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1 Corinthians 15:21-56

Context
15:21 For since death came through a man, 1  the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 2  15:22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 3  15:24 Then 4  comes the end, 5  when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 15:26 The last enemy to be eliminated is death. 15:27 For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. 6  But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him. 15:28 And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

15:29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? 7  If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they baptized for them? 15:30 Why too are we in danger every hour? 15:31 Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as 8  my boasting in you, 9  which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. 15:32 If from a human point of view I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, 10  what did it benefit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. 11  15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 12  15:34 Sober up as you should, and stop sinning! For some have no knowledge of God – I say this to your shame!

The Resurrection Body

15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 15:36 Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed 13  – perhaps of wheat or something else. 15:38 But God gives it a body just as he planned, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 15:39 All flesh is not the same: People have one flesh, animals have another, birds and fish another. 14  15:40 And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory.

15:42 It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 15  15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15:44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15:45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; 16  the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15:46 However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. 15:47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 15:48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. 15:49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear 17  the image of the man of heaven.

15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: 18  Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 15:51 Listen, 19  I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, 20  but we will all be changed – 15:52 in a moment, in the blinking 21  of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 15:54 Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

Death has been swallowed up in victory. 22 

15:55Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting? 23 

15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

1 tn Or “through a human being” (a reference to Adam).

2 tn Or “through a human being” (a reference to Jesus Christ).

3 tn Grk “then those who belong to Christ, at his coming.”

4 tn This is a continuation of the previous sentence in the Greek text. Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

5 tn Grk “then the end” or “then (is) the end.” Paul explains how the “end” relates to resurrection in vv. 25-28.

6 sn A quotation from Ps 8:6.

7 sn Many suggestions have been offered for the puzzling expression baptized for the dead. There are up to 200 different explanations for the passage; a summary is given by K. C. Thompson, “I Corinthians 15,29 and Baptism for the Dead,” Studia Evangelica 2.1 (TU 87), 647-59. The most likely interpretation is that some Corinthians had undergone baptism to bear witness to the faith of fellow believers who had died without experiencing that rite themselves. Paul’s reference to the practice here is neither a recommendation nor a condemnation. He simply uses it as evidence from the lives of the Corinthians themselves to bolster his larger argument, begun in 15:12, that resurrection from the dead is a present reality in Christ and a future reality for them. Whatever they may have proclaimed, the Corinthians’ actions demonstrated that they had hope for a bodily resurrection.

8 tn Or, more literally, “I swear by the boasting in you.”

9 tc ‡ Although the witnesses for the shorter reading (Ì46 D F G Ψ 075 0243 1739 1881 Ï) are not as strong as for the addition of ἀδελφοί (adelfoi, “brothers”) at this juncture (א A B K P 33 81 104 365 1175 2464 lat sy co), it is difficult to find a reason why scribes would either intentionally or unintentionally drop the address here. Thus, the shorter reading is slightly preferred.

10 map For location see JP1 D2; JP2 D2; JP3 D2; JP4 D2.

11 sn An allusion to Isa 22:13; 56:12.

12 sn A quotation from the poet Menander, Thais 218, which Paul uses in a proverbial sense.

13 tn Grk “and what you sow, you do not sow the body that will be, but a bare seed.”

14 tn Grk “all flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one (flesh) of people, but another flesh of animals and another flesh of birds and another of fish.”

15 tn Grk “it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” The “it” refers to the body, as v. 44 shows.

16 tn Grk “living soul”; a quotation from Gen 2:7.

17 tc ‡ A few significant witnesses have the future indicative φορέσομεν (foresomen, “we will bear”; B I 6 630 1881 al sa) instead of the aorist subjunctive φορέσωμεν (foreswmen, “let us bear”; Ì46 א A C D F G Ψ 075 0243 33 1739 Ï latt bo). If the original reading is the future tense, then “we will bear” would be a guarantee that believers would be like Jesus (and unlike Adam) in the resurrection. If the aorist subjunctive is original, then “let us bear” would be a command to show forth the image of Jesus, i.e., to live as citizens of the kingdom that believers will one day inherit. The future indicative is not widespread geographically. At the same time, it fits the context well: Not only are there indicatives in this section (especially vv. 42-49), but the conjunction καί (kai) introducing the comparative καθώς (kaqws) seems best to connect to the preceding by furthering the same argument (what is, not what ought to be). For this reason, though, the future indicative could be a reading thus motivated by an early scribe. In light of the extremely weighty evidence for the aorist subjunctive, it is probably best to regard the aorist subjunctive as original. This connects well with v. 50, for there Paul makes a pronouncement that seems to presuppose some sort of exhortation. G. D. Fee (First Corinthians [NICNT], 795) argues for the originality of the subjunctive, stating that “it is nearly impossible to account for anyone’s having changed a clearly understandable future to the hortatory subjunctive so early and so often that it made its way into every textual history as the predominant reading.” The subjunctive makes a great deal of sense in view of the occasion of 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote to combat an over-realized eschatology in which some of the Corinthians evidently believed they were experiencing all the benefits of the resurrection body in the present, and thus that their behavior did not matter. If the subjunctive is the correct reading, it seems Paul makes two points: (1) that the resurrection is a bodily one, as distinct from an out-of-body experience, and (2) that one’s behavior in the interim does make a difference (see 15:32-34, 58).

18 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

19 tn Grk “Behold.”

20 tc The manuscripts are grouped into four basic readings here: (1) א C 0243* 33 1739 have “we all will sleep, but we will not all be changed” (πάντες κοιμηθησόμεθα, οὐ πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα); (2) Ì46 Ac (F G) have “we will not all sleep, but we will not all be changed” (πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα, οὐ πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα); (3) D* lat Tert Ambst Spec read “we will all rise, but we will not all be changed.” (4) The wording πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα, πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα (“we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed”) is found in B D2 Ψ 075 0243c 1881 Ï sy co. How shall we interpret such data? In light of the fact that Paul and his generation did in fact die, early scribes may have felt some embarrassment over the bald statement, “We will not all sleep” (πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα). This could account for the first variant. Although the second variant could be viewed as a conflation of (1) and (4) (so TCGNT 502; G. D. Fee, First Corinthians [NICNT], 796), it could also have arisen consciously, to guard against the notion that all whom Paul was addressing should regard themselves as true believers. The third variant, prominent in the Western witnesses, may have arisen to counter those who would deny the final resurrection (so TCGNT 502). In any event, since the fourth reading has the best credentials externally and best explains the rise of the others it should be adopted as the authentic wording here.

tn See the note on the word “asleep” in 15:6.

21 tn The Greek word ῥιπή (rJiph) refers to a very rapid movement (BDAG 906 s.v.). This has traditionally been translated as “twinkling,” which implies an exceedingly fast – almost instantaneous – movement of the eyes, but this could be confusing to the modern reader since twinkling in modern English often suggests a faint, flashing light. In conjunction with the genitive ὀφθαλμοῦ (ofqalmou, “of an eye”), “blinking” is the best English equivalent (see, e.g., L&N 16.5), although it does not convey the exact speed implicit in the Greek term.

22 sn A quotation from Isa 25:8.

23 sn A quotation from Hos 13:14.



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