We Have This Treasure
12/10 – To Make Clear (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)
Introduction — Here Paul tells the church in Corinth the core of the gospel message. He wants to make it clear to them. He wants them to know that what he delivered to them is the same word he received. What is that clear message of the gospel? Here is what Paul preached to them as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; that Christ was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures; and that Christ appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. Paul affirms the testimony of Jesus’ resurrection with further eyewitness accounts. After Christ appeared to Peter and the twelve, He then appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Further, Christ appeared to James, then to all the apostles. And last of all, as to one untimely born, Christ appeared to Paul also. What’s that clear message Paul preached? First, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Second, Christ was buried and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. Third, Christ appeared to His followers after the resurrection. By the grace of God, those who see Christ see God’s glory. What’s that clear message we must preach? Jesus died for our sins. Jesus was buried. Jesus rose on the third day. All of this happened according to God’s word in the Scriptures. Jesus appeared to His followers. And by God’s grace, we who believe Him receive new life in Christ for God’s glory. Do we believe the gospel? Do we proclaim the gospel? Do we hold firm to the gospel? Do we deliver the gospel to anyone who needs to hear the gospel? Do we make the gospel clear to everyone around us?
Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (1, CSB)
The gospel is our life. We must believe and hold fast and speak the word of God. We must show and tell others the good news we know.
CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES
CHRIST WAS BURIED
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried,
Comment: Here Paul reminds the church what he taught them. He tells them what’s of utmost importance in the gospel message. Paul wastes no time in relating that Christ died for our sins. That Christ died for our sins is Paul’s first statement about the gospel. He supports that statement with both scriptural and physical proof. Paul doesn’t explain it here (although he explains both the facts and the reasons for Jesus’ death throughout this and other of his letters), but he does give an important detail: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That Messiah would die is clear. From Genesis (3:15) to Psalms (22) to Isaiah (53), shepherds, kings, and prophets foretold His death. And Jesus is the Messiah who died for our sins, a proof from the Scriptures. After Jesus’ death, men buried Him in a tomb. That they buried Him is physical proof of the event. Like an expert lawyer, Paul makes clear the powerful, yet simple message of the gospel. Question: Do we make the gospel clear to folks? Do we pass along what we received? Do we preach the gospel? Do we hold fast the gospel? Do we believe the gospel? Do we show and tell the good news we know? Application: Let’s speak the gospel. Let’s hold fast to the gospel. Let’s show and tell the good news we know. Let’s pass along the gospel as the most important message in the world. Let’s make clear the gospel message.
CHRIST WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES
and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Comment: Paul tells these folks what’s of utmost importance in the gospel message. That Christ rose again is Paul’s second statement about the gospel. He also supports that statement with both scriptural and physical proof. Perhaps Paul affirms a psalm (16:10) or a portion of Isaiah (53:10-12) which the early church also affirms in preaching the gospel. Here, and in next portion of the letter (12-58), Paul stresses the importance of the resurrection. If there is not resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sin (13-17). That Christ rose is the hinge point of the gospel. If Christ is still dead, then our faith is worthless; our preaching is wasted; we are still in our sins. But Christ is not dead. He is alive. He was raised according to the Scriptures. He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the disciples. Christ appeared to more than five hundred people at one time. He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Christ appeared to Paul, too. Question: Do we see Christ alive? Do we keep our eyes fixed on Him? Do we joyfully relate the gospel? Do we make the gospel clear? Application: Let’s speak the gospel. Let’s hold fast to the gospel. Let’s be excited by the gospel. Let’s be humbled by the gospel. Let’s show and tell the good news we know. Let’s pass along the gospel as the most important message in the world. Let’s make the gospel message clear.
