March 11, 2021 – Thursday
1 Corinthians 15:11 NIV
11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
For some context, let us look at the verses from yesterday and then verses that lead us to verse 11. From yesterday, 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. And now the verses leading up to verse 11, 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Why does Paul describe himself as abnormally born? First of all it was not his physical birth but his spiritual birth as he explains now, 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve 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 to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
Paul describes his birth as abnormal, but he was not talking about his physical birth but his spiritual birth when he had a one-on-one meeting with Christ on his way to Damascus when he had been persecuting followers of Christ prior to that. That was the reason he said he had an abnormal birth as an apostle. Nonetheless, whether it was one of Christ’s original apostles or Paul, what they preached was the same. Jesus died on the cross, He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures. It is the same good news we teach and preach to this very day. We share the evidence today, almost 2,000 years later, where His apostles saw Him after His resurrection, as did over 500 others. And those are the ones we have records of, there may have been many more.
Remember yesterday I wrote about what Paul meant about believing in vain. But here he is stating the reasons you should not believe in vain. Instead, you should believe with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. If you do that, you are not believing in vain for you have taken your belief to your center and let your belief, your faith, change you and how you live your life. Paul wants everyone to know this truth he preached to the Corinthians – and through his letter to us as well – is what they believed and should still be believing. Note the verb we preach in the Greek is in what is called the present continuous tense. This means he and the other apostles continually and consistently preached this very message.
Paul was stating there was a great unity in all the apostolic preaching on the message of and about Jesus. MacLaren’s Expositions says of the apostles, As I have said, there were wide differences of characteristics between them, but there was a broad tract of teaching wherein they all agreed. And then states, I may take it all from the two clauses in the preceding context, ‘how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.’ These are the things about which, as Paul declares, there was not the whisper of a dissentient voice. There is the vital centre which he declares every Christian teacher grasped as being the essential of his message, and in various tones and manners, but in substantial identity of content, declared to the world.
I wish this were the case today, but it is not. We all know of one church or another that denies one aspect or another of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you do not belong to a church teaching the truth as Paul has defined it here, find one.
Prayer: Father God – I know Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried and rose on the third day. Please let that knowledge never leave me. – In Jesus name. Amen.
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