1st Corinthians Chapter 15
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1 Cor 15: 12-18

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Marialice W


Summary of Historical-Homiletical Work Method on 1 Corinthians 15:12-18:


I.- Initial Acquaintance:

A.     The initial reading of the KJV, NIV, and the RSV showed little change in the different translations. The major difference in verses were choice of words that equivalent meaning but different interpretations.

Verse 12- RSV- “ as raised from the dead”

                 NIV- “has been raised from the dead”

                 KJV- “ he rose from the dead”

Verse 13- RSV- “then Christ has not been raised.”

                NIV- “ then not even Christ has been raised.”

                KJV- “ then is Christ not risen:”  

Verse 15- RSV- “to be misrepresenting God”

                 NIV- “ found to be false witnesses about God”

                 KJV- “ found false witnesses of God;”

Verse 19- RSV- “ men most to be pitied”

                 NIV- “ who have fallen asleep in Christ are to be pitied”

                 KJV- “ fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”

B.     Textual Criticism:

There were a few variances in the text but they were not very significant except in verse 14.  The umwn[B] is a variance in the verse.  Although several important witnesses including (B, D, 33, 81,330, 1739) read hmwv, this may be itacism for umwv or mechanical assimilation to the previous hmwv.  The context seems to be “your faith” that correlates to your preaching and again relates to verse 17 where it states your faith.


C.     Translation:

I Cor. 15:12-18

Verse 12- Now, if Christ is proclaimed that he has been raised from the dead, How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead/ that the resurrection of the dead is not possible?

Verse 13- Then, if there is no resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of the dead is not possible (neither) has Christ been raised/ Christ has not been raised either.

Verse 14- Then, if Christ has not been raised, then our message is in vain/ has no purpose and so your faith is in vain/ has no purpose.

Verse 15- We are found to be false witnesses of God because we testified that God raised Christ whom God did not raise up, if it is true that the dead are not raised.

Verse 16- For if the dead are not raised neither has Christ been raised.

Verse 17- And if Christ has not been raised, you faith is worthless/ in vain, you are still in your sins (sins of you).

Verse 18- And then, those (the ones) having fallen asleep in Christ (died) have perished.

Verse 19-  If for  this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people to be pitied.



II.                 Disposition:

A.     Genre:

In this particular pericope, Paul uses a literary device to anyalsis the question of resurrection of the body.  Christ has been raised

                                               Our proclamation is in vain

                                                   Result- false witnesses

                                                Your faith is in vain and futile

                                                    Result- you’re in sin

                                                 Those is in Christ have died.

This technique is similar to a prayer in the  Jewish text( Apoc. Bar 22-30) similar to late 1st and 2nd century.( referenced from First Corinthians, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Richard B. Hays)

The use of the “if clause” forms a type of logical argument format for this pericope.  It is not  a type of pronouncement but a debate on the center of the Christian faith.


B.     Questions:

 Is Paul’s line of questioning setting up his following discussions that will affirm the resurrection or explain the discrepancies the people in Corinthians have?

Is Paul speculating that Christianity is only a promise and not a reality?

Could Paul also mean in reference to the dead not only bodily but also spiritually?

The use of those sleeping in Christ raises the question of interpretation of verse 18.  Does sleeping mean dead? How could one fall asleep in Christ if in Christ you are born anew?


C.     These questions will be answered in Paul’s writings that follow.

Even though Paul was writing to a specific audience, the question of the resurrection continues.   The question regarding asleep in Christ refers to the audience Paul is writing to who have become Christians.  The question of following asleep may be used figuratively or poetically to make a point in Paul’s writings.

III.               Composition:

A.     The pericope verse 12-18 is part of chapter 15 that is an excursion concerning the gospel on the resurrection.  It follows the opening pericope of verses 1-11 that deal with how the tradition of the resurrection was received.  Verses 12-18 give evidence for the resurrection of the body.  The pericope following gives the consequences of Christ’s resurrection.  This particular pericope lays the foundation for the argument that follows.

B.     Chapter 15 as a whole- Excursions concerning gospels of the Resurrection

  1. The received Tradition about Resurrection v 1-11
  2. Resurrection of Christ as evidence for Resurrection of the Dead- v 12-19
  3. Consequences of Christ Resurrection 20-28
  4. Implications of the Resurrection v29-34
  5. Nature of the Resurrection of the body- 35-49
  6. The mystery of the end 50-57
  7. Exhortation- 58

C.     The Author

The author of 1Cor. is Paul.



IV.              Context-

A.     Primitive Christianity.

   According to Alsup, the kerygma tradition is recognized as the oldest and that I Cor. 15 is part of that tradition.  The question is what is the relationship between the kerygma tradition and the gospels.  I Cor. 15 seem to make parallel illusions or references.  I Cor. 15 reflects a Pauline addition to the original kerygmatic formula

There seems to be more appearance stories that relate to the Hellenistic period than do resurrection stories.


V.                 Distillation

A.     Salient Features:

Paul relentlessly reverses the reasoning of the resurrection.  By doing a reversal, he convinces the listener that not only Christ but also all humanity is raised from the dead.  His point of view is that Christ was human and as the listener is human then resurrection is inevitable if one believes in Christ.  Otherwise all is lost. The use of sleep in Christ is not developed nor the implications theologically are explored.  Yet, Paul seems to be making reference to the deadly body since from the Hellenistic view points there were many different beliefs floating around about death and resurrection.  It may also be that the Jewish influence of resurrection was infiltrating the Hellenistic view since many of the new leaders in the church came from Jewish heritage. It is apparent that Paul’s honesty is very persuasive and an added attribute to his argument.  Paul is positive that the resurrection of Christ is a necessary part of God’s freeing humanity from sin and guilt.  As Paul says that if you don’t believe in the resurrection then you are left in your sin.

    It seems Luedemann’s view of guilt and psychological analysis of the resurrection cannot be applied to this pericope.  Paul closely relates the Resurrection to being freed from sin, forgiveness and eternal life.  In the discussion of forgiveness, Luedemann may be able to hold a discussion on this issue that relates to I Cor. 15.
References used in making observations:

First Corinthians, Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, Richard B. Hays, John Knox Press.

