1 Corinthians 15:50–16:12 (NKJV)
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:50-58
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
This triumphant passage declares the finished work of redemption and resurrection. Whereas man will one day die and then face eternity, the facts and the order of those events is discussed further here. Since flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, those who serve God will be changed at the resurrection. In a moment, quicker than a twinkle of light in the eye, the dead will be raised incorruptible, in a spiritual body that cannot die or decay. When this change takes place, the presumed finality of death will be defeated, swallowed up in the victory of the believer. At that moment, the words of Hosea will ring true as the believer taunts death by asking where the sting is, and where is the victory! Paul sums up the passage by explaining that the strength of death and sin are bound up in the sin against the law that had been taught for years. In Christ Jesus, though, there is victory over sin and death and the law. Therefore, we can rejoice and live solid, unshakeable lives, working in abundance for the kingdom of God. In this, our labor is not in vain. The Kingdom work is fertile soil, a solid place in which to place your trust and your effort!
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.1 Corinthians 16:1-12
8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
10 And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren.
12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
In chapter 16, Paul moves into his final words to the Corinthians in this letter. He takes care of some housekeeping instructions, including how to handle the collection for the saints (Christians in Jerusalem), and who may possibly go with him on this mission. This demonstrates a care and concern for others, including those less fortunate and those who are leaders at the origin of the church’s empowerment, Jerusalem. He then offers them his travel plans with his heartfelt desire to come and see them. He commends Timothy to them, and instructs them to assist and cooperate with Him. He also commends Apollos to them when he comes to visit. This part of his final instructions is more technical, giving them instructions. The following passage will be more encouraging and inspirational.
In these passages, we see the heart and hope of Paul. His life, his world, his hope is in the resurrection. In the book of Acts, he appealed to the council on behalf of his hope in the resurrection, and it may have saved his life. Our hope in the resurrection will save our lives. The Christian must believe that this life is not the end. This life is simply the beginning. We must put our faith in the one Who saves us, redeems us, and will one day rapture us to life everlasting. This is the Christian hope. To live this life only is pitiful. To live this life with an eye to the life to come is rapturous and triumphant. Live with the future in view, and it will become a reality in due time.