“How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:12).
Without the truth of bodily resurrection, the Christian faith would not make sense.
Even though Paul and the other apostles made the resurrection of Christ and His followers from the dead a central part of the gospel message, some new Gentile converts (the Corinthians especially) had difficulty accepting the idea of bodily resurrection. That struggle resulted mainly from the effects of Greek dualism, which viewed the spiritual as inherently good and the physical as inherently bad. Under that belief, a physical resurrection was considered quite repulsive.
The only way for the doubting Gentiles to accommodate their dualism was to say that Jesus was divine but not truly human. Therefore, He only appeared to die, and His appearances between the crucifixion and ascension were manifestations that merely seemed to be bodily. But Paul knew that was bad doctrine. He wrote to the Romans, “Concerning His Son . . . born of the seed of David according to the flesh . . . declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3-4).
To deny the actual, bodily resurrection of Christ creates some very significant doctrinal problems. Without His resurrection, the gospel is an empty message that doesn’t make sense. Without the Resurrection, Jesus could not have conquered sin and death, and thus we could not have followed in that victory either.
Without physical resurrection, a life of faith centered on the Lord Jesus is worthless. A dead savior cannot provide any kind of life. If the dead do not rise bodily, Christ did not rise, and neither will we. If all that were true, we could not do much more than conclude with Isaiah’s Servant, “I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity” (49:4). But the glorious reality is that we can affirm with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and . . . .without my flesh [after death] I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God that the truth of the Resurrection makes our theology credible and the gospel powerful.
For Further Study
- Sometimes Jesus’ closest followers have doubts about the Resurrection. Read John 20:19-29. How did Jesus prove to the disciples that it was really Him?
- What else did Jesus implicitly appeal to when He confronted Thomas’s doubts?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.