We ended the last study on these verses.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NASB (3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Of the utmost importance is the fact that Christ died for our sins. If you knew the scriptures and had some faith, that statement alone would be enough for you; there is, however, more. The Jews knew the scriptures, yet they chose NOT to believe, receive, or acknowledge Jesus. An excellent piece of evidence for their unbelief comes out of this story from Matthew 2.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'” Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. (Matthew 2:1-7 NASB)
Deeply troubled, for several reasons, Herod calls the chief priests and scribes of the Jews and inquired as to where this King of the Jews was born. They knew the answer and exclaimed, in Bethlehem of Judea.
Micah 5:2 AMP But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah; [yet] out of you shall One come forth for Me Who is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days (eternity).
Note how, in our example from Matthew, there was no denial and no refusal, but it was there. The fact that Herod had to turn to the Magi for answers is the most damaging piece of evidence against them, for their refusal to receive Jesus.
Many were aware of Christ’s death on the cross. The Apostle John was standing close enough to the cross for Jesus to direct John to take care of Mary, Jesus’ mother. Others witnessed this event, although they may not have understood what had taken place or what was about to occur.
There was a man named Joseph, who was from Arimathea in Judea. Joseph was a good and honest man, and he was eager for God’s kingdom to come. He was also a member of the council, but he did not agree with what they had decided. (Luke 23:50 CEV)
Though many despise the man, Kenneth Copeland preached a powerful message called, From the Cross to the Throne. What happened during those three days? We have evidence that tells us what happened during that time, and Hebrews 5 is one of them.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:8-10 NASB)
He (Jesus) suffered, not only the beatings, but the cross, and then hell itself. Yes, I have heard mere men like Hank Hannegraf express his scorn toward those that think that God could be put in hell. But what you, who are unwilling to accept that piece of information, forget is that Satan thought he had won. As far as Satan was concerned, he had killed Jesus. The problem with Satan’s logic is that hell was made for those who sinned, and that would have included all of us were it not for Jesus and the cross. Jesus was NOT born into sin like we are; and, He never sinned. Satan had put Jesus there illegally, kind of like Joe Biden and this rigged election. The difference being, because Jesus never sinned, Satan could not hold Him, and this is why Jesus was able to rip the keys of death, hell, and the grave from that moron’s hands; preach to the captivity, and set them free.
Let’s park here for a moment.
How many different ways could a person understand captivity?
At least a couple. Being born into sin, we are, in a sense, in captivity as we speak. The other definition of captivity comes from doing Satan’s will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 NASB The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, (25) with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, (26) and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
This would be a most unfortunate and hopeless situation if there were no salvation. Ah, but there is a way to reverse this hopeless situation, and His name is Jesus. That change from a hopeless person to one that is hope-filled only comes through faith in Jesus’ price that He paid on the cross for you, and, occasionally, it requires that we walk away from things that would enslave us.
Romans 6:5-7 NASB For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, (6) knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; (7) for he who has died is freed from sin.
So if you find yourself doubting your salvation, or wondering if there are legitimate reasons for your salvation, keep in mind that there were witnesses. Paul spells out, in generalized terms, who they were. I will walk through this slowly.
1 Corinthians 15:5-7 NLT He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. (6) After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. (7) Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.
At the time of its writing, this statement was vital, as many of these people knew Peter by visual contact. To add that most of these witnesses are still alive is like telling these readers to go look them up for yourself, as they will validate what I say. When you realize Paul’s potential age, as he wrote this letter to the church in Corinth around 59 A.D., you can guess the ages of those living witnesses and ascertain that they may not be around much longer.
Our faith is not the ramblings of fools and older men; they were the words of Jesus/God. John, in the opening lines of his gospel, tells us that Jesus spoke the worlds into existence.
John 1:1-3 NASB, In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being.
He told us what He was going to do, and then He did it with such a precision that it leaves the wisest baffled. He rose from the dead and is now seated with the Father. God put Him there and the writer of Hebrews tells us that.
Hebrews 1:1-4 NASB God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (2) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (3) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (4) having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
He is not merely lounging around, waiting for His next mission, He is constantly standing on our behalf much like a defense attorney.
Hebrews 7:25 NASB Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them.
What Paul says next is a challenge to understand.
1 Corinthians 15:8 NASB (8) and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Some translations talk as though Paul is saying that he should have been aborted. I would like to tell you that something like this never happened in Paul’s day, but I cannot attest to the fact that it did not. Murdering a baby, as we do today, was detestable to the Jews, although handing your newborn into the arms of the god Moloch is no better. So, to read something like abortion is absurd, and therefore, forces us to look at some other meaning. The assumption then would be, that after all these years, perhaps he now wishes he could have been there at the beginning and walked with Jesus, as these disciples did. Paul tends to answer the question for us.
1 Corinthians 15:9 NASB (9) For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Why would he say, I am the least of the apostles?
Peter, originally called to be the apostle to the Gentiles, fumbled the ball, and Paul, in time, picked it up and ran with it, although we, for the longest time, still see Paul with a focus on the Jews.
When Paul says, I am not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church, it makes sense. Remember, Paul told us he had a thorn in the flesh. You can continue to rant how you know what Paul’s thorn was, based on some traditional but incorrect teaching. Still, you fail to remember that Paul, was above all else, an astute theologian, with the only known composition they had, the law and the prophets. There, in the book of Numbers, God told Israel to eliminate the Canaanites, or they will become pricks in your eyes and thorns in your flesh. This reference to scripture by Paul tells us that he did not adequately eliminate something from his life.
If you have read the book of Acts, then you can admit that Paul was not only a passionate man but a man capable of a fast temper. Remember, he chased off John Mark and Barnabas, a decision that he may have regretted for years, and yet, there is this statement from Paul.
1 Corinthians 15:10 NASB (10) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain, but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
- But by the grace of God, I am what I am.
What is it that Paul turned out to be? Only one of the most influential writers of not just the New Testament, but the Bible itself. If one of us Gentile believers thinks about a writer of the Bible, we think about Paul. You would think he wrote the book of Acts. He didn’t, but he was a dominant player as we learn about the grace of God first hand. We also saw the labors of Paul as he went on his missionary journeys. And finally, we see Paul point to the fact that it was the grace of God working through him that makes his labors so significant.
Paul closes out this fifteenth chapter of 1Corinthians with this comment.
1 Corinthians 15:11 NASB (11) Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Wow, Paul put tremendous trust in the idea that others were following Paul’s lead and preaching the same message that Paul preached. We know he struggled with this idea and told young Timothy:
1 Timothy 1:3 NASB As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
As many of you know, doctrines are the foundational reasons for us having church, and clearly, this had become a problem in Ephesus. The phrase “to teach strange doctrines” is merely a repeat of the same word three times. It translates to English as instruct differently. Example. If the doctrine is one of salvation upon the cross, and you tell the Christians that attend your Bible study weekly that they are sinners with no hope of anything other than hell’s flame, then you are instructing differently. By the way, I mention this because I attended a bible study in which the leader repeatedly said such things.
Many of us have sat under false teachings. It is nothing short of a miracle, or perhaps God’s grace that we have come to know and understand this grace – the same grace that Paul preached.
One last thing. This forgiveness on the cross happened once, with no reason, whatsoever, to repeat the event, as the Jews had to do with their sacrifices. Having believed, we are saved eternally.
Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. (9) And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
In Christ, we have eternal salvation.