Monday, March 28, 2011


1 CORINTHIANS 15:20-28

Paul has just communicated the emptiness that results if the resurrection is fiction. However, that is not the case. Paul now affirms the reality of the resurrection. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead…” The “But now” forms a conjunction of contrast. It marks a transition between the darkness of hopelessness if the resurrection is fiction, to the brightness and reality of our hope and triumph. It changes the preposterous idea of no resurrection to the triumphant vindication of the resurrection. Paul declares:


Christ is risen! This guarantees the resurrection of the dead. This is evidenced by two things:
  1. The words, “first fruits” (aparche), which is singular in the Greek text—first fruit. The word’s background is from the Old Testament (Lev. 23). The first fruit was the first sheaf of harvest that was offered in thanksgiving to the Lord. It occurred before the main harvest. Josephus tells us that until this ceremony had been performed, no harvest work could take place (Ant., iii, 10,5). It marked the assurance that the rest of the harvest would occur. Christ is the “first fruit” of the resurrection—the guarantee of the resurrection.
  2. The assurance of the resurrection is also seen in the work of the two Adams (15:21-22). By the first Adam death entered the word because of his sin (Rom. 5:12). He is the agent of physical death. The last Adam—Christ—is the agent of physical resurrection. The emphasis is on man in verse 21. It has been noted that “Paul does no more than to fix this exact parallel: man the death medium—man also the resurrection medium (Lenski, 1 Corinthians, 663).

Christ as the resurrection medium is the guarantee that “in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). Robert Gromacki makes a keen observation when he writes:
This prediction allows for two possible interpretations. The prepositional phrase (in Christ) may restrict this promise to believers only. However, Paul may be pointing out the fact that one effect of Christ’s death and resurrection which extends to all men, is that all will be delivered from physical death through the reception of a new resurrection body. But the destiny of that resurrection body [Heaven or the Lake of Fire] is determined by one’s conscious rejection or acceptance of God’s revealed truth, including the gospel message (Rom. 1:28-3:31). It is predicted elsewhere that all will be raised from the dead (Dan. 12:2; John 5:29; Acts 17:31)(Called to be Saints, 188).


After declaring Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee our resurrection, Paul now declares that those raised will not all be raised at the same time. The resurrection has an order, and each will be “in his own order” (15:23). The word translated order is tagmati, a military term, used of the ranking or separation of soldiers in detachments for marching or battle. It refers to the general time sequences of the resurrection. This is reinforced by the time words of after and then. “The Greek words aparche, epeita, eita, is this kind of sequence, certainly are equivalent to counting ‘one…two…three’ ” notes Buswell (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, 3:337). Lowery points out that every detail or order of resurrection is not given here, only “interested here in fixing their place in the scheme of things(BIBLE KNOWLEDGE COMMENTARY, NEW TESTAMENT, 543).  Therefore, only two resurrections are described here. No resurrection of the unsaved is mentioned—who will also be resurrected (cf. John 5:29; Rev. 20:5, 11-15). Nor does Paul here discern between the rapture and the resurrection at His coming to earth. Both are compressed in into the second order.

The sequence given by Paul is threefold: First was the historical resurrection of Christ. Then the believer’s resurrection at His Coming. And then the kingdom will be delivered to the Father. Again it is vital we understand that Paul is not giving a detailed description of the events, for the resurrection of believers does not bring the end. The word then in verse 24 is not tote, meaning then immediately, but eita, indicating sequences in the, “then” after an interval. The interval is the 1,000 year reign of Christ, commonly referred to as the Millennium. Vine notes that the word endis used of the last event in a succession or series(Vine, 211).

The end is marked out in this passage by a threefold elimination (15:24-28): First, it is described “when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power” (15:24). It is clear from Daniel 7:14 this is not referring to His own authority and dominion. It is referring to all competing, corrupted, and perverted dominions and authorities that have shown themselves against God. This will happen at the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ and the resurrection of unbelievers (cf. Revelation 20).

Second, Christ will reign “until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (15:25). I believe this refers to Christ’s reign on earth, which at the end all His enemies will be put under His feet. The word reign is a present infinitive and should be translated “to continue to reign(David Garland, 1 CORINTHIANS, 711). It is a mistake to think that all the enemies are put under His feet at His Second Coming and the resurrection of believers. There are still enemies of Christ present and working during the Millennium. This is evident because of the presence of sin, death, and a great rebellion at the end of the 1000 years (cf. Rev. 20:2, 3).

Third, “the last enemy that will be abolished is death” (15:26). This happens at the Great White Throne judgment recorded in Revelation 20:11-15. It is there that death and Hades are thrown into the Lake of First (Rev. 10:14). Then death is abolished! Again, Paul does not mention this resurrection in Corinthians, but he is concerned with the resurrection of believers, which is before these events.

