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Sunday School Lessons

April 5

Believe in the Resurrection

 

 

Devotional Reading:John 11:20-27

 

Background Scripture:1 Corinthians 15:1-22

 

 

Focal Verses

1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 20-22

 

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

 

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

 

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

 

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

 

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

 

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

 

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

 

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

 

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

 

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

 

11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

 

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

 

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

 

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

 

Key Verse

 

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. List the evidence Paul cites for the resurrection of Christ.

 

2. Tell the significance of Christ’s being the firstfruits of the resurrection.

 

3. Sing a hymn or song of praise for the resurrected Christ.

 

 

Introduction

 

A. What Did He See?

 

Some Christians claim having had visions of angels, the risen Christ, etc. One of the more spectacular of these was that of a well-known televangelist in the 1970s who claimed to have had a vision of Jesus unlike any previously reported. It was not a vision of the humble carpenter with nail prints in His hands, but of a 900-foot colossus!

 

The televangelist reported that this giant Jesus had given him a task: to found a faith-based medical center. This the man did, but the medical facility ended up financially unviable and closed within eight years of its completion. Examining all this in hindsight makes one wonder what the televangelist really saw. Did he fabricate the whole thing? Did he see Satan masquerading as Jesus? Did he hallucinate? We simply don’t know.

 

Paul records in today’s lesson that many in his day had seen the risen Christ. These appearances were to individuals, small groups, and at least one group of over 500. What was the nature of Jesus’ appearance? Did He look like the human He was of some 33 years? the Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2, 3)? as He appeared on the first resurrection Sunday (John 20:19-23, last week’s lesson)? as He appeared to John on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:13-16)? Paul’s account in today’s lesson is not long on details, but his purpose is clear: Christ appeared to show His followers that He was risen from the dead.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

Paul had a long and lively relationship with the church in the city of Corinth. He began his work there in a synagogue, but moved to the home of a nearby Gentile when many Jews rejected his message (Acts 18:1-7). Some Jews believed Paul’s claim that Jesus was their promised Messiah, and the church in Corinth was thereby composed of both Jews and Gentiles (18:8). All this happened during Paul’s second missionary journey, when he spent 18 months in Corinth during the early AD 50s.

 

Corinth was a nexus of commerce between the eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire. This was because of its diolkos, an ingenious system of cranes, stone tracks, and carriage carts that allowed small boats to be lifted from the Aegean Sea to the east, hauled across the Corinthian isthmus (about 5 miles), and deposited in the calm waters of the Gulf of Corinth in the west (or the reverse from west to east). This process allowed shipping to avoid the dangerous voyage around the rocky coastline of the Peloponnese. The tolls charged were the economic engine of Corinth.

 

The many nationalities represented in this Greek city made it a melting pot of ideas. The issue of life after death was widely debated in the ancient world, and the various theories of immortality (or the lack of such) would have been represented in Corinth. The theories boiled down to three options, although there were many variations.

 

First, some believed there was no life of any kind after death. A second viewpoint held that the life force or soul of a person was immortal, surviving death of the body. Some holding this view believed the soul of a dead person would be implanted into a new body, whether human or animal (what we call reincarnation today), thus creating a cycle of lives. The third viewpoint was that the human body would be reconstituted at some point after death to be rejoined with the soul to enter a new type of existence. This is the doctrine of resurrection, a view held by most Jews of Paul’s day (Acts 23:8).

 

In the end, these three views are mutually exclusive and incompatible—they cannot all be true. Today’s study considers one of the most important sections of Scripture that points in the right direction. Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians in about AD 56, while he was in Ephesus.

 

I. Vital Gospel

 

                                                                              (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

 

A. Why Paul Preaches (vv. 1, 2)

 

1. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.

 

By the time we reach chapter 15, Paul has addressed many problems in the Corinthian church, including factionalism, abuses at the Lord’s Supper, and misuse of speaking in tongues. He reserves the most important topic for chapter 15, a doctrine so central that to deny it is to make the church a fraud. This is the doctrine of the resurrection.

 

Paul begins his reminder on this subject by reviewing the gospel message that he had proclaimed while in Corinth a few years earlier. He emphasizes the vital importance of the gospel message in four ways. First, it was preached. Christian action and lifestyle are important (see 1 Peter 2:12), but attempts to spread the gospel through those alone will not suffice. There is no substitute for the bold, public proclamation of the gospel.

 

Second, the gospel message was received. There was an audience that heard and believed (contrast Acts 28:27; Romans 11:8). Third, the gospel is where the Corinthians have taken their stand. The gospel is the basis of everything in the church. Without it, the church has no sure foundation.

