1 Corinthians 15:18

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished

Paul is speaking facetiously here but he makes a point about the dead - those 'fallen asleep', who would perish or 'are lost' (ISV) inferring, it seems, that they are no more and can never be again.

Is Paul teaching, that except for a resurrection, there is no hope for life after death - even if we are Christ's?

  • 1
    The word απολλυμι according to L&S, Thayer and BDAG, conveys an irrecoverable state. As far as I can see, that state is not defined by the word itself. Only the fact of non-recovery is defined.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 21 '20 at 12:25

To fully appreciate this verse, one needs to be familiar with a formal method in logic called Proof by Contradiction. The argument begins by assuming a false statement and concludes with its opposite.

Assume that Christ has not been raised. What are the consequences?

Under this assumption, Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 15:18

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished

have perished.
ἀπώλοντο (apōlonto)
Verb - Aorist Indicative Middle - 3rd Person Plural
Strong's Greek 622: From apo and the base of olethros; to destroy fully, literally or figuratively.

Christ has not been raised. We will not be raised either. There is no resurrection.

It is important to read this verse under the false assumption.

Paul then goes on to show the resurrection of the body.


The operative word is ἀπόλλυμι (apollumi) which occurs about 92 times in the NT text. It can apply to people as well as inanimate objects. When applied to people, it often (but not always means) simply "kill", eg, Matt 2:13, 21:41, etc.

That this word ἀπόλλυμι can mean total and complete destruction is not debated but that is almost irrelevant in Paul's argument in 1 Cor 15 because that is not his point. In 1 Cor 15:12-18 Paul develops a standard Greek logical argument to show that IF Christ is not resurrected, then we are without hope for a future life beyond the grave.

If one wishes to find what happens to mankind after death, based on this word, ἀπόλλυμι, then one needs to look elsewhere such as:

  • 1 John 5:11, 12, John 3:16
  • Matt 10:28, Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34, 17:27, 29, etc. (See also 2 Thess 1:9).

Does 'perished' in 1 Cor 15:18 indicate complete cessation of existence?

It is obvious from Paul's writings that some Christians in ancient Corinth had doubts that the literal resurrection of Christ took place, so Paul listed the consequences if the resurrection were not a reality. He wrote:

No Resurrection?

12 Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. 15 Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. 18 Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. 19 For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.

Verse 18 "have also perished", If the resurrection hope were untrue, it would mean that Christians who had died​, in some cases as martyrs​, had perished forever, misled by the false hope that they would be resurrected.

  • so any hope or belief in some kind of ongoing life after death - regardless of a resurrection, seems to be without merit?
    – steveowen
    Oct 21 '20 at 22:32
  • 1
    user 48152 When a person dies, he ceases to exist. Death is the opposite of life. The dead do not see or hear or think. Not even one part of us survives the death of the body. We do not possess an immortal soul or spirit. King Solomom wrote:( Eccl 9:5-6,10 NASB) For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory, is forgotten. 6 Indeed their love, their hate, and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.. Read also verse 10 not enough room on the board Oct 22 '20 at 10:44

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