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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 Now I am reminding you,
brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in
which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved, if you
hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I handed on to you as of first importance
what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the
that he was buried; that he was raised on the
third day in accordance with the scriptures;
that he appeared to Kephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than five
hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have
After that he appeared to James, then to all
Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he
appeared to me.
For I am the least 4 of the
apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his
grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of
them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we
preach and so you believed.
5 But if Christ is preached as raised from the
dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then
neither has Christ been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty
(too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.
Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise
if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, neither has
Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, 6
your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.
7 8 But now Christ has been
raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
9 For since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being.
For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ
shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order: Christ the
firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end, 10 when
he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every
sovereignty and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his
enemies under his feet.
11 The last enemy to be destroyed is death,
12 for "he subjected everything under his
feet." But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear
that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him.
When everything is subjected to him, then the
Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to
him, so that God may be all in all.
13 14 Otherwise, what will
people accomplish by having themselves baptized for the dead? If the dead are
not raised at all, then why are they having themselves baptized for them?
15 Moreover, why are we endangering ourselves all
Every day I face death; I swear it by the pride
in you (brothers) that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If at Ephesus I fought with beasts, so to
speak, what benefit was it to me? If the dead are not raised: "Let us eat
and drink, for tomorrow we die."
Do not be led astray: "Bad company
corrupts good morals."
Become sober as you ought and stop sinning. For
some have no knowledge of God; I say this to your shame.
16 17 But someone may say,
"How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come
18 You fool! What you sow is not brought to life
unless it dies.
And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind;
but God gives it a body as he chooses, and to
each of the seeds its own body.
19 Not all flesh is the same, but there is one
kind for human beings, another kind of flesh for animals, another kind of flesh
for birds, and another for fish.
There are both heavenly bodies and earthly
bodies, but the brightness of the heavenly is one kind and that of the earthly
The brightness of the sun is one kind, the
brightness of the moon another, and the brightness of the stars another. For
star differs from star in brightness.
20 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is
sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a
spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.
So, too, it is written, "The first man,
Adam, 21 became a living being," the last Adam a
But the spiritual was not first; rather the
natural and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, earthly; the
second man, from heaven.
As was the earthly one, so also are the
earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly
one, we shall also bear the image 22 of the heavenly one.
23 24 This I declare,
brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does
corruption inherit incorruption.
25 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all
fall asleep, but we will all be changed,
in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the
last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For that which is corruptible must clothe
itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with
26 And when this which is corruptible clothes
itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with
immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: "Death is
swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O
death, is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, 27
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm,
steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the
Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 [1-58] Some consider this chapter
an earlier Pauline composition inserted into the present letter. The problem
that Paul treats is clear to a degree: some of the Corinthians are denying the
resurrection of the dead (⇒ 1 Cor 15:12),
apparently because of their inability to imagine how any kind of bodily
existence could be possible after death (⇒ 1 Cor
15:35). It is plausibly supposed that their attitude stems from Greek
anthropology, which looks with contempt upon matter and would be content with
the survival of the soul, and perhaps also from an overrealized eschatology of
gnostic coloration, such as that reflected in ⇒ 2 Tim
2:18, which considers the resurrection a purely spiritual experience
already achieved in baptism and in the forgiveness of sins. Paul, on the other
hand, will affirm both the essential corporeity of the resurrection and its
futurity. His response moves through three steps: a recall of the basic kerygma
about Jesus' resurrection (⇒ 1 Cor 15:1-11), an
assertion of the logical inconsistencies involved in denial of the resurrection
(⇒ 1 Cor 15:12-34), and an attempt to perceive
theologically what the properties of the resurrected body must be
(⇒ 1 Cor 15:35-58).
2 [1-11] Paul recalls the tradition
(⇒ 1 Cor 15:3-7), which he can presuppose as common
ground and which provides a starting point for his argument. This is the
fundamental content of all Christian preaching and belief
(⇒ 1 Cor 15:1-2,
3 [3-7] The language by which Paul
expresses the essence of the "gospel" (⇒ 1 Cor
15:1) is not his own but is drawn from older credal formulas. This
credo highlights Jesus' death for our sins (confirmed by his burial) and Jesus'
resurrection (confirmed by his appearances) and presents both of them as
fulfillment of prophecy. In accordance with the scriptures: conformity of
Jesus' passion with the scriptures is asserted in ⇒ Matthew
16:1; ⇒ Luke 24:25-27,
⇒ 32, ⇒ 44-46.
