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    CHAPTER 15


    Christ's resurrection rests on the evidence of many eye-witnesses, including Paul himself, and is the great fact preached as the groundwork of the Gospel: they who deny the resurrection in general, must deny that of Christ, and the consequence of the latter will be, that Christian preaching and faith are vain.

    1. Moreover--"Now" [ALFORD and ELLICOTT].
    - I declare--literally, "I make known": it implies some degree of reproach that it should be now necessary to make it known to them afresh, owing to some of them "not having the knowledge of God" (1Co 15:34). Compare Ga 1:11.
    - wherein ye stand--wherein ye now take your stand. This is your present actual privilege, if ye suffer not yourselves to fall from your high standing.

    2. ye are saved--rather, "ye are being saved."
    - if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you--Able critics, BENGEL and others, prefer connecting the words thus, "I declare unto you the Gospel (1Co 15:1) in what words I preached it unto you." Paul reminds them, or rather makes known to them, as if anew, not only the fact of the Gospel, but also with what words, and by what arguments, he preached it to them. Translate in that case, "if ye hold it fast." I prefer arranging as English Version, "By which ye are saved, if ye hold fast (in memory and personal appropriation) with what speech I preached it unto you."
    - unless--which is impossible, your faith is vain, in resting on Christ's resurrection as an objective reality.

    3. I delivered unto you--A short creed, or summary of articles of faith, was probably even then existing; and a profession in accordance with it was required of candidates for baptism (Ac 8:37).
    - first of all--literally, "among the foremost points" (Heb 6:2). The atonement is, in Paul's view, of primary importance.
    - which I . . . received--from Christ Himself by special revelation (compare 1Co 11:23).
    - died for our sins--that is, to atone FOR them; for taking away our sins (1Jo 3:5; compare Ga 1:4): "gave Himself for our sins" (Isa 53:5; 2Co 5:15; Tit 2:14). The "for" here does not, as in some passages, imply vicarious substitution, but "in behalf of" (Heb 5:3; 1Pe 2:24). It does not, however, mean merely "on account of," which is expressed by a different Greek word (Ro 4:25), (though in English Version translated similarly, "for").
    - according to the scriptures--which "cannot be broken." Paul puts the testimony of Scripture above that of those who saw the Lord after His resurrection [BENGEL]. So our Lord quotes Isa 53:12, in Lu 22:37; compare Ps 22:15, &c.; Da 9:26.

    4. buried . . . rose again--His burial is more closely connected with His resurrection than His death. At the moment of His death, the power of His inextinguishable life exerted itself (Mt 27:52). The grave was to Him not the destined receptacle of corruption, but an apartment fitted for entering into life (Ac 2:26-28) [BENGEL].
    - rose again--Greek, "hath risen": the state thus begun, and its consequences, still continue.

    5. seen of Cephas--Peter (Lu 24:34).
    - the twelve--The round number for "the Eleven" (Lu 24:33, 36). "The Twelve" was their ordinary appellation, even when their number was not full. However, very possibly Matthias was present (Ac 1:22, 23). Some of the oldest manuscripts and versions read, "the Eleven": but the best on the whole, "the Twelve."

    6. five hundred--This appearance was probably on the mountain (Tabor, according to tradition), in Galilee, when His most solemn and public appearance, according to His special promise, was vouchsafed (Mt 26:32; 28:7, 10, 16). He "appointed" this place, as one remote from Jerusalem, so that believers might assemble there more freely and securely. ALFORD'S theory of Jerusalem being the scene, is improbable; as such a multitude of believers could not, with any safety, have met in one place in the metropolis, after His crucifixion there. The number of disciples (Ac 1:15) at Jerusalem shortly after, was one hundred and twenty, those in Galilee and elsewhere not being reckoned. Andronicus and JUNIUS were, perhaps, of the number (Ro 16:7): they are said to be "among the apostles" (who all were witnesses of the resurrection, Ac 1:22).
    - remain unto this present--and, therefore, may be sifted thoroughly to ascertain the trustworthiness of their testimony.
    - fallen asleep--in the sure hope of awaking at the resurrection (Ac 7:60).

    7. seen of James--the Less, the brother of our Lord (Ga 1:19). The Gospel according to the Hebrews, quoted by JEROME [On Illustrious Men, p. 170 D.], records that "James swore he would not eat bread from the hour that he drank the cup of the Lord, till he should see Him rising again from the dead."
    - all the apostles--The term here includes many others besides "the Twelve" already enumerated (1Co 15:5): perhaps the seventy disciples (Lu 10:1) [CHRYSOSTOM].

    8. One born out of due time--Greek, "the one abortively born": the abortion in the family of the apostles. As a child born before the due time is puny, and though born alive, yet not of the proper size, and scarcely worthy of the name of man, so "I am the least of the apostles," scarcely "meet to be called an apostle"; a supernumerary taken into the college of apostles out of regular course, not led to Christ by long instruction, like a natural birth, but by a sudden power, as those prematurely born [GROTIUS]. Compare the similar image from childbirth, and by the same spiritual power, the resurrection of Christ (1Pe 1:3). "Begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus." Jesus' appearance to Paul, on the way to Damascus, is the one here referred to.

