Lesson 36: "How Say Some. . .There is no Resurrection of the Dead?" (I Corinthians 15:12)
I Corinthians 14:34--15:12
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. This is Lesson No. 36. Welcome again!! You will recall we did not get to verses 34-50 in our last lesson. Let's read and discuss those verses before starting Chapter 15. Please read with me. This is I Cor. 14, beginning in verse 34, and we'll finish the chapter. Please read. Ready?
34 Let your women keep silence in the
churches: for it is not permitted unto
them to speak; but they are
commanded to be under obedience, as
also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn anything, let
them ask their husbands at home: for
it is a shame for women to speak in the
36 What? came the word of God out from
you? or came it unto you only?
37 If any man think himself to be a
prophet, or spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write
unto you are the commandments of the
38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to
prophesy, and forbid not to speak with
40 Let all things be done decently and in
May we review a moment? Do you remember the rules (as I called them) in our last lesson that Paul gave in verses 27-33 for improving the worship service at Corinth? The number of speakers was limited, foreign tongues were permitted; but the number of speakers should be limited; and interpreters should be used. Every member could prophesy or teach (verse 31), i.e., there is no such thing as license or rank among members. No such thing as laity or clergy. Every member was to listen, judge, and consider what was being taught (verse 31). If the Holy Spirit revealed something to a prophet during the service, that should take precedence (verse 30). Their teaching must edify (verse 31). It couldn't be just a bunch of poetry or some good story. A prophet must not get carried away and claim he could not control himself (verse 32). Such excuse was not to be accepted or tolerated. In verse 33 Paul said confusion was coming about through their lack of order, that confusion did not come from God or the system of worship that God had authorized. Now, tie that into what we just read in verses 34-40. Please observe that the word "speak" S-P-E-A-K in verse 34 has reference to public speaking, i.e., to preach. That's the way the word "speak" has been used all through the chapter. Check it out. In verse 27, Paul said: If any man speak... let it be by two, or at the most by three...
Paul was talking about public speaking. If there was no interpreter (verse 28) "let him keep silence in the church...." Exactly the same phrase as used in verse 34, where we just read, pertaining to women. Thus, verse 34 means that women are not to be preachers. "It is not permitted unto them to speak" (S-P-E-A-K) (verse 34). Paul explained in the last part of verse 34, "they are commanded to be under obedience...." The American Standard Version says "Let them be in subjection." Then, Paul explained this is no different that it was in the Old Testament. This has not changed. In verse 35, Paul explained women are to look to their husbands in such matters. This statement places as much responsibility upon the husband in teaching as it does upon the woman in learning. Then, in the last of verse 35, "it is a shame for women to speak (S-P-E-A-K) in the church." The NEB says "It is a shocking thing that a woman should address the congregation." Does this mean a woman cannot utter a sound during an assembly, as some teach? Women are not to be preachers, or elders (I Tim. 3:2), or deacons (I Tim. 3:12). Women are even to pray submitting to the authority of their husbands, we learned back in I. Cor. 11. Why? Well, God assigned certain responsibilities to men and certain responsibilities to women. Does that mean men are superior to women? Definitely not! God made us males and God made us females. It's God's system and it's Gods assignment. Why? I don't know why, but that's what it says. Does this mean a woman cannot utter a sound in the worship assembly? Can she sing? Can she ask a question in a Bible class? What if she were asked a question or told to read a verse? Should she answer? Well, I believe she can do those things and still be in subjection. That does not usurp any authority over the man (I Tim. 2:12). I look at Bible classes as being more informal than a regular worship assembly and thus permit women to ask a sincere and respectful question in my classes, but they should not do so in the worship service. Now, I am aware that some will probably poke a little fun at my statement that Bible classes are more informal, and the way they usually begin is to ask "Is that not part of the assembly?" Well, let 'em laugh - get it over with. They are right, in that, there is no absolute command for a Bible study as we use that term, i.e., classes for all ages, etc. Thus, some reject classes of any kind and try to relegate such to a corruption of the assembly of the saints. I don't buy that. The worship assembly must edify!. Paul makes that abundantly clear here in Chapter 14. We are also commanded to "study to show thyself approved unto God...." (II Tim. 2:15). Does that mean only in private? I'm serious. Is that what it means? Jesus said in the great commission (Matt. 28:20) "Teaching them (baptized believers) to observe all things whatsoever" about Jesus Christ and the Bible. The verse before that says go and teach all nations. It doesn't say how to go and it doesn't say how to teach. You can use a Bible correspondence course; you can use a radio program; you can encourage study in a regular class on Sunday morning or any other time. It's within our