 

2. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

 

Fourth, the gospel is the message whereby the Corinthians are saved. The whole of the church’s ministry is represented here: saving people from the judgmental wrath of God that is to come (see Luke 3:7). We are to care compassionately for the physical needs of the suffering; but if we do not care about their eternal souls, then we have missed Paul’s central claims in these two verses.

 

Paul touches on the problem of believing in vain. This sets the table for this chapter, for if the resurrection of Christ is a fiction, then the gospel and the church are houses of cards that will collapse. Absolutely everything is at stake here regarding the truth of Christianity!

 

What Do You Think?

 

What are some ways to resist worldly forces that challenge your stand in Christ?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In the face of ridicule

 

In the face of discrimination

 

In the face of overt persecution

 

Other

 

B. What Paul Preaches (vv. 3, 4)

 

3. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

 

Paul is careful to remind the Corinthians that the gospel message did not originate with him; he received it from someone else. Galatians 1:12 clarifies that that someone was Jesus Christ himself.

 

Paul’s gospel preaching at Corinth had stressed the reason and importance of Christ’s death. We can learn from reading the Gospels that this was a cruel and unjust death. But what separates it from the millions of cruel and unjust deaths in history?

 

Paul’s answer is twofold. First, the death of Jesus was for our sins. This is the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement, the process that allows our sins to be forgiven as the result of the sacrifice of another being (compare Leviticus 4:20). In the Jewish system of sacrifices, such beings were animals: bulls, goats, lambs, birds. Jesus was the true Lamb of God, by whose death the sins of the world can be atoned (see John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).

 

The second way Jesus’ death was uniquely significant concerns its fulfillment according to the scriptures (Isaiah 53:8, 9, etc.). This fact gives Paul and the other apostles a way of convincing their fellow Jews that Jesus was and is the prophesied Messiah of their own sacred Scriptures (see Acts 17:1-4, 11; 28:17-23). The prophets of old had painted a composite picture of the coming Savior, and Jesus fits that portrait in detail.

 

Tradition, Good and Bad

 

The word tradition in a religious sense often carries a rather negative connotation. The reasons for this are varied, but I suppose most of us think in terms of traditions that have come down through medieval Catholicism. In that context, skepticism is wise. The word tradition and its plural are often used in a very negative sense in the pages of the New Testament (example: Mark 7:9).

 

In a neutral sense, the word means “something that is handed down, passed on from one person to another.” This can refer to doctrinal teaching in religious contexts. It is not the “handing down” in and of itself that makes tradition either positive or negative, but rather what is handed down or passed along that is either beneficial or detrimental.

 

We see the positive aspect in 1 Corinthians 11:2, where Paul wants his readers to “keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” Here the word translated ordinances is the same one translated traditions in negative contexts elsewhere.

 

We further see this positive handing-down aspect in the vital teaching about the resurrection of Christ that Paul had “received” and subsequently “delivered unto” the Corinthian believers. This is something that must be handed down to every generation!—J. B. N.

 

4a. And that he was buried.

 

Christ’s burial is a valuable historical detail, for it demonstrates that His followers knew He was really dead (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42). The enemies of Jesus confirmed this fact by placing a guard at the tomb to ensure that the body could not be stolen for a pretend resurrection (Matthew 27:62-66).

 

We note that Paul sees no need to cite eyewitness accounts of Christ’s death as he does for Christ’s resurrection in verses 5-8, below. The death of Christ is “a given” by both friend and foe of the gospel in Paul’s day.

 

4b. And that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

 

This is another element of Paul’s core gospel message. The resurrection of Jesus on the third day counts each full and partial day He spent in the tomb to be a day. He was placed there on Friday before sundown (Luke 23:53, 54; John 19:41, 42), remained there all day Saturday (the Sabbath), and rose on Sunday morning (the first day of the week: Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Even though this totaled less than 72 hours, it was nonetheless three days by the reckoning of Paul’s culture.

 

Paul notes both the resurrection and the detail of the third day as being according to the scriptures, but we are unsure of his specific reference. A likely way to understand this is to see the three days Jonah spent in the belly of the fish (Jonah 1:17) as a prophetic foreshadowing of Jesus’ three days in the tomb, following that application by Jesus himself (Matthew 12:40). Hosea 6:2 may also be in view: “In the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

 

What Do You Think?

 

How does the reality of Christ’s resurrection aid you in daily living? How could it?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

With regard to finances

 

With regard to priorities

 

With regard to family life

 

With regard to vocation

 

Other

 

II. Dramatic Evidence

 

                                                                            (1 Corinthians 15:5-11)

 

A. Christ Appears to Many (vv. 5-7)

 

5. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.