I Corinthians, The Anchor Bible, William F. Orr  and James Arthur Walther, DoubleDay & Co. Garden City, New York, 1976.

First Corinthians, An introduction and Study Guide, John J. Kilgallen

1 Cor 15: 20-28

Provided by NL

Exegesis of 1Cor 15:20-28

Initial Acquaintance

(A) Translation Comparison V. 20 K.J.V. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
R.S.V. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
N.R.S.V. ................, the first fruits of those who have died.

V. 21 K.J.V. For since by man came death
R.S.V. For as by man came death
N.R.S.V. For since death came through a human being

V. 23 K.J.V. ... Afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming
R.S.V. ... Then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

V. 27 K.J.V. 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.
R.S.V. "For God has put all things in subjection under his feet". But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him", it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him.
N.R.S.V. ...... But when it says, "All things are put in subjection, " it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him.

V. 28 K.J.V. And when all things shall be subdued unto him then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him, ...... that God may be all in all.
R.S.V. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him........ that God maybe everything to everyone.
N.R.S. ............ So that God maybe all in all.

(B) Textual Criticism

V. 20 Eyeveto (he became) at the end of the verse 20, has only one substantial Alexandrian support, while there are 4 substantial Alexandrian support for the Nestle text.

V. 24 The word IIapadidw (he gives over) is replaced by IIapadw There is no substantial Alexandrian support for this, while there are 3 substantial Alexandrian support for the Nestle text.

V. 27 Oti (that) is omitted by witnesses cited. There are 2 substantial Alexandrian support for it. For Nestle text there are 2 substantial support also. The evidence is split. We go to internal evidence, I will go with Nestle's older text, which probably is correct.

V. 28 Omits "Kai". There are 2 Alexandrian support for it. There are 2 Alexandrian support for the Nestle's text as well. Nestle's text again has the oldest Alexandrian support, so I will go with it.

(C) Rough Translation:
(V.20) But now Christ has been raised (perfect tense) from dead, first fruits of those fallen asleep. (Perfect participle denoting continuing state). (V.21) For since through man death, also through man resurrection of dead. (V.22) As for in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive. (V.23) But each in the own order (rank). First fruits Christ; afterwards those of Christ in the coming of him. (V.24) Then the end, when he gives up the kingdom to God and father; when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. (V.25) For it is necessary of him to reign until he puts all the enemies under the feet of him. (V. 26) Last enemy being abolished the death. (V.27) For all things he subjected under the feet of him. But when he says that all things have been subjected, it manifest (clear) that excepted the one having subjected to him all things. (V.28) But when are subjected to him all things then also himself the Son will be subjected to the one having subjected to him all things, that maybe God all things in all.

II Disposition

A. The genre is in the gospel tradition. There is hope for humanity in the triumphant assertion of Christ's resurrection. Paul does not attempt to establish anew the fact of Christ's resurrection, but he asserts the old. In V. 21-22 we have Adam-Christ motif (analogy), V. 24 draws on the consummation of Christ's reign; motif of Christ's ultimate victory and nullification of death.

V. 27 -28 Motif of God's ultimate and complete supremacy.

B: Personal Interaction

Q. 1. Why did Paul feel the need to justify the risen Christ?
Q. 2. What does he mean by the "first fruits"? (V.20).
Q. 3. N.R.S.V. says "the first fruit of those who have died." Is there any difference in those who have fallen sleep (R.S.V./K.J.V.) and those who have died?
Q. 4. How is Christ going to destroy the last enemy death? (V.27).
Q. 5. Has the resurrected Christ already conquered death? What does that mean for us?
Q. 6. Paul talks about the believers. What about the non-believers, especially those who never had an opportunity to know Christ?
Q. 7. How is one to understand, son subjected (or subject) to God?
Q. 8. As Luedmann suggests, can we still be Christians without having to believe in the resurrected Christ?

Salient Features

(1) "First fruits of those who have fallen sleep". Christ is the first fruits. The resurrection of Christ as first fruits especially agrees with the offering of the "Sheaf", a Jewish festival called "omer", because circumstance of the time. For first there was the Passover and the day following was a Sabbatical day, and on the day following that, the first-fruits were offered. This relates well to Christ's death, burial and resurrection --Christ as the Passover (Lightfoot-Ed).

The term first-fruits is derived from the Old Testament sacrificial offering system (Exod. 22:24, 23:19, 34:26; Leu. 2:12, 14, 23: 10-11 and Deut. 26: 1-11).

Moreover, first fruits imply later fruits. Morris points out that Christ was not the first to rise from the dead. He himself had raised some e.g. Lazarus, but they would die in due time. Christ's resurrection was to life that knows no death and in that sense he was the forerunner of all. The outer margin of Nestle's text send us to Act 3:15; 26, 23 and I Th. 4:13. Act 3:15 "and you killed the Author of whom God raised from the dead".

Christ's resurrection was first "permanent" triumph over death (Walther).

(2) Sleep/death. For pagans death was the end of everything, but for Christians it was no more than sleep. ( 1 Thes. 4:13).

(3) Adam-Christ (Adam in Hebrew means man) verse 21 and 22 are set out in double parallelism, depicting Paul's understanding of Christ and his relationship to humankind. Death/sin came through the man Adam, life came through the man avopwIIos Christ.

Adam in Jewish speculation had become the primal man, in whom the whole of mankind was contained. The idea of primal man was wide spread by Gnosticism in the 2nd century. It seems these ideas that existed in Corinth, were later taken up by the Gnostics.

Christ as the 2nd Adam is the underlined motif. Second Adam or Heavenly man figure is mythological, but this myth has been historicized by Paul. By putting the future, Paul avoids the non historical form of the Gnostics. In V. 25, both clauses begin with Otav indicating a future reality.

(4) Order of event. Tagma (order, rank) was originally a military term used for detachment of soldiers.

Order of event which leads to the End.

1. The first fruits, Christ.
2. Then at Parousia, those who belong to Christ.
3. Then the end--the goal.
(a) When Christ hands over the kingdom to God the father.
(b) When Christ brings to an end all other dominions (Fee).

1 Cor 15: 29-34

Provided by JW

Exegesis of 1Cor 15:29-34

I. Comparison of translations:

NRSV: Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
30 And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour?
31 I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you-- a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord.
32 If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals."
34 Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

NKJV: 29 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?
30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?
31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"
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.

