The First to the Corinthians 15:1-58

15  Now I remind you, brothers, of the good news that I declared to you,+ which you also accepted, and for which you have taken your stand.  Through it you are also being saved+ if you hold firmly to the good news I declared to you, unless you became believers for nothing.  For among the first things I handed on to you was what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;+  and that he was buried,+ yes, that he was raised up+ on the third day+ according to the Scriptures;+  and that he appeared to Ceʹphas,+ and then to the Twelve.+  After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time,+ most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death.  After that he appeared to James,+ then to all the apostles.+  But last of all he appeared also to me+ as if to one born prematurely.  For I am the least of the apostles,+ and I am not worthy of being called an apostle, because I persecuted the congregation of God.+ 10  But by God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am.+ And his undeserved kindness to me was not in vain, but I labored more than all of them; yet it was not I, but the undeserved kindness of God that is with me.+ 11  Whether, then, it is I or they, this is the way we preach, and this is the way you believed. 12  Now if it is being preached that Christ has been raised from the dead,+ how is it that some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?+ 13  If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised up. 14  But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and your faith is also in vain. 15  Moreover, we are also found to be false witnesses of God,+ because we have given witness against God by saying that he raised up the Christ,+ whom he did not raise up if the dead are really not to be raised up. 16  For if the dead are not to be raised up, neither has Christ been raised up. 17  Further, if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless; you remain in your sins.+ 18  Then also those who have fallen asleep in death in union with Christ have perished.+ 19  If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are to be pitied more than anyone. 20  But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.+ 21  For since death came through a man,+ resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.+ 22  For just as in Adam all are dying,+ so also in the Christ all will be made alive.+ 23  But each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits,+ afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.+ 24  Next, the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power.+ 25  For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet.+ 26  And the last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing.+ 27  For God “subjected all things under his feet.”+ But when he says that ‘all things have been subjected,’+ it is evident that this does not include the One who subjected all things to him.+ 28  But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him,+ that God may be all things to everyone.+ 29  Otherwise, what will they do who are being baptized for the purpose of being dead ones?+ If the dead are not to be raised up at all, why are they also being baptized for the purpose of being such? 30  Why are we also in danger every hour?*+ 31  Daily I face death. This is as sure as my exultation over you, brothers, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32  If like other men,* I have fought with wild beasts at Ephʹe·sus,+ of what good is it to me? If the dead are not to be raised up, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”+ 33  Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.*+ 34  Come to your senses in a righteous way and do not practice sin,+ for some have no knowledge of God. I am speaking to move you to shame. 35  Nevertheless, someone will say: “How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?”+ 36  You unreasonable person! What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies.+ 37  And as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but just a bare grain, whether of wheat or of some other kind of seed; 38  but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and gives to each of the seeds its own body. 39  Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, there is another flesh of cattle, another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40  And there are heavenly bodies+ and earthly bodies;+ but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort. 41  The glory of the sun is one sort, and the glory of the moon is another,+ and the glory of the stars is another; in fact, one star differs from another star in glory. 42  So it is with the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised up in incorruption.+ 43  It is sown in dishonor; it is raised up in glory.+ It is sown in weakness; it is raised up in power.+ 44  It is sown a physical body; it is raised up a spiritual body.+ If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. 45  So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living person.”+ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.+ 46  However, what is spiritual is not first. What is physical is first, and afterward what is spiritual. 47  The first man is from the earth and made of dust;+ the second man is from heaven.+ 48  Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust; and like the heavenly one, so too are those who are heavenly.+ 49  And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust,+ we will bear also the image of the heavenly one.+ 50  But I tell you this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51  Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be changed,+ 52  in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during* the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound,+ and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we will be changed.+ 53  For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption,+ and this which is mortal must put on immortality.+ 54  But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: “Death is swallowed up forever.”+ 55  “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”+ 56  The sting producing death is sin,+ and the power for sin is the Law.+ 57  But thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!+ 58  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast,+ immovable, always having plenty to do+ in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain*+ in connection with the Lord.

Footnotes

Or “all the time?”
Or possibly, “If from a human viewpoint” or “If, with human motives.”
Or “corrupt good morals.”
Or “at.”
Lit., “empty.”

Study Notes

let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die: Paul here quotes Isa 22:13, which epitomized the attitude of Jerusalem’s disobedient inhabitants. Instead of repenting when faced with the threat of destruction, they gave themselves over to pleasure-seeking. Paul may have quoted these words because they reflected the thinking of those who denied the resurrection hope. For example, such groups as the Epicureans did not believe in a resurrection; they focused on living for the present. But as Paul points out, the resurrection is a reality, giving Christians ample reason and motivation to maintain their self-sacrificing course.​—1Co 15:58.

some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead: If this teaching were true, those who died with the hope of living again on earth would remain dead forever. (Mt 22:31, 32; Joh 11:23, 24; see study note on 1Co 15:2.) Anointed Christians could not go to heaven because they first had to die so that they could be resurrected as spirit persons. (1Co 15:35-38; see study notes on 1Co 15:36, 38.) Paul noted that if the resurrection were not a reality, the Christian faith would then be in vain, without purpose. (1Co 15:13, 14) So he staunchly defended the resurrection hope, focusing here on the hope of anointed Christians.