 

Paul now sets forth a historical basis for preaching that Jesus rose from the dead. He notes first an appearance to Cephas, better known to us as Simon Peter (Luke 24:34; John 1:42). This apostle is seen as a leader among the original band of disciples and a pillar of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:18; 2:9; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5). If the risen Christ had not been seen by Peter, the claim of Jesus’ resurrection would be highly suspect.

 

Paul’s mention of the twelve is shorthand for the group of apostles initially chosen by Jesus, even though their actual number was 11 at the time of Jesus’ resurrection, Judas Iscariot having committed suicide (Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:15-20). Paul may intend to include Matthias, Judas’ replacement, in the enumeration even before that man’s selection because he too is a witness to the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-26).

 

6. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

 

We do not know what precise event is in view when the risen Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once. Some speculate that this appearance is recorded in Matthew 28:10, 16, 17, although that account mentions only “the eleven disciples.” Paul’s point, though, is that an appearance to so many sweeps aside any claim of a hoax.

 

This appearance would have been about 25 years earlier, thus many of those eyewitnesses are still living. Perhaps some have even visited the Corinthian church. The statement some are fallen asleep refers to the fact that a minority of that large group have died (compare Acts 7:60; 13:36).

 

7. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

 

This particular James is the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55). This James became a leader of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 15:13; Galatians 1:19; 2:9). The specifics of this appearance of Jesus are unknown, but it does help explain the remarkable shift from unbelief (John 7:5) to belief (Acts 1:14).

 

The distinction, if any, between “the twelve” (v. 5, above) and all the apostles here may be that the latter grouping includes Barnabas (Acts 14:14) and others (Romans 16:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6). A broader category that includes the leaders of the Jerusalem church in general is possible (Acts 15:4).

 

What Do You Think?

 

Why is it that some who come to Christ later in life (perhaps after strongly opposing the gospel) end up being so much on fire for Him?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

The role of guilt

 

The role of gratitude

 

The role of urgency

 

Other

 

B. Christ Appears to Paul (vv. 8-11)

 

8. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

 

The final appearance of the risen Christ in the listing was to Paul himself. This is certainly a reference to Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus. This account is related three times in Acts (see 9:3-6; 22:6-10; 26:12-18) and surely retold many times by Paul himself to groups like the believers in Corinth. In describing his situation of one born out of due time, Paul uses language of the premature arrival of a baby. This is both an expression of Paul’s deep humility at being chosen to see the risen Christ and affirmation that he is the most unlikely of candidates to have been chosen to be an apostle (compare 1 Corinthians 9:1).

 

9. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

 

Paul expands on the unlikely nature of his apostolic commission given that he had persecuted the church of God (compare Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15). Paul (as Saul) had been a ruthless and zealous opponent of the Christians (see Acts 8:3; 9:1, 2; Galatians 1:13). What changed him was the appearance of the risen Christ. This makes the discussion of the resurrection deeply personal to Paul. To deny the resurrection, as some false teachers in Corinth are doing (1 Corinthians 15:12, not in today’s text), is to make Paul out to be a liar and his entire apostolic work a sham and a scam (15:15).

 

10. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

 

Paul does not wear well the potential charge of being a fraud. His ministry is not in vain (compare 2 Corinthians 6:1). Hundreds, maybe thousands, have believed his testimony about Jesus. Paul does not want the prize for being thought of as the greatest apostle, but he does want to be included in the discussion of who works the hardest (compare 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Even so, Paul does not attribute his work ethic to himself but to the grace of God. God, through Christ, has both called him to ministry and given him the power to persevere (see 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).

 

11. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

 

Paul closes this line of thought by affirming that he is not interested in statistics for who has won the most converts. He doesn’t care who does the preaching, only that the gospel is preached and that hearers believe. While Paul will defend the validity and integrity of his ministry, he does not see his efforts in terms of rivalry. In the end, God alone deserves credit because preachers like Paul are working as His servants (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

 

 

What Do You Think?

 

What role, if any, should the use of statistics play in evaluating a church’s effectiveness? Why?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Acts 2:41 vis-à-vis 1 Corinthians 1:16

 

Numbers 1:1, 2 vis-à-vis 2 Samuel 24:1-17

 

“It’s not that we’re counting numbers, but that numbers count”

 

Other

 

III. Living Hope

 

                                                                         (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)

 

A. Christ Conquers Death (v. 20)

 

20a. But now is Christ risen from the dead.

