The Risen Christ - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (Part 3)

In part 1 of this mini-series on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 I emphasized the need to hold onto the apostolic gospel. In part 2 we saw how Paul reviews that gospel. In this final part (somewhat belated part), we look at how encourages us to trust the gospel and to trust him, the messenger of the gospel.

Trust the Gospel (vv.5-8)

The gospel summarized in 1 Cor. 15:3-5 is the gospel Paul preached. He wants these Corinthian believers to know it, but he also wants them to trust it. So he lists all the people who saw the risen Jesus, ending with himself.

It’s an impressive list of multiple appearances, to multitudes of people, many of whom are still alive to ask (1 Cor. 15:5-8)

We have a list of appearances, some to individuals - Peter, Jesus’ brother James, Paul; some to groups - the twelve, the apostles and one to a large crowd of more than five hundred.

I think the point is simple. Imagine the court case. In the dock there’s a defendant accused of a set of related crimes and on multiple occasions there are eyewitnesses to the crimes. People who saw him do it. Sometimes it’s just one person who saw it - well maybe they made a mistake, or they’re a confused individual, or they’ve got an axe to grind. But sometimes groups of people saw him commit the crime. And one time hundreds of people saw him commit the crime. The evidence is simply overwhelming - this is the criminal! The court must find him guilty.

The effect of these witnesses on the Corinthians should be the same. Jesus was alive. He really did rise again. So confident is Paul that he tells them to go and check out the eyewitnesses for themselves if they want.

The effect is to give us confidence too. We can trust the gospel.

Trust Paul (vv.8-11)

It then, apparently, needs to be made especially clear that we can trust the apostle Paul. That seems to be the point of 1 Cor. 15:8-11. It seems that some were doubting Paul’s credentials and of course they could then doubt his message. Paul himself recognizes that he is unusual as an apostle goes. He persecuted the church before Jesus appeared to him. He came late in the day. But God’s grace to him was very great. So great he mentions it three times. It was the grace of God that turned his life around and made him an apostle. It was the grace of God that meant he was able to work harder than all the other apostles. And Paul the apostle preached the very same message that the other apostles preached.

If he is a real apostle, with the real apostolic message. Then the Corinthians needed to listen, as do we. As we read and think on this message from Paul, it is God’s message through his apostle to us.
Will we listen?

Conclusion

The message of Easter is the message of the gospel. The death, burial, resurrection and appearances of Jesus. The message of the most important things. The message we must know and hold fast to. The message we can trust.

Let’s not be part of the quarter of people who think they are Christians, but don’t believe the gospel. Let’s hold firmly to the Easter faith.
Written with StackEdit.

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