if you hold firmly to the good news: The resurrection, part of “the primary doctrine” of Christianity, was under attack in Corinth. (Heb 6:1, 2) Some were arguing that “there is no resurrection of the dead.” (1Co 15:12) Paul drew attention to those who said: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” (1Co 15:32) He may have been quoting Isa 22:13, but those words well reflected the thinking of people influenced by such Greek philosophers as Epicurus, who denied that there was life after death. (Ac 17:32; see study note on 1Co 15:32.) Or some in the congregation who were of Jewish background may have been influenced by the beliefs of the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. (Mr 12:18) Another possibility is that some felt that living Christians had already experienced some kind of spiritual resurrection. (2Ti 2:16-18) If the Corinthians failed to “hold firmly to the good news,” they would become believers for nothing​—their hope would not be fulfilled.​—See study note on 1Co 15:12.

Cephas: One of the names of the apostle Simon Peter. Upon meeting Simon for the first time, Jesus gave him the Semitic name Cephas (in Greek, Ke·phasʹ). The name may be related to the Hebrew noun ke·phimʹ (rocks) used at Job 30:6 and Jer 4:29. At Joh 1:42, John explains that the name “is translated ‘Peter’” (Peʹtros, a Greek name that similarly means “A Piece of Rock”). The name Cephas is used only at Joh 1:42 and in two of Paul’s letters, namely, 1 Corinthians and Galatians.​—1Co 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Ga 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14; see study notes on Mt 10:2; Joh 1:42.

and Peter: Mark is the only Gospel writer to include the detail that Peter was specifically named in the angel’s message. (Compare the parallel account at Mt 28:7.) Joh 20:2 says that Mary Magdalene brought the message “to Simon Peter and to the other disciple,” that is, John. Sometime before Jesus appeared to his disciples as a group, he apparently appeared to Peter when Peter was alone. (Lu 24:34; 1Co 15:5) This personal attention, plus the specific mention of Peter in this angelic message, no doubt reassured Peter that he had been forgiven for three times denying any association with his friend.​—Mt 26:73-75.

Cephas: Cephas is another name for Peter. (See study note on 1Co 1:12.) Before Jesus appeared to the disciples as a group, he appeared to Peter​—apparently when Peter was alone. (Lu 24:34) Peter must have been greatly comforted by this personal visit, during which he no doubt received needed direction and assurance that he had been forgiven for denying Jesus three times.​—See study note on Mr 16:7.

the Twelve: The appearance “to the Twelve” mentioned here seems to be the one recorded at Joh 20:26-29, which involved Thomas. If that is the case, “the Twelve” was here a designation referring to the apostles as a group, even if one or two were absent. (Joh 20:24; Ac 6:1-6) Jesus’ appearance no doubt helped them to overcome their fear and to become bold witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection.

to meet: Apparently more than 500 attend this meeting in Galilee.​—1Co 15:6.

he fell asleep in death: The Scriptures use the expressions “sleep” and “fall asleep” to refer both to physical sleep (Mt 28:13; Lu 22:45; Joh 11:12; Ac 12:6) and to the sleep of death (Joh 11:11; Ac 7:60; 13:36; 1Co 7:39; 15:6, 51; 2Pe 3:4). When these expressions are used in contexts that refer to death, Bible translators often use such wording as “fall asleep in death” or simply “died,” which helps the reader avoid confusion. In the figurative sense, the term “asleep” is applied in the Scriptures to those who have died because of the sin and death passed on from Adam.​—See study notes on Mr 5:39; Joh 11:11.

he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time: Since most of Jesus’ followers were in Galilee, it may have been on the occasion described at Mt 28:16-20 that the resurrected Jesus appeared to “more than 500 brothers.” (See study note on Mt 28:16.) This group apparently included the women who were told by an angel that the resurrected Jesus would appear to them in Galilee. (Mt 28:7) Most of those who had been present were still alive in 55 C.E. when Paul composed this first inspired letter to the Corinthians. So Paul was telling those who doubted Jesus’ resurrection that there were living eyewitnesses who could personally attest to it as an established fact.

have fallen asleep in death: See study note on Ac 7:60.

