1 Corinthians 15-16: The Doctrine of Resurrection

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 124–126


Has someone you love died? How did you feel when it happened? Jesus Christ overcame death through His atoning sacrifice. Because of His gift, death is temporary. All mankind will be resurrected and enjoy immortality. In Paul’s time, some questioned the reality of Christ’s Resurrection. As you read 1 Corinthians 15–16, look for Paul’s powerful testimony of the reality of the Resurrection, as well as doctrinal truths about the three degrees of glory and ordinance work performed in temples in behalf of those who have died.

Understanding the Scriptures

1 Corinthians 15

Vain (vv. 2, 14, 17)Without reason, empty 
Fallen asleep (v. 6)Dead 
Firstfruits (vv. 20, 23)First to be resurrected 
Subdued (v. 28)Made subject 
Quickened (v. 36)Given life 
Quickening spirit (v. 45)Immortal person with a glorified, perfected body 
temple font

1 Corinthians 15:29—Baptism for the Dead

Paul explained that there would have been no reason for the Saints to do baptisms for the dead if there were no resurrection. He then testified that the Resurrection is a reality and that ordinance work in behalf of the dead provides great blessings for them as well as for those who perform the ordinances.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “The Saints have the privilege of being baptized for those of their relatives who are dead, … and who have received the Gospel in the spirit, through the instrumentality of those who have been commissioned to preach to them” (History of the Church, 4:231). He also taught that “those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation” (History of the Church, 4:426; see also D&C 128:15–18).

1 Corinthians 15:40–42—Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Bodies

Everyone will be resurrected, but we will not all rise from the dead at the same moment or with the same glory. The most righteous will be resurrected first and will serve with Jesus Christ during His millennial reign. The least righteous will be resurrected last. The following chart will help you better understand the order of the Resurrection (see also D&C 88:98–102):

1 Corinthians 15:42–54—“Corruption … Incorruption”

Several times Paul used the word corruption to refer to death and the word incorruption to refer to immortality (see 1 Corinthians 15:42–54). Even though we will receive our same bodies in the Resurrection, they will not be subject to disease, decay, and imperfection, but will instead be glorified, perfected, and immortal (see Alma 11:42–45).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study 1 Corinthians 15.

Activity A Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—1 Corinthians 15:20–22

List a scripture chain that starts at 1 Corinthians 15:20–22. Use your Bible Dictionary, Topical Guide, and the index in your triple combination to find at least five additional scriptures that explain that everyone will be resurrected. You may want to write these cross references in the margin of your scriptures.

Activity B Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—1 Corinthians 15:29

Interview someone who has been to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. (If you have had this opportunity you can write about your own experience.) Write answers to the following questions:

  1. 1.

    What did you enjoy the most about doing baptisms for the dead?

  2. 2.

    How will your service benefit the dead?

  3. 3.

    Why do you think baptism for the dead is such an important doctrine?

Activity C Scripture Mastery iconScripture Mastery—1 Corinthians 15:40–42

Write three questions that you think a nonmember might ask a missionary about the Resurrection or the three degrees of glory. Then write answers to the questions, using verses from 1 Corinthians 15 in your answers.

ancient tomb

modern gravestones