 

Paul describes in verses 12-19 (not in today’s text) the dire effects of a Christianity where Christ has not been resurrected. But none of these effects prevail because now is Christ risen from the dead. The facts of history establish this. Most of the apostles will die as martyrs, and rational people are not willing to die for a lie that they know to be a lie!

 

God in Control

 

I have been trained as a historian. As such, I have looked at the evidence for the resurrection, and I find the evidence compelling. The only conclusion that can explain all the evidence is that Christ did indeed rise from the dead. That is the rock core of my faith as it is of Christianity in general.

 

Times of doubt and uncertainty still come occasionally. I sometimes ask “Why?” about life’s experiences. I can’t always come up with a good explanation. But one thing I know: Jesus rose from the dead. As a result, His teachings have credibility. And if God raised Jesus from the dead, then it is obvious that God has the power to do anything He desires.

 

God is in control, no matter what. The apostle John saw God still on His throne (Revelation 4:2), and with Him was the living Lamb that had been slain (5:6). Christ is risen, and all else will happen as God wills or allows it. When life becomes confused, remember the resurrection!—J. B. N.

 

20b. And become the firstfruits of them that slept.

 

Paul moves from fact to result by drawing on Old Testament imagery of firstfruits (Leviticus 23:17, 20; etc.). The idea of Jesus’ being a pioneer in the matter of life after death is found in many places in the New Testament (Acts 26:23; Revelation 1:5; etc.). The appearance of firstfruits indicates that the remainder of the harvest is on the way; since Christ has conquered death, His followers will too (see Philippians 3:10, 11).

 

B. Christ Makes Us Alive (vv. 21, 22)

 

21, 22. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

 

The resurrection of Christ creates a new reality. The sin in the Garden of Eden brought death to all (Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 5:12) despite the serpent’s lying assurance to the contrary (Genesis 3:4). But sin’s consequence of death, introduced by “the first man Adam” has been cancelled by Jesus, “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). The resurrection of the dead that is to come will not be temporary, such as that of Lazarus (John 11:38-44), but permanent (11:24-26). The resurrection to come will be for everyone since shall all be made alive. This does not mean that all will be saved but that all will be raised (compare Daniel 12:2).

 

What Do You Think?

 

What are some ways to celebrate Christ’s victory over death?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In corporate worship

 

In personal devotional life

 

In seemingly mundane daily events

 

Other

 

Conclusion

 

A. Death Is Not the End

 

Having died, Jesus’ body was placed in a nearby tomb, a cave carved out of rock (John 19:38-42). This cave-tomb featured a rock carved so as to be rolled in front of the entrance to close it (Matthew 27:60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:41). The chief priests and Pharisees sealed the tomb and stationed soldiers to guard it (Matthew 27:66). Jesus was dead; and as far as anyone knew, that was the end of the story.

 

But something beyond dramatic happened on Sunday morning. There was an earthquake, the stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb (Matthew 28:2), and Jesus walked out of the tomb, alive! God had raised Him from the dead. In so doing, God showed us that He had accepted Jesus’ death as the sacrifice for our sins.

 

We can be forgiven and not have to pay God’s penalty for our sins because Jesus has already done so. We can know that death is not the end of the story. Beyond death is life eternal.

 

B. Prayer

 

Father, Your Son is risen indeed! Because of Him, we trust in You to give us resurrection on that great day. In the name of the resurrected Jesus, amen.

 

C. Thought to Remember

 

Christ’s triumph over death is ours as well.

 

How to Say It

 

Aegean A-jee-un.

Cephas See-fus.

Corinth Kor-inth.

Corinthians Ko-rin-thee-unz (th as in thin).

diolkos (Greek) dih-all-kos (o as in cost).

Ephesus Ef-uh-sus.

Matthias Muh-thigh-us (th as in thin).

Patmos Pat-muss.

Peloponnese Pell-uh-puh-neez.

 

 

 

 

Kids’ Corner

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Resurrection Guaranteed

     

                                            

Lesson:I Corinthians 11:1-11, 20-22

Time of Action:55 A.D.

Place of the action:Paul writes to the church in Corinth from Ephesus

                                                                                                

Golden Text:“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Corinthians 15:22).

 

 

I.  INTRODUCTION

In this week’s lesson, Paul explained the meaning of Christ’s resurrection to the Corinthian believers.  He stressed that the glorious future resurrection of Christians is guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection.  This Easter morning, as we study this lesson we have the opportunity to glory in the understanding and blessings of Christ’s resurrection.

 

 

 

II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON

As Greeks, the people of Corinth were most likely influenced by Greek philosophers, who scoffed, or made fun of the very idea of a resurrection (see Acts 17:32).  While it is unlikely that the Corinthian believers doubted the resurrection of Christ, it was apparent from I Corinthians 15:12 that they had doubts concerning the future resurrection of Christians.  This prompted Paul to write fully about the resurrection in I Corinthians chapter 15.

