From 1 Corinthians 15-16
It is my view that many Christians believe the gospel, but do not know what it is. I think a lot of Christians are confused about what the gospel is and not even know they are confused. I’ve highlighted this passage to show you what Paul says the gospel is so if someone were to ask you what the gospel is you can go straight to this passage.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, (1 Cor 15.1)
Paul is going to remind the Corinthians of the gospel he preached to them, they received and in which they stand (1 Cor 15.1). Paul’s statements make it clear he is describing the content of the gospel message.
2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (1 Cor 15.2)
The same gospel message by which they are being saved (1 Cor 15.2). This is the same gospel message he says is God’s power of salvation for all who believe (Rom 1.16). The effects of believing the gospel message is salvation.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: (1 Cor 15.3)
Paul received this gospel from Christ (1 Cor 15.3; Gal 1.12). The apostles confirmed this was the same gospel message they preached (1 Cor 15.3; Gal 2.2). It is the apostolic gospel of salvation.
that Christ (1 Cor 15.3)
Christ or Christos (Gk.) means ‘Messiah and anointed one’. The root of the verb chrio, in Greek meant ‘to smear, rub, spread.’ In the LXX, because of the connection with ‘rubbing or smearing oil,’ the term was associated with ‘one who had been anointed, or set apart, for a special task.’ In the Hebrew Bible, the ‘anointed ones’ were the king and the high priest, occasionally a prophet (all three offices are associated with Jesus; cf Jn 6.14; Heb 9.11; Rev 19.16).
In later Jewish writings in Greek, Christos came to mean ‘the Messiah.’ The Christ is the expected, ‘end time,’ messianic figure and the title draws upon God’s promise to David of an unending heir to his throne (2 Sam 7.14). This era would be initiated by a figure who would actualise the promise of the end time reign of David’s line. Jesus is declared the Christ. He is the figure who actualises the end time reign of David’s line.
died for our sins (1 Cor 15.3)
In other locations we can see Paul understand the crucifixion and death of Jesus in terms of new covenant, substitution, incorporation. and various benefits.
When Israel was in slavery to Egypt a passover lamb was sacrificed and its blood was smeared on the door lintel. Those who were covered by the blood of the lamb were protected from God’s judgement (Ex 12). Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is the birth of their nation, the event that after which Israel was called the son of God (Ex 4.22; Hos 11.1). Israel was called to remember this great act of deliverance throughout their history. Christians likewise have been introduced the New Covenant where Jesus is the lamb of God (Jn 1.36; Acts 8.32; 1 Cor 5.7; 1 Pet 1.19; Rev 5.6f).
Jesus died our death as our representative and as a substitutionary death. He stood in our place and shouldered the wrath and punishment due us for our sins (Rom 3.25; 5.9; 8.3; Gal 2.20b; 1 Pet 3.18).
We were crucified with him and we died with him. We died to sin when we were incorporated into the death of Christ (Rom 6.3-8; 7.4; Gal 2.20a; 2 Cor 5.14; 1 Pet 2.24).
His death was for our good; his death procured forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and justification in God’s sight.
in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Cor 15.3)
The passage twice mentions ‘in accordance with the scriptures’. Paul is referring to the Old Testament background of the gospel message. That is the covenant promises, the scriptural prophecies of God and the Davidic ancestry of Jesus. These have been fulfilled in his birth, life, death and resurrection (Mt 2:17,23; 4:14; 13:14; 26:54,56; 27:9; Mk 14:49; Lk 4:21; 22:37; 24:44; Jn 12:38; 13:18; 15:25; 17:12; 19:36; Acts 1:16; 3:18; 13:27; 13:33).
that he was buried, (1 Cor 15.4)
The reference to the burial of Christ is a element in the narrative sequence. All of the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John describe it. Paul also refers to it when discussing spiritual baptism (Rom 6.4; Col 2.12).
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Cor 15.4)
1 Cor 15 starts with the gospel, but concentrates on one aspect of it. Jesus resurrection. The resurrection is key to the all the Gospels and a number of sermons in Acts (Acts 2,3,10,13,17). Afterward Paul will say if the resurrection did not happen their faith is in vain. Romans 1.3-4 says, it is through the resurrection that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God.
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Co 15:5–8)
The references to the appearances of Christ is another key point which promotes the narrative sequence. The appearance of Christ provides proof that Christ rose from the dead. It also plays its part in the Gospels, and the significant sermons in Acts (Acts 2,3,10,13).
These four points reflect the sequence of Jesus major life events and form a basic narrative. The story of Jesus’ life details many things about what Jesus said and did. In 1 Cor 15.1-5, the death and the resurrection of Christ are given the highest importance in this gospel narrative.
Words for believers
- The Gospel is the story of Jesus. To share the Gospel properly one must tell the story of Jesus.
- The story includes the elements of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and appearances/witness
- The story is connected to the Old Testament which it uses as supporting material (‘according to the scriptures’)
- The overall message includes a description of forms of salvation associated with Jesus.