Resurrection Creed (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

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1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is considered to be an early church's creed. It expresses recorded oral tradition of the resurrection of Jesus. Yet brief, it is very deep. These particular points are stressed: fulfilling of the Scriptures, confirming the reality of the resurrection, and that Christ is both crucified, living and exalted Lord.

Paul starts with reference to a known tradition by a word “delivered” (gr. παρέδωκα), which he also “received” (gr. παρέλαβον). From this statement, it is proved to be an orally traded material.

Then, he relates four important points of Jesus’ actions. The first three are of one group. This group is primarily concerned with salvific work. Christ actively gave out his life and “died” (gr. ἀπέθανεν is active verb form), then he was “buried” (ἐτάφη), and finally he “was raised” (gr. ἐγήγερται is passive verb form) from the dead. The key detail here is information about the resurrection suggesting God's agency (the passive verb, the so-called passivum divinum, points to God's action). God stands for what happened and vindicates Jesus. Both death and resurrection of Jesus are considered not as a result of a chance but as something that should happen. We are notified about this by that Jesus died and was resurrected on a third day according to Scriptures. The Scriptures is witness number one.

The second group is constituted by Jesus’ appearances to various people. This group is concerned with proving the reality of the resurrection. Verb „was seen; appeared“ (gr. ὤφθη) is important here. Jesus gradually appears to certain witnesses, making a visible proof that he has truly risen. This proves the Scriptures as well as Jesus’ promises. The appearances are witness number two.

We mentioned two the witnesses. Witnesses were very important in the ancient society (Dt 17:6-7; Zj 11:1-14) for considering legal matters. This is the reason for the way of composition of this record and supported by two sets of witnesses: Scriptures and disciples. They both affirm the genuineness of the gospel message.


Word Meaning
ὁ, ἡ, τό the
καί and
ὅτι that
ὁράω to see
ὅς, ἥ, ὅ who, which
κατά against, with (with G); according to, by, at (with A)
γραφή, ῆς, ἡ writing
εἶτα then
ἔπειτα then
δέ however, but