 

 

 

III. THE GOSPEL AND CHRIST’S RESURRECTION (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

 

A. The gospel and salvation (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

1. (vs. 1).  In our first verse Paul says “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.”  The word “Moreover” indicates a change from what Paul wrote in chapter 14 to what he was about to write now.  Of course he called the Corinthian believers “brethren” because they were all members of the same family, the church of God (see I Corinthians 1:2).  He went on to say “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you.”  Paul was about to remind the Corinthian believers of the gospel that he had preached to them on his second missionary journey (see Acts 18:1, 4).  The word “gospel” means good news.  Paul told them that the gospel he preached “ye have received, and wherein ye stand.”  In other words, by faith they had accepted the message of the gospel, which included the resurrection.  However, false teaching had entered in saying that there was no resurrection for Christians who had died, even though they accepted Christ’s resurrection (see I Corinthians 15:12).  With the words “wherein ye stand,” Paul affirmed their faith as they stood firmly in that same gospel he preached.

2. (vs. 2).  Paul continued to say in this verse “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”  The words “By which” refers to the gospel message.  The Corinthian believers were “saved” by the gospel.  However, the gospel alone does not save.  Paul was simply affirming that salvation comes through the preaching of the gospel (see Romans 10:14-15).  The phrase “keep in memory” means to persevere or hold fast by faith.  With the words “if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” Paul was saying that the Corinthians demonstrated their salvation by holding fast and being obedient to the gospel message.  The only way that their salvation would not be sure was if they “believed in vain.”  In other words, their salvation wouldn’t be sure if the gospel that Paul preached and they believed was “vain” meaning worthless or phony.  A person can have all the faith in the world, but it means nothing if the message that they believe is false or phony.

 

 

B. The gospel defined (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

1. (vs. 3).  In this verse, Paul defined the gospel by giving the facts of it to prove that it is the basis of salvation.  He began by saying “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.”  With the words “For I delivered unto you” Paul was preparing to repeat the same gospel message that he had previously given to them.  The phrase “first of all” does not refer to the first time Paul preached to them, but it means that the gospel message itself was of first importance to Paul.  The apostle then said that the gospel message he gave to them was “which I also received.”  In other words, Paul taught the Corinthian converts what he had been taught.  He received the gospel message directly from the Lord (see Galatians 1:11-12, 15-19).  Paul went on to say that the gospel or good news consisted of two basic historic facts.  He gives the first historic fact here as he said “Christ died for our sins.”  The death of Christ was good news because it was for “our sins.”  Jesus was crucified for all sinners and satisfied the justice of a righteous God.  No message can claim to be the gospel unless it presents Christ’s death as God’s remedy for sin.  Note:  As a result of man’s rebellion and sinfulness (see Romans 3:23), alienation exists between God and man.  The just penalty for that rebellion is eternal death (see Romans 6:23).  Christ died on behalf of sinful people to satisfy the just or right penalty and to deliver them from the bondage of sin (see Romans 3:25-26; 6:8-10).  Paul also said that Christ’s death was “according to the scriptures.”  This refers to the Old Testament Scriptures.  Paul made sure that these believers understood that Jesus’ death was foretold in sacred Scripture long before it happened.  Jesus also told His disciples that everything written in the Scriptures had to be fulfilled (see Luke 24:44-47).  Paul was no doubt thinking of Psalms 16:10, all of Psalms 22, and Isaiah 53.  These Scriptures among others declared that Christ would suffer and die.

2. (vs. 4).  Paul continued his definition of the gospel by saying “And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  The evidence of Jesus’ death was “that he was buried.”  Christ was taken down from the cross and laid in a tomb (see Acts 13:29).  His burial was important because it confirms both His death and resurrection.  Not only was Jesus buried but “he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”   The burial of Jesus was a prelude to the empty tomb.  Note:  Witnesses saw a stone placed at the entrance of His tomb (see Mark 15:42-47).  They knew that no one could have stolen the body (see Matthew 28:1-13).  The resurrection that followed Jesus’ burial was real not merely a spiritual phenomenon.   Christ’s resurrection was permanent and triumphant.  His victory over death gives us our victory over death (see I Corinthians 15:20-23).  Paul also said that Jesus rose on “the third day.”  This would be three days after His crucifixion.  Jesus foretold this and it happened just as He said (see Matthew 12:40; John 2:19-21).   Note:  The phrase “the third day” is presented as a type in Jonah’s experience.  Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights (see Jonah 1:17).  Just like Jonah spent three days and three nights in the fish, Jesus said that He would also spend three days and three nights in the grave (see Matthew 12:40).  These would be three full days and three full nights, not half days or half nights.  Paul said that Christ’s resurrection, like His death was also “according to the scriptures.”  The Old Testament Scriptures do teach His resurrection (see Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 53:10-12).

