1Corinthians 15:55-58 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be you stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ Quoted from Hosea 13:14. Death is the power of being ruined that God will deliver from; satan had this power until Christ conquered him (Heb. 2:14-15). God will destroy death (15:24-28).

‘Sting’ [Greek: kentron] a goad or sting (15:55-56; Acts 9:5; 26:14; Rev. 9:10). Death is here personified as having sin as a sting or a goad (15:56), driving people like an ox-driver does until life ends by the final dagger thrust, and until sin causes one to pay the death penalty (Rom. 6:23).

‘Grave’ [Greek: Hades] hell or the unseen world of departed spirits of people where the wicked are kept in a conscious state of torment until the resurrection of the bodies at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:11-15). Hades was also the place of confinement of the righteous souls before the resurrection of Christ. At that time Christ reclaimed all these captive souls from the paradise or comfort compartment of hades and took them to heaven when He ascended on high (Eph. 4:8-10; Heb. 2:14-15). Hell was robbed of its victory then, as far as saints are concerned. Death still stings the Christian and will do so until the end of the first resurrection. It will sting sinners until it is destroyed at the end of the Millennium (15:24-28; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:1-7). Hell is personified here as being a victor holding his victims in defeat. He will lose his victims at the end of the Millennium when they will be judged and death and hell themselves will be cast into the lake of fire in utter defeat (Rev. 20:11-15).

‘Sin’ – is the sting that death uses to goad its victims to death (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23; 8:12-13). In Romans 7:7-25 sin is pictured as a self-acting spirit which at one time controlled Paul and worked in him all manner of concupiscence or sinful lusts. It used the coming of the commandment as an occasion to assert its control over his life not letting him obey the law. Sin was not active before the law came for it had no reason to assert its power until then. But as soon as the commandment came forbidding certain things, sin came to life and by its lusts made him break the law so that he would have to pay the death penalty (Rom. 7:8-9).

‘Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ What the law could not do in giving us power over sin and the eternal death penalty, Jesus Christ has done for the one who wants victory (Rom. 8:2-4; Mat. 1:21; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-9; 2Cor. 5:17-18; Heb. 7:25; 1Jn. 1:7-9; 3:5-10; 5:18). ‘Be you stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.’ Three commands that will bring victory: [1] The Greek word hedraios means to be seated, settled, and firm in the truth of the resurrection and of victory in Christ (15:58; 7:37). [2] The Greek word ametakinetos means unmoveable. Let nothing shake your faith or move you away from the hope of the gospel (15:58). [3] Always abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that what you do will be rewarded (15:58; 3:11; Matt. 10:42).

Put On Incorruption

1Corinthians 15:53-54 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. 

‘Mortal’ [Greek: thnetos] mortal, human (15:53-54; Rom. 6:12; 8:11; 2Cor. 4:11; 5:4).

‘Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.’ Then – when this rapture has taken place.

‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ – quoted from Isaiah 25:8. To swallow up death means to engulf; remove; abolish; cancel; and cause the ravages and triumph of death to cease. In the first resurrection, before the Millennium, all the righteous dead of all ages, including the godly from Abel to the end of the future tribulation, will be resurrected; and death will be done away as far as they are concerned, at that time (15:23, 51-57; Php. 3:20-21; 1Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 20:4-6). Death will not be destroyed for sinners though, for they will continue to die during the Millennium. When the second resurrection takes place and all wicked men are given immortality of the body to be tormented day and night eternally, then death will be destroyed (15:24-28, 35-45; Rev. 20:4-6, 11-15). Christ has already conquered death and He now holds the keys of death and hades (Heb. 2:14-15; Rev. 1:18); but death as an enemy will continue throughout the Millennium and exercise its power over sinners (Isa. 65:20; 1Cor. 15:24-28). After that period there will be no more death (Rev. 21:3-7; 22:3). Revelation 22:3 says there will be no more of the curse that came as a result of Lucifer and Adam’s rebellion. Conditions as before will prevail eternally and things will continue as if the curse had never been. All rebels will be confined to the lake of fire as an eternal monument of God’s wrath on sin and as a warning to coming generations in all eternity that sin does not pay. The New Heaven and New Earth and the new peoples will be the same ones we have today only in a new state. All things will be made new, not new things will be made to take the place of the old (Rev.21:5; 22:3).

Be Made Alive

1Corinthians 15:20-22 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 

‘Now is Christ risen from the dead’ Christ’s resurrection is a fact and the guarantee of the resurrection of all other people (15:20-22).

‘Firstfruits’ [Greek: aparche] firstfruits; the beginning of a thing. Here it simply means that Christ is the first to be resurrected from the dead to enter into immortality of body (15:51-54).

‘Slept’ is a term used for death (15:6, 18, 51; 11:30; John 11:11; 1Thess. 4:13-17; 2Pet. 3:4). It is not a soul-sleep, but a body-sleep. The body only dies at physical death, going back to dust (Jas. 2:26; Gen. 3:19). The soul and spirit are immortal (1Pet. 3:4).

‘By man came death’ – by Adam came physical death, which is a result of the eternal-death penalty of sin (15:22). This death passed upon all people (Rom. 5:12-21). The body only will be resurrected in the future resurrection of the dead (15:35-54; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29). The only time spiritual and eternal deaths can be canceled, resurrecting one from death in trespasses and sin is in this life (Eph. 2:1-9; 1Jn. 1:9). After death, comes the judgment without any chance to be saved, if one dies unsaved (Heb. 9:27).

‘By man came also the resurrection of the dead …’ this is the 12th New Testament prophecy in 1 Corinthians (15:21-28). By Jesus Christ, will come the physical resurrection of all people (15:22; John 5:25-29; 11:22-26; Rev. 1:18).

‘All be made alive’ – All will be made alive physically but not spiritually (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:4-6, 11-15). One must choose to repent and be made alive spiritually (John 3:16-20; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17), but all will be made alive physically regardless of repentance and surrender to God (John 5:28-29).