YOU ARE SAVED: What saves us? Grace (Eph 2:8,9). Hope
(Rom 8:24). Belief (Mar 16:15). Baptism (1Pe 3:21). Gospel, and its memory (1Co
15:1,2). Blood of Christ (1Jo 1:7). Faith (Rom 5:1). Works (Jam 2:24). Ourselves
(Act 2:40). Endurance (Mat 10:22). What saved the "drowning man"? The rock, the
rope, another man, himself... or all of them?
IF YOU HOLD FIRMLY TO THE WORD: Cp v 58. Holding fast:
Heb 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; 1Th 5:21; Rev 2:25; 3:11; 1Co 15:2.
Vv 8,9: Some of the names scornfully given Paul by his
ABNORMALLY BORN: "Ektroma" = "an abortion, one who is
born dead". Only once in NT, but also in LXX in Num 12:12; Job 3:16. How to fit
this idea to Paul's use of the word? There are several hints (really calling for
a separate study; see Xd 90:49) that Paul saw Jesus in Jerusalem in the course
of the Lord's ministry. This was the time when he should have been new-born in
Christ. But evidently, judging from Act 7-9, growing conviction was stifled by a
savage burst of persecution, so that instead of new-birth there was "ektroma",
an abortion. Thus the marvel almost to be heard in Paul's voice was that one in
whom new spiritual life had come to nought should be, so to speak, conceived and
No other NT use of "ektroma", but cp OT (LXX) occurrences:
Aaron pleaded for Miriam in her leprosy: "Let her not be as one dead, of whom
the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb" (Num 12:12).
And, in the LXX, Job 3:16 uses the identical Greek words (which passage is
alluding to which?). The LXX does not use "ektroma" in Psa 58:8, but all the
other Greek versions of the OT do. Here is a description of the wicked
adversaries of God's faithful (eg Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor): "Let (them
be) like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun." Here,
again, the idea cannot be that of a premature or belated birth, but of one who
is born dead. When Paul used the word "ektroma" he must have had his eye either
on this passage or on Num 12:12 (himself saved from his own unworthiness by the
intercession of Priest and Prophet).
"In classical literature and the OT 'ektroma' is connected
with the verb signifying 'to have a miscarriage', and is derived from another
verb meaning 'wound, injure, damage'. It is found in secular Greek from
Aristotle onwards, especially in medical language denoting a premature
stillbirth. It occurs in the LXX in contexts which suggest that an untimely
still birth would have been preferable to life (Job 3:16; Ecc 6:3), and of the
appearance of an aborted fetus (Num 12:12).
"In the NT the word occurs only in 1Co 15:8 where Paul
describes his encounter with the risen Christ... Attention must be paid to the
definite article in this passage... Its function is to draw attention to this
birth as something singular and even shocking... The words 'also to me' stand at
the end in a place of emphasis and contrast Paul with the other disciples in his
reprobate hatred of Christ.
"The interpretation of Calvin and Weiss is to be rejected
which sees the point of the comparison with the suddenness or violence of Paul's
conversion. So too the view of Lange which saw in it a reference to the
comparative lateness of Paul's call or his inadequate preparation compared with
the other apostles, and that of Wettstein which saw in it a reference to Paul's
diminutive stature. Harnack's conjecture is unnecessary that Paul here is using
a word which was applied to him in a derogatory manner. Rather, v 9 is decisive
for the interpretation. Here Paul alludes to his unworthiness to be called an
'apostle' (a title of honour), because he formerly persecuted the church. If
'ektroma' is thus understood, not as premature birth, but as stillbirth, the
significance of Paul's choice of the word lies in his joyful gratitude that God
has chosen him to be an apostle despite his utterly reprobate life as a former
"It may also be noted that the rabbis could speak of grown men
in this way... There may be in it the suggestion that Paul is still an embryo
believer; he has not had the same period of gestation as the other apostles.
These suggestions are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But they have also to
be understood in the context of the argument. The preceding verses are concerned
with the proof of the resurrection of Jesus based upon his appearances to the
apostles and others. Referring to his encounter with Christ on the Damascus
road, Paul writes; 'Last of all, as to the ektroma, he appeared also to me' (1Co
15:8; cf 1Co 9:1; Gal 1:16; Acts 9:3-6; 22:4-16; 26:9-18). The thought of the
appearance of Christ to him leads immediately to the thought of his apostleship
(1Co 15:9). Paul's apostleship was questioned by some (1Co 9:1). It could have
been queried for a variety of reasons. Paul was a former persecutor of the
church. Moreover, he lacked the two qualifications which were laid down when the
other apostles considered a replacement for Judas. He had not been a disciple of
Jesus in his earthly ministry and he was not a witness like them of Jesus'
resurrection (Acts 1:21f). Against this, Paul claimed to have his apostleship
directly from the risen Lord whom he had seen (cf the above references).