James: The James mentioned here is likely the son of Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, and Jesus’ natural mother, Mary. Prior to Jesus’ resurrection, James apparently was not a believer. (Joh 7:5) Paul likely here refers to a personal appearance that Jesus made to James, which seems to have helped convince James that his older brother truly was the Messiah. James became a believer and perhaps played a role in converting his other brothers.​—Ac 1:13, 14.

as if to one born prematurely: Paul apparently refers to his own experience when he was still known as Saul. When Saul had a vision of Jesus in heavenly glory, it was as if Saul had been granted the honor of being born, or resurrected, to spirit life ahead of time, centuries before that resurrection was to occur. This experience abruptly halted Saul’s course of murderous opposition to the Christian congregation and brought about a remarkable change in him. (Ac 9:3-9, 17-19) He became the apostle Paul, one of the foremost defenders of the Christian faith. Because of this unique vision, Paul was able to add his own experience as a witness to the list of many other witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus.​—1Co 15:6-10.

by God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am: Paul here humbly acknowledges that he could not take credit for whatever he had accomplished in Jehovah’s service. He emphasizes the point by mentioning God’s “undeserved kindness” three times in this verse. (See Glossary, “Undeserved kindness.”) That emphasis provides the context for Paul’s statement that he labored more than all of them, meaning the other apostles. Paul appreciated God’s mercy in choosing him, a former persecutor of Christians, to become an apostle. (1Ti 1:12-16) To show his gratitude, Paul labored with the utmost intensity to carry out his assignment. He traveled vast distances over land and sea to spread the good news, establishing numerous congregations. In connection with his ministry, Paul was inspired to write 14 letters that became part of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Jehovah also blessed him with the gift of speaking in tongues; with visions; and with the ability to perform other miracles, including a resurrection. (Ac 20:7-10; 1Co 14:18; 2Co 12:1-5) Paul viewed all his service and these blessings as undeserved kindness from Jehovah.

if you hold firmly to the good news: The resurrection, part of “the primary doctrine” of Christianity, was under attack in Corinth. (Heb 6:1, 2) Some were arguing that “there is no resurrection of the dead.” (1Co 15:12) Paul drew attention to those who said: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” (1Co 15:32) He may have been quoting Isa 22:13, but those words well reflected the thinking of people influenced by such Greek philosophers as Epicurus, who denied that there was life after death. (Ac 17:32; see study note on 1Co 15:32.) Or some in the congregation who were of Jewish background may have been influenced by the beliefs of the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. (Mr 12:18) Another possibility is that some felt that living Christians had already experienced some kind of spiritual resurrection. (2Ti 2:16-18) If the Corinthians failed to “hold firmly to the good news,” they would become believers for nothing​—their hope would not be fulfilled.​—See study note on 1Co 15:12.

unless first it dies: When discussing the resurrection of an anointed Christian to life as a spirit person, Paul likens the burial of the physical body to the sowing of a seed. A seed dies in the sense that once planted, it disintegrates. Then it becomes a plant that differs entirely from the seed in form and appearance. (Compare Joh 12:24.) Similarly, a Christian who is chosen by God to be a joint heir with His Son and to receive incorruption and immortality in heaven must first die. At 1Co 15:42-44, Paul four times uses the concept of being sown in a figurative sense. He describes how a spirit-anointed Christian gives up the physical body and obtains a heavenly body by resurrection.​—See study note on 1Co 15:38.

God gives it a body: Paul here continues to compare the resurrection of a spirit-anointed Christian to the germinating of a seed. (See study note on 1Co 15:36.) He uses the example of a tiny seed of wheat that bears no resemblance to the plant that will grow from it. It “dies” as a seed and becomes an emerging plant. (1Co 15:36, 37) Similarly, anointed Christians first die as humans. Then at his appointed time, God brings them back to life in entirely new bodies. (2Co 5:1, 2; Php 3:20, 21) They are resurrected in spirit bodies to live in the spirit realm.​—1Co 15:44; 1Jo 3:2.

resurrection: The Greek word a·naʹsta·sis literally means “raising up; standing up.” It is used about 40 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures with reference to the resurrection of the dead. (Mt 22:31; Ac 4:2; 24:15; 1Co 15:12, 13) In the Septuagint at Isa 26:19, the verb form of a·naʹsta·sis is used to render the Hebrew verb “to live” in the expression “Your dead will live.”​—See Glossary.

some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead: If this teaching were true, those who died with the hope of living again on earth would remain dead forever. (Mt 22:31, 32; Joh 11:23, 24; see study note on 1Co 15:2.) Anointed Christians could not go to heaven because they first had to die so that they could be resurrected as spirit persons. (1Co 15:35-38; see study notes on 1Co 15:36, 38.) Paul noted that if the resurrection were not a reality, the Christian faith would then be in vain, without purpose. (1Co 15:13, 14) So he staunchly defended the resurrection hope, focusing here on the hope of anointed Christians.

resurrection: See study note on Mt 22:23.

if Christ has not been raised up: The resurrection hope is part of the foundation of the Christian faith, a “primary doctrine.” (Heb 6:1, 2) If Jesus had not been resurrected, he could not have carried out one very important aspect of his work as High Priest, that of presenting the value of his ransom sacrifice to Jehovah in heaven. (Heb 9:24) Christ’s resurrection is also inseparably linked to some other basic Bible teachings, including those about God’s sovereignty, His name, His Kingdom, and the salvation of humans.​—Ps 83:18; Mt 6:9, 10; Heb 5:8, 9.

we are also found to be false witnesses of God: Paul here highlights a further implication of denying the resurrection. If that teaching were false, then Paul and his fellow preachers spoke lies, not only about the resurrection of Jesus but also about the one to whom they attributed that miracle, Jehovah God.