Young’s Literal Translation: 29 Seeing what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? why also are they baptized for the dead?
30 why also do we stand in peril every hour?
31 Every day do I die, by the glorying of you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord:
32 if after the manner of a man with wild beasts I fought in Ephesus, what the advantage to me if the dead do not rise? let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die!
33 Be not led astray; evil communications corrupt good manners;
34 awake up, as is right, and sin not; for certain have an ignorance of God; for shame to you I say {it}.

John Calvin’s Translation (from his commentary): Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorying in you, brethren, which I have in Jesus Christ our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I fought with beasts in Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Be not deceived: Evil company doth corrupt good manners. Awake up righteously, and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God: I speak this to move you to shame.

II. My rough translation:

29 - For what will happen to the ones being baptized on behalf of the dead? And if actually the dead are not being raised, why are they being baptized for them? 30 - And why are we facing danger every hour (time)? 31 - Just so, daily I am dying; truly the boasting in you, brothers, I have it in Jesus Christ, the lord of us. 32 - If according to humans, I fought with wild animals in Ephesus, what benefit (is it) to me if dead are not being raised? We should eat and we should drink, for tomorrow we are dying. 33 - You (all) do not be deceived! They are corrupting good habits, evil associations. 34 - You (all) become sober, as you ought (come to your senses - lexicon) and do not sin; because some (they) have an ignorance of a spiritual knowledge of God (avgnwsi,an), I am speaking to you in order to shame (you).

III . Text critical issues and references:

In verse 29 an allusion is seen to 2 Mcc 12:43 - where Judas Maccabeus made sacrifices in the temple on behalf of his fallen soldiers. (Hays, 267). Two alternate readings of the final auvtw/nÈ ton nekron,, autwn ton nekron however the text is much more strongly attested.

31 has adelfoi omitted, and an altennate reading of the phrase Cristw/| VIhsou/ tw/| kuri,w| h`mw/n , which is shortened to kuri,w

32 The phrase Fa,gwmen kai. pi,wmen( au;rion ga.r avpoqnh,|skomenÅ is from Isaiah 22:13, and possibly other ancient writings

33 The phrase Fqei,rousin h;qh crhsta. o`mili,ai kakai, quotes from an ancient proverb or the Greek poet Menander.

34 The final verb is also rendered as legw in some texts which is not as strong in emphasizing speaking out or proclaiming: the text is better attested.

IV. Historical background:

Raymond Brown, in An Introduction to the New Testament notes that there was at least a full decade of contact between Paul and the church at Corinth, which had been founded sometime between 50-52 CE and this letter was written between 54-57 CE. Much of this contact was colored by a range of problems and controversies - there were rival factions, diverse sexual practices and understandings of marriage obligations, roles of the members and use of liturgy. In Chapter 15, however, Paul is dealing with a doctrinal issue - the belief in the resurrection of the dead. Brown sees this chapter as Part IV of the letter but he further breaks down the chapter to follow Paul’s arguments concerning the resurrection. Verses 1-11 gives the common tradition that Jesus rose and appeared to Cephas (Peter), then the Twelve, then to more than 500, then to James, and last of all to Paul himself. But some are denying the resurrection (v.12), or believing that with the coming of the Spirit it had already taken place (in other words, they were denying a “bodily” resurrection). Paul constructs his argument thus: V 12-19, all the dead to be raised; V 20-34 this will happen in the future; and it will be a bodily resurrection V 35-50. For Paul resurrection is not an abstract issue, it is the core of Christian belief.(Brown, 524-525).

The traditional sequence: Jesus died, was buried, rose and appeared to Peter, the 12, 500, and James was already well known by the community and it developed parallel to Paul’s preaching. Brown also notes that Paul is speaking as a first-hand witness and even the Gospel writers, such as Luke, could not make that claim. Brown says that apparently Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus has something to do with his expectation about the raising of the dead. (B. 534).

V. The Commentaries

In reading John Calvin’s commentary, his discomfort with the concept of anyone being baptized on behalf of the dead is evident. You can almost feel the hair stand up on the back of his neck! Even the NIV struggles with an interpretation of verse 29. Calvin finds it strange that such a “perversion” of the practice of baptism would not have had Paul speaking out against it. So he tries to find a way to make the text fit in with his (Calvin’s) own belief system: “The people being baptized for the dead are those who are thought of as dead already and who have given up hope of life altogether.” Or perhaps “they are being baptized, to get the benefit from it when they are dead, not alive (C, 329-330).

The Right Rev. Archibald Robertson notes that this has caused so much perplexity that some have suggested that it (verse 29) be omitted from the text. In 1890 J.W. Horsley collected 36 explanations for this text, but Robertson limits himself to using only three: one is that it was an actual practice among some in Corinth, two, that the practice itself seems to denote a belief in the affects of baptism, and three: that some are being baptized because of the influence of other people, i.e. “Granny, made me promise on her death bed that I would be baptized” (R.. 359-360). Robertson interprets this to mean that Paul is asking “Why in the world would you be baptizing for the dead, if you don’t believe in the resurrection?’

Richard Hays, in his commentary on 1 Cor. takes the same approach and frames it in light of our current practices: “If the dead are not raised, why do we sacrifice our time and resources in running a soup kitchen for the homeless?” (Hays. 267).

This is perplexing because “baptism on behalf of the dead” is not a practice noted in the NT writings or even by the early church fathers. When it is mentioned several centuries later it is in the context of “heresy” - which is why Calvin was so uncomfortable even discussing it.

Verse 30 - The commentators all see this as self-explanatory: This is the second part of his argument begun in 29 - “Why do you do these things, if you don’t believe in resurrection”. Here he says: “Why in the world would I (Paul) put myself in peril every day, if I didn’t believe in the resurrection?”

Verse 31 - Calvin sees the second part of this as a “sacred oath” form, and thinks that the Latin translators of the Vulgate had misread the particle nh and he makes it much stronger than “on account of” or even “truly” - Calvin thinks it is Paul’s was of getting the Corinthians to pay attention to what he has to say.