Admittedly, he had not known the earthly Jesus and his encounter had happened
after the ascension. Nevertheless, Paul insisted that he had encountered the
risen Christ and received his apostleship directly from him. As such, the
description of him as the aborted one is triply apt. As a person he was not as
acceptable as others. He was premature in the sense that he had not served the
period of discipleship like the Twelve and had become an apostle at his
conversion, having been a persecutor of the church right up to that point. But
above all, he had encountered Christ as 'one untimely born' (RSV) some time
after the resurrection appearances to the others had ceased" (NIDNTT).
Paul's changing self-image: (1) an apostle (Gal 1:1; etc), (2)
least of the apostles (1Co 15:9), (3) less than the least of all the saints (Eph
3:8), (4) worst of sinners (1Ti 1:15). As Paul drew nearer to Christ, so his
BY THE GRACE OF GOD I AM WHAT I AM: "Grace must find
expression in life; otherwise it is not grace" (Karl Barth).
"I am not what I ought to be. How imperfect and deficient I
am! I am not what I wish to be, although I abhor that which is evil and would
cleave to what is good. I am not what I hope to be, but soon I shall put off
mortality, and with it all sin. Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I
wish to be, nor yet what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was:
a slave to sin... I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by
the grace of God I am what I am!" (John Newton).
I AM WHAT I AM: May this not also be a reference to the
Yahweh Name? Paul was a manifestation of the Name (Purpose) of Yahweh, in the
world of that day!
NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD THAT WAS WITH ME: Paul is
using the familiar Hebrew idiom here: "not only... but also". "Not only did I
work, but -- especially -- the grace of God worked with me!"
"There were men among the Corinthian brethren who denied the
resurrection. Did Paul charge the other brethren with complicity in that heresy
because of the presence of such among them? Doubtless their rejection of the
resurrection nullified their claims for that place, but still it did not make
the true brethren guilty of their false doctrine while merely tolerating it,
pending an appeal to Paul" ("True Principles and Uncertain Details", RR, Xdn
FIRSTFRUITS: Not first to be raised, but first to be
raised to eternal life.
IN CHRIST: Most intimate communion of spirit with
Christ, not merely being baptized. If in Christ, morally not technically, we are
free from condemnation (Rom 8:1). Cp Gal 2:20; 1Co 6:17.
MADE ALIVE: "Quickened". Cp difference between "raise
up" and "quicken" in Joh 5:21. Also "zoopoieo" in Gal 3:21.
Vv 23,24: Three stages in the completion of the promise that
"in Christ shall all be made alive": First, Christ himself, raised from the
dead. Afterward, those who are Christ's at his coming. And then a third and
final resurrection at "the end", when the kingdom is delivered up to the Father.
Corresponding to the 3 great feasts of Law: (1) Passover and firstfruits --
resurrection of Christ. (2) Pentecost -- further firstfruits -- resurrection of
saints in Christ at his return (cp Jam 1:18). (3) Tabernacles -- harvest, final
ingathering -- "then the end" (v 24) of 1,000 years. The last great
resurrection, after millennium.
THEN THE END WILL COME: "Come" Sb omitted; simply,
"then the end".
This will be in fulfillment of the commandment God gave to
Adam in Gen 1:28: "Subdue it (the earth)... and have dominion over every
The first Adam, because of sin, was unable to fulfill this
directive. The "last Adam", because of his perfect sinlessness, will be able to
subdue all creation to its intended purpose -- the glory of God (Num 14:21; Isa
THE LAST ENEMY TO BE DESTROYED IS DEATH: This is the
goal to which all of Christ's work is pointed. The last enemy to be conclusively
destroyed under the heel of the conquering King will be death, the serpent's
"offspring" (see Jam 1:13-15). Death, at the end of a slow process of decay, has
been an inextricable part of man's nature since Eden. Now, through Christ, it
will finally be destroyed -- not merely offset or neutralized, but vanquished,
Vv 29-31: The folly of apostles' sacrifices, if there is no
BAPTIZED FOR THE DEAD?: True baptism must be preceded
by true belief (Mar 16:16) -- which of course makes "baptism" meaningless if it
is undergone on behalf of someone else who had died without such belief. So this
v means to be baptized for or because of Christ. The immediate context of 1Co 15
explains: "Christ died for our sins" (1Co 15:3). "For if the dead are not
raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been
raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1Co 15:j16,17). To
paraphrase Paul, 'Why should we be baptized into Christ, if Christ is [or, those
in Christ are] not raised from the dead?' (Perhaps those who were being baptized
then in Corinth were in imminent danger of death, due to the "present crisis" of
plague or epidemic there: 1Co 7:26.)