you remain in your sins: Another implication of denying the resurrection is that if Christ had not been raised up, it would mean that no ransom had been paid to God. In such a case, imperfect humans would remain in their sins, without any hope of redemption or salvation.​—Ro 3:23, 24; 1Co 15:3; Heb 9:11-14.

have perished: If the resurrection hope were untrue, it would mean that Christians who had died​—in some cases as martyrs​—had perished forever, misled by the false hope that they would be resurrected.

we are to be pitied more than anyone: The apostle Paul and other Christians had suffered loss, experienced persecution, endured hardship, and faced death because they believed in the resurrection. If the resurrection hope had no basis, then Christians were the most pitiable of all people. Paul’s words here are at the end of a list of negative statements that would have been true if Christ had not been resurrected. (1Co 15:13-19) But Paul clearly did not believe these points to be valid, for he continues in verse 20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead.”

the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death: Jesus was resurrected on Nisan 16, 33 C.E., the day on which the Jewish high priest presented before Jehovah some of the firstfruits of the first grain crop. The high priest would wave the firstfruits of the barley harvest, what might be called the first of the firstfruits of the land. (Le 23:6-14) This sheaf foreshadowed the resurrected Jesus Christ​—the first one ever to be raised from the dead to everlasting life in heaven. Calling Jesus “the firstfruits” implied that a further harvest of individuals would be raised from death to heavenly life.​—1Co 15:23.

firstfruits: See Glossary.

the presence of: Here Paul uses the Greek word pa·rou·siʹa regarding three of his fellow workers who were with him. It is used in a similar sense five times elsewhere in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (2Co 7:6, 7; 10:10; Php 1:26; 2:12) This term is also used in connection with the invisible presence of Jesus Christ. (Mt 24:3; 1Co 15:23) The term pa·rou·siʹa, or “presence,” can refer to an invisible presence, as indicated by Jewish historian Josephus, writing in Greek, when he refers to God’s pa·rou·siʹa at Mount Sinai. God’s invisible presence was made evident by thunder and lightning. (Jewish Antiquities, III, 80 [v, 2]) Paul uses the related verb paʹrei·mi (“to be present”) when he speaks about being “present in spirit” but “absent in body.” (1Co 5:3) Although many translations render this term “arrival” or “coming,” the rendering “presence” is supported by the way Paul uses it at Php 2:12 to describe his “presence” in contrast with his “absence.”​—See study note on 1Co 15:23.

during his presence: This term is first used at Mt 24:3, where some of Jesus’ disciples ask him about “the sign of [his] presence.” It refers to the royal presence of Jesus Christ from the time of his invisible enthronement as Messianic King at the beginning of the last days of this system of things. The Greek word rendered “presence” is pa·rou·siʹa, and while many translations render it “coming,” it literally means “being alongside.” His presence would span a period of time rather than simply involve a momentary coming or arrival. This meaning of pa·rou·siʹa is indicated at Mt 24:37-39, where “the days of Noah . . . before the Flood” are compared to “the presence of the Son of man.” Also, at Php 2:12, Paul used pa·rou·siʹa to describe his “presence” in contrast with his “absence.” (See study note on 1Co 16:17.) Thus, Paul explains that the resurrection to life in heaven for those who belong to the Christ, that is, Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers and joint heirs, would occur some time after Jesus was installed as heavenly King in God’s Kingdom.

end: Or “complete end.” The Greek word used here (teʹlos) is different from the Greek word rendered “conclusion” (syn·teʹlei·a) at Mt 24:3.​—See study note on Mt 24:3 and Glossary, “Conclusion of the system of things.”

the end: Or “the complete (accomplished) end.” (See study note on Mt 24:6.) “The end” (Greek, teʹlos) mentioned here is evidently the end of the Thousand Year Reign (Re 20:4) when Jesus humbly and loyally “hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father.” The Millennial Rule of Christ’s Kingdom will have accomplished its purpose fully. There will no longer be a need for this subsidiary government to remain between Jehovah and mankind. And because Adamic sin and death will have been completely removed and mankind will have been redeemed, the need for Jesus’ role as a Redeemer will end.​—1Co 15:26, 28.

death . . . is to be brought to nothing: Or “death is to be destroyed.” Lit., “death is being made ineffective.” Here Paul speaks of the end of Adamic death and its consequences. An essential part of bringing death to nothing involves bringing the dead back to life through the resurrection (Joh 5:28), a teaching that Paul vigorously upholds in this context. However, in order to do away with death completely, all traces of Adamic sin also need to be removed. Therefore, Paul goes on to explain that sin, “the sting producing death,” is to be done away with by means of Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice. By both of these means​—the resurrection and the ransom​—God destroys death, rendering it ineffective. Paul later says: “Death is swallowed up forever.”​—1Co 15:54-57.

