“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
Think with me for a moment.
Imagine your birthday is coming up in a few weeks’ time. Days leading to that special day, you happen to find out that your closest friend has been planning a surprise gift since you graduated from high school 10 years ago. This sounds big. Everyone around has been hyping you up about the gift—it’s a sure thing that the gift will be there. Now, how would you feel if it happens that on your birthday you discover that all of the promises and hints about the gift were all lies? And that your friends were just being naïve; they just wanted you to get excited as you look forward to your birthday.
That would be ridiculous, totally inconsiderate, and preposterous.
The same is true for us as Christians. If it happens that when we die there’s no afterlife—and God doesn’t exist and Jesus was a fraud—then of all religious groups in the world, we Christians are the ones to be pitied the most.
Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Corinth puts it this way: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Paul is saying that if our belief in Christ ends when we die, then we are the most pitiable.
Paul’s statement sounds negative, but it’s not. In fact, it’s the boldest thing to say—the most fearless and daring statement about the assurance we have. Here Paul was counteracting claims made by some people who taught that there’s no resurrection of the dead.
He made this statement to assure Christians that there is, in fact, resurrection and afterlife. In verse 20 he writes, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruit of those who have [died].”
Today as Christians we can stand assured of our coming resurrection to eternal life because of Christ’s resurrection. On the third day after his crucifixion, Christ was raised to life. He is the first fruit and when he returns, those who died will be raised again—believers will be raised to eternal life, and unbelievers will be raised to eternal condemnation. As believers, the risen Christ is our hope.
- Read and meditate on the whole of 1 Corinthians 15.