1 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”
With chapter 15, we begin a new subject – the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers. Some people in Corinth did not believe in the resurrection of the body but simply in the resurrection of spirit, for they evidently believed that only their spirit would go to heaven (15:12). Corinth was in Greece. Greek culture believed that the body was a prison for the soul. Death of the body freed the soul from its bodily prison. Bodily resurrection was repugnant to the Greek mind. Hence, we have the most extensive treatment of the resurrection in the entire Bible. Chapter 15 is the longest chapter of an epistle, and the book of Corinthians is the longest epistle in the New Testament.
“Moreover” indicates a change of topic from gifts to the resurrection.
This is another appeal to the family of God.
I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you,
The gospel is the good news that Jesus died to forgive us for our sins and give us eternal life. The word “gospel” comes from two Greek words: good and message. The good news is that God Himself did something about our sin and our eternal relationship with Him. God made peace between Himself and sinful man by putting Jesus Christ to die for our sins and raising Him from the dead. The good news is everlasting life. The gospel is not the life of Christ but the death of Christ. Paul used the word “declare,” which means state, set forth. Paul is going to declare plainly what the issues of the resurrection are all about.
which also you received
The Corinthian church believed the gospel at some point in the past, before the writing of First Corinthians.
and in which you stand,
Christians stand on the gospel as their authority for eternal life, physical eternal life. At the point of their salvation, they received the ongoing results of the status quo of salvation. The gospel is the foundation for eternal life, and the eternal life lived in time.
by which also you are saved,
The words “are saved” is “are being saved” (present tense) in Greek. Salvation is an ongoing process. There are three phases to salvation: past, present, and future. Having received the gospel at a point in the past, God begins to work on us so that we become more like Him. Ultimately, we will be just like Him.
2 Co 3:18, But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
Denial of the resurrection may indicate that some in Corinth were not believers in the first place. “In vain” means without basis. There was no basis for their belief. It is possible to believe in vain. It is possible to go with the flow of Christian culture rather than personally receiving the death of Christ to forgive sins. It is possible to exercise a non-saving faith. This passage says nothing about losing salvation.
The foundation for the entire Christian life is the death and resurrection of Christ.
None of us avoids growing old or dying. That is a hard reality. The glorious gospel of Christ declares that Jesus defeated our ultimate enemy death by His resurrection. There will come a time when we will not need glasses, dentures, or aspirin.
Everything in the Christian life hinges on the resurrection. If the dead body of Jesus is still in the ground, then we have no hope. Without belief in the resurrection, we have no faith. If we do not believe in our hearts without mental reservation that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, then we cannot be saved.
Ro 10:9, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
If Christ did not rise from the dead, then the Bible is a hoax, very much like The Da Vinci Code is a hoax. The whole thing is a cruel, monstrous fake.