I once did a study of what Paul had to say about death in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. I found it interesting that he mentions death even more than he mentions the resurrection. The word death or dying or dead occurs twenty-five times in the chapter. And the word resurrection or raised, or anything related to that, occurs twenty-four times - just about equal, but actually the words for death occur more often. There are other terms that are related to it that increase those totals even more. That is interesting because when you talk about a victory, the greatness of your victory depends upon the greatness of your enemy.

Now, in chapter 15, verse 35 and following, Paul was likely addressing those who acknowledged that the Resurrection is true. This audience believed that Jesus rose from the dead, and as a result of their union with him, they would rise too. Nevertheless, this group still had questions about the resurrection of the body. They could not understand how, if we will be in heaven with new bodies, that will really be any different from life here on this earth. That is a very legitimate kind of question to ask, especially by those who were not deeply informed by the teaching of Scripture. So, that is what Paul is answering here.

Here in this portion of 1 Corinthians, Paul deals primarily with this matter of the resurrection body, that is, the nature of the kind of body that we are going to have in the resurrection. He did that, presumably, because that was the chief question in the minds of the Greek people here to whom he was writing. I mentioned in an earlier study of Paul’s epistle how this difficulty with the resurrection grew naturally out of Greek philosophical thought. Every culture has its own way of thinking about ultimate things, though not always articulately.

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you find the story about the Sadduccees’ coming to test the Lord Jesus Christ on the subject of the resurrection, something in which they did not believe. The Sadduccees were the modernists of that day. They thought they would give him a question that would expose how foolish the idea of a resurrection is, and, if he held to the resurrection, they would show how foolish he was, too.

Yesterday we examined some explanations for the idea of being baptized for the dead as found in 1 Corinthians 15:29. There is yet another explanation that I will mention briefly. Some have said that it has to do with our being baptized for Christ who has died, i.e., in honor of Christ who has died. The problem with this explanation is that Christ is singular, and the terminology of this particular portion of 1 Corinthians 15 is plural. Paul is referring to numerous people so that does not seem to fit.