Alternatively: "The apostle refers to the case of those, who
presented themselves for baptism, immediately after the martyrdom of their
brethren, or at their funerals; as if fresh soldiers should enlist and press
forward to the assault, to supply the places of those who had fallen in battle.
Thus they professed their faith in Christ, and ventured the rage of their
enemies, at the very time when others had been put to death for the gospel. But
[Paul argues] what advantage could they propose to themselves from such a
conduct, if there were no resurrection? Or what wisdom could there be in so
doing? For in this case, Christianity itself would lose the great evidence of
its truth... believers were yet 'in their sins;' and they who died as martyrs
had lost their souls, as well as their lives [we know what this means, whether
Scott did or not!: GB]. This might show the Corinthian speculators how greatly
their notions [ie, that the resurrection was past: GB] tended to discourage men
from professing the gospel in times of persecution, and to make them afraid and
ashamed to own the cause of Christ. If this were the case, why did Christians in
general, or the apostles and evangelists in particular, live in continual and
imminent danger of suffering and death, by their open profession of the gospel,
and their zeal in promoting it? They could have no sufficient encouragement for
so doing, if the dead should never arise" (Scott).
BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD CHARACTER: "Tell me with whom
you travel, and I'll tell you who you are" -- German proverb.
"A man is known by the company he avoids."
"The water placed in a goblet, bowl or cup, changes its form
to its receptacle; and so our plastic souls take various shapes and characters
of good or ill, to fit the good or evil in the friends we choose. Therefore, be
ever careful in your choice of friends, and let your special love be given to
those whose strength of character may prove the whip that drives you ever to
fair wisdom's goal" (Mushito).
The practical expression of resurrection after baptism: Rom
Vv 35-44: What kind of body?
That is, the proper body to fulfill His particular purpose
with that part of His creation.
Vv 42-50: "We drop a seed into the ground,
A tiny, shapeless thing, shrivelled and dry,
And, in the fulness of its time, is seen
A form of peerless beauty, robed and crowned
Beyond the pride of any earthly queen,
Inset with loveliness, and sweet and rare,
The perfect emblem of its Maker's care.
This from a shrivelled seed? --
Then may man hope indeed!
For man is but the seed of what he shall be,
When, in the fulness of his perfecting,
He drops the husk and cleaves his upward way,
Through earth's retardings and clinging clay,
Into the sunshine of God's perfect day.
No fetters then! No bonds of time or space!
But powers as ample as the boundless grace
That suffered man, and death, and yet in tenderness,
Set wide the door, and passed himself before --
As he had promised -- to prepare a place.
We know not what we shall be -- only this --
That we shall be made like him -- as he is" (J
So why IS there a natural body? The natural body, with all its
imperfections, is allowed by God... for our training and testing.
THE LIKENESS OF THE MAN FROM HEAVEN: Our heavenly
calling (Heb 3:1), by a heavenly Father (Mat 18:35), through a heavenly word
(Joh 3:12), presents to us a heavenly status (Eph 2:6), as we await a heavenly
image (1Co 15:48,49), to be a heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22), in a heavenly
country (Heb 11:16), within a heavenly kingdom (2Ti 4:18). All this constitutes
Christ's brethren as a heavenly people of God!
THE TRUMPET: The 7th trumpet: Rev 11:15-19, related to
resurrection. Cp Rev 15:8; 20:4.
RAISED: "Egeiro" can mean, as well as lit resurrection,
"to be elevated" (Act 13:22,23; Rom 9:17), "to wake up from literal sleep" (Rom
13:11), "to rise from sickness" (Mar 1:37), "to rise in judgment" (Mat 12:42),
"to be raised up as a prophet" (Mar 11:11), "to be raised as a savior" (Luk
1:69). Resurrection is not necessarily an instantaneous process, but -- like the
"raising" of a crop (sowing, cultivating, reaping, winnowing, storing) --
involves several steps -- in this case, resuscitation, judgment, and
glorification. Cp Mat 25:46: the righteous go INTO eternal life.
