Part 5, The Return of Jesus.
Corinth was an important cosmopolitan Greek city located on a large isthmus about fifty miles west of Athens. It was one of the largest cities in the Roman empire, was on a major trade route, and had a thriving economy.
In this city, the vices of East and West converged. Greeks, Romans, Jews, and a mixed multitude of sailors and merchants flocked to this crossroads. The Isthmian athletic games were held there biennially.1. Prostitution was rampant. The raping of young boys was common in that entire region.
Yet still, a stake was driven there, a defense of the Gospel was given, a church was planted. The city was strategic to Paul, who had stayed in Corinth briefly by himself, but then worked as a tentmaker by trade, alongside Aquila and Prisca, a husband and wife team. Apollos arrived and this couple, particularly Prisca, worked with him to help clarify his Gospel presentation to the Corinthians.
Within three years after meeting Paul, Aquila and Prisca moved onward together to Ephesus to continue sharing the Gospel. After they had departed, Paul received bad news about the Corinthians church from members of Chloe’s household, residents of Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11).
And so Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. This letter contains particular details about this church’s struggles and Paul’s instructions, particularly their worry that there was no resurrection of the dead. Clearly, this had to be clarified.
Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian Church in 53-55 A.D.
First, Paul addressed the fact of Christ’s resurrection, next the order in which the coming resurrection at His return will occur, then the mystery of the resurrection, and finally Paul penned strengthening words to the church to trust and believe.
Paul’s defense in 1 Corinthians 15 is one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible. The Corinthians needed this reminder, and so do we.
The Fact of Christ’s Resurrection
In 1 Corinthians 15, there is additional information about all who witnessed the resurrected Christ. In my first post in this series in the New Year, What is Our Calling Until Jesus Returns, I detailed some of this information that wasn’t in earlier accounts.
“Now I would remind you, brothers,[and sisters]2. of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, IF you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ESV).
One essential component of the Gospel that Paul preached was the physical resurrection from the dead of Jesus Messiah. We’ve seen the account in the gospels, some quite short and without much information. Acts contributes more details, but the following paragraph has the most powerful list of proofs.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me….11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 11 ESV).As in the first century, so it is today: Someone preaches the Gospel. We hear and believe that Christ loves us, He died, and He rose for us. All we need do is turn from our sins and believe. Hear. Repent. Believe. #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
As we examine that list of eyewitnesses, we see that the proof of Jesus’ resurrection would have been understood by a jury, were the issue on trial. The facts that I have highlighted in red provide the type of evidence that cannot be ignored. Too many people saw Jesus alive at one time and later after His crucifixion for anyone to say that this earth-shaking event did not happen.
Over five hundred people at the same time saw Christ alive after He was crucified, dead, and buried. So much evidence has been produced by apologetics experts that a multitude of reasoning can flesh out the fact of Christ’s resurrection even further. As far as I’m concerned, this eyewitness list is of supreme importance.After Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried, Peter and the other disciples saw Him alive, THEN the risen Christ appeared to 500 people at one time, then to His brother James, then all the apostles, lastly the apostle Paul. #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
As we await the imminent return of Christ, why is the fact of His resurrection from the dead of supreme importance?
The fact of Christ’s resurrection not only guarantees our salvation when we place our faith, trust, and confidence in Christ, committing ourselves to Him, but it also gives us confidence in the coming resurrection of the dead when Christ returns.The fact of Christ's resurrection not only guarantees our salvation when we place our faith, trust, and confidence in Him, but it also gives us certainty that we too will be resurrected when Christ returns. #bgbg2 #EndTimes Click To Tweet
As you consider the details in this chapter, what sticks out to you and gives you the most confidence? How does it make you feel to know that this many people saw the resurrected Messiah over a course of time?
Click here to read the entirety of 1 Corinthians 15
- Details about Corinth were gleaned from The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, intro to The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, pg.1507, Key Word Study Bible, New American Standard Version text, AMG Publisher, Chattanooga, TN, 1984 and 1990.
- Translation note, 1 Corinthians 15:1, ESV Study Bible, Wheaton, Illinois, 2008.
Truly, it is a simple thing: We hear the Gospel. We believe. We turn from our sins and repent. We are saved.
We humans make it so complicated sometimes, but at its core, the message of the cross, of Jesus, is that we are loved and we have a place if only we follow Him. This is open to everybody, no matter how far we’ve strayed or how much evil we have done. God’s message and love is for ALL!
Amen, Jessica! That is the glorious fact of the call to follow Christ. All are welcome. No one need hesitate to run to Jesus and accept Him as Savior. No matter how far we stray, we are even welcomed back with Love! Well said!
The eye witness account has convinced many of the truth of Christ’s resurrection. A post full of hope, Melinda!
It’s definitely important! Eyewitnesses, particularly of so many people at one time, are how we know beyond a doubt that Christ has risen from the dead.
And reading this Scripture is certainly proof that Christ was resurrected and that our bodies shall be resurrected when he returns. Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross, “Today you shall be with me in paradise!” So our spirit, unlike our body, does not go into the grave. That is comforting! I find also John 14 very comforting! He has prepared a room for me in his Father’s house.
Thanks for commenting, Mom. Those are great insights.
Paul zeroed in on the importance of the resurrection when he wrote, “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain” (15:14)!
Amen to that, Ava! That statement makes it very clear, settling the issue once and for all time. If Jesus has NOT been raised, everything else is meaningless, our faith in vain, our preaching in vain!
Without His resurrection, there is no Christianity. It is the key to everything and separates our faith from other religions. Thanks Melinda for another wonderful piece.
Both you and Ava focused in on this significant statement. It’s all pointless, a waste of our time, meaningless IF Christ has not been raised from the dead. Were this reality to be true, there would be no Christianity. Thanks be to God, that Christ did indeed rise from the dead!
So powerful, Melinda. The Spirit rose up in me as I read, thankful for this confidence we have in the resurrection and the knowledge that Christ will return for the resurrection of the dead. A thousand Hallelujahs! I remember when Josh McDowell described how he sat out to disprove the resurrection and ended up coming to know Christ as Savior. As a lawyer, Josh knew over 500 eye witnesses would stand up in any court of law.
Thanks for mentioning Josh McDowell, Karen. His testimony was so encouraging as we were first learning to live, to think, and to act like Christians. The Holy Spirit is our powerhouse, yet do often we try to live this life in our own strength, rather than relying on Him.
I am thankful to be a believer. I am thankful to know Christ will return. While waiting for His return, I pray I will help lead others to a relationship with God.
Amen, sister! I feel the same! I want to live this life for Him. Day by day relying on Him, rather than on my own flesh, which I do so often.