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1 Corinthians 15:1-19

The Gospel: Our Foundation and Hope

1 Corinthians 15:1-19

Teaching Moments

1. This ought to be a familiar text to us. It is one of those clear, unequivocal statements of the central aspects of the gospel.

2. Notice foundational character of this gospel in the first few verses. These simple statements reflect the crucial character of this summary of the gospel. It is the "word" we must hold on to firmly. This is the core of our faith.

  a. Paul preached it.
  b. They believed it.
  c. They stand on it (consequently, "foundation")
  d. They are saved by it.
  e. It is of "first importance".
  f. It is the tradition Paul handed down to them and they received.

3. The summary is fourfold:

  a. Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture.
  b. He was buried.
  c. He was raised on the third day according to the Scripture.
  d. He appeared to

    (1) Peter
    (2) Twelve (probably a "technical term" for "apostles" since all 12 were not there; Thomas was absent). In other words, he appeared the "apostles" (but not all were there). This is the difference between "twelve" (#2) and "all the apostles" (in #5).
    (3) 500 brothers, some of whom are still alive. Paul is saying, "if you don't believe, ask some of them."
    (4) James (the brother of Jesus who became an elder in the Jerusalem church, already well-known in the church, even to the Corinthians).
    (5) All the apostles
    (6) Paul (the only first-hand, eye-witness testimony in the list). The question is whether Paul is
      (a) Lying
      (b) Hallucinating
      (c) Telling the Truth.

4. Verses 9-11 are Paul's personal testimony. He reflects on his past sinfulness (persecuted the church) and recognizes that this is only by grace. This grace, however, did not make Paul lazy or apathetic. On the contrary, he worked harder…or better, the grace of God worked harder through him. The gospel is a message of grace, and this is what we believe and bear witness to.

5. If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. If Christ is not raised, then there is no good news (gospel). If there is no good news, then we Christians are pitiful people. The resurrection is the hope of the gospel because the resurrection of Jesus destroyed death. Death is our enemy. Death destroys everything. Death comes to all. The good news is that God has conquered death in Jesus Christ. This is the witness we can offer people.

Group Discussion

1. What is the importance of the gospel to Christian faith and practice? How does Paul's wording in verses 1-2 illuminate that importance?

2. What does it mean to say that "Christ died for our sins"? How would you explain to someone who knew little about Christianity what that means?

3. What is the significance of the resurrection of Christ? How would you explain to someone who knew little about Christianity what it means?

4. What is the "apologetic" (defense of the faith; proving the resurrection) value of Paul's list of witnesses? Why mention that some of the 500 are still alive? Who provides the first-hand eyewitness testimony of this text?

5. In the light of Paul's statement in verses 9-11, what do we mean when we say, "there but for the grace of God, go I."

6. Why does Paul emphasize the resurrection in this section?

7. Why does salvation depend on the resurrection of Jesus?

8. How can you use verse 18 in talking with someone about the uniqueness of Jesus? Many believe in God, but we must call them to believe in the work of God in Jesus. His resurrection is the uniqueness of that work--he conquered death. How can we use this effectively in witnessing to other people?


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