DENIAL OF THE RESURRECTION WOULD KILL ALL MOTIVATION FOR CHRISTIAN BAPTISM, SPIRITUAL SERVICE AND HOLY LIVING
MacArthur: Before we look specifically at the text, let me remind you that it is axiomatic…that is, it is a given, it is an obvious truth, that unbelievers and hypocrites do not become martyrs. People do not die for something they hold lightly. They do not die for something about which they have doubt. They do not die for things they do not believe are worthy of life and death. People give their lives only for causes that they are wholeheartedly committed to. And one of those great realities is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Who said, “Because I live, ye, too, shall live also.” And millions of Christians have given their lives in living and given their lives in dying with the hope of that resurrection truth.
I. (:29) FUTILITY OF SALVATION — DENIAL OF THE RESURRECTION WOULD KILL ALL MOTIVATION FOR CHRISTIAN BAPTISM
Why take the risk of identifying with Jesus Christ in Christian Baptism?
“Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?”
On the surface the language seems to speak of some type of mysterious proxy baptism – perhaps for believers who had died before they had an opportunity to be baptized??
Very difficult to make sense of this verse. MacArthur thinks it means baptized with a view to being reunited with those believers who had already died and gone home to be with the Lord.
MacArthur: A reasonable view seems to be that those who are baptized refers to living believers who give outward testimony to their faith in baptism by water because they were first drawn to Christ by the exemplary lives, faithful influence, and witness of believers who had subsequently died. Paul’s point is that if there is no resurrection and no life after death, then why are people coming to Christ to follow the hope of those who have died?
Spurgeon: “For as soon as anyone was baptized, the Romans would be looking after him. To drag him away to death. Thus they were baptized as if they were being washed for their burial & dedicating themselves to the grave”
Grosheide: the apostle could hardly derive an argument for the resurrection of the body from a practice of which he did not approve. The rendering “for the benefit of the dead” does not appear tenable.
II. (:30-32A) FUTILITY OF SERVICE — DENIAL OF THE RESURRECTION WOULD KILL ALL MOTIVATION FOR SPIRITUAL SERVICE
Why put yourself in danger by zealously serving Jesus Christ?
A. Serving the Lord Can be Dangerous
“Why are we also in danger every hour?”
B. Serving the Lord Involves Taking Up One’s Cross Daily
“I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
C. Serving the Lord Requires Spiritual Motivation
“If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?”
There is no historical record of this – could be some type of actual physical ordeal (maybe being thrown into some type of coliseum contest) or could be speaking of the spiritual forces at work behind the opposition that Paul faced.
MacArthur: I mean if there’s no resurrection, why in the world am I doing this? Why am I putting my life on the line? Jeopardy means danger. Why am I living in constant danger? Why am I living on the edge of death all the time? Why am I being beaten with rods? Why am I being beaten with whips? Why am I going through shipwrecks? Why am I being thrown in prison? Why am I being put in stocks? Why am I putting my life on the line, as it were, my neck on the chopping block? Why am I putting my life in jeopardy every hour if this is all there is? If it ends right here? If there’s nothing else, what am I serving for? Why am I trying to win you to a king that is dead? Why am I trying to populate a kingdom that doesn’t exist? If there’s no resurrection. It makes a sham out of all Christian service.
III. (32B-34) FUTILITY OF SANCTIFICATION — DENIAL OF THE RESURRECTION WOULD KILL ALL MOTIVATION FOR HOLY LIVING
Why forego the pleasures of this world by refraining from worldly lasciviousness?
A. Apart from the Resurrection, Hedonistic World View Makes Sense
“If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Stedman: That was the philosophy of Epicureanism in that day, and it is widespread today. “Live it up. Get it all now. Don’t bother with giving yourself and wasting your time on doing things for God. Enjoy yourself. Spend all your free time having fun and pleasure.”
B. Theology Does Affect Morality
“Do not be deceived: Bad company [or teaching] corrupts good morals.”
MacArthur: Thirdly, sanctification, and this is closely related. Verse 33, “Don’t be deceived…he says…don’t make a mistake. Don’t miss this one. ‘Evil'”…and the word is homalea, from which we get homiletics, and the word homiletic or homalea basically means association. Homiletics is…is a word used to describe how to teach or preach or to organize something into a meaningful, logical flow. And what he is saying here is, “Evil systems or evil association.” I think it could mean company, as it’s often translated, talking about people. But I don’t think that’s the intent here. I think the word that we use to speak of sermons and lessons being homiletic has to do with a body of teaching. And what he’s saying here is, “Bad teaching corrupts good morals.” And what he means by that is, if you don’t have a right theology about the resurrection, it’s gonna impact your morality. You understand that? If you don’t believe right, you won’t behave right. If you have a doctrine or a teaching that denies resurrection, that it’s gonna affect your living, because if there’s no eternal accountability, you’re liable to sink to the lowest level…
C. Sanctification is Worth Pursuing – Purge Out Bad Doctrine
“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”