1 Corinthians 15:12-34

We are in a series on the book of 1 Corinthians, and chapter 15 is on the resurrection of Jesus. Some in the Corinthian church were denying the resurrection. Some may say no big deal.

Richard Dawkins, one of the most influential atheist writers of the last decade or so, in a debate with a leading Christian scientist, after hearing his opponent mention the resurrection as a key belief of the Christian faith, replied, 

“We come down to the resurrection of Jesus. It’s so petty. It’s so trivial. It’s so local. It’s so earthbound. It’s so unworthy of the universe.” Alberry, p15 

Obviously, the resurrection of Jesus meant very little to him. After all, you still have Jesus’s teaching. If you want to be a good person you can follow his sermon on the mount. You still have Jesus’ example of love and sacrifice. He can be your greatest role model even if there is not a resurrection. 

But Jesus didn’t die so that we could be good people and so that we could live a good life. Jesus died to redeem us. He died to save us, save us from sin, from mistakes, from evil. And the resurrection is the stamp of approval that his sacrifice was accepted. The vindication that he overcame. It is of monumental significance to understand what Christ has accomplished for us. It is not an aside. 

If there is no resurrection, there is no salvation. 

Some have said we are doing Thanksgiving this year. Corona, no more than two families, no hugs, no singing, food must be prepared individually, masks on immediately before and after eating. That is not Thanksgiving. Kids running around grabbing food as they go through kitchen, hugs, laughing, letting your guard down, enjoying some rest. 

Big Idea

Resurrection means Christ is alive

and he makes us alive too. 


Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:12-34 ESV)

No Resurrection No Good News v12-19

Some of the Corinthians have fallen into believing that there is no resurrection. Paul points out how problematic that view is. But before getting into what they should believe, he traces out what is wrong with their understanding. 

Sometimes we move too quickly to tell what they should believe. Paul instead here gives several things to consider. He speaks hypothetically. 

If is used in v13, 14, 15, 16, 16, 19. If there is no resurrection then Jesus has not been raised. If Christ is not raised then you will not be raised either. Even more if there is no resurrection for Jesus or me or you, then my preaching is in vain. Even more, If I am teaching that God is going to raise you through Christ, but there is no resurrection then I am misrepresenting God, i.e. Paul is a liar. “Don’t call me a good person.” If there is no resurrection I’m lying. People who say, Pastor, we appreciate what you do but don’t agree with you. You don’t understand. You have to say I’m misleading others. 

The domino line of logic is being traced back here and it’s being shown you can’t have a gospel of good news if there is no resurrection. 

If no resurrection, then just as Jesus’ body would still be in the grave so you would still be in your sins. And all those who have died have perished. There is no bringing them back. Why would you be baptized to express you are following a dead person???

The resurrection is the vindication of Jesus. It’s the indisputable crowning of a champion who conquered death. If there is no resurrection we are still in defeat. 

*Resurrection means Christ is made alive and we are too. v20-28

V20 is a shift. No more hypothetical. Let’s talk about what has happened. God has acted! Not just a feeling but a response to what God has done. Christ is raised and there are many benefits listed:

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

  1. Resurrection is our Future Too

If Christ has been raised… he is the first fruit. First fruits are the first of the harvest. It is the sign that more is to come. Like in spring we see figs developing on the tree. One day you go out and they are green, then some change to reddish, and then dark red and you know some are ripe. The first one is a sign that more is to come, expect more of the same. Look to Christ and know that as he overcame death you can too. If death is overcome then everything can be overcome. This is your future. Fear of Corona, politics. 

Gives hope that we can overcome all things. We can change and overcome. You can change and be transformed. Tell yourself that when you are in the dumps. When you feel like you can’t change your marriage. -When you feel like you are at a dead-end. When you feel like you are dead and buried. Christ overcame the dead. You are in Christ and will overcome the dead. If you can overcome death you can overcome anything!

“Christ is risen. I can overcome. I will overcome” 

Christianity is not a system of good advice, and the preachers had not simply told people of a good way to live. They had said something happened; God raised up Christ. Christianity is basically a gospel, the good news of what God has done.” Stott 207

  • We are under Christ’s lifegiving headship.

21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 

Federal Headship. Federal means states under a single government. We have a federal government. In theology it is used to express how we are under one individual. The first federal head is Adam. And in Adam, because of his fall, and his mistakes, you are under the government of death. Adam disobeyed and suffered punishment. You may think that’s unfair. But you have done the same thing he did, and you would have done the same thing in his shoes if you were the representative for the human race. We may not like that, but it is true, and the good news is that is why God sent another federal head. Jesus Christ comes that he might bring life. Adam brought death. Jesus brought life. He brings resurrection. And we can speak of what we were in Adam because of what we have in Jesus. We are made free, alive, members of the household of God, forgiven, and so much more. In Adam is death. In Christ is life. We come under Adam through our actions. We come under Christ through faith. 

Under one president. You want to escape. Now you are under the reign of another. But not a lot changes from president to president. These two heads are vastly different. And now you can be brought from the kingdom of fear, darkness.

