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Question #115

Why did Paul exclude the appearances to the women in 1 Corinthians 15?

I Corinthians 15:3-8. I have never heard anyone give a compelling reason for Paul's exclusion of the appearances to the women. Since he is simply encouraging this group of believers in Corinth to the certainty of the Resurrection it makes little sense that he would purposely exclude them. Since this is not a legal argument presented as such, for certainly in the 500 there were women, this has stumped me for some time. No explanation I have ever heard has the ring of truth to it. Your thoughts. It's a puzzlement.

The Answer:

You are correct that Paul’s argument is not a legal argument. However, it is addressed to people who lived under a particular legal system and had rules of evidence that pertained to acceptable witnesses. Under their system, women were not qualified to be witnesses. That said, the scripture does not say why Paul omitted the first visitors to the tomb. Any reason suggested is no more than speculation, and such speculation has run rampant. Peter’s name plays a role in 1 Corinthians (1:12, 3:22, and 9:5) and he apparently was of some importance to the church in Corinth. Some believe that Paul’s statement beginning in 15:3 was a statement of faith recited in the early church. Most probably think that it ended with v. 4, but some think it continued through the list of appearances. Roman Catholics think Paul began with Peter because of Peter’s preeminence as first pope (a doctrine the scripture does not teach and which the scripture contradicts). My thoughts (and that is just what they are) are that Paul was making the most persuasive argument that he could to a congregation having members who rejected the doctrine of the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Our opinions concerning why he did it the way that he did really do not matter. The scripture teaches that he did it by inspiration. We should never become so engrossed with the “why” that we fail to appreciate the “what.” While children psychologists have found “Because I said so” an inadequate explanation of why a child is told to do something, practical parents have most likely used that expression more than once. “Because scripture says so” is reason enough. The only thing that we need to understand about “why” scripture says so is that Scripture says what it says because it is our road map to eternal life in the presence of the true and living God. Let us then rejoice that Christ became the first fruits of them that sleep and is the earnest and pledge of their resurrection. Paul’s list of witnesses to that glorious event is more than enough to establish that great truth. That was Paul’s great overriding purpose. He did not need to call all of the available witnesses to the stand. I can tell you from 35 years of trying lawsuits that lawyers seldom, if ever, call all available witnesses to testify; they call those whose testimony will be most persuasive in the minds of the judge or jury, whichever is the fact finder.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)