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

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

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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Parables, Miracles and Blessed Assurance – Mark 3-5

In Mark 3, Jesus heals the man with the withered hand. The pharisees reacted by trying to figure out how to destroy Him. It is the same in this day and age. When people have their hearts and minds set against believing in the Lord, even miracles such as those witnessed by the Pharisees will not convince them. He performed other miracles and cast out demons; and the crowds continued to grow. Bu verse 13 of the third chapter, He is naming His apostles. Notice verses 20-21. It is clear from these verses that many of Jesus’ family were not yet convinced that He was truly the Lord.

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

Christ and The Pharisees

Christ and The Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 28-29 speak of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is not a certain kind of sin that one commits that is just unforgivable. Many people have misinterpreted these verses to make themselves believe that they can have no forgiveness. Verse 28 sates that “ALL sins will be forgiven the children of man, AND whatever blasphemies they utter.” No sin is unforgivable if one repents. Verse 29 is not a contradiction of that. It simply means that one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit has denied God. It is those whose hearts have turned against the Lord AND who do not repent that will perish. It is, as always, a matter of the heart.

Chapter 4 has several of the parables contained in Matthew. When Jesus explained in verses 10-12 about why He was speaking in parables, He quoted Isaiah 6:9-10. What is all means, is that those who hear and want to learn and understand will be able to do so. But those who do not thirst for this knowledge will not comprehend.

Chapter 5 begins with the man possessed by many demons, who Jesus healed in Gerasenes. When the people heard of what He had done, they became afraid, rather than being in awe of the Lord. When they begged Him to leave their land, He complied. It is the same with us. If we do not want the Lord in our lives, He will give us what we want in that respect.

The chapter ends with Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead. The girl was clearly dead, but Jesus said in verse 39 that she was only sleeping. This should be an encouragement to us. Paul also speaks of the dead in this way in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. It is an assurance to all of us that death is not the finality of our being.

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

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.

 

 

 

 

Apostles Arrested! – Acts 4

sadducees_100714In the opening verses of chapter 4, we find Peter and John still speaking to the people who had witnessed the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate. But Luke tells us that the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees “came upon them.” The “captain” of the temple was not a military figure or anything like that. It was simply a term used to denote someone in a supervisory role to the priests and Levites in the temple.

The text says that they were greatly annoyed because Peter and John “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” This would be particularly annoying to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). So they arrested the two apostles, and kept them for the night, as it was already late in the day.

But it was too late to stop what had obviously been God’s purpose that day. Verse 4 makes it pretty clear that the two apostles had not simply drawn the attention of a couple of dozen of temple-goers. Luke says that many believed as a result of their preaching and the miracle, and that the number of men came to about five thousand. So we can assume that upwards of 10,000 men and women had been persuaded in the gospel by that incident. Jesus’ church was growing very quickly indeed.

Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

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

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.  

To Paradise – Luke 23

One traditional site of Golgotha is this hill with hollow eye sockets to look like the place of the skull. Another traditional site is in present-day Jerusalem, which in Jesus' time was just outside the wall. It is called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

One traditional site of Golgotha is this hill with hollow eye sockets to look like the place of the skull. Another traditional site is in present-day Jerusalem, which in Jesus’ time was just outside the wall. It is called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

As Jesus was taken away to be crucified, there were two criminals taken with him to be put to death. This fulfilled Isaiah 53:12, which said he would be numbered with transgressors. Luke says that they came to a place known as the skull. It is also known as Golgatha which comes from an Aramaic word for skull. There, they crucified Him and the criminals with one on each side of Him. Jesus said “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The soldiers cast lots and divided his garments among them, which fulfilled what was written in Psalm 22:18.  People watched and the rulers scoffed at Him, saying  “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked, offering Him sour wine to drink.

North door of iconostasis. Icon of Paradise: A...

North door of iconostasis. Icon of Paradise: Abraham’s Bosom with the Good Thief entering to the left (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One prisoner began to mock as well, but the other rebuked him and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. Jesus told him that this day he would be with Him in paradise (verse 43). Jesus, as we saw in other passages, did have the authority to forgive sins, and He exercised it there. So what did Jesus mean by that? Since His body was to be in the tomb for three days, after which He would arise from the dead, how could He be with this criminal in Paradise that day? And just what is this Paradise?

This is a point that many of us have spent some time reflecting upon, as much confusion is caused surrounding this topic. Does the soul merely sleep after the body dies until resurrection day? Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “…we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve…” Or was that merely a statement that they are not really dead? When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Luke 8:54-55), he had told those present that she was merely sleeping.

The birth of Benjamin was a time of joy and sorrow--joy that a new son, held by the midwife, was born; mourning for Rachel who died in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-20).

The birth of Benjamin was a time of joy and sorrow–joy that a new son, held by the midwife, was born; mourning for Rachel who died in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-20).

The scripture also says that on the occasion of that girl’s resurrection, her spirit returned. We have other scripture where people are dying, saying their souls departed (such as Jacob’s wife Rachel in Genesis 35:18). There is, of course, much we do not yet know, but we can surmise from all of this that there is a place indeed called Paradise that our souls do go to when we die. Paul also spoke of it in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.

The parable Jesus told in Luke 16:22-26 about the poor man, Lazarus, who died and was at Abraham’s bosom may be allegorical, but it certainly contains some truths about death and what happens to the soul thereafter. Jesus told parables to instruct. This writer does not believe that He would have done so with misleading or even incorrect facts in those parables. The rich man of that parable was consciously aware of what was going on in the place where his soul went. And he saw Lazarus in his place also alert to his surroundings. I believe that at the very least, this depiction of their states must be a fair representation of the status of the soul upon death of the body.

It appears then, that the Christian can take comfort in knowing that faithful loved ones who have gone on before are not just unconscious souls waiting for judgment day. Like Lazarus in Luke 16:25, they are being comforted there. And because of Jesus’ victory over death, we will be raised in a new spiritual body one 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 2 Chronicles here

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

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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The God of the Living – Luke 20

Jewish leaders of Jesus' time were mostly Pharisees, Sadducees, or Scribes. They were against Jesus, hating him so much that they wanted to kill him, for they were afraid they would lose their authority and their jobs.

Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time were mostly Pharisees, Sadducees, or Scribes. They were against Jesus, hating him so much that they wanted to kill him, for they were afraid they would lose their authority and their jobs.

In verse 27, the Sadducees get in on the act of trying to best the Lord with their questions. The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection.  So they pose a question designed to prove that point where God’s own word is concerned. Had they known they were speaking to “the word” (John 1:1-2;14), they would have realized how futile the attempt was.

The “trick question” concerned a woman whose husband had died. According to the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 25:5):

“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.”

So the Sadducees extend that scenario out into the realm of absurdity. In their story, the man who died had six brothers. Each one took the woman as his wife and died without giving her a child. So after the resurrection, whose wife would she be – seeing that all seven brothers had been her husband? They were sure they had Him on this point, because none of the brothers would have a greater claim on the woman than any of the others. Surely that proves by God’s own law that there is no resurrection.

Three angels visiting Abraham

Three angels visiting Abraham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus ignores the absurdity, and addresses the crux of the matter. He explains that “the sons of this age” (and daughters) marry and are “given in marriage,” but those who “attain to that age”- and to the resurrection – do neither. He says that they can no longer die, and are equal to angels in that respect. Notice He does not say that they are angels. Nowhere does the Bible teach that we become angels after we die. They are separate and distinct beings. But we become Sons of God and sons of the resurrection.

He goes on to assure them that there is a resurrection according to the word of God. He points out that even Moses said in the passage about the burning bush (Exodus 3-4:17) that the Lord is the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The Sadducees could only then say that Jesus had answered very well.

They had taken their best shot, and came up empty.

(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 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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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Do Not Grow Weary – (2 Thessalonians)

Paul’s second letter to the brethren at Thessalonica was probably written from Corinth about 49-51 A.D., shortly after his first letter. The reason for the second letter could be a sense of urgency because someone was sending letters to the church at certain locations falsely claiming to be from Paul or another apostle. Consider 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2:

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”

Thessalonica

Thessalonica

Further evidence of this is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:17, where Paul closes the letter with: “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” Such a wicked and cruel deception was probably done by someone simply wishing to discourage Gentiles from Christianity, or by someone whose only intention was to harm the church. Either way, the latter was the effect, of course.

We know that the Thessalonians already had some distress because in the first letter, Paul had needed to reassure them. False teachers had made them to grieve for those who had already “fallen asleep,” thinking that they were gone forever – that only those alive when Jesus returned would be taken to heaven. Paul devotes 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to explain to them concerning this. And just as in 1 Thessalonians, the bulk of this letter is geared toward the second coming of Jesus.

It seems now they had fallen prey to the idea that the second coming had already occurred, and they were very afraid of being left behind. To make matters worse, they were being persecuted – and that in itself just made these fears worse. It may be that this was the cause of another problem Paul addresses in the letter. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, he spends some time speaking about reports he had received that there were those among them that had stopped working, and so they were sponging off of others and generally becoming “busybodies” in their idleness. Perhaps this false notion of the second coming had something to do with this problem.

Paul’s message was that unbelievers will be condemned, and the righteous will be saved when Jesus does return, and there will not be any that are not included. And of course, Christians should not take advantage of the charitable character of their fellow Christians, and should “not grow weary in doing good.”

(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

/Bob’s boy
___________________
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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Falling Asleep – (Luke 8)

Jesus returned from the country of the Gerasenes, and received a warm welcome from the crowd – very different from the send-off he just got. Then a man named Jairus came to Jesus. The  text says that he was a ruler of the synagogue, which probably means that he was in charge of keeping it maintained and arranging services. At any rate, falling at Jesus’ feet, as he did in verse 41, was way out of character for a man in his position. But his 12 year old daughter was dying. And of course, a father would do anything to save his child. And she was his only child.

 

Raising of the Daughter of Jairus

Raising of the Daughter of Jairus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

As Jesus set out for his house, the crowds were thick and “pressed around Him.” There was a woman among them who had a “discharge of blood.” We do not know much about it, except that she had been afflicted with this for 12 years, and had spent all of her money on physicians to try and cure it. But according to Mark 5:22-34, it had become worse instead of better. She had it in her mind that if he could just touch Jesus’ garment, she would be healed. And so she pressed in through the throng, and did so. Jesus called out to find out who had touched Him, but He obviously knew very well who had done so. He wanted her to hear what He had to say; and He wanted the others to hear it as well. He told her that her faith had made her well.

 

Jesus and Jairus were met on the way by people from Jairus’ house, who told him that his daughter was already dead. But Jesus told him to just believe. Mark tells us that Peter, James, and John accompanied him inside when he arrived. Jesus told the weeping relatives that the girl was not dead, but only sleeping. But it was obvious to all present that she had in fact died.

 

Commentators have offered many explanations for why Jesus said that, when He had to have known that she had really died. But the answer is not nearly so complicated as many of them try to make it. There was no deception being attempted. There simply was no finality in her condition. To His way of thinking, the little girl was in fact only sleeping. Paul used this way of thinking to make the point about those who had died when he wrote his letter to the brethren at Thessolonica in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15. In it, he speaks of them as those who had “fallen asleep.” Paul knew exactly what he was saying, just as Jesus did.

 

It seems clear that one of the messages of this account (which occurs in all three synoptic gospels) is about the hope that is ours because the Lord not only has power over disease and demons, but even over death – over which His victory will become complete and very personal before the end of Luke’s gospel.

 

(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

 

___________________

 

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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Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 6 (Christ Arose!)

This is the conclusion of a series begun in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?”  In part 2, we looked at what sin is, why it matters so much to God, and why it should matter to us.  In part 3, we delved into God’s response to sin.  In all of that discussion, we have made great mention of the fact that God has a plan for our salvation.  In part 4, we looked at how Jesus really fits into that plan.  In part 5, we examined what was expected of the Messiah, and why His death on the cross was necessary.

What Did the Cross Accomplish?

The Very Real Suffering of “The Suffering Servant”

The Mount of Olives, looking from Jerusalem, with Gethsemane on the left and the Basilica of the Agony (also called the Church of All Nations) at the right. It is the third in a succession of churches that have been built on the site where it is believed that Jesus prayed to the Father in the hours before his crucifixion.

The Mount of Olives, looking from Jerusalem, with Gethsemane on the left and the Basilica of the Agony (also called the Church of All Nations) at the right. It is the third in a succession of churches that have been built on the site where it is believed that Jesus prayed to the Father in the hours before his crucifixion.