When you feel life press down on you and you can’t catch your breath. When you feel like you have no hope. When you feel like your legs have been taken out from under your or perhaps cut off. When you feel like you are going down for the count. Remember this…

“Christ is raised, and I am in Christ who is life.”

  • Resurrection Means All Enemies Will be Defeated

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death

If Christ is raised from the dead then death is defeated. But it doesn’t stop there. All evil will be overcome. 

Defeated. To cease or destroy. This is destruction by replacement. Light destroys darkness. Death is defeated. Completely. Replaced by life. It is no more. Now there is life. More comes…

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 

Old Testament were told to completely obliterate enemies so they could never come back. They failed to do it every time. Jesus takes care of it. He holds everyone accountable. No pockets of rebellion in new heaven. 

He will hold accountable. No one escapes it. So much has been made about presidential candidates and their dealing with other governments. Did they profit from their political position? I have no idea. I don’t know who to believe. But God knows. He will hold them accountable. No one will be able to resist him or hide from the scrutiny of his eyes. Don’t tell lies and you don’t live in fear of the truth coming out. He will punish those who oppose him. If you have been hurt, you are not the one to execute judgment. You can rest in God. Pray for your enemies. He will call them to account. 

You can trace the dominoes back to see how there is no hope without the resurrection, but you can also trace it forward and see how the resurrection leads to the reordering of the entire cosmos. The resurrection inaugurates a new order. A new order with no more evil and nothing resists God’s will. All his enemies will be put under him. 

  • Woken to Resurrection Reality

34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Wake up. literally become sober after being drunk; figuratively, of regaining proper control of one’s thinking, come to one’s senses, stop thinking foolish thoughts. Stop going against God!

He isn’t telling all the heathens outside to wake up; he is telling the church!

Paul endured hardship and obstacles and so much more because of what Christ had done for him. Danger every hour? I die every day?

Fighting wild beasts at Ephesus. 

32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus?

It encouraged him, anchored him in obedience to God. 

If we only trust in Christ for this life, then we are to be pitied above all people. The resurrection causes us to live differently. 

The late French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote about a Wager. He said, “At the far end of this … a coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you wager? If you win you win everything. If you lose you lose everything. Pascal is an intriguing writing, and his Wager is equally intriguing. In the end he concludes that if you choose Christianity and it is not true you still have not lost. You will be “faithful, honest, humble, grateful, full of good works, a sincere, true friend. It is true you will not enjoy noxious pleasures, glory and good living, but will you not have others.” 

Some say Pascal means wager on Christianity and if it is false you do not lose. You have been a good person. Many people live their lives like this. I’ll go to church but let’s not do anything radical, let’s not wager too much. Let’s not talk about sharing our faith, giving financially. Let’s not talk about anything offensive. 

Paul differs with that. He recognized the life Jesus calls us to and says if you live for Jesus and it is not true you are of all people to be most pitied. V19 Faith in Jesus will call you to do things that don’t make sense in the eyes of the world. Paul will give his life to tell others this good news. 

Following Jesus is following in a life of sacrifice. Giving up things in this world to gain what is to come. 

People live for Christ like he only matters in this life. They don’t take big risks. They sit back until they are really needed. They don’t mind living by faith as long as it doesn’t take a lot of faith. Live like he won’t really provide or won’t really transform. 

Thomas A Kempis “Many who love his heavenly glory, few who bear his cross. Many who desire consolation but few who care for trial. He finds many to share his table but few to take part in his fasting. All desire to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him. Many follow him to the breaking of bread but few to the drinking of the chalice of his passion. Many revere his miracles; few approach the shame of the cross. Many love him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless him as long as they receive some comfort from him.” 

Lust for the world keeps us from serving God. Lust for the world keeps Christians from doing anything radical. We never have to rely on faith. We give of our abundance, our surplus. We never cut too deep. We live a faithless Christianity. We live like there is no resurrection. 

End of the day, following Jesus will lead to a life that does not make sense in this life. It does not add up in this life. 

Some people want to say live your best life now. Jesus says give up your best life. Your best life is not found in anything but in sacrifice. 

The resurrection is our pay day. Today is not our pay day. Pay day is what makes it worth all your hard work. You put up with a lot of stuff each day and each week in order to get paid. Your paycheck makes it worth it. Trusting in Christ doesn’t mean we go without a payday. It just means that payday is not now. We wait another day. A day in the future. 

Move past resentment. 


Resurrection is a keystone of the Christian faith. Without it, you cannot have confidence of life after death. You cannot have confidence that you will be made alive. You cannot have confidence that everything will go well. You cannot have hope that your present circumstances will change. You cannot believe Jesus sacrifices was accepted without a resurrection. And with it all these things become possibilities. If you follow Jesus, you are following the way of life. 

In midst of death we believe in resurrection. In the midst of hardships we believe in resurrection. In midst of opposition and oppression, attack, and everything else this world throws at us we believe in resurrection life. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Before reading or hearing this passage how important would you have said the resurrection is? How does this passage help you see its importance?
  2. What is the most encouraging part of the resurrection for you? What parts of the resurrection do you have questions about?
  3. Why does Paul tell the Corinthians to wake up from their drunken stupor? Do you think most people live like they will truly be resurrected in Christ?