Word Study for 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
1 make known (gnorizo—explain; point out; reveal; cause information to be known by someone)
1 received (paralambano—take; bring along with; take aside; learn from someone; welcome)
2 hold fast (katecho—continue belief; possess; occupy; hold firmly; keep)
3 delivered (paradidomi—hand over; instruct; pass on teaching; grant; allow)
3 first importance (protos—prominent; best; most important; foremost; found in front; high rank; best)
4 raised (egeiro—awaken; stir up; rouse; cause to stand up; cause to wake up; raise to life; restore)
5 appeared (horao—see; look at; pay attention to; visit; experience; behold; perceive; recognize)
6 brethren (adelphos—brother; near kinsman; fellow believer; fellow countryman; neighbor)
8 last (eschatos—extreme; furthest; finally; least important; uttermost; final; lowest in status)
8 untimely born (ektroma—abnormal birth; born out of a due time; monstrous birth)
9 least (elachistos—very small; short; least important; lowliest; youngest; trivial; insignificant)
9 fit (hikanos—adequate; sufficient; capable; enough; befitting; sufficing; considerable)
9 called (kaleo—name; summon; call to a task; invite)
10 empty (kenos—without anything; foolish; without result; without purpose; lacking truth)
11 preach (keryyso—announce publicly; tell; proclaim with the goal to persuade)
11 believed (pisteuo—trust; put faith in; entrust; believe to the extent of complete trust)
Application for 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Let’s make the gospel clear to those around us.
Let’s hold fast the word preached.
Let’s deliver as of first importance what we also received:
· that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
· that Christ was buried
· that Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
· that Christ appeared to His followers
Let’s own up to our past, but let’s promote our new life in Christ more.
Let’s work hard, by the grace of God, to preach the gospel.
Let’s marvel at the grace of God with us.
Gospel Connections for 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time. Then He appeared to James, and then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to Paul also. Paul thought of himself as the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because he persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, Paul believed, becoming an apostle, too. And he even labored more than all of them, yet not him, but the grace of God with him. So then, whether it was Paul or the other apostles, so they preached and so others believed.
Thoughts and Quotes for 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
The gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy. ~ John Piper
The law breaks the hard heart, but the gospel melts it. A stone duly broken may be still a hard stone; but the gospel melts.
~ Ralph Erskine
Other men may preach the gospel better than I, but no man will preach a better gospel. ~ George Whitefield
We too need the gospel. We need to think about what we believe and allow the gospel to work itself into our own life, our ideas, our dreams, and our desires. When we do, our faith will begin to come out naturally in our work and in our love for people. When we slow down, the gospel becomes more than a message we repeat—it becomes a conviction that ravishes our heart. The gospel not only saves us; it changes us. ~ Jonathan K. Dodson, The Unbelievable Gospel
But the early Christians were willing to die for their conviction that Jesus had risen from the dead. They had seen him, touched him, handled him, eaten with him, after he had risen from the dead—and they were transformed by him. In fact, he promised them resurrection bodies of their own one day. They believed that he was Lord. ~ D.A. Carson, The God Who is There
You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time. ~ J.S. Knox
A Portion of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
II. Observe what this gospel is, on which the apostle lays such stress. It was that doctrine which he had received, and delivered to them, en prōtois—among the first, the principal. It was a doctrine of the first rank, a most necessary truth, That Christ died for our sins, and was buried, and rose again: or, in other words, that he was delivered for our offences and rose again for our justification (Rom. 4:25), that he was offered in sacrifice for our sins, and rose again, to show that he had procured forgiveness for them, and was accepted of God in this offering. Note, Christ’s death and resurrection are the very sum and substance of evangelical truth. Hence we derive our spiritual life now, and here we must found our hopes of everlasting life hereafter.
III. Observe how this truth is confirmed,
1. By Old-Testament predictions. He died for our sins, according to the scriptures; he was buried, and rose from the dead, according to the scriptures, according to the scripture-prophecies, and scripture-types. Such prophecies as Ps. 16:10; Isa. 53:4–6; Dan. 9:26, 27; Hos. 6:2. Such scripture-types as Jonah (Mt. 12:4), as Isaac, who is expressly said by the apostle to have been received from the dead in a figure, Heb. 11:19. Note, It is a great confirmation of our faith of the gospel to see how it corresponds with ancient types and prophecies.