will also subject himself: The Son, Christ Jesus, will humbly relinquish rulership to his Father and will subject himself to Jehovah’s supreme sovereignty. By doing this, Jesus offers the greatest possible tribute to the rightfulness of his Father’s rule. Christ also shows that at the end of his successful Millennial Reign, he is still as humble as he was when he walked on the earth as a man.​—Php 2:5-11; Heb 13:8.

that God may be all things to everyone: When Christ turns all rulership over to his Father, Jehovah will once again rule directly over all his creations. Perfect humankind will have no need of a subsidiary government, the Messianic Kingdom, to repair the damage done by the rebellion in Eden. There will not be any further need for a ransom, a mediator, or a priesthood. As sons and daughters of Jehovah, humans will enjoy great freedom and direct communication with the Father. (Ro 8:21) Paul’s inspired view refers to the time after Jesus “hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power.”​—1Co 15:24.

be baptized with the baptism with which I am being baptized: Or “be immersed with the immersion that I am undergoing.” Jesus here uses the term “baptism” in parallel with “cup.” (See study note on Mt 20:22.) He is already undergoing this baptism during his ministry. In his case, he will be fully baptized, or immersed, into death when he is executed on the torture stake on Nisan 14, 33 C.E. His resurrection, which includes a raising up, will complete this baptism. (Ro 6:3, 4) Jesus’ baptism into death is clearly distinct and separate from his water baptism, for he had completely undergone water baptism at the beginning of his ministry, at which time his baptism into death had only begun.

baptized into Christ Jesus: At the time of Jesus’ baptism in water, God anointed him with holy spirit, making him Christ, or Anointed One. (Ac 10:38) At the time of his anointing, Jesus was also begotten as a son of God in a spiritual sense. (See study note on Mt 3:17.) After God baptized Jesus with holy spirit, the way was open for Jesus’ followers also to be baptized with holy spirit. (Mt 3:11; Ac 1:5) Those who, like Jesus, become spirit-begotten sons of God have to be “baptized into Christ Jesus,” that is, into the anointed Jesus. When Jehovah anoints followers of Christ with holy spirit, they are united with Jesus and become members of the congregation, that is, the body of Christ, he being the head. (1Co 12:12, 13, 27; Col 1:18) Such followers of Christ are also “baptized into his death.”​—See study note on baptized into his death in this verse.

baptized into his death: Or “immersed into his death.” Paul here uses the Greek term ba·ptiʹzo (to dip; to immerse). After his baptism in water in 29 C.E., Jesus began to undergo another baptism, the sacrificial course that is described at Mr 10:38. (See study note.) This baptism continued throughout his ministry. It was completed when he was executed on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., and raised up from the dead three days later. When mentioning this baptism, Jesus also indicated that his followers would be baptized “with the baptism with which [he was] being baptized.” (Mr 10:39) Spirit-anointed members of Christ’s body are “baptized into [Jesus’] death” in that they, like Jesus, enter a life of sacrifice, which includes giving up any hope of everlasting life on earth. This baptism continues throughout their life course of integrity under test. It is completed when they die and are raised to life as spirit creatures.​—Ro 6:4, 5.

being baptized for the purpose of being dead ones: In chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, Paul discusses the certainty of the resurrection. In this context, he states that spirit-anointed Christians are baptized, or immersed, into a course of life that will lead to a death of integrity like that of Christ. Afterward, they will be raised to spirit life, as Jesus was. This baptism includes trials similar to those faced by Jesus himself and often leads to a death like his. (1Co 15:30-34) Faithful anointed Christians have the hope of being resurrected to life in heaven. So this baptism seems related to the baptism mentioned by Jesus at Mr 10:38 and by Paul at Ro 6:3.​—See study notes on Mr 10:38; Ro 6:3.

for the purpose of being: This expression is rendered from the Greek preposition hy·perʹ, which literally means “over,” but it has a number of other meanings that must be determined by the context. Some Bibles translate the phrase “being baptized for the dead” or similar. This rendering has led some to the conclusion that the verse refers to the baptizing of living individuals as substitutes for and on behalf of dead ones. Nowhere, though, does the Bible mention such a baptism; nor is there proof that the practice existed in Paul’s day. Furthermore, this understanding would not be in accord with scriptures that clearly state that those getting baptized were “disciples” who themselves “gladly accepted” God’s message and personally “believed.”​—Mt 28:19; Ac 2:41; 8:12.

