“You are saved, IF you hold fast to that word which I preached to you”? — 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

This text has been used to teach that a believer is saved only IF they “hold on” till the end. Salvation can be lost if the believer stops believing and his previous faith is now “in vain” (vs. 2). This is simply a undiligent reading of the text. Note the text carefully:

1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Moreover, brethren, I DECLARE to you the gospel which I PREACHED to you, which also you received and in which YOU STAND, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast THAT WORD which I PREACHED to you—unless you believed in vain.

Paul begins an intelligent argument here. The import of what he is saying can only be understood by reading the succedent texts (the verses after).

Notice he is declaring (making known to them) the Gospel which:
— was preached to them.
— was received by them.
— in which they stand.
— by which they are saved.

What is the Gospel? Verses 3-4 tell us — the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures. THIS is the message that saves. Paul’s statement in Vs 2 is now explained in verses 12-19;

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NKJV)
12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

The Church at Corinth had so many doctrinal influences (see 1 Corin. 3, 4:15), one of which claimed that there was no resurrection of the dead.

Paul’s argument is this:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not raised (vs. 13), this would mean that their faith in Him is in vain (vv. 14-17). Why have faith in Him who was not raised from the dead? Such faith would be in vain!

Now, using this to interpret vs. 2.

The word which Paul preached to the Church at Corinth was the death, burial and most importantly, the RESURRECTION of Christ. The message culminates in the resurrection of Christ and is incomplete without the same. The resurrection of Christ is the crux of the message. In THIS they stand, that is, their faith is stayed. The other doctrinal influences they had were denying a major aspect of the Gospel — rejecting the general resurrection of the dead was to also reject Christ being raised, and this is the basis for the Christian faith. If they doubt this, then their faith has NOTHING to rest upon. They have believed a lie — in vain!

Hence, vs. 2 is better read thus:

The Gospel of the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ is what you received and is what saved you, believing that the dead are not raised would mean Christ also was not raised! If that is true, THEN your faith is in vain! You have no hope!

We see then that the message which saves a man is the message which contains Christ’s death, burial and His Resurrection. It is incomplete if any of the details are missing. That is what Paul is saying in vs. 2.

If the Corinthian Church succumb to the false doctrine that Christ was not raised, then they have believed A LIE (“in vain”).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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