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If Christ Is Not Risen


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Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. —1 Corinthians 15:12–19

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He now begins to prove the resurrection of all of us from that of Christ. For a mutual and reciprocal inference holds good on the one side and on the other, both affirmatively and negatively—from Christ to us in this way: If Christ is risen, then we will rise—If Christ is not risen, then we will not rise—from us to Christ on the other hand: If we rise, then Christ is risen—If we do not rise, then neither is Christ risen. The ground-work of the argument to be drawn from Christ to us in the former inference is this: “Christ did not die, or rise again for himself, but for us: hence his resurrection is the foundation of ours, and what was accomplished in him, must be fulfilled in us also.” In the negative form, on the other hand, it is thus: “Otherwise he would have risen again needlessly and to no purpose, because the fruit of it is to be sought, not in his own person, but in his members.”

Observe the ground-work, on the other hand, of the former inference to be deduced from us to him; for the resurrection is not from nature, and comes from no other quarter than from Christ alone. For in Adam we die, and we recover life only in Christ; hence it follows that his resurrection is the foundation of ours, so that if that is taken away, it cannot stand The ground-work of the negative inference has been already stated; for as he could not have risen again but on our account, his resurrection would be null and void, if it were of no advantage to us.

Then is our preaching vain—not simply as having some mixture of falsehood, but as being altogether an empty fallacy. For what remains if Christ has been swallowed up by death—if he has become extinct—if he has been overwhelmed by the curse of sin—if, in fine, he has been overcome by Satan? In short, if that fundamental article is subverted, all that remains will be of no moment. For the same reason he adds, that their faith will be vain, for what solidity of faith will there be, where no hope of life is to be seen? But in the death of Christ, considered in itself, there is seen nothing but ground of despair, for he cannot be the author of salvation to others, who has been altogether vanquished by death. Let us therefore bear in mind, that the entire gospel consists mainly in the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we must direct our chief attention to this, if we would desire, in a right and orderly manner, to make progress in the gospel—nay more, if we would not remain barren and unfruitful (2 Peter i. 8).

We are also found to be false witnesses. The other disadvantages, it is true, which he has just now recounted, were more serious, as regards us—that faith was made vain—that the whole doctrine of the gospel was useless and worthless, and that we were bereft of all hope of salvation. Yet this also was no trivial absurdity—that the Apostles, who were ordained by God to be the heralds of his eternal truth, were detected as persons who had deceived the world with falsehoods; for this tends to God’s highest dishonor.

. . .

Ye are yet in your sins. For although Christ by his death atoned for our sins, that they might no more be imputed to us in the judgment of God, and has crucified our old man, that its lusts might no longer reign in us, (Romans i. 6, 12) and, in fine, has by death destroyed the power of death, and the devil himself, (Hebrews ii. 14) yet there would have been none of all these things, if he had not, by rising again, come off victorious. Hence, if the resurrection is overthrown, the dominion of sin is set up anew.

Then they who are fallen asleep. Having it in view to prove, that if the resurrection of Christ is taken away, faith is useless, and Christianity is a mere deception, he had said that the living remain in their sins; but as there is a clearer illustration of this matter to be seen in the dead, he adduces them as an example. “Of what advantage were it to the dead that they once were Christians? Hence our brethren who are now dead, did to no purpose live in the faith of Christ.”

Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 2:17–20.



Posted 2020·01·07 by David Kjos
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Posted in: 1 Corinthians · Calvin’s Commentaries: 1 Corinthians · John Calvin

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