1 Cor. 15
Illustration 1: Promise of a Resurrection
Some have argued that the doctrine of a bodily resurrection was unknown to the Israelites of the
Old Testament. In fact, this denial was a cardinal doctrine of the sect of the Sadducees at the time of
Christ (Matthew 22:23).
Our text, however, makes it clear that this promise has always been known to the people of God.
Long before Isaiah’s time, Job had said: “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at
the latter day upon the earth: And…in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25,26). After the time of
Isaiah, the promise was still known. “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Such promises
were not referring to some vague “immortality of the soul,” as taught in pagan religions, but to
resurrection of the body!
First, however, the Creator must become man, die for the sins of the world, and defeat death by His
own bodily resurrection. In our text, in fact, Christ is saying that Old Testament believers would be
raised “together with my dead body.” This was literally fulfilled when “the graves were opened; and
many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and
went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52,53). Then, when Jesus first
ascended to heaven (John 20:17), He led those who had been in “captivity” in the grave with Him
into heaven (Ephesians 4:8). All who have trusted Christ in the Christian era will likewise be raised
from the dead when He comes again. He has defeated death and has promised, “because I live, ye
shall live also” (John 14:19). HMM
Christ’s resurrection is the foundation of Christianity. No resurrection no Christianity. Smart people,
lawyers, scholars, scientist, medical doctors, including non-believers who want to refute Christianity
and prove to the world that it is wrong have tried their best and studied all the facts. The end result is
unanimous. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. The doubters and unbelievers who want to destroy
Christianity in the end became defenders of Christianity.
Christ’s resurrection was prophesied in the OT (Ps. 16:8-11) and was foretold by Christ himself (Mt.
16:21, Mk. 9:9-10; Jn. 2:18-22). However, his disciples were too stubborn and hard-hearted in their
unbelief. Let’s take a look at some of the false theories first.
I. False theories against the resurrection of Christ.
A. The Swoon theory or the Resuscitation theory – Jesus did not really die, He only
swooned, the disciples saw only a revived or resuscitated Christ. Christ was nailed to
a cross and suffered from shock, pain and loss of blood. But instead of actually dying,
He only fainted (swooned) from exhaustion. When He was placed in the tomb, He was
still alive and the disciples, mistaking Him for dead, buried Him alive. After several
hours, He revived in the coolness of the tomb, arose, and departed.
Refutation – The physical torture and abuse plus the efficiency of the Roman soldier
in killing, not to mention the assurance to Pilate by the centurion (Mk. 15:44-45) about
Christ’s death is already a solid proof that indeed Christ is dead. The spices used to
embalm him was also poisonous and applied on His wounded body, is enough to kill
him. This theory falls short. A weak and wounded man will not be able to move the
stone covering of the tomb, overpower armed Roman guards and then scape.
B. The Ghost theory – The disciples saw His ghost and thought it was Jesus.
Refutation – A ghost does not have a physical body. Doubting Thomas saw and
touched the Jesus’s hands including His side which have been pierced by a lance by
the Roman soldier to make sure He was dead. A ghost cannot eat and drink also (Jn.
C. The Unknown Tomb Theory – One of the earliest theories present to explain
everything away is that the disciples did not know where the tomb was located and
could not have found the empty grave. This theory depends on the belief that those
who were crucified were tossed into a common pit and were not allowed to be buried.
Refutation – The Gospel record indicates that Joseph of Arimathea took the body Of
Jesus and brought it to his own private tomb–not a public mass burial ground.
According to Scripture, the body of Christ was prepared for burial according to the
burial customs of the Jews; the women sat opposite the tomb and watched. Not only
did Joseph of Arimathea and the women know where the tomb was, so did the
Romans–they placed a guard there and sealed it.
D. The Hallucination Theory – This theory says all of Christ’s post-resurrection
appearances were really only supposed appearances because actually the people only
Refutation – How can 500 people have hallucination at the same time (1 Cor. 15:6)?
The disciples couldn’t even believe that Christ rose from the dead, and for that, they
were even rebuked by Jesus (Lk. 24:25). For them to hallucinate even imagine Jesus
and see Him is very unreasonable. I’m sure Mary Magdalene was not hallucinating
when Jesus first appeared to her. The disciples were not hallucinating when Jesus
appeared to them in the upper room and so were the two disciples on the road to
Emmaus. (Jn. 24: 13-35).
