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A-Z of Paul: Resurrection

Sunday, August 24, 2008
The central message of Christianity is of our God who died, suffered the pain of death as we suffer it, and rose triumphant over it. In the resurrection of Jesus we are given the promise that death is not the end of our existence. Through our life in Christ, who is now living, we too continue to live. All are alive in Christ, all the faithful will reign with him.

When St Paul was preaching, word reached him that some in Corinth were denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and as a consequence, denying also the bodily resurrection of the dead. St Paul dealt with this problem in his first letter to the Corinthians, in Chapter 15. He tells the Christians of Corinth that unless Christ did indeed rise, bodily, from the dead, their faith was completely in vain:

Now if Christ is preached as risen from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ risen; and if Christ has not risen, vain then is our preaching, vain is your faith... For if the dead did not rise, neither has Christ risen; and if Christ has not risen, vain is your faith, for you are still in your sins 1 Cor 15:12-14, 16-17.

St Paul sees the resurrection of Jesus as the proof of our salvation; it is the final event in the salvific mission of Jesus. That is why the bodily resurrection must be seen as a real bodily event. Just as bodily death was the punishment for Adam's sin, which afflicts all humanity, so too the bodily resurrection of Jesus, his victory over death, is the remedy for all humanity, the end of death’s reign over us. Paul also tells us, in 1 Corinthians, that on the last day, when Christ will return in glory, we his followers will be glorified with him. Our bodies will be like his glorified body, we shall be changed to be as he already now is.

“For this corruptible body must put on in-corruption, and this mortal body must put on immortality” 1 Cor 15:53-54.

All of creation has been redeemed in Christ, and we too will be transformed by his resurrection. As believers we will die in Christ, but we will also be raised and transformed in him.


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