If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians [15:19])
Paul concludes from his hourly danger and his daily dying and his fighting with beasts that the life he has chosen in following Jesus is foolish and pitiable if he will not be raised from the dead.
If death were the end of the matter, he says, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” This doesn’t mean: Let’s all become gluttons and drunkards. They are pitiable too — with or without the resurrection. He means: If there is no resurrection, what makes sense is middle-class moderation to maximize earthly pleasures.
But that is not what Paul chooses. He chooses suffering, because he chooses obedience. When Ananias came to him at his conversion with the words from the Lord Jesus, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts [9:16]), Paul accepted this as part of his calling.
How could Paul do it? What was the source of this radical obedience? The answer is given in 1 Corinthians [15:20]: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” In other words, Christ was raised, and I will be raised with him. Therefore, nothing suffered for Jesus is in vain (1 Corinthians [15:58]).
Written by John Piper
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