Paul learned that individuals in Corinth were teaching that there was no Resurrection of the dead. He testified to Church members in Corinth that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Paul then further expounded the doctrine of the Resurrection and its implications for all of Heavenly Father’s children. Paul mentioned that the ordinance of baptism for the dead would be meaningless without the Resurrection.
Suggestions for Teaching
Paul gives evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:
“My brothers and sisters, we laugh, we cry, we work, we play, we love, we live. And then we die. Death is our universal heritage. All must pass its portals. Death claims the aged, the weary and worn. It visits the youth in the bloom of hope and the glory of expectation. Nor are little children kept beyond its grasp” (“I Know That My Redeemer Lives!” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 24).
Invite students to reflect on the thoughts or feelings they experienced when someone they know passed away. You might invite a few students to share their experiences if they feel comfortable doing so.
Invite students to look for principles as they study 1 Corinthians 15:1–29 that can help them when someone they know passes away.
Explain that as Paul concluded his epistle to the Saints in Corinth, he addressed a false belief that had been taught by some Church members. Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 15:12 aloud, and ask the class to look for the false belief that had been taught.
What were some of the Corinthian Saints teaching? (There is no Resurrection of the dead.)
Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Apostle Paul wrote to help Church members understand the reality of the Savior’s Resurrection.
What did Paul testify of to help Church members understand the reality of the Savior’s mission and Resurrection?
What truth can we learn about an Apostle’s role from these verses? (Students may use different words but should identify a truth similar to the following: Apostles testify that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead.)
How might the Apostles’ testimonies of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection help people who struggle with believing in the Resurrection?
To help students feel the truth and importance of this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following testimony of President Monson. (You may also want to share testimonies concerning Jesus Christ’s Resurrection that have been given by other Apostles in recent general conference addresses.)
“With all my heart and the fervency of my soul, I lift up my voice in testimony as a special witness and declare that God does live. Jesus is His Son, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Redeemer; He is our Mediator with the Father. He it was who died on the cross to atone for our sins. He became the firstfruits of the Resurrection. Because He died, all shall live again. ‘Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: “I know that my Redeemer lives!”’ May the whole world know it and live by that knowledge” (“I Know That My Redeemer Lives!” 25).
Invite students to ponder how the Apostles’ testimonies concerning Jesus Christ’s Resurrection have helped strengthen their faith in the Resurrection. You may want to ask a few students to share their thoughts.
Paul expounds the doctrine of the Resurrection
Summarize 1 Corinthians 15:11–15 by explaining that Paul questioned why the Corinthian Saints had begun to doubt the reality of the Resurrection. He reasoned that if Jesus Christ had not risen from the dead, then all the witnesses of His Resurrection were false and there would be no purpose in preaching the gospel.
Write the following incomplete statements on the board:
If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then … (see 1 Corinthians 15:16–19).
Since Jesus did rise from the dead, … (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–22).
Invite half of the class to read 1 Corinthians 15:16–19 silently, looking for what would happen if Jesus had not risen from the dead. Invite the other half to read 1 Corinthians 15:20–22 silently, looking for blessings that have come as a result of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.
After sufficient time, ask students who read 1 Corinthians 15:20–22 to report how they could complete the corresponding statement on the board. Ask a student to write these students’ responses on the board.
Explain that the word firstfruits in verse 20 refers to the first portion of a crop that is harvested by a farmer. Just as these fruits of the harvest are the first of many to be harvested, Jesus Christ was the first of all beings to be resurrected.
According to verse 22, what will happen to all of Heavenly Father’s children because Jesus Christ was resurrected? (Students may use different words but should identify the following doctrine: Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, everyone will be resurrected.)
Invite students who read 1 Corinthians 15:16–19 to report how they could complete the other statement on the board. Ask a student to write these students’ responses on the board.
Explain that in verses 14–19, Paul asks the Saints to consider what would be the consequences “if Christ has not risen.” Paul explains that all preaching would be in vain since Jesus Christ would not have shown that He has power over death and thus would not have been able to atone for our sins. But because Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, we know that He is the Son of God and does have that power.
Refer to Paul’s statement in verse 19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
Why would we be miserable if we could only have hope in Jesus Christ in this life or if our hope was gone after our death? (If there were no Resurrection of the dead, then our hope in Jesus Christ would apply only to this life and the purposes of the plan of salvation could not be accomplished.)
