Sermon for May 8, 2022

STAND UP!

1 Corinthians 15 (15:4, 12–17, 20, 29, 32, 35, 42–44, 52)

Egeiro-to waken (transitively or intransitively), that is, rouse (literally from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death; or figuratively from obscurity, inactivity, ruins, nonexistence): – awake, lift (up), raise (again, up), rear up, (a-) rise (again, up), stand, take up.[1]

In no instance within ancient Greek literature does egeiro denote the concept of ascension, elevation, or assumption. Rather, it denotes the action whereby one who is bending over, sitting, lying on their face, or lying on their back is restored to a standing position.

In resurrection contexts, the verb does not denote that the dead ascend or are assumed somewhere; rather, the verb signifies that the corpse, lying supine in the grave, gets up or arises to stand from the tomb.

This ancient Greek verb involves the concept of the mortal body ’s restoration to life.[2]

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NIV): 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 15:12–17 (NIV): 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.

1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV): 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:29 (NIV): 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?

1 Corinthians 15:32 (NKJV): 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

1 Corinthians 15:35 (NIV) But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”

1 Corinthians 15:42–44 (NIV): 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1 Corinthians 15:52 (NIV): 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Paul will reiterate this same thing to the church in Corinth.  Evidently this was a point of contention in this church.

2 Corinthians 5:1–10 (NIV): 5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Why are the people in this area, Corinth, having issue with life after death?  It is due to the Greek philosopher Epicurus, 341–270 BC. Epicurus proclaimed the ultimate end of man’s life at the moment of death. There is no future existence for the dead because with death the body falls apart and everything ends. Epicurus’ view of death as the definitive end to everything was shared by his disciples, of which we find numerous traces in the writings of ancient authors.[3] It was this philosophy that also affected a group of Jewish priests called the Sadducees.  Epicurean teachings were controversial from the beginning. Epicureanism reached the height of its popularity during the late years of the Roman Republic. It died out in late antiquity, subject to hostility from early Christianity.  This area of the Roman Empire, especially the city of Corinth, was strongly influenced by Epicurean philosophy.  So, Paul is more adamant about proving life after death.  What’s the issue?

The custom of the burial of the dead is consistent in the ancient past.  Like in the Easter story of Jesus’ death, they prepared the body and placed it in a tomb and sealed it.  After a year had past, the family would return to the tomb and if the body had decayed to mostly bones, they would take the bones and put them in an ossuary, a limestone or wooden bone box.

Typical osuary[4]

Interior of Jewish tomb[5]

What was the problem?  Well, the bones of loved ones were still in the tombs.  Jesus was flesh and bone, so, if life is indeed eternal, why have the bodies not been resurrected like Jesus?

Well, Paul tackles this by saying, “to be apart from the body is to be in the presence of God.  The idea is that the soul goes to be with God while the body rests in the ground.  It is Jesus that saved the soul.  As for a new body, that’s a future promise.  Look what Paul states to the church in Thessalonica, another strongly Greek city with the philosophy of Epicurus.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (NIV): 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Look at 1 Corinthians again:

1 Corinthians 15:52 (NIV): 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Interestingly enough, God fulfilled his original covenant with Israel and a promise made to Adam and Eve in the garden.  God came back, Jesus, and atoned for sin.  There were some according to the original promise who were with God, but their bones were still in their graves.

Matthew 27:50–53 (NIV): 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Those are the people who followed the first covenant with God.  Jesus’ blood brought their bodies that had been resting in their place, back to life.  That is what the author of Hebrew says about the issue:

Hebrews 11:13-19 (NIV)

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[a] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Now Luke, a person close to Paul and was with him on many of his journeys has put something Jesus said in his Gospel that is very peculiar:

Luke 14:12–14 (NIV): 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

There is where Jesus tells us to when we should STAND UP!  Who you are and what you do matters, especially when it comes to those who are suffering and other forms of human injustice.  We have to have the right spirit and the right attitude, a God given vision of clarity.  Yes, there is life after death and Jesus is the only way there, but who you are and what you do matters.  Are you a graceful person?  Do you offer mercy?  Is forgiveness becoming easier for you?  Are there widows, orphans, those in prison, hungry, naked, or thirsty?  Yes, because of Jesus, Paul says that are souls are with God, yet, the bodies remain in the ground, until Jesus comes back.  Just as when Jesus died on the cross, this foreshadows the resurrection of the bodies of the righteous.  In fact, Revelation chapters 21 and 22 speak of the life in heaven WITH bodies, flesh and bone but look at the White Throne Judgement in Revelation 20:11-15:

Revelation 20:11–15 (NIV): 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

We will all STAND UP before God someday! Let me repeat this:

2 Corinthians 5:1–10 (NIV): 5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Verse 2 is a riveting statement.  Our heavenly dwelling.  Not naked.  A soul without a bodily home…now God has given us a deposit of what is to come.  Does not Paul speak of what is revealed to John in Revelation!?!  So, we have to STAND UP for ourselves.  We need to STAND UP for others!  We must STAND UP for Jesus!  Seems familiar…love God, love your neighbor, love yourself!  Jesus stood up and walked out of the tomb.  He was the first fruits of a new creation, one of flesh and bone.  We too are promised to have a body just like his.

Philippians 3:21 (NIV): 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Jesus told us to STAND UP now and be his hands and feet so that in the future, we will physically STAND UP in a NEW CREATION clothed with new bodies where GOD walks amongst them!  Just like the original garden.  We get back what was lost.  The knowledge death is gone.  When death came in the world, mankind found all kind of ways to kill each other with violence, or slanderous and racial slurs!  We stole the vengeance of God, and we improperly deal out justice.  Jesus says, NOT ANYMORE!  STAND UP!!!  It will be difficult, but it is worth it to save humanity!  DEATH is what rules and grieves us.  It is what many fear!  But death is here because of sin!  LIFE is who GOD is!  Look at this to close:

Revelation 21:1–4 (NIV): 21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We need to stop being comfortable and we better STAND UP for Jesus now!


[1] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. G1453.

[2] Rudolf Bultmann, Theologie des Neuen Testaments (9th ed.; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1984), 48.

[3] Szymik, Stefan. (2020). The Corinthian Opponents of the Resurrection in 1 Cor 15:12. The Biblical Annals. 10. 437-456. 10.31743/biban.8675.

[4] Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Frank F. Judd Jr., and Thomas A. Wayment, “Jesus and the Ossuaries: First-Century Jewish Burial Practices and the Lost Tomb of Jesus,” in Behold the Lamb of God: An Easter Celebration, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Frank F. Judd Jr., and Thomas A. Wayment (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2008), 201–36.

[5] IBID.

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