World English Bible translation
15:20But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep. 15:21 For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then those who are Christ's, at his coming. 15:24 Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 15:26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
To those that doubted that Christ was raised from the dead, Paul listed all the people that had seen Him in His Risen form. First there was Peter, then other apostles including James His brother. Finally the Risen Christ appeared before over 500 of the brothers at one time. To those that doubted that there would be a resurrection of the dead, Paul replied that if Christ was raised from the dead then God would surely raise us up with Him. All those who have placed their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised with Him to live a new life. These central articles of the Christian faith having been presented and defended, Paul moves on from here. He will not continue to defend the resurrection, only to explain it. The belief in the resurrection must be accepted by faith. Those who refuse to accept it will never be convinced by rational argument.
So Paul explains to the Corinthians that Jesus was the "first fruits" of those that are asleep. In the sacrificial system of the Jews, the "first fruits" were offered up as a sacrifice to God. God received the first and the best of whatever was raised on the land, plants or animals. The church was announced to the world at Pentecost, the Jewish festival of first fruits. Paul teaches that just as the Jews offered up their first fruits to God at Pentecost and then later brought in the harvest, Jesus was God's first fruits and those that have died in Christ will be raised up when the time is right.
Death came into the world from the sin of one man -- Adam. The remedy for death also came into the world by one man -- Jesus. By raising Christ from the dead, God was declaring that death would not have the final word. Jesus was the first of His kind, the first of those that will be raised from the dead. Those that followed Adam died in their sins. Those that follow Christ will be raised to a new life.
The resurrection of the dead will take place when Christ delivers up His Kingdom to the Father. Paul quotes Jewish scripture here to justify his position. "He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet." The prophets envisioned the Messiah as a military conqueror that would defeat all of the enemies of Israel. Many of the disciples wanted Jesus to take up arms against the Romans because of this view. But, even though many of the prophecies were given in such a way that this militaristic view was understandable, God had other plans.
When God sent His Son into the world, Jesus came as the son of a carpenter. He did not bring together armies or lead a revolt against the infidels. He did this because the enemies of God were not the Romans and the Greeks. The enemies of God are unbelief, sin and death. The battlefield for Christians is the human heart and Jesus came to set us free from the sin that separated us from our Creator.
So Paul writes that Jesus was raised from the dead and He was the one that the Jewish prophets were writing about. Jesus was raised from the dead as the first fruit of those that will one day be raised up as a great harvest in His name. On that day, all the enemies of God will be placed at His feet. The last enemy to be abolished will be death. Death will be overcome completely when those that are in Christ will be raised from the dead to eternal life with Christ.
Is your mind set upon these eternal facts? Christ is risen, and those that place their faith in Him will be raised with Him. Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead?
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