1 Corinthians 15

Introduction

"The resurrection is something to which the world cannot relate empirically; it has to be understood by faith and by the Holy Ghost. Consequently it is not readily accepted or believed in the world. Paul's magnificent statement about the resurrection recorded in 1 Cor. 15 apparently was written to convince the intellectuals of his day, those who trusted in reason, that the resurrection was logical, scriptural, and necessary. He said that his knowledge of the resurrection came by revelation but that the doctrine was reasonable even so. The testimony of the scriptures and of the Holy Spirit is that the resurrection of Jesus, and eventually of all mankind, is literal, historical, and factual truth. It really did happen to Jesus, it has already happened to many, and it will yet happen to many more. Everyone who has lived upon this earth is destined to come forth in the resurrection." (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible! [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 198 - 199.)

1 Cor. 15:1-4 I declare unto you the gospel...that Christ died for our sins...that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day

The good news of the gospel cannot be better encapsulated than Paul has done in declaring that Christ died, was buried, and was resurrected. At first glance, that doesn't sound like such good news, particularly the part about the Savior's cruel death and burial, but the story doesn't end with death it ends with life. Because of what it implies, the news of his resurrection is not just good news, its great news! It symbolizes the completion of an infinite atonement with infinite implications-implications which span across time and space to save even the most wicked souls.

"Gospel means 'good news' or 'glad tidings.' The bad news is that because of the fall of our first parents we are subject to the effects and pull of sin and death. The bad news is that because of the fall men and women experience spiritual death-separation and alienation from the presence and influence of God and of things of righteousness. The bad news is that every man, woman, and child will one day face the grim reaper, the universal horror we know as physical death. The good news is that there is help, relief, extrication from the pain and penalty of our sins. The good news is that there is reconciliation with God the Father through the mediation of his Son, Jesus Christ. The good news is that there is an atonement, literally an at-one-ment with the Father. The good news is that the victory of the grave and the sting of death are swallowed up in the power of One greater than death. (1 Cor. 15:54-55; see also Isa. 25:8.) The good news is the promise of eventual life after death through the resurrection. In short, the gospel is the good news that Christ came to earth, lived and taught and suffered and died and rose again, all to the end that those who believe and obey might be delivered from death and sin unto eternal life." (The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 48 - 49.)

David O. McKay

"Marvelous miracle it is! but oh, what a message to your soul and to mine! If he, Lord and Savior, conquered death after having taken upon himself mortality, then we have the divine assurance that our spirits shall transcend that thing which we call death...That is the message." (Conference Report, April 1926, Afternoon Session 38.)

1 Cor. 15:5-7 he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve, After that...of above five hundred brethren

Bruce R. McConkie

"How can Paul, or Peter, or anyone prove that Christ rose from the dead? The fact of resurrection is a spiritual reality, one wholly outside the realm of scientific investigation or proof; it cannot be established by research, or reason, or laboratory experiment. Spiritual truths can be known only by revelation; they are always revealed to the world by witnesses-prophets and righteous men who have seen within the veil, who have heard the voices of beings from another sphere, and who can therefore testify of the things of God. Peter and the others felt the nail marks in the hands of the Risen Lord, thrust their hands into the spear wound in his side, and ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Luke 24; Acts 10:34-43.) Could there be any better evidence than this?" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 389.)

David O. McKay

"We affirm...with Spurgeon that 'no fact in history is better attested than the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It must not be denied by any who are willing to pay the slightest respect to the testimony of their fellow-men, that Jesus, who died upon the cross, and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Aramathea, did literally rise again from the dead.'" (Steppingstones to an Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971], 395.)

David O. McKay

"What can we do if we cannot accept such irrefutable evidence? To me their testimonies mean but one thing, and that is that Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary, who preached the gospel after his own name, who sought the lost ones, whose life as we know it, even from the fragmentary accounts thereof, is an inspiration and has been an inspiration to millions, for two thousand years, who was crucified in ignominy and who was buried: that this same Jesus Christ arose from the grave literally, and that the early Christian church was founded upon that divine fact." (Conference Report, April 1926, Afternoon Session 38.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"Can anyone doubt the veracity of that account? No event of history has been more certainly confirmed. There is the testimony of all who saw and felt and spoke with the risen Lord. He appeared on two continents in two hemispheres and taught the people before His final ascension. Two sacred volumes, two testaments speak of this most glorious of all events in all of human history. But these are only accounts, the faithless critic says. To which we reply that beyond these is the witness and the testimony, borne by the power of the Holy Ghost, of the truth and validity of this most remarkable event. Through the centuries untold numbers have paid with the sacrifice of their comforts, their fortunes, their very lives for the convictions they carried in their hearts of the reality of the risen, living Lord." ("This Glorious Easter Morn," Ensign, May 1996, 67)

1 Cor. 15:9 I am the least of the apostles

"Paul referred to himself as the 'chief of sinners' (1 Tim. 1:15), and as 'the least of the apostles' (1 Cor. 15:9)... He professed his own nothingness (1 Cor. 3:5-7), but explained also that he could 'do all things through Christ which strengtheneth' him (Philip. 4:13). Paul felt that of his own self he was weak, but that with the assistance of Jesus he could accomplish whatever was necessary." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 334.)

