The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth, in what we have divided as the 15th chapter, spends the entire section establishing the reality and ramifications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
He reminds the Corinthians of what he had earlier preached to them and had become the reason for faith and life as the result of their acceptance of his message.
Namely, that Christ died for our sins. He was buried, He rose again the third day and was seen by Peter and the other disciples, as well as more than 500 men and women over the course of the next 40 days.
Paul also reminds the Corinthians that Jesus appeared to him some time later.
Next, a number of contrasts are offered.
If the resurrection is not true, then Christ followers have believed in vain, and their preaching, teaching and way of life is empty. Worst of all, they are still guilty of their sin and have no hope for the future.
If Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is not true, then life is reduced to: eat, drink and be merry; live for the moment; care about nothing; care for no one.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men, the most pitiable.”
But, if the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is true, then this life is temporary —a transition to true life—life as it should be. Death does not hold us, harm us and has no horror for us. It does not sting, nor have victory.
Death gives us hope. Concerning our resurrection, Paul uses the analogy of a seed dying and becoming the plant it was intended to be.
Paul elsewhere will compare the Christian life to metamorphosis such as we see in the butterfly—an ugly creeping caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly through the process of metamorphosis.
The great hope of the Christian life is that we will experience resurrection from the dead, just as Jesus did.
Our English word, hope, is really a poor vehicle to convey what is meant by the Greek terms used in the New Testament. Hope always conveys some measure of uncertainty. The idea conveyed by the Greek word, Elpis, which we translate to hope, is: “The life shaping certainty of something that has not happened yet, but you know that it will.”
Our hope in the resurrection shapes our life here and now. It changes us and causes us to live, truly live life now and forever more.
Paul ends his lengthy section on the reality of the resurrection with this “therefore what” statement:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Because the resurrection is true of Jesus Christ and true for his followers, we are secure in our faith and should be about his business — our faith and our service are not in vain.