Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 15:28

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 15:1 - 15:28

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A. Refutation of its deniers(1) from the well attested facts of the resurrection of Christ, which with all connected therewith, pre-supposes its possibility, and is the pledge of its actual occurrence


1     Moreover, brethren, I declare [make known, ãíùñßæù ] unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have [om. have] received, and wherein ye stand [have been standing, ἑóôÞêáôå ]; 2By which also ye are [being] saved, if ye keep in memory [hold fast, êáôÝ÷åôå what [with what discourse, ôßíé ëüãῳ ] I preached unto you, unlessye have believed [became believers, ἐðéóôåýóáôå ] in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures: 4And that he was buried, and that he rose [has risen, ἐãÞãåñôáé ] again the third day according to the Scriptures: 5And that he was seen of [appeared to] ὤöèç Êçöᾷ ] Cephas, then of [to] the twelve: 6After that, he was seen of [appeared to] above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto thispresent, but some are [have also, êáὶ ἐêïéìÞèçóáí ] fallen asleep. And 7after that, he 8was seen of [appeared to] James; then of [after that to, ἔðåéôá ] all the apostles. And [But, äὲ ] last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time [as to the untimely-born-one, he appeared to me also, ὡóðåñåὶ ôῷ ἐêôñþìáôé , ὤöèç êἀìïß ]. 9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet [sufficient, ἱêáíὸò ] to be called anapostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon [was towards, åἰò ] me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God11which was [om. which was] with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so wepreach, and so ye believed. 12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen [not even Christ hath risen, ïὐäὲ÷ñ . ἐãÞãåñôáé ]: 14And if Christ be [hath] not risen, then is our preaching vain, and8 your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of [against, êáôὰ ] God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain [fruitless, ìáôáßá ]; ye are yet in yoursins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep [fell asleep, êïéìçèÝíôåò ] in Christ are19[om. are] perished. If in this life only we have hope [If only in this life we havebeen hoping] in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20But now is Christ risen [has Christ been raised, ἐãÞãåñôáé ] from the dead, and become [om. and become] 21the first fruits of them that slept [have been sleeping, êåêïéìçìÝíùí ]. For sinceby man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adamall die [are dying, ἀðïèíÞóêïõóéí ], even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order [orderly rank, ôÜãìáôé ]: Christ the first fruits; afterward they 24that are Christ’s at his coming [appearing, ðáñïõóßᾳ ]. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up [he delivereth over, ðáñáäéäῷ ] the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down [done away with, êáôáñãÞóῃ ] all rule, and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death [Death, the enemy, shall at last be done away with, êáôáñãå ͂ éôáé ]. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are [have been, ὑðïôÝôáêôáé ] put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which [it is with the exception of him who, ἐêôὺò ôïῦ ὑðïôÜîáíôïò ] did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject [subject himself, ὑðïôáãÞóåôáé ] unto him that put all things under him, that God may be [the, ôὰ ] all in all.


[We now come to what may be called the crowning glory of this Epistle, viz., a demonstration of the truth of a future resurrection. Forming, as it does, a portion of the burial service in nearly every Christian church, it has come to be associates with our tenderest and most hallowed recollections, as affording to us precious consolation in regard to departed friends, and laying the foundation for our own triumph in the hour of death. It is not surprising, therefore, that it should have been made the subject of more earnest study than any other portion of this Epistle, and that every line and word of it has been searched for golden meanings. Happy will it be for us, if we shall be able to set forth its deep significance in any thing of its true light, and so contribute some share towards increasing and strengthening the faith of the Church].

For fuller information respecting the opponents of the doctrine of the resurrection, who are here refuted, see what is said on 1Co_15:12.

[The points of the argument are as follows: 1. Whether there is any resurrection of the dead (1Co_15:1-34). The affirmative is proven—first, by a reference to the fact that Christ did rise from the dead with the evidence which establishes it (1Co_15:1-11); secondly, by showing the absurdity of the contrary doctrine in several particulars. 2. What will be the nature of the bodies that shall be raised up (1Co_15:35-51). This is illustrated by various analogies, and also set forth in direct statement as to some of the peculiar characteristics of the risen body. 3. What will become of those who shall be alive at the second advent (1Co_15:51-54). 4. The practical consequences of this doctrine].

