“I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection.”—ACTS 24:15.
SONG 151 He Will Call
1-2. True worshippers have what wonderful hope?
HOPE is very important. The hope of some people centers on having a successful marriage, raising healthy children, or recovering from a serious illness. We Christians may long for the same things. But the hope we cherish most goes further than that; it includes our everlasting future as well as the future of our loved ones who have died.
2 The apostle Paul stated: “I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Paul was not the first to express the hope of a resurrection. The patriarch Job did too. He was confident that God would remember him and raise him to life again.—Job 14:7-10, 12-15.
3. Why can we benefit from 1 Corinthians chapter 15?
3 “The resurrection of the dead” is part of the “foundation,” or “primary doctrine,” of all Christian teachings. (Heb. 6:1, 2) Paul’s discussion of the resurrection is recorded in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. What he wrote must have built up first-century Christians. And that chapter can build us up and strengthen a hope that we may have long held.
4. What is key to our hope for our dead loved ones?
4 The resurrection of Jesus Christ is key to our hope for our dead loved ones. It was part of “the good news” that Paul declared to the Corinthians. (1 Cor. 15:1, 2) In fact, he said that if a Christian lacked belief in that resurrection, his faith would be useless. (1 Cor. 15:17) Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is central to our Christian hope.
5-6. What do the words found at 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 mean for us?
5 Early in Paul’s discussion of the resurrection, he brought up three realities. They are (1) “Christ died for our sins.” (2) He “was buried.” (3) He “was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures.”—Read 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.
6 What do Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection mean for us? The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be “cut off from the land of the living” and be “given a burial place with the wicked.” More was involved, though. Isaiah added that the Messiah would carry “the sin of many people.” Jesus did this by providing the ransom. (Isa. 53:8, 9, 12; Matt. 20:28; Rom. 5:8) So the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus provide a solid basis for our hope of being set free from sin and death and being reunited with our loved ones who have died.
TESTIMONY FROM MANY WITNESSES
7-8. What helps Christians to be sure that Jesus was resurrected?
7 Our hope in the resurrection is linked to the resurrection of Jesus, so we need to be convinced that Jesus was resurrected. Why can we be certain that Jehovah brought Jesus back to life?
8 There were many eyewitnesses who testified that Jesus had been raised. (1 Cor. 15:5-7) The first witness on Paul’s list was the apostle Peter (Cephas). A group of disciples confirmed that Peter saw the resurrected Jesus. (Luke 24:33, 34) In addition, “the Twelve,” the apostles, saw Jesus after he was raised. Then Christ “appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time,” perhaps at the joyous event in Galilee mentioned at Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus also “appeared to James,” likely Jesus’ half brother, who previously had not put faith in Jesus as the Messiah. (John 7:5) After seeing the resurrected Jesus, James was convinced. Significantly, about 55 C.E. when Paul wrote this letter, many eyewitnesses of the resurrection were alive, so any doubter could consult with living, credible witnesses.
9. As we read at Acts 9:3-5, how could Paul add testimony about Jesus’ resurrection?
9 Later, Jesus appeared to Paul himself. (1 Cor. 15:8) Paul (Saul) was on his way to Damascus when he heard the voice of the resurrected Jesus and saw a vision of him in heavenly glory. (Read Acts 9:3-5.) Paul’s experience added to the evidence that Jesus’ resurrection was not a myth.—Acts 26:12-15.
10. What did Paul’s conviction that Jesus was raised from the dead move him to do?
10 Paul’s testimony would be especially noteworthy to some because he at one time persecuted Christians. Once he became convinced that Jesus had been raised up, Paul labored to convince others of this truth. He endured beatings, imprisonment, and shipwreck as he spread the truth that Jesus had died but was alive again. (1 Cor. 15:9-11; 2 Cor. 11:23-27) Paul was so sure that Jesus had been raised from the dead that he was willing to die defending his belief. Does this early testimony not convince you that Jesus was raised from the dead? And does it not strengthen your belief in the resurrection?
ADDRESSING WRONG VIEWS
11. Why may some in Corinth have had wrong views about the resurrection?
11 Some in the Greek city of Corinth had wrong views about the resurrection, even going so far as to say that “there is no resurrection of the dead.” Why? (1 Cor. 15:12) Philosophers in another Greek city, Athens, had mocked the idea that Jesus was resurrected. Such thinking may have affected some in Corinth. (Acts 17:18, 31, 32) Others may have thought of the resurrection in a figurative sense, meaning that a person was once “dead” in sin but had become “alive” as a Christian. Whatever their reason, denying the resurrection meant that their faith was in vain. If God did not resurrect Jesus, no ransom was paid and all remained in sin. So those who rejected the resurrection had no valid hope.—1 Cor. 15:13-19; Heb. 9:12, 14.