After these events, Christ hands over the Kingdom unto the Father. All things are put under the subjection of the Father. For “then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Friday, March 25, 2011


One of the things I like about the computer age is the ability to listen to good gospel music. I love the Gospel Station playing in the background while I am in my office. If you like Southern Gospel I encourage you to listen to the Gospel Station.

Monday, March 21, 2011



1 Corinthians 15:12-34

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul deals with the subject of resurrection. In verses 1-11 he shows that Christ’s resurrection is validated by experience, history, and eyewitnesses. Now he deals with the importance of the resurrection in three ways: as fiction, fact, and motive.


Paul in verse 12 changes gears. He has verified the resurrection, now he deals with the importance of the resurrection. He begins with a question: “If Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection from the dead?” (1:12). In light of the verification of the resurrection, he is astonished that some deny the truth of the resurrection. He has verified that the message is unified by the truth of the resurrection of Christ. He confirms their belief in the message (12:1; 11). Yet some denied the truth of the resurrection. Paul now challenges such a view. If such a contention is true, Paul now states a series of conclusions from such a denial:

  • If true, then there is no resurrection of Christ (12:13). Christ and our resurrection are tied together; the true cannot be separated. If Christ did not rise from the dead, neither will we. If in humanity, Christ did not rise in bodily form, then neither will we. If man does not rise from the dead, then Christ as man could not have risen from the dead. As Lenski notes:
    The resurrection deals with the body. Christ’s body was given into death on the cross and then, like any dead human body, was placed into the tomb. He was flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, and in this respect, altogether one with us, although in person He was the Son of God. So, it cannot be argued that he was different and a higher being and, therefore, exempt from the rule that the dead are not raised.
    (RCH Lenski, 1 CORINTHIANS, 650-651).
  • If true, the preaching of the resurrection is meaningless (12:14). The word kenon, means vain, empty, as opposed to full. It is something that lacks content, such as an empty jug or bucket.  The gospel is empty if Christ is not risen. It is worthless. It is a shell without content. Preaching the resurrection is therefore useless, and there is no hope. If there is no resurrection the gospel falls.
  • If true, faith is empty (12:14). Faith rests upon facts and the reliability of those facts. If the facts are worthless, so is the belief in those facts. If the resurrection is empty, then so is faith in the fact of resurrection.
  • Paul was a false witness (12:15). If there is no resurrection, then Paul (and every preacher) is guilty of saying that God did that which He did not do.
  • If true, faith is fruitless (12:17). The word vain is different than the word found in verse 14. The word here is mataia meaning fruitless or useless. It has no power to affect anything, thus cannot produce results. Vine contrast the words kenos and mataios, saying “kenos stresses the absence of quality, mataios, the absence of useful aim or effect(Expository Dictionary, 2:25). Without the resurrection, our faith will never see fruit.
  • If true, we are still in our sins (12:17). This is the conclusion of a fruitless faith. A crucified, unresurrected Christ cannot deliver men from their sin. Christ’s resurrection is vital to our justification (Rom. 4:25). If no resurrection—no atonement. We are still under the penalty, power and effects of sin.
  • If true, there is no hope beyond death (12:18). The dead are lost if there is no resurrection. Those who fell asleep in Christ will not rise. If there is no resurrection they are dead in their sins with no hope, therefore, perish.
  • If true, we live miserable lives (12:19). Charles Hodge declares that “not only the future, but even the present is lost if Christ be not risen.” (1 Corinthians, 3:22). Vine tells us that the word rendered “most pitiable,” “combines the ideas of misery and pitiableness” (1 Corinthians, 209). 

If the resurrection is fiction, then our faith is worthless. It is not fiction! Thus, the declaration: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead…” (12:20).

Thursday, March 17, 2011



In 1 Corinthians 5:1-4 we saw the Gospel and it confirmed the validity of the Resurrection. Now validity is affirmed by the historical appearances of Jesus after his death, burial and resurrection. The Greek word for appearance is opsis: denoting to see with the eye, to be visible, and is translated in our text as “was seen.” Paul makes reference to six different appearances of our Lord after His resurrection. These appearances were visible and bodily. They were not visions or mirages.

It is important to point out that this list of witnesses is not exhaustive. There are some that Scripture tells us about, but are not listed by Paul (example: Mary – John 20:11-18). He shows that Jesus appeared to individuals, small groups, and large crowds. Apparently Paul’s list is in chronological order, since the time words “then” and “after that” are used.

