First Corinthians – Part 40
Last time we looked at the idea of sleep as it pertains to the metaphor of death for the Christian. Time is relative, and what we know about time from Physics is that it is present within our “thing” or matter – energy universe — taken outside that and it need not be there. If the spirit goes back to God and God is fundamentally outside His creation then the spirit is not subject to time and if “sleep” is a metaphor for death then resurrection is an awakening. Sleep is a form of unconsciousness and therefore time has no meaning. We breath out at death and we breath into our resurrected body. With respect to our time frame we move out and into the time dimension seamlessly with no delay regardless of how much time moves by on earth. All in Adam die — that’s “all” — even so — in the same way — all in christ shall be made alive. We get into Christ by accepting the gospel of our salvation — we get into Adam through no choice of our own – we are or we are not of that seed. To be of Adam’s seed means we have the opportunity to gain resurrection to life – because Christ came up we also can come up and in this way “NOT PERISH”.
The kingdom purposes of Christ’s subjection to the Father are explained in verses 23-27 — He will reign till all enemies are under His feet — we see this as all the kingdom enemies both human and angelic – then “at that time” he shall deliver the Kingdom to God the Father.
Chapter 15: 29-34
verse 29 introduces the reader to an issue of kingdom practice that was happening then and which has been variously interpreted or not at all.
29 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?
TBT 1 Corinthians 15:29 Ἐπεὶ τί ποιήσουσιν οἱ βαπτιζόμενοι ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν; εἰ ὅλως νεκροὶ οὐκ ἐγείρονται, τί καὶ βαπτίζονται ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν;
There is no getting past the force of the preposition “on behalf of” — What shall they do which have been baptized for (on behalf of) the dead if the dead do not rise at all. Paul repeats the the question for emphasis. There must be some benefit coming to the dead. People then living under obedience to the kingdom ministry were baptizing others so that the dead would gain some benefit. If the dead would not rise then the practice had no value since indeed the dead could gain no benefit unless they rose — hence the need for resurrection.
We should also point out that there is nothing in the context to think that this had anything to do with dead unbelievers. This is not a vicarious baptism to get “the dead” saved. If we assume that the dead refers to believers then all is clear — these believers who sleep in Jesus will have benefit because others living who perform their duty of ministry are obedient to their call and baptize those who answer the call! Who would they baptize? Living Corinthians, friends relatives acquaintances who come to saving knowledge. These are baptized on behalf of the dead, the ministry once begun by believers and stopped by death now continues through faithful living ministers. At the coming of Christ there will be a resurrection to life, those who went before (we read of this later in this chapter) and who died in hope of their loved ones will have the hope of rejoicing. But this could only happen to those who wake from sleep. We are assuming memory of the past here.
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
TBT 1 Corinthians 15:30 τί καὶ ἡμεῖς κινδυνεύομεν πᾶσαν ὥραν;
This harks back to the same “doing” of verse 29 “what shall they do” except it is Paul here and since he did not baptize much the pronouns change from “they” to “we”. Paul and those with him were committed to real people in Corinth in the same way that those who suffered the kingdom baptism looked forward through resurrection to meeting those who went before. Paul was so committed that he was in danger every hour.
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.1
TBT 1 Corinthians 15:31 καθ᾽ ἡμέραν ἀποθνήσκω, νὴ τὴν ὑμετέραν καύχησιν, ἣν ἔχω ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν.
These verses (30,31,32) are the great interpreters of verse 29. Paul (and others with him) were in danger every hour — why? Because of the oath that now
32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
To fight with beasts was a punishment – but what profit would come to Paul if the dead rise not. We might as well be like the Godless “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”.
33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Evil companions corrupt good morals. We should encourage ourselves and our children to heed this advice.
KJV 1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
TBT 1 Corinthians 15:34 ἐκνήψατε δικαίως, καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε· ἀγνωσίαν γὰρ Θεοῦ τινὲς ἔχουσι· πρὸς ἐντροπὴν ὑμῖν λέγω.
Wake up righteously (adverb) and do not sin. For some have no knowledge of God. It was spoken to the Corinthians shame because it was their responsibility and duty to make God known.
35 ¶ But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 ¶ Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 ¶ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.