Sunday, March 23, 2008

1 Corinthians 15:42-58 - Resurrection Victory!

Opening thought:

One of the books chosen for the Amazon Significant Seven List for February 2008 is David Shields’ book, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead.

"After you turn 7, your risk of dying doubles every eight years." By your 80s, you "no longer even have a distinctive odor ... You're vanishing." "The brain of a 90-year-old is the same size as that of a 3-year-old." And it goes on and on. David Shields's litany of decay and decrepitude might overwhelm the age-sensitive reader, but by melding personal history with frank biological data about every stage of life, he creates an autobiography of the body that seeks meaning in death, but moreover, life.

Shields filters his frank--and usually foreboding--data through his own experience as a 51-year-old father with burgeoning back pain, contrasting his own gloomy tendencies with his adolescent daughter is a soccer prodigy, romping on the pitch with nary an ache or pain and the defiant perspective of his own 97-year-old father, a man who has waged a lifelong, urgent battle against the infirmities of time and who claims his love life at age 70 was truly marvelous. Shields' book is an embrace of the human condition, but in the end there is no hope. It all ends in death. The shark finally finds blood. You finally go down. That’s what the world says.

The Bible has a totally different message. It is Good News. And it’s bound up in this thing called Resurrection that doesn’t embrace death. It devours it.

Contextual Notes:

The letter of 1 Corinthians is written to a church in difficult straits, and one of the questions that this congregation had revolved around the resurrection. Is resurrection real or just some kind of spiritual mumbo jumbo? What is it and what will it be like? Is it literal or just a happy idea?

First Corinthians 15, therefore, is known as the Resurrection chapter. In verses 1-11 Paul gives the historical facts of Christ’s resurrection. In verses 12-19 he says that if resurrection is not literally true then Christianity is a lie. In verses 20-28 he shows us all the things Christ’s resurrection gave us, and in verses 29-34 he demonstrates how the resurrection motivates us to serve Christ.

At verse 35, Paul launches into the mechanics of resurrection, how it works, and he begins with two illustrations The first one is a seed, and he says that it must be sown as a seed and die, and when it sprouts God gives it the body he intends for it. Next he turns to creation saying that different parts of it – men, animals, fish, birds, and heavenly bodies – all have a different splendor. This God-given splendor comes is like the resurrection. This brings us to our text. Read with me in 1 Corinthians 15:42-58.[1]

Pray and Read: 1 Corinthians 15:42-58

Key Truth: Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15:42-58 to teach the Corinthian church that the Resurrection gives us victory over loss, victory in this day, victory in the last day, victory over death, and victory in life.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what the Bible says about the victory we have through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sermon Points: The Resurrection gives us

1. Victory over Loss (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

2. Victory Today (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)

3. Victory in the Last Day (1 Corinthians 15:50-53)

4. Victory over Death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

5. Victory in Life (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Exposition: Note well,

1. VICTORY OVER LOSS (15:42-44).

a. There is a connection between the seed and the plant, but the differences are as great as a seed and a plant.[2]

b. Note the opposites here. Perishable v. Imperishable; Dishonor v. Glory; Weakness v. Power; Natural v. Spiritual.

c. Natural (psychikos) pertains to the soul or life of man. Spiritual (pneumatikos) pertains to the spirit, generated and controlled by the Spirit.[3]

d. ILLUSTRATION: When it is time to put a dear friend or loved one in the grave, we see that perishability, that dishonor, that weakness, that natural. That body is a hollow shell of what that person once was. That’s the sadness. They are gone. But the resurrection gives us a sure promise that if they were in Christ, their body was were just sown in the ground and will be raised imperishable.

e. APPLICATION: Some of us are suffering from a recent loss. It was someone your heart was knit with. You can’t believe they are gone. What a glorious day when those who have received Christ can reunite and circle be unbroken. The power of the resurrection of Jesus from that tomb gives us the victory to have any hope at all. And it is a glorious hope.

2. VICTORY TODAY (15:45-49).

a. First Adam v. Last Adam: One from dust v. one from heaven.

b. Paul refers (v. 45) to Genesis 2:7. Life-possessing soul v. Life-imparting spirit.

c. Paul Marsh (Scripture Union, London): “In the first [Adam], man finds his genesis; in the last, he gains his goal.”[4]

d. To which Adam do you belong?

e. ILLUSTRATION: We live in a world where the natural and the spiritual constantly touch, are curiously intertwined. We live in the light of eternity but we have to run by Wal-Mart to pick up shampoo. We carry the very Presence of a Risen Christ with us all the time, but if we do not get that drivers license renewed, we won’t be making it to work next week.

f. APPLICATION: Jesus Christ is Lord of both the eternity and the daily grind. His Resurrection life intersects with the kids ball game where you spoke to the woman who is struggling in her marriage and contemplating leaving her husband. Are you watching for those opportunities while you pick out milk on the grocery aisle? Are you listening to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit to take a minute and put a card in the mail, to be gracious to your supervisor anyway, to sit on the bus with that boy that no one talks to? Are you watching for ways to communicate the power of Resurrection in the lives of those in your comfort zone? Are you sharing the message of Jesus Christ as you go?


a. Our bodies need a physical transformation to handle eternity. This mystery that Paul reveals is that it will be immediate, and it will enable us to possess the Kingdom in imperishable ways.[5]

b. We shall not all sleep: Paul was prepared for Christ’s soon return but equally for his death. The key is to be ready.

c. ILLUSTRATION: When we commit a body to the ground, those of us in Christ do not do it with hopelessness. We do it with the full understanding that one day that body will rise. It will rise and change in a moment, according to the power of Jesus Christ. Those of us in Christ do not mourn like those without hope. We have full assurance of eternal life.

d. APPLICATION: Do you have that full assurance that you will be raised from the dead? The only way you can have it is through a personal relationship with a living, resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Today is a great day, the highest holy day of the year, to give your life to the One who will raise you up on the last day.