1 Cor. 15:12-14 how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Speaking of the first and second commandments, the Savior said, 'on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets' (Matt 22:40). Of the reality of the resurrection, we declare the doctrinal corollary, "on Christ's redemption and resurrection hang all the gospel and the apostles."

Elder Albert E. Bowen

"(Speaking of 1 Cor. 15:12-20) That doctrine is the center and pivot of Christian theology, the foundation of the Christian religion, the very basis of Christian hope. Strip that dogma from your creed, and you destroy Christianity. Take it away, and you devitalize your New Testament, for it is the fundamental fact of that whole record." (Conference Report, April 1944, Third Day-Morning Meeting 130.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"[An individual] has no conception of the doctrines of true Christianity when he declares that Jesus is not the Son of God; that there is no resurrection of the dead, and that we are not redeemed from our sins through the blood of Christ, for this is the foundation of Christianity. Destroy these teachings and what is left? Any man who denies these great truths is in the gall of bitterness and gross darkness concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is no wonder, however, that blind teachers will hold to these ideas, for they are without the Spirit of God, and therefore, I suppose, we can afford to be charitable unto them and pity them." (Conference Report, October 1914, Afternoon Session. 97 - 98.)

1 Cor. 15:17 if Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins

B. H. Roberts

"And is not that just as true now as it was when Paul conducted the Saints at Corinth through this process of reasoning to that awful conclusion? Down into the very depths of despair does his reasoning bring us, if it so be that Christ did not actually rise from the dead. Behold, how hopeless, how vain is the faith of men in Christ if they eliminate from the scheme of his religion the doctrine of physical resurrection from the dead. Thank God the apostles did not leave either the Corinthian Saints or those of us who come after them in that slough of [despondency] to which he had conducted them; but having brought us down to where we may see into the very depth of despair, now he proceeds to build upon the opposite supposition-no, not 'supposition,' but the truth; namely, that Christ has risen from the dead. Hearken to him: (quotes 1 Cor. 15:20-26)

"That is the Christian faith; and yet Christians of today, in large part, do not believe it; a few do, but only a very few. And believe me, Latter-day Saints, that among the many things required of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the many duties laid upon us in the preaching of the gospel in this dispensation, is this responsibility of being God's witnesses in the world for the truth, for the reality of this doctrine of the resurrection from the dead." (Conference Report, April 1925, Afternoon Session 40 - 41.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Surely Paul anticipated a sad trend regarding people's acceptance of Jesus, which accounts for so many moderns who are stranded in the maze. The trend is one in which Christ is credited with a significant ministry in this life but in which his literal resurrection is denied. Paul spoke boldly, declaring, 'If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.' (1 Corinthians 15:19.) A Christianity that focuses on an unrisen Christ is a callow contradiction and it produces a special misery among its adherents, for such faith, Paul said, is 'vain; ye are yet in your sins.'

"Is this dilution of doctrine not what has happened to so much of so-called Christianity with its existential emphasis? An unrisen Christ could never lift all men up! To take the name of Christ to preach against His (and the universal) resurrection is treason of the highest order. Sadly, the name of Christ is often appropriated to fight the work of Christ. Yet possessed of an abiding testimony of the resurrection, modern disciples, like those of old, too can say: 'We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9.)

"Those who 'in this life only have hope in Christ' will be miserable. Without the resurrection there is no ultimate hope, which brings proximate despair. If death is still victorious, how meaningful is life, after all? If Christ cannot help me, then why follow Him? Hence, in torturing the truth about Christ, mortals only torture themselves. A denial of the divinity of Jesus and His literal resurrection leads many to an existential philosophy that appropriates the name of Christ for a religion that finally slumps into a Sadducean stance. How ironic, how cruel! Thus another compelling reason to reject the world is its telestial theology about Christ." (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 16.)

