1 Corinthians 15:1–2
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
Commentator Anthony Thiselton affirms the idea that 1 Corinthians 15 is the climax of the book because it completes the theme of God’s grace given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most interpreters see the Christians in Roman Corinth as believing in the resurrection but not fully comprehending its importance to their salvation and spiritual condition. Paul starts with the common ground of their faith in what he had proclaimed to them about Christ and then extensively expands their understanding and ours.
As often, Paul sums up his entire message about Christ crucified and resurrected with the term “the gospel” (1 Cor. 15:1). Paul gave his message about Christ, the Corinthians believed, and the result is that they still stand on that faith (Greek perfect tense, stressing current results). This positive thought continues through the first part of verse 2: “through which also you are being saved” (New Revised Standard Bible).
Like any preacher, Paul does not want to give false assurance of salvation, so he introduces some qualifications in the second half of verse 2. All the benefits he has just named are theirs assuming they were serious about their original commitment to Christ (“if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you”). The second possibility that would negate the benefits is that they had not understood their commitment in the first place. Thiselton says, “Here Paul envisages the possibility of such a superficial or confused appropriation of the gospel” that certain Corinthians might hold only an “incoherent belief” in Christ. This result is not an instance of believing “in vain” (NIV) but rather believing “without careful thought” or “in a haphazard manner.” We have a duty toward those who might be in that trap! Make sure they give their allegiance to Jesus.
Copyright © 2014 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.