The Bible in a Year – 16 October

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

16 October. 1 Corinthians chapters 15-16

Here, Paul covers the core doctrine of Christianity – the resurrection.  Even writing to his own converts, Paul has to dispel a number of misunderstandings, which are still common today.  That is not surprising, since it will be something outside our present understanding.

The first misunderstanding he addresses is thinking that there were few witnesses to the  resurrection of Jesus. In fact, he says, Jesus appeared to “Cephas, then to the twelve, then to more than five hundred at one time, then to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all he appeared also to me”  (15:5-7). There was no lack  of evidence for the visible resurrection of Jesus.

Then, Paul goes on to use logical principles to argues that the resurrection of even one person means that it is wrong to say that no-one can be resurrected; and if so, then why only one? Jesus is described as the “first fruits”, the proof that the time of harvest has come.  Many of the traditional Harvest hymns are actually allegorical, pointing to the “harvest of souls” at the end of time.  The purpose of Christ being raised first is that he can complete his work of “subjecting every ruler, authority and power”.  That language is strange to us, but seems to mean that the risen (but no longer visible) Jesus is working “behind the scenes” to ensure that eventually, only God will have authority on earth, and not the other ‘forces’ that are at work in the world (not necessarily evil, but not godly either).

The third main misunderstanding Paul deals with is the idea that our resurrection bodies will be like the ones we have now.  He uses the illustration of sowing seeds – the plant that grows is not only totally unlike the seed, but much greater, and its nature cannot be guessed by looking at the seed.  So, our ‘spiritual’ bodies after the resurrection will be so unlike our earthly ones that we cannot imagine them, and it is pointless to do so.