1 Cor. 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable

Spencer W. Kimball

"How great would be our sorrow-and justly so-if there were no resurrection! How miserable we would be if there were no hope of life eternal! If our hope of salvation and eternal reward should fade away, we would certainly be more miserable than those who never had such an expectancy." ("An Eternal Hope in Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1978, 72)

Boyd K. Packer

"If our view is limited to mortal life, some things become unbearable because they seem so unfair and so permanent. There are doctrines which, if understood, will bring a perspective toward and a composure regarding problems which otherwise have no satisfactory explanation." ("The Moving of the Water," Ensign, May 1991, 9)

Harold B. Lee

"If we fail to understand this great truth, we will be miserable in time of need, and then sometimes our faith may be challenged. But if we have a faith that looks beyond the grave and trusts in divine Providence to bring all things in their proper perspective in due time, then we have hope, and our fears are calmed. Life does not end with mortal death. Through temple ordinances which bind on earth and in heaven, every promised blessing predicated upon faithfulness will be realized." (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 31)

Russell M. Nelson

"Hope emanates from the Lord, and it transcends the bounds of this mortal sphere. Paul noted that 'if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.' Only with an eternal perspective of God's great plan of happiness can we ever find a more excellent hope. 'What is it that ye shall hope for?' asked Mormon. He then answered his own question: 'Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ.' (Moro. 7:41)" ("A More Excellent Hope," Ensign, Feb. 1997, 61)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"What meaning would life have without the reality of immortality? Otherwise life would become only a dismal journey of 'getting and spending,' only to end in utter and hopeless oblivion.

"'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' (1 Cor. 15:55).

"The pain of death is swallowed up in the peace of eternal life. Of all the events of the chronicles of humanity, none is of such consequence as this." ("This Glorious Easter Morn," Ensign, May 1996, 67)

1 Cor. 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept

Gordon B. Hinckley

"'If a man die, shall he live again?' (Job 14:14). This is the great universal question framed by Job. He spoke what every other living man or woman has pondered. The Christ alone, of all the millions who up to that time had walked the earth, was the first to emerge from the grave triumphant, a living soul complete in spirit and body. He became 'the firstfruits of them that slept' (1 Cor. 15:20). Were greater words ever spoken than those of the angel that first resurrection morn-'Why seek ye the living among the dead?' (Luke 24:5). 'He is not here: for he is risen, as he said' (Matt. 28:6)." ("The Victory over Death," Ensign, Apr. 1997, 2)

1 Cor. 15:22 as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive

The great symmetry of the gospel plan requires that if death came to mankind by one, then immortality should come to mankind by One. Man cannot be held accountable for what Adam did, and God has made provision that death would not forever have power over us. Again, the symmetry of the gospel will not hold us accountable if we are not responsible.

While many theologians blame Adam for the miseries of mortality, the latter-day saints hold him in high regard, knowing that without his decision to partake of the fruit, none of us would be here (2 Ne. 2:22-23). We understand that mortality should be viewed as a great opportunity. Indeed, both mortality and immortality have been given to us as free gifts-the former from Adam, and the latter from Christ.

Ezra Taft Benson

"The greatest events of history are those that affect the greatest number for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the resurrection of the Master. The eventual resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a scriptural certainty, and surely there is no event for which one should make more careful preparation. A glorious resurrection should be the goal of every man and woman, for it is a reality. Nothing is more absolutely universal than the resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. 'As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.' (1 Cor. 15:22.)" ("Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also," Ensign, Apr. 1993, 4)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"Whenever the cold hand of death strikes, there shines through the gloom and the darkness of that hour the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He, the Son of God, who by his matchless and eternal power overcame death. He is the Redeemer of the world. He gave His life for each of us. He took it up again and became the firstfruits of them that slept. He, as King of Kings, stands triumphant above all other kings. He, as the Omnipotent One, stands above all rulers. He is our comfort, our only true comfort, when the dark shroud of earthly night closes about us as the spirit departs the human form." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 154.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"The magnificent expression of His love came in His death when He gave His life as a sacrifice for all men. That Atonement, wrought in unspeakable pain, became the greatest event of history, an act of grace for which men gave nothing but which brought the assurance of the Resurrection to all who have or would walk the earth.

"No other act in all of human history compares with it. Nothing that has ever happened can match it. Totally unselfish and with unbounded love for all mankind, it became an unparalleled act of mercy for the whole human race...He not only granted the blessing of the Resurrection to all, but opened the way to eternal life to those who observe His teachings and commandments." ("At the Summit of the Ages," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 73)

1 Cor. 15:23-24 every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end...

Paul is teaching the order of the resurrection and hinting at the three degrees of glory. He is speaking of three phases of the resurrection. Phase 1 is the resurrection of those to receive a celestial glory. They are termed the firstfruits, 'They are Christ's, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first' (DC 88:98). They are those who are resurrected in the morning of the first resurrection.

Phase 2 is the resurrection of those to receive terrestrial glory. They are termed 'Christ's at his coming.' The D&C records, 'then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ's at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them' (DC 88:99). They are those who are resurrected in the afternoon of the first resurrection. They will dwell on the earth during the Millenium because they are worthy of a terrestrial glory.

