King Solomon observed: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:22 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
, referring to the works of man. On the other hand, First Corinthians Chapter 15 teaches there is nothing vain in the Works of God.
Our last study examined the 3rd and 4th occasions of the word “faith” in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians. The word faith is not found in the 14th chapter, which deals with the gifts of prophesy and tongues and the need for orderly worship in the Corinthians Church. “Faith” occurs twice in the 15th chapter: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1414 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
; “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:1717 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
. Thus, believers know assuredly that Paul’s preaching and our faith is not vain and that our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead guarantees eternal life for the believer.
Interestingly, different Greek words translated “vain” are used in this chapter, they each enhance our understanding of the thought being communicated. The Greek word translated “vain” in the 14th verse is different than the Greek word translated “vain” in verse 17. “Vain” in the 14th verse is from the Greek “kenos” (G2756) which means “empty, devoid of truth, of vessels or places that contain nothing.” “Vain” in verse 17 is from the Greek “mataios” (G3152) that means “profitless, specifically, an idol, devoid of force, truth, success, result.” Keeping in mind that “… faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
, we know that if Christ did not raise from the dead, then Paul’s preaching (and his epistles written to us) are empty, devoid of truth, like a vessel that contains nothing and our faith is profitless, it is like an idol devoid of force and we are still in our sins. Thus, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is an integral part of the believer’s salvation.
The 15th chapter leads off with a synopsis of what saved the believers in Corinth and has saved all believers since: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:” 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 41 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
. The Greek word translated “vain” in the second verse is different than in either the 14th or 17th verses. Here, it is “eike” (G1500) meaning “without purpose, without cause, without reason, success or effort.” This helps explain how some people can believe intellectually that a man named Jesus Christ lived 2000 years ago and be familiar with the Bible account that He was crucified, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. However, their belief or understanding is without purpose, cause or reason because they have not internalized the fact they are sinners on the way to hell; that Almighty God Who created the heavens and earth and gave life, loved them and sent His only Son to die for their sins and then raised Him from the dead for their justification, Romans 4:2525 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
. They can’t say with surety: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:2020 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Christ’s resurrection from the dead is as important as His death for an assurance of eternal life with Him, thus the 15th chapter continues with direct evidence of His resurrection. He was seen of Cephas (the Apostle Peter) and the rest of the Apostles, then over 500 people saw Him alive, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote these words, then James and all the Apostles, 1 Corinthians 15:5 - 75 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
. Moreover, Paul testifies that he himself saw and spoke to The Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, while humbly recognizing he was the least of the Apostles because he had persecuted the church, 1 Corinthians 15:8 - 98 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
. Then, Paul uses the word “vain” again: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:1010 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
. “Vain” here is the Greek “kenos” (G2756) as in verse 14, so Paul is saying that the Grace God bestowed upon him was not “empty, devoid of truth, of vessels or places that contain nothing.” Paul goes on to write that whether it was he or the Apostles who preached Christ’s resurrection, so they believed, 1 Corinthians 15:1111 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
. This means that the resurrection of Christ is equally important to the Gospel Paul preached for us in the Church, the Body of Christ today as it was for the Israelites who believed the Kingdom message during the Pentecostal period as preached by Peter and the 12 Apostles.
There apparently were some in Corinth who said there is no resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:1212 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
and Paul answers this error in 1 Corinthians 15:1313 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
-17, as described above. He notes that if there is no resurrection then those believers who had died are perished and if in this life we only have hope in Christ, we are the most miserable of all men, 1 Corinthians 15:18 - 1918 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
. Then, verses 20 through 28 are a parenthesis so the thought from verse 19 is continued in verse 29. We will pick up at verse 29 in our next study, but finish this study with the parenthetical verses, which Paul uses to explain, among other things, that everyone is going to be resurrected, even those who will go into eternal damnation because they didn’t believe the Gospel.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” 1 Corinthians 15:2020 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
. According to Bullinger, the words “and become” are not in the original so the statement is that Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who died. Under the Law of Moses, Israel was to take a sheaf of wheat or corn from the field before the harvest, which was called the “first fruits” and bring the sheaf to the priest who would waive it (to the 4 corners of the earth) before the Lord on the morrow of the Sabbath to be accepted for the Israelite bringing it, Leviticus 23:10 - 1110 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
. Jesus Christ was the antitype of this wave offering when He presented Himself to the Father in heaven after His resurrection from the dead, see John 20:1717 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
. The account continues: By man came death, that is, all mankind dies because of Adam’s sin but by Man (Jesus Christ) so in Christ all shall be made alive, Christ the first fruit and then they that are Christ’s at His coming, 1 Corinthians 15:21 - 2321 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
, see also Romans 5:12 - 1912 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
The word “coming” in 1 Corinthians 15:2323 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
is from the Greek “parousia” (G3952) found 24 times in the New Testament (NT) meaning “presence, arrival, advent.” The meaning is clear, but it is important to recognize that the NT uses it to refer to two different comings of our Lord. “Parousia” is found 4 times in the 24th chapter of Matthew where it refers to the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation to set up Israel’s Kingdom on earth, which is the Kingdom God promised Israel in the Old Testament prophesies, Psalms 132:1111 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.
and taught by Peter to the Jews at Pentecost, Acts 2:29 - 3229 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
. Christ taught it when He was on earth the first time: “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:33 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
. Then Matthew 24:2727 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
; Matthew 24:3737 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
& Matthew 24:3939 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
all refer to this same coming or advent where notably, Jesus Christ is referred to as “The Son of Man,” which is His title in reference to Israel.
Parousia also occurs 4 times in 1 Thessalonians but here it refers to Christ’s coming for His Church, The Body of Christ, referred to as the Rapture, which was a secret, totally unknown prior to the revelation given to the Apostle Paul, Ephesians 3:1 - 91 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
. In each of these verses note that our Savior is referred to as “our Lord Jesus Christ,” unlike “The Son of Man” as in His second coming in reference to His Kingdom on earth: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” 1 Thessalonians 2:1919 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
. “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1313 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1515 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2323 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The next verse “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” 1 Corinthians 15:2424 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
is the culmination of all events on this earth as we know it, Revelation 21:11 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
. The four verses, 1 Corinthians 15:25 - 2825 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
that follow verse 24 describe what will occur and lead up to the culmination of events described in verse 24. Christ’s reign on earth as the Son of Man, beginning at His second coming at the end of the 7-year Tribulation, Matthew 24:29 - 3129 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
. His reign will continue for 1000 years (the Millennium period) when He will be the King that God had promised David would come out of his loins, Isaiah 9:6 - 76 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
; Luke 1:31 - 3331 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
At that time, Israel will be a Nation of Priests to all the world as God promised, Exodus 19:66 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
; Isaiah 61:66 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
. The 12 Apostles will sit on 12 thrones ruling the 12 tribes of Israel, Matthew 19:2828 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
; Luke 22:29 - 3029 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
, and it will be through them the entire earth will be blessed. The Millennium will be the first time in history that this earth will have a totally righteous/just Ruler. He will rule with a rod of iron but as a truly Benevolent Dictator and all nations will live in peace and prosperity, looking to Jerusalem as the Capital of the World, Psalms 2:8 - 128 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
; Revelation 2:2727 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
; Revelation 12:55 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
; Revelation 19:1515 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
We will pick up from 1 Corinthians 15:2929 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
in our next study.