Verse 32 - Most of the commentators take the reference to fighting with wild beasts in Ephesus as metaphorical - meaning that Paul contended with factions out to destroy him. Calvin, on the other hand sees this as literal - many things happened to Paul which were not written down (or were lost) by either him or by the writer of Acts(C, 332-333). Robertson says it is very unlikely that Paul would have fought in the arena: he was a Roman citizen and even if convicted of a crime could not be compelled in this way; also, if it were true, such a miraculous escape could not have gone unmentioned by Paul himself (R, 361-362). The second part of this verse is a quote from Isaiah, and perhaps from other ancient writings such as those of the Epicureans, whose philosophy was “live for today”.

Verse 33 - begins with Paul’s exhortation not to sin, and continues by quoting the Greek playwright Menander, who may have been quoting an ancient proverb - but the idea, according to the commentators, is that the Corinthians are being led astray by those who are giving them false information and causing them to speculate rather than believe. The implied idea, is don’t hang out with them - they are corrupting you!

Verse 34 - Paul is again exhorting the Corinthians to stop sinning (by their idle speculations) and come to their senses (return to what they know is true). The second part of this verse seems to be a challenge to them to speak out on behalf of the gospel. The NIV Study Bible notes that some are ignorant of God - why? Are you not teaching them correctly? This is a shameful situation (NIV. 1759). Calvin says that when Paul accuses them of an ignorance of God they are left with no honor to their name (C. 334). Robertson says that the Corinthians thought themselves to be “sober thinkers” and may have dismissed belief in resurrection as a “wild enthusasiam”, but their agnosticism is putting them at peril. “Their inability to recognize the power and goodness of God was shown in their dogmatic assertion that He does not raise the dead”(R. 364).


Were the Corinthians practicing “baptism on behalf of the dead” or is this a metaphor as Calvin and others believe?
If Paul is asking the Corinthians to cease from idle speculation about “resurrection” and the world to come, what does that say to us today as theologians? Where is the line drawn between “idle speculation” and theological discourse?


Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday. New York.

Calvin, John. translator John W. Fraser.The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Wm. Eerdsmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids.

Hays, Richard B. First Corinthians from Interpretation: a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. John Knox Press. Louisville

Robertson, Archibald and Plummer, Alfred. First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. T & T Clark, Edinburgh.

NIV Study Bible, Kenneth Barker, General Editor. Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV). Metzger, Bruce and Murphy, Roland editors. Oxford University Press. New York.

1 Cor 15: 35-42

Provided by DDH

Exegetical Report

Exegetical Report

1 Corinthians 15:35-42

  1. VAlla. evrei/ tij( Pw/j evgei,rontai oi` nekroi,È poi,w| de. sw,mati e;rcontaiÈ
  2. But someone will say, "How [are] the dead being raised? And [with] what kind of body are they coming?

  3. a;frwn( su. o] spei,reij( ouv zw|opoiei/tai eva.n mh. avpoqa,nh|\
  4. Foolish one, that which you yourself [sg] sow is not being given life unless it should die.

  5. kai. o] spei,reij( ouv to. sw/ma to. genhso,menon spei,reij avlla. gumno.n ko,kkon eiv tu,coi si,tou h; t-inoj tw/n loipw/n\
  6. And that which you sow, [is] not the body the-going-to-become-one. But you sow naked seed, probably, of wheat or some other [grain].

  7. o` de. qeo.j di,dwsin auvtw/| sw/ma kaqw.j hvqe,lhsen( kai. e`ka,stw| tw/n sperma,twn i;dion sw/maÅ
  8. But God gives to it a body as God willed, and each of the seeds its own body.

  9. ouv pa/sa sa.rx h` auvth. sa,rx avlla. a;llh me.n avnqrw,pwn( a;llh de. sa.rx kthnw/n( a;llh de. sa.rx pthnw/n( a;llh de. ivcqu,wnÅ
  10. Not all flesh [is] the same but there is one flesh of human beings and another flesh of animals and another flesh of feathered ones and another of fish.

  11. kai. sw,mata evpoura,nia( kai. sw,mata evpi,geia\ avlla. e`te,ra me.n h` tw/n evpourani,wn do,xa( e`te,ra de. h` tw/n evpigei,wnÅ
  12. And [there are] heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. But the glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies.

  13. a;llh do,xa h`li,ou( kai. a;llh do,xa selh,nhj( kai. a;llh do,xa avste,rwn\ avsth.r ga.r avste,roj diafe,rei evn do,xh|Å
  14. Another glory of sun and another glory of moon and another glory of stars. For a star differs from a star in glory.

  15. Ou[twj kai. h` avna,stasij tw/n nekrw/nÅ spei,retai evn fqora/|( evgei,retai evn avfqarsi,a|\

In this way also the resurrection of the dead. You [sg] are being sowed in that which is perishable, you [sg] are being raised in that which is imperishable.

Chapter 15 of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is a Midrash . In the first 11 verses, Paul determines the necessity of the resurrection. In verses 12-19, he states that questioning bodily resurrection undermines Christ’s resurrection which leads to the elimination of the benefits promised by the gospel. On the other hand, since Christ has been raised the apocalypse will follow and all will be subjected to God. If there is no resurrection, then the practice of being baptized for the dead is futile and there is no hope for anything other than the current state of things, verses 29-34. In verse 35, Paul begins his explanation of the nature of the resurrection.

The genre of this passage is Midrash. Midrash is "the rabbinic term for biblical exegesis" and literally this noun means "to inquire, investigate" (Anchor Bible Dictionary, "Midrash"). Jacob Neusner quoting Gary Porton offers a more explicit definition:

Midrash is "a type of literature, oral or written, which has its starting point in a fixed, canonical text, considered the revealed word of God by the Midrashist and his audience, and in which this original verse is explicitly cited or clearly alluded to."…For something to be considered Midrash it must have a clear relationship to the accepted cannonical text of Revelation. Midrash is a term given to a Jewish activity which finds its locus in the religious life of the Jewish community (9).

