When this corruptible puts on incorruption and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57. But thanks be to God who gives to us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58. Therefore, my beloved brothers be steadfast, immovable, always abounding with respect to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 (my translation)
God has given us the victory! This statement is rich and deep with incredible insight into who God is in his grace and power as well insight for our practical theology. Because of the work of Christ, his death and resurrection, a core doctrine in our faith, he has conquered sin, death and the grave. This is finished and completed, and yet we await the day of its final fulfillment when death itself will be no more. But even now because of the victory God has given through Jesus Christ, we can live in this resurrection power, with hope for eternal life, but also with power for present victory in our daily battles with sin.
This passage gives us true conviction and a firm reason for a life of praise and thanksgiving to the God who has given us victory. All our life should be centered on praising and glorifying the risen Christ who has conquered death. This life of praise must be lived out with the knowledge that sin as well has been conquered. All idolatry or temptation towards immorality or division should be broken and vanquished as we acknowledge the truth of this resurrection life with its implications for now and in the future. He has given us the victory, and we need to be steadfast and unmoved in living out this victory in our daily decisions, relationships, sexuality and worship.
This life of thankfulness based on eternal and present victory over death which God has given also provides us with a base for our work and ministry to the Lord. There is purpose, motivation and enabling for our work and hard labor that is done for him. First of all we can rest in the knowledge that He will give the victory and bring forth fruit; this is not dependent on ourselves. In the toughest field of labor, we can be assured that our work is not in vain. We can also maintain an eternal perspective, knowing that eternal rewards result for work done in the Lord, and he is the one who will bring this about as we are faithful to him. And so our hope, expectancy and joy can abound as we abound in His work in praise, right living and service to him. May all praise, glory and honor be to our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have been given such a great victory both now and forever!
Theological reflections from recent exegesis of this text.