1 Corinthians 15
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|1 Corinthians 15|
1 Corinthians 7:33–8:4 in Papyrus 15, written in the 3rd century
|Book||First Epistle to the Corinthians|
|Christian Bible part||New Testament|
|Order in the Christian part||7|
1 Corinthians 15 is the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle and Sosthenes in Ephesus. The first eleven verses contain the earliest account of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in the New Testament. The rest of the chapter stresses the primacy of the resurrection for Christianity.
Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:
- Codex Vaticanus (325–350)
- Codex Sinaiticus (330–360)
- Papyrus 123 (4th century; extant verses 3–6)
- Codex Alexandrinus (400–440)
- Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (c. 450; extant verses 41–58).
- Codex Freerianus (c. 450; extant verses 3, 15, 27–28, 38–39, 49–50)
- Codex Claromontanus (c. 550)
Verses 1–11: Kerygma of the death and resurrection of Jesus
- 1Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
- 3For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received:
- that Christ died for our sins
- in accordance with the scriptures,
- 4and that he was buried,
- and that he was raised on the third day
- in accordance with the scriptures,
- 5and that he appeared to Cephas,
- then to the twelve.
- 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
- 7Then he appeared to James,
- then to all the apostles.
- that Christ died for our sins
"According to the scriptures"
Soon after his death, Jesus' followers believed he was raised from death by God and exalted to divine status as Lord (Kyrios) "at God's 'right hand'," which "associates him in astonishing ways with God."[note 1] According to Larry Hurtado, powerful religious experiences were an indispensable factor in the emergence of this Christ-devotion. Those experiences "seem to have included visions of (and/or ascents to) God's heaven, in which the glorified Christ was seen in an exalted position."[note 2] Those experiences were interpreted in the framework of God's redemptive purposes, as reflected in the scriptures, in a "dynamic interaction between devout, prayerful searching for, and pondering over, scriptural texts and continuing powerful religious experiences." This initiated a "new devotional pattern unprecedented in Jewish monotheism," that is, the worship of Jesus next to God, giving a central place to Jesus because his ministry, and its consequences, had a strong impact on his early followers. Revelations, including those visions, but also inspired and spontaneous utterances, and "charismatic exegesis" of the Jewish scriptures, convinced them that this devotion was commanded by God.
"Died for our sins"
In the Jerusalem ekklēsia, from which Paul received this creed, the phrase "died for our sins" probably was an apologetic rationale for the death of Jesus as being part of God's plan and purpose, as evidenced in the scriptures. The phrase "died for our sins" was derived from Isaiah, especially Isaiah 53:4-11,[note 3] and Maccabees 4, especially 4 Maccabees 6:28–29.[web 1]
Isaiah 53:4-11 (NRSV):
 Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
 They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
 Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
4 Maccabees 6:28–29 (NRSV):
 Be merciful to your people, and let our punishment suffice for them.
 Make my blood their purification, and take my life in exchange for theirs.
According to Geza Vermes, for Paul 1 Corinthians 15:3 may have referred to Genesis 22 (NRSV), narrating the Binding of Isaac, in which Abraham is willing to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, obeying to the will of God.
"Raised on the third day"
Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him."[note 4]
Origins of the creed
The account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus in verses 3–7 appears to be an early pre-Pauline creedal statement. Verses 3–5 (plus possible additional verses) may be one of the earliest creeds about Jesus' death and resurrection. Most biblical scholars note the antiquity of the creed, probably originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. The antiquity of the creed has been placed to no more than five years after Jesus' death by most biblical scholars. The linguistic analysis suggests that the version received by Paul seems to have included verses 3b–6a and 7. The creed has been deemed to be historically reliable and is claimed to preserve a unique and verifiable testimony of the time.
Geza Vermes is representative of the common understanding of the origins of this creed in The Resurrection, stating that the words of Paul are "a tradition he has inherited from his seniors in the faith concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus". Gary R. Habermas argues, "Essentially all critical scholars today agree that in Corinthians 15:3–8, Paul records an ancient oral tradition(s) that summarizes the content of the Christian gospel," in which Paul "uses the explicit language of oral transmission," according to Donald Hagner. In other words, Paul's account has been described by scholars as "the very early tradition that was common to all Christians", as "a sacred tradition", and contained in "the oldest strata of tradition".
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. (Galatians 1:18–20)
Moreover, even skeptical scholars agree that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 is not an interpolation but was a creed formulated and taught at a very early date after Jesus' death. Gerd Lüdemann, a skeptic scholar, maintains that "the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus... not later than three years..." Michael Goulder, another skeptic scholar, states that it "goes back at least to what Paul was taught when he was converted, a couple of years after the crucifixion".