1Co_15:1-4. Paul here begins to lay the foundation for his demonstration, which rests upon a fact not denied by the opponents of the doctrine of a general resurrection, viz., that of Christ’s resurrection. First of all, he reminds the Corinthians that this doctrine had formed a part of the fundamental contents of that Gospel which he had proclaimed among them from the first.—Moreover, äÝ here indicates an advance in his discourse, a transition to an entirely different subject; for there is no connection between this and the preceding chapter.—brethren, I declare unto you ãíùñßæù ; the word is neither equivalent to ὑðïìéìíÞóêù , I remind you, [Chrys., Bloomf., Billr.]; nor yet to I call your attention to [(Rück.); both which meanings are inadmissible from the usage of the word, as maybe seen in Rob. Lex.; though Stanley affirms that in all the passages, where it is used in the earlier epistles, it carries these significations]. It means, I make known, I declare. The expression has something of solemnity in it, as though he were about to make a new proclamation. What he intends, however, is to remind them of something already known, about which their recollection needed to be refreshed; [unless there is a latent sarcasm in the word, intimating that though professing Christians—“brethren,” they had so far forgotten one of the fundamental tenets of their faith that they needed to have it proclaimed to them anew].—the Gospel—[Not indeed the whole Gospel (as Alford), but that which so lies at the foundation of the whole Gospel, that which is its main condition and verification to such an extent that by metonymy it might be said to be the Gospel, so that the expression is here used for the purpose of showing the essential importance of the subject of which he was about to treat. And, also, by applying to the doctrine of the resurrection the designation of Gospel he teaches them that it is not a point on which they were at liberty to form any opinion they might choose, without prejudice to their own salvation].—Respecting this he mentions four particulars, in regular climax, by which he exhibits its claim upon their faith.—which I preached unto you,—[i.e., when he first went among them to lay the foundations of the Church].—which also ye received,—[not ‘have received.’ The aorist signification must be adhered to as important, pointing to what took place at the first—their cordial reception of his proclamation].—in which also ye stand;—He here indicates the firm maintenance of what had been accepted as truth on the part of the great majority of the Church (2Co_1:24; Rom_5:2). [This remark is not intended to flatter them; because all to whom he wrote firmly believed that Christ died and rose again. Were it not for this, he could have built on the fact no argument that was valid for them. But though believing this, all had not drawn the same conclusion in respect to a resurrection as he had; so that he is here pointing to that faith among them to which he was about to appeal in support of what he had to say. And then, to finish his climax by showing the personal importance of that faith, he adds,—through which also ye are saved,—By the use of the present tense the attainment of salvation is here presentiated, as though it were something altogether certain]. Yet that he means hereby an attainment still future, is clear from the conditional clause appended. The repetition of the êá ὶ , also, serves to introduce the successive particulars which form the climax, [and also to strengthen the assertions].—with what word I preached unto you, if ye hold fast,—There is a question as to the connection in which this clause stands with what precedes. Luther and some after him take this to be a further definition of what is alluded to in the opening clause of the first verse, q. d., ‘I remind you of the gospel, in what form I proclaimed it to you;’ but the conditional words “if ye hold fast” do not suit with the expression “I remind you.” They also contradict the assertion that they were standing still on the doctrine in question, and they furnish no point, of junction with what follows, “unless ye have believed in vain.” We must therefore connect the clause before us with what immediately precedes, recognizing here an inversion of the natural order of words for the sake of emphasis, q. d., “if ye hold fast with what word I preached the gospel unto you.” To be understood, we here see the condition stated upon which their salvation would be secured; [so that it is an argumentum ad hominem, put in advance for the purpose of conciliating their interest in the truth he was about to demonstrate].—By the expression “with what word” ( ôßíé ëüãῳ ) he denotes either the contents of what he had delivered to them (Meyer) [so that it is equivalent to “what,” as in the E. V.]; or the grounds out of which (Act_10:29), or with which he established his argument. So Bengel: “qua ratione, quis argumentis.” The latter is the more correct interpretation; since in what follows he not merely gives the contents of his preaching (the fundamental facts of redemption), but also he brings emphatically to view the grounds of its truth and validity. Luther’s welcher Gestalt may embrace both significations. To, suppose an allusion here to the simplicity of his style, is a little too far fetched. By ‘holding fast’ ( êáôÝ÷åéí ) he means, not simply an intellectual retention, a preservation of the thing in the memory, to which the interrogative ôßíé appears to point, but a holding fast, in such a manner that a person is certain of the thing. [May it not go still further and point to the practical regard for the truth in their life and conduct, so as to signify their perseverance in saving faith?]—That the fact of their salvation is admissible only on the condition of a steadfast maintenance of this truth, is still further exhibited apagogically.—unless ye believed in vain.—i.e. their failure of salvation was conceivable only on the hardly supposable condition that their exercise of faith was a vain and fruitless thing.— åἰêῇ , in vain (comp. Gal_4:11; Gal_3:4). [It may mean either without cause, or without effect, i. e., to no purpose. If the former, then Paul means to say, ‘unless ye believe without evidence’ ‘had no ground for your faith.’ If the latter, the meaning is ‘unless your faith is worthless,’ and this was a thing not to be supposed. The latter best suits the connection]. On ἐêôὸò åἰ ìὴ see 1Co_14:5. This clause is more correctly attached to the main proposition contained in the word “ye are saved,” to which that which follows is subordinate, and to be taken as confirming it together with the condition annexed. The act of believing stands in the closest relation to the gospel as the subjective appropriation of its proffered salvation; and to assert its fruitlessness (which from the Christian standpoint is utterly unconceivable) would be equivalent to the denial of all salvation through the gospel. But, if we attach the words before us only to the conditional clause immediately preceding, and that too in relation to the phrase “with what word I preached to you,” then would åἰêῇ be equivalent to rashly, i.e., without sufficient grounds, q. d., ‘if ye hold fast the grounds on which I preach the gospel to you; otherwise it would follow that ye believed without grounds, in a shallow, superficial manner.’ Or, if we connect it with the words “if ye hold fast,” then some such clause must be supplied as ‘but ye do hold it fast altogether,’—which would not suit. Adopting the former reference, the connection is indeed simple, and the sense good and strong, but it is calculated rather to awaken confidence, than to warn against danger (Meyer assumes both?!), or to hinder their abuse of it to a false security (Osiander).—For I delivered to you—The question here arises, first of all, with what is this to be connected? Is that here set forth an explanation of his manner of discourse ( ôßíé ëüãῳ ), either as to its contents (Meyer and de Wette), or as to its grounds? or is it to be referred back to the main statement in the first verse, “I declare unto you?” The latter is to be preferred, inasmuch as the manner of discourse is spoken of in a subordinate clause. His meaning is, ‘what I now hold up before you, viz., the truth of Christ’s resurrection in its bearing on our salvation, is only a proclamation of that gospel which I preached unto you at the beginning.’ Here he speaks in relation to the fact itself, and that too in its significance for the faith, according to the Scriptures.—Catholic expositors use the word ðáñÝäùêá support of the legitimacy of tradition.—among the first (things),—in the order of time [Chrys.]; or still better, in importance, in primis, before all, “as belonging to the weightiest articles of faith. Burger: “as one of the first points.” Neander. [Rückert connects the words directly with “to you,” as though the Corinthians were “among the first” to have the doctrine preached to them; which is not true. The following passages from LXX. may throw some light on the expression: “and he placed the two maid servants and their children first, ἐí ðñþôïéò (Gen_33:2); “and David said whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first,” ἐí ðñþôïéò (2Sa_5:8).] He here takes into account, not simply the order of time, but also the momentousness of the thing communicated.—what also I have received,— ðáñÝëáâïí , because it stands correllative to ðáñÝäùêá , is to be understood otherwise than in 1Co_15:2, as denoting the simple reception of a thing imparted; and this, not through human tradition only, but also by special inward revelation from the Lord. The fact itself, i.e., of Christ’s death which he was about to speak of, he had undoubtedly learned before his conversion; but he is here treating not solely of the fact, but likewise of its significance for a life of faith, and this he had to learn by revelation. So too in regard to the resurrection. This he had heard of and flouted as fable; but its verity was at last disclosed to him in such a manner by the glorious appearance of Christ in the way, that all doubt in reference to it as though the death had been only one in appearance, or a deception, was entirely dissipated; and by a subsequent illumination, which explained to him the bearing of Scripture upon these facts, they had obtained his full and firm faith as the fundamental articles of his religious creed. [And in saying that ‘he delivered’ only what ‘he had received,’ he was but asserting the faithful discharge of his duty as an apostle, which was to proclaim at first hand, as it were, the truth of Christ].—that Christ died for our sins,—Here the expiatory power of Christ’s death is clearly indicated as in 1Co_1:13; Rom_5:8 (by the simple ὑðὲñ ὑìῶí ); comp. Gal_1:4; 1Pe_2:24; Rom_3:24 ff; Rom_4:25.— ὑðὲñ = ðåñὶ , for the sake of. [Stanley says, “for our sins,” not merely ‘in our behalf,’ which would have been ὑðὲñ ἡìῶí , as in Rom_5:8; nor ‘in our place’ which would have been ἀíôὶ ἡìῶí ; but ‘as an offering in consequence of our sins,’ ‘to deliver us from our sins.’ “ ‘ Õðὲñ has the same ambiquity as the English for, in behalf of; but the idea of service and protection always predominates. Whenever in speaking of Christ’s death the idea of substitution is intended, it is under the figure of a ransom; in which case it is expressed by ἀíôὶ (Mat_20:28; Mar_10:45). Whenever the idea of covering or forgiving sins is intended, it is under the figure of a sin-offering in which case the word used is ðåñὶ , as in Rom_8:3; 1Pe_3:18; 1Jn_2:2; 1Jn_4:10; ðåñὶ ἁìáðôἰáò or ἁìáñôéῶí .—But what connection has this with the doctrine of resurrection? Much every way. Christ’s death could not have availed to expiate sin had he remained under the power of death. In order to prove that He died not for His own sins, but for the sins of others, and to demonstrate this ability and right to confer pardon and blessedness as the Lord of life, it was necessary for Him to rise again. Hence though atonement is secured by His death, yet righteousness comes through His resurrection (Rom. 5:25). To deny his resurrection, therefore, is to annul also the efficacy of His sacrifice, and with this all hope of pardon through Him. And the fatal extent to which the denial of any fact must carry us, should be shown as a part of the argument in its defence].