“...and the LORD God will wipe tears away from
By Jon W. Quinn
It was in ancient Athens that Paul stood on
Mars’ Hill and proclaimed Christ to the philosophers. He made known to them
"the unknown God" and pointed out that they should know Him because "in Him we
live and breathe and have our very being." He said that we are "His
offspring." The philosophers eagerly listened to these new ideas. This was
their forte'. They lived to hear "something new."
Just like today, there were some things that were just not in vogue to
believe. I suppose it was the first century equivalent to "political
correctness." One thing that you just could not believe in and still be
accepted by this group was resurrection.
It was when Paul began to expound upon the resurrection of Christ that every
self-respecting philosopher began to sneer and mock (Acts 7:32). Some wanted
to hear more, but most did not. It wasn't the "in" thing to believe. Instead,
you were suppose to make fun of those who did believe in such things, thus
improving your standing with the group.
Against this backdrop, we come to another Greek city; Corinth. The same
philosophies prevailed, and so special care was needed when addressing the
resurrection. The converts at Corinth needed help understanding and accepting
The Resurrection of Christ
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that
Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1
Corinthians 15:3,4). "First things first;" and the "first" thing of the gospel
is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Paul emphasizes that the
resurrection of Christ was not a new idea, but rather appeals to the ancient
writings of the prophets as evidence of their validity. He follows that course
by giving further evidence; that Jesus appeared to many eyewitnesses. Most of
the people who had witnessed the resurrected Christ were still around at the
time the first Corinthian letter is written. They could be talked with; asked
questions and, perhaps most importantly, watched. If what they said was true,
they would be willing to die for their faith. History confirms that they were.
Finally, Paul is able to add his own name. Paul, the one who had been the
chief persecutor of the church, had seen the church's risen Savior (vss.8-10).
Because of what he had done to Christians before his own conversion, he was
compelled to spend his life telling others of the truth about Jesus he now
knew. In effect he is saying, "Why do you think I am so driven in this work?
It is because of what God has done for me despite what I had been." Friends,
do not delude yourselves; in the final analysis; the Lord has given us as much
as He gave Paul. We, too, are saved by grace. We, too, are in God's debt.
The Resurrection of Hope
"...and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, and your
faith is also vain...But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first
fruits of those who are asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:14; 20). Hope is necessary
for inner peace. The promise of resurrection as seen through the resurrection
of Christ gives believers undying hope. If this hope is untrue, then preaching
and faith is vain. If this hope is true, then preaching and faith is worth
more than anything this world can offer.
Hope provides life its anchor (Hebrews 6:19). Without it, life is unstable. It
loses its firm perspective on right and wrong as it loses its motivation to
choose right over wrong. If there is no hope, then why worry about moral
decisions at all? Paul even confirmed that if there is no resurrection it
would be better to "eat and drink for tomorrow we die." (vs. 32). Sadly, that
fairly well describes the life perspective of the godless today.
The Resurrection of the Righteous
"But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits, after that those who are
Christ's at His coming..." (1 Corinthians 15:23). But our hope is valid
because Christ has been raised thus giving assurance that one day our
resurrection will follow. Of course, both the righteous and the wicked will be
raised (John 5:28,29); the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to eternal
judgment. But here, Paul does not discuss the future of the wicked. He is
concerned here about the future of the righteous; that is, "those who are
Christ's at His coming."
For the faithful, there will be a resurrection and then the end comes (vs.
24). This end is described as the removal of the physical universe and
replacing it with a new realm (2 Peter 3:8-13; Revelation 21:1). Following
"the end" will be a new beginning. Jesus will "deliver up the kingdom to the
God and Father..." (vs. 24) and the last enemy, death, will have been
conquered (vs. 26). All things will be subjected to the Father, "that God may
be all in all." (vs. 28).
The Resurrection of the Body
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is
raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it
is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is
raised a spiritual body..." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). It would do little good
to live in a beautiful, eternal home if our bodies continued to grow old and
deteriorate. "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and bone cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (vs. 50).
The resurrection of the body includes a miraculous change in its nature. Even
those who are still alive will undergo this change "in a twinkling of an eye."
The Resurrection Song
"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (1 Corinthians
15:55). With the last enemy defeated, the songs of the righteous will express
their joy. This statement is taken from a song of praise for God's favor that
is recorded in Isaiah; "The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for
all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with
marrow, and refined aged wine. And on this mountain He will swallow up the
covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all
nations. He will swallow up death for all time, and the LORD God will wipe
tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from
all the earth; for the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 25:6-8).
From The Bradley Banner 1/4/2015
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway