Lesson 49


Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

15:1 Now I declare to you, brothers, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 15:6 Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 15:8 and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who is not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was bestowed on me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 15:11 Whether then it is I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.


Today's Lesson 

Paul has dealt with a number of problems that had surfaced in the Corinthian church. Now he begins a discussion of what might well be the most important -- certainly it is most important to us the modern reader. Chapter 15 is the longest chapter of the epistle and provides us with the most extensive discussion in the New Testament concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Paul opens with section with a litany of how he received the gospel of the resurrection of Christ. Paul declares that what he received, he faithfully passed on to the Corinthians just as he did all of his churches. Paul emphasizes that although his gospel was confirmed by the other apostles, he received it not from men but from Christ. He tells the Corinthians to believe and to live by the gospel that they received from him.

 

Next, he briefly describes the gospel he preached. Christ died for our sins, was buried and raised on the third day. These events were not only witnessed by many of His followers, they were also done in conformance with the Jewish Scriptures.

 

There are several interesting points about the appearances that Paul mentions. The "Cephas" that Paul writes saw the Risen Christ first is otherwise called Peter in the New Testament. Cephas was Peter's Jewish name. Also, when Paul writes that "then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles," he writes this phrase in such a way as to include James as one of the apostles.

 

Paul writes that last of all, like "a child born at the wrong time," Christ appeared to him. The humility of Paul in this section was not a false humility. He always thought of himself as the least of the apostles because of his persecution of the early church before his conversion. Paul writes that he worked harder than all the other believers so as to prove to everyone the depth of his commitment. Yet, in a remarkable turn of a phrase, Paul notes that it is really not him that is working so hard. It is the grace of God that works in him. We are conscious of the activity and the effort. What we need to also be conscious of is the working of God in our lives that is sometimes difficult to see.

 

The grace that God bestowed on Paul was not futile. What causes God's grace to be ineffective? As a consequence of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God's grace flows out to all people. Not all people, however, respond to that grace. For those that deny His bountiful grace and refuse the urging of His Spirit, God's grace is futile. But to those that hear the gospel of Christ's death and resurrection and believe, God's grace is powerfully effective.

 

All your life God has been offering you His glorious grace. While you are busy working every day, is God's grace working for you? Is His grace effective in your life?

 

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