1 Corinthians 15-16

1 Corinthians 15:12 says ‘Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?’  The problem then is that some of the Corinthians are denying bodily resurrection.  They are misunderstanding Jesus’ resurrection as a one-time event rather than as the inauguration of the general resurrection (v20), or they hold the belief that those baptized were already resurrected and so no longer bound by rules regarding the sanctity of the body. (lander).  The confusion for the Corinthians is possibly not helped by the fact that they might be influenced by general thought around about the after-life in the first century.  Thiselton says that belief in life after death was less widespread in the first century than is often supposed and that the Corinthians could be influenced by Epicureanism.   They could also have had an over-realised eschatology and think that at baptism they had attained their resurrection bodies.  1 Corinthians 15:35 ‘But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body do they have?”’  This verse might indicate the possibility that the Corinthians are being influenced by Greek ideas of the immortality of the soul.  One final possibility is that the Corinthians are thinking like the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 4:13-15) and think the Lord is coming back very soon and so they will go direct into the kingdom.
Paul starts his response by stating that Jesus did rise from the dead, and what is more there were plenty of witnesses,’  he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters’ (15:6), including himself: ‘he appeared also to me’ (v8).  MacGregor says that 1Cor 15:3-7 is Paul is quoting a primitive Christian creed originally formulated during the earliest years of the Jesus movement.  From here Paul moves on to saying that if there is no resurrection then everything in our faith falls down (vv. 12-19).  The key point that Paul wants to get across, is that Jesus’ resurrection is not a one off as the Corinthians were believing, it is the first fruits.  In vv35-41 Paul asserts forcefully the bodily character of the resurrection and to place this within a future context.  This is Paul arguing against both the Corinthian idea that resurrection is just spiritual and possibly against the idea that resurrection happens at baptism.  The final part of the chapter talks about how at the end the perishable will be clothed with the imperishable, and the believer’s lowly body  transformed into a glorious body like that of Jesus himself (vv42-57). (chamblin).
        So we have once again seen the Corinthians confused about the body, this time in relation to the resurrection.  With some thinking the resurrection had already arrived and that they had their spiritual bodies at baptism.  We can possibly see an over-realised eschatology in Corinthian thought and practise.  We again see the influence of Greek (and possibly Roman) thought on the insignificance of the body and importance of the spirit (immortality of) over and above the body.  Turning to Paul’s response we see that rather than addressing opponents in the community, as many scholars have assumed, Paul addresses the Corinthians as students who are in need of further instruction. (Asher).  This is an important point to focus on because it sets a scene of a Corinthian Church that is eager to learn and to change rather than a rebellious church that needs to be bought back under control.  Of course there will an element of people opposing Paul but it seems more like an inquisitive church asking lots of questions as they develop their faith. (13/3/13

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s