  • Cephas (Simon Peter). Paul normally uses the Aramaic name for Peter, which is Cephas (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; Gal. 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14). Luke 24:34 affirms this appearance. It is important for Peter, the leader of the twelve, see the resurrection Christ first.
  • The Twelve. This is confirmed by John 20:19, Luke 24:36; and Mark 16:14. Most Bible students that the term “Twelve” is used here as a title for the Jewish Apostles as a group, not an actual number. Remember, Judas was gone, and Thomas was not present. There were not actually 12 individuals that made up the group at the time. Twelve by this time had become a technical name for the Jewish Apostles.
  • Five Hundred brethren. After appearing to an individual and a small group, this refers to the large crowd which Jesus appeared to at one time. None of the Gospel writers record such an appearance. Many connect it with the appearance in Galilee (Matthew 28:16). Although there is uncertainty as to when this occurred, Paul affirms it. The main point of Paul’s argument is that at the time, most of these were still alive and could testify to the event. This made the fact of resurrection confirmable if there were any doubts. At the time of this epistle, witnesses still could be consulted. This was true also of the Twelve. However, these would have been an independent source separate from the leadership of the church.
  • James. This is another appearance that is not mentioned by the Gospel writers. James here is not one of the apostles, for this group is mentioned again in the next verse. It is James the half brother of Jesus (Matt 13:55), who became prominent in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13).
  • The Apostles. The repeat of the Twelve is questioned by some, thus they suggest it must refer to all the apostles, including the likes of Andronicus and Junias (Rom. 16:7). However this is not the case. It definitely refers to the Twelve. Chronologically the others are not apostles at the time of this appearance. The earlier reference to the Twelve refers to the Easter appearances; this refers to the appearance 40 days later, the time of the ascension (Acts 1:11).
  • Paul. Christ’s appearance to Paul was well after the ascension. It took place at his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6); 22:6-11). This verifies the truth of the continually living resurrected Christ. He saw the resurrected Christ well after the ascension. He communicates this not in pride, but in humility. He knows he was unworthy of such an event. Yet, the truth is Christ appeared to him. He is a witness of the resurrection as much as those listed above. It was an act of grace that Christ appeared to him and turned him from persecutor to the persecuted for His name sake.

The witnesses confirm the validity of the resurrection. An array of witnesses testify to the truth that Jesus was resurrected. These witnesses form a historical chain establishing continuity in the truth, validated by personal experience.    

Tuesday, March 15, 2011



[The next few blogs we will be looking at the truth of the Resurrection as revealed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. The chapter deals with Christ’s Resurrection and ours.]

Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 deals with the heart of the gospel, the Bodily Resurrection. In Paul’s day, like our own, the resurrection was highly suspect. They believed the body simply dissolved and the soul returned to God. To the Greeks resurrection was unthinkable. Immortality laid in the soul, not the body. Among the Jews, the Sadducees denied both immortality and the resurrection of the body (Acts 23:8). At Corinth there was an element of denial of this great truth (1 Cor. 15:12). Unlike the pagan dichotomy, Christianity saw that the body was not evil in and of itself. How could it be when God the Son took upon himself a body like ours (Phil. 2:6-8; John 1:14)? The body will be resurrected. Our resurrection is based upon the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.  The validity of the resurrection is seen in the following:


The truth of the resurrection was effective in the lives of these believers. They had responded to its truth as set forth in the gospel in a threefold response.

  • The “received” the truth. The Greek word is paralambano and means to receive from another. It is a past completed action.
  • They “stand” in it. This speaks of the continued present results. They had received the truth, now they stand in it.
  • They are “saved” by it. The word sozesthe is found in the indicative mood, present tense, literally meaning “you are being saved” by it. This has confused some and caused them to see salvation as conditional. This is not the case. The three clauses are cumulative, depending and building upon each other. Because they had “received” the truth and were continuing to “stand” upon it, they were “being saved.” As G. Campbell Morgan says:
    They received it, and believed it; that is they believed on Him, and the result was ‘y stand, and are saved.’ Their saved condition and their standing are the demonstration of the truth of the gospel that Jesus not only died, but that He rose again[CORINTHIAN LETTERS, 184].

    This salvation is not conditional, but progressive. Positionally our salvation is a completed fact (Rom. 5:1); experientially it is a continual process or growth. What Paul is saying is that the process of salvation is an ongoing factor in the lives of believers. It validates the reality of the resurrection.

The validity of the resurrection is seen in the CONTENT of the Message. Paul delivered unto them this important content. The heart of the gospel is based on three historical facts:

  • That Christ died for our sins.” Christ on the cross did not sink into a coma and then recover after being taken off the cross. He died! The word died is in the aorist tense denoting historical fact in a point of time. However, the gospel does not stop there. He died “for our sins.” This gives the reason for His death. He died for our sins. His death was historical, vicarious and redemptive.
  • That He was buried.” Again aorist tense, confirming the reality of His death, for He was buried. The word means entombed. This fact is essential to both His death and resurrection. It is the bridge between the two. His burial gives validity to both. Without the burial, both would have been suspect. However, his burial did happen and is historical fact.
  • He was raised on the third day.” Here we find a change in tense, it is not aorist, but in the perfect tense. The perfect tense in the Greek denotes completed action with continuous results. He arose and remains alive! His resurrected state is permanent and continuous.