Phase 3 is the resurrection of those to receive a telestial glory. Since the earth will abide a terrestrial glory during the millennium, they are not worthy of their resurrection until the thousand years are ended. Hence, they are resurrected at the end, 'these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth' (DC 88:101)

Bruce R. McConkie

"Order in the resurrection is determined by obedience to gospel law. The most righteous man was first, and most wicked shall be the last; Christ was first, the sons of perdition shall be last." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 394)

1 Cor. 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death

James E. Talmage

"The vanquishment of Satan and his hosts shall be complete. The dead, small and great, all who have breathed the breath of life on earth, shall be resurrected-every soul that has tabernacled in flesh, whether good or evil-and shall stand before God, to be judged according to the record as written in the books. So shall be brought to glorious consummation the mission of the Christ. 'Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet.' Then shall the Lord Jesus 'deliver up the kingdom, and present it unto the Father spotless, saying-I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. Then shall he be crowned with the crown of his glory, to sit on the throne of his power to reign for ever and ever.' The earth shall pass to its glorified and celestialized condition, an eternal abode for the exalted sons and daughters of God. Forever shall they reign, kings and priests to the Most High, redeemed, sanctified, and exalted through their Lord and God JESUS THE CHRIST." (Jesus the Christ, 735)

1 Cor. 15:27-28 Paul Paraphrased

"For Christ hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is obvious that the Father is the one exception (for the Son is subject to the Father, not the Father to the Son). For it was the Father who gave the Son power by which all things could be put under his feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto the Son, then also shall the Son himself be subject unto the Father, that God may be all in all."

1 Cor. 15:29 if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?

Paul's question is interesting. What good is baptism if there is no resurrection? We know that baptism is the key to entering into the celestial kingdom, but nobody can qualify for that kingdom without a resurrected, celestialized body. Howard W. Hunter noted, "There would be no sense in such ordinances except there be a resurrection. Nothing matters if there is not a resurrection; everything would end in the darkness of death." (Conference Report, April 1969, Afternoon Session 137.)

So if there is no resurrection, there is no point to performing baptisms for the dead. Likewise, if there is no resurrection, there is no point to performing any temple ordinances. If there is no resurrection, there is not point to performing ordinances for the living. If there is no resurrection, we might as well stop redeeming the dead, proclaiming the gospel, and perfecting the saints. All are vain unless placed in context of a glorious resurrection. This is why the empty tomb is so full of meaning.

David O. McKay

"Since repentance and baptism by water as well as by the Spirit are essential to salvation (John 3:5), how shall the millions who have never heard the gospel, who have never had an opportunity either to repent or to be baptized enter into the kingdom of God? Surely a God of love can never be satisfied if the majority of his children are outside his kingdom, dwelling eternally either in ignorance, misery, or hell. Such a thought is revolting to intelligent minds. On the other hand, if these millions who died without having heard the gospel can enter into the kingdom of God without obeying the principles and ordinances of the gospel, then Christ's words to Nicodemus were not the statement of a general and eternal truth, and Peter's words on the Day of Pentecost had not a universal application, even though he said plainly, 'For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.' (Acts 2:39.)

"Now the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances thereof. Nor is the term 'all' restricted in meaning to include only a chosen few; it means every child of a loving and divine Father. And yet, hundreds of millions have died without ever having heard that there is such a thing as a gospel plan.

"All nations and races have a just claim upon God's mercies. Since there is only one plan of salvation, surely there must be some provision made whereby the 'uncounted dead' may hear of it and have the privilege of either accepting or rejecting it. Such a plan is given in the principle of salvation for the dead." (Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953], 17.)

Brigham Young

"Do you recollect that in about the year 1840-41, Joseph had a revelation concerning the dead? He had been asked the question a good many times: 'What is the condition of the dead, those that lived and died without the Gospel?' It was a matter of inquiry with him. He considered this question for himself, and for the brethren and the Church, 'What is the condition of the dead? What will be their fate? Is there no way today by which they can receive their blessings as there was in the days of the Apostles, and when the Gospel was preached upon the earth in ancient days?' When Joseph received the revelation that we have in our possession concerning the dead, the subject was opened to him, not in full, but in part, and he kept on receiving...This doctrine of baptism for the dead is a great doctrine, one of the most glorious doctrines that was revealed to the human family; and there are light, power, glory, honor and immortality in it." (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 399.)

Wilford Woodruff

"When the Prophet Joseph had this revelation from heaven, what did he do? There are witnesses here of what he did. He never stopped till he got the fulness of the word of God to him concerning the baptism for the dead. But before doing so he went into the Mississippi River, and so did I, as well as others, and we each baptized a hundred for the dead, without a man to record a single act that we performed. Why did we do it? Because of the feeling of joy that we had, to think that we in the flesh could stand and redeem our dead. We did not wait to know what the result of this would be, or what the whole of it should be. Finally the Lord told the Prophet: 'When any of you are baptized for our dead, let there be a recorder, and let him be eyewitness of your baptisms; let him hear with his ears, that he may testify of a truth, saith the Lord; that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven; whatsoever you bind on earth, may be bound in heaven; whatsoever you loose on earth, may be loosed in heaven.' That was the beginning of this work." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 152.)