—according to the Scriptures:—He here intimates that Christ’s death for our sins was the fulfilment of the divine counsel foretold in the Old Testament Scriptures. The use of the plural points to the long line of witnesses which runs through the various portions of the sacred record (comp. Mat_26:54; Luk_24:32). “We must keep in view the manner in which the calling of the Messiah was regarded. It was one towards which the entire development of the theocracy was continually tending, and which therefore might be found indicated in various ways. The apostles do not distinguish between the ideal and the literal reference, as this was not the way of the Holy Spirit, but only of scientific investigation.” Neander. Paul here undoubtedly had in mind, not simply such prophecies as Isaiah 53, but also such types as the offerings and the paschal lamb. (Comp. 1Co_5:7). [Paul protested before Festus that in preaching the Gospel he had said, “none other things than those which Moses and the prophets had said, should come that Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles.” And he assured the Romans that his gospel was “witnessed to by the law and the prophets.” Thus it will be seen that the doctrine of atonement for sin by the death of Christ pervades the entire Word of God. Hence not to believe in it was declared by our Lord to indicate “folly and slowness of heart” (Luk_24:25; Luk_24:27)].—And that he was buried,—[This is an important fact, both as indicating the undoubted truth of His having died, and as the necessary antecedent to the resurrection. In entering the grave our Lord but finished the course appointed for all mankind, and it was the natural fulfilment of His earthly career. The fact, therefore, properly forms a distinct article in our creed].—and that he has been raised on the third day,— ἐãÞãåñôáé . The perfect indicates that the fact is not a transient one like that of dying and being buried,—marks the continuation of the state just begun, or of its consequences—‘has been raised and is alive.’—according to the Scriptures:—The testimony here referred to bears primarily on the fact of His having risen (comp. Psa_16:10; Act_13:34 ff.; Isa_53:8-10 ff.), including also the time of His rising which is hinted at in the type of Jonah (comp. Mat_12:40; Mat_16:4). But this type, as well as the prophecy in Isa_53:9, allows also of a reference to the burial; but the repetition of ὃôé before ἐãÞãåñôáé forms an objection to this reference. Besides, it is only the two essential factors in the work of redemption, viz.: the death and the resurrection of Christ that are sustained upon Scripture testimony. So Meyer Ed. 3. [But how can this be, when Peter referred in his speech at Pentecost to the declaration of David, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption,” as a prophecy of Christ’s burial and resurrection?]

1Co_15:5-7. And that he was seen of Cephas,—The ὃôé , that, shows that in grammatical structure the dependance of the clauses upon ðáñÝäùêá , 1Co_15:3, is still maintained; while the independent statements begin at the next verse. From this, however, it does not follow that he had delivered to them merely that which is asserted in 1Co_15:5. He undoubtedly is here recapitulating the whole testimony in proof of Christ’s resurrection, as he had often given it to them. That he is following the chronological order of the evidence, is clear from the use of the definite adverbs of sequence, “then,” “after that,” “last of all.”—The appearance of the risen Saviour to Peter, recorded Luk_24:34, ‘is mentioned first, not “because the authority of Peter was the chiefest, as being the prince of the apostles” (Estius), but in accordance with the historical order of occurrences, passing over, however, the manifestation previously made of Himself to Mary Magdalene (Joh_20:14 f.). “Mary Magdalene was, indeed, a witness to the brethren, but not to the people at large,”—W. F. Besser; [and to have cited her testimony would, with multitudes, at that period, have tended to call out a sneer, rather than strengthen belief].—then of the twelve:—This was the common designation of the smaller circle of disciples, although it was not then complete [“twelve being a name, not of number, but of office”]; and the manifestation here alluded to (Luk_24:36 ff.; Joh_20:19 ff.) is not to be confounded with that which followed eight days after (Joh_20:26). Thomas also was not present. The apostles appear also here as witnesses of the resurrection of Christ (Act_2:23; Act_3:15; Act_10:40 ff; Act_13:31). By ὥöèç , was seen, we are to understand a literal perception by the senses, and not a vision. After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;—The manifestation here spoken of is nowhere else recorded; in Mat_28:16 mention is made only of “the eleven.” The expression “at once” implies that the “more than five hundred” saw Him, not separately, but altogether; and this probably took place at a time when numerous Galilean disciples were still at Jerusalem, and therefore before the termination of the festival season. The fact that about the time of Pentecost only about one hundred and twenty disciples are spoken of, does not militate with this supposition. [Hodge says, “This manifestation may have taken place on the occasion when Christ met His disciples in Galilee.” Before His death He told them, “After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee,” Mat_26:32. Early in the morning of His resurrection, He met the women who had been at His tomb, and said to them, “Be not afraid; go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me,” Mat_28:10; and accordingly in 1Co_15:16 it is said, “Then the eleven went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” “This, therefore, was a formally appointed meeting, and doubtless made known as extensively as possible to His followers; and it is probable, therefore, that there was a concourse of all who could come, not only from Jerusalem, but from the surrounding country, and from Galilee. Though intended specially for the eleven, it is probable that all attended who knew of the meeting, and could possibly reach the appointed place. Who would willingly be absent on such an occasion?”