 

 

 

IV. EVIDENCE OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION (I Corinthians 15:5-11)

 

A.  Christ’s earliest appearances (I Corinthians 15:5).

Paul continued to say in this verse “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.”  The words “And that” indicates that Paul considered the appearances of Jesus to be as much of the gospel as His death and resurrection.  The testimony of the Scriptures should be enough to satisfy anyone that Jesus rose from the dead.  However, Paul assured the Corinthians that many witnesses had seen the risen Christ.  Paul first said that Jesus “was seen of Cephas” or Peter (see Luke 24:34).  “Cephas” is Aramaic for the Greek name Peter.  Jesus gave him this name (see John 1:42) and like Peter it also means “stone.”  Paul then said Jesus was seen “of the twelve.”  The words “the twelve” refer to Christ’s disciples and was used here as a general term for them.  When he appeared to His disciples the first time after His resurrection, there were only ten disciples present.  Judas had committed suicide and Thomas was not present (see John 20:19-24).

 

 

 

B. Christ’s later appearances (I Corinthians 15:6-7). 

1. (vs. 6).  Still identifying those who saw Jesus after His resurrection, in this verse, Paul said “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.”  After appearing to the Twelve, Paul said Jesus appeared to “above five hundred brethren at once.”  Paul doesn’t say exactly when the more than five hundred people saw Christ, but he did say that “the greater part remain unto this present.”  In other words, a large part of the more than five hundred people were still alive so the Corinthians could check with them if they felt it was necessary.  Even though some were still alive, Paul also said that “some are fallen asleep” which was a phrase used to describe a believer’s death (see I Thessalonians 4:13).

2. (vs. 7).  Paul went on to say in this verse “After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.”  The next person to see Jesus Paul said was James, Jesus’ half-brother (see Matthew 13:55).  James didn’t believe in Jesus until after His resurrection (see John 7:5; Acts 1:14).  James was a leader in the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:13; 21:18) and he wrote the book of James.  After appearing to James, Paul said Jesus appeared to “all the apostles” (see Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:4-9).  Although prior to Jesus death, the word “apostle” meaning “sent ones” only referred to Jesus’ twelve disciples (see Matthew 10:2; Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13; 9:10), Paul seems to use the word “apostles” here to describe anyone who had seen Christ and was commissioned by Him after His resurrection (see I Corinthians 9:1).

 

 

 

C. Christ’s appearance to Paul (I Corinthians 15:8-10).

1. (vs. 8).  Paul now says in this verse “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”  The last person to witness the resurrected Christ was Paul himself (see I Corinthians chapter 9).  Although he was an apostle, Paul considered himself “as of one born out of due time.”  This was a phrase used in ancient Greek literature to describe a dead or miscarried baby.  It has the idea of a violent or untimely birth.  Paul was saying that unlike the other apostles, who were nurtured gradually by Jesus, he saw himself as being suddenly ripped from the womb of anti-Christian Judaism when he met Jesus.

2. (vs. 9).  Still referring to himself, Paul went on to say “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”  By describing himself as “the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle” Paul considered himself unworthy to be an apostle and also “not meet” or unfit to be called an apostle.  He never denied his apostleship, but he recognized that he was not worthy of it.  The reason Paul gave for feeling unworthy to be an apostle was “because I persecuted the church of God.”  He often remembered his past life of persecuting the church of God (see Acts 22:4-5; 26:9-11; Galatians 1:13; I Timothy 1:12-13).  Persecuting the church was terrible because when he persecuted the church he was persecuting God (see Acts 9:4-5).

3. (vs. 10).  Now Paul says “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”  The apostle realized that God’s grace changed his life.  The phrase “by the grace of God I am what I am” means that because of God’s unearned favor Paul was called to be an apostle with a special ministry to the Gentiles (see Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:8).  Paul then said “his (God’s) grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.”  In other words, the grace that God bestowed on Paul was profitable and not “in vain” or worthless.  As a result, he said “I laboured more abundantly than they all.”  In other words, Paul worked harder than all the other apostles; suffered more than they did; he travelled more miles to spread the gospel and he established more churches (see II Corinthians 11:23-29).  Paul concluded that he was only able to do these things because of “the grace of God which was with me.”

