.      15:29-34 - If there is no resurrection for us then why do we live committed to things that do not matter.

  1. 15:35-58 – How are the dead raised?
    1. Short answer: With a physical resurrection with a transformed body that is adapted to the new realm


The Corinthian problem began with their false identification of spiritual.  They had received the Spirit, manifested spiritual gifts, considered themselves part of the angelic realm and no longer needed to be concerned with marriage, sexual responsibilities, the effects of sin, Paul’s “elementary” teaching nor with a physical body.  The resurrection was unnecessary for their new spiritual state.


Early church thinking had to adjust to the death of the believer.  Christ’s resurrection meant salvation but some early believers did not necessarily connect Christ’s resurrection to their own or other people’s resurrection from death.  Most of the Christians were still alive and waiting for Jesus.  This issue is seen in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians that he wrote from Corinth.  See 1 Thes. 4:13-18.


Paul’s theology is that with Christ’s resurrection, God set into motion the complete overthrow of death.



Paul does not try to prove the resurrection but restates it to the Corinthians.


15:1-2 - They have already believed

15:3-5 – An early Statement of Faith or Christian Creed

15:5-7 – A collection of commonly stated events that prove the above Statement of Faith

15:8 – Paul’s experience

15:9-10 – Paul’s apostleship



“I remind” or “I make known” picks up on the “ignorant” option of 14:38.  The “spirituals” are “ignorant” because they have ignored Paul’s previous instruction.


  1. Preached to you” refers to the traditional Christian Creed of 15:3-7
  2. You hold fast” refers to the doctrine of hope presented in 15:12-28
  3. Unless it is vain” refers to the uselessness of the gospel if there is no resurrection discussed in 15:29-34.  Believed in vain” is NOT a reference to them loosing their salvation but is a reference to the vanity of committing to the gospel if the above points #1 and #2 are not true.



“For What I received” is a technical term from Paul’s Jewish training and refers to transmission of religious instruction.  It is also used in 1 Cor. 11:23.


First Line:

Christ died for our sins

  1. Foundation of Faith as in 1 Th. 4:14
  2. “Christ” is the English word for the Greek word “christos” which means “anointed one” which a word used to translate the Hebrew word “messiah” which means in Hebrew “anointed one”
  3. “for our sins” is the message of Isaiah 53
  4. The language of Atonement:           
    1. “death” is the penalty
    2. “our sins” is the crime


“According to Scripture”

  1. Refers not to one particular passage of the OT but to the entire OT since the Messiah and his death for mankind’s sin is found from Genesis to  Malachi.
  2. The “scripture” could refer to the promise in the  garden, Isaac on the altar, the Passover lamb in Egypt, promises to David, Isaiah 53, etc.


Second Line:

that he was buried”

  1. the focus is on the dead corpse.
  2. This was a real physical death


Third Line:

that he was raised on the third day according to scripture.”

  1. according to scripture” refers to the OT speaking of the Messiah or the Christ’s resurrection.
  2. according to scripture” may not be referring to “on the third day” since that was not made clear in the OT.  It was made clear by Jesus during his ministry.
  3. on the third day” is the statement by the believers that the resur4reciton had occurred in history.  It happened on “the third day.”