Over the last few studies, we have been talking about the resurrection, and how there are a handful of examples of it in the Bible, but that all of these were centered around the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as the main resurrection in all of history. It is the one that not only shows that these resurrections from the dead are indeed divinely possible and powered, but that it is the proof that God the Son paid for the sins of all of mankind, and for all those that turn to Him, also broke the power of sin in our lives – and in that resurrection to life, will set us free from the very presence of sin in our beings. That will be a glorious day.
In this study, we are going to hear about what the Apostle Paul had revealed to him about the resurrection of believers. He’s going to go through the logic of this a phrase at a time, and so will we.
I broke the text down as follows:
- KV58: Your Labour Is Not in Vain
- 35-41: Differences of glory
- 42-49: Differences in glory applied
- 50-58: Christ’s Victory in Our Resurrection
This is a fantastic opportunity to remind everyone that all texts have context, and to talk about just how important this context is in terms of the truths that the Scripture contains. The greater context of chapter 15 is one of motivations to be understood and held that inform our actions so that we may work out our faith, as per Ephesians 2:10 which reads, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
In our previous two studies, we considered the centrality of the cross in Christianity, and the reality and importance of the resurrection. In this text, we’re going to see how Paul held that bodily resurrection of himself and all other believers as a hope for better things to come, because the sting of death has been removed, in that our sin has once for all been dealt with in Christ’s death on the cross. If we were to take the chapter as a whole, I would have taken tonight’s key verse as my verse of choice and explained all of what I have in detail, and it would have taken me something like 6 or 7 hours to go through it, and I can not only not preach that long, most people can’t listen that long. Maybe in the Kingdom, right? With that said, let’s get right into the study, because we have some real ground to cover. I will ask that if anyone has questions, please write them down and hold them to the end, because I will not want to interrupt the flow.
KV58: Your Labour Is Not in Vain
I was doing a little math the other day. I discovered that this coming June the 18th, I will have been a Christian for 36 years. There have been times in that 36 years that I have been overwhelmed to the point where I quit. I couldn’t go on. I became depressed. I never lost my faith, or even left it off anywhere, but I was so discouraged that I could not continue. I won’t go into the reasons or the persons involved, as I don’t see the real point of that, but I can tell you it was because I forgot that all the work that I was doing as a follower of Jesus Christ not only has purpose, but has reward that follows it. I’m not particularly motivated by those rewards because I couldn’t gain them on my own to begin with, but my Lord Jesus is the One that has accomplished all of them so far and will accomplish all of them in my life – and has even promised to do so until the return of Christ. That means that if I am faithful to follow Him and do what He says, the current suffering will be worth it, and so says the last verse, or key verse this evening: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” Whatever we do for Him is never empty, and has a good end in sight. Let’s get into the text, and you’ll begin to see what I mean.
35-41: Differences of glory
Many of the Corinthian believers would have had a false kind of understanding of the resurrection, and they probably got it from the rabbis of the day, that the resurrection body was going to be like the original body in every way. These rabbis would have misinterpreted verses like Job 19:26 that says, “Yet in my flesh I shall see God…” The rabbinical understandings of texts from the apocryphal books (like Baruch) supported that idea, and for the Greek Gnostics, that made the idea less appealing and more impossible.
Some have even commented on how bodies that have been cremated cannot be reconstituted, or those lost at sea will never be able to enter heaven, or other nonsense like that. What is so different or more difficult than God creating the universe, ex nihilo, or “out of nothing?” What difference does ANY of that make?
Instead, Paul begins this section of his letter to Corinth by explaining that there are different kinds of things, and that those differences are not only normal, they are acceptable, and even good. Look at what the apostle says.
35: But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?”
- Paul begins his apology by raising the question he is about to discuss. For those that may have missed it, this is a context break from what he was saying immediately before, and what we considered last week. It isn’t that it doesn’t apply, it’s just a different subject. That subject? Well, I think it’s compelling. How are the dead raised? What form will they take? What is that going to look and be like? What kind of body will they have?
36: You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies;
- The very next thing Paul says is, “What a dumb question.” Essentially, he is saying that all of that line of reasoning is irrelevant. Why? Well, in order for the life or body that you sow to give way to the new body, the old body or life must needs pass away. Whatever seed you plant has to die under the dirt before that new life or body can be seen.