Christ’s death and resurrection is not myth, but a historical fact. It was foretold “according to the Scriptures.” These Scriptures are the Old Testament. His death was declared in Psalm 22:6-9; Isaiah 53; and Zechariah 12. His resurrection in Psalm 16:10 and Isaiah 53:10-12. Jesus Himself predicted His death (Luke 22:37; 24:25-26) and the time of His resurrection (Matthew 12:40). Gromacki observes:

If Christ had been raised from the dead on the second, fourth, or any succeeding day, that would have been a remarkable, unprecedented achievement; but it also would have declared Him to be a false prophet [CALLED TO BE SAINTS, 182].

The resurrection is validated by the content of the gospel and the historical affirmation of His death, burial and resurrection. There can be no question that these events were in accordance with the plan and foreknowledge of God.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Best on Genesis

In my humble opinion the best commentaries on Genesis are:

Exegetical Commentary:
  • Hamilton, Victor P., NICOT: THE BOOK OF GENESIS, 2 Volumes, Eerdmans, 1990.

    A conservative evangelical commentary that is reader friendly, understandable and balanced. Good exegesis.

Expositional Commentary:
  • Ross, Allen, CREATION AND BLESSING, Baker, 1997.

    This is an excellent book for Pastors and Bible students. Different than just a commentary, it will guide you to think in practical terms on this great book. It will bless and inspire.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Here are some keys for understanding this great book:
  • The focus of the book is Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:1). It reveals Him, not just events. Prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10). Keep Him before your eyes as you study this great book.
  • Revelation was given to be understood. God wants you to understand it. The very word revelation means to reveal, not to conceal. God gave this revelation to us so we believers may understand it. “Prophecy is given more primarily to reveal the future to believers than to veil it from unbelievers. For this reason, it is the obligation of believing interpreters to assign a largely non-figurative role to the prophetic Scripture [Paul Tan, THE INTERPRETATION OF PROPHEY, 139.]
  • Pray and rely on the Holy Spirit as you read and study this book. The book is written for believers. Proverbs 2:1-5 indicates that to gain understanding of the Word we must be willing to receive it, to mediate on it, to pray, and to search the Word. Like the rest of Scripture we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to give us insight and understanding (1 Cor. 2:12, 1 John 2:26, Romans 8:16). He is the spirit of wisdom.
  • Do not let symbols scare you. Yes, Revelation is prophetic book that uses symbols. But remember, symbols are used for the purpose of revealing a literal truth or person. Reality stands behind these symbols.
  • Follow Old Testament prophecy as a guide. In the Old Testament there are 300 prophecies about Christ first coming and about 500 concerning His Second Coming. [Tan, 39]. Since the Old Testament has much to say about the events in rev, we cannot understand it if we do not refer back to the Old Testament. Revelation is the Capstone of Prophecy. The Old Testament is the foundation for the capstone.
  • Accept the plain sense of the text. “If the plain sense makes sense, don’t look for any other sense, or you will end up with nonsense” is a common saying among Bible students.
  • Believe the Word, even when you may not fully understand it. Think for a moment how hard it has been for past believers to believe some of the facts of this Revelation. For example, Revelation 9 speaks of an Army of 200 million. When it was written by John there were not 200 million people in the world. Today we know that China, or other leagues of nations, are capable of putting together such an army. John and his reader had to believe the word, even when they could not comprehend such figures. In some cases that still is true. Today, because of technology, we have a deeper understanding of some of the prophecies, and how they could possibly come about. Just because we cannot understand the sense today, does not mean it could not be. We may know and understand more in 25, 50, or 100 years from now than we do now. We should kept an open mind and remember the integrity of the Word of God.
  • While believing the Word, try to avoid as much speculation as possible. Speculations tend to become taught as fact, and have landed expositors in trouble, or at least into looking foolish. For example, one popular prophecy expert taught that within a generation (approximately 40 years) of Israel’s return to the land, Jesus was to return. It did not happen. The crux of the problem is that we tend to assume that we are the last generation and thus apply events to present day or near future events (which may or may not be the case). We need to be careful about such speculations, and confess they are only speculations. All Scripture is profitable to us, but not all Scripture is written directly to us, or about us. We need to use discernment by prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. 

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The Christian life is essentially to be good. This goodness is constrained by the Love of Christ; governed by the Spirit of God; and dedicated to the Glory of God.

(The essence of a my sermon on Goodness and the Christian).