“But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.” (I Co.15.13-15)

The first and most obvious consequence of there being no resurrection would be that “not even Christ has been raised.” As anyone should easily deduce, Paul argues, if the dead cannot rise, Christ did not rise.

It is likely that the disbelieving Corinthians got around that problem by claiming that Christ was not really a man, or was not fully a man. They assumed that because Christ was divine He could not possibly have been human, and therefore only appeared to be human. Consequently He did not really die but only appeared to die. According to this view, His appearances between the crucifixion (an illusion) and the ascension were simply continuing manifestations that only seemed to be bodily.

That view, of course, cannot square with what the Gospel writers, Jesus Himself, and the Apostles taught. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry are of a person who was entirely human. He was born to a human mother, and He ate, drank, slept, became tired, was crucified, was stabbed, bled, and died. At His first appearance to the twelve after the crucifixion, Jesus made a point of having the disciples touch Him in order to prove that He was not simply a spirit, which “does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” He next asked for something to eat and then “took it and ate it before them” (Lk.24.39-43).

At Pentecost Peter proclaimed that “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God” and that “this Man delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross” (Ac.2.22-23). Later in the same message he proclaimed that Jesus was still alive, not merely in spirit but in body. He told of David’s speaking “of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades [grave], nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again.” In his opening words to the Romans, Paul makes it clear that “the gospel of God” for which he was set apart was “concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Ro.1.1-4). Jesus’ resurrection evidenced both His humanity and His deity.

In His vision to John on Patmos Christ declared, “I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of the grave ” (Re.1.17-18). In his second letter John points up the crucial importance of believing that Jesus was born, lived, died, and was raised up a human being: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

The Corinthians could not fall back on the pagan notion that Christ only appeared to be human. He was fully human; He physically lived and died and lived again. Therefore, if there is no such thing as physical resurrection, “not even Christ has been raised.”

A Christian has no Savior but Christ, no Redeemer but Christ, no Lord but Christ. Therefore if Christ was not raised, He is not alive, and our Christian life is lifeless. We would have nothing to justify our faith, our Bible study, our preaching or witnessing, our service for Him or our worship of Him, and nothing to justify our hope either for this life or the next. We would deserve nothing, but the compassion reserved for fools.

But we are not to be pitied, for Paul immediately continues, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”

He has risen Indeed!


(mar-uh-nath-uh – “Our Lord Comes”)

Pastor Steve can be reached at PastorSteve@MaranathaBibleChurch.org