It is all too easy for us to get into a mindset, knowing that Jesus was the Son of God, of (at least somewhere in the back of our minds) thinking that all of this was easy for Him.  Or if not exactly easy, at least not as bad as it would be for a “regular”person.  We must never forget that although Jesus was (is) the Lord, he had made himself a man.  He had human emotions.  He felt compassion for the hungry (Matthew 15:32), love for the sick and the suffering (Matthew 14:14).  He cried real human tears for Lazarus’ death before he raised him from the dead (John 11:32-35).  Even more telling as He knew what was coming, His agony, dread, and pleas as He prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest clearly show his humanity (Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46).  There was nothing “easy” about preparing Himself to be crucified, any more than it was “easy” to be beaten and slowly killed on that cross.  So what exactly did His loving sacrifice and

resurrection accomplish?

Release From the “Curse of the Law”

The culmination of God’s plan to redeem mankind came at such a high price to Him, but it accomplished so much for us.  This supreme sacrifice by Jesus redeemed us from what Paul calls “the curse of the law” in Galatians 3:10-13.  Quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 (“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them”), Paul points out that none of us could ever be justified under that criteria because we all have sin in our lives.  And so the sacrifices and offerings made under the old law simply put off God’s judgment.

Gethsemane, Rock of Agony, where tradition says Jesus prayed

Gethsemane, Rock of Agony, where tradition says Jesus prayed

By the blood of His sacrifice, God put Jesus forward as a propitiation (an appeasement or satisfaction) for our sins (Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10).   Hebrews 9, speaking of the way things were before Christ, goes into some detail about the earthly “Most Holy Place” of the Tabernacle (into which only the High Priest could enter with blood to offer).  The word used for the “mercy seat” In Hebrews 9:5 (which was the lid on top of the ark) is the same as is used for “propitiation,” which is to say that it was a covering – a concealment – for the judgment of the law contained therein.

This earthly Holy Place and the Holy things it contained, the Hebrew writer refers to as mere “copies of the heavenly things” which are in Heaven.  By His death and resurrection, Jesus became a new High Priest of a better covenant (Hebrews 4:14-16, Hebrews 7:22).  And Hebrews 9:11-12 explained that by His own blood, He entered once and for all into THE Holy Place, securing an eternal redemption for us.  Thus, Paul says in Romans 7:6, “…now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

Eternal Life

Paul reminds us in Romans 5:12 that when man first sinned in Genesis 3, death also entered the world (“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”).  Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:10 that Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

By His resurrection, Jesus was victorious over death; and He brought to us the promise that when He returns, all those who have “fallen asleep” will also be raised, and will come to meet with Him (as well as those who are still alive) (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).  And then, 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 tells us, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  The Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 2:14-15:

“…he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

How Does One Earn Salvation – This Eternal Life?

The answer, of course, is that one does not earn salvation.  The bad news is that everyone has sinned, and however “small” one may consider his sins to be, God counts no difference between those sins and those we may consider to be the most despicable or callous.  The good news is that Jesus already paid the price for our sins with His death.  It is our faith in Jesus that justifies us through His grace, as told by Paul in Romans 5:1-2:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

baptismBut the fact that this salvation is freely given to us, does not mean we have no responsibility in the matter.  We must obey His commandments, among which is as Acts 2:38 says: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…”  Jesus said in Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”  Peter said in 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Paul gives the best explanation in Romans 6:3-5: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Staying the Course

If baptism were the end-all of the Christian’s commitment, how easy that would be.  But how easy is it to remain righteous in a world that seems to become more and more wicked?  Well, to be sure, Christians today (especially young people) face new and different challenges in that regard.  But there really is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  We know that is true from reading the Scriptures about the time before the flood (Genesis 6:5-8), about Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:29), about God’s patience with the depraved wickedness of the Canaanites (Genesis 15:15-21) – and events all throughout history.  But as Peter tells us as God’s children, Christians “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Paul proclaimed the great promise in Romans 2:6-8: “…to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”  The Apostle aptly described our course in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

/Bob’s boy
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image © 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.

1 Corinthians 15 – The Resurrection of the Dead

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!

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared many times to His disciples.

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!

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.