55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Hades (v.55) — This quote is taken from Hosea 13:14 which refers to Sheol, the place where the spirits of the dead dwelt until Christ’s resurrection. For the believer today, absence from the body is presence with the Lord.
sin (v.56) — as a personified governing principle
Whereas sin gave death its power, and the Law gives sin its power, Christ is the end of the Law for the believer (Romans 10:4) and through Christ sin and death have been overcome. Death has, while retaining its outward form, lost its sting and is powerless to injure. — Vine, page 117.
If behind death we find sin, then behind sin we find the law. The law is “the strength of sin.” The law gives sin its penalty and its teeth. The law still exacts its sentence. You will be careful to notice that the law is not the strength of salvation. The law does not bring salvation. It is that which gives to sin its power to hurt. As long as sin is here, there will be death’s penalty. As long as there are those living under the law, there will be subjects for that penalty. IN grace there is a stingless death and a defeated grave. — Laurin, page 310.
gives (v.57) — present tense
be (v.58) = lit. “become” — in contrast to what they had been
knowing (v.58) = assured knowledge
labor (v.58) = toil resulting in weariness
vain (v.58) = empty