E. The Spiritual Resurrection Theory – This is the view that Christ’s resurrection was not
a real physical resurrection. It tells that Christ’s body remained in the grave and His
real resurrection was spiritual in nature. It was only told this way to illustrate the truth
of spiritual resurrection.
Refutation – A physical body disappeared from the tomb. If it was only a spiritual
resurrection, then what happened to the body? History shows there was a body there
and it disappeared. The enemies of Christ were never able to produce the body nor
disprove the resurrection.
Our text teaches us that Christ not only arose, but that He arose bodily. He possessed
a glorified body which had unique capacities. First Corinthians 15:44 calls it a spiritual
body, but it was nevertheless a physical body as well. Note the following facts about
the body of Christ:
1. It had flesh and bones (Lk. 24:349).
2. It was a glorious body (Phil. 3:21).
3. It was as immortal body (Rom. 6:9)
4. It was a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:54)
5. It can pass through solid wall (Jn. 20:19)
F. The Theft Theory – The disciples stole the body and claimed that He rose from the
Matthew 28:11-15 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into
the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when
they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money
unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while
we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure
you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly
reported among the Jews until this day.
1. A Roman guard unit is composed of 4 to 16-man security force. Each man was
trained to protect six feet of ground. The 16 men in a square of 40 each side were
supposed to be able to protect 36 yards against an entire battalion and hold it.
For the disciples to steal Christ’s body, they would have to overcome these
military forces. Ridiculous.
2. The Linen Wrappings and Empty Tomb. This theory ignores the evidence of the
linen wrappings and the empty tomb. If someone had stolen the body, they would
have either taken the body and left the wrappings scattered or piled in a heap,
but only resurrection could account for the position of the linen wrappings with
the body absent.
3. Why would the High Priest offer bribe? Because they themselves know in their
heart that Jesus rose from the dead. They cannot admit the truth that they have
committed the biggest mistake in their lives. They also told the soldiers to
circulate the “fake news” that the disciples stole Jesus’ body. Watch out, fake
news will always be fake.
II. Implications if there is no Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-19)
A. Several Horrible conclusions if Christ did not rose from the dead
1. All gospel preaching before and now are useless.
2. The Apostles, the early church fathers, the famous and faithful preachers,
missionaries who sacrificed their lives are all liars and fools.
3. All living Christians are still in their sins. No forgiveness, no hope in heaven.
4. All departed Christians are burning in hell.
5. All reason and purpose in life itself is destroyed.
6. Christ is still rotting in an unknown place in Israel.
7. Suffering for Christ is also useless
8. The sensual way is the only way. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (1
Illustration 2: Funeral of Brezhnev
As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid
Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood
motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid,
Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one
of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign
of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the
man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life,
and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might
yet have mercy on her husband.
Gary Thomas, in Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26
III. The true Explanation of Christ’s Resurrection
A. The Lord Jesus Christ rose bodily from the grave as he said that He would. John 2:19
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise
it up. John 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power
to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received
of my Father.
B. God the Father raised Him up. Acts 2:23-24 Him, being delivered by the determinate
counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified
and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was
not possible that he should be holden of it.
C. The Holy Spirit’s power – 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the
just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but
quickened by the Spirit:
IV. Significance of Christ’s Resurrection
A. It proves that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 1:4).
B. It guarantees our salvation (Rom. 4:25).
C. It illustrates the power of God (Eph. 1:19-20).
D. It promises our resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20-24).
E. It encourages us to live steadfast Christian lives (1Co 15:58).
F. It prepares Him to fulfil His next promise, “I will come again”.
The bodily resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is a solid rock truth that no
one can refute. The changed lives of those early Christians are one of the most telling
proof of His resurrection. What made the cowardly disciples who abandoned Him during
His arrest and trial go everywhere to proclaim the message of the risen Christ? They were
completely sure and absolutely confident that Christ rose from the dead and they are
willing to lay down their life for it. Indeed, they all have. They all died as martyrs, Peter
was even crucified upside down for his bold and persistent preaching about “the risen
Why would Paul a Jewish fanatic and persecutor of Christians change and become one of
the greatest propagators of Christianity? The answer is found in our text “he was seen of
me also” (1 Cor. 15:8, Acts 9:3-22). He has seen the resurrected Christ and like the rest,
Paul died for his devotion to Christ.
With all the events happening now around the world, the pandemic, the wars, rumours
of wars, famine, extreme weather changes, the resurrected Christ is coming soon. In fact,
He may come any moment from now. The question is are you ready to meet Him? Repent
from your sins now and receive Him as your personal Saviour before it’s too late