Elder M. Theodore Burton

"People not fully acquainted with this concept cannot understand the concern of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with genealogy. Our expenditure of time, money, and effort in gathering and organizing the names and vital statistics of our ancestors is done to identify them properly. We only gather and correlate these genealogies for one purpose, so that we can do the necessary ordinance work for our kindred dead in the temples of God erected for that purpose. If our ancestors and kinfolk have the desire to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ even beyond the grave, they are free to accept these redeeming ordinances made in their behalf. There is neither force nor compulsion in the gospel of Jesus Christ, only love, mercy, and opportunity." (Conference Report, April 1964, Second Day-Morning Meeting 73.)

1 Cor. 15:29 Baptism for the dead performed in early Christianity

"For many Christian churches the text of 1 Cor. 15:29 presents such an anomaly: 'Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?' For most churches it's not a question of whether to believe Paul on the subject of baptism for the dead; it's a question of knowing exactly what Paul meant by this cryptic reference. Since the Bible gives no further information on the subject, many conclude that they just don't know enough about what Paul meant to formulate a doctrine, and so they set the passage aside as an anomaly. 'Whatever Paul intended was undoubtedly correct,' they say: 'We just aren't sure we know what he intended.'...

"...Scholars and theologians have proposed many different theories to try and explain this verse. Yet honest scholars, both Catholic and Protestant (even those hostile to the LDS doctrine), are forced to admit that the passage describes vicarious baptism for the dead, and that proposed alternatives are really just attempts to avoid the clear meaning of the text because of its theological implications." (Are Mormons Christians? [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 19, 98.)

Harold B. Lee

"Doing work for the dead vicariously is not out of harmony with the teachings and mission of the Savior. His atonement was and is a vicarious service for all mankind, that we might live eternally with Him. Historians also record these ordinances having been performed vicariously for the dead, even as the Master's vicarious redemption for all mankind.

"Epiphanius, a writer of the fourth century, in speaking of a sect of Christians to whom he was opposed, said:

'In this country-I mean in Asia-and den in Galatia, their school flourished eminently; and a traditional fact concerning them has reached us that when any of them had died without baptism, they used to baptize others in their name, lest in the resurrection they should suffer punishment as unbaptized.' (B. H. Roberts, The Gospel, p. 247.)" (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 24)

1 Cor. 15:31 I die daily

The true disciple must place the natural man on the altar of sacrifice on a daily basis in order to truly submit to the Father's will. Paul's argument is that placing the Lord first on a daily basis is a waste of time if there is no hope of a resurrection.

Henry B. Eyring

"I can recall thinking, at the student stage of life, of consecrating my life in one grand, heroic gesture. But as life progresses, our moments for consecration are specific, finite, and simple...We should be ready to consecrate our talents to the task at hand, whether or not it is a task we have envisioned for ourselves. Consecration is not a once-in-a-lifetime event; it is a daily devotion. As Paul says, we 'die daily' in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:31)." (On Becoming a Disciple Scholar [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995], 78.)

1 Cor. 15:32 if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die

Carlos E. Asay

"Those who believe that the grave is man's final destiny live without hope of a better world and are inclined to embrace that fatalistic approach, 'Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die' (2 Ne. 28:7; see also 1 Cor. 15:32). This approach often leads to wanton experimentation, immoral conduct, and all the other behaviors that reap misery and remorse of conscience (see Alma 29:5).

"Whereas, those who believe in a life after death are much more inclined to lead purposeful lives. Belief in a resurrection and related truths encourages one to obey the commandments, repent of sins, serve others, and do the other things that bring joy and happiness both here and hereafter." ("If a Man Die, Shall He Live Again?" Ensign, May 1994, 10)

1 Cor. 15:33 evil communications corrupt good manners

Brigham Young

"Since my last letter to you I have received two of your ever welcome communications. I am especially pleased to note the remarks in your last, with regard to the habits of those students with whom you are the most intimate. The old saying is no doubt a true one that 'a man is known by the company he keeps,' as is also the statement made by Paul the apostle that evil communications corrupt good manners. None of us are so strong in well doing that we can afford to associate with the depraved, keep company with the dissolute, and pick out our friends from amongst those who love sin and delight in iniquity. It is a mockery to pray to God to 'leave us not in temptation,' and then seek the companionship of the tempter. However strong in the Lord men may feel, it is always the wisest policy to drive as far as possible from the precipices of sin, and in handling coal, to remember that that which will not burn may probably blacken. By choosing your companions from those of correct morals and temperate habits you manifest your comprehension of these truths, and altogether I must acknowledge I am very much pleased with the course you are taking." (Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons, edited and introduced by Dean C. Jessee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 227.)

