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Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, a Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.

However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.

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April 5, 2015


SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 20-22


KEY VERSE: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all he made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)




A. You recognize that one of the most relevant questions of our day is, "What happens after death?"


A dozen books have come off the presses recently dealing with this theme. Many are speculating about it; many testimonies are being given about various experiences of those who, supposedly, have died and then come back to life again. The apostle is dealing with that very theme in this chapter. Here he brings us face to face with the great reality of life, one that is even more certain than taxes, and that is death.


B. You may evade paying your taxes, but you are not going to avoid growing old and ultimately dying.


We may try to avoid it. I know a lot of people who are working hard at it; they are trying to cover up all the evidences of age and decay. But we have to face the fact that there is an invisible, irresistible, and inevitable process going on in every one of us right now.


No matter how old, or how young, we may be, this process is slowly stealing the bloom from our cheeks, taking the spring from our steps, reducing the sharpness of our senses so we do not see quite as well or hear quite as accurately, and in many ways depriving us of what we thought to be the joy of living. (I read somewhere recently that death is nature's way of saying, "It's time to slow down.")


C. Now, in one of the most wonderful passages in all of literature, the Apostle Paul is facing this ultimate enemy of mankind with the ultimate declaration of the good news that Jesus is victor in this area, just as in others.


Paul first shows us, in the opening verses, how the resurrection of the body is part of the foundation of the Christian faith; it is an essential part of the good news of the gospel.


I. BY THIS GOSPEL, YOU ARE SAVED. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)


(1 Corinthians 15:1-2) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.


A. Paul Preached It.


Paul had come to Corinth and preached the message of the Gospel, and their faith had transformed their lives. But an integral part of the Gospel message was the fact of Christ’s resurrection. After all, a dead Savior cannot save anybody.


B. People Believed It.


Paul’s readers had received the Word, trusted Christ, been saved, and were now standing on that Word as the assurance of their salvation. The fact that they were standing firm was proof that their faith was genuine and not empty.


II. CHRIST LIVES. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)


A. The prominence of Christ’s resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)


(1 Corinthians 15:3-4) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:


1. “First of all” means “of first importance.”


The Gospel is the most important message that the church ever proclaims. While it is good to be involved in social action and the betterment of mankind, there is no reason why these ministries should preempt the Gospel. “Christ died … He was buried … He rose again … He was seen” are the basic historical facts on which the Gospel stands (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). “Christ died for our sins” (author’s italics) is the theological explanation of the historical facts. Many people were crucified by the Romans, but only one “victim” ever died for the sins of the world.


2. Found in the Scriptures.


When Paul wrote “according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3) he was referring to the Old Testament Scriptures. Much of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament pointed to the sacrifice of Christ as our substitute and Savior. The annual Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) and prophecies like Isaiah 53 would also come to mind.


3. Examples are given.


But where does the Old Testament declare His resurrection on the third day?


(1) Jesus pointed to the experience of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-41). (2) Paul also compared Christ’s resurrection to the “firstfruits,” and the firstfruits were presented to God on the day following the Sabbath after Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14); (1 Corinthians 15:23).


Since the Sabbath must always be the seventh day, the day after Sabbath must be the first day of the week, or Sunday, the day of our Lord’s resurrection. This covers three days on the Jewish calendar.


Apart from the Feast of Firstfruits, there were other prophecies of the Messiah’s resurrection in the Old Testament: Psalm 16:8-11 (see Acts 2:25-28); Psalm 22:22ff (see Hebrews 2:12); Isaiah 53:10-12; and Psalm 2:7 (see Acts 13:32-33).


B. The proofs of Christ’s resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)


Note: Now as another proof of the Resurrection Paul lists a number of witnesses. You just can’t get around witnesses. Any lawyer today would love to have as many witnesses for his position as Paul lists here as proofs of the Resurrection.


1. Jesus was seen by Simon Peter first. (1 Corinthians 15:5)


(1 Corinthians 15:5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.


Paul mentions Cephas first. This is, of course, Simon Peter, to whom Jesus appeared privately. You may ask, “What took place?” It is none of my business, and I guess it is none of yours. It is not recorded for us. Jesus appeared to Peter. After all, he had denied Him. Peter had to get things straightened out with the Lord. You see, our Lord is still in the foot washing business.


Note: Then He was seen “of the twelve.” Who are the Twelve? He appeared to Cephas privately, then He appeared to the ten (Judas was dead at this time). “The Twelve” was used as a collective term for the body of disciples. It does not necessarily imply that twelve disciples were present. However, when you put them all together and Paul joins them, you have twelve men.


2. Jesus was seen by five hundred people at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6)


(1 Corinthians 15:6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.


