1 Corinthians 15:3–34

“In fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20).

Yesterday we saw that only the hope of eternal life can give our suffering, indeed our entire life, an ultimate purpose and significance. In this world, good does not always triumph over evil. Sometimes the wicked prosper. Sometimes we endure tragedies and suffering that do not have any apparent meaning or reason behind them. Without a judge and corresponding punishments and rewards, there is no right or wrong. All things become permissible.

Though there have been a select few (such as Friedrich Nietzsche) who have embraced nihilism and its corresponding denial of any ultimate meaning and purpose for anything, most people conduct their lives as if there is a right and a wrong and as if there is some kind of ultimate purpose. People may verbally deny that ultimate meaning exists, but few live according to the lawlessness and hopelessness that inevitably results from this denial. That people conduct their affairs in such a way is a powerful evidence that a higher reality exists.

Nevertheless, without some kind of basis for the belief in God, the possibility remains that the nihilists are correct. Furthermore, knowing God exists is not enough, we still have to answer the question: “Which god?” In today’s passage, the apostle Paul addresses these issues by arguing for the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:13 that if there is no resurrection then even Jesus has not been raised. And if Jesus has not been raised we have been misrepresenting God, for we have claimed that God has raised Him from the dead (v. 15). Ultimately, however, if Jesus has not been raised, there is neither resurrection nor judgment, and we might as well indulge in whatever we would like (v. 32).

But thanks be to God, this is not the case. Paul lays out the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in verses 3–8. We can be confident that Jesus is alive because of the Old Testament predictions about Him (v. 3) and the evidence for His post-resurrection appearances (vv. 4–8). Jesus’ resurrection establishes His claim that judgment is indeed coming; therefore, our suffering has purpose, because all people will one day receive either mercy or punishment.

Coram Deo

Since the Enlightenment, many have said the resurrection is impossible and that we can still have Christianity even if we deny the supernaturalism of Scripture. However, if Christ has not been raised then our faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14). Both Scripture and many empirical evidences attest to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to increase your faith in His resurrection and when you doubt, review both the Bible and the evidence for the resurrection.

For Further Study