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The “heart and soul” of Paul's gospel
1Now for the fundamental truth of my teaching, — not mine, but what I received, the same that was given to me, and that I handed on to you, — 2the Gospel which supports you and is saving you, and will save you to the end, if your faith fail not! 3This is the heart and soul of that Gospel as I received it and gave it to you, and the whole of it is contained in this, that according to the meaning of the Scriptures 4the Christ died for our sins and was buried, and then according to the same truth of the Scriptures the Christ rose on the third day. 5The witnesses of this resurrection are first Cephas, then the twelve, 6then over five hundred brethren most of whom are alive at the present day, 7then James, then all the Apostles. These all saw him alive and triumphant after death, and the appearances were in the order I have mentioned. 8And last of all I myself saw the risen Christ, 9last as though I were the least and unworthiest of all, the persecutor that is to say of that divine Church of God, which is His infinite body. 10But the grace of God pierced even down to those depths where I lay, and made me such as I am, and abode with me, in my labours, labours exceeding those of all the others; for the grace of God has worked with me in an extraordinary manner in every way, not only in my first conversion from the lowest depths of opposition to God but in my subsequent labours. 11This then is the gist and burden of the message, I care not who it be that preaches it, whether I or they.
The Christ did conquer death
12Then what means this contention amongst some of you that the dead do not rise? 13-16But the Christ did rise. For death came through Adam, it came through a man, and through a man must come eternal life. If in Adam all die, then must death be conquered where it began, in a man. So rose the Christ from the dead. But if you say there is no resurrection from the dead, then neither did the Christ rise from the dead, and the whole of our teaching collapses, 17it falls to earth, empty, void, a perfect nothing, a falsity. 18The testimony we bear concerning God, namely, that He raised the Christ-man from the dead, has no meaning in it. 19If the Christ exists for this world only and has no eternal existence, we are the most miserable of all the dwellers on this planet!
20But the Christ has risen, and his rising is the commencement of a similar resurrection for the whole world. 21-22His re-appearance after death is like the first fruits of a mighty harvest. 23The increase and growth of this vast divine process will first include all who belong to him, when his eternal presence will become apparent throughout the world; 24and this process will continue till “the end” when there shall exist not one single power, influence or authority that moves contrary to His will, but everything will be subordinate to the infinite God and Father of All, the Creator. 25-27Everything that opposes must be reversed and subdued just there where it arose, namely in man on earth, until there be nothing left that opposes, and until death itself has been completely obliterated. That will be the end, when death is ended, and God is All-in-all, and even the Christ that saves and redeems exists only as the eternally perfect son subject to the infinite Father, there being no more enemies from which to save and redeem us, thus fulfilling the meaning of the Scriptures. For the reign of the Christ will continue on earth for a finite period, namely, until “He has made his enemies his foot-stool” (Ps. cx. 1), until all finite death-conditioned things are overruled. “He hath put all things under his feet” (Ps. viii. 6). 28All things, but not the Christ himself, for though the Christ has appeared amidst these things, he is not their subject, he is not conditioned by them, he is eternally, spiritually royal, existing only as subject to God, the All-in-all. 29That is the only significance of that practice which obtains amongst some of you, whereby the living are baptised on behalf of those already dead. It means that this progressive victory over death will ultimately include all who have died. The purpose of the Christ penetrates far beyond the little sphere of this life. But if you think that the Christ only comes to you on earth and for this life, what significance has this rite of baptism on behalf of those already beyond its pale? Unless they too are changed by the infinite operation of the Christ life, the rite is meaningless. And if the dead rise not, if there be no such victory and struggle at work, what is the significance of present struggles? 30-32I have faced the beasts in the circus before the crowd at Ephesus, I have run every risk, endured every danger, and won through them successfully — that is your boast, and the glory which you accord me for my service of the Christ; but if in this daily death of mine there is no underlying meaning, if it does not mean that even now Christ in me is fighting his victory over death, and successfully putting it under his feet and rescuing me from it, then what is the use of it all? I would rather say with the disobedient “Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die” (Is. xxii. 13) for there is no longer any meaning in my struggles. Beware! Do not let sleep overtake you, and your spiritual perception be cheated and fade. 33This is the result, as the tragic poet says, of that “bad company that doth corrupt the good.” 34There are those in your midst who have no knowledge of God. Protect yourselves against their influence.
