“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
Michael Horton contributes this chapter titled, “The Resurrection Hope.” He asks the reader, “What is your ultimate hope? Because what we believe regarding the resurrection is an indicator of what we believe about everything.”
In this article, the author walks the reader through Paul’s defense of the Christian’s hope, qualified by a bodily resurrection, founded upon the teachings from the first letter to the Corinthians (15). Horton first distinguishes the vast differences between a philosophical and biblical view of the resurrection.
He states, “…while it is truly wonderful that the Lord takes our souls into His presence until the day of the resurrection, our ultimate hope, as Paul argues here, is the resurrection hope.” Horton concludes that Paul says the very gospel is at stake in all of this. Without the bodily resurrection of Jesus being a reality, nothing else matters.
Horton catches something of interest in Paul’s use of resources to defend the resurrection. While his apostolic authority would have been sufficient, he instead confirms its verity through the prophet’s testimony… and those witnesses still alive. While Paul was the last to see the risen Lord, he as much as says, “Hey, most of those people who saw Jesus resurrected; they’re still alive, go ask them.”
Horton argues from this text that one of Paul’s primary concerns is the reality of both body and soul and that they were never meant to be separated. He discusses this based on Paul’s analogies of the different bodies of creation, not human. He then writes, “How do these analogies relate to our bodies? Paul tells us we will have the same body, only in a different condition. He says that ‘what is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.’ The key here is the continuity between the body that dies and the body that is raised to life. It is not a different body. It is the same body in a different form, in a different condition. He doesn’t say that what is sown is physical, and what is raised is spiritual. Rather, what is sown as perishable is raised as imperishable.”
It is then stated, “Look at how this frees us to live for Christ and to love our neighbors!” Horton quotes Martin Luther’s response when questioned as to what he would do if he knew Christ was coming back tomorrow. Luther said, “I would plant a tree.” “Nothing fancy — just loving and serving our neighbor as we wait for Christ to come.”
He then closes with these words, “Even now, the age to come is breaking in upon us. The future hope is not something we are passively waiting for; it is something that actively motivates and renews us in this life. This will happen as we faithfully take up our posts in this world — in our families, in our homes, and in our neighborhoods. Why? Because Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again.”