1 Cor. 15:37-38 that which thou sowest [is] bare grain...But God giveth it a body

Harold B. Lee

"Now, what is the Apostle Paul trying to say to us? He is comparing the resurrection of the body of the living soul to the planting of a seed of wheat. He said: 'A seed of wheat cannot grow again except it dies.' We plant that seed of grain in mother earth, water it by the rains, warm it by nature's sun, and thus it begins to give up its various parts...the same size, the same texture, so that we recognize in these new seeds an exact quality of that which was planted." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 62.)

Harold B. Lee

"Here we have...the comparison of the resurrection to the sowing of a seed of grain, as suggested by the Apostle Paul...although a seed of grain decomposes, in order to give new life, there remains sufficient of its fundamental element to give the new seeds the same look, size and shape, just as there will be retained those essential elements of our human bodies sufficient to give to each of us the same identity and personality our bodies possessed during our mortal lives." (Decisions for Successful Living [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 184.)

1 Cor. 15:40 There are also celestial bodies

This section of Corinthians is often referenced to demonstrate the doctrine of three degrees of glory. However, Paul is not directly referencing those three kingdoms, rather he is talking about three different gradations in resurrected bodies. He is answering the question, 'with what body do they come?' (v. 35) Naturally, a celestial body belongs in a celestial kingdom, but it is important to understand the differences between the glories of the resurrected bodies of the three kingdoms. The bodies themselves differ in glory, power, and luminescence.

For instance, when Moroni first visited Joseph Smith, the record indicates that a brilliant light filled the entire room. The messenger was dressed in a robe of brilliant white, but 'his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning' (JS-Hist. 1:32). This is a great description of what a celestialized body appears like. The source of Moroni's internal light and glorious physical appearance came not from a heaven sent power, but emanated from his glorious, resurrected, and celestialized body. All who receive this glory can similarly expect a perfected body. While we came into mortality to gain a body, we also knew that we would have a chance, if faithful, to receive an even greater and more glorious body in the resurrection. If we were excited then to receive a mortal body, how excited are we now to receive a celestial one?

M. Russell Ballard

"...if we exercise faith in Him, repent, and are faithful to the gospel covenants we make in the ordinances of salvation, our body will be glorified like the sun (see 1 Cor. 15:40-41)." (M. Russell Ballard, "Building Bridges of Understanding," Ensign, June 1998, 65)

Brigham Young

"Those who attain to the blessing of the first or celestial resurrection will be pure and holy, and perfect in body. Every man and woman that reaches to this unspeakable attainment will be as beautiful as the angels that surround the throne of God." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 24 - 25.)

1 Cor. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars

The reader is referred to D&C 76 for a full discussion of the three degrees of glory. This passage is a key missionary scripture in that it demonstrates the doctrine of three differing glories in the resurrection.

"All are called forth from the grave, and all except those who are sons of perdition are redeemed from the 'second death' (D&C 76:36D&C 76:36-38), but all are not resurrected on equal grounds. At this point our redemption becomes conditional. We cannot concoct a doctrine of redemption that denies the necessity of repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel...The kingdom of heaven cannot be made up of those who have an appetite and propensity for sin, notwithstanding the goodness and perfection of Christ. Each of its citizens must claim their own victory over the powers of the flesh through personal striving and ultimately by virtue of the mercy and goodness of Christ." (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 9)

Elder Theodore M. Burton

"That all would not achieve the same degree of exaltation was made very clear by Paul as he taught of the various heavens prepared for man in accordance with the diligence man shows in earning such glory. Even as one star differs from another in brightness, so shall one man's heaven differ from another's according to the service he renders. But the chance to receive the highest glory which Paul typified by the brightness of the sun must be given to every man and every woman." (Conference Report, April 1964, Second Day-Morning Meeting 73.)

Thomas S. Monson

"It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings are earned. A high report card in mortality qualifies us to graduate with honors." (An Invitation to Exaltation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 16 - 17.)

Joseph Smith

"They who obtain a glorious resurrection from the dead, are exalted far above principalities, powers, thrones, dominions and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power. (HC 6:477-78.)

"Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision (D&C 76). Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the scriptures remain unsullied by the folly of men, go to show the perfection of the theory (of different degrees of glory in the future life) and witness the fact that the document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world. The sublimity of the ideas; the purity of the language; the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation may confess the Lord and bow the knee; the rewards for faithfulness, and the punishments for sins, are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every man is constrained to exclaim: 'It came from God.' (HC 1:252-53.)" (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 136.)

1 Cor. 15:44 it is raised a spiritual body

Some have misunderstood the meaning of the term "spiritual body." It is important to distinguish between a spiritual body and a spirit body. A spirit body is like a ghost; it is separate from its assigned mortal tabernacle. It is not tangible. It cannot receive a fullness of joy. A spiritual body is a perfected, resurrected body. It is a tangible body of flesh and bones which can receive a fullness of joy. Since all things physical, mortal, and corruptible are done away in the resurrection, it is inappropriate to describe the resurrected body as physical. Hence, resurrected bodies are described as spiritual.