—Hodge].—of whom the greater part remain until now,—This is added to show that a large number of witnesses of the resurrection could still be called upon for their testimony. [And here we have a most striking proof of the fact before us. Had the resurrection of Christ been only a fiction, “so many false hearts and tongues would never have acted in concert; nor would they all have kept a secret, which remorse, interest, and perhaps often torture, might urge them to divulge—especially as there had been one traitor among the twelve; on account of which, had they been conscious of a fraud, a general suspicion of each other’s secrecy must have arisen.” Doddridge].— ÌÝíåéí , as in Joh_21:22; Php_1:25).—but some are fallen asleep.—[The sweet language of the gospel for expressing the nature of the believer’s death—transforming its very terrors into attractions. It carries in itself also the implication of an after-awakening, and hence is the only term that could be used when speaking of death in a discourse on the resurrection].—After that he was seen of James;—This manifestation, which happened to a single individual, is also alluded to only here. This James is undoubtedly the brother of our Lord mentioned Gal_2:9, as among the “pillars” of the church; he is also introduced in Act_15:13; Act_21:18 as a specially important personage, one of “the brethren of the Lord,” 1Co_9:5. It was this manifestation of the risen Saviour that proved indeed for him and his brethren the turning-point of their lives, so that they at once became His decided followers (Act_1:14). According to the legend in ‘the gospel of the Hebrews,’ cited by Jerome, James was honored before all others with a manifestation of Christ. This story is a product of the Jewish tendency to hero-worship.—then by all the apostles.—Inasmuch as the twelve have been already mentioned, the disposition with many (Chrys., Calvin, and others) is to take these words in a more comprehensive sense, so as to include James also, and other eye-witnesses of the life of Jesus, It is a question whether this manifestation occurred immediately before the ascension. There is nothing in the narratives of this fact to contradict the supposition. [“The word ‘all’ may be used to indicate that the appearance was to the apostles collectively; and this, from its position, is the most natural explanation. Or the meaning may be, He appeared to James separately, and then to all the apostles, including James. If the James intended was James of Jerusalem; and if that James were a different person from James the son of Alpheus (a disputed point), then the former interpretation should be preferred. For ‘the apostle’ answers to ‘the twelve,’ and if James of Jerusalem was not the son of Alpheus, he was not one of the twelve.” Hodge]. “It was a providential circumstance that Paul was led to adduce these witnesses for the appearance of Christ after the resurrection. Should any one be inclined to doubt the genuineness of the testimonies of the Evangelists on this point, and to assume in these a mythic element, he is here entirely debarred from so doing; since nobody ever has doubted,. or will doubt the genuineness of this epistle, and Paul is here speaking of historical facts throughout. Accordingly, we may say that the resurrection of Christ is a fact as well attested as any in the past. Without it there would be a gap in history unfilled; since the resurrection is essentially presupposed in the very existence of the Church as built up by the Apostle.” Neander.

1Co_15:8-10. He here mentions himself as the last apostolic witness of the resurrection. In one respect, indeed, he stood after the others; but in respect of that which he had wrought by the power of divine grace, he had become distinguished above them all.—But last of all,— ðÜíôùí , of all, is not to be taken as neuter (as de Wette, [Hodge, Alford, who take the whole phrase here as an adverb of order, winding up the whole series]), but as masculine, and is to be referred in accordance with the context to the apostles.—as it were by the untimely born,— ὡóðåñåὶ precedes for the sake of modifying the strong and remarkable expression which follows. The ôῷ is neither to be taken for ôῷ = ôéíß , since this form no where occurs in the New Testament, not even in 1Th_4:6; neither is it equivalent to the indefinite article; but it is here emphatic, the, and by it Paul designates himself as preëminently the unworthy one among all the rest, [“the only abortion in the whole company—the one whose relation to the rest in point of worthiness was as that of the immature and deformed child to the rest of the family.” Alford]. The point of comparison is not in the matter of a suitable education, such as was furnished to the other apostles by a longer intercourse with the Lord wherein he lacked [Eustatius, Bloomf., and Macknight]; nor yet in the suddenness and violence of his conversion and appointment to the apostleship (Calvin); and still less his diminutive form (Wetstein); but as 1Co_15:9 shows, his unworthiness in comparison with the other apostles. [“The corresponding word abortivus in Latin was metaphorically applied as here to such senators as were appointed irregularly. Suet., Oct. c. 35, 2). The word itself is of Macedonian Greek and corresponds to the Attic “ ἅìâëùìá ”. Stanley].—he was seen also by me.—The seeing here connot be regarded as a mere mental vision, [as some are inclined to interpret the event which took place on the way to Damascus; but in consistency with all the previous manifestations here spoken of, we must regard this appearance] as an actual objective one, just such as we are to anticipate from the glorified Redeemer in His second advent. [There is a meaning not to be overlooked in the order of the words here. “Also by me” forms a sort of climax expressing the great wonder in the condecension of Christ to him in this manifestation of himself. Paul could never advert to the grace of Christ shown towards him without being brought both to feel and express in contrast therewith his own great unworthiness. See Tim. 1Co_1:12-13. On the subject of “Paul a witness for the resurrection of Jesus,” see an able article by Prof. G. P. Fisher, in the “Bib. Sac.” Vol. XVII. p. 620 ff.] And now comes the reason for this self-disparagement.—For I am the least of the apostles,—(comp. Eph_3:8). ‘O ἐëÜ÷éóôïò , the least, as contrasted with ìÝãéóôïò , the greatest; without any reference to the order of time, as though implying ‘the last’; for the word is never used in this sense in connection with persons. It is more fully explained in the following relative clause.—who ï ͂ ò =quippe qui, ‘inasmuch as I’—am not fit ἱêáíὸò = ὰîéïò , worthy (comp. Mat_3:11; with Joh_1:27). lit. sufficiently qualified, fit, suitable, as in 2Co_3:5.—to be called êáëåῖóèáé here denotes honorable designation ‘to bear the name of ’—an apostle,—The reason of this is—because I persecuted the Church of God.—[This is the sin which Paul never forgave himself, and from it we see that the forgiveness of sin does not obliterate the remembrance of sin, neither does it remove the sense of unworthiness and ill-desert (Hodge)]. Comp. 1Ti_1:13; Act_8:3; Act_9:1; Act_22:4; Acts 24; Gal_1:13 ff. [“Paul does not refuse to be the most worthless of all, as next to nothing, provided this contempt does not impede him in any degree in his ministry, or does not at all detract from his doctrine.” Calvin]. But the lower he humbles himself, so that no opponent might see him lower, the more decidedly he brings to view the other side—the glorious operation of divine grace in him or through him. “His apostolic office he will not allow to be contemned inasmuch as God had through him wrought more abundantly. By reason of opposers he feels constrained to array himself in his calling and boast.”—Luther.—But by God’s grace I am what I am:— ÷Üñéôé , grace, stands first by way of emphasis. No article is needed. What he means to say is, ‘God’s grace it is which has made me what I am.’ Grace presupposes unworthiness in the recipient. It is unmerited love, favor; here as forgiving, renewing and qualifying for office (comp. 1Co_3:10). The latter element, grounded upon the two former, appears more prominently in what follows. In “what I am” he refers to his office as an apostle and to his qualification for it; (or as Meyer, Ed. 3, his whole present state and condition as distinguished from what he was before his conversion. This is further developed in the following clauses, where he points to the consequences of the divine favor towards him in fitting him for his work; first, negatively.—and his grace which was (manifested) toward me was not made vain;—i.e., was not void of fruit. But that this negative statement was far below the actual facts of the case, he goes on to show.—but more abundantly than they all did I labor:—And this was precisely the fruit of the operation of the divine grace. And lest this should seem to be regarded by him as an occasion for boasting, he at once repudiates all claim to honor in the most emphatic manner, showing that, after all, the efficient agent in all his labors was not himself, so much as it was the grace of God working in him and through him.—yet not I, but the grace of God with me.—If we read óὺí ἑìïß without the article then it must be taken as connected with some words to be supplied as the following: ‘labored more abundantly with me,’ i.e., standing by me, or in active coöperation with me (Meyer). [See the critical notes on this point. Calvin attributes the omission of the to the blunder of some old translator, and insists on its maintenance to obviate the inference of Semipelagians from this text, who would ascribe half the praise of success to God and half to man as being joint-laborers in the work. But the preponderance of authority is for the omission of the article, it being obviously inserted apparently for the purpose of vindicating the absoluteness of Divine Grace. But it is not needed for this. The language of the Apostle is decisive enough without this—“not I, but the grace of God did it”]. Comp. Mar_16:20. By this antithesis, which is not to be weakened into, ‘not only I, but also,’ or into, ‘as well I, as,’ the entire glory of successful achievement is attributed to Divine Grace (comp. 1Co_3:5; Php_2:13; Mat_10:20, and elsewhere). ðåñéóóüôåñïí , neuter accusative, not to be taken adverbially [(Alford Stanley)].— áὐôῶí ðÜíôùí , not, than Any individual of them, but, than all put together. The explanation of this is to be found in his widely extended sphere of labor.— êïðéᾶí properly means to be weary, or, become weary; then, to exhaust one’s self by working, to strain one’s self; but here on account of the contrast, “not in vain,” and because afterwards the Divine Grace is shown to be the real subject, it can only denote the work with its results; while elsewhere it denotes the work as an exhausting effort (comp. 1Co_4:12; Gal_4:11).—From this digression, introduced no less by the fervor of his spirit than on account of the condition of affairs in the Corinthian church—a digression, however, not to be construed as a grammatical parenthesis—he now returns to his main theme.

1Co_15:11; 1Co_15:13. Whether, therefore,— ïὑí as in 1Co_8:4.—I or they,—i.e., the other apostles with whom he henceforward associates himself. “Such was the perfect agreement among all the apostles in reference to the appearance of the risen Saviour.” Neander. In the expression “I or they,” the Apostle casts a polemic glance at the oppugners of his apostolic office.—so we preach,—The “so” is to be explained from what is said from 1Co_15:4-12. It refers to the great fact in question and its proofs.—and so ye believed.—The “so” here is equivalent to “thereby,” viz., that such doctrines have been preached to you; [or, it may be like the previous “so,” meaning after this manner, viz., as above stated].— ἐôéóôåýóáôå , as in 1Co_15:2. “The accordant and powerful testimony of the apostles is here accredited by its fruits; the Corinthians themselves are here summoned as witnesses through the faith they once exercised.” Osiander. “Faith once accorded often strengthens subsequent faith; and its former strength not only obligates, but often retains the wavering.” Bengel.