Paul explains the resurrection
35And now you ask me, How? What is that body which dies not, but comes again? 36How can flesh and blood not perish for ever, but live on immortal? Does it seem so impossible? 37Yet even in nature we see the seed buried in the ground, becoming a shrivelled extinct husk, 38and out of that decay and dissolution springs the new body which the eternal power of God shapes and forms.
Different kinds of bodies
39We see every type and pattern of shape and form given to various existences as their bodies, we see the elements of flesh and blood taking on the form of every type of being, man, beast, fish, bird — all distinct and separate entities with appropriate bodies. 40On the same principle the form of body appropriate to the heavenly and spiritual things of God's creation is quite other than those which we see clothing things on earth. The things on earth all have their own special beauties, forms, types and their own splendour. And when we come to that which is spiritual and heavenly, we find that that too has its own appropriate expression and glory. 41The sun, moon and stars are glorious bodies, each with its own distinct glory and splendour. 42-44And the Spirit has in a similar manner its own appropriate distinct body, the spiritual species can by no possibility overrun into and mix with a distinct species of earthly things. Hence the contrast so difficult to grasp in the resurrection of the dead, whereby the spiritual species with its appropriate body appears in substitution of the former human expression of life. On the one hand weakness, corruption, dishonour, comparable to the body of a seed which rots and dissolves beneath the layer of soil; and on the other hand power, glory and incorruption, of which the green shapely stalk of corn may be taken as a simile. But the absolute distinctness of species on earth is a lesson to us, whereby the mind grasps the significance of the great spiritual category of things wholly distinct from the earthy. These things possess spiritual bodies and have no connection with earthy bodies. Their glory is distinct.
The distinction between Adam and Christ
45This is the distinction implied by the Bible between Adam, “formed of the dust of the ground,” who became “a living soul,” and that other man who is wholly spiritual with a spiritual body, 46and is conditioned by Spirit only, who gives him his appropriate form. 47This man is of heaven, not of earth, a different order of being, in a different state of existence from that of Adam. 48Now we have known the former man, and we shall also know that distinct and separate man who is a spiritual being. 49We have borne that image which is the appearance of an earthy physical man, we shall also bear that distinct heavenly stamp, the peculiar spiritual mode of being. 50-51For physical flesh and its laws are remote from the life and laws of the kingdom of God. Do not think that one can pass over into and inherit the other. Nature knows of no such amalgamation as that throughout her infinite being. 52Rather there must be a total and absolute change, a complete reversal of the mode of being, which is what the Scriptures imply by “the sounding of the last trump,” when in a timeless instant the spiritual order of being, 53the incorruptible and the eternal comes as a new order of life, a new dress, a new clothing, a new body for man. 54That is the moment at which death draws back its foot; it is at the coming of that new body and life and organism which declare and express the immortality and being of Spirit. Then is it that the words come true: “He hath swallowed up death in victory” (Is. xxv. 8). 55“Where is thy sting, O death? Where is thy victory, O grave?” (Hos. xiii. 14), 56because the law which constituted the peculiar life of the old flesh, the law which made that life perishable, and which was in itself the power of sin, antagonistic to the new law of life, that law has given place to the new nature governed by God. 57He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, and to him arise our thanks and praise therefore. 58Hence no labour of ours is vain, hence we remain steadfast and unmoved, because the work is that of the infinite God, and His action is irrepressible, abounding and never vain.
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The Good News About Jesus Christ
1Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to remember the Good News I told you. You received that Good News message, and you continue to base your life on it. 2That Good News, the message you heard from me, is God’s way to save you. But you must continue believing it. If you don’t, you believed for nothing.
3I gave you the message that I received. I told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; 4that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say; 5and that he appeared to Peter and then to the twelve apostles. 6After that Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died. 7Then he appeared to James and later to all the apostles. 8Last of all, he appeared to me. I was different, like a baby born before the normal time.
9All the other apostles are greater than I am. I say this because I persecuted the church of God. That is why I am not even good enough to be called an apostle. 10But, because of God’s grace, that is what I am. And his grace that he gave me was not wasted. I worked harder than all the other apostles. (But I was not really the one working. It was God’s grace that was with me.) 11So then it is not important if I told you God’s message or if it was the other apostles who told you—we all tell people the same message, and this is what you believed.
