“…I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, 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:” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Are the three “points” to the Gospel the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Over the years, I have often heard these three truths spoken of as the Gospel without connecting verses 3 & 4 to the succeeding verses. Specifically, the very next verse (v. 5) begins with another “that” phrase: “and that He was seen.” In short, there actually are five points to the Gospel:
- Jesus is the Creator (John 1:1, 14; Colossians 1:14-18)
- He entered humanity and died on the cross. (15:3)
- He was buried. (15:4)
- He arose from the dead. (15:4)
- He was seen by multitudes. (15:5-8; Acts 1:3)
While this “5-point view” may sound heretical, we must of necessity look at the context of the passage and compare Scripture with Scripture. Many a false or incomplete doctrine is possible when a word, phrase, verse, or more is taken out of context and used independent of other truths and texts of God’s Word.
First, if Jesus were not the Creator, He could not have risen from the dead. While this point isn’t mentioned here in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, this truth is clearly taught in other passages like John 1:1-14 and Colossians 1:14-18. None of the rest is possible without this fact.
Second, Christ’s death on the cross is predicated on His entrance into humanity as a baby in the womb of the virgin, Mary. If He had not been born, He could not have died.
Third, He was buried and was in the ground for three days just as Christ Himself predicted: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40)
Fourth, the capstone of Christianity is the resurrection, that Christ came back to life! He, the Author of life, has power to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:15-18).
Fifth, as the passage states, Paul continued with another “that”: “that He was seen…” What lasting value would the resurrection have without the evidence, and that the evidence be confirmed by MANY? The Creator in flesh saw fit, not only to stay around for 40 days after His resurrection (Acts 1:3) showing Himself alive, but also to have the apostle Paul recount individuals and groups who saw the risen LORD Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:5-8 “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
This Resurrection Day, and every day, let us recognize and take to heart the evidences that God has provided for our eternal blessing and benefit! The Gospel of Evidences must needs be shared with everyone, that Christ died for our sins and rose again…and that there are a myriad of evidences!