 

 

D. The summary (I Corinthians 15:11). 

In this verse Paul concluded saying “Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”  In other words, Paul told the Corinthian believers that they could look at him or any of the apostles and see the same thing: they all preached the same gospel of the resurrected Christ and having heard it the Corinthians believed.  The bottom line was that it didn’t matter whether Paul or another apostle preached the gospel: Christ’s death for sins, his burial, and resurrection.  The most important thing was the message which they believed not the messenger.  That’s still true today!

 

 

 

V. FUTURE IMPLICATIONS OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION (I Coronthians 15:20-22).  

Our printed text doesn’t include verse 12-19 but they are significant.  In those verses, posing hypothetical situations, Paul first addressed the false teaching concerning Christ’s resurrection.  Even though it had been preached that Christ rose from the dead, it was being falsely taught that there is no further resurrection of the dead (see verse 12).  If this was the case, then Christ didn’t rise either, and their preaching and the Corinthians’ faith both were in vain (see verses 13-14).  And if all this was true, then Paul and all the apostles would be false witnesses because they preached that God raised Christ up when He really didn’t (see verse 15).  Paul went on to say that if the dead don’t rise neither did Christ and therefore the Corinthians’ faith was vain or worthless, and they were still in their sins (see verses 16-17).  In addition, those believers who had already died have perished and if they only had faith in Christ for this present life, they all were most miserable (see verses 18-19).  Of course, all of that was not true.  This is where the remainder of our lesson begins.

 

A. Christ as the first fruits (I Corinthians 15:20). 

In this verse Paul said “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”  The resurrection of Christ is a historical fact, so Paul could rightly declare “But now is Christ risen from the dead.”  There would be no gospel message if Christ didn’t rise from the dead.  Paul also used an agricultural symbol to illustrate how Christ’s resurrection is a pledge or guarantee of the resurrection of all believers.  Paul said that since Christ rose from the dead, He had “become the firstfruits of them that slept.”  The word “slept” was a way of describing the death of saints.  The word “firstfruits” refers to the Feast of Firstfruits in the Old Testament (see Leviticus 23:9-14), when the first ripened grain harvested was presented to God.  This was considered to be a guarantee that the rest of the grain yet to be gathered would come to fruition.  Since Jesus conquered the grave and rose from the dead first making Him the firstfruits, He was God’s guarantee to all of us who are believers that we too will either rise from the grave when Jesus Christ returns in the air, or be translated to be with the Lord if we are still living when He returns (see I Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Note:  This does not mean that no one ever came back to life from the dead before Jesus’ resurrection.  Jewish Christians certainly knew of those in the Old Testament who were raised to life (see I Kings 17:17-23; II Kings 4:18-37).  Several similar events occurred in the New Testament (see Matthew 9:18-25; Luke 7:11-16; John 11:1-44; Acts 9:36-42).  In addition, Paul himself was instrumental in one case (see Acts 20:7-12).  However, each of those who were raised died again, but Jesus still lives never to die again.  Paul’s point was that just as the firstfruits were the promise of a harvest, so Jesus’ resurrection is the promise of the believer’s resurrection to a new life never to die again.

 

 

 

B. Christ as the last Adam (I Corinthians 15:21-22).

1. (vs. 21).  In this verse Paul says “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”  Paul further supported the certainty of the resurrection using an analogy between Adam and Christ.  He said that by a “man came death” into the world (see Romans 5:12).  Of course this first man was Adam.  Likewise, by a “man came also the resurrection of the dead.”  This second man was Jesus Christ.  Adam’s sin brought disaster upon himself and the entire human race.  Jesus Christ initiated resurrection from the dead, and those who are united with Him will join Him in new life.

2. (vs. 22).   Paul goes on to say in the final verse “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  The phrase “in Adam all die” means that the entire human race is subject to death due to our kinship with Adam.  But in contrast those who are “in Christ shall all be made alive.”  There is no doubt that the “all” in the phrase “in Adam all die” refers to everyone who has ever been born into this world, because everyone dies.  However, there is some discussion as to who is included in the word “all” in the phrase “in Christ all be made alive.”  Many believe that Paul was saying that all mankind will be given new life as a result of Christ’s resurrection.  Jesus did teach that there would be a resurrection for both the good and the evil: the good are resurrected to life and the evil are resurrected to damnation (see John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:5-6, 12-13).  However, in the context of our lesson, Paul was dealing with the question of whether dead believers will be raised (see I Corinthians 15:18, 23, 53-58).  It’s difficult to see how unbelievers could be “in Christ.”  Therefore, it appears best to understand that the “all” in the phrase “in Christ all be made alive” only includes the resurrection of believers.

