The Resurrection| Who Were The Dead Ones in 1 Corinthians 15 #2
Guest article by Holger Neubauer
Be sure to read installment #1 in this important series, before reading this one.
1 Corinthians 15:5-11 contains proof of the resurrection from the eyewitnesses, Paul himself an eyewitness of the resurrection. The resurrection provided the “hope and anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:18,19). This resurrection hope was the subject of Paul’s defense before Felix, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the law and the prophets: And have hope toward God, which they themselves allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust”(Acts 24:14,15).
It is important to note that the Jews allowed for a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. This proves that Paul, or any other Christian for that matter, did not receive a new resurrection doctrine from Jesus because these Jews had rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Paul’s hope was clearly given in the Old Testament prophets for he would teach “none other things than those which the prophets and Moses
did say should come” (Acts 26:22,23).
The Resurrection and the Old Testament
The only Old Testament text that mentions specifically the resurrection of both just and unjust is Daniel 12:2 which points to the “time of the end” (Daniel 12:4). Daniel would “stand in his lot at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:13). Daniel was promised resurrection at the “end of the days.” This end of days is not the end of time but refers to the last day of the Jewish economy, for the phrase “to scatter the power of the holy people,” is an unmistakable reference to Israel (Daniel 12:7). The time of the end would also be identified by the “abomination which makes desolate” (Daniel 12:11). Jesus quoted from this text in Matthew 24:14,15 and pointed to the same end. Daniel 12:6 mentions, “all these wonders” which includes all the prophecies of Daniel 12. Therefore, every item of Daniel 12 must have been fulfilled at the same time. Jesus taught exactly the same thing as he foretold that before the generation he was living in would pass, that He would would send his angels to “gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31,34). The gathering together is the resurrection (Genesis 49:10: 2 Thessalonians 2:1). Paul is using the witnesses and the Old Testament to refute the claim some were making. Again, the Corinthians had “believed” the evidence that Paul set forth for the resurrection of Christ as he proved the Old Testament scriptures were being fulfilled (1 Corinthians 15:11). Because Paul proved his case from the Old Testament, the argument from the Corinthians could be easily toppled.
The Resurrection and Paul’s Logical Arguments
1 Corinthians 15:12-19, Paul now develops his argument based upon the fact that these Corinthians believed in the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, the Corinthians could not have been denying the resurrection of all the dead without denying the resurrection of Christ himself! The text says, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say among you that there is no resurrection of the dead” (15:12)? In the original language, the “dead” are actually placed in the plural number. These dead were the “dead ones.” Again, the argument the Corinthians were making could not have reference to all of the dead ones, or they would have rejected the resurrection of Christ as well. In every part of Paul’s argument, he argues with points the Corinthians already believed and then showed them their inconsistency.
When Paul said, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith vain” (15:14), it is obvious that the Corinthians did not believe Paul’s preaching or their faith was vain. If the Corinthians were denying the resurrection of all dead ones they would have agreed with Paul that his preaching was vain and that their faith was also vain. What these Corinthians did not see, was that by denying the resurrection of the dead ones, that they were making his preaching and their faith vain. Paul affirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Again, the Corinthians did not believe that they were yet in their sins or Paul’s argument would not have had any strength. If the Corinthians had denied the resurrection of all the dead ones they would not have even cared about the forgiveness of sins as many unbelievers react today to the Gospel. But the Corinthians did not believe that they were still in their sins.
In the next installment, Holger will look closely at one of the key arguments that Paul employed, and argument that proves that the scoffers at Corinth were not denying resurrection for anyone or everyone. The fact is that the scoffers were not denying “the resurrection.” They were denying the resurrection for a very specific group of people.
For a critical study of the resurrection, get a copy of Don K. Preston’s book: Seventy Weeks Are Determined… For the Resurrection. This important study firmly and irrefutably posits the resurrection at the end of the Old Covenant Age of Israel in AD 70.