Chapter 40 The Implications Of Our Lord's Resurrection

I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ… rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

This is a classic Scripture on the matter and fact of our Lord’s resurrection. It is full and complete as we see in four great truths.

The Resurrection in Relation to the Gospel

The apostle’s first word is a declaration of the Gospel—salvation because “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”—and that “He was buried,” which proved that He had died. But His resurrection is the crown of His whole redeeming work. This, too, was “according to the Scriptures.” His resurrection ratifies and confirms the fact that He died for our sins. It is proof that redemption was accomplished by our Lord’s death. The apostle lists all who saw Him in resurrection life—in ten instances and in many kinds of places. If there was no resurrection then, says the apostle, “Christ [is] not risen”—“our preaching [is] vain”—“your faith is also vain”—“we are found false witnesses”—“ye are yet in your sins”—“they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (15:13-18)! “But now is Christ risen from the dead” (v. 20)— “Christ the firstfruits” —the reality of the feast of firstfruits in Leviticus 23:10, 11, at which feast only one sheaf was cut and taken into the temple of God and, be it remembered, not on the Jewish seventh day, but the eighth. Only one sheaf—and that sheaf was Christ!

The Resurrection in Relation to the Kingdom

“Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father” (v. 24). This is great prophetic insight. It speaks of the end of the present order—the consummation of this present age. That will accomplish the finality of our Lord’s redeeming work when He “shall have put down all rule and all authority and power,” and when all His enemies shall be put under His feet, and death itself destroyed. All things will be restored to the rule of God and this will be for the Father’s glory. This explains our Lord’s title of “The everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6. that is, not the Father of the redeemed, but the Father of the ages. This also makes foolish the Mormon doctrine of baptizing for the dead as though by such an invention they can save those who died in their sins. Baptism is not a ticket for heaven. Baptism has nothing to do with our right to enter heaven. It is a testimony here on earth to our having entered the Lord’s kingdom through faith in Him. The apostle is saying, “Why baptize for the dead if there is no resurrection?”—which some were denying. Why be baptized as an identification with Christ in His death if you are to remain in death?

The Resurrection in Relation to Natural Law

In verses 35 through 49 the apostle answers those who ask, “How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” He begins his answer with, “Thou fool”—that is, it is a foolish thing to so inquire, for one only has to look at the everyday operation in nature. A person sows grain that it might die. Without that death there could be no harvest. What springs out of that which dies is a new body. It comes forth in a new form and fashion. The essential life principle was not lost when the exterior shell died away. So with the resurrection of our bodies. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” The body which we derived from Adam was simply made “of the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). That is the natural body. But “afterward that which is spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15:46). It is something far, far better, something suitable for the heavenly realm, and is of more enduring substance.

The Resurrection in Relation to Immortality

In verses 50 through 57 of this wondrous chapter, we read, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (v. 51). There are some who will be alive in the day when the Lord comes for His own. These will undergo a change as those whose bodies are to rise from death. “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 sound of a trumpet is a military term. It is a call to march forward. We are to move to another abode and have need of our resurrection bodies. This is the final triumph over death. “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Having declared that “the sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law,” the apostle cries in glad triumphant praise—“Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 57).

What a deliverance! The result of such contemplation is that we are to turn to the work of the Lord with new purpose of heart and energy. Every shadow has been dispelled. Every enemy has been overcome.

Jesus lives! thy terrors now
Can, O death, no more appall us;
Jesus lives! by this we know
Thou, O grave, canst not enthrall us.

Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of life immortal;
This shall calm our trembling breath
When we pass its gloomy portal.

Jesus lives! to Him the throne
Over all the world is given;
May we go where He has gone,
Rest and reign with Him in heaven.

—Christian L. Gellert
Tr. By Frances E. Cox