2. By the testimony of many eye-witnesses, who saw Christ after he had risen from the dead. He reckons up five several appearances, beside that to himself. He was seen of Cephas, or Peter, then of the twelve, called so, though Judas was no longer among them, because this was their usual number; then he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, many of whom were living when the apostle wrote this epistle, though some had fallen asleep. This was in Galilee, Mt. 28:10. After that, he was seen of James singly, and then by all the apostles when he was taken up into heaven. This was on mount Olivet, Lu. 24:50. Compare Acts 1:2, 5–7. Note, How uncontrollably evident was Christ’s resurrection from the dead, when so many eyes saw him at so many different times alive, and when he indulged the weakness of one disciple so far as to let him handle him, to put his resurrection out of doubt! And what reason have we to believe those who were so steady in maintaining this truth, though they hazarded all that was dear to them in this world, by endeavouring to assert and propagate it! Even Paul himself was last of all favoured with the sight of him. It was one of the peculiar offices of an apostle to be a witness of our Saviour’s resurrection (Lu. 24:48); and, when Paul was called to the apostolical office, he was made an evidence of this sort; the Lord Jesus appeared to him by the way to Damascus, Acts 9:17. Having mentioned this favour, Paul takes occasion from it to make a humble digression concerning himself . . . by observing, (1.) That he was one born out of due time (v. 8), an abortive, ektrōma, a child dead born, and out of time. Paul resembled such a birth, in the suddenness of his new birth, in that he was not matured for the apostolic function, as the others were, who had personal converse with our Lord. He was called to the office when such conversation was not to be had, he was out of time for it. He had not known nor followed the Lord, nor been formed in his family, as the others were, for this high and honourable function. This was in Paul’s account a very humbling circumstance. (2.) By owning himself inferior to the other apostles: Not meet to be called an apostle. The least, because the last of them; called latest to the office, and not worthy to be called an apostle, to have either the office or the title, because he had been a persecutor of the church of God, v. 9. Indeed, he tells us elsewhere that he was not a whit behind the very chief apostles (2 Co. 11:5)—for gifts, graces, service, and sufferings, inferior to none of them. Yet some circumstances in his case made him think more meanly of himself than of any of them. Note, A humble spirit, in the midst of high attainments, is a great ornament to any man; it sets his good qualities off to much greater advantage. What kept Paul low in an especial manner was the remembrance of his former wickedness, his raging and destructive zeal against Christ and him members. Note, How easily God can bring a good out of the greatest evil! When sinners are by divine grace turned into saints, he makes the remembrance of their former sins very serviceable, to make them humble, and diligent, and faithful. (3.) By ascribing all that was valuable in him to divine grace: But by the grace of God I am what I am, v. 10. It is God’s prerogative to say, I am that I am; it is our privilege to be able to say, “By God’s grace we are what we are.” We are nothing but what God makes us, nothing in religion but what his grace makes us. All that is good in us is a stream from this fountain. Paul was sensible of this, and kept humble and thankful by this conviction; so should we. Nay, though he was conscious of his own diligence, and zeal, and service, so that he could say of himself, the grace of God was not given him in vain, but he laboured more abundantly than they all: he thought himself so much more the debtor to divine grace. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Note, Those who have the grace of God bestowed on them should take care that it be not in vain. They should cherish, and exercise, and exert, this heavenly principle. So did Paul, and therefore laboured with so much heart and so much success.
After this digression, the apostle returns to his argument, and tells them (v. 11) that he not only preached the same gospel himself at all times, and in all places, but that all the apostles preached the same: Whether it were they or I, so we preached, and so you believed. . . . All agreed in this that Jesus Christ, and him crucified and slain, and then rising from the dead, was the very sum and substance of Christianity; and this all true Christians believe. All the apostles agreed in this testimony; all Christians agree in the belief of it. By this faith they live. In this faith they die.
 Word studies from various sources on Logos Software, including, but not limited to Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains by James A. Swanson
 Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2272). Peabody: Hendrickson.