1Co_15:12. Over against the preaching of the eye-witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, and the faith it secured, he now exhibits in contrast the denial of any resurrection from the dead on the part of some in the church. And he mentions it as something in the highest degree strange and incredible that such a denial could be made, when (as he afterwards shows) it involved a denial also of that which was the burden of the apostles’ preaching, and lay at the foundation of their faith.—But if Christ is preached åἰ äὲ ×ñéóôὸò êçñýóóåôáé —not a hypothetical but an actual condition (Passow, åἰ , I. A. 1. a.), q. d., ‘since Christ is preached.’—Christ is mentioned first by way of emphasis; for the contradiction lies here between the preaching of Christ as one risen from the dead, and the denial of any resurrection from the dead.—that he rose from the dead,—Some readings put ἐê íåêñῶí before ü ́ ôé ; if this were critically established, the transposition of the natural order would be for the sake of emphasis also; but such a double emphasis is hardly probable.—how say some among youi.e., how is it possible that they can say? It does not comport with the fact supposed, that in the midst of you, a Christian church, there are any who say—that there is no resurrection from the dead? ïὐê ἐ ̓ óôé , is not, ‘is not to take place’ (comp. Eph_6:9). The whole exposition proceeds on the supposition that the fact of Christ’s resurrection was not a matter of controversy. Hence, the Apostle was able to plant himself on this well-attested theme of Apostolic preaching, and controvert opposers on the ground that their assertions would, by implication, go to undermine the foundations on which both stood, and with it overthrow the whole scheme of salvation by Christ. That these people were Sadducees, is altogether improbable, since this class, by reason of their peculiar views, altogether ignored the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus (Act_4:2), and kept far aloof from Christianity. Besides, had they been contemplated, the mode of argument pursued would have been far different. From what is said in 1Co_15:32, we might suppose them to have been Epicureans; but these persons whose anti-christian tenets would have required a still more definite refutation, remained at as great a remove from Christianity as did the Sadducees; and what is read in 1Co_15:32, is no more than a practical deduction of the Apostle from the premises assumed, and it naturally follows upon his description of a practical Epicureanism (Isa_22:13). So, too, we can hardly look to find in Corinth Jewish Christians of a theosophic class, who denied the doctrine of a re-incorporation of the soul on the grounds of a false spiritualism. “The Essenes certainly may have accepted the doctrine of a personal existence after death, in a form not involving the doctrine of the resurrection; but there is nothing else here which points to the elements of their faith.” Neander. It is more natural to suppose that these opponents were heathen converts of a certain philosophic training, who sought to impose, or taught doctrines that were very seductive to the Corinthians, predisposed as they already were to them. Such would regard, with abhorrence, the idea of a restoration of their material part, and hence for such, an argument like that in 1Co_15:35 ff. was entirely suitable. Among the philosophically educated of all ages we discover a disinclination for this doctrine; and in this question, to seek out a reference to the several parties that existed in the Christian Church, would be uncertain business. In any case, these opposers could not have belonged to the party of Cephas, or of Paul; and they could be reckoned in the Christ party, only on the doubtful supposition that this was characterized by a theosophic spiritualism. And if we assigned them to the party of Apollos, they could only have been certain individuals of this party who denied the doctrine in question by reason of their philosophical peculiarities, and not the party as a whole. It was, in fact, no party question. Besides, there is no warrant for supposing that, like the false teachers mentioned in 2Ti_2:18, they regarded the resurrection as past already. Moreover, we are not to infer from 1Co_15:19 that, together with the resurrection of the body, they also denied the immortality of the soul. Bather we are to infer from this verse only this, that in the Apostle’s view the immortality of the soul was inconceivable without assuming the possibility of a re-incorporation or of a restoration and glorification of the bodily life, that the continued existence of the simple personality (Ichheit) was no true life.