IMPERISHABLE: "The idea that the righteous dead will
spring into being in a state of incorruption, and that the living faithful will
be instantaneously transformed, in their scattered places throughout the earth,
and changed into the spiritual nature before appearing in the presence of Christ
(though apparently countenanced by testimonies which are superficially construed
by those who read them) is an error of a serious complexion, since it
practically sets aside the NT doctrine of the judgment (itself a first
principle), and tends to destroy the sense of responsibility and circumspection
induced by a recognition of the fact that we must all stand before the
judgment-seat of Christ, that we may receive in body according to that we have
done, whether good or bad.
"To profess a belief in the judgment while holding this view,
is only to retain a form of words out of deference to NT phraseology while
having lost that which is represented by the words. If the dead are to awake to
incorruptibility or death, according to their deserts, Jesus is robbed of his
honour as judge, and the judgment-seat is robbed of its utility and its terror.
If the living are to be subject to immortalisation, say in their own houses,
before Christ pronounces them blessed, is not the judgment-seat a mere empty
form? If (worse than all) the wicked are not to be there to hear and receive
their doom, it is no judgment at all, but a mere muster of the chosen; no terror
at all, but a ceremony divested of every element of anxiety, since to have a
part in it, according to this theory, is to be safe beyond miscarriage; no
rendering to every man according to his deeds, whether good or bad; but a mere
bestowal of gifts and honours upon the King's accepted friends. Yet this is the
mistaken view which many are led to entertain by a superficial reading of
certain parts of the apostolic testimony" (Xdm Ast).
"The mistake consists in construing Paul's words too narrowly,
and reading them as if he were dealing with the dramatic incidents of the
resurrection, instead of the state of existence to which the act of resurrection
leads. Paul is not discussing the scientific aspect of the subject. He is not
defining the process by which a dead man ascends from the depths of corruption
to the nature of the angels the literal details are foreign to the subject
before his mind. He is dealing with the broad question propounded by the
objector; first, how as a question of possibility are the dead raised? and
second, for or to (with not being in the original) what body do they come?
"He introduced Adam and Christ in proof of his proposition
that there is a natural body and a spiritual body. He quotes the record of Moses
with reference to Adam in proof of the existence of a natural body. The first
man, Adam, was made a living soul (or natural body). His proof of the second
lies in this: the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Now supposing a
person, ignorant of the history of Christ, were to receive his impressions of
Christ's history from this statement -- supposing he had no other source of
information, would he not come to the conclusion that the last Adam was a
spiritual body from the first moment of his existence? Would he ever conclude
from it that the last Adam was first a helpless babe at Bethlehem, clad in the
flesh-and-blood-nature of his mother; then a boy, submissive to his parents;
then a carpenter, helping in the workshop to earn a livelihood for the family;
then anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, going about doing good, and
performing works which none other man did, and that, finally, he was abandoned
of the power of God, and crucified through weakness, even the weakness of frail
human nature? Would the uninformed and the superficial reader of Paul's allusion
to the last Adam learn from it that not only the first Adam, but the last Adam
also, was a natural body for 33 1/2 years, and that he only became a life-giving
spirit by the power of God, in his resurrection?
"By no means. All these facts, so familiar to us, are
elliptically compressed into the words was made. A process with so many striking
features is expressed in a way which, if there were no other information, would
conceal it. If this is the case with reference to Christ if we are at liberty to
believe against the appearance of things in 1Co 15 that Christ was first a
living soul and then a quickening spirit, why need there be a greater difficulty
in reference to his people, whose re-awakening in the flesh and appearance at
the judgment-seat is kept out of sight, in a phrase which its use in other cases
admits to the possibility of covering the whole ground.
"Coincidentally and elliptically speaking, the dead shall be
raised incorruptible, and we the living shall be changed. Both events will occur
at the advent. This is true, speaking broadly of the subject, without reference
to details; but it is not, therefore, untrue that both classes will appear
before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive in body according to what they
have done, whether good or bad (2Co 5:10). A general statement of truth cannot
exclude the involved particulars, though it may appear to do so. The course of
true wisdom is, not to set one part of the word against another part, but to
harmonise apparent conflict, by giving effect to all details, and finding a
place for these in all general forms of the same truth. This course is not taken
by those who, on the strength of the chapter discussed, would deny that the dead
come forth to judgment with reference to their candidature for immortality. On
the contrary, they put Paul here in conflict with Paul elsewhere. They erect his
general and elliptical declarations on the subject of the resurrection, as
barriers to his own particular statements in other places, and those of Christ
and his apostles generally.