1 Corinthians 15:8-11 (NRSV):
 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
Verses 12-58: resurrection of the dead
Jesus and the believers 12–19
In verses 12–19, St Paul, in response to some expressed doubts of the Corinthian congregation, whom he is addressing in the letter, adduces the fundamental importance of the resurrection as a Christian doctrine. Through those verses, Paul is stressing the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its relevance to the core of Christianity. Paul rebukes the Corinth Church by saying if Jesus did not resurrect after the crucifixion, then there is no point in the Christianity faith (1 Cor 15:12–19 ESV).
- And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
Verses 20–28: the last enemy
In verses 20–28, Paul states that Christ will return in power and put his "enemies under his feet" (25) and even death, "the last enemy", shall be destroyed:
- The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Verse 29: baptism for the dead
- Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?
Verse 29 suggests that there existed a practice at Corinth whereby a living person would be baptized instead of some convert who had recently died. Teignmouth Shore, writing in Ellicott's Commentary for Modern Readers, notes that among the "numerous and ingenious conjectures" about this passage, the only tenable interpretation is that there existed a practice of baptising a living person to substitute those who had died before that sacrament could have been administered in Corinth, as also existed among the Marcionites in the second century, or still earlier than that, among a sect called "the Corinthians". The Jerusalem Bible states that "What this practice was is unknown. Paul does not say if he approved of it or not: he uses it merely for an ad hominem argument".
The Latter Day Saint movement interprets this passage to support the practice of baptism for the dead. This principle of vicarious work for the dead is an important work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the dispensation of the fulness of times. This interpretation is rejected by other denominations of Christianity.
Be not deceived: 33–4
33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.— 1 Corinthians 15:33-34 NKJV
Verse 33 contains a quotation from classical Greek literature. According to the church historian Socrates of Constantinople it is taken from a Greek tragedy of Euripides, but modern scholarship, following Jerome attributes it to the comedy Thaĩs by Menander, or Menander quoting Euripides. It might not have been a direct quote by Paul: "This saying was widely known as a familiar quotation."
Resurrection of the body: 35–58
The chapter closes with an account of the nature of the resurrection, that in the Last Judgement the dead will be raised and both the living and the dead transformed into "spiritual bodies" (verse 44):
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.— 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NKJV
Hence, through the power of Jesus Christ "Death is swallowed up in victory" (verse 54). Referring to a verse in the Book of Hosea, Paul asks: "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?" (verse 55), thus, equating sin with death and the Judaic Law which have now been conquered and superseded by the victory of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to 1 Corinthians 15:
FATHER, [...] this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 1 God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved 3 than the name of JESUS.
Readings from the text are used at funerals in the Catholic Church, where mourners are assured of the "sure and certain expectation of the resurrection to a better life".
In the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, the inscription on the headstone of Harry Potter's parents has the engraving of the words: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death". This is taken from the King James Version of 1 Corinthians 15:26.
- Commentary on the Apocalypse
- Resurrection of Jesus
- Related Bible parts: Genesis 2, Romans 5, Romans 6, Galatians 1
- The worship of God as expressed in the phrase "call upon the name of the Lord [Yahweh]" was also applied to Jesus, invocating his name "in corporate worship and in the wider devotional pattern of Christian believers (e.g., baptism, exorcism, healing)."
- These visions may mostly have appeared during corporate worship. Johan Leman contends that the communal meals provided a context in which participants entered a state of mind in which the presence of Jesus was felt.
- See Herald Gandi (2018), The Resurrection: “According to the Scriptures”?, referring to Isaiah 53, among others.
- See Why was Resurrection on “the Third Day”? Two Insights for explanations on the phrase "third day." See also 2 Kings 20:8: "Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?”" According to Sheehan, Paul's reference to Jesus having risen "on the third day [...] simply expresses the belief that Jesus was rescued from the fate of utter absence from God (death) and was admitted to the saving presence of God (the eschatological future)."
- "P123 (P. Oxy. 4844). Liste Handschriften DocID: 10123". Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- "016 (Smithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery of Art F1906.275). Liste Handschriften DocID: 20016". Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 NRSV
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 NRSV
- Hurtado 2005, p. 181.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 179.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 181-182.
- Hurtado 2005, pp. 64–65, 181, 184-185.
- Hurtado 2005, pp. 72–73.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 73.
- Leman 2015, pp. 168–169.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 184.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 53.
- Hurtado 2005, pp. 53–54.
- Hurtado 2005, pp. 72–73, 185.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 131.
- Vermes 2012, pp. 101–102.
- Lüdemann & Özen 1996, p. 73.
- Sheehan 1986, p. 112.
