The Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 15)

1 Corinthians 15 is crucial to our understanding of the Gospel message. There, the Apostle Paul gives a definition of the Gospel.

Paul explains that which he initially preached to the Corinthians, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you THE GOSPEL which I PREACHED TO YOU, which also YOU RECEIVED and IN WHICH YOU STAND” (vs. 1). It was important for Paul to reiterate the same because false teachers had infiltrated Corinth (after his departure) and were corrupting that original message which they (i.e. the Corinthians Christians) had received.

These false teachers taught that the Resurrection was a hoax, “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?” (vs. 12). It was therefore necessary for Paul to put the Corinthians in remembrance of the message.

Paul calls this message “the gospel which I preached to you” (vs. 1). “THE Gospel” (“to euangelion“) readily reveals that the Gospel message is definite. The word “gospel” (“euangelion“) means good news, glad tidings. These “glad tidings” were preached to the Corinthians (Grk.euaggelizó“-to announce good news, to proclaim the good message).

This “good message” (“euangelion“) is to be believed upon (or received). The Lord says in Mark 16, “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who BELIEVES and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (vv. 15-16). The one who believes on the same receives salvation, “By which also YOU ARE SAVED, if you hold fast THAT WORD WHICH I PREACHED TO YOU—unless you believed in vain” (vs. 2).

Paul then proceeds to explain the facts of the Gospel, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures” (vs. 3). The Gospel reveals Christ’s death for our sins, “according to the Scriptures” (i.e. just as the Scriptures said).

Paul’s attention is probably on Isaiah 53, as he writes, which intimates concerning the vicarious death of the Christ, “But HE WAS WOUNDED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, HE WAS BRUISED FOR OUR INIQUITIES; the chastisement for OUR PEACE was upon Him, and by His stripes WE are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and THE LORD HAS LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL” (vv. 5-6). The twelfth verse of Isaiah 53 says, “Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because HE POURED OUT HIS SOUL UNTO DEATH, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Daniel 9 also foretold the death of Messiah, “And after the sixty-two weeks MESSIAH SHALL BE CUT OFF, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined” (vs. 26).

The Jewish Scriptures (i.e. Genesis to Malachi) therefore bear witness to the sufferings of the Christ; He dies to deliver man from his sins (see Gal 1:4, 1 Pt 2:24, 1 John 3:5).

The Gospel also includes Jesus’ burial for sins. Vs. 4 says, “and that He was buried…” His burial was NECESSARY to VERIFY that He was TRULY dead—you don’t bury living men! This also happens, in accordance with the Scriptures.

Psalm 16, for instance, records the Messiah’s confidence in God, as He faces death, “For You will not leave my soul in SHEOL (i.e. the grave), nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (vs. 10). Peter explains that David actually spoke concerning the Christ here, “He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades (i.e. the grave), nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31).

Thus, the Scriptures testify that Messiah would be buried in the grave. The Book of Jonah provides more information on this, by way of typology, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS” (Jonah 1:17). Jonah is in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights to typify Jesus, Who would be in the heart of the earth, within three days and three nights, “For AS Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, SO will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). The “heart of the earth” refers to His sepulchre i.e. Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb (see John 19:38-42).

The Gospel climaxes at the Resurrection. Vs. 4 continues, “…and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” The OT Scriptures had also predicted His Resurrection (“according to the Scriptures“). Recall that Psalm 16:10 had said, “…You will not leave my soul in SHEOL (the grave), nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” This speaks of the Resurrection of the Christ; He would not be left in the grave. Isaiah 26 is also one of such Scriptures, which speak of the Resurrection, “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (vs. 19).

The Resurrection is also foretold to happen within three days. This is typified by Isaac who was delivered from the altar of sacrifice. This is a picture (“figure“) of the Resurrection (Hebrews 11:19 tells us), and this happened on the third day (see Gen 22:4). Also by Jonah, who was regurgitated out of the fish’s belly, within three days (see Jonah 1:17, 2:10). In this way, the Scriptures give the time frame for Messiah’s Resurrection. It would occur within three days!

This does not stop here. To confirm that Jesus was truly raised, He was seen by no less than five hundred people, “And that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren AT ONCE, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (vv. 5-8). This authenticates His Resurrection. The hallucination theory attempts to discredit the eyewitness testimony of these men by claiming that they only imagined a resurrected Christ, owing largely to auditory and visual figments of their grief-stricken hearts. However, it seems hardly plausible than five hundred men would have the same hallucination, at the same time. Psychologist Gary Collins remarks, “Hallucinations are individual occurrences. By their very nature only one person can see a given hallucination at a time. They certainly aren’t something which can be seen by a group of people. Neither is it possible that one person could somehow induce a hallucination in somebody else. Since a hallucination exists only in this subjective, personal sense, it is obvious that others cannot witness it.” Yet, Jesus’ appearances after His Resurrection were to groups of persons, at once (see Matt 28:9, Luke 24:36-43, John 20:26-30, 21:1-14, Acts 1:1-9). This was no imagination, but factual truth—the Lord was risen!

The Resurrection of Jesus therefore stands as the crown of the Gospel; every other benefit of salvation are traceable to the same (see Rom 4:25). This is why Paul warned against those who tried to diminish the Resurrection.

In Paul’s day, some had taught that there is no Resurrection. Hymenaeus and Philetus were of this sort (see 2 Tim 2:16-18). This thinking has dire implications; if there is no resurrection, then Christ is not raised, and if Christ is not raised, then Christianity crumbles to nothingness—our faith is futile (i.e. in vain), Paul says, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 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. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (vv. 13-17).

The full Gospel is what saves a man. No part of it should be redacted; the full Gospel is the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ for sins, just as the Scriptures said. Taking away the Resurrection makes it an incomplete message.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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