12 Paul had firsthand knowledge that “Christ [had] been raised from the dead.” That resurrection was superior to the resurrection of those who had earlier been brought back to life on earth—only to die again. Paul said that Jesus was “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” In what sense was Jesus first? He was the first person to be raised to life as a spirit being and the first one from mankind to ascend to heaven.—1 Cor. 15:20; Acts 26:23; read 1 Peter 3:18, 22.
THOSE WHO “WILL BE MADE ALIVE”
13. Paul drew what contrast between Adam and Jesus?
13 How could the death of one man bring life to millions? Paul gives a logical answer to that question. He draws a contrast between what Adam brought on mankind and what is possible through Christ. With regard to Adam, Paul wrote: “Death came through a man.” When Adam sinned, he brought disaster on himself and his descendants. We still feel the tragic effects of his disobedience. How different is the outcome made possible because God raised his Son! “Resurrection of the dead also comes through a man,” Jesus. “For just as in Adam all are dying,” Paul reasoned, “so also in the Christ all will be made alive.”—1 Cor. 15:21, 22.
14. Will Adam be resurrected? Explain.
14 What did Paul mean when he said that “in Adam all are dying”? Paul had in mind Adam’s descendants, who inherited sin and imperfection from Adam and thus are in a dying condition. (Rom. 5:12) Adam is not among those who “will be made alive.” Christ’s ransom does not cover him, for Adam was a perfect man who willfully disobeyed God. The outcome for Adam is the same as what is ahead for those whom “the Son of man” will judge as “goats,” namely, “everlasting cutting-off.”—Matt. 25:31-33, 46; Heb. 5:9.
15. Who are included in the “all” who “will be made alive”?
15 Note that Paul said that “in the Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22) Paul’s letter was written to anointed Christians in Corinth, who would be resurrected to life in heaven. Those Christians were “sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones.” And Paul mentioned “those who have fallen asleep in death in union with Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:2; 15:18; 2 Cor. 5:17) In another inspired letter, Paul wrote that those “united with [Jesus] in the likeness of his death” will “be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom. 6:3-5) Jesus was raised as a spirit and went to heaven. So that will be the outcome for all “in union with Christ,” that is, all spirit-anointed Christians.
16. What did Paul imply by calling Jesus “the firstfruits”?
16 Paul wrote that Christ was raised as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” Bear in mind that others, such as Lazarus, had been brought back to life on earth, but Jesus was the first one ever to be raised from the dead as a spirit and to receive everlasting life. He could be likened to the firstfruits of the harvest that the Israelites offered to God. Furthermore, by calling Jesus “the firstfruits,” Paul implied that others thereafter would be raised from death to heavenly life. The apostles and others “in union with Christ” would follow Jesus. In due time, they would experience a resurrection similar to that of Jesus.
17. When would those “in union with Christ” receive their heavenly reward?
17 The heavenly resurrection for those “in union with Christ” had not yet begun to occur at the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Rather, Paul pointed to a future time: “Each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.” (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:15, 16) Today we are living during that foretold “presence” of Christ. Yes, the apostles and other spirit-anointed Christians who died had to await that presence to receive their heavenly reward and be “united with [Jesus] in the likeness of his resurrection.”
YOU HAVE A SURE HOPE!
18. (a) Why can we conclude that another resurrection will follow the heavenly one? (b) As indicated at 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, what developments will occur in heaven?
18 What, though, of all the loyal Christians who do not have the hope of living in heaven with Christ? They too have the hope of a resurrection. The Bible says that Paul and others who go to heaven share in “the earlier resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:11) Does that not suggest that another resurrection would follow? That would be in harmony with what Job said about his future. (Job 14:15) “Those who belong to the Christ during his presence” will be in heaven with Jesus when he brings to nothing all governments and all authority and power. Even “the last enemy, death,” will be brought to nothing. Certainly, inherited death will no more afflict those raised to heaven. But what about others?—Read 1 Corinthians 15:24-26.
19. What can those with an earthly hope expect?
19 What can those with an earthly hope expect? They can derive hope from Paul’s words: “I have hope . . . that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Clearly, no unrighteous person can enter into heaven, so those words point to a future resurrection on earth.
20. How has your hope been strengthened?
20 Without a doubt, “there is going to be a resurrection”! Those who are brought back to life on earth will have the prospect of living here forever. You can put your trust in that promise. That hope can bring you comfort regarding your loved ones who have died. They can be raised from the dead during the time when Christ and others will “rule as kings . . . for the 1,000 years.” (Rev. 20:6) You too can maintain the sure hope that if you should happen to die before the Millennium begins, your future is secure. This “hope does not lead to disappointment.” (Rom. 5:5) It can sustain you now and add to your joy in serving God. But there is more that we can learn from 1 Corinthians chapter 15, as the following article will show.
SONG 147 Life Everlasting Is Promised
c PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A brother has lost his beloved wife, with whom he had long served. He trusts that she will be resurrected, and he continues to serve Jehovah loyally.