I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus: The Romans often threw criminals to wild beasts in the arenas. While scholars have suggested that this punishment did not apply to Roman citizens like Paul, there is historical evidence that some Roman citizens were thrown to beasts or made to fight with them. What Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians could describe an encounter with literal wild beasts in an arena. (2Co 1:8-10) If Paul was thrown to literal beasts, then his rescue was likely by divine intervention. (Compare Da 6:22.) This experience may thus have been one of the several “near-deaths” that Paul experienced in his ministry. (2Co 11:23) Other scholars feel that Paul is here referring to wild beasts in a figurative sense, describing the opposition of beastlike opposers in Ephesus.​—Ac 19:23-41.

let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die: Paul here quotes Isa 22:13, which epitomized the attitude of Jerusalem’s disobedient inhabitants. Instead of repenting when faced with the threat of destruction, they gave themselves over to pleasure-seeking. Paul may have quoted these words because they reflected the thinking of those who denied the resurrection hope. For example, such groups as the Epicureans did not believe in a resurrection; they focused on living for the present. But as Paul points out, the resurrection is a reality, giving Christians ample reason and motivation to maintain their self-sacrificing course.​—1Co 15:58.

some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead: If this teaching were true, those who died with the hope of living again on earth would remain dead forever. (Mt 22:31, 32; Joh 11:23, 24; see study note on 1Co 15:2.) Anointed Christians could not go to heaven because they first had to die so that they could be resurrected as spirit persons. (1Co 15:35-38; see study notes on 1Co 15:36, 38.) Paul noted that if the resurrection were not a reality, the Christian faith would then be in vain, without purpose. (1Co 15:13, 14) So he staunchly defended the resurrection hope, focusing here on the hope of anointed Christians.

Bad associations spoil useful habits: Or “Bad company corrupts good morals.” This appears to be a proverb or an expression used in Paul’s day that conveys a basic principle found in other Bible verses. (Pr 13:20; 14:7; 22:24, 25) Paul quoted this saying to urge fellow Christians to avoid undue association with those who disagreed with the Scriptural doctrine of the resurrection. (1Co 15:3-8; see study note on 1Co 15:12.) Paul knew that association with those who rejected this and other well-founded Christian teachings would be destructive to faith and could “spoil” (Greek, phtheiʹro, meaning “to corrupt, to ruin”) the good habits and thinking of others. (Ac 20:30; 1Ti 4:1; 2Pe 2:1) The congregation in Corinth was plagued with a number of serious problems, which might also have been, at least in part, the result of an unwise choice of associates.​—1Co 1:11; 5:1; 6:1; 11:20-22.

Come to your senses: Paul here uses a Greek word that literally means “to sober up.” Because some of the Corinthian Christians gave ear to apostate teachings, such as the denial of the resurrection, they were in a spiritual stupor of sorts, confused and disoriented as if drunk. Paul thus urges them to wake up, to shake off their confusion by getting a clear understanding of the teaching of the resurrection. They needed to do so before their stupor led them to spiritual sickness and even death.​—1Co 11:30.

God gives it a body: Paul here continues to compare the resurrection of a spirit-anointed Christian to the germinating of a seed. (See study note on 1Co 15:36.) He uses the example of a tiny seed of wheat that bears no resemblance to the plant that will grow from it. It “dies” as a seed and becomes an emerging plant. (1Co 15:36, 37) Similarly, anointed Christians first die as humans. Then at his appointed time, God brings them back to life in entirely new bodies. (2Co 5:1, 2; Php 3:20, 21) They are resurrected in spirit bodies to live in the spirit realm.​—1Co 15:44; 1Jo 3:2.

unless first it dies: When discussing the resurrection of an anointed Christian to life as a spirit person, Paul likens the burial of the physical body to the sowing of a seed. A seed dies in the sense that once planted, it disintegrates. Then it becomes a plant that differs entirely from the seed in form and appearance. (Compare Joh 12:24.) Similarly, a Christian who is chosen by God to be a joint heir with His Son and to receive incorruption and immortality in heaven must first die. At 1Co 15:42-44, Paul four times uses the concept of being sown in a figurative sense. He describes how a spirit-anointed Christian gives up the physical body and obtains a heavenly body by resurrection.​—See study note on 1Co 15:38.

unless first it dies: When discussing the resurrection of an anointed Christian to life as a spirit person, Paul likens the burial of the physical body to the sowing of a seed. A seed dies in the sense that once planted, it disintegrates. Then it becomes a plant that differs entirely from the seed in form and appearance. (Compare Joh 12:24.) Similarly, a Christian who is chosen by God to be a joint heir with His Son and to receive incorruption and immortality in heaven must first die. At 1Co 15:42-44, Paul four times uses the concept of being sown in a figurative sense. He describes how a spirit-anointed Christian gives up the physical body and obtains a heavenly body by resurrection.​—See study note on 1Co 15:38.

God gives it a body: Paul here continues to compare the resurrection of a spirit-anointed Christian to the germinating of a seed. (See study note on 1Co 15:36.) He uses the example of a tiny seed of wheat that bears no resemblance to the plant that will grow from it. It “dies” as a seed and becomes an emerging plant. (1Co 15:36, 37) Similarly, anointed Christians first die as humans. Then at his appointed time, God brings them back to life in entirely new bodies. (2Co 5:1, 2; Php 3:20, 21) They are resurrected in spirit bodies to live in the spirit realm.​—1Co 15:44; 1Jo 3:2.

one star differs from another star in glory: Some Corinthians found it incredible that a flesh-and-blood human might die and be resurrected with a different sort of body, a spirit body, so Paul provides them with vivid examples. For instance, he refers to the stars. First-century observers could readily confirm that the stars varied in brightness and color. Paul’s point is that the God who created such variety would be able to resurrect a human and create a spirit body.

