The Resurrection of Christ

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead” (v. 21).

- 1 Corinthians 15:20–57

Today we conclude our brief look at the work of Christ with a short study of His resurrection. Since our study has emphasized the work of Jesus as a man to merit righteousness for us and to atone for sin, let us first remind ourselves of the connection between our Lord’s resurrection and those aspects of His work. As we noted in our examination of Romans 4:25, that Jesus was “raised for our justification” is proof that His life and death were acceptable to God. Our Lord’s resurrection is His vindication, the declaration that He indeed was perfectly righteous and was therefore a suitable offering to turn away the wrath of God and also the firm basis upon which we can be declared just before the Father. If Jesus had stayed dead, it would have proven that death had a rightful claim over Him, and since death has a rightful claim only over sinners, Jesus’ remaining dead would have meant that He was a sinner and not our Redeemer.

In 1 Corinthians 15:20–28, Paul considers other benefits of our Savior’s resurrection, namely the defeat of death and His being raised to life as the firstfruits of the resurrection of His people. Here we see the Christus Victor motif of the atonement and resurrection—Christ as the conqueror of our enemies death and sin. Operating under the sovereignty of God, death is our foe. It is even God’s foe as well, for He is the Lord of life. By our sin in Adam, we granted the right for death to claim us as part of the divine curse. By His righteous life, Christ destroyed any claim that death had over Him and those who are united to Him. Death threw its worst at our Lord, killing Him. But our Father was working in the midst of all that, using death as His instrument to pour out His wrath on our sin and raising Christ to life to prove that this wrath had been satisfied. By defeating the power of death, Jesus rendered it powerless over His people.

Thus, Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v. 20). Jesus was raised from the dead for our justification, yes, but He was also raised for our own resurrection. In other words, because Christ was raised from the dead, we will be raised as well. One day, our physical bodies will be resurrected, and we will be glorified, just as Jesus was. We have been united to Christ, having died to sin, and that union means that we are also united to Him in the resurrection (Rom. 6:5). Our bodies will not remain in the grave forever. At the last day, our spirits will be reunited with them to live forever in the new heavens and earth.

Coram Deo

We must never downplay the glory and importance of our Lord’s resurrection. Not only does it provide for His vindication, but it is also the foundation for our own resurrection and victory over death. We do look forward to being in the presence of God at our deaths, but our final hope is the resurrection in which our spirits will be reunited with perfected bodies and when we will forever experience the glorified state that the Lord intended for us from the very beginning.

Passages for Further Study

Job 19:25–27
Daniel 12:2–3
Mark 16:1–8
1 Peter 1:3–5

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343