April 24 – The Resurrection: A Belief that Matters

“How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

1 Corinthians 15:12


Without the truth of bodily resurrection, the Christian faith would not make sense.

Even though Paul and the other apostles made the resurrection of Christ and His followers from the dead a central part of the gospel message, some new Gentile converts (the Corinthians especially) had difficulty accepting the idea of bodily resurrection. That struggle resulted mainly from the effects of Greek dualism, which viewed the spiritual as inherently good and the physical as inherently bad. Under that belief, a physical resurrection was considered quite repulsive.

The only way for the doubting Gentiles to accommodate their dualism was to say that Jesus was divine but not truly human. Therefore, He only appeared to die, and His appearances between the crucifixion and ascension were manifestations that merely seemed to be bodily. But Paul knew that was bad doctrine. He wrote to the Romans, “Concerning His Son … born of the seed of David according to the flesh … declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3–4).

To deny the actual, bodily resurrection of Christ creates some very significant doctrinal problems. Without His resurrection, the gospel is an empty message that doesn’t make sense. Without the Resurrection, Jesus could not have conquered sin and death, and thus we could not have followed in that victory either.

Without physical resurrection, a life of faith centered on the Lord Jesus is worthless. A dead savior cannot provide any kind of life. If the dead do not rise bodily, Christ did not rise, and neither will we. If all that were true, we could not do much more than conclude with Isaiah’s Servant, “I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity” (49:4). But the glorious reality is that we can affirm with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and … .without my flesh [after death] I shall see God” (Job 19:25–26).


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that the truth of the Resurrection makes our theology credible and the gospel powerful.

For Further Study: Sometimes Jesus’ closest followers have doubts about the Resurrection. Read John 20:19–29. How did Jesus prove to the disciples that it was really Him? ✧ What else did Jesus implicitly appeal to when He confronted Thomas’s doubts?[1]

His first argument is simple and logical: Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? The construction here (ei with the indicative) implies a condition that is true. The Corinthians believed in Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1, 11) and that He was presently alive (emphasized by the perfect tense of egeirō, has been raised). How then could they logically deny the general truth of resurrection? If Christ has been raised, resurrection obviously is possible.[2]

15:12 In verses 12–19, Paul lists the consequences of the denial of bodily resurrection. First of all, it would mean that Christ Himself has not risen. Paul’s logic here is unanswerable. Some were saying that there is no such thing as bodily resurrection. All right, Paul says, if that is the case, then Christ has not risen. Are you Corinthians willing to admit this? Of course they were not. In order to prove the possibility of any fact, all you have to do is to demonstrate that it has already taken place once. To prove the fact of bodily resurrection, Paul is willing to base his case upon the simple fact that Christ has already been raised from the dead.[3]

12 Having established historically the truth of the resurrection of Christ and the fact that this is the tradition that all the apostles endorsed and were preaching, Paul is now ready to move to the next step in his argument. He shows how wrong that element in the Corinthian church is who say, “There is no resurrection of the dead.” As noted above, these erroneous people were not denying the resurrection of Christ per se, only the future resurrection of believers. But as Paul will soon point out, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t believe in the resurrection of Christ and deny the eventual resurrection of believers, for resurrection is a single package.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (p. 409). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1804–1805). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 394). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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