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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 15:5-10

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, July 11, 2023

5 after that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. 6 After that he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all he appeared even to me (like a stillborn child). 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been for nothing. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not me, but the grace of God that is with me.

The resurrection of Jesus is the true coming forth of the Lord. He became alive again in the grave on Easter Sunday morning, and departed from the grave to appear to many people.

A careful reading of Matthew 28:1-6 presents the events of the resurrection in this order:

  1. At dawn Mary Magdalene and another woman went to look at the tomb.
  2. While they were on the way, an angel of God came down and rolled away the stone, causing a violent earthquake.
  3. The guards “became like dead men” for fear of the angel.
  4. The angel spoke to the women, pointing out that Jesus was already risen. “Come and see the place where he lay” (28:6).

We conclude from this that Jesus had of course already risen and vacated the tomb before the angel came, with the tomb still closed and the stone still sealed. His departure from the tomb was miraculous. The angel rolled the stone away for the sake of the women and the disciples to see in, not for the sake of Jesus to get out, for he was already gone.

The Scriptures ascribe the resurrection of Jesus to all three persons of the Holy Trinity. The Son himself rose (John 2:19, 10:17-18). The Father raised the Son (Acts 2:24, 3:15, 4:10, 5:30, 10:40, 13:30; Ephesians 1:20). The Holy Spirit made the Son alive (Romans 8:11). In fact, Paul stresses the activity of all three persons of the Trinity in raising Jesus in his letter to the Romans (Father, Romans 4:24, 6:4; Son, Romans 1:4; and Holy Spirit, Romans 8:11).

The appearances Paul lists here are not all mentioned in other parts of the Scriptures, but it may be encouraging to some readers to see just how much of Paul’s list is supported elsewhere in the Scriptures:

15:5a   To Cephas (Peter). Luke 24:34.

15:5b   To ‘the Twelve’ (the group, but without Judas) John 20:26-31.

15:6   To the five hundred (perhaps Matthew 28:10,16-20?)

15:7a   To James

15:7b   To all the apostles. (Mark 16:15-18 or Acts 1:3-8)

15:8   To Paul (Acts 9:3-16; Acts 22:6-11; Acts 26:14-18).

This list is, of course, not complete in itself. The Gospels tell us that Jesus appeared to the women and to others. The surprising item is the way Paul describes himself as “like a stillborn child.” This is a very specific Greek word that occurs in the translation of the Old Testament (Numbers 12:12; Job 3:16; Psalm 58:8 and Ecclesiastes 6:3). Paul means that he did not come to his Christian faith like others, but as an enemy of the church, persecuting the church. He says that he is unfit to be called an apostle, but Paul has a special place among the apostles. Christ spoke to him personally on the road to Damascus, and then instructed Paul personally in the desert of Arabia (Galatians 1:17). Paul’s message was no different than what the Old Testament Scriptures testified: “I am saying nothing,” Paul said before the Roman court, “beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23).

The glory of the resurrection appearances Paul describes here is the very same message: Christ was the first to rise from the dead. All the other people in history who were raised from the dead, by Elijah and Elisha, by Peter and Paul, and even the three who were raised by Jesus himself, are all people who died again. But Jesus’ resurrection is the first of the final resurrection we will all enjoy and be part of on the Last Day. His rising from the grave assures you that you, too, will rise from the grave. Keep putting your faith in Jesus, for your resurrection means everlasting, unending, and eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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