At some point, I want to do a study on 1 Corinthians and I suppose at that time, I’ll simply link to this when I get to chapter 15.  This chapter is one of the great chapters in all of Paul’s writings as it deals with the concept of resurrection.  One of the paramount truths of so-called “Christian Orthodoxy” is the resurrection of Christ, yet, in Paul’s day, there were many who were influenced by the philosophy of Plato.  In short, this philosophy concluded that the physical body is ultimately nothing and that what awaits is the real reality in a spiritual existence.  Even though the believer definitely has a spiritual existence in Christ, Paul is going to confront this silly, Platonic notion that the physical body has no inherit meaning or destiny (other than dissolution).  Even though Paul doesn’t outright reference Platonism, what we see him combating is right out of Plato’s playbook.  There are a lot of things to deal with in this chapter.  I think we may walk away from this study with a better understanding/appreciation for what is going on, but also we may find that what we traditionally have used sections of this chapter for may not, in their context, be describing the same things.

Recall that Paul is taking his time with this letter to answer the question of 1Corinthians 1:13is Christ divided.  It had been reported to Paul that there were contentions in this assembly and Paul is writing to address those very things.  His desire is that the Corinthians would repent (change their thinking) about this foolishness and yield to one another, as one, in Christ.  When we get to chapter 15, Paul is transitioning to describe the reality of our oneness in Christ by describing a resurrection that we all will experience.  In other words, there is no respector of persons with God – every believer will experience a resurrection, but, there’s a twist when we get to the end of the chapter.  Even at that time in the future, Christ is not divided.  All believers experience the same destiny – resurrection.

We know from Romans 6:3-4 that every believer has been baptized into the death of Christ and as Christ was raised to life, so too we have experience that resurrection life.  As far as our identity to God is concerned, we are already resurrected in the eternal life of Christ Himself.  However, our physical bodies are yet un-resurrected and as Paul writes in a few places, the eternal life we have works for the hope we have of a bodily resurrection.  The resurrection we have experienced, in the spirit, will one day likewise be real for our physical bodies.  Therefore, when we read 1Corinthians 15, keep in mind that Paul’s primary emphasis will be the truth of our physical, bodily resurrection.

1Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 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. 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 15:8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 

After concluding some admonitions to unity in chapter 14, Paul says that he also wants them to understand something about the resurrection and begins his reasoning with the gospel he preached unto them.  It is important to note that Paul is not writing to unbelievers to “share the gospel”, but is writing to an assembly of believers REMINDING them of the gospel’s MECHANICS.  Why is this?  Because the gospel itself bears witness to a resurrection, and, unless they believed in vain, Paul wants them to realize that entertaining the notion that there is no bodily resurrection is foolishness since the very gospel they believed contains the bodily resurrection of Christ.  By believing in vain, Paul means that unless they simply ignored the resurrection part of the message (which would make their belief meaningless (as he will show later in the chapter), then they cannot attempt to hold to the idea that there is no resurrection yet stand in a gospel that is solidified by a resurrection.  Jesus died for our sins, according to the scriptures.  Was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.  It is fairly clear and notice Paul isn’t appealing to himself first to certify this truth.  He will appeal to his witness in the coming verses, but he starts off by appealing to the fact that the very scriptures attest to the reality of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  (As a side note, Paul wasn’t the first to declare the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  If he were, he could have started with his own witness.  Yet, Paul appeals to that which has existed long prior to Paul ever living – the inspired record of God.  Indeed, the scriptures have already been proclaiming the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.)  It should also be noted that Paul doesn’t mention “according to the scriptures” because there is a single proof-text he has in mind, but in the totality of the scriptures (i.e. Old Testament), we see the consistent, prophetic announcement of what the Messiah would accomplish.  In other words, the story of the Hebrew Bible explains why death, burial and resurrection is needed and why God stepped in to transact it.