Application of some Old Testament texts (⇒ Psalm 2:7;
⇒ 16:8-11) to his resurrection is illustrated by
⇒ Acts 2:27-31;
⇒ 13:29-39; and ⇒ Isaiah
52:13-⇒ 53:12 and ⇒ Hosea
6:2 may also have been envisaged.
4 [9-11] A persecutor may have
appeared disqualified (ouk . . . hikanos) from apostleship, but in fact God's
grace has qualified him. Cf the remarks in 2 Cor about his qualifications
(⇒ 2 Cor 2:16; ⇒ 3:5)
and his greater labors (⇒ 2 Cor 11:23). These
verses are parenthetical, but a nerve has been touched (the references to his
abnormal birth and his activity as a persecutor may echo taunts from Paul's
opponents), and he is instinctively moved to self-defense.
5 [12-19] Denial of the resurrection
(⇒ 1 Cor 15:12) involves logical inconsistencies.
The basic one, stated twice (⇒ 1 Cor 15:13,
⇒ 16), is that if there is no such thing as
(bodily) resurrection, then it has not taken place even in Christ's case.
6 [17-18] The consequences for the
Corinthians are grave: both forgiveness of sins and salvation are an illusion,
despite their strong convictions about both. Unless Christ is risen, their
faith does not save.
7  The firstfruits: the portion
of the harvest offered in thanksgiving to God implies the consecration of the
entire harvest to come. Christ's resurrection is not an end in itself; its
finality lies in the whole harvest, ourselves.
8 [20-28] After a triumphant
assertion of the reality of Christ's resurrection (⇒ 1 Cor
15:20a), Paul explains its positive implications and consequences. As
a soteriological event of both human (⇒ 1 Cor
15:20-23) and cosmic (⇒ 1 Cor 15:24-28)
dimensions, Jesus' resurrection logically and necessarily involves ours as
9 [21-22] Our human existence, both
natural and supernatural, is corporate, involves solidarity. In Adam . . . in
Christ: the Hebrew word adam in Genesis is both a common noun for mankind and a
proper noun for the first man. Paul here presents Adam as at least a literary
type of Christ; the parallelism and contrast between them will be developed
further in ⇒ 1 Cor 15:45-49 and in
⇒ Romans 5:12-21.
10 [24-28] Paul's perspective expands
to cosmic dimensions, as he describes the climax of history, the end. His
viewpoint is still christological, as in ⇒ 1 Cor
15:20-23. ⇒ 1 Cor 15:24,
⇒ 28 describe Christ's final relations to his
enemies and his Father in language that is both royal and military;
⇒ 1 Cor 15:25-28 insert a proof from scripture
(⇒ Psalm 110:1; ⇒ 8:6)
into this description. But the viewpoint is also theological, for God is the
ultimate agent and end, and likewise soteriological, for we are the
beneficiaries of all the action.
11  The last enemy . . . is death:
a parenthesis that specifies the final fulfillment of the two Old Testament
texts just referred to, ⇒ Psalm 110:1 and ⇒ Psalm
8:7. Death is not just one cosmic power among many, but the ultimate
effect of sin in the universe (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 15:56;
⇒ Romans 5:12). Christ defeats death where it prevails,
in our bodies. The destruction of the last enemy is concretely the "coming
to life" (⇒ 1 Cor 15:22) of "those who
belong to Christ" (⇒ 1 Cor 15:23).
12 [27b-28] The one who subjected everything
to him: the Father is the ultimate agent in the drama, and the final end of the
process, to whom the Son and everything else is ordered (24.28). That God may
be all in all: his reign is a dynamic exercise of creative power, an outpouring
of life and energy through the universe, with no further resistance. This is
the supremely positive meaning of "subjection": that God may fully be
13 [29-34] Paul concludes his
treatment of logical inconsistencies with a listing of miscellaneous Christian
practices that would be meaningless if the resurrection were not a fact.
14  Baptized for the dead: this
practice is not further explained here, nor is it necessarily mentioned with
approval, but Paul cites it as something in their experience that attests in
one more way to belief in the resurrection.