I think this was up yonder around the Sea of Galilee. Remember that He had told them He would meet with them in Galilee. So I believe that His true followers went up to Galilee to meet Him there. As they traveled northward, I’m sure folk would ask them, “Now that Jesus is dead, are you going back to fishing?” They would answer, “No, Jesus is back from the dead and we’re going up there to meet Him.” There were five hundred of His followers who met Him there.


3. Jesus was seen by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:7-8)


(1 Corinthians 15:7-8) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.


“He was seen of James” -- this was probably a private interview. He was seen again by all the apostles. Lastly, He was seen by Paul. It is very difficult to argue with a man who has seen Jesus Christ!


III. BY GOD’S GRACE. (1 Corinthians 15:9-11)


A. Paul calls himself the least of the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)


(1 Corinthians 15:9-10) For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.


Paul is being very modest here. Inspiration guarantees that this is a statement which came from his heart. My heart says, “Paul, you’re great. I can’t consider you the least of the apostles.” But Paul says he isn’t worthy to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church of God.


Paul considered himself to be the chief of sinners. Yet he was the hardest worker of any of the apostles. But, very candidly, he tells us that it was the grace of God that enabled him to accomplish what he did.


B. Paul connected himself with the other apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:11)


(1 Corinthians 15:11) Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.


Now Paul joins himself with the other apostles and states that no matter which of them it was who preached, they were all united in their testimony as to the gospel, and particularly as to the resurrection of Christ.


IV. FIRST TO RISE. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)


Note: We now join Paul as he declares the Resurrection —


A. Christ is the firstfruits. (1 Corinthians 15:20)


(1 Corinthians 15:20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.


In the Old Testament they had the festival of firstfruits when they would bring the first sheaf of grain to the Lord. This meant that there would be more to come, otherwise it couldn’t be the firstfruits. The fulfillment of that is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He came back from the dead in a glorified body. And He is the only one who has come back from the dead in a glorified body.


B. Christ is coming again. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)


(1 Corinthians 15:21-22) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all he made alive.


After the festival of the firstfruits came Pentecost (which was fifty days later). That found its fulfillment in Pentecost in the New Testament when the church began. But it will find its ultimate fulfillment when Christ comes for His own and they shall all rise to meet Him in the air. That will be the real Pentecost.


Illustration: A Pentecostal brother of Dr. Vernon McGee told him, “You know, Brother McGee, I’m expecting a Pentecost.” Dr. McGee shocked him when he said, “I’m looking for Pentecost too.” The preacher said, “Oh, you don’t mean it!” Dr. McGee said, “I don’t mean it like you mean it -- you think you are going to repeat the Day of Pentecost down here. The Pentecost I am waiting for is when the Lord Jesus comes to take His church out of his world.”


Jesus Christ is the firstfruits. Then He is coming again for His own (i.e., the church). Perhaps today!


The Resurrection

By M.R. De Haan, M.D.


[Jesus] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. – Romans 4:25


The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the keystone of the arch of salvation. Remove it and the whole structure of the plan of salvation crumbles in the dust.


The good news of the gospel is that Christ died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3), and that He rose again (verse 4). The resurrection of Christ is the proof that His death atoned for sin.


The wages of one single sin is death. One sin brought the curse of death upon all mankind (Romans 5:12-15). If Jesus had paid for all the sins of mankind except one, He could not have risen, for one sin would have been enough to keep Him in the tomb.


When Jesus arose, it was proof that He had completely met redemption’s price. When He cried, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), the work was fully done. God was satisfied and then proved the completeness of the work by raising Christ from the dead.


This victory should not only be commemorated on a special day each year but on the first day of every week -- even every day! Because Christ did not remain in the tomb but conquered death by rising again, we can live in the joy of the full salvation provided by a risen, living, coming Redeemer. – M.R. De Haan, Our Daily Bread, April 12, 1997


What has that empty sepulcher to say to you and me?
It tells us that the Savior's death has set His people free;
He died, our sins upon Him laid;
He rose, because the debt was paid.






A. What a wonderful message these Bible verses bring.


They teach us that the most fundamental fact of our life, of our history, of the world, is the resurrection of Jesus. That being true, it is the darkness and the grimness and the death which are unnecessary. Those who live that way are living in a delusion, for the great, striking reality of all history and life is, "Jesus has risen from the dead."


B. I hope that, from this, we will see and understand more clearly than ever before that this is the fundamental factor of faith.


When you confront the glorious fact that Jesus rose from the dead it answers all the doubts. It means that we too can rise with him. All the unfulfilled desires of our life and our body can be satisfied in a glorious new body, fitted to make life more real than we ever dreamed it could be. What a blessed hope this is!


THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “The resurrection assures what Calvary secures.”


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REFERENCES: References used in the Bible study are the King James Bible (KJV), Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.




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