Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 15:54

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Death is swallowed up in victory - Κατεποθη ὁ θανατος εις νικος . These words are a quotation from Isaiah 25:8, where the Hebrew is לנצח המות בלע billa hammaveth lanetsach : He (God) hath swallowed up death in victory; or, for ever. These words in the Septuagint are thus translated: κατεπιεν ὁ θανατος ισχυσας· Death having prevailed, or conquered, hath swallowed up. But in the version of Theodotion, the words are the same with those of the apostle. The Hebrew לנצח lanetsach the Septuagint sometimes translate εις νικος, in victory, but most commonly εις τελος, for ever; both, as Bishop Pearce observes, in such kind of phrases, signifying the same thing, because eternity conquers all things; and accordingly, in 2 Samuel 2:26, where the Septuagint have μη εις νικος καταφαγεται ἡ ῥομφαια, our English version has, Shall the sword devour For Ever? And the same may be seen in Job 36:7; Lamentations 5:20; Amos 1:11; Amos 8:7; from which authority the bishop translates the clause here, Death is swallowed up For Ever.

Death is here personified and represented as a devouring being, swallowing up all the generations of men; and by the resurrection of the body and the destruction of the empire of death, God is represented as swallowing him up; or that eternity gulps him down; so that he is endlessly lost and absorbed in its illimitable waste. How glorious a time to the righteous, when the inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick; when God shall have wiped away all tears from off all faces, and when there shall be no more death. This time must come. Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

So when … - In that future glorious world, when all this shall have been accomplished.

Then shall be brought to pass - Then shall be fully accomplished; these words shall then receive their entire fulfillment; or this event shall meet all that is implied in these words.

The saying that is written - What is written, or the record which is made. These words are quoted from Isaiah 25:8; and the fact that Paul thus quotes them, and the connection in which they stand, prove that they had reference to the times of the gospel, and to the resurrection of the dead. Paul does not quote directly from the Hebrew, or from the Septuagint, but gives the substance of the passage.

Death - Referring here, undoubtedly, to death in the proper sense; death as prostrating the living, and consigning them to the grave.

Is swallowed up - Κατεπόθη Katepothē(from katapinōto drink down, to swallow down) means to absorb Revelation 12:16; to overwhelm, to drown Hebrews 11:29; and then to destroy or remove. The idea may be taken from a whirlpool, or maelstrom, that absorbs all that comes near it; and the sense is, that he will abolish or remove death; that is, cause it to cease from its ravages and triumphs.

In victory - ( εἰς νῖκος eis nikosUnto victory; so as to obtain a complete victory. The Hebrew Isaiah 25:8 is לנצח laanetsachThe Septuagint often renders the word נצח drow netsachwhich properly means “splendor, purity, trust, perpetuity, eternity, perfection,” by νῖκος nikos“victory”; Job 36:7; Lamentations 3:18; Lamentations 5:20; Amos 1:1-15; Amos 8:7. The Hebrew word here may be rendered either “unto the end, that is,” to completeness or perfection, or unto victory, with triumph. It matters little which is the meaning, for they both come to the same thing. The idea is, that the power and dominion of death shall be entirely destroyed, or brought to an end.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
All the saints should not die, but all would be changed. In the gospel, many truths, before hidden in mystery, are made known. Death never shall appear in the regions to which our Lord will bear his risen saints. Therefore let us seek the full assurance of faith and hope, that in the midst of pain, and in the prospect of death, we may think calmly on the horrors of the tomb; assured that our bodies will there sleep, and in the mean time our souls will be present with the Redeemer. Sin gives death all its hurtful power. The sting of death is sin; but Christ, by dying, has taken out this sting; he has made atonement for sin, he has obtained remission of it. The strength of sin is the law. None can answer its demands, endure its curse, or do away his own transgressions. Hence terror and anguish. And hence death is terrible to the unbelieving and the impenitent. Death may seize a believer, but it cannot hold him in its power. How many springs of joy to the saints, and of thanksgiving to God, are opened by the death and resurrection, the sufferings and conquests of the Redeemer! In verse 58, we have an exhortation, that believers should be stedfast, firm in the faith of that gospel which the apostle preached, and they received. Also, to be unmovable in their hope and expectation of this great privilege, of being raised incorruptible and immortal. And to abound in the work of the Lord, always doing the Lord's service, and obeying the Lord's commands. May Christ give us faith, and increase our faith, that we may not only be safe, but joyful and triumphant.
Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 148.2

In all the fullness of His divinity, in all the glory of His spotless humanity, Christ gave Himself for us as a full and free sacrifice, and each one who comes to Him should accept Him as if he were the only one for whom the price had been paid. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive, for the obedient will be raised to immortality, and the transgressor will rise from the dead to suffer death, the penalty of the law which he has broken. TDG 148.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 320-1

With convincing power the apostle set forth the great truth of the resurrection. “If there be no resurrection of the dead,” he argued, “then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.” AA 320.1

The apostle carried the minds of the Corinthian brethren forward to the triumphs of the resurrection morn, when all the sleeping saints are to be raised, henceforth to live forever with their Lord. “Behold,” the apostle declared, “I show 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? ... Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” AA 320.2

Glorious is the triumph awaiting the faithful. The apostle, realizing the possibilities before the Corinthian believers, sought to set before them that which uplifts from the selfish and the sensual, and glorifies life with the hope of immortality. Earnestly he exhorted them to be true to their high calling in Christ. “My beloved brethren,” he pleaded, “be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” AA 321.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 590

In comparison with the millions of the world, God's people will be, as they have ever been, a little flock; but if they stand for the truth as revealed in His word, God will be their refuge. They stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. God is always a majority. When the sound of the last trump shall penetrate the prison house of the dead, and the righteous shall come forth with triumph, exclaiming, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)—standing then with God, with Christ, with the angels, and with the loyal and true of all ages, the children of God will be far in the majority. AA 590.1

Christ's true disciples follow Him through sore conflicts, enduring self-denial and experiencing bitter disappointment; but this teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they are led to look upon it with abhorrence. Partakers of Christ's sufferings, they are destined to be partakers of His glory. In holy vision the prophet saw the ultimate triumph of God's remnant church. He writes: AA 590.2

“I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory ... stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.” Revelation 15:2, 3. AA 590.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Stewardship, 350

It will only be a little while before Jesus will come to save His children and to give them the finishing touch of immortality. “This corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality.” The graves will be opened, and the dead will come forth victorious, crying, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Our loved ones who sleep in Jesus will come forth clothed with immortality. CS 350.1

And as the redeemed shall ascend to heaven, the gates of the city of God will swing back, and those who have kept the truth will enter in. A voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, will be heard saying, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Then the righteous will receive their reward. Their lives will run parallel with the life of Jehovah. They will cast their crowns at the Redeemer's feet, touch the golden harps, and fill all heaven with rich music.—The Signs of the Times, April 15, 1889. CS 350.2

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