1 Corinthians 15-16

Today is the first Sunday in Advent for 2017.   How amazing to be reading about the birth of Christ and the resurrection of Christ in two different settings!
As I read the first 11 verses of chapter 15 I find myself thinking about Paul.  Here’s a guy who never spent one day of his life with Jesus (before Jesus went back to heaven) and yet he calls himself an apostle.   You probably remember that when Judas hanged himself, the other 11 disciples chose a replacement for him…so there would be 12 disciples.  One of the requirements was that you had to be with Jesus for the entirely of His earthly ministry.   Paul is taking on the title of Apostle without a day with Jesus, let alone His whole earthly ministry.    Is that presumptuous?      Well, if he were doing it out of his own strength and wisdom, yes it would be.    But Paul isn’t foolish or careless….or however you would describe someone who would act like that.
Paul has clearly spent time with the ascended Jesus, and has been commissioned for his role as an “apostle to the Gentiles” by Christ himself.   Therefore, he doesn’t feel the need to meet any earthly requirements before taking on the title “apostle”.    He knows that he has been sent by a higher power than anything of this earth.   Paul is a radical, perhaps that’s why God gave him the position that He did.   Once he sinks his teeth into something he simply will not let go of it, and that’s the sort of person it was going to take to win the Gentiles.   The other disciples married and raised families, Paul didn’t.   Some of the other disciples traveled quite a distance, but none were greater evangelists than Paul.   No one except Luke wrote as much as Paul.   (And Luke was a disciple of Paul’s)  He worked just enough at secular jobs to pay his way while he traveled Greece and Turkey.   In fact, Turkey is very important to Christians, but we never hear much about it.   We always talk about Jerusalem and Israel, sometimes Egypt or Jordan….but we don’t mention Turkey much.    But Turkey is where Paul spent a fair amount of his time, including all of his first missions trip.   And the Revelation is written to the churches of Turkey.    Ephesus was in Turkey (coastal city), it’s believed that John settled there with Mary the Mother of Jesus.    John may have written his Gospel from there.    All this happens in Turkey…which is about 98% muslim today.    Christians have a great heritage in Turkey.      I don’t know how I wandered off into talking about Turkey…I was talking about Paul.
Maybe I should go back to talking about what the Bible says….how about that…
All the rest of Chapter 15 talks about the resurrection of the dead.  That’s why in the first few verses Paul mentions all the people who witnessed Christ alive after his crucifixion and burial.   The authenticity of the resurrection is critical to our faith.  Paul says that if Christ hasn’t been resurrected, then we are still in our sins…that’s how important it is.   Therefore, since it’s so important, you can expect that satan will try and cast whatever doubts he can on it.
Of course Christ has risen from the dead, this is the great Gospel that Paul is carrying to diverse countries.   Christ as risen, salvation and freedom from eternal damnation are now possible.
My thought on the resurrection body:   Paul speaks of our new body coming up from the ground like a plant blossoms from a seed.    Consider an apple seed…it’s not much to look at, and certainly not tasty or attractive.   But once planted it returns as a tree….very unlike the seed.  The tree produces fruit….and the fruit doesn’t look like the seed.   I don’t know that we can take the analogy any further than that, but the point is our body will return more powerful, more complete and more wonderful than this body could ever hope to be.
Chapter 16
a few quick comments:
Paul instructs the church to save a little money up for people in Jerusalem.  He suggests bringing it to church at the beginning of the week.   I wonder if this was the beginning of the modern offering?   The idea of the tithe and the support of God’s church predates this by thousands of years…but this could be the seed from which our modern missionary support and benevolence offerings came from.
Paul also says “don’t intimidate Timothy” which reminds me that the church in Corinth had some pride issues and self aggrandizing issues going on.
We have two letters between Corinth and Paul, but clearly there were more written than that.