discretion. The early disciples continued "daily with one accord in the temple." (Acts 2:46) What did they do in the temple? They didn't have a Sunday worship assembly every day! Well, what did they do? I believe it was essentially what we would call a Bible study. The same verse indicates they went from house to house also. So, you can assemble wherever you like. The church building is a convenient place. We are dressed. It doesn't take any more travel. It's simply a good time to study. But keep a good strong distinction between informal Bible classes and the commanded worship assembly. In verses 36-38, Paul expressed shock that the church at Corinth was not following what Paul had taught them. They were operating in the worship assembly as if they were setting the standard. In verse 37, Paul required the prophets and teachers at Corinth to teach that what Paul here wrote to them was the Lord's command. If any body ignored or refused what Paul said, they were to ignore him (verse 38). There was definitely a place for tongues (verse 39), but the emphasis should be upon prophesy and upon edification. In verse 40, Paul repeated his same rule given at the end of verse 26, but used a little different wording (verse 40).
All right, let's read Chapter 15. The subject has to do with the resurrection of the dead. I would assume another question, we don't have, that was submitted to Paul. Some think that Paul ran out of questions and simply in this section began to discuss a topic Paul knew had been under fire by some bickering members. We are going to read the first 12 verses in this lesson and we'll pick up with verse 13 in our next lesson. In verse 12, it is quite clear that some Christians at Corinth refused to believe in a resurrection of the dead. If you will give a little practical thought to the situation in the Corinthian congregation, as we have learned in this book, it is only natural that this topic (the resurrection of the dead) was discussed widely at Corinth. Do you remember that a similar question had come up at Thessalonica? Their concern was about their brethren who had died, thinking that their dead brethren would not enjoy the advantage of Christ's second coming, but even the Thessalonians had apparently understood a little during the short time Paul, Timothy and Silas were with them - that there was going to be a change from the human nature to a spiritual characteristic when Jesus returned to take them to heaven. Then in I Thes. 4, beginning about verse 13, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he corrected their misunderstanding by explaining with the figure of "sleep", you will remember, that when Jesus returns "them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Further, Paul explained that "we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them that are asleep" - those living when the Lord Jesus returns - will have no advantage over those that have died in the interim. Paul must have (during his 18 month stay at Corinth) explained the resurrection in much more detail than he had explained at Thessalonica, for the simple reason he had much more time and opportunity, as well as the fact that the Thessalonians had trouble on this point. In our day, I'm sure you are aware, these discussions on the resurrection of the dead continue. Some have built all kinds of fantasy around Christ's second coming and the resurrection. Some of those fantasies today include a supposed "rapture" and Christ literally reigning 1000 years on the earth and a thousand years between the resurrection of the righteous and resurrection of the unrighteous and so on. You can find about any other fantasy you can imagine, depending on which denomination doctrine you want to analyze.
We would like to lay aside all the fantasy. Some at Corinth refused to believe in a resurrection of the dead, so in Chapter 15, Paul began in a most elementary way. The first few verses here are a simple and elementary summary of what Paul had preached at Corinth. Paul here is simply trying to cause the Corinthian brethren to recall and remember their conversion - what Paul had taught them and what they had believed and obeyed. Then when Paul got them back to that original state of mind, he showed that they could not believe in and obey the gospel without believing in the resurrection of the dead. Either (1) they must confess the resurrection as part of the gospel they had obeyed, or (2) they were reprobates - claiming and pretending something they did not believe. Which was it? So, let's read the first 12 verses. Are you ready, beginning in I. Cor. 15:1:
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you
the gospel which I preached unto you,
which also ye have received, and
wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved if ye keep
in memory what I preached unto you,
unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that
which I also received, how that Christ
died for our sins according to the
4 And that he was buried, and that he
rose again the third day according to
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then
of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five
hundred brethren at once; of whom the
greater part remain unto this present,
but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then
of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also,
as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that
am not meet to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of
10 But by the grace of God I am what I
am: and his grace which was bestowed
upon me was not in vain; than they all:
yet not I, but the grace of God which
was with me.