37: and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
- What Paul seems to me to be driving at is that to consider all these things ahead of the actual event for you would be cart-before-horse thinking. When you plant [sow, Gk., speiros] seed, you don’t start with the finished product. You sow a grain of wheat for example, says Paul. It could be wheat, it could be corn, it could be anything, is Paul’s point.
38: But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.
- The will of God, it seems is that all seeds have some kind of body to inhabit. God designed the system, and what kind of body each seed has is completely up to Him. Wheat seed has a wheat body; corn, corn; grass, grass; like that.
39: All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.
- Paul points out here that God made differences in all flesh. Humans have a kind of flesh, animals have a different kind of flesh, birds have a different kind, likewise fish. As a biologist, that blows my mind a little. If I were to take a cell from, say a polar bear (I like them), and then a cell from a human, we would see a very similar cell structure, with both cells having a nucleus, organelles, membranes of lipids, mitochondria, and the like. But if we zoomed in further, we would see that the nucleus of the polar bear has 74 chromosomes (37 pair) while a human cell has 46 (23 pair). Look, God set this up. And although we understand the base code a little (DNA), it is quite a different task to assemble such an animal with nothing, and that’s what God did. Common design means common designer. Level of difficulty means random agency could not be responsible. That means the differences are conscious and deliberate on the part of God.
40: There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another.
- Now, take that difference we just made between the kind of body different organisms have and then expand the concept to the heavenlies, because there are apparently “heavenly bodies,” according to Paul. The Greek word simply means “of the heavens.” That means that there is a difference between those of us that are bound to the earth and those bodies that can survive heaven. Clearly the two are different – and God made them BOTH. From NOTHING. But what is Paul talking about? Next verse.
41: There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
- Well, Paul means what we today call “heavenly bodies.” Each differs from the other in “glory,” The Greek here is the word doxa, and means estimation or opinion, repute or reputation (by extension). So the sun has a kind of repute or estimation, and it is clearly different from the moon or something like Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our own solar system. Our star is considered a type G star on the main sequence of stars. It has, for example, a given luminosity, measure with a unit called “magnitude.” Although our own Sol is by far the brightest object in our sky, its’ absolute magnitude is actually quite low, about +4.83. (Lower numbers are higher magnitudes.) By comparison, Alpha Centauri is a trinary star system, and has a combined brightness of +4.38, but it takes all three stars to output that kind of luminosity. The point here isn’t to discuss the astrophysics, though, it is to show how different heavenly bodies have different properties, even though they are all burning balls of ionized gas.
Paul is just getting warmed up. He has to define his terms, and the scope of the consideration, as well as its limits. Having done so, he will move on to the application of those definitions and differences he has just defined.
42-49: Differences in glory applied
Now, with the concepts all properly and logically defined and limited, Paul commences to discuss how this all applies to the concept of resurrection. What we see here is a veritable list (Oh look, Paul has another list, what a surprise…not…) of dichotomies that Paul has set up. We see the first in verse 42.
42: So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body;
- Now we get into the nitty gritty of the subject matter. “So also” are the words that clue us in as to where the context comes from – the immediately preceding definitions, limits, and examples. As each body has its own glory, be it earthly or heavenly, and each within the subcategory has a different kind of estimation or glory, so it is with the resurrection of the dead.
- Paul says something very interesting. This resurrection of the body that is coming – it is a different state than what we have now, certainly, but what we do here has an influence on it! Here, we sow a perishable body, a kind of an allegorical seed if you will. But this body will be raised as a permanent body, immortal and indestructible.
- Some have remarked on the fact that there is a slight difference used in the words used to refer to the resurrection as well. The word “resurrection” is translated from the Greek anastasis, a raising up, from ana, up, and histemi, to cause to stand. According to Vine’s notes on the word, this passage is referring to the “resurrection of life,” or the resurrection of those who belong to Christ at His return. The word “is raised” (passive verb) is from the Greek egeiro, to raise, and is often translated as “awake.” Considering the dead are considered as those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, this is one of those differences that makes no difference if you’re asking me.
- In case you missed it, the dichotomy Paul has mentioned here is a contrast between what our earthly bodies are now versus our immortal resurrection bodies. The first of those, seen here, is perishable versus imperishable.