 

 

                                    

VI. Conclusion

The fact that Christ rose from the dead assures us that all believers shall also rise to new life.  We have a glorious prospect of resurrection life, but it’s only because of the work of Christ.  Jesus is not dead in some Jerusalem tomb.  He is alive forevermore.  This is why we have Easter, the grand climax of God’s story of salvation.

 

 

PRACTICAL POINTS:

 

 

1.  Those who know the Lord are completely convinced of the gospel of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

 

2.  The gospel is simply this: Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

 

3.  Don’t be discouraged by those who doubt the resurrection because there were many witnesses to it (I Corinthians 15:5-8).

 

4.  We are unworthy, but God is gracious and still does great things through us (I Corinthians 15:9-11).

 

5.  The resurrection of Christ gives us hope for this life and the next (I Corinthians 15:20-22).  

 

 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Name _____________________

 

Resurrection Guaranteed

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1. Describe two reasons that Paul gives for believing in the

resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

2. What does Christ’s death mean and mean to you?

 

 

 

3. What does Christ’s resurrection mean and mean to you?

 

 

 

4. After the good news is proclaimed, what does a true believer do? What is the result?

 

 

 

5. Besides himself, who does Paul list by name of those who saw the risen Lord? Why do you think he names them by name?

 

 

 

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1. Describe two reasons that Paul gives for believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

1. Christ was raised according to the Scriptures (as foretold by the prophets in the Old

Testament).

2. Christ was seen by many eyewitnesses at different times after He rose from the dead. Some of the 500 who saw Him at one time were still alive, and they could talk about seeing Christ raised from the dead.

 

2. What does Christ's death mean and mean to you?

"Of first importance...Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3). God will forgive the sins of those who believe in Christ, and I believe in Christ in accordance with the Scriptures.

 

3. What does Christ's resurrection mean and mean to you?

Christ "was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:4). "The resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being, for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). Believers will see Christ risen from the dead and live with Christ forever, and that includes me as a believer in Christ.

 

4. After the good news is proclaimed, what does a true believer do? What is the result?

They receive the good news about Christ's death and resurrection and what it means. They stand on the good news (the good news becomes the foundation of how they live from that day forward). They hold firmly to the good news: no one can argue them out of

believing the facts of Christ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The result is they are being saved. See 1 Corinthians 15:1-2.

 

5. Besides himself, who does Paul list by name of those who saw the risen Lord? Why do you think he names them by name?

Paul named Cephas (Peter) and James (the brother of Jesus) specifically. He probably named these two because they were the two most important leaders in the church at that time and people could ask them to tell about their experiences meeting the risen Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

Word Search

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Resurrection Guaranteed

 

Name_______________________

 

Q I R D E M I A L C O R P L D

C M C E G C U F D B S Z A H E

D P X E S Z N M V L F T V O S

V O F N P U R A Q G S X S G I

N R I M V H R E D H J E H Z A

E T D U S N A R C R C S M X R

G A R E C F T S E E O E Z A H

A N X A R S B Q Y C I C R I J

S C G C I A S P B D T V C P H

S E B R P D E I R U B I E A E

E Z H O T O J P N X E V O D V

M C L Q U H A R P S Q H C N L

W B I A R T W K L A K F I A E

V Y Q Y E G N M W X H G R J W

W P E R S E C U T E D S K A T

 

Proclaimed

Received

Message

Importance

Accordance

Scriptures

Christ

Sins

Buried

Raised

Appeared

Cephas

James

Twelve

Persecuted

Resurrection

 

 

 

True and False Test

1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 20-22

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Name______________________

Resurrection Guaranteed

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. Believing in the resurrection is not as important as Paul wrote. True or False

 

2. Jesus did not really need to die. True or False

 

3. All people really need to do is try to be good every day. True or False

 

4. Whether people sin or not is not really important to God. True or False

 

5. Christ died and was buried. True or False

 

6. Christ rose on the third day after He died. True or False

 

7. We are being saved if we firmly hold on to the good news about Jesus. True or False

 

8. Holding on to some beliefs is vain or meaningless. True or False

 

9. Christ died and rose again according to the Scriptures. True or False

 

10. Jesus appeared to Peter, James, and Paul, but not to anyone else. True or False

 

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 20-22

Sunday, April 5, 2015

 

1.  False

2.  False

3.  False

4.  False

5.  True

6.  True

7.  True

8.  True

9.  True

10. False

 

 

CLOSING PRAYER

 

Father, Your Son is risen indeed! Because of Him, we trust in You to give us resurrection on that great day. In the name of the resurrected Jesus, amen.