According to verses 20–22, what great hope does the Resurrection of Jesus Christ offer? (The hope that all of us will live again after death. After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can have hope.)
How can the Resurrection of Jesus Christ bring hope to us when someone we know passes away or when we are fearful about our own eventual death?
To help students further understand the significance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith. (If possible, provide this statement to students on a handout.)
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 49).
What did Joseph Smith say are the fundamental principles of our religion?
Based on what you have learned in this lesson, how is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ fundamental to other gospel truths?
You may want to testify of the reality of the Resurrection and its importance in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation.
Explain that as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:23–24, Paul taught that there will be an order to the Resurrection and that Jesus Christ will “[deliver] up the kingdom” to Heavenly Father after ending all forms of earthly (or worldly) “authority and power.”
Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 15:25–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught will ultimately happen to Jesus Christ’s enemies.
What did Paul say will ultimately happen to Jesus Christ’s enemies? (They will be put “under his feet” [verse 25], or destroyed.)
Who or what could be considered Jesus Christ’s enemies? (Examples include sin, corruption, wickedness, and the adversary.)
What is the last enemy Jesus Christ will destroy?
Why could death be considered an enemy to Jesus Christ and to Heavenly Father’s plan?
Remind students that some Church members in Corinth believed the dead would not be resurrected, but Paul pointed out that the Saints had been doing something that indicated their belief in the Resurrection of the dead.
Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 15:29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the ordinance the Corinthian Saints had been performing. Invite students to report what they find.
How would you summarize what Paul asked the Saints concerning their participation in baptisms for the dead? (“If you do not believe in the Resurrection, why are you being baptized for the dead?”)
Point out that the ordinance of baptism for the dead is a witness of our belief in the Resurrection. Write the following truth on the board: Those who have died without baptism may receive this essential ordinance.
Display a picture of a temple. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Every temple, be it large or small, old or new, is an expression of our testimony that life beyond the grave is as real and certain as is mortality” (“This Peaceful House of God,” Ensign, May 1993, 74).
Invite students to consider a time when they performed baptisms for the dead or prepared names to take to the temple. Invite a few students to respond to the following questions:
What feelings did you have as you prepared names or performed the work for them in the temple?
In what ways have your experiences with family history and temple work strengthened your faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and of all people?
Consider testifying of the importance of performing family history and temple work for those who have passed away. Encourage students to demonstrate their faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the eventual Resurrection of all beings by regularly participating in family history and temple work.
Scripture Mastery—1 Corinthians 15:20–22
To help students understand how knowing the doctrine in 1 Corinthians 15:20–22 could prepare them to help others, invite them to consider someone they know who has lost a loved one. Ask students to write a short letter to this person in their class notebooks or scripture study journals using their understanding of this passage to teach and comfort this individual. Invite a few students to share what they wrote with the class.
Commentary and Background Information
1 Corinthians 15:20. “But now is Christ risen from the dead”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught how believing that Jesus Christ was resurrected means we can also have faith that we will be resurrected:
“If Jesus was in fact literally resurrected, it necessarily follows that He is a divine being. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. Because He was resurrected, Jesus cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. Because He was resurrected, Jesus had to have been a God, even the Only Begotten Son of the Father.
“Therefore, what He taught is true; God cannot lie.
“Therefore, He was the Creator of the earth, as He said.
“Therefore, heaven and hell are real, as He taught.
“Therefore, there is a world of spirits, which He visited after His death.
“Therefore, He will come again, as the angels said, and ‘reign personally upon the earth.’
1 Corinthians 15:22. “In Christ shall all be made alive”
President Joseph Fielding Smith testified that all people will be resurrected:
“No person who has lived and died on this earth will be denied the resurrection. Reason teaches this, and it is a simple matter of justice. Adam alone was responsible for death, and therefore the Lord does not lay this to the charge of any other person. Justice demands that no person who was not responsible for death shall be held responsible for it, and therefore, as Paul declared, ‘As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:274).
Supplemental Teaching Ideas
1 Corinthians 15:29. Video presentation—“The Promised Blessings of Family History”
You may want to show students the video “The Promised Blessings of Family History” (2:42), in which various Apostles testify of the blessings of family history and temple work. This video is available on LDS.org.
You may want to show students the video “Sharing the Temple Challenge” (3:20). In this video, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles extends a challenge to youth to prepare as many names for the temple as baptisms they perform in the temple and to help someone else to do the same.