On the Resurrection and Giving – 1 Cor 15-16

In chapter 15, Paul now moves to the subject of the Resurrection of the dead; and he has much to say to them on the subject, making this the longest chapter of all his epistles. There were some at Corinth saying that there is no resurrection of the dead. Despite the nature of some of the problems Paul has had to address with them, this was probably the most troubling, since it is among the most basic facts of the gospel. We do not know the source of these false teachings. It is plausible that it was Sadducee influence among the brethren, but it just as likely came from the philosophic influence from those of Greek origin. It seems somewhat hard to imagine this lapse of faith accompanying a continued practice of their Christianity – and so soon after they had been converted, as well as blessed with spiritual gifts!

English: folio 950 recto of the codex with tex...

English: folio 950 recto of the codex with text of 1 Corinthians 1;1-21 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In any case, Paul points out that denial of resurrection would necessarily include that of Jesus; and if Jesus was not raised, their entire faith is futile (verses 16-17). Paul most aptly states the obvious in verse 19 – “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” He then recounts the eyewitness accounts by the apostles of Jesus death and his appearances to them after he was raised. Then he makes the point that they (the apostles) were all threatened and constantly in danger of losing their lives for continuing to boldly bear that witness to others. It was absurd to suggest that they would continually risk their lives for an outright lie!

Verse 29 seems to be a very difficult passage, and is interpreted by some as indicating Paul’s approval of people being baptized (by proxy) for the dead. Whether or not this verse is actually talking about such baptisms is disputed by many. Parsing the Greek for the words translated “for the dead” in this verse has led many to different theories, but we can reach the proper conclusion easily by taking these and other scriptures into account for what Paul and the other apostles taught about baptism. Advocating the baptism of living people in place of those who have died would run contrary to the importance of the active profession of faith and of repentance that the Scriptures require (Acts 2:38, John 3:18), as well as the conscious act of putting on Christ that Paul speaks of in relation to baptism in Galatians 3:27.

So then in verse 35, Paul turns to the question of what sort of body the risen will have if we are truly to be raised from the dead. He uses the seed as an illustration of this, as they are well familiar with the fact that the seeds that are buried and decompose become reborn into something more magnificent – that God gives it a body just as he has chosen. Paul reveals that the resurrection body will be incorruptible, glorious, powerful and spiritual, and that even those who are living will be transformed at the same time when Christ comes again (verse 51 – “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…”).

The Lord, who has created all things, is certainly able to accomplish this promise to have the mortal and perishable body put on immortality (verses 53-54). Just as we bear the image of the first Adam while we are here, we will bear the heavenly image of the last Adam (Jesus), who became a life-giving spirit (verses 45-49). Paul refers to Hosea 13:14 in verse 55 then, as verse 26 promised, says in verse 57 “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” What comfort!

Together with other passages such as Philippians 4,  chapter 16 gives us instruction on how funds are to be collected for the work of the church. He closes this letter by acknowledging the work of specific brethren, and asks them to “give recognition to such people.” It is not just good manners and a loving gesture to acknowledge brethren for their work, it is scriptural.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

1 Cor 13, 1 Cor 14, 1 Cor 15, 1 Cor 16, 2 Cor 1

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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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Where the Heart Is – (Luke 12)

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, someone spoke up and asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. We can assume that this was a younger brother, as the eldest would have had the “double-portion” of the estate, and so also would have control. We are not told whether he was just seeking to get what he was rightly owed, or he  wanted a bigger share. Since the parable that follows was about covetousness, the latter is likely, and Jesus, of course, refused to get involved in the dispute.

The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627.

The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the parable of the rich fool, the man had more already than he needed. But instead of using his wealth to help those in need, he was only concerned with being able to keep accumulating more. And so, he did just that. But then God told him that his soul was required of him that very night – not next week or next year, but now. So, God asked, who would possess all of these things that he had prepared for himself. The point is obvious. The man should have devoted as much effort to laying up treasures in heaven – doing good with his wealth, and becoming rich toward God. Riches will mean nothing at the end of this short life.

In verses 22-34, Jesus tells us not to worry and fret about what we will wear or what we eat. He reminds us how God even provides food for the birds of the air. Surely, we are more valued by Him! Jesus is not telling us that we cannot make plans to provide for our families and our future. The scriptures are plentiful with words to the contrary. But the wise words he speaks are often difficult for us to absorb – “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” This makes so much sense, but it is so very difficult for those of us who daily battle with anxiety.

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus says, “instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” In the earlier chapter, Jesus told His disciples not to fear those who can kill the body. Now He tells them not to be afraid because God wants to give us the kingdom. If we truly devote ourselves to being His children, keeping His commandments, doing good to others, and giving to those in need, not only will God provide for our basic needs here on earth, but He will provide us with a place with Him forever. What more could we want?

There is nothing that can happen to us in this life that will matter when we cross into eternity with the Lord – nothing! To this end, Jesus tells us to provide ourselves with “moneybags” that do not grow old. Where our treasure is, our hearts will be also. My heart has been focused too much of my life on the cares of this world. I remind myself of these things Jesus said, and keep trying to change that day by day.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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2 Corinthians 9 – The Cheerful Giver

Paul continues in this chapter about the collection for the saints at Jerusalem, acknowledging that the Corinthians had already expressed their desire to do it and made the pledge.  He wants to make sure they have it ready when the brethren arrive to take charge of it, so that it does not look like an after-thought.  If they have to scramble around and scurry after it, there is more chance that some will miss their opportunity to give – and this would reflect badly on the others.  Note Paul’s use of the word “we” in verse 4.  He is speaking not just of himself, but identifying himself with them at Corinth – as well as the other Gentiles who had shown their generosity.

Achaia mentioned in 2 Cor 9:2- (from Barnes’ notes): “This word, in its largest sense, comprehended the whole of Greece. Achaia proper, however, was a province of which Corinth was the capital. It embraced that part of Greece lying between Thessaly and the southern part of the Peloponnesus.”

The generous gifts to the poor at the Jerusalem church by these Christians (who had been pagans before) will increase the faith of those at Jerusalem and help them to see the sincerity and genuineness of the conversion of those at Corinth.  Verses 6-11 are sometimes used to promote the preaching of some that giving to others will bring the giver prosperity and health.  God surely blesses the cheerful giver (verse 7), but building material wealth for the generous giver is not God’s intention; and if such is the motive, it is vain.  God will surely “increase the harvest of your righteousness” as one gives cheerfully (verse 10), and will enrich one spiritually as well.  Any increase in wealth one enjoys should be the motivation for more generosity, and more thanksgiving to God (verses 11-12).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.