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Compare the Teaching on the Resurrection in I Corinthians and the Thessalonian Letters

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Compare the teaching on the Resurrection in I Corinthians and the Thessalonian letters.

The purpose of this paper is to compare the teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as it is noted in Paul's letter to the Corinthians and Thessalonian letters. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the primary doctrines of study in the Bible because it reveals the victory that believers have over death, hell and the grave. However, the belief in a bodily resurrection has been the central focus of controversy since the death of Jesus Christ.

So, before we begin with our comparison of Paul's teaching on the resurrection, we need to begin by understanding the definition or the literal biblical meaning of the word, 'resurrection'. Webster's Dictionary tells us that the word, 'resurrection' means, "a rising from the dead, or coming back to life" (Neufeldt 1145). In the biblical sense the word, 'resurrection' is taken from the Greek word, anastasis, which refers to a raising up, or rising. So, from these two definitions, we should be able to see that the basis for believing in a bodily resurrection is believing that one can die and be brought back to life.

Paul believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and he understood, at least to the point of human comprehension that one could die and be raised from the dead. This was his understanding and one of the reasons why he needed to write about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul spoke a great deal about the risen Christ, but there are some key passages that reveal Paul's understanding of the resurrection. If there is a section of Scripture in the Bible

that provides us with a detailed description on the subject of the resurrection, it is I Corinthians

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chapter 15. This chapter is known as the "Resurrection Chapter." Within this chapter, Paul explains the difference between the natural body and the spiritual body, and how each fits into God's plan for a bodily resurrection. However, in order for us to understand the basic elements for a resurrection, we must consider the following statement. "The spirit or the soul does not die, and therefore the spirit or soul cannot be raised. Only the body can lie down in death, and only the body can stand up in the resurrection" (McGee 396). This means that our body is only a temporary dwelling place because it will one day give way to corruption. The main teaching of the early followers was of Christ dying for the sins of mankind, and then being resurrected on the third day.

So, in order to understand the difference between the teaching on the resurrection in the letter to the Corinthians and the Thessalonian letters, we must understand that the primary difference is not found in the reality of a literal resurrection, but in the ones who will be resurrected. In I Corinthians chapter 15 Paul basically focuses on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This chapter is devoted to the understanding that Jesus was resurrected in order to give believers victory over the powers of the grave. In I Corinthians 15 Paul tells us that some people believe that Christ has risen, but deny the fact that a general resurrection had begun.

In verses 12-16, Paul tells us that a general resurrection from the dead is interchangeable with that of Christ, in that if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. Therefore one cannot believe that Christ is risen, and deny the general resurrection because it is a contradiction of terms. The resurrection of the dead relies totally on the reality of Christ's resurrection. These verses also indicate that the future resurrection of the dead will be the same type of resurrection that Christ experienced. Paul also tells us that our only hope for the future lies completely in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This means that the death caused by Adam's

sin must be the same death that every person will be resurrected from by Jesus Christ. Through

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Adam's sin, spiritual death was brought upon mankind. The story of Adam and Eve indicates that Adam was the cause of spiritual death, which results from physical life. God promised that the day Adam ate from the tree of knowledge, he would die. Paul made it clear that sin was the cause of physical death, and it is only through Christ that we can receive spiritual life.

However, in I Thessalonians chapter 4 Paul focuses his attention on the resurrection of the dead, which refers to those who have died in the Lord. This resurrection is referring to the event called the 'Rapture of the Church'. When Jesus returns to claim His church, the dead in Christ will rise, meaning that there will be a literal resurrection of all the saints that have gone on to be with the Lord. In I Thessalonians 4:17 Paul also reveals another aspect of the resurrection. This verse tells us that the Christians that are still living at the time of Jesus' return will rise into the air to meet Him, along with the resurrected dead in Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us in verse 15, "We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall prevent them which are asleep" (I Thess. 4:15b). The key to understanding this verse is noted in the word, 'prevent'. "The word prevent is an old English word meaning 'precede'.

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