Now if Christ be preached, etc. - Seeing it is true that we have thus preached Christ, and ye have credited this preaching, how say some among you, who have professed to receive this doctrine from us; that there is no resurrection of the dead, though we have shown that his resurrection is the proof and pledge of ours? That there was some false teacher, or teachers, among them, who was endeavoring to incorporate Mosaic rites and ceremonies with the Christian doctrines, and even to blend Sadduceeism with the whole, appears pretty evident. To confute this mongrel Christian, and overturn his bad doctrine, the apostle writes this chapter.
Now if Christ - Paul, having 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 stated the direct evidence for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, proceeds here to demonstrate that the dead would rise, by showing how it followed from the fact that the Lord Jesus had risen, and by showing what consequences would follow from denying it. The whole argument is based on the fact that the Lord Jesus had risen. If that was admitted, he shows that it must follow that his people would also rise.
Be preached - The word “preached” here seems to include the idea of so preaching as to be believed; or so as to demonstrate that he did rise. If this was the doctrine on which the church was based, that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, how could the resurrection of the dead be denied?
How say - How can any say; how can it be maintained?
Some among you - See the introduction to Acts 17:32); or they may have been some followers of Sadducean teachers; or it may be that the Gnostic philosophy had corrupted them. It is most probable, I think, that the denial of the resurrection was the result of reasoning after the manner of the Greeks, and the effect of the introduction of philosophy into the church. This has been the fruitful source of most of the errors which have been introduced into the church.
That there is no resurrection of the dead - That the dead cannot rise. How can it be held that there can be no resurrection, while yet it is admitted that Christ rose? The argument here is twofold:
(1) That Christ rose was one “instance” of a fact which demonstrated that there “had been” a resurrection, and of course that it was possible.
(2) that such was the connection between Christ and his people that the admission of this fact involved also the doctrine that all his people would also rise. This argument Paul states at length in the following verses. It was probably held by them that the resurrection was “impossible.” To all this, Paul answers in accordance with the principles of inductive philosophy as now understood, by demonstrating A fact, and showing that such an event had occurred, and that consequently all the difficulties were met. Facts are unanswerable demonstrations; and when a fact is established, all the obstacles and difficulties in the way must be admitted to be overcome. So philosophers now reason; and Paul, in accordance with these just principles, labored simply to establish the fact that one had been raised, and thus met at once all the objections which could be urged against the doctrine. It would have been most in accordance with the philosophy of the Greeks to have gone into a metaphysical discussion to show that it was not impossible or absurd, and this might have been done. It was most in accordance with the principles of true philosophy, however, to establish the fact at once, and to argue from that, and thus to meet all the difficulties at once. The doctrine of the resurrection, therefore, does not rest on a metaphysical subtilty; it does not depend on human reasoning; it does not depend on analogy; it rests just as the sciences of astronomy, chemistry, anatomy, botany, and natural philosophy do, “on well ascertained facts;” and it is now a well understood principle of all true science that no difficulty, no obstacle, no metaphysical subtilty; no embarrassment about being able to see how it is, is to be allowed to destroy the conviction in the mind which the facts are suited to produce.