Good morning! Paul’s letter to the Corinthians concludes today with chapters 15-16, focusing primarily on the nature and importance of the resurrection. He contends that without belief in the resurrection, Christian faith is pointless. With it, however, the Corinthians can persevere in the difficult acts of discipleship, because they will experience its ultimate reward.
Chapter 15 moves from Christ’s resurrection to that of believers, responding to what are presumably common questions he encounters about life after death. Paul lays out the many appearances of Christ so as to reassure anyone who might doubt whether accounts of Christ’s resurrection are true. His focus then shifts to the question of whether others who have died are also resurrected. Paul is adamant that they are, and he contends that to say otherwise empties the Christian message of all its power. Faith in the resurrection is what gives Paul the endurance to fight wild animals and survive many other hardships, because he wants others to know the hope he has found in Christ. Paul engages the question of what the resurrection will look like, but only to share his belief that it will be different from current human bodies, though connected as a seed is to the plant which springs from it. Resurrected, eternally-alive people will also “bear the image of the man of heaven”. Paul is speaking of that which he does not know—he’s in the realm of conjecture. Therefore, Christians will be wise not take him as an absolute authority, such as when he declares the trumpet-sounding final transformation of the world’s end. Paul’s expectation of Christ’s imminent return in his lifetime did not come to pass, but the detail of timing is less essential than these fundamentals: life triumphs over death, and Christ’s resurrection means that people will be resurrected also. Sin’s death-dealing power will absolutely, inevitably be overcome by the victory of Jesus Christ.
Paul concludes his letter in chapter 16 with miscellaneous instructions, including how to take an appropriate offering to support the church in other parts of the Mediterranean. Paul asks the letter’s recipients to accrue weekly contributions until his arrival, when he can send them on with letters and trusted messengers to church headquarters in Jerusalem. After sharing his travel intentions, Paul refers to other apostles, including Timothy (who should not be “despised”—presumably because of his youth) and Apollos (with whom Paul has had a disagreement about visiting the Corinthians). His final exhortation underscores the importance of love in everything they do, and a declaration of his own love is the closing salutation as well. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is 2 Corinthians 1-3. Thanks for reading!