43: it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
- The next of these dichotomies (and there are two in this verse) is dishonour versus glory. The Greek terms are antonyms. Dishonour refers to the sinful and thus despicable nature of our beings now, and glory is a reference to that estimation or repute [doxa] that comes after in our resurrection bodies. The first state is because of sin, our cosmic treason against a holy creator God, and the last state is a result of that same creator God taking our sins away by Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice on the cross for all of our sins.
- The second dichotomy used in this verse is weakness versus power. Weakness at present refers to not only our physical weakness, but also our resistance to sickness or other harm. We are not given the details of what that “power” will involve for us, but one thing is sure, that it will be immeasurably greater than what we now possess.
44: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
- The next dichotomy is natural versus spiritual, and we talk about this all the time, don’t we? We talk about it when we discuss our old nature versus our new nature, which we have done in every single Pauline book we have studied, which is all but one at this point. Our old nature must die for our new nature to be revealed. I like the way Galatians 2:20 says it: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
- And Paul is making a clear distinction between our natural and our spiritual bodies. Frankly, I look forward to the day when I no longer blank on names or details so that I end up chasing rabbits for an hour while I try to remember what I was on about. I will have perfect recall. I will never miss another high note. Or low note. My fingers will actually be able to remember chords while my lips are singing. Like that. And because John said we would be like Jesus, I assume that means I will also be able to walk through walls when called upon to do so.
45: So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
- The dichotomy that Paul sets up here is at least in the crowd I hang around with these days, a little more controversial, and that is soul versus spirit. This to me is the same dichotomy of natural versus spiritual, because there is an argument that the words soul [psychikos] and spirit [pneumatikos] are used interchangeably in the Greek. I am no Greek Scholar, and I am no linguist. But to me, it looks like different sides of the same coin. Both of these are ways in which we relate to God or others around us. The body [soma] is just the physical us. The charismaniacs treat these words as different parts of your being. I know they aren’t right. But Paul also says that they are distinct things in 1 Thess. 5:23. I don’t know how to put this. Certainly they are closely related. James kind of helps, when he equates the natural man’s reasoning with devilry and then calls it soulish. I will admit to some confusion on the point these days, having been shown something that has challenged my own thinking on it, and I just need to be up front about that. Thanks, Rosebrough and Kozar. Thanks a lot.
- Paul here, you may have noticed, is quoting the Old Testament. In fact, Paul is quoting from the last part of Genesis 2:7, and is comparing the first man Adam and the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ. This could be considered a dichotomy all on its own, but I like to consider it to be a part of the soul-spirit dichotomy that Paul discusses here. The first man was the natural, or soulish one. Christ was the God-Man, and was nothing but spiritual.
46: However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.
- This is at least partly why I consider this dichotomy to be soul versus spirit, using the word “soul” to refer in this case to the natural man, the man that does not (and cannot)respond to things of the spirit. It seems to be the way Paul is using the phrase. And here, Paul gives us the idea that there is an order to these things – first the natural, which according to the earlier verses in this thought unit, must die, THEN the spiritual, powerful, glorious, imperishable (immortal) body comes. Remember from the context here, Paul is speaking to fellow believers and followers of Jesus. This is going to become important in the next thought unit.
47: The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.
- Continuing the thought from the previous verse, Paul is saying that the first man Adam was created from the earth. He said earthy, not earthly. This is Paul explaining that Adam was made directly from the earth itself. That does not necessarily mean he was bound to it, although it could. However, the second man was from heaven – of course He was – He was God Himself become man to bear our sins.
48: As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.
- Remember, I think this is all part of the natural versus spiritual dichotomy, but if you wanted to put another label on it, you could call it earthy (NOT EARTHLY) versus heavenly. I don’t. God will be remaking our bodies in this coming resurrection. Into what we do not know. But is this not a call of sorts to be living for that which is spiritual and heavenly now according to the truth as it is in Jesus? Or are we all just natural and earthy and that’s it?
49: Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
- Can you imagine the expression on my face when I realized that this could mean more than one thing? As we have borne the earthy (again, not earthly), we will also bear the heavenly image. First, I saw this as a promise from God through Paul, and it was incredibly encouraging. Think back to what it says in chapter 2 and verse 9 – “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those that love Him.” In other words, you have NO idea of what’s coming! And it’s going to be GRAND!