- Neufeld, The Earliest Christian Confessions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964) p. 47; Reginald Fuller, The Formation of the Resurrection Narratives (New York: Macmillan, 1971) p. 10 (ISBN 0281024758); Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90 (ISBN 0664208185); Oscar Cullmann, The Early Church: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 64; Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians, translated James W. Leitch (Philadelphia: Fortress 1975) p. 251 (ISBN 0800660056); Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament vol. 1 pp. 45, 80–82, 293; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) pp. 81, 92 (ISBN 0809117681)
- see Wolfhart Pannenberg, Jesus – God and Man translated Lewis Wilkins and Duane Pribe (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968) p. 90; Oscar Cullmann, The Early church: Studies in Early Christian History and Theology, ed. A. J. B. Higgins (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) p. 66; R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (New York: Paulist Press, 1973) p. 81; Thomas Sheehan, First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity (New York: Random House, 1986) pp. 110, 118; Ulrich Wilckens, Resurrection translated A. M. Stewart (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1977) p. 2; Hans Grass, Ostergeschen und Osterberichte, Second Edition (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1962) p. 96; Grass favors the origin in Damascus.
- MacGregor, Kirk R. (2006). "1 Corinthians 15:3b–6a, 7 and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 49 (2): 225–34.
- Hans von Campenhausen, "The Events of Easter and the Empty Tomb," in Tradition and Life in the Church (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968) p. 44
- Archibald Hunter, Works and Words of Jesus (1973) p. 100 (ISBN 0334018064)
- Geza Vermes (2008) The Resurrection. London, Penguin: 121–2 (ISBN 0739499696; ISBN 978-0141030050)
- Francis J. Beckwith; William Lane Craig; J. P. Moreland, eds. (2009). To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview. InterVarsity Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0830877508.
- Donald Hagner (2012). "Part 2.7. The Origin and Reliability of the Gospel Tradition". The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction. Baker Books. ISBN 978-1441240408.
- N.T. Wright. "Early Traditions and the Origins of Christianity". NTWrightPage.
- Larry W. Hurtado (2005). Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 978-0802831675.
- Dale Moody (1987). Robert L. Perkins (ed.). Perspectives on Scripture and Tradition: Essays in Honor of Dale Moody. Mercer University Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0865543058.
- Gerd Lüdemann (1994). The Resurrection of Jesus. p. 38.
- Michael Goulder (1996). The Baseless Fabric of a Vision (as quoted in Gavin D'Costa's Resurrection Reconsidered, p. 48).
- 1 Corinthians 15:17 KJV
- 1 Corinthians 15:26 KJV
- Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Book IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 838. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
- 1 Corinthians 15:29 NKJV
- Teignmouth Shore, Ellicott's Commentary for Modern Readers on 1 Corinthians 15, accessed 12 April 2017
- Jerusalem Bible (1966), note at 1 Corinthians 15:29
- LCMS Frequently Asked Questions: Other Denominations, Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
- Vatican Warns of Mormon 'Baptism of the Dead', Catholic Online, retrieved July 3, 2016
- Receive Guidelines for Ministering to Mormons Who Seek to Become United Methodists, United Methodist Church, archived from the original on 2016-08-19, retrieved July 3, 2016
- The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates ... , London: George Bell, 1897. book III, chapter 16, verse 114, page 194. See also the introductory essay to Samson Agonistes by John Milton, Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is call'd Tragedy.
- Commentarium ad Titum 100.1
- Hans Conzelmann (1975). 1 Corinthians: A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. James W. Leach (translator). Philadelphia: Fortress Press. pp. 278–279 fn 132. ISBN 0800660056.
- E.P. Sanders (1991) Paul. Oxford University Press: 29–30 (ISBN 0192876791). For a homiletic application, see "When I Get to the End of the Way" (References).
- "Prologue". Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican. Retrieved 2014-08-14.
- Catholic Church. (1998). Lectionary for mass, second typical edition, introduction (Liturgy documentary series, 1). Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference.
- Rowling, J. K. (2007). Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Book 7 (illustrated ed.). Arthur A. Levine Books. pp. 328. ISBN 9780545010221.
- Garcia, Elena (19 October 2007). "Harry Potter author reveals books' Christian allegory, her struggling faith". Christian Today. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- Egerton, Joe (26 November 2010). "From Harry Potter to Jesus Christ". Thinking Faith. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
- Printed sources
- Hurtado, Larry (2005). Lord Jesus Christ. Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity. Eerdmans.
- Leman, Johan (2015). Van totem tot verrezen Heer. Een historisch-antropologisch verhaal. Pelckmans.
- Lüdemann, Gerd; Özen, Alf (1996). De opstanding van Jezus. Een historische benadering (Was mit Jesus wirklich geschah. Die Auferstehung historisch betrachtet / The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry). The Have/Averbode.
- Sheehan, Thomas (1986). First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity. New York: Random House.
- Vermes, Geza (2012). Christian Beginnings: From Nazareth to Nicaea, AD 30-325. Penguin.
- James F. McGrath (2007), What’s Wrong With Penal Substitution?
- 1 Corinthians 15 King James Bible - Wikisource
- English Translation with Parallel Latin Vulgate
- Online Bible at GospelHall.org (ESV, KJV, Darby, American Standard Version, Bible in Basic English)
- Multiple bible versions at Bible Gateway (NKJV, NIV, NRSV etc.)
- A Refresher Course on the Resurrection of the Dead