In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, we are told that the Gospel, which both saves and gives us our standing, has to do with the finished work of Christ on our behalf. First, Christ died for our sins; Secondly, Christ was buried, and thirdly, Christ rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
These three parts comprise the soul-saving unit, i.e., the Gospel.
The Gospel is not found in the life and example of Christ, as is taught by the modernist. But, rather, it is in the meritorious, substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
The believer is savingly united to the finished work of Christ by faith as demonstrated in such Scriptures as Romans 6, verses 3,11,13 and 4:25, Galatians 2:20, and Colossians 3:1.
It is interesting to note that in Romans 1:4, where the resurrection of Christ is again discussed, that there He is said to be “resurrected from the deaths” (plural in the original Greek). This is most interesting and compatible with the wages of sin which Christ paid. The wages of sin was deaths (physical and spiritual). (See Genesis 3:17, and Isaiah 53:9 in the margin of the Cambridge Bible.) In light of this, the resurrection of Christ was truly a glorious climax to His payment of sin’s awful penalty!
To this Gospel, Paul says he was separated. By separation, it seems that:
- Paul means that his separation was specific: The word of separation here (Aphorizo) means to be “set apart within specific boundaries.” The specific boundaries to which Paul was set apart, and within which he was to function was “the Gospel of God.”
- Paul means that his separation was total: In the immediate context it is quite apparent that Paul has no reservations in his dedication to the task of preaching the Gospel of God. Such words as “bond slave” (vs. 1, servant), “obedience to the faith” (vs. 5), and “God is my witness Whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son” (vs. 9). In 2 Corinthians 5:14-20, see especially vs. 15 where Paul makes it clear that he (and all believers) were saved to serve. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17, Paul leaves no doubt that his (and all believers) separation to the Gospel of God must be total. Paul’s whole spirit, life, body, being, talents, time, and treasures were separated to the Gospel.
- Paul means that his separation was for an ultimate purpose: Verse 5 may properly be paraphrased, “We have received the undeserved gift of apostleship, to promote among all the Gentiles a yielding in faith to His Name” (Berkley). Paul is saying that the ultimate purpose for his separation to the Gospel was to get lost people saved; to get people to put their faith in the living and glorified Christ Who died for their sins, was buried, and rose again for their justification (Rom. 4:25).
Note: It would be good at this time to point out that separation (sanctification) has three phases:
- Initial Separation (1 Cor. 1:2; 12:12-13; Col. 1:13). At salvation, believers are placed into union with Christ.
- Progressive Separation (1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23). Believers are to be separated from the way of the world, the flesh and the Devil.
- Complete Separation (1 Cor. 15:51-57; Phil. 3:21; 1 Jn. 3:1-2). Believers will be raptured and separated from the world, the flesh and the Devil.