- Then I realized that this isn’t necessarily just a qualitative statement. Allow me to rephrase, and I do not think I am in error here, because this is also a valid understanding of these words. In the same way that we have borne the image if the earthy, we shall also bear the heavenly. If I have borne it poorly, I will bear a poor image in heaven. If I have borne it faithfully here, I will bear a much better heavenly image. I know that sounds like I am making this about us, and I think I am, but only in the sense of sanctification. Build well, you shall receive a reward. Build poorly, it will be your loss. I don’t know that the loss will be anything good. It usually isn’t.
Paul is saying the same thing here that he has been saying since the beginning of the book! WALK IN A WORTHY MANNER! And if you don’t, it might not mean you aren’t saved, but it will mean you will suffer an undescribed loss. Right here is where I want to borrow a line from Hebrews 6:9 – “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” I am of the opinion that if you really are a true Christian and want to follow Him, you will participate in your own sanctification, that is the lifelong process by which God changes our nature and character to be like that of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is literally making us HOLY, as He is HOLY. But why?
50-58: Christ’s Victory in Our Resurrection
From what I have seen over 35 years of Scripture reading, walking in a worthy manner, or walking in the Spirit, or walking in sanctification, that is in holiness, is a prerequisite for seeing God. Look with me for a moment at 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8. “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” That’s how this starts – but then see a few verses later in verses 13-18: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Now before anyone accuses me of being sensational, my point here isn’t so much about the event called harpazo in Greek and raptio in Latin. (Rapture in English.) It is that sanctification, that is walking in a worthy manner seems to be a precondition to this. Folks, I’m not being legalistic here. We need to walk according to the commands that are written down for us in the Old and New Testaments in context to the best of our ability. You can call me a legalist if you like, but have you ever noticed that the folks who do that don’t actually live lives that back up their stated beliefs? The reason for that is that they don’t actually believe it. Our beliefs are opinions that we hold strongly enough to become convictions, and those convictions work themselves out into our actions. And we have a blessed example right here in Canada. His name is Pastor James Coates, and he is right now in jail for the crime of, get this, preaching at a church meeting. For this crime, his Canadian civil rights were violated by their conducting a hearing in secret, a violation of the constitution of Canada. And yes, I have a copy of it and have read it. These believers have a right under section 15 of the constitution to meet at their own risk on their own property. Because of this, the province and the media are lying about him, and calling him a danger to the health of all Albertans. His church is in Edmonton. The court set the conditions of his release to be not performing his duties as a pastor or setting foot on church property, and he just flat out told the judge that he would not respect those conditions, because he had to obey God’s calling in his life, and not the word of man. Sound familiar? It should. How about John Bunyan, who spent 12 years in prison? And he stayed, beloved. He could have walked out – if he would agree to stop preaching the gospel. He never did. And that guy wrote the number two best-seller of all time – Pilgrim’s Progress – while languishing in that prison cell. How about Paul? He was imprisoned and convicted for a crime that Nero himself was guilty of and then sentenced to death as a scapegoat for the crime. Would you submit to that? Would you go to jail for preaching the gospel or for running a church the way it should be run? Because that is walking in a worthy manner.
I will grant that not everyone is called to do that kind of thing, but here’s a thought – what if they told US that WE had to close our doors and not sing and all that? Would you obey them? I mean once it was clear that it was state manipulation and that they were overreaching their jurisdictional authority like they are in Edmonton? Or would you grow a spine and stand? Don’t answer – because I myself am not sure of my own answer. Without Christ, I am a hedonist and a coward, just like most people. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want to give up my comforts. But that’s the cost of discipleship – your life. Walk in a worthy manner. Let’s look at the text.
50: Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
- We have been looking so far this evening at the difference between natural or fleshly things, and spiritual, or heavenly things. Paul feel s the need to reinforce that choice he is giving those who claim they will follow Christ with the first phrase of this verse – and he is saying it to people that he considers to be believers. He tells here that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. That which perishes cannot and will not inherit the imperishable inheritance that God has for His adopted sons and daughters.