This doctrine is taught both in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, 'For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body' (DC 88:27). 'They can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption' (Alma 11:45, italics added).

Joseph Fielding Smith

"Now what is a spiritual body? It is one that is quickened by spirit and not by blood. Our Father in heaven and our Savior and all those who have passed through the resurrection have physical bodies of flesh and bones, but their bodies are quickened by spirit and not by blood, hence they are spiritual bodies and not blood bodies. The immortal body is quickened by spirit, but the mortal body is quickened by blood." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 1: 77.)

1 Cor. 15:45 the last Adam was made a quickening spirit

Bruce R. McConkie

"Christ is the Second Adam. As the first mortal man is called Adam (Moses 1:34), so the first Man to come forth in resurrected immortality is also called Adam, or more specifically the Second Adam. Adam's mortal body was a natural body, Christ's immortal one a spiritual body, meaning a body in which flesh and bones and spirit are inseparably connected. (D. & C. 88:26-28; 93:33.)

"Paul uses this comparison between Adam and Christ to teach some of the basic truths about the resurrection, to teach some of the basic events that take place when a body is sown a natural body and raised a spiritual body. 'There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body,' he says. 'And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.' (1 Cor. 15:44-49.)" (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 685.)

1 Cor. 15:46-49 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual

This passage can be confusing because we usually think of spiritual things coming first, as in the passage, 'I the Lord God, created all things...spiritually before they were naturally upon the face of the earth' (Moses 3:5). But Paul is not speaking of the pre-mortal sphere in which things were first created spiritually. He is speaking of the relationship of the mortal body to the resurrected body. In that context, it is the natural, mortal body which comes before the resurrected, spiritual body.

A passage from the D&C should help, 'For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal-First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work-' (DC29:31-32). The beginning of the Lord's work was to make mortal bodies of pre-mortal spirits. The last of the Lord's work was to make resurrected bodies of mortal bodies. Paul is speaking of the last of the Lord's work in verses 46-49. In that context, the natural precedes the spiritual.

1 Cor. 15:49 as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly

Our mortal image will be of the earth, but our resurrected image will be of heaven. But these two images will resemble each other, the mortal body being a likeness for the resurrected one. Hence, the mortal body has a spiritual counterpart. In performing work for the dead, this principle applies as well. Our work in the temples is done in the mortal body, but it has a heavenly counterpart. Joseph Smith explained, 'that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another-that which is earthy conforming to that which is heavenly, as Paul hath declared...And as are the records on the earth in relation to your dead, which are truly made out, so also are the records in heaven. This therefore, is the sealing and binding power, and, in one sense of the word the keys of the kingdom, which consist of the key of knowledge.' (DC 128:13-14)

1 Cor. 15:50 flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God

Howard W. Hunter

"The resurrection will again unite the spirit with the body, and the body becomes a spiritual body, one of flesh and bones but quickened by the spirit instead of blood. Thus, our bodies after the resurrection, quickened by the spirit, shall become immortal and never die. This is the meaning of the statements of Paul that 'there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body' and 'that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.' The natural body is flesh and blood, but quickened by the spirit instead of blood, it can and will enter the kingdom.

"The best example of the validity of this position-and which portrays the truth of the resurrection-is the happening which we commemorate at this Easter season, when Jesus came forth from the tomb, the first fruits of the resurrection...'he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

"'Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.''' (Luke 24:36-40.) (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 17.)

Joseph Smith

"Flesh and blood cannot go there; but flesh and bones, quickened by the Spirit of God, can." (History of the Church, 6:52.)

Joseph Smith

"Concerning resurrection, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, or the kingdom that God inherits or inhabits, but the flesh without the blood and the Spirit of God flowing in the veins instead of the blood, for blood is the part of the body that causes corruption. Therefore we must be changed in the twinkle of an eye or have to lay down these tabernacles and leave the blood vanish away. . . . Blood is the corruptible part of the tabernacles." (The Words of Joseph Smith, pp. 370-71; standardized)

Russell M. Nelson

"That atonement must enable our physical bodies to be resurrected and changed to a bloodless form, no longer liable to disease, deterioration, or death." ("Constancy amid Change," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 34)

1 Cor. 15:51-52 I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed...in the twinkling of an eye

It is a mystery of godliness that some individuals would not sleep in death. They would never have their bodies lain in the grave. Their spirits would never enter the spirit world. Nevertheless, they must go through a transformation akin to death. This is what Paul means when he says, 'we shall all be changed.' All must go through this transformation of death and resurrection, even if the process happens, as it were, in an instant.