Neusner describes the method of rabbinic Midrash as "seeing things as other than they seem" (44). Midrash is written as paraphrase, prophecy, or parable, according to Neusner. As paraphrase "the exegete would paraphrase Scripture, imposing a fresh new meaning. … through Midrash as prophecy… Scripture addresses contemporary times as a guide to what is happening even now—and, more to the point, what is going to happen in the near future" (7). Finally, the Midrash as parable, uses the literary form of allegory where "Scripture preserves the more profound meaning of the everyday world…" (8). In reading 1 Cor 15, I recognized that Paul intermingles the different types of Midrash. The one thing all types of Midrash have in common is that they are based on Scripture.

I see three possibilities for the Scripture that Paul is exegeting. First, he could be referring to a scripture in the Hebrew bible. However, there is no evidence of a quote readily at hand in the opening passage. I will set this possibility aside for now. Second, perhaps, the exegesis that is being done here is based on 1 Cor. 15:3: "For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received". What was it that Paul received? Possibly, he is referring to the post-resurrection appearance story summarized in verses 15:5-15:7. The third possibility is that Paul’s Scripture is from the Kerygma tradition which he states in 1Cor 15:3b-4. Possibly, that which Paul received is both the Kerygma and post-resurrection appearance stories.

In this pericope, Paul is describing the risen body. In as much as Christ is the only one who has been seen in this form, we assume that Paul is speaking about the resurrected body from the perspective of having encountered the risen Christ(15:8) and from the tradition that was handed on to him. As we attempt to discern what Paul has to say about the resurrected body, we should first reflect on the differences in perspective from first century view of body and the post-enlightenment view.

Descartes "constructed the category of nature to include only those parts of the universe that could be observed ‘scientifically’" and included the human body here (Martin 4). On the other hand, those things such as mind, soul, God, and the ‘I’ of the human self belonged to the nonphysical realm (Martin 5). Therefore, the body became a mindless machine and the human mind was the means by which a person is what they are. While this may sound similar to the system of duality attributed to Greek philosophers "Descartes’ radical separation of mind from body, his mechanistic view of the body and volitional view of the mind, is cloistering of nature as a separate ontological realm from soul, God, mind, or will…is a dichotomous system… of which the ancients knew nothing" (Martin 6).

Instead, the ancient world, including Paul, saw the world model as a hierarchy of essence (Martin 15). The body and soul of humans was made of the substance, as was all that surrounded them. Earth, water, air, fire, ether were the elements from which everything existed. Water resided above the earth, then air, fire, ether – the place where the stars, moon and sun reside and God’s (gods) domain was above all. The human body was seen as a microcosm of the macrocosm. The boundaries between the body and other elements was fluid. Human beings are a part of the earthly sphere. Blood and the spirit (pneuma) that moved in the blood came and went through the bodies pores. The pneuma was perhaps thought of as the highest of the elements that were in the body, although some may argue that the nous (mind) held this distinction. The more pneuma in the blood the less base (earthly) one was. The pneumas (spirits) also exerted force, causing action to take place. At death the body remained in the earthly sphere while the soul moved up in hierarchy according to its substance with the purer souls moving to the highest places in the ether and the less pure remaining closer to the earthly sphere. Most Greco-Roman people deprecated the body and therefore found it difficult, some impossible, to conceive of the resurrection of the body. According to Martin, "What they question is the idea that human bodies can survive after death and be raised to immortality" (122).

While Martin describes numerous perspectives, from doctors, philosophers, and others whose writings are available from the early centuries, he does not believe that the common people had access to or necessarily thought in this manner. Instead, he analyzes "the role of the pneuma in the Greco-Roman body" (21).

Martin claims that Paul is redefining the use of body (soma) in his resurrection doctrine. The pneuma is the substance of the celestial sphere or ether. Therefore, it is possible, in Paul’s thinking to conceive of a resurrected body that "is stripped of flesh (sarx), blood, and soul (psyche); it has nothing of the earth in it at all, being composed entirely of the celestial substance of pneuma" (Martin 128). This substance, pneuma, belongs to a particular hierarchy of essence. The pneuma is the stuff that celestial bodies are made of. Just as the earthly body has different flesh (sarx) that created diversity, so the celestial bodies are different in glory, creating diversity in the heavens. In death, the perishable earthly stuff is buried and rots away. In the resurrection, the imperishable celestial stuff is raised. The raised body is a body of substance, even though it is a different kind of substance. Each body, whether earthly or heavenly is given a body according to the will of God. God is sovereign throughout the hierarchy.

Martin does demonstrate that the early Christian situation is a complex one. He can be an interesting conversation partner, as we work to discover what the resurrected body is like. However, one should be cautious about the assumptions that Martin makes. Taking the writings of physicians, philosophers, and other writers of this time and interpreting Paul’s writings in light of them, may not provide an accurate picture of Paul’s position on the body. However, some of his exegetical work that is based in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians sheds some light on our discussion.

There were a variety of perspectives available to Paul in the first century. He was a Pharisee, well educated, well traveled. He was intimately familiar with Pharisaic Jewish practices and Greco-Roman culture. Most likely, Paul developed a resurrection perspective based on the diversity of his experience. Therefore, the best place to develop an understanding of Paul’s perspective, will be to look at Paul’s writings.

In a preliminary study of Paul’s use of the words soma and sarx in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon, I have found that when Paul uses soma he is referring to a place of indwelling (1Cor 12:12ff, 6:19, 2Cor5:1ff, Rom 8:11, 12:4). In the earthly soma, both the sarx and the pneuma can dwell. This creates a cosmic battle of sorts (Rom 7:5, 13:14,within the soma (Rom 7:5-6, Gal 5:16-17). The sarx is the place of creaturely passion and desires (Rom 7:5, 13:14, Gal 5:24) and a place of illness and suffering (2Cor 12:7, Gal 4:13).

In 1 Cor 15:35-42, we find that it is God who provides us with our bodies. God gives to those bodies flesh. It is the flesh of a body that perishes with death. When the body is resurrected, it has spirit but not flesh and is imperishable (v, 42). The glory of the resurrected bodies differs, just as the flesh of the earthly bodies differ. The analogy of the sown seed is played out throughout chapter 15. We find the beginnings of this analogy in verses 20 and 22, it continues here in 35-42 and on into verses 43-44. As seeds, we are planted in the ground (at death) and what sprouts in the resurrection is not what was planted, but a new body that no longer has flesh, but only spirit. Death leads to a new life. Flesh can not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50).

