Having established the bodily resurrection of Christ as the common belief of both Paul and the people in the Corinthian church who denied the future resurrection of believers (1 Cor. 15:1–11), the Apostle in today’s passage explores the necessary consequences of Christ’s resurrection. As we will see, Christ’s being raised bodily from the dead goes hand in hand with the bodily resurrection of His people. We cannot have one without the other.
Paul makes this essential point in 1 Corinthians 15:12–13, 16. He takes it for granted that the proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection makes it logically impossible to conclude that we will not be resurrected as well (v. 12). In fact, if there is no resurrection of believers, then Christ, in fact, was not resurrected (vv. 13, 16). To understand why the resurrection of Jesus necessitates the resurrection of believers and why the resurrection of believers necessitates the resurrection of Jesus, we must keep in mind that everything Jesus did, He did for the sake of His people. Based on texts such as Galatians 2:20, we are familiar with the precious truth that Jesus died for those who believe in Him. If we are not careful, however, we can forget that Jesus rose again for us as well. Our Lord speaks of His people’s being repaid at “the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14), but of course none of us is inherently righteous because of sin. Jesus, in fact, is the only truly just or righteous person who has ever lived. For the resurrection of the just to take place at all, He must be raised, and since He has been raised, all those who are united to Him by faith alone are accounted as righteous and will be raised as well. To deny our future bodily resurrection is to deny that Christ’s resurrection has redeemed us body and soul, and if His resurrection has not redeemed us in the body—to be consummated at the resurrection of our bodies—His resurrection never happened. After all, Jesus is God Almighty incarnate (John 1:1–14), and everything He does must therefore come to fruition. Jesus rose again for our justification—our very salvation—and since He has been raised, those who trust in Him will be raised as well.
To deny that we will be raised entails saying that Jesus has not been raised, for Jesus came to give us abundant life—first spiritually, and then finally bodily as well. If Jesus has not been raised, then our preaching and faith are in vain, and perhaps even worse, we have lied about God when we have said that He raised Jesus from the dead (1 Cor. 15:14–15). In other words, we have blasphemed.
The future resurrection of the body is not a negotiable point of the Christian faith. If we deny it, we also deny the resurrection of Jesus. This is one reason that we must be insistent that Jesus has not yet returned and that redemption will not be fully complete in our experience until we see Him and our bodies are raised from the dead. Being a Christian means affirming the resurrection of our bodies.