    9. least--The name, "Paulus," in Latin, means "least."
    - I persecuted the church--Though God has forgiven him, Paul can hardly forgive himself at the remembrance of his past sin.

    10. by . . . grace . . . and his grace--The repetition implies the prominence which God's grace had in his mind, as the sole cause of his marvellous conversion and subsequent labors. Though "not meet to be called an apostle," grace has given him, in Christ, the meetness needed for the office. Translate as the Greek, "His grace which was (showed) towards me."
    - what I am--occupying the honorable office of an apostle. Contrast with this the self-sufficient prayer of another Pharisee (Lu 18:11).
    - but I laboured--by God's grace (Php 2:16).
    - than they all--than any of the apostles (1Co 15:7).
    - grace of God . . . with me--Compare "the Lord working with them" (Mr 16:20). The oldest manuscripts omit "which was." The "not I, but grace," implies, that though the human will concurred with God when brought by His Spirit into conformity with His will, yet "grace" so preponderated in the work, that his own co-operation is regarded as nothing, and grace as virtually the sole agent. (Compare 1Co 3:9; Mt 10:20; 2Co 6:1; Php 2:12, 13).

    11. whether it were I or they--(the apostles) who "labored more abundantly" (1Co 15:10) in preaching, such was the substance of our preaching, namely, the truths stated in 1Co 15:3, 4.

    12. if--Seeing that it is an admitted fact that Christ is announced by us eye-witnesses as having risen from the dead, how is it that some of you deny that which is a necessary consequence of Christ's resurrection, namely, the general resurrection?
    - some--Gentile reasoners (Ac 17:32; 26:8) who would not believe it because they did not see "how" it could be (1Co 15:35, 36).

    13. If there be no general resurrection, which is the consequent, then there can have been no resurrection of Christ, which is the antecedent. The head and the members of the body stand on the same footing: what does not hold good of them, does not hold good of Him either: His resurrection and theirs are inseparably joined (compare 1Co 15:20-22; Joh 14:19).

    14. your faith . . . vain-- (1Co 15:11). The Greek for "vain" here is, empty, unreal: in 1Co 15:17, on the other hand, it is, without use, frustrated. The principal argument of the first preachers in support of Christianity was that God had raised Christ from the dead (Ac 1:22; 2:32; 4:10, 33; 13:37; Ro 1:4). If this fact were false, the faith built on it must be false too.

    15. testified of God--that is, concerning God. The rendering of others is, "against God" [Vulgate, ESTIUS, GROTIUS]: the Greek preposition with the genitive implies, not direct antagonism (as the accusative would mean), but indirect to the dishonor of God. English Version is probably better.
    - if so be--as they assert. It is not right to tell untrue stories, though they are told and seem for the glory of God (Job 13:7).

    16. The repetition implies the unanswerable force of the argument.

    17. vain--Ye are, by the very fact (supposing the case to be as the skeptics maintained), frustrated of all which "your faith" appropriates: Ye are still under the everlasting condemnation of your sins (even in the disembodied state which is here referred to), from which Christ's resurrection is our justification (Ro 4:25): "saved by his life" (Ro 5:10).

    18. fallen asleep in Christ--in communion with Christ as His members. "In Christ's case the term used is death, to assure us of the reality of His suffering; in our case, sleep, to give us consolation: In His case, His resurrection having actually taken place, Paul shrinks not from the term death; in ours, the resurrection being still only a matter of hope, he uses the term falling asleep" [PHOTIUS, Quæstiones Amphilochiæ, 197].
    - perished--Their souls are lost; they are in misery in the unseen world.

    19. If our hopes in Christ were limited to this life only, we should be, of all men, most to be pitied; namely, because, while others live unmolested, we are exposed to every trial and persecution, and, after all, are doomed to bitter disappointment in our most cherished hope; for all our hope of salvation, even of the soul (not merely of the body), hangs on the resurrection of Christ, without which His death would be of no avail to us (Eph 1:19, 20; 1Pe 1:3). The heathen are "without hope" (Eph 2:12; 1Th 4:13). We should be even worse, for we should be also without present enjoyment (1Co 4:9).

    20. now--as the case really is.
    - and become--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
    - the first-fruits--the earnest or pledge, that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. The time of writing this Epistle was probably about the Passover (1Co 5:7); the day after the Passover sabbath was that for offering the first-fruits (Le 23:10, 11), and the same was the day of Christ's resurrection: whence appears the appropriateness of the image.

    21. by man . . . by man--The first-fruits are of the same nature as the rest of the harvest; so Christ, the bringer of life, is of the same nature as the race of men to whom He brings it; just as Adam, the bringer of death, was of the same nature as the men on whom he brought it.

    22. in Adam all--in union of nature with Adam, as representative head of mankind in their fall.
    - in Christ . . . all--in union of nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their recovery. The life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the death brought in by Adam.

    23. But every man in his own order--rather, "rank": the Greek is not in the abstract, but concrete: image from troops, "each in his own regiment." Though all shall rise again, let not any think all shall be saved; nay, each shall have his proper place, Christ first (Col 1:18), and after Him the godly who die in Christ (1Th 4:16), in a separate band from the ungodly, and then "t


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