What will the resurrected body be like? So far in this study we have noted that it will be our body but without the flesh. What will this be like? In Galatians 5:17-19 we find that the fleshly things are: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. While the fruit of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control according to Gal 5:22-23.


Martin, Dale B. The Corinthian Body. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

Neusner, Jacob. What is Midrash? Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987.

1 Cor 15: 42-49

Provided by KW

Exegesis of 1Cor 15:42-49

Step I - Initial Acquaintance

Comparisons of The New International Version, The New Revised Standard Version, & the New Jerusalem Bible.

42. So will it be (NIV) So it is (NRSV) It is the same(NJB)

43. It is sown in dishonor (NIV)It is sown in dishonor (NRSV) the thing that is sown is contemptible (NJB)

44. a natural body (NIV) a physical body (NRSV) embodies the soul (NJB)

45. a living being (NIV) a living being (NRSV) a living soul (NJB)

46. but the natural (NIV) but the physical (NRSV) first the one with the soul (NJB)

47. of the dust of the earth from the earth, *NIV) a man of dust from the earth, (NRSV) is earthly by nature (NJB)

49. likeness of the earthly (NIV) image of the man of dust (NRSV) modelled on the earthly (NJB)

Textual Criticism

V. 47 Many of the Alexandrians add o kurios after anthropos. "the second man the LORD from heaven."

V. 49 - Many Alexandrians render swmen rather than somen

Rough Translation

42. So also the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; 43. it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44. it is sown body a natural, it is raised body a spiritual. If there is body a natural, there is also a spiritual (body). 45. So also it has been written: became the first man Adam soul a living; the last Adam spirit a life-giving. 46. But not first the spiritual (body) but the natural, afterward the spiritual. 47. The first man out of earth earthy, the second man out of heaven. 48. Such the earthy man, such also the earthy ones, and such the heavenly man, such also the heavenly ones; 49. and as we bore the image of the earthy man, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly man.

Step II - Disposition


An Epistle with didactic elements. Midrash with more halakic tendencies.

Personal Interaction - Questions and Observations

1. The writer to the Corinthians states matter of factly, "If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body." On what grounds does the writer base this statement? Is this concept an Old Testament belief? Is this belief rooted in Pharisaical doctrine, of which the writer at one time was an adherent?

2. Is there some evidence that the Damascus Road experience caused the writer to extrapolate from it the belief that the risen Christ is the life giving spirit?

3. In the Gospel of John, Jesus has a dialogue with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus which ends with Jesus saying "What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit." If indeed the Epistle to the Corinthians pre-dates the Gospel of John, could John be picking up on the halakic doctrines expounded by the writer in First Corinthians chapter 15? That is the earthly man, heavenly man dialectic.


1. Question one is both historical and theological

2. Question two is historical and speculative.

3. Question three seeks to ponder the possibility of the Corinthian epistle being a document from which the writer of John may have gathered material.

Step III - Composition

Preceeding and Following Pericope

The pericope immediately preceeding 1 Corinthians 15.42-49 is a masterful prelude to verses 42-49. The insightful rhetorical questions and explanations in verses 35 through 41 aid the readers in conceptualizing the subject matter the writer has embarked upon. Likewise, the following pericope, verses 50 through 58, complete the doctrinal picture and begins with a continuation of the dialectic; the perishable versus the imperishable. This pericope ends with a glorious revelation of the saint's resurrection event, ending with encouragement.

The Compositional whole

The disturbed state of the Corinthian Christians necessitated the many correspondences to them from the Apostle paul, during nearly a decade, according to Raymond Brown. Paul addresses problems of factions, behavior, charisms versus love, the Resurrection of Jesus and the saints, and collection for Christians.

Issues of Authorship

There are no serious challenges to the Apostle Paul's authorship of First Corinthians. The Letter is dated about 56 or erly 57 from Ephesus.

Step IV - Context

Primitive Christianity

The Letter of 1 Thessalonians in chapter 4 verses 13 through 18 attest to the early church's introduction and familiarity with the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. This, the most primitive of New Testament documents is dated approximately 50 or 51.

First Corinthians 15.3-8 indicates that Jesus rose from the dead appearing to Cephas, the Twelve, James (the brother of the Lord), and Paul himself, to offer a list of notables.

The Old Testament and Judaism

Daniel 7.13 and Daniel 12.2-3 explicitly address the doctrine of resurrection. It is also alluded to in Ezekiel 37.10ff in metaphoric language of bones receiving breath and coming to life. In Psalms 16.10 and Job 19.25 the future resurrection is suspected and hoped for.

Hellenistic World

Greek literature commonly applied the euphemism of the dead being asleep similar to the Old and New Testaments. The natural inclination was to call the resurrection to new life or from the dead an "awakening." Philosophers of Greek origin, thought of the higher soul (the nous) escaping from the body, to survive immortally.

Step V - Distillation

Salient Features

Personal Interaction - Questions and Observations

1. The writer to the Corinthians states matter of factly, "If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body." On what grounds does the writer base this statement? Is this concept an Old Testament belief? Is this belief rooted in Pharisaical doctrine, of which the writer at one time was an adherent?

2. Is there some evidence that the Damascus Road experience caused the writer to extrapolate from it the belief that the risen Christ is the life giving spirit?

3. In the Gospel of John, Jesus has a dialogue with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus which ends with Jesus saying "What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit." If indeed the Epistle to the Corinthians pre-dates the Gospel of John, could John be picking up on the halakic doctrines expounded by the writer in First Corinthians chapter 15? That is the earthly man, heavenly man dialectic. 1.Daniel 7.13 and Daniel 12.2-3 explicitly address the doctrine of resurrection. It is also alluded to in Ezekiel 37.10ff in metaphoric language of bones receiving breath and coming to life. In Psalms 16.10 and Job 19.25 the future resurrection is suspected and hoped for. The Pharisees were generally believers in the Resurrection. 2. First Corinthians 15.3-8 indicates that Jesus rose from the dead appearing to Cephas, the Twelve, James (the brother of the Lord), and Paul himself, to offer a list of notables.