15 [30-34] A life of sacrifice, such
as Paul describes in ⇒ 1 Cor 4:9-13 and 2 Cor, would
be pointless without the prospect of resurrection; a life of pleasure, such as
that expressed in the Epicurean slogan of ⇒ 1 Cor
15:32, would be far more consistent. I fought with beasts: since Paul
does not elsewhere mention a combat with beasts at Ephesus, he may be speaking
figuratively about struggles with adversaries.
16 [35-58] Paul imagines two
objections that the Corinthians could raise: one concerning the manner of the
resurrection (how?), the other pertaining to the qualities of the risen body
(what kind?). These questions probably lie behind their denial of the
resurrection (⇒ 1 Cor 15:12), and seem to reflect
the presumption that no kind of body other than the one we now possess would be
possible. Paul deals with these objections in inverse order, in
⇒ 1 Cor 15:36-49 and ⇒ 1 Cor
15:50-58. His argument is fundamentally theological and its appeal is
to the understanding.
17 [35-49] Paul approaches the
question of the nature of the risen body (what kind of body?) by means of two
analogies: the seed (⇒ 1 Cor 15:36-44) and the
first man, Adam (⇒ 1 Cor 15:45-49).
18 [36-38] The analogy of the seed:
there is a change of attributes from seed to plant; the old life-form must be
lost for the new to emerge. By speaking about the seed as a body that dies and
comes to life, Paul keeps the point of the analogy before the reader's mind.
19 [39-41] The expression "its
own body" (⇒ 1 Cor 15:38) leads to a
development on the marvelous diversity evident in bodily life.
20 [42-44] The principles of
qualitative difference before and after death (⇒ 1 Cor
15:36-38) and of diversity on different levels of creation
(⇒ 1 Cor 15:39-41) are now applied to the human
body. Before: a body animated by a lower, natural life-principle (psyche) and
endowed with the properties of natural existence (corruptibility, lack of
glory, weakness). After: a body animated by a higher life-principle (pneuma; cf
⇒ 1 Cor 15:45) and endowed with other qualities
(incorruptibility, glory, power, spirituality), which are properties of God
21  The analogy of the first man,
Adam, is introduced by a citation from ⇒ Genesis 2:7.
Paul alters the text slightly, adding the adjective first, and translating the
Hebrew adam twice, so as to give it its value both as a common noun (man) and
as a proper name (Adam). ⇒ 1 Cor 15:45b then
specifies similarities and differences between the two Adams. The last Adam,
Christ (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 15:21-22) has become a . . .
spirit (pneuma), a life-principle transcendent with respect to the natural soul
(psyche) of the first Adam (on the terminology here, cf the note on
⇒ 1 Cor 3:1). Further, he is not just alive, but
life-giving, a source of life for others.
22  We shall also bear the image:
although it has less manuscript support, this reading better fits the context's
emphasis on futurity and the transforming action of God; on future
transformation as conformity to the image of the Son, cf
⇒ Romans 8:29; ⇒ Philippians
3:21. The majority reading, "let us bear the image,"
suggests that the image of the heavenly man is already present and exhorts us
to conform to it.
23 [50-57] These verses, an answer to
the first question of ⇒ 1 Cor 15:35, explain
theologically how the change of properties from one image to another will take
place: God has the power to transform, and he will exercise it.
24 [50-53] Flesh and blood . . .
corruption: living persons and the corpses of the dead, respectively. In both
cases, the gulf between creatures and God is too wide to be bridged unless God
himself transforms us.
25 [51-52] A mystery: the last moment
in God's plan is disclosed; cf the notes on ⇒ 1 Cor
2:1, ⇒ 7-10a. The final trumpet and the
awakening of the dead are stock details of the apocalyptic scenario. We shall
not all fall asleep: Paul expected that some of his contemporaries might still
be alive at Christ's return; after the death of Paul and his whole generation,
copyists altered this statement in various ways. We will all be changed: the
statement extends to all Christians, for Paul is not directly speaking about
anyone else. Whether they have died before the end or happen still to be alive,
all must be transformed.
26 [54-55] Death is swallowed up in
victory: scripture itself predicts death's overthrow. O death: in his prophetic
vision Paul may be making Hosea's words his own, or imagining this cry of
triumph on the lips of the risen church.
27  The sting of death is sin: an
explanation of Hosea's metaphor. Death, scorpion-like, is equipped with a
sting, sin, by which it injects its poison. Christ defeats sin, the cause of
death (⇒ Genesis 3:19; ⇒ Romans
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