Part 1; The Greek text; 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 (Appended text 29/12/2020 )

From verses 12 to 19 St Paul is laying into these people who want to deny a physical resurrection.  The tone of those verses is fairly negative, and a lot of the verbs tend to be in the aorist. An action that happened in the past and has no future consequences.  If he does use actives, he is relating it to the present troubled situation.  We will go through this section in small bits so that we can build a masterpiece of understanding.  I will begin each section by the verse from the NASB.  The software I am using is olive tree.  The Greek text is from the SBL new testament within olive tree.  I’m not interested in variants because that would be another level of spade work and I think this is enough to get the main gist of what Paul is saying about the troublemakers.  Maybe on a later date, when I decide to turn this into a commentary I will probably take more of an interest in the variants.  The thing is that there are never enough hours in the day to do everything on their own.

12 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? 1 Corinthians 15:12 NASB


Basically, Paul is telling them in the present and active tenses that the Apostles and Paul himself came and were preaching that Christ was raised from the dead. Then Paul says that some of the Corinthians were saying that Christ wasn’t raised from the dead.

This is a very serious situation because it is at the heart of the Christian hope and teaching.  There were different types of people in Corinth.  From the Greek side there were the Gnostics who basically taught that the material body was evil and salvation was when the body could break out of its prison, then there was a particular Judaic group and sympathizers of the Sadducee type, who also denied the resurrection.

We don’t really know who these groups were so this is a calculated guess.


12 Εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς κηρύσσεται ὅτι ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγήγερται, πῶς λέγουσιν ἐν ὑμῖν τινες ὅτι ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν; 1 Corinthians 15:12 SBL NT

This verse is in question form (notice the ‘;’) You can see the Greek question mark.

If Christ is preached that he is raised for the dead

This comes with an ‘if’

How is it that ‘some of you’ say that he has not been raised from the dead.

So, we have ‘How’

‘They say’ is in the present active third person plural


13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 1 Corinthians 15:13 NASB


So, he takes their position to pieces by saying that if the dead are not raised neither has Christ been raised.   So, I think Paul is saying that if resurrection is not a possibility then according to their point of view Christ has not been raised.  


13 εἰ δὲ ἀνάστασις νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔστιν, οὐδὲ Χριστὸς ἐγήγερται·

1 Corinthians 15:13 SBL NT

Up to the comma I think Paul is saying generally / universally if there isn’t any resurrection then the logical conclusion after the comma is that Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead.  This makes the materialists position completely untenable.


14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 1 Corinthians 15:14


Paul is not holding back; this little word which is translated ‘vain’ in the NASB is used twice.  If Christ hasn’t been raised then basically the preaching is worthless and their faith is also ‘worthless, empty, in vain’


14 εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς οὐκ ἐγήγερται, κενὸν ἄρα τὸ κήρυγμα ἡμῶν, κενὴ καὶ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν, 1 Corinthians 15:14

κενὸν and κενὴ = meaning ‘empty’ ‘vain’

If Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead, then the Corinthians faith is also empty.  St Paul is milking this argument to the very last drop.  There is no escape for the materialists who deny the resurrection. Empty or vain is used twice in one sentence this has consequences in the interpretation.

Verse 15

15 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. 1 Corinthians 15:15


(In the Greek text image above I have shown the tenses of the verb and also some of the word order with the numbers. Where you see 1, 2, 3. Just follow the word order.)

No perfect tenses are used in this verse.  It is in the here and now and it is a conversation that shows Paul explaining to the Corinthians that if the resurrection didn’t happen then the apostles would be found out to be false witnesses.


Verses 16-19

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:16-19


He continues in the same way.  The word mataios = worthless found in verse 17 was interesting.  Obviously, it carries the same idea of vanity and worthlessness as we found in verse 14 but this word here has been used in Acts 14:15 of idolatrous ‘vain things.  He goes even as far as to say that those who believed and died in the faith would have done so for nothing. Out of all of this in verse 15 I like ‘εἴπερ ἄρα’= if then (indeed or in fact). If the dead are not raised.  This section finishes off with lots of ‘if’ words! Verses 15, 16 and 19 start the sentences with ‘if’ words.  This is good news for us as believers because if there are if then there has to be a lot of ‘then’ words. This section has been very disquieting on the Corinthians. Paul in the next section is going to start to build the believers faith and give them hope. Paul had to go this way because of the troublemakers in the Corinthian assembly of believers. I hope and pray that you will follow me into the next section that hasn’t been commented on just yet.

Feel free to visit my other theological blog;

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: