1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15 is the fifteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle and Sosthenes in Ephesus. The first eleven verses contain the earliest account of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in the New Testament. The rest of the chapter stresses the primacy of the resurrection for Christianity.


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 58 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

Verses 1–2

Verses 3–7

"According to the scriptures"

Soon after his death, Jesus' followers believed he was raised from death by God and exalted to divine status as Lord "at God's 'right hand'," which "associates him in astonishing ways with God." According to Larry Hurtado, powerful religious experiences were an indispensable factor in the emergence of this Christ-devotion. Those experiences "seem to have included visions of God's heaven, in which the glorified Christ was seen in an exalted position." Those experiences were interpreted in the framework of God's redemptive purposes, as reflected in the scriptures, in a "dynamic interaction between devout, prayerful searching for, and pondering over, scriptural texts and continuing powerful religious experiences." This initiated a "new devotional pattern unprecedented in Jewish monotheism," that is, the worship of Jesus next to God, giving a central place to Jesus because his ministry, and its consequences, had a strong impact on his early followers. Revelations, including those visions, but also inspired and spontaneous utterances, and "charismatic exegesis" of the Jewish scriptures, convinced them that this devotion was commanded by God.

"Died for our sins"

In the Jerusalem ekklēsia, from which Paul received this creed, the phrase "died for our sins" probably was an apologetic rationale for the death of Jesus as being part of God's plan and purpose, as evidenced in the scriptures. The phrase "died for our sins" was derived from Isaiah, especially, and Maccabees 4, especially.
According to Geza Vermes, for Paul 1 Corinthians 15:3 may have referred to , narrating the Binding of Isaac, in which Abraham is willing to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, obeying to the will of God.

"Raised on the third day"

"Raised on the third day" is derived from :

Origins of the creed

The account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus in verses 3–7 appears to be an early pre-Pauline creedal statement. Verses 3–5 may be one of the earliest creeds about Jesus' death and resurrection. Most biblical scholars note the antiquity of the creed, probably originating from the Jerusalem apostolic community. The antiquity of the creed has been placed to no more than five years after Jesus' death by most biblical scholars. The linguistic analysis suggests that the version received by Paul seems to have included verses 3b–6a and 7. The creed has been deemed to be historically reliable and is claimed to preserve a unique and verifiable testimony of the time.
Geza Vermes is representative of the common understanding of the origins of this creed in The Resurrection, stating that the words of Paul are "a tradition he has inherited from his seniors in the faith concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus". Gary R. Habermas argues, "Essentially all critical scholars today agree that in Corinthians 15:3–8, Paul records an ancient oral tradition that summarizes the content of the Christian gospel," in which Paul "uses the explicit language of oral transmission," according to Donald Hagner. In other words, Paul's account has been described by scholars as "the very early tradition that was common to all Christians", as "a sacred tradition", and contained in "the oldest strata of tradition".
According to Paul's Epistle to the Galatians he had previously met two of the people mentioned in these verses as witnesses of the resurrection: James the Just and Cephas/Peter:
Moreover, even skeptical scholars agree that the creed in 1 Corinthians 15 is not an interpolation but was a creed formulated and taught at a very early date after Jesus' death. Gerd Lüdemann, a skeptic scholar, maintains that "the elements in the tradition are to be dated to the first two years after the crucifixion of Jesus... not later than three years..." Michael Goulder, another skeptic scholar, states that it "goes back at least to what Paul was taught when he was converted, a couple of years after the crucifixion".

Verses 8–11


Verses 12-58: resurrection of the dead

Jesus and the believers 12–19

In verses 12–19, St Paul, in response to some expressed doubts of the Corinthian congregation, whom he is addressing in the letter, adduces the fundamental importance of the resurrection as a Christian doctrine. Through those verses, Paul is stressing the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and its relevance to the core of Christianity. Paul rebukes the Corinth Church by saying if Jesus did not resurrect after the crucifixion, then there is no point in the Christianity faith.

Verse 17

Verses 20–28: the last enemy

In verses 20–28, Paul states that Christ will return in power and put his "enemies under his feet" and even death, "the last enemy", shall be destroyed:

Verse 26

Verse 27

refers to Psalm. Ephesians also refers to this verse of Psalm 8.

Verse 29: baptism for the dead

Verse 29 suggests that there existed a practice at Corinth whereby a living person would be baptized instead of some convert who had recently died. Teignmouth Shore, writing in Ellicott's Commentary for Modern Readers, notes that among the "numerous and ingenious conjectures" about this passage, the only tenable interpretation is that there existed a practice of baptising a living person to substitute those who had died before that sacrament could have been administered in Corinth, as also existed among the Marcionites in the second century, or still earlier than that, among a sect called "the Corinthians". The Jerusalem Bible states that "What this practice was is unknown. Paul does not say if he approved of it or not: he uses it merely for an ad hominem argument".
The Latter Day Saint movement interprets this passage to support the practice of baptism for the dead. This principle of vicarious work for the dead is an important work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the dispensation of the fulness of times. This interpretation is rejected by other denominations of Christianity.

Be not deceived: 33–4

Verse 33 contains a quotation from classical Greek literature. According to the church historian Socrates of Constantinople it is taken from a Greek tragedy of Euripides, but modern scholarship, following Jerome attributes it to the comedy Thaĩs by Menander, or Menander quoting Euripides. It might not have been a direct quote by Paul: "This saying was widely known as a familiar quotation."

Resurrection of the body: 35–58

The chapter closes with an account of the nature of the resurrection, that in the Last Judgement the dead will be raised and both the living and the dead transformed into "spiritual bodies" :
Hence, through the power of Jesus Christ "Death is swallowed up in victory". Referring to a verse in the Book of Hosea, Paul asks: "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?", thus, equating sin with death and the Judaic Law which have now been conquered and superseded by the victory of Christ.



The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to 1 Corinthians 15:
Readings from the text are used at funerals in the Catholic Church, where mourners are assured of the "sure and certain expectation of the resurrection to a better life".


In the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, the inscription on the headstone of Harry Potter's parents has the engraving of the words: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death". This is taken from the King James Version of 1 Corinthians 15:26.