Romans 8 is my second favorite chapter of the Bible. Other chapters in my top 10 include Isaiah 53, Matthew 28, John 1, Acts 27, Romans 3 and Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 13, and Philippians 2.
But there is one chapter in the Bible that is more precious to me than these other nine. There is one chapter that surpasses them all.
- Whenever I read this chapter, I find myself falling on my knees in worship.
- This chapter gives me hope when I am discouraged.
- The first verses of this chapter point me directly to the gospel and the work of Christ.
- This chapter is perhaps the greatest discourse on the most important doctrine of the Christian faith.
My favorite chapter in all of Holy Scripture is 1 Corinthians 15, and this is why.
1. First Corinthians 15 summarizes the work of Christ.
The opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15 summarize the gospel and the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Christ died. He was buried. He arose.
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
No one else could die and pay for the penalty of our sin but Jesus alone. Jesus has several characteristics that make Him uniquely qualified to be our great Savior.
Jesus alone was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38)
In order for Jesus to be a Savior, to bring about forgiveness of sin, he must be both God and man. But in order for Jesus to be both fully God and fully man, he must be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a human virgin.
Jesus alone is God incarnate. (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 1:1-3; 2:14-18)
Our Savior must be fully man in order to substitute himself for men and die in their place. He must be fully God in order for the value of his life’s payment to satisfy the demands of our infinitely holy God.
Jesus alone lived a sinless life. (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:23-28; 9:13-14; 1 Peter 2:21-24)
The sacrifice of Jesus who, sinless, was able to die for the sins of others because he did not have to die for any sin of his own.
Jesus alone died a substitutionary death as payment for the sins of others. (Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:10-14)
Jesus lived a sinless life; so he did not deserve to die. The cause of his death was entirely because the Father placed our sin upon him as he hung on the cross. The death that he died was in our place paying the full penalty for our sin.
Jesus alone rose from the dead triumphant over sin. (Acts 2:22-24; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 16-23)
A few people other than Christ have been resuscitated from the dead (1 Kings 17:17–24; John 11:38–44), but only Christ has been raised from the dead never to die again, having defeated all sin. Christ’s resurrection from the dead shows that his atoning death for sin brought about both the full payment of sin’s penalty and full victory over sin’s greatest power.
2. First Corinthians 15 gives an extensive treatment of the doctrine of the resurrection.
Christianity is completely dependent on the historical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take away Jesus’ resurrection, and you take away the Christian faith. Jesus’ ultimate purpose for taking on humanity was not to teach and preach. Jesus’ teaching and preaching was important, but it was not the reason He came.
Jesus took on human nature to live a perfect life and to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin as our substitute. Jesus, by his death on the cross, has fully paid sin’s penalty. God showed that Jesus’ payment for sin worked by raising Him from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is necessary to prove that his payment for sin was full and final.
God showed that Jesus’ victory over sin’s power worked by raising Him from the dead. Christ conquered sin’s power including its greatest power of death. The resurrection of Christ is necessary to prove that his victory over sin’s power was full and final.
If you find the bones of Buddha, you still have Buddhism. If you find the bones of Joseph Smith, you still have Mormonism. But if you find the bones of Jesus Christ, Christianity is crushed.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)
Christianity hinges on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, and 1 Corinthians 15 is the greatest chapter in the Bible to expound on this most important doctrinal truth.
3. First Corinthians 15 heralds our future hope in Christ.
We live in a world full of pain and suffering. Our human bodies quickly age and succumb to illness. Our world is full of injustice and violence, and our future outlook appears bleak and hopeless.
1 Corinthians 15 gives a resounding anthem of our future hope.
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21)
Because Jesus was raised from the dead with a new glorified body, He assures us that as His people and His children, we have a future when we will be resurrected with a new glorified body.
“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-43)
Our future glorified bodies are imperishable, raised in glory and power by God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. We will experience a similar resurrection as Christ, having been united with Christ.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
What a description of our future resurrection. What a blessed hope we possess in Christ. We need a reminder of the future to help us live in the present, and 1 Corinthians provides.
4. First Corinthians 15 proclaims Christ’s victory over the power of sin.
The tragic consequences of sin are immense.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
The death spoken of here means more than dying physically or having your body die. Death for sin involves most importantly a separation from God and all that God is. To be separated from God is to be separated from everything that is good.
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
The penalty of sin is death. The greatest power of sin is death. Jesus’ atoning work of salvation gives us victory over death. We are forgiven of the debt and penalty of sin. We are freed from the power of sin. We are victorious over death and sin’s power through our Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15, God pronounces this triumph.
5. First Corinthians 15 encourages Christians to persevere because our labor is not in vain.
Before I became a Christian, I was in deep depression. I was consumed with the sober reality that this life is meaningless.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3)
I had nothing to live for before I knew Christ. The pursuit of things in this world had no meaning. A person’s life achievements had no value after a person dies. You cannot take money with you. Your name will be forgotten. Without Christ, life is meaningless and vain.
But because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I do have reason to live. My toil and labor for my Lord and Savior is meaningful.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The greatest reward that God gives us as Christians is eternal life. Christ has paid for the penalty of our sin, and Christ has given us victory over the power of sin. We will live and reign with God forever, and because God will permanently eradicated the presence of sin, we will see God face to face, completely unveiled.
We anxiously groan for our perfected bodies, and we eagerly anticipate the new heavens and new earth. Until that day, we still have abundant life in the present. We have reason to persevere in doing God’s work. 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us of this precious truth.