- Cation of this statement is this: walking in a fleshly way or fashion will not get you there. Giving in to your pleasures, especially the sinful ones, or even the good ones – example from my personal life – I like to watch television. It interests me. I really get into the plots of series that I follow, and I like to try to predict things. Sometimes, I can call the line that they are going to say before they say it. And that seems to be a trait that my kids have as well. I like investigative series. Murdoch Mysteries is a sort of favorite around my place. There are others, most from the BBC, but you get the idea. And what is wrong with that? Well, a lot if you are watching TV instead of preparing the Bible study. Now I ask – of what eternal value is Murdoch Mysteries? Exactly none. And that’s what you have if you watch most TV. That’s something that can overwhelm me. How about you? Porn? Gluttony? Adultery? Murder? Stealing? Don’t answer out loud, but think about what you think about most of the time. Is it the things of the Lord? Or is the things of the world? Because there is no middle ground, and the fence is to clear to ride. It’s time to make up your mind and act on what you really believe. Stop lying to yourself. Because that is the only person you’re really lying to – God sees it all, and so does anyone with even a modicum of discernment. Moving on.
51: Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
- Paul is about to tell us about something that he calls a “secret.” The Greek is the word mysterion, and you need to understand the Greek here. That word is actually a reference to “secret knowledge” of the sort that is only known to the mystes, that is, the initiated. This is Paul appealing to those Greeks that have a Gnostic streak a mile wide. You want secret knowledge? Here’s secret knowledge. Not everyone is going to die. (We have already covered the idea that sleep = death in the NT.) But everyone will have their body changed to their heavenly resurrection body. That is what Paul is telling us, and there is even an order in which it will occur.
52: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
- Now Paul is speaking of that great moment when He Himself by His divine power will raise all of the believers from through all of time, regardless of where they died or how, from the dead. And then He will, by His great and mighty power, change all those who are alive at the time from their temporary and earthy (not earthly) bodies into their heavenly resurrection bodies.
- That believe that this is an allegory for something that is supposed to happen to the entire planet. I don’t get that from a reading of Scripture. With respect, I don’t understand your need for allegory. The plain sense of Scripture here is what seems to make most sense. To infer that this is an allegory is a most subtle form of modern Gnosticism. Again, my comment is intended to be a respectful statement. If you cannot see it or take it that way, that says more about you than you’re going to say about me.
- Please note that this (none of this) speaks of the TIMING of this event. We here at BereanNation.com are open enough in our doctrinal stance to say that there are multiple ways this could present itself. After all, who saw COVID-19 coming? Who saw it staying? Who saw that? I mean really. We don’t know – but as it turns out, we don’t have to know. Call us pan-tribulationists – because it will all Pan Out in the End! LOL. Okay, not serious with that. This set of verses cannot support a timeframe, please don’t make it. This would be error.
53: For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
- Paul is just affirming what he has already said. That which is perishable and mortal must put on imperishable immortality.
54: But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
- Paul is saying that when this perishable and mortal body will have put on the imperishable and immortal, Scripture will be fulfilled. What else did you expect?
- What Scripture specifically? Isaiah 25:8, specifically: “He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
- For the LORD has spoken.” The great prophet, obviously speaking of the eschaton, tells us that for the remainder of existence, there will be no more death. (The philosophical me is actually blown away be this. Time will still exist – but it will no longer be relevant.)
55: O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
- Now those who have read along with us will notice the block capitals in the text, which means Old Testament Quote here also. This is Hosea 13:14, which says, speaking to Death itself, “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.” Hosea here is writing from God’s perspective, and his topic of address is to the grave, or the Hebrew Sheol, often addressed in Scripture like this as a person or entity. When God rescues His people from Sheol, God will have no compassion for Sheol, or the grave, or death, all different words for the same entity.
- Paul’s point here is that in the day when God resurrects us and changes those who are still alive into their resurrection bodies, the victory of death will be nullified, having had its sting removed. For the believer, this is already true, because Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord. Death has lost the war, and no longer has power over the believer, though our sinful flesh must at some point succumb to it.