4. VICTORY OVER DEATH (15:54-57)

a. Alexander Maclaren: “Death the engulfer, is himself engulfed; Death, the conqueror, is conquered utterly and for ever; Death, the serpent, has his sting drawn, and is harmless.”[6]

b. Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8 here. Death has been swallowed up . . . in victory.” and Hosea 13:14 and taunts Death: “Where is your sting?” Death comes from sin. Romans 6:23 tells us that.

c. The present participle “giving” signifies not only victory but victory continually experienced. That victory of resurrection is in Christ![7]

d. Christ is the end of the law (Romans 10:4). 4Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

e. Christ is freedom from sin (1 Peter 2:22). 22"He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth."

f. Christ is the Conqueror of Death (Acts 2:24). 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

g. Christ is the Redeemer of His people (Hebrews 9:28). 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

h. ILLUSTRATION: I’ll not soon forget one day in my first class at Southeastern in Dr. Lanier’s Summer Greek. He was going over vocabulary and came to the word for death, thanatos. He mentioned William Cullen Bryant’s famous poem Thanatopsis, which says that death is just a part of the cycle of life, and that death should be embraced as a friend and natural part of our world and our lives. Then Dr. Lanier whirled around with a flash in his eye and shouted, “And that is a lie! The Bible says death is your enemy. Death is not your friend. Death is the last enemy to be defeated. Jesus Christ came into the world to defeat death once and for all for you and me. Never, never, never embrace death. It is our enemy. Our friend is the Author of Life, Jesus Christ who overthrew death and rose from the grave and sits at the Right Hand right now, a living, breathing God-Man. Embrace Jesus, not death!”

i. APPLICATION: One minute after you die, you will be somewhere. Jesus Christ has defeated your worst enemy with the Resurrection. Are you making the connection that this is a divine moment for you? We’re talking about things that matter. Christ has won the victory. All you have to do is receive it through making Him your Lord.

5. VICTORY IN LIFE (15:58)

a. Paul ends in a practical challenge.

b. STAND FIRM; Don’t move. Don’t let fear or intimidation keep you from what the Lord has called you to do. Don’t waver in your faith. Don’t be shaken when the professor laughs at you for believing in a bodily resurrection. Don’t waver in your behavior.

c. GIVE YOUR ALL to the work of the Lord. Throw yourself with abandon into His calling for your life because His Resurrection has given you the victory. Be a man or woman who follows relentlessly after God. Get on God’s agenda. Make the Great Commission your mission. Let nothing hold you back from His call on your life.[8]

d. ILLUSTRATION: This year we expect to see nearly 170,000 believers worldwide die a martyr’s death for the name of Jesus Christ. How do they do that? They are confident in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like Martin Luther they can say, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill. God’s truth abideth still. His Kingdom is forever.” They know the victory of the Resurrection.

e. APPLICATION: Once you have the Resurrection firmly in hand, there are things that will not shake you anymore. The prospect of your own death loses its fear. The idea of your spouse or loved one leaving has hope attached to it. Your view of life stabilizes, and some things just don’t rattle you anymore like they used to because the fear has been swallowed up with death by the Resurrection.

Invitation: Do you have the Resurrection in hand? Are you confident that Christ’s resurrection has won it all for you? If there is any doubt, today is the day to give your life to Christ so that he can take your death away forever.

Jesus Christ’s Resurrection can give you victory today. Won’t you receive that victory? Won’t you drop your embrace of death and instead embrace eternal life right now?


Aland, Barbara, et. al., ed. Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 27th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993.

—————————. The Greek New Testament. Nördlingen: United Bible Societies, 4th ed., 2004.

Bauer, Walter, Arndt, William F., Gingrich, F. Wilbur, and Danker, Frederick W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 2d ed. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.

Ciampa, Roy E. and Rosner, Brian S. “1 Corinthians.” Beale, G.K. and Carson, D.A., eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007, 744-5.

Datiri Dachollom. “1 Corinthians.” Adeyemo, Tokunboh, gen. ed. Africa Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006, 1396-7.

Davis, James A. “1-2 Corinthians.” Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989. 982.

Foster, Henry J. “Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians.” The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary on the Books of the Bible. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, n.d., 28:317-336.

Gill, David W. J. “1 Corinthians.” Arnold, Clinton, gen. ed. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002, 3:176-8.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993, 487-8.

Lockyer, Herbert. All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966, 259-60.

Maclaren, Alexander. “The Death of Death,” Expositions of Holy Scripture: Romans and Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 324-6.

Marsh, Paul W. “I Corinthians.” Bruce, F.F., gen. ed. The International Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968, 1385-6.

Richards, Lawrence O. The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Colorado Springs: Victor Books, 1994, 399-407.

Ryken, Leland, Wilhoit, James C., Longman, Tremper III. Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1998, 711.

Simpson, A.B. The Christ in the Bible Commentary. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1994, 5:241-5.

Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996, 487-8.


[1] Herbert Lockyer, All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966), 259-60.

[2] Dachollom Datiri, “1 Corinthians,” Adeyemo, Tokunboh, gen. ed. Africa Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 1396-7.

[3] Paul W. Marsh, “I Corinthians,” Bruce, F.F., gen. ed. The International Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), 1385.

[4] Marsh, 1385.

[5] Marsh, 1386; Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, (Colorado Springs: Victor Books, 1994), 405.

[6] Alexander Maclaren, “The Death of Death,” Expositions of Holy Scripture: Romans and Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library), 324-6.

[7] Marsh, 1386.

[8] A.B. Simpson, The Christ in the Bible Commentary, (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1994), 5:245.