1 Cor 15:12-13
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
This sermon is intended to be an introduction to this important chapter about resurrection. Next week Rob is preaching from this chapter so I am wanting to avoid spoiling what he might want to preach. My advice Rob, is that you preach what you want even if it is a repeat of something I may have mentioned.
What we know about resurrection shapes how we live. Yes, really! That is why it is important to what you believe and why. In Hebrews 11 we see that confidence about resurrection shaped the behaviour of faithful people in the past.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Paul uses an early creed in the first part of this chapter:
- Died v3
- Buried v4
- Raised v4
- Appeared v6
By using this creed he is calling them to align themselves with the rest of the believing church.
No resurrection? What was their problem?
This chapter is not just teaching about resurrection, it is Paul correcting false ideas.
1 The influence of the Sadducees.
The Sadducees and Pharisees were the ruling class of Israel. To be fair to the Pharisees, they seem to be lovers of God’s word and were eager for God to be involved in daily life.
The Sadducees were from the ruling families, they were aristocrats who held the high offices of chief priests and high priest.
They had some beliefs that could not be justified from scripture.
- They did not believe in the existence of a spiritual world such as angels and demons (Acts 23:8).
- Unlike the Pharisees they denied God’s involvement in everyday life.
- They did not believe in any resurrection of the dead (see Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18-27; Acts 23:8).
- No afterlife. Because they denied a resurrection they believed that a person ceased to be at death. Therefore they did not expect any penalty, or heavenly reward, after this earthly life was over.
Jews who had accepted Jesus to be long awaited Messiah could still be influenced by their old Jewish teaching.
Loss of heaven as a place of future reward, or future judgement, changes behaviour in this life.
2 The influence of the Athenians
Greek teaching at this time was heavily influenced by the ideas of Areopagus who taught that believing in bodily resurrection was unthinkable because the body was weak and sinful, like a living tomb. The body was to be seen as a prison for the pure spirit of humans. He taught of death as a release, a liberation, from the prison of their bodies.
Some in Corinth were suggesting that there was no resurrection of the body. It seems that the believers in Corinth could accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus but rejected their own bodily resurrection. This is a contradiction.
Paul replies to that error by pointing out that if there was no bodily resurrection not even Christ has been raised (verse 13), preaching is useless (verse 14), faith is useless (verse 14), preachers of the gospel are preaching what is false, we are still in our sins, we still carry guilt, those who have died before us are lost (verse 18), we who have hoped and those who have suffered for their faith are all to pitied (verse 19).
3 “Resurrection Now”
An over realised eschatology = fully realised here and now.
See 1 Corinthians 4:8
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign – and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!
Some thought baptism was the beginning of resurrection. An understandable mistake if we believe that the sort of revelation we read of on Romans chapter 6 was filling the church.
They thought of themselves as “like the angels”.
See Luke 20:27-35
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?’
34 Jesus replied, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.
Believing that they had already experienced the resurrection had implications for their morals, for their behaviour, particularly their sexual behaviour.
Did it really lead to it or is it that those who have lost purity of behaviour look for excuses? Doctrine produces behaviour as well as behaviour producing doctrines.
For reflection this week:
Unlike the Sadducees, our confidence in a future life should give us hope in this life. It should shape our morals – how we live. We can look forward to a heavenly reward.
How does your belief about the resurrection and future life shape the way you live?