56: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
- This is why we need to walk in a worthy manner and cooperate with the Lord in our own sanctification. Sin is the sting of death. Or flesh, the natural, will be with us until we die or are changed to be like Jesus. Until then, we are to mortify the deeds of the flesh according to Romans 8:13 – “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
- Paul also tells us that it is the Law (yes, the Mosaic Law) that is the actual power of Sin. Paul at length describes this in Romans 7, so I won’t re-discuss it here, but this can be demonstrated very easily. Just tell a kid who is contentedly playing a video game that he isn’t allowed to have any ice cream. Watch what happens. But even here, lest any accuse me of being legalistic, I must say that Jesus fulfilled the Law for us. That was part of the sacrifice that He performed – He lived a holy life before allowing Himself to be crucified. And you thought His death was His only vicarious sacrifice for all of our sins? Oh, no – His life was a sacrifice too. Although it was easy for Him – He walked according to HIS nature, the divine nature. There is a lot we could say there, but make a study of “divine nature” in a concordance sometime. You’ll see what I mean.
57: but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- All Charismatics and Pentecostals please note: God gave us the victory. We don’t need to break through. He broke through already. It is and will always remain God’s victory, and He gave it to us. We do not need to constantly claim it. Also, that victory does not mean what you seem to think it means. It is specifically victory over sin and death, not over being poor or sick. Read the last part of Hebrews 11 if you don’t want my word for it. “…and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Did you see that? Destitute! And it means the same thing in English as it does in Greek – they were broke! They had no MONEY! Afflicted means they were in poor health. Jesus has not taken away all of your sicknesses. He has taken away all of your diseases, as in your sins. Please don’t twist or contort the scriptures about this stuff, it’s painful to see and watch, and worse to deal with the after-effects in someone’s life. Ask Costi Hinn or Justin Peters about that.
- And how does God give us the victory? He gives that victory to us vicariously through Christ and His death and resurrection, and not by our own works. To be sure, we must reflect that in a worthy walk, which means works, but to try to do works first is putting the cart before the horse. God has delivered us from sin, and for those that will walk according to those good works, this resurrection is incentive to continue or to begin to walk in a worthy manner. How do I know?
58: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
- Because of the first word in this verse. THEREFORE! Let’s see what it is there for! Because of all this talk of the death of Jesus, and His resurrection from the dead, and our need to walk in a worthy fashion after Him and to do His works that He told us to do through the Old Testament and the Apostles (that is, the New Testament and all of its contributors), be steadfast. Stand strong. The word here means to be seated, and is used in a figurative sense, and it means be fixed morally on the commands of Scripture.
- Immovable: This means exactly that. Remain in a condition whereby you cannot and will not be moved. Remain firm in your convictions. That reminds me of Pastor Coates. Pray for him, that His faith would not fail. He has a wife and children. Then again, so did John Bunyan.
- Always abounding: A good way of rephrasing that but still remaining accurate would be something like, “at all times, be over and above the goal, to exceed and excel. What are we to abound in? The work of the Lord. Do well the tasks that you can do for the Lord, even if all you can do is read your Bible and pray every day. Use your spiritual gifts (like the gift of service or hospitality for example) to serve the Lord Jesus as you serve the people of the church, not the building, but the people who make up the biblical definition of church.
- As that is done, Paul tells the Corinthian believers, and by extension us, that we can know (not just hope, guess, pray, or wonder) that our “toil” [koipos, originally from a word that means a beating or striking, it denotes a labourious task or a set of tasks that result in weariness. Kind of like this Bible study by the time I’m done preaching through a Bible study.] is not in vain as we do it for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of all kinging, and Lord of all lording.
Now, if all of those verses didn’t form an idea or context like that, wouldn’t your head be harder to live in? Mine has been at times because I did not understand the context of what was being said or even at times what a passage meant, although the Scripture is usually plain in meaning. What we are trying to do when we study the Scriptures is to understand what it is saying, what it means from God’s point of view (as the one who authored it, albeit through His servants), so that we can know what to do. What should we do from this passage? We should serve the world by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, declaring that He died for any who will turn to Him and repent of their sins, and then we are to use the gifts that He gave us when we turned to serve the church (again, not the building, but the congregation of people in it). As we do that, we can know that our labourious task, the task that seems so heavy and hard at times, is not in vain when we do it for Him who has called us.
That’s what I saw in the text this evening.
Next week, we will be in 1 Corinthians 16, and we’ll look at the closing chapter as one whole unit. After that, I will take a week off, and we will be back for 2 Corinthians, the last of the Pauline Epistles. We’ll start, as we have become accustomed, with an overview of the book and the things we will be considering. You won’t believe the prep work that goes into that, so I will spare the details.