Smooth translation 1 Corinthians 15.42-49

42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; 43. it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44. it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45. So also it has been written: The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam became a life giving spirit. 46. The spiritual body was not first, but the natural, afterward the spiritual. 47. the first man was out of Earth, earthy; the second man was out of heaven. 48. Such as the earthy man, such also are the earthy ones, and such as the heavenly man, such also are the heavenly ones; 49. and as we bore the image of the earthy man, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly man.

1 Cor 15: 50-58

Provided by BLA





J.B. Phillips

Verse 50

I tell you this, brethren

Now I say this, brethren

For I assure you, my brothers

Verse 51

Lo!  I tell you a mystery.

Behold, I tell you a mystery;

Listen, and I shall tell you a secret.

Verse 51

…nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

…nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

The transitory could never possess the everlasting.

Verse 51

We shall not all sleep

We shall not all sleep

We shall not all die

Verse 53

For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable,

For this perishable must put on the imperishable,

For this perishable nature of ours must be wrapped in imperishability…

Verse 54

O Death, where is thy victory?

O death, where is your victory?

For where now, O Death, is your power to hurt us?

Verse 56

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

It is sin which gives death its sting, and it is the Law which gives sin its strength.

Verse 58

…knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

…knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Be sure that nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted.

Step 1.  a.   Initial Acquaintance

Version comparisons of text: I Corinthians 15: 50 - 58



1.   b.  Text Critical Decisions


Several text critical notes were of interest.  In verse 51, the phrase found in the text: ouv koimhqhso,meqa( pa,ntej de, the word order changes, including the Sinaiticus version(a).  Two versions, though carrying less weight in our text critical schema, have also added the verb form avni,sthsoumeqa, to indicate the distinct notion that the “change” of the bodily form will include a “raising up.”  The other text critical note of note was contained in verses 54 and 55.  The word order is contested in several different sources, in combination with a reliance on corrected texts, in particular the a source. This issue is further confused by sources for the quoted text, whether from the Septuagint version, or the original Hebrew. I followed through on this confusing separation and rating of text sources by reading several commentaries.  The outer margin notes indicate that Verse 54 contains a direct quote from Isaiah 25:8;  Verse 55 contains a direct quote from Hosea 13: 14.  However, the text critical commentary indicates many lines of argument regarding what might be the “correct” version of each “quote.”  In the end I chose to leave the text as found in the Nestle-Aland 27th edition, 1993.



1.  c. Rough Translation


50)  Now this I say brothered ones, that flesh and blood (the) kingdom of God to inherit is not able, nor that which is perishable the imperishable inherit.  51) Behold, a secret to you I say: not all we will sleep, but all we will change.  52) In a moment, in the wink of an eye, in the last trumpet call: for a trumpet will sound and the dead they will be raised up incorruptible and we will be changed.  53) For one must this perishable nature to put on for one’s self the imperishable and this mortal nature to put on for one’s self immortality. 54) But when this which is to decay he may put on incorruptible and this mortal nature may put on immortality, then will come the word, the one having been written, “Swallow them down, Death, into victory.”  55) Where of you, death, (is) the victory?  Where of you, death, (is) the sting?  56) But the sting of death (is) the sin, the power of the sin (is) the law.  57) But to God thanks, giving to/for us the victory through the Lord of us, Jesus Christ.  58) Therefore brothered ones of me, beloved, steadfast y’all remain, unmovable, abounding in the work of the Lord always, knowing that the labor of y’all is not in vain in (the) Lord.

II. b.   Personal Questions

1.         What is the semantic difference between a “mystery” and a “secret?” How is Paul using the term in this instance?

2.         If we don’t die, “fall asleep,” as stated in verse 51, where do, or will we go until the moment of changing, which is to be “at the last trumpet?”

3.         What is the significance of the trumpet sounding and the dead being raised?

4.         What is the significance of “putting on” the imperishable and the immortality?

5.         What is the significance of the sayings in verses 54 and 5?  How does the complex text critical documentation help us understand the original form?

6.                  Why the use of “sleep” as synonymous with “die?”

7.                  How do we know what “the work of the Lord” is to be for each of us?

8.                  What was the role of a letter to a church in the early Christian church?


II. c.  Prioritization/Organization of searches

Questions concerning the use of terminology, 1,4, 5 and 6 will hopefully be answered in further delving into the basis of the Greek terms used, with possible further exploration into word histories.  Questions 2 and 3 may be answered by research into Hebrew beliefs of the time period.  Question 8 might be answered in a genre typology exploration within the Primitive Christianity and OT/Judaism sections.


III. a. Composition – Immediate Context

The pericope immediately preceding verses 50- 58 contains the thoughts of Paul comparing the difference the death of “physical” body and the spiritual body that is raised. Upon completion of chapter fifteen, the final verses of the letter respond to upcoming visits, potentially by Paul, most assuredly one from Timothy and personal greetings.  Chapter sixteen contains one more admonition:  “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.” (I Cor. 16: 13,14)


Primitive Christianity


The First Letter to the Corinthians is in the letter form, though, according to Kummel, Paul’s letters tend to “rise above the general run of letters as a result of the free, well-thought-out shaping of these sections,” meaning the prescript, proem, and eschatokoll, which are shaped “by the paranesis and the communications concerning the journeys of Paul and his traveling companions.” (Kummel references Funk on this point)  Kummel goes on to say that the letters of Paul are letters of the “apostle in his official capacity; they serve the furthering of his missionary ministry at a distance.” (248, 249)  The significance of these comments to our study is contained in the comment that the letters are “furthering,” or to us, the letters might be seen as a continuing presence of Paul through the written word in a congregation that he has already started.