immortality: The Greek word for “immortality” (a·tha·na·siʹa) occurs three times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, at 1Co 15:53, 54 and 1Ti 6:16. The basic meaning is “not subject to death.” It refers to the quality of life that is enjoyed, its endlessness and indestructibility. The anointed followers of Christ, who as mortal humans serve God faithfully, are resurrected as something more than spirit creatures having everlasting life. Jehovah gives them “indestructible life”​—an outstanding demonstration of his confidence in them.​—Heb 7:16; compare study note on 1Co 15:42.

incorruption: Incorruption (Greek, a·phthar·siʹa) refers to that which cannot decay or be corrupted, that which is imperishable. Having lived, served faithfully, and died in mortal, corruptible human bodies, the resurrected anointed ones receive an incorruptible spirit body. (1Co 15:44) Such a body that is “raised up in incorruption” will inherently be beyond decay or destruction and will apparently be self-sustaining.​—Compare study note on 1Co 15:53.

physical: The Greek word psy·khi·kosʹ used here is derived from the word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul.” (Compare the rendering “soulical” in the Kingdom Interlinear.) Here it is used to describe the bodies of earthly creatures in contrast with spiritual bodies; it refers to that which is material, tangible, visible, and mortal.​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

son of Adam: Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam, the forefather of all mankind. This is in line with Luke’s intent to write good news for all people, addressing both Jews and non-Jews. Matthew, on the other hand, who seems to have written his Gospel especially for the Jews, traces Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham. The universal appeal of Luke’s Gospel can also be seen in his recording that Christ’s message and works could bring good no matter what a person’s background​—a Samaritan leper, a rich tax collector, and even a condemned thief dying on a stake.​—Lu 17:11-19; 19:2-10; 23:39-43.

Adam, son of God: This reference goes back to the origin of mankind and agrees with the Genesis account that the first man was created by God and in God’s image. (Ge 1:26, 27; 2:7) This statement also sheds light on other inspired statements, such as Ro 5:12; 8:20, 21; and 1Co 15:22, 45.

who bears a resemblance to the one who was to come: The first human, Adam, bears a resemblance to Jesus Christ, whose coming was promised in the garden of Eden when Jehovah God was about to sentence Adam and Eve. (Ge 3:15) Adam and Jesus were both perfect humans. Also, both were fathers; Adam was the natural father of the sinful human race. (Ge 1:28) Jesus is a father in the sense of being God’s Chief Agent of life and the “Eternal Father” of obedient humans. (Isa 9:6; Ac 3:15) Adam disobeyed God and became father to a race of sinners; their Redeemer, Jesus, had to be a perfect man like Adam in order to cancel their debt of sin. This is in harmony with the principle “life . . . for life.” (De 19:21) Thus, Paul said at 1Co 15:45: “It is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living person.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” The Greek word rendered “resemblance” is tyʹpos, literally meaning “type” or “pattern,” so the phrase “who bears a resemblance to the one” could also be rendered “who is a type (pattern) of him.” However, Jesus’ absolute obedience to Jehovah bore no resemblance to Adam’s rebellious disobedience.

The first man Adam . . . The last Adam: In the first part of the verse, Paul quotes from Ge 2:7 (“the man became a living person”), but he adds the words “first” and “Adam.” In the second part of the verse, he calls Jesus “the last Adam.” Then at 1Co 15:47, Paul calls Adam “the first man [or, “human”]” and Jesus “the second man [or, “human”].” The first Adam disobeyed his Father and Life-Giver; the last Adam showed complete obedience to Him. The first Adam spread sin to his offspring; the last Adam gave his human life as a sin-atoning sacrifice. (Ro 5:12, 18, 19) Jehovah then restored Jesus to life as a spirit. (1Pe 3:18) Like Adam, Jesus was a perfect man, so in harmony with His own justice, Jehovah could accept Jesus’ sacrifice as “a corresponding ransom” to buy back Adam’s descendants. This ransom sacrifice would restore to humans the life prospects that the first Adam had forfeited. (1Ti 2:5, 6) Thus, Jesus could rightfully be called “the last Adam,” a term that indicates that there will be no need for another Adam after him.​—Compare study notes on Lu 3:38; Ro 5:14.

a living person: Or “a living soul.” Paul is here quoting from Ge 2:7, where the Hebrew word neʹphesh is rendered “person” or, according to the footnote, “soul.” This Hebrew word literally means “a breathing creature.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

the heavenly one: That is, Christ Jesus, “the last Adam.”​—1Co 15:45.

blink: Or “twinkling.” The Greek word rendered “blink” (Greek, rhi·peʹ) suggests a rapid movement. In this context, it may refer to a blink or a quick glance of the eyes, indicating that when the last trumpet sounds, the anointed Christians are resurrected instantaneously to immortal life in heaven.​—1Th 4:17; Re 14:12, 13.

