A hostile world and a divided church are easy places in which to forget the Gospel. When life saps us, church life included, we can feel the drain happening to our faith. Paul wants to help us: this chapter is like a blood-transfusion for tired, anaemic Christians. We rediscover the gospel of new life as true, staggering, and urgent.
The Gospel is our only hope. Christianity isn’t about playing games, dealing in what-ifs and let’s-pretends. The Gospel is a life-giving message for a dying world. We’ve taken our stand on it, we need to hold to it firmly (vv.1-2). Otherwise, we’ve believed in vain.
This Gospel was declared in the Old Testament before the coming of the Messiah. Those Scriptures spoke of a Christ who would die and be raised again (vv.3-4). This dying and rising makes sense of Psalm 16, 22, 69 and the great trials and victories of the Servant in Isaiah’s songs.
The Saviour prefigured in the Old Testament is the One who did rise, and was seen my multiple witnesses (vv.5-7). Faith in a Risen Christ isn’t based on rumour, but trustworthy report. And Paul has seen the Master he commends to the Corinthians (v.9). Paul never loses his sense of amazement that he has been called to serve Christ, and never loses his consuming love for Him, nor his desire to serve Him (vv.9-10). Notice, though, that Paul never loses sight of God’s work in supplying Him with grace in the midst of his own, which is a vital lesson for all who would serve the Gospel.
So the Corinthians are faced with decisions to make, as we are, too: will we listen to Paul as having unique, apostolic authority? Will we be committed to standing, come what may, on the Gospel? And are we so convinced that a Risen Saviour is the news which demands all that we have, and all that we can offer to God, dependent upon His grace? This is what we have believed (v.11).