Rob Newton 1 Corinthians Chapter 15

Elder at York Elim Rob Newton


Personally I love it when our elder Rob (pictured left) speaks in our church. He’s so insightful and inventive. This week the sermon includes a treasure hunt in which I was a whisker away from winning the £10. Rob’s notes are included below and you can listen again to the sermon here: 

Enjoy listening and please feel free to comment.

Kind regards 



Paul uses the penultimate chapter of his letter to the Corinthians to identify and correct the belief of the Corinthians that there will be no bodily resurrection of believers after death. Paul goes really back to basics and uses this early creed to describe what happened:

Died, Buried, Raised, Appeared

Uses chapter to explain 5 things:

  1. The facts of the resurrection of Jesus (15:1-11)
  2. The centrality of the resurrection (15:12-19)
  3. The consequences of the resurrection of Jesus (15:20-34)
  4. The nature of our resurrection bodies (15:35-50)
  5. The moment of resurrection (15:51-57)
  6. Conclusion (15:58)


  1. We can be confident that he did die and rise again
  2. We can be confident that we will also rise in victory
  3. We can be confident that what we do today matters for tomorrow
  4. We can be confident that he did die and rise again

‘indeed’. ESV says ‘in fact’. This is not spiritual or symbolic, Paul is saying it did actually physically, factually happened.

Historical fact. Biblical scholars often point to 3 key pieces of evidence that intertwine to give a convincing case:

  1. The fact of the empty tomb
  2. The testimony of numerous eye witnesses
  3. The long-term impact on the lives of Jesus’ followers

If you accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus all the streams flow in one direction, and if you don’t they all flow in the other direction. This is the test Paul is putting out in chapter 15. If the Resurrection didn’t happen, Christianity is false.

  1. We can be confident that we will also rise in victory

– firstfruits Verse 20: the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep 

first fruits of an immense harvest. First produce from the land for the season. Given as an offering to God.

If Christ was raised then it is clear that all others will be raised.

Paul emphasises the humanity of Christ (v21). The Pauline doctrine of the solidarity of the human race in sin (Rom 5v12-21). We are in this together. But we will be raised together. In verse 22 he draws parallels between Adam and Christ because just like Adam, Christ is the beginning of a new humanity.

We are living today between the first fruits and the harvest. Between the victory of Christ and the final celebration. But we can live with a confidence that the battle is won and the celebration will come.

When that does come the victory will be final and absolute.

– everything under his feet, his dominion will last forever

Verse 25-26 – 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”

  1. We can be confident that what we do today matters for tomorrow

We live in the now and the not yet. One day he will come back to see how we lived between the victory and the celebration. What does it mean to live as Christians today after the resurrection of Jesus but before the final resurrection of all who have died?

Verse 32: If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Verse 58: Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

We work for the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. We pray may your kingdom come. Paul challenges his readers to engage “in the work of the Lord” in the present.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the first piece in the jigsaw of God’s re-creation project. The Bible all the way through is a story of redemption.



Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.


Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Past – Paul looks at their past and calls them “beloved”. He had criticised them for their divisions, their trashing of the cross, their pride in their “spirituality”, their immoral behaviour, their quarrels over worship leaders, their arrogance about spiritual gifts, and their denial of the resurrection. They had failed to be ‘steadfast and immovable’ in their theology and their ethics and their behaviour. Yet, they were still his beloved brothers and sisters; Paul is graceful towards them.

Present – He looks at the present and writes ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord’. He is assuming they are working for the Lord in the present and encouraging them in it. He is telling them that serving God does involve labour. But he is encouraging them that the work they do has purpose because it is the work of the Lord

Future – He looks at the future and writes ‘your labour is not in vain’. He’s just gone through 57 verses about the Christian hope and reiterates that the work the Corinthians are doing in the present has meaning and significance for the future.

What we believe shapes how we behave; how we think changes the way we live. But also what we think of ourselves and our situations impact what we believe, which then shapes the way we live. Our personal circumstances or our confidence in ourselves or the people around us can shape how we understand the truths of the Bible and our image of God.

Paul said to the Corinthian church, and the same is true for us as individuals and as a church today, in the light of resurrection, Christ’s victory over sin and death:

  • Your guilt or shame about the past is covered by the blood of Christ, you are forgiven, and you are accepted
  • Our lives today has meaning and purpose, not because of the value of your works but because of the value of the God you serve; whether it is praying for others in your bedroom or our friends travelling the world serving Jesus in foreign lands

Our future circumstances may be uncertain but our future life in Christ is assured. He has you in his grip and he has won the victory. His hope is sure and certain.

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