Not only does Paul appeal to the scriptures to demonstrate the veracity of the resurrection, but he also reminds them of the many witnesses to Christ’s resurrection – concluding that over 500 people had witnessed the resurrected Christ.  Among these 500 included Peter and the 12.  This is important to note.  Paul is showing unity in the witness of Christ.  Even though Peter and the gang are ministering to the saints in Jerusalem (Galatians 2) and Paul and his gang are running around the Mediterranean, their mutual witness of the resurrected Christ still stands.  This is important when we get to understanding verse 11.

1Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 15:10 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. 15:11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 

Even though Paul views himself as the least of the apostles (because he was persecuting the church of God), he was still privileged to have met the risen Christ.  (Side note, “church” there is singular.  God has one church – one assembly – it is people of faith that are called by His name.)  Yet, despite the persecution of Paul, God called Paul and transformed him from the zealot of the Law (of Moses) to a champion of grace.  It is in this transformation that Paul says it is God who made Paul what he is.  Paul didn’t set out to make himself something for God, but rather it took God making Paul what he was supposed to be and Paul simply accepted it.  He didn’t toil away his life trying to rationalize how he can make himself acceptable to God – he simply accepted (reckoned to be so) that God had already accepted Paul, by faith.  And, this effort of God was not in vain for Paul labored more than “they all”, yet not Paul personally, but the grace that was working in him–Paul simply yielded to the effectual workings of grace and in response, labored all the same.  However, who are “they all” that he is talking about?  These would be Peter and James and the apostles whom he’s just mentioned a few verses earlier.  He isn’t attempting to one-up their efforts, but demonstrating that the one who wasn’t worthy to be called a saint, is a saint nonetheless and has allowed God’s grace to work uninhibited through him.  Therefore, Paul says in verse 11, it doesn’t matter who is doing the preaching – whether it is Paul or whether it is they (Peter and the gang) – they preached and the Corinthians believed.  This is a call back to the beginning of the letter where the contentions Paul is addressing involves the believers aligning themselves with Paul and with Peter.  Yet, Christ is NOT divided and therefore, whether they believed through Paul’s preaching or whether they believed through Peter’s preaching doesn’t make any difference.  Both Peter and Paul (among others) were responsible for bringing these Corinthians into the body of Christ.

1Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 15:16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 15:18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 

So, Paul has just summarized their believing experience.  The person preaching didn’t matter because it was the same message of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that the Corinthians responded to.  Therefore, if Christ is preached as having risen from the dead, then how come some of these Corinthians have started proclaiming that there isn’t a resurrection of the dead?  If this is the case, then Christ is also not risen.  Paul wants them to understand the problems with this line of thinking because if Christ is not raised from the dead, then two things are true:

1. Paul is wasting his time because his preaching is meaningless. Why would he even care to preach a message that wasn’t real?  (Let alone go through the suffering that came with it.)

2. The Corinthians, who responded to this preaching, would have their faith likewise rendered meaningless.  Not only would they have a meaningless faith, but they would also be residing yet in their sins.  In other words, there is no reality of a rescue from sin without the resurrection of Christ.

The death of Christ is very important because it effectively crucified sin, but the shot heard ’round the world wasn’t limited to the death of Christ – it was the voice of an angel who asked, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)  The resurrection of Christ was the stamp of guarantee that sin had been disposed of (and death right along with it).  But, if Christ did not rise, then the Corinthians have meaningless faith, they are still in their sins, Paul is preaching nonsense and demonstrating himself a false apostle.  It also would mean that those who have died have simply perished.  From dust they came and unto dust they returned, and that’s it.  Furthermore, if there is no ‘after life’ with Christ and all Christ means to us is something to cling to for this life, then we are nothing better than miserable people.  Many atheists believe that “religion” or Jesus is a crutch to get through this life; that they are something that people need to imagine in order to give them hope despite the corrupt world around them.  Paul says that this would be the case, had Christ not risen from the dead.  Paul wants to keep toppling the dominoes of their thinking of all that would be true if indeed Christ had not risen from the dead.

1Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 

Paul is done showing the foolishness of their thinking and returns to boldly declaring the actuality of the matter.  Christ is indeed risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of them that slept.  Instead (as mentioned in the previous verses) of those that sleep (are dead) perishing in the dust, Christ became their firstfruits.  Firstfruits in the Bible is very important, especially when you consider Israel’s law and feasts and holy days.  The firstfruits of any plant represent the first harvest-able crop.  A tomato plant will produce fruit throughout the summer months, yet the very first product of the year is the firstfruits.  Paul is using this imagery to describe Christ as being the first product of something–resurrection.  If resurrection is the plant, Christ is the firstfruit that plant has produced.  Now, some might say – didn’t others get raised from the dead in the Bible (i.e. Lazarus)?  Yes, they did, but this should help to identify the extent of what “resurrection” is as compared to being “raised from the dead.”  Christ was raised to a life that will never end.  This is the difference. Lazarus, although raised from the dead, eventually died again.  Yet, where Christ is concerned, a resurrection is being raised from death to die no more.  Christ IS the firstfruits of this resurrection plant.  This doesn’t mean that this plant bears no more fruit, but that Christ’s resurrection identified what kind of plant this is and paved the way for all of the fruit (resurrections) that would come from the same plant after Him.  This would be believers.

Next Paul makes an observation that as by man, death came upon all men (see Romans 5:12 and following), by man also came the resurrection from the dead.  For, in Adam, all die; yet in Christ, all are made alive.  Just as Adam had the power to welcome death into the world (by sin), so too does Christ have the power to welcome all to life (by resurrection).  These are realms Paul is speaking of.  Humanity (which is what Adam means), when associated with the 1st Adam simply dies, yet the humanity in the last Adam (Christ), shall be made alive.  The believer is already alive in Christ, but remember that Paul is looking at our bodily resurrection–hence verse 23.  There is an order to bodily resurrection and that is that Christ, as the mediator of resurrection life, needed to go first as the firstfruits, then once Christ has risen, they that are Christ’s at His coming.  We should just let this say what it says.  There is a two-part order to this resurrection: Christ experienced it first, then all those in Him will experience it as well AT HIS COMING.  In other words, when Christ comes back, then everyone else who has died will experience a resurrection.  According to Daniel 12:1-2, at that time, there will be some raised to life (a Christ-like resurrection) and there will be some raised to everlasting contempt.  Suffice it to say, Paul plainly states there is an order to resurrection and that the first part is already completed and the second part will be completed when Christ comes back.  If that upsets your eschatological timeline and charts, I don’t know what to tell you.  Well, I do know what to tell you – quit allowing those charts to tell you how to view scripture.  Allow scripture to be in the driver’s seat.

In verse 24, we see that when this resurrection happens at His coming, then the END happens – the finality of God’s purpose when Christ shall conquer all ruling power and authority and declare the kingdom to be God’s.  Christ comes to earth the first time and resurrects after humanity kills Him.  Christ will come to earth a second time and believers will resurrect.  Christ will end all rule by consolidating power and authority unto Himself and will deliver up His kingdom to God.  This is what Paul understands has happened and will happen.  By the way, as a side note, if you run all references in the Bible to people describing their faith in a bodily resurrection, it is always centered around “the end.”  There is no multi-part resurrection or punctuated resurrection of some to go first and then some later.  The biblical authors all looked towards a single day of resurrection.  Check it out for yourself.

1Corinthians 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 

It is by His reigning, in His kingdom, that He will put all enemies under His feet – that they will be in submission to Him, having been conquered, even death itself.  We know from Revelation that there will be a time when death, a prisoner of war, will be executed for his war crimes. (Revelation 20:14)  Death will be cast into the Lake of Fire.  This is the second death – the death of death itself.  Paul does point out that although Christ, by His death, burial and resurrection, has already attained a seat of authority above all principalities and powers, he is speaking of Christ’s earthly activities in time future.  In other words, because all things are already put under Him, it is expected that that very scenario will simply carry forward once Christ comes back.  Christ doesn’t render the physical reality to nothingness (as Plato would have it), but Christ will bring the physical reality into harmony with the spiritual reality so that God can indeed be in all.

1Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 

This is a verse that rarely gets touched on because it seems so different from anything else we see in the scriptures (that being, it isn’t mentioned at all).  Paul is getting back into some arguments about if the dead rise not, then why do certain things happen or why do people believe certain things?  Although not overtly stated, it seems as if this practice was a memorial type baptism whereby living believers would be baptized on behalf of dead believers–not to impart any spiritual standing to them (for they already had it), but as a simple gesture of alignment with them.  In other words, to honor the faith of those who had died, some were being memorially baptized to honor them.  If the dead rise not, then why is this happening?  This is believers taking a stand with their fallen brethren.

1Corinthians 15:30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 15:32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 

Paul is making the argument that if there is no resurrection, why in the world would he allow this stuff to happen to him?  Why would he willing subject himself to the jeopardy he faced?  He protests the idea that there is no resurrection by the rejoicing he has of the Corinthians, in Christ, that he dies daily.  In other words, why would Paul rejoice over the Corinthian’s through the daily death, as he put it, that he faced if it were all for naught?  Why would Paul have fought with the beasts at Ephesus (presumably referring to the uproar he was caught in from Acts 19) if the dead rise not?  If there is no resurrection, then simply live life because tomorrow we die.  Paul sees no point to life without a resurrection.

1Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 

Paul wants the Corinthians to realize that keeping company with this kind of thinking simply brings corruption.  Instead, the Corinthians should awake to righteousness and sin not.  Sinning is ‘missing the mark’ and by entertaining the idea that there is no resurrection from the dead, they are missing the mark of righteousness, and so, stop it.  And, because the Corinthians were allowing this to go on, it resulted in some people not having the knowledge of God that they should have.  Paul shames the Corinthians in this.  Let this also be a lesson for us – while needing to know right from wrong is imperative, entertaining ideas that do not promote the knowledge of God serves nothing more than a shameful distraction.

1Corinthians 15:35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 15:36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 15:37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 15:38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 15:40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 

Paul isn’t done with this because he anticipates someone attempting to refute the idea of resurrection by questioning what type of body we are resurrected to (as if not knowing the state of the body post-resurrection would refute the resurrection).  Paul quickly rebukes this argument as foolishness and uses basic agricultural knowledge to demonstrate how dumb that line of thinking is.  When you sow seeds, they go into the ground and effectually die so that life can spring forth.  And, if you just have seeds, without knowledge of what those seeds will produce, then only after they sprout forth do you learn what type of seed it was.  Yet, at the end of the day, God has already determined what kind of body the seed should produce and it is well pleasing to Him.
Paul then uses examples from nature to describe more fully that even though there are similar types of bodies (i.e. fleshly), that doesn’t mean they are all the same.  Humanity and animals all are considered “fleshly bodies”, yet they differ in how their flesh exists.  Likewise, there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial – things heavenly and things earthly.  Even the glory about these bodies differ within themselves.  The glory of the sun, for example, is its own and the glory of the moon is another.  Just as the fleshly bodies have differing glory, so too the celestial bodies.  Even one star differs from another.

1Corinthians 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 

Paul doesn’t see various types of resurrections and his point in bringing up the various types of bodies seems to be to demonstrate that even though there is divergence in bodies, yet, the resurrection will bring all varieties from one type unto another.  The bodies we live in now are sown in corruption – they die.  Yet, when it is raised, it will be raised incorruptable – they will live.  Death is not honorable in God’s creation – this isn’t the purpose of creation.  When the physical body succumbs to this, it is as a seed that is sown dis-honorously, yet when it springs forth, it does so with glory and power.  Paul says that it is raised from a natural body to a spiritual body.  Some might pause on this verse and say, “See!  There it is – Paul is a Platonist.”  But, recall that Paul has been marching towards the reality of a PHYSICAL, BODILY resurrection.  Verse 44 is simply describing that the body that dies is natural, but the body that rises is spiritual.  It is a declaration of their body type.  Just as there are celestial bodies and heavenly bodies, they are bodies nonetheless.  The PHYSICAL body the believer is resurrected to is no longer natural (in that it dies) but is spiritual (in that it ever lives).  Paul is describing a transformation of our bodies that happens through resurrection.

1Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 

Paul is again describing the difference of the impacts of the first Adam and the last Adam.  The first Adam was made a living soul.  The idea of the soul is a being in Hebrew thought.  Adam was made an earthly being and was made to live therein, yet, Christ (the last Adam) was made a quickening spirit.  Was Christ not a physical, embodiment of God?  Sure He was, yet in Paul’s description, He is described as a quickening spirit.  In other words, Adam was made a being that lives, whereas Christ was made a being that makes alive (quickens).  Yet, it was Adam who came first, then Christ.  Paul is using Adam and Christ to picture the reality of a body sown in dishonor being raised to glory.  In Adam, we bear the image of the earthly body, yet in resurrection, our body will bear the image of the heavenly.  This would suggest that the image of the heavenly isn’t fleshly, but is physical nonetheless–just transformed.

1Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 

Paul confirms this reality that the fleshly, bloody, earthly body is cannot inherit the kingdom of God, meaning, it has no ability to obtain such an inheritance.  As Paul writes in other places, the kingdom of God is not born out of earthly existence, but is rather when the heavenly image is put upon the earth.  The incorruption doesn’t produce corruption nor does it stand to inherit it, but what if the corruptible were changed to incorruptible?  This is the idea Paul has been marching towards.  Paul wants to demonstrate that the resurrection to life isn’t just unpausing your death, but is a complete transformation of your physical body, being loosed from the bonds of death through the glorious resurrection power of Christ.

1Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

Paul recognizes that at the appointed time, God will institute resurrection and it will impact those who are alive–who haven’t died yet.  Paul is describing the fact that not all will sleep (be in the grave), but all will be changed nonetheless.  In Hebrew thought, resurrection naturally proceeded death, however, Paul is showing a mystery that some will experience resurrection without dying.  Note Paul’s words to the Philippians on the same subject,

Philippians 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Our physical body (yet vile in its current state), will be changed into a body that is fashioned like the glorious body of the resurrected Christ.  Notice also that Paul is alluding to the return of Christ when this happens (“…from whence also we look for the Savior…”)  In 1Corinthians 15:52we see that this resurrection to incorruptibility will happen instantaneously and at the last trump.  When Jesus Christ returns, the last trump will sound.  Trumpets were used to order a camp or to warn of invasions or to call armies to readiness. (Numbers 10)  When Christ returns, it will be the last time a trumpet needs to announce.  Christ’s return will usher in the final destruction of evil and ultimate deliverance (resurrection) for believers.  Paul says that this is to happen at the return of Christ.  Some have proposed that this happens in a punctuated fashion, that some will be taken away or raptured before Christ returns, however, the point of this passage is not about that idea.  It doesn’t mean that idea is automatically negated, but it should be observed that Paul’s entire message has been about the physical body, dying according to its earthly image and being raised as a physical body but living according to its heavenly image.  Many who sleep, when Christ returns, will be resurrected, and likewise, those who are alive at Christ’s coming (those of faith, that is) will not have to die to experience their resurrection for Christ will change their vile bodies right then and there.  Both the dead and the living will pass through resurrection simultaneously.

1Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

Paul notes that our mortality must be swallowed up in immortality and the only means of this is through resurrection.  It is only when this happens that the prophets words will ring true and have their finality.

Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. 

Paul taunts death and the grave because the resurrection stands as champion over them.  Even though the sting of death is sin and the power of that sin is revealed through the law, Paul thanks God that we already have the victory through Jesus Christ and that victory will culminate in the resurrection of our physical bodies.  Therefore, rest assured that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.  Death doesn’t destroy our work, it only pauses it.  But, the resurrection victory we have is our reason to rejoice in the work of Christ, knowing it is His ultimate purpose to change the image of our bodies from that which is not able to handle the kingdom of God into the heavenly image that is reserved for us.

This is what 1Corinthians 15 is all about.