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so
we preach, and so ye believed.
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose
from the dead, how say some among
you that there is no resurrection of the
Did you notice this section began "Moreover"? We talked about that word back at the beginning of Chapter 10, you will recall. What did Paul say in verse 1? "I declare." What do you do when you declare something? Simply announce publicly or formally - make it known. So what Paul is making known here (present tense) is the same "gospel which I preached unto you" (past tense) and that "also ye have received, and wherein ye stand (present tense); by which also ye are saved (present tense), if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you (when Paul was with them), unless you have believed in vain." Now, what is Paul saying? I'm telling you now what I told you then, the very same gospel. It could save you then. It can save you now. IF! Now wait a minute. What does "if mean? The dictionary says "if is a subordinating conjunction introducing a condition. A condition? That's right. What is the condition? "IF you keep in memory what I preached unto you...." Look at verse 2 real close. "Ye are saved, if...." But what if you don't? "Ye have believed in vain." There's the answer. Now verse 3 down through verse 11 is Paul's summary of what he had taught the Corinthians when he was at Corinth. Acts 18:11 says Paul "continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." Now, what did you teach Paul? Here it is. Paul's own summary of what he taught the Corinthians during those 18 months. What did he teach them? Look at verse 3 - "I delivered unto you...." What did you deliver Paul? "How that Christ died for our sins...." All right, what else did you deliver Paul? That Christ Jesus was buried (verse 4), "and that he rose again" (end of verse 4). Then, the Lord was seen after he rose by Peter (or Cephas) and all the apostles (verse 5). He was seen by above (i.e., more than) 500 disciples on one occasion (verse 6) after He rose from the dead - over 500 brethren saw Jesus on one occasion. That was at the time of the great commission, you will recall. Jesus was seen also by James (verse 7). This was undoubtedly James the son of Joseph and Mary. However, what is said here is all we know about that occasion. We have no other references. Paul said it happened and finally the Lord appeared to Paul also (verse 8-10); of which we do have a detailed record in the first half of Acts, Chapter 9, and other places. Now, what did you teach at Corinth Paul? Let's review: (1) Christ died for our sins, (2) He was buried and He rose again, and (3) Christ's resurrection from the dead was widely witnessed and adequately observed. That was what Paul taught and that was what the Corinthians believed in order to be saved (verse 2).
In verses 8-10, Paul showed that he was not part of the twelve apostles. "One born out of due time" (verse 8), describes Paul as an apostle OUT OF SEASON is the thought. At first, Paul had not believed and had actively persecuted Christians. However, in verse 11, Paul says in essence that these things make no difference, in that, he and the other apostles taught the same gospel as he had just outlined above, i.e., Jesus died for our sins, he died on the cross, was buried and rose again the third day, and was seen of hundreds after his resurrection and before his ascension into heaven. Thus, Paul said "and so ye believed" (end of verse 11) - that was the same gospel that the Corinthians had obeyed, the only gospel that could and would save. Then, when Paul had said just enough to get their attention focused on what they believed and what they confessed in their obedience, then they, of course, were forced to realize the resurrection both of Christ and ultimately the resurrection of all was a built-in doctrine, a built-in understanding of all Christians. Thus, the climax of Paul's point is expressed by the question in verse 12, "how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" You see, if they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, they could not be Christians. This is a necessary understanding, a necessary inference to become and to remain a Christian. Did they believe in Christ or didn't they? Do you believe in Christ? Paul used the rest of Chapter 15 to amplify and expand upon this thought. A very interesting discussion. We'll get back to this in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.