Thus, in reference to the current study in the Resurrection class, moving through the historicity questions, with a constant eye out for elements of an appearance story Gattung behind each redactional layer in the gospel narratives, I believe we can safely agree with Dr. Alsup when he states in response to the question of the appearance stories serving as “sermon illustrations to the kerygma” that “an acceptance of the gospel stories as illustrations can hardly be thought of as convincing for any sector of Christian mission in this earliest period.”  (61) The first letter to the Corinthians is kh,rugma, “proclamation,” the words of a religious speaker sent by God to “preach.”  Paul is the man from God, the church in Corinth is the recipient of his kh,rugma, or message of proclamation. (BDB, 430,431)


Old Testament/Judaism


The Old Testament references to the use of trumpets sounding at the last judgment is of interest in this particular pericope.  The use of the trumpet, or the “eschatological significance” of the horn is discussed in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.  The horn that will turn the tide and move forward the liberation of the Jews will be blown “by God Himself.” (Zech. 9:14)  In discussing the apocalyptic use of the horn in Jewish cultic times, the writer notes that the “blast of the horn makes God merciful, it confuses Satan…..when he hears the second blast he knows the time has come to be swallowed up, and so he withdraws.”  Additionally, the Alphabet-Midrash of R. Aquiba, 9,is quoted: “...at the seventh [blast] they come to life and stand on their feet in their clothes, as it is said: ‘The almighty Yahweh will blow the horn. (Zech 9: 14)’” Moving forward to the use of the trumpet in I Corinthians 15: 52, within the realm of primitive Christianity, again in the Theological Dictionary, the sound of the trumpet is noted as the “eschatological signal which sounds forth at the end of the age.” No person is designated in this passage as the “horn blower,” the one given the honor of sounding the last note calling the living and the dead to be transformed.  We may safely deduce that a human force will not cause the blast of the trumpet. (TDNT, 80,84,87,88)


Hellenistic World


The city of Corinth was situated between two harbors and thus became a central trading place, where the ideals, philosophies, morals and religious beliefs of many people were tested and tried amongst the population.  In the midst of this vice-filled city, known for corruption, syncretism and lasciviousness, Paul started a congregation. The form of the letter allows us to ascertain with a certain amount of accuracy the problems facing the congregation, which included sexual immorality, reliance upon pagan courts for justice, eating meals at which meat sacrificed to idols was served and worship that had disintegrated into arguments over the ordering of spiritual gifts. Not the least of the problems facing the congregation was the denial on behalf of portions of the community in the resurrection of the dead.  Each of these disagreements is a sign that the community was divided.  Divided they could not stand, in the ideological language of the current American culture, and to the mind of Paul.  The fifteenth chapter of Corinthians begins “Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain.”  I Cor. 15: 1-2. R SV

Verse 51 states, “Listen, I tell you a mystery.”  Paul apparently moves the use of the word musth,rion to incorporate the special sense of knowledge contained in the gnwsis, which came to be used as a name for the Gnostics, known to be heretical in their understanding of the special knowledge they had, to which “ordinary” people were not privy.  In the twelfth and fourteenth chapters of I Corinthians, Paul places the two words, musth,rion and gnwsis, in such a way as to “invest the term (gnwsis) with the significance of supernatural mystical knowledge – a meaning which the word has in Hellenic Greek, especially in the mystery cults.”  Paul uses this term, laden with Hellenistic notions regarding special revealed knowledge, immediately after writing about the transformation that will occur to both “the living as well as the dead.”   Imagine the effect of his definitive statement on the community surrounding the congregation, perhaps even those on the edge of the church, who found the pneumatikos (spiritual).

In verse 53, Paul uses the noun avqanasi,an.  Found in this location and I Timothy 6: 16 (where the word is applied to God,) the use of the word in this verse indicates a negative death, or “deathlessness.”  Interpreted in my translation as “immortality,” this word indicates that the one will be “putting on deathlessness,” or “putting on immortality.”  “In 1 Cor. 15: 53, the incorruptible mode of existence of the resurrected is called avqanasi,an as in Hellenistic Judaism, the thought being not merely that of eternal duration but of a mode of existence different from that of sarx and aima.”  (TDNT, Vol 3 pg 24.)   Philo, in Life of Moses 2.51.288, wrote, “Afterward the time came when he had to make his pilgrimage from earth to heaven, and leave this immortal life for immortality, summoned thither by the Father, Who resolved his twofold nature of soul and body into a single unity, transforming his whole being into mind, pure as the sunlight.”   As noted in the Hellenistic Commentary, Paul and Philo did agree on the fact that a future life would not be based in flesh and blood. (441) However, Philo separates from Paul with his belief that the future of the body will be a transformation into an immaterial form, “an immaterial form of being similar to light.”  Paul is clear in this pericope that the future of our flesh and blood will not be a transformation into “mind, pure as the sunlight,” but a putting on, a robbing, of our body with immortality.

The issue of clothing a body with immortality, as William Orr notes, was particularly important for Paul. In the time he was writing the notions of Greek philosophers stated that immortality was a “natural endowment” of humanity. (349) Paul is clear that the attributes of immortality and imperishability are attributes that we acquire in the power of the resurrection, not qualities we live with on a daily basis.  Paul’s believed in the power and necessity of belief in resurrection as the engine that drove the belief-system of a Christian.  The call of this power came from the example God provided to humanity in human likeness, Jesus, known to us as Emmanuel, or “God with us.”




            Viewing the information gleaned from various resources to fill in the gap of knowledge revealed in my questions through the lens of historicity and the kerygmatic importance of Paul’s message to Corinth, the importance of several issues comes together in this last passage of Chapter fifteen.  Paul is combating specific attitudes and issues that came from the church at Corinth, as noted in 15: 7:1.  With religious syncretism a prominent element in the life of Corinth, mixed with a strong emphasis on various Greek philosophic systems, such as the Epicureans and Stoics, the strength of Paul’s message is in the forcefulness and cogency of his argument. He calls upon the knowledge of Jewish apocalyptic history by referring to the call of the trumpet, though in this passage we do not know who will blow the trumpet, we can believe that the sound will emit from heaven. Also, Old Testament passages are quoted, with minor changes that submit the strength of scriptures of the synagogue to the force of power contained in the resurrection. 

Paul is clear that our bodies will be gathered for the final resurrection, which I believe he is anticipating that he will be a part of at the final moment.  Verse 51 includes “all,” and uses the first-person plural Future Indicative Passive form for the verbs, placing Paul in the time frame of the resurrection.  He obviously spoke from an apocalyptic stance, viewing the “end time” as imminent in his lifetime.

The chapter begins and ends with a reliance on the same word, ken.os, “vain.” That which we do “in the Lord” will not be done in vain.  In 15:2 Paul wrote, “unless you have come to believe in vain.”  The circle is completed, Paul’s arguments and analogies have been set forth and strong encouragement is given to a church wavering on the brink of disbelief.