Bruce R. McConkie

"Will translated beings ever die? Remember John's enigmatic words relative to his own translation: 'Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?' (John 21:23.) Note the distinction between avoiding death as such and living till the Lord comes. Then note that Jesus promises the Three Nephites, not that they shall not die, but that they 'shall never taste of death' and shall not 'endure the pains of death.' Again it is an enigmatic declaration with a hidden meaning. There is a distinction between death as we know it and tasting of death or enduring the pains of death. As a matter of doctrine, death is universal; every mortal thing, whether plant or animal or man, shall surely die. Jacob said: 'Death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator.' (2 Ne. 9:6.) There are no exceptions, not even among translated beings. Paul said: 'As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.' (1 Cor. 15:22.) Again the dominion of death over all is acclaimed. But the Lord says of all his saints, not that they will not die, but that 'those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; And they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.' (D&C 42:46-47.) The distinction is between dying as such and tasting of death itself. Again the Lord says: 'He that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man. Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye.' (D&C 63:50-51.) Thus, this change from mortality to immortality, though almost instantaneous, is both a death and a resurrection. Thus, translated beings do not suffer death as we normally define it, meaning the separation of body and spirit; nor do they receive a resurrection as we ordinarily describe it, meaning that the body rises from the dust and the spirit enters again into its fleshly home. But they do pass through death and are changed from mortality to immortality, in the eternal sense, and they thus both die and are resurrected in the eternal sense. This, we might add, is why Paul wrote: 'Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.' (1 Cor. 15:51-52.)" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 4: 389.)

1 Cor. 15:52-53 the dead shall be raised incorruptible

Bruce R. McConkie

"All men shall gain physical perfection in the resurrection; that is, being raised from mortality to immortality, from corruption to incorruption, they shall shuffle off all disease, deformities, bodily disorders, and physical imperfections of every nature, and shall stand thenceforth without physical impairments or deficiencies of any sort. There will be no eyes that do not see, no ears without hearing, no crippled arms or legs, no club feet, no ulcers, no physical pain, no diseases, no corruption, no death. As Alma said: 'The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.' ("#alma 40:23Alma 40:23.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 401.)

1 Cor. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting?

David O. McKay

"Jesus is our Savior, principally, of course, because he conquered death. Death could not touch him, and yet he took upon himself mortality. When he lived such a sinless life, he conquered death and cried out in his heart, as the Apostle Paul has stated it, 'O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?' (1 Cor. 15:55.)

"When a loved one is taken away by death, what do we want more than anything else? Is it not only the realization that death cannot touch that loved one when the spirit moves from its house of clay? Christ conquered death. Death is not victorious over the spirit of man. There is the source of true peace in this strife-torn, war-torn world today for fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, and loved ones. Furthermore, Christ not only redeemed us from death, and broke the bonds of death for mankind as the announcement said, 'to all people,' but he gave the gospel of Jesus Christ, by obedience to which men may be saved and exalted in the kingdom of the Father." (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 439)

Joseph Smith

"What have we to console us in relation to the dead? We have reason to have the greatest hope and consolation for our dead of any people on the earth; for we have seen them walk worthily in our midst, and seen them sink asleep in the arms of Jesus; and those who have died in the faith are now in the celestial kingdom of God. And hence is the glory of the sun." (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 157.)

Wilford Woodruff

"It certainly does require a good deal of the Spirit of the Lord to give comfort and consolation to a father and mother mourning for the loss of their children; and without the gospel of Christ the separation by death is one of the most gloomy subjects it is possible to contemplate; but just as soon as we obtain the gospel and learn the principle of the resurrection, the gloom, sorrow, and suffering occasioned by death are, in a great measure, taken away. I have often thought that, to see a dead body, and to see that body laid in the grave and covered with earth, is one of the most gloomy things on earth; without the gospel it is like taking a leap in the dark. But as quick as we obtain the gospel, as soon as the spirit of man is enlightened by the inspiration of the Almighty, he can exclaim with one of old-'O grave, where is thy victory, O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, and the gift of God is eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.'" (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], 249.)

1 Cor. 15:56 the sting of death is sin

From an eternal perspective, death is not a tragedy but a necessary passage from one portal to another. The terrible tragedy and stinging pain of death comes when the deceased has not yet repented. That's when death, even from an eternal perspective, hurts the most. Elder McConkie noted, "Death can be comforting and sweet and precious or it can thrust upon us all the agonies and sulphurous burnings of an endless hell. And we-each of us individually-make the choice as to which it shall be." (Brent A. Barlow, ed., Understanding Death [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 51 - 52.)

Accordingly the Nephite armies 'were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God' (Alma 48:23), so we are sorry to see so many of our brethren leave this world unprepared to meet their God. President Kimball said, "There is no tragedy except in sin." (The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], Preface)

LeGrand Richards

"Paul not understood that death was but a brief separation from those whom we love and that there would be a reuniting of loved ones in the resurrection, he might well have said: 'The sting of death is eternal separation from those we have loved in life.'" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 197.)