SESSION 3

Life After Death

1 Corinthians 15


For Openers:

  • Do you think that there are such things as ghosts?
  • What do you think of these movies and the things they suggest about life after death?
    Beetlejuice - Ghost - Caspar the Ghost - It’s a Wonderful Life - Heaven Can Wait - Ghostbusters

For Your Information:

  1. Before turning to 1 Corinthians 15, look at some of these descriptions given of what happens when God’s chosen people die.
  • In Mark 12:18-23, the Sadducees try to entrap Jesus in a question about resurrection. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection at all, and so they pose a situation which they think will prove that the resurrection of the dead is impossible. Read Jesus’ answer to them in Mark 12:24-27. Note that Jesus tells about what we will be like "when we rise from the dead." Note exactly what Jesus says in verse 25. (Compare this to what Jesus says in the parallel passage in Luke 20:34-36. The key phrase here is more accurately translated as: "...they are equal to angels.")
  • Read the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. What happens to the two characters when they die? Does it make any difference that this description occurs in a parable?
  • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. What does this passage tell us about those who have died? (Be sure to check any footnotes on this passage or try to check out some other translations.)
  1. Turn to 1 Corinthians 15 and note Paul begins a new topic at this point in his letter.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and the summary of the Gospel that Paul offers.
  • Now read verse 12 and note well the position held by some of the Corinthians with which Paul is dealing.
  • Why then did Paul start with all that stuff in verses 1-11? Read verses 13-19 to find out why.
  • Now read verses 20-28 where Paul emphasizes the order of how things will happen. (Note the similarities to what Paul had said in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.)
  • Read verses 29-34 where Paul presents some other logical arguments to support his claim.
  1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:35 where Paul addresses another question posed by the Corinthians.
  • Now read verses 36-58, noting the contrasts Paul describes and the need for transformation.

List the contrasting terms Paul uses in verses 42-53.

perishable  
   
   
   
   
   

One of the biggest problems we have in talking about the nature of resurrection is being clear about the terms we use. (The following definitions are simplified and idealized in order to help us get a better picture of the range of meaning involved.)

  • Mortal: Someone who dies
  • Immortal: Means not being mortal, that is, someone who does not die
  • Eternal: Refers to being apart from the concept of linear time
  • Flesh and blood: The stuff on your bones that you can touch and feel
  • Body:
  • The Hebrew does not even have a term for "body," instead it prefers to speaks of flesh or other specific parts of the body. Maybe the closest Hebrew equivalent is "living being." A person does not have a body but is an animated body.
  • From a Greek perspective, body refers to the totality of your physical being (coming close in meaning to "flesh and blood") and is contrasted with "soul." Body is just something you have and is usually regarded negatively.
  • Soul (or Spirit):
  • From a Hebrew perspective, the soul is the life-force within human beings, it is the breath of life which comes from God. The soul always exists in relationship to God, and there is no such thing as an individual soul which exists apart from its physical manifestation. "Soul," therefore, can be used to indicate the wholeness of a human being.
  • From a Greek perspective, the soul is an immortal essence that temporarily resides within a body. The soul was regarded as the essential and distinguishing part of a person. (In statements of contrasts, the soul is contrasted to the body, the spirit is contrasted to the flesh.)
  • To a Hebrew, a human being is thought of as an animated body.
  • To a Greek, a human being is thought of as an enfleshed soul.

For further information, see the page illustrating Terminology for Talking about Life and Death.


For Your Consideration:

  1. What is the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection?
  2. Paul talks about the "spiritual body" in 1 Corinthians 15:44 and about the body putting on imperishability and immortality in 15:53-54. Why would these terms have been so confusing and requiring so much explanation to the Corinthians? To put it another way, we say that we believe in "the resurrection of the body." How would this sound to the Hebrew mind? To the Greek mind?
  3. From the passages we have studied, what will you look like after you die? How old will you be?
  4. Does it make any difference if you are bodily buried in a casket or if you are cremated?
  5. How do you make consistent sense of the following two statements?
    - After you die, you fall asleep (or are "in Christ") until you are raised from the dead on the Last Day.
    - After you die, you go to heaven.
  6. What are some things we can say about what is happening "now" to people who have died? What are some things that only exist within a temporal framework and not an eternal one?
  7. How can Paul’s discussion of what resurrection is like be a comfort and consolation to someone who is facing death or grieving the death of a loved one?
  8. At the end of this magnificent 15th chapter, note what Paul says in verse 58! According to Paul, is the hope of the resurrection something we are waiting to die for or something that enables us to live fully now?

For Later:

  • Recall a good memory of a loved one who has died. Keep them in your prayers
  • Read (and memorize, if you can) 1 Corinthians 15:54-57. Is the "victory" something you celebrate now or at your death or your resurrection? Plan some ways that you are going to celebrate.

PLEASE NOTE: All materials in these studies that are not otherwise attributed are 1996-2007 by Mark Vitalis Hoffman. Expressed permission is hereby granted to download and print these materials for personal use only. If you wish to use any of these materials for a group or other purposes, please contact me (orders@crossmarks.com) for permissions. In all cases, include my copyright notice and email address with any versions of the material. Thank you.

Questions? Comments? Email to: orders@crossmarks.com