"In opposition to this course, we have endeavoured to find, in
1Co 15, a place for all these features; a place unseen by the unacquainted
reader, but detectable by those having Paul s general teaching in view. Paul is
in harmony with himself. The resurrection includes all that is divinely
associated with it. The upshot is incorruption, glory, power, and spirituality
of nature, but these are only reached through the tribunal which will make
manifest the counsels of the heart. Prior to this, the future is a sealed book,
except in so far as it is reflected in a man's conscience. The judgment will
settle all, separating the chaff from the wheat, and determining who are the
saints, in deed and in truth, and who the unprofitable servants, who have had
but a name to live, and are dead.
"We commend to the serious consideration of every one
interested, the sobering fact that there is a day appointed when God shall judge
the secrets of men by Christ Jesus, justifying the righteous and condemning the
wicked. It is a fact that will encourage, strengthen, and sustain every person
who, having been enlightened and joined to the brotherhood of Christ, is working
with a single eye, as seeing him who is invisible: and it is a fact that,
vividly realised, will correct and purify those who, in a similar position, may
be suffering themselves to be diverted from the path of truth and duty by
considerations of a temporal nature. The record exhibited at the judgment-seat
is written now in the lives of those who will appear there. The one will be an
exact reflex of the other. A faithful stewardship sustained now will be honoured
then with praise, recognition and promotion while an opposite course will bring
exposure, shame, condemnation, and death. The wise shall inherit glory, but
shame shall be the promotion of fools" (Xdm Ast).
"And when is this corruptible to put on incorruption? When are
the dead to be raised? 'Every man in his own order. Christ the firstfruits;
afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming' [1Co 15:23]. Could there be
more decisive proof that the coming of Christ, the resurrection of the sleeping
saints, and the change of those who are alive, the fearful judgments which are
to destroy the wicked, and the commencement of the reign of Christ, are all
indissolubly linked together? They are all comprised in, and constitute, the
grand epoch to which everything is tending, and with which nothing in the
history of man, or of the world, can compare" (FLD 274).
THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN: The last enemy to be
destroyed is the serpent's offspring: Gen 3:15; Jam 1:13-15.
THE POWER OF SIN IS THE LAW: The strength of sin, as a
destroyer of men, lay in the law -- the law which, while holy and just and good,
nevertheless condemned all men (even the most conscientious) to death as
sinners. But in Christ, their righteousness was by faith in him (Rom 3:21,22) --
not their own righteousness, which was by the law, but the righteousness which
was of God by faith (Phi 3:9).
Sowing: what to sow (Luk 8:11), what not to sow (Deu 22:9),
how to sow (Psa 126:5,6), when to sow (Ecc 11:6), reward of sowing (1Co
STAND FIRM: Cp v 2: holding firm to the
ALWAYS GIVE YOURSELVES FULLY TO THE WORK OF THE LORD:
"There is one thing you should do right now -- this very minute. Do it! Do not
sidetrack it; do not procrastinate; do not fiddle with rubbish for mere
'amusement.' That's childish. That's babyish. Grow up! Do the thing right now
that should be done. And make that the constant, purposeful, satisfying pattern
of your life, from moment to moment. And do it cheerfully, heartily, thankfully,
joyfully. Reluctant, unhappy, grudging service is an insult to God, and a
self-imposed burden to ourselves. The thing to be done at the moment may be just
nothing: it may be just waiting -- patiently and faithfully. Sometimes that's
all there is to do. Sometimes that's all we have the physical capacity to do.
But do it profitably, and in a godly manner. Fill the mind with profitable and
godly thoughts. Always have something profitable at hand to read. Or, failing
that, let your mind dwell on the rich treasure of information and instruction
you have wisely stored up beforehand, while you had opportunity. Above all:
never, never just sit and fret. That's destructive, physically, mentally and
spiritually. Always be doing something useful" (GVG).
YOUR LABOR IN THE LORD IS NOT IN VAIN: "Do what you
should, rather than what you want to. It will give you far more pleasure and
satisfaction in the long run. It will lift you out of fleshly babyhood into
spiritual maturity. Self-pleasing now means later regret, for self-pleasing has
no lasting benefit. Duty now means permanent satisfaction: pleasure that not
only lasts but compounds with time: pleasure that does not need a constantly
accelerating input to maintain the output, like all the 'pleasures' of the world
that cheatingly end the moment the passing ecstasy stops" (GVG).