incorruption: Incorruption (Greek, a·phthar·siʹa) refers to that which cannot decay or be corrupted, that which is imperishable. Having lived, served faithfully, and died in mortal, corruptible human bodies, the resurrected anointed ones receive an incorruptible spirit body. (1Co 15:44) Such a body that is “raised up in incorruption” will inherently be beyond decay or destruction and will apparently be self-sustaining.​—Compare study note on 1Co 15:53.

immortality: The Greek word for “immortality” (a·tha·na·siʹa) occurs three times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, at 1Co 15:53, 54 and 1Ti 6:16. The basic meaning is “not subject to death.” It refers to the quality of life that is enjoyed, its endlessness and indestructibility. The anointed followers of Christ, who as mortal humans serve God faithfully, are resurrected as something more than spirit creatures having everlasting life. Jehovah gives them “indestructible life”​—an outstanding demonstration of his confidence in them.​—Heb 7:16; compare study note on 1Co 15:42.

Death is swallowed up forever: By quoting what was written by Isaiah in the eighth century B.C.E., Paul shows that God had long ago promised an end to Adamic death. The Hebrew text of Isa 25:8 reads: “He [that is, God] will swallow up death forever.” When Paul quotes these words, he uses a Greek expression (here rendered “forever”) that literally means “into victory.” This literal meaning is reflected in some Bible translations that say: “Death is swallowed up in victory” or “Death is swallowed up; victory is won!” However, the Greek term could mean, in some contexts, “permanently; forever.” It was used in the Septuagint to render a Hebrew term meaning “forever,” for example at Isa 25:8 and La 5:20. Therefore, there is solid basis for rendering this Greek expression with the term “forever” at 1Co 15:54, especially in view of the original reading of the Hebrew text from which this quote is taken.

Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?: Paul here quotes Ho 13:14. Hosea’s prophecy was not indicating that those disobedient Israelites would be resurrected from the dead. However, Paul’s application of Ho 13:14 shows that this prophecy was pointing to the time when the dead would be raised to life and the Grave (Sheol, or Hades) would be made powerless. Paul’s quotation is, in part, from the Septuagint, which reads: “Where is your penalty [or “punishment”], O death? O Hades, where is your sting?” By using these rhetorical questions addressed to enemy Death (1Co 15:25, 26), Paul, in effect, is saying: “Death, you will not be victorious again! Death, your sting has no effect anymore!”

sting: The Greek word kenʹtron can refer to a sting of an animal, like that of a scorpion. It is used at Re 9:10, where the symbolic locusts are described as having “tails with stingers like scorpions.” Here at 1Co 15:55, the term is used figuratively of the pain and suffering caused to millions of humans by the enemy death. (1Co 15:26) Just as a scorpion deprived of its stinger cannot sting, death will not have power over spirit-anointed ones who have been resurrected to inherit God’s Kingdom and have gained immortality. (1Co 15:57; Re 20:6) During the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, God will completely do away with the sting of Adamic death when millions are resurrected and death is figuratively hurled into “the lake of fire.”​—Re 20:12-14; 21:4; Joh 5:28, 29.

and the power for sin is the Law: Or “and the Law gives sin its power.” Paul here refers to the Mosaic Law. It clearly spelled out what constitutes sin, identifying many acts and even attitudes as sinful. (Ro 3:19, 20; Ga 3:19) In this sense, the Law gave power to sin. As a result, the Israelites would become aware of their sinfulness, their liability to God, and their need for the Messiah.​—Ro 6:23.

Therefore, . . . be steadfast, immovable: The Greek word rendered “steadfast” conveys the idea of being settled, firm, solidly in place. At Col 1:23, the same term is rendered “steadfast” and is used in parallel with the expression “established on the foundation.” It involves standing one’s ground by means of implicit faith in God and his promises. (1Pe 5:9) The expression “immovable” conveys a similar meaning and refers to something that is unshakable, not moving from its place. In the face of difficulties and attacks on his faith, a Christian has hope that is like “an anchor” that holds fast a ship so that it is not moved from its moorings. (Heb 6:19) Paul uses the two terms rendered “steadfast” and “immovable” together to express his wish that his Corinthian brothers be absolutely determined to hold fast to their hope and faith, confident that their labors “in the work of the Lord” are never in vain.

the work of the Lord . . . in connection with the Lord: In this context, the Greek term Kyʹri·os (“Lord”) could refer either to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ. Here “the Lord” may well refer to Jehovah, since Paul says of the Christian ministry, “we are God’s fellow workers,” and he calls this ministry “the work of Jehovah.” (1Co 3:9; 16:10; Isa 61:1, 2; Lu 4:18, 19; Joh 5:17; Ro 12:11) Also, when Jesus spoke about the spiritual harvest work, he referred to Jehovah God as “the Master [or, “Lord” (Greek, Kyʹri·os)] of the harvest.” (Mt 9:38) It is possible, however, that Paul had in mind the work, or ministry, that Jesus spearheaded when on earth. (Mt 28:19, 20) Regardless, Christian ministers have the great privilege of being coworkers with both the Sovereign Lord Jehovah and the Lord Jesus Christ in declaring the good news.

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