Background Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:1-28; Ephesians 1:15-23
Lesson Context: For reasons that are uncertain, some members of the church of Corinth had begun to dismiss the idea that God will raise the dead. In light of Paul’s emphasis on the church’s “puffed up” pride, it may be that some found the idea of God’s raising dead bodies to be distasteful or bizarre. Paul argued that God does indeed raise the dead because God raised Christ from the dead.
Guaranteed Victory ( 1 Corinthians 15:20-22):
- Firstfruits (v. 20)
20. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” “Now is Christ risen,” says Paul, defying, as it were, doubt and negation, and basing himself upon the firm assurance which he possesses of that historical fact, ‘Ah!’ you say, ‘seeing is believing; and he had evidence such as we can never have.’ Well! Let me see. Is it possible for us, nineteen centuries nearly after that day, to reiterate with as unfaltering assurance as that with which they came from his glowing lips, the great words of my text? Can we, logically and reasonably, as men who are guided by evidence and not by feeling, stand up before the world, and take for ours the ancient confession: ‘I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. The third day He rose again from the dead.’? The very way to prove a fact is by the evidence of witnesses. The way to do is to put people who have seen it into the witness box, and to make sure that their evidence is worth accepting.
Reversal (vv. 21-22).
V. 21. “For since by man came death, by man came the resurrection of the dead.” Paul places Christ’s resurrection in the setting of the entire biblical story, from the very beginning. God intended to sustain people’s lives as they depended on Him (Genesis 2:9). But rebellion severed that relationship and separated humans from God’s sustaining power (3:22-24). In this way humanity brought death upon itself, both the loss of physical life and the ruin of God’s goodness in our lives.
Resurrection, however, is a reversal of all this. Those who turn from rebellion to faith, submitting to God’s rule in His kingdom, are promised the king’s provision. Someone, first brought the death that all received in their rebellion, but someone else brought life. That someone is Jesus of Nazareth, who God raised from the dead.
V. 22. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
For as in Adam all die. The apostle here shows who he meant who in the former verse, by the one man the cause of death, and by th eother the author of the resurrection of the dead, and he intended Adam and Christ, all men in Adam were seminally, as the common parent of human nature, in such sense as Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him, and in him paid tithes unto him, and they were All in him representatively, he being the federal head of all posterity, and so a type of figure Christ that was come, and being in him, they all sinned in him, and so died in him, the sentence of death passed on them in him, they became subject to a corporeal death, which has ever since regned over all mankind.
Even so in Christ shall all be made alive. All humanity is in view in both usages, Christ’s death and resurrection has canceled any eternal punishment from Adam unto everyone else. The forthcoming bodily resurrection applies to everyone.
References: Barnes Notes on the Bible, Enduring Word Bible Commentary, Standard Lesson Commentary, International Sunday School Lessons, KJV 2022-2023