1Co_15:13; 1Co_15:16, That the preaching of Christ’s resurrection was inconsistent with a denial of the resurrection of the dead, the Apostle proceeds to show by a chain of conclusions and consequences connected by äÝBut—[“the but argumentandi frequent in mathematical demonstrations.” Alford.]—if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ is risen:—[First consequence—a palpable absurdity, not only in view of what a being Christ was, but also in view of all the testimony offered to the contrary.] He here argues from the general to the special, since the denial of the former naturally involved that of the latter, it being included under it. ‘If there is no such thing at all as the resurrection from the dead, then must this hold good also of Christ. He also has not risen from the dead.’ The identity of Christ’s nature with that of mankind at large—a fact which underlies this whole argument—is not suspended or dissolved by His Divine Sonship and His sinlessness. For, in that He emptied Himself of His former glory, He became a veritable actual man ( óÜñî ); and if He died, though sinless, then can the restoration of His body not be affirmed, if such a restoration is impossible for men in general who are dead. Of Christ as the first-fruits (1Co_15:20) nothing is as yet said, so that an argument can be drawn of this sort: ‘If the effect is done away, then also must the cause go with it.’ The statement, “then is Christ not risen,” is not put forth here as a premise (Osiander); but with the exhibition of the impossible conclusion here set forth his whole series of inferences, as it were, celebrates its first triumph. What consequences must arise if Christ be not risen, if he still remains in the grave, he now goes on to show.—And if Christ has not arisen, vain then is our preaching,—[A second consequence—the absurdity of holding that the Gospel with all its provisions and promises, with all it had done, and yet proposed to effect, was a delusion]. êåíὀí , which stands first by way of emphasis, means here groundless, untrue, without reality, not ‘fruitless’—a thought which first appears in 1Co_15:17. Still less are we to take the two meanings as here combined. The thought is this: since the redemption in Christ is the grand theme of gospel preaching, and has the resurrection of Christ as its essential foundation, therefore, all preaching without this mast be empty, groundless, unreal, ἄñá , then, brings the inference yet more prominently to view. If the êáß is genuine, then the meaning is, if the former be not true, then the latter is not true also.’—The same inference holds good also of the subjective reception of the preaching.—vain also is your faith.—The two refer back to what is said in 1Co_15:11; although the preaching must here be taken in a more comprehensive sense.— ὑìῶí , your is undoubtedly the correct reading; not ἡìῶí our.—To the former clause there is added a third inference, which sets the preachers in a very bad light.—And we are found also false witnesses of God;—From the fact that this again is to be inferred from the supposition that Christ is not risen, it does not follow that this clause belongs in with the previous apodosis, and that simply a comma is to be put after ὑìῶí (Lachmann and Meyer), [or after ‘faith,’ as in our version]. Such punctuation and construction is also inconsistent with the äὲ êáὶ ; [besides, as Alford says, 1Co_15:15 does not depend on the condition expressed in 1Co_15:14, “if Christ be not risen,” but has its reason given below.]— åὐñéóêüìåèá is put first for emphasis, and means we are found, or proven, as before a tribunal of investigation.— øåõäïìÜñôõñåò ôïῦèåïῦ , either false witnesses concerning God (gen. obj.,) or false witnesses belonging to God (gen. subj.), i.e., who pretend to be witnesses and are not. The former interpretation is sustained by the following explanatory clause.—[“Observe, false witnesses, not mistaken witnesses. Paul allows no loophole of escape. The resurrection is a fact, or else a falsehood; and it is such persons as Peter, and John, and James, and himself, that are guilty of perpetrating it—a monstrous supposition, when we think of the men, and the truthful ring of their earnest declarations, and the seal they put to them.” Robertson.]—because we testified against God that he raised up Christ:—If a person says of God that He has done something which He has not done, and yet could have done, then is he a false witness in relation to Him, and the false testimony given is a testimony against Him ( êáôÜ as in Mat_26:59-62 not equivalent to ðåñß , in respect of [Alford], nor yet as summoning God for a witness like ὸìüóáé êáôÜ Heb_6:13). For, knowingly to ascribe to God anything untrue, is a wicked and hostile crime against Him; and this would be a veritable lie, since they had announced something as an act of God actually witnessed by them, which yet never did take place, and indeed was impossible,—whom he did not raise, if in reality (as they assert)—such is the force of åß ́ ðåñ , the strengthened åἰ ; and ἅñá which means accordingly.—the dead are not raised.—The last statement is confirmed in 1Co_15:16, which is almost a literal repetition of 1Co_15:13, and is introduced for the sake of precision. [“But why is this? Why may not a man admit that Christ, the incarnate Son of God, arose from the dead, and yet consistently deny that there is to be a general resurrection of the dead? Because the thing denied was that the dead could rise. The denial was placed on ground which embraced the case of Christ.” Hodge].

1Co_15:17-19. Here follows a new series of inferences exhibiting the sad result of the doctrine of his opponents upon the salvation of Christians themselves. As before he expressed the groundlessness, and hence the falsity of the faith, on the supposition of these deniers, by the word êåíÞ , empty, idle; so now he expresses its fruitlessness by the word ìáôáßá .—And if Christ is not risen, vain is your faith;—Vain i.e., without any beneficial results (comp. 1Co_3:20; Tit_3:9; Jam_1:26), as is clear from the clause which follows.—ye are yet in your sins.—Here we see that his reference is mainly to the matter of justification, which is primarily a remission of sins. All this is frustrated by the denial in question, since, as Paul asserts (Rom_4:25), Christ was raised for our justification. If Christ was still detained in the power of death, then could no pardon be pledged by Him; He could not act the part of Redeemer and Reconciler, but like all other sinners, would appear to have fallen under the doom of sin. Thus that expressed in 11. 1 Corinthians 2 : “Ye are justified in the name of the Lord, and by the Spirit of our God,” is all done away. The ethical side of Christianity, viz., sanctification and liberation from the dominion of sin, does not lie in the context.—The frightful consequences are shown to extend yet farther, affecting not only the living, but also the departed.—Then they al