We Will Be Raised From Death
12We tell everyone that Christ was raised from death. So why do some of you say that people will not be raised from death? 13If no one will ever be raised from death, then Christ has never been raised. 14And if Christ has never been raised, then the message we tell is worth nothing. And your faith is worth nothing. 15And we will also be guilty of lying about God, because we have told people about him, saying that he raised Christ from death. And if no one is raised from death, then God never raised Christ from death. 16If those who have died are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised from death, then your faith is for nothing; you are still guilty of your sins. 18And those in Christ who have already died are lost. 19If our hope in Christ is only for this life here on earth, then people should feel more sorry for us than for anyone else.
20But Christ really has been raised from death—the first one of all those who will be raised. 21Death comes to people because of what one man did. But now there is resurrection from death because of another man. 22I mean that in Adam all of us die. And in the same way, in Christ all of us will be made alive again. 23But everyone will be raised to life in the right order. Christ was first to be raised. Then, when Christ comes again, those who belong to him will be raised to life. 24Then the end will come. Christ will destroy all rulers, authorities, and powers. Then he will give the kingdom to God the Father.
25Christ must rule until God puts all enemies under his control.#15:25 control Literally, “feet.” 26The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. 27As the Scriptures say, “God put everything under his control.”#Quote from Ps. 8:6. When it says that “everything” is put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself. God is the one putting everything under Christ’s control. 28After everything has been put under Christ, then the Son himself will be put under God. God is the one who put everything under Christ. And Christ will be put under God so that God will be the complete ruler over everything.
29If no one will ever be raised from death, then what will the people do who are baptized for those who have died? If the dead are never raised, then why are people baptized for them?
30And what about us? Why do we put ourselves in danger every hour? 31I face death every day. That is true, brothers and sisters, just as it is true that I am proud of what you are because of Christ Jesus our Lord. 32I fought wild animals in Ephesus. If I did that only for human reasons, then I have gained nothing. If we are not raised from death, “Let us eat and drink, because tomorrow we die.”#Quote from Isa. 22:13; 56:12.
33Don’t be fooled: “Bad friends will ruin good habits.” 34Come back to your right way of thinking and stop sinning. Some of you don’t know God. I say this to shame you.
What Kind of Body Will We Have?
35But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have?” 36These are stupid questions. When you plant something, it must die in the ground before it can live and grow. 37And when you plant something, what you plant does not have the same “body” that it will have later. What you plant is only a seed, maybe wheat or something else. 38But God gives it the body that he has planned for it, and he gives each kind of seed its own body. 39All things made of flesh are not the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds have another, and fish have yet another kind. 40Also there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. But the beauty of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the beauty of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of beauty, the moon has another kind, and the stars have another. And each star is different in its beauty.
42It will be the same when those who have died are raised to life. The body that is “planted” in the grave will ruin and decay, but it will be raised to a life that cannot be destroyed. 43When the body is “planted,” it is without honor. But when it is raised, it will be great and glorious. When the body is “planted,” it is weak. But when it is raised, it will be full of power. 44The body that is “planted” is a physical body. When it is raised, it will be a spiritual body.
There is a physical body. So there is also a spiritual body. 45As the Scriptures say, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.#15:45 person Literally, “soul.”#Quote from Gen. 2:7. But the last Adam#15:45 Adam The name Adam means “man.” Here, “the last Adam” refers to Christ, the “man of heaven.” is a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual man did not come first. It was the physical man that came first; then came the spiritual. 47The first man came from the dust of the earth. The second man came from heaven. 48All people belong to the earth. They are like that first man of earth. But those who belong to heaven are like that man of heaven. 49We were made like that man of earth, so we will also be made like that man of heaven.
50I tell you this, brothers and sisters: Our bodies of flesh and blood cannot have a part in God’s kingdom. Something that will ruin cannot have a part in something that never ruins. 51But listen, I tell you this secret: We will not all die, but we will all be changed. 52It will only take the time of a second. We will be changed as quickly as an eye blinks. This will happen when the last trumpet blows. The trumpet will blow and those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we will all be changed. 53This body that ruins must clothe itself with something that will never ruin. And this body that dies must clothe itself with something that will never die. 54So this body that ruins will clothe itself with that which never ruins. And this body that dies will clothe itself with that which never dies. When this happens, the Scriptures will be made true:
“Death is swallowed in victory.” Isaiah 25:8
55“O death, where is your victory?
Where is your power to hurt?” Hosea 13:14
56Death’s power to hurt is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But we thank God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
58So, my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Don’t let anything change you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. You know that your work in the Lord is never wasted.