Resurrection, Part 7

We left off in our last post with Paul talking all about the idea of what the world would look like if there was no resurrection of the dead and/or of Christ.  At verse 1st Corinthians 15:20 we are hit with his preaching and teaching.  He has laid the groundwork and now he is going to embark on some really important doctrine – not only about the resurrection but about all sorts of things along the way.  What we are about to read are truly vital passages for understanding what the faith looks like today.

So, having laid out what things would look like without the resurrection (note that the last words used to describe the Christians in that day is “most miserable (without the resurrection) Paul now says:

20 But now Christ IS risen from the dead, and became the first-fruits of them that slept.  21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

So, in a message of hope, based completely on the work of Christ for the reconciliation of the world, Paul now writes, in contrast to the idea that there was no resurrection, 

20 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.”

He has been laboring to build a case for the resurrection – specifically the resurrection of Christ upon which all other resurrections are predicated, and now he gets to launch into the great news.

“But now IS Christ risen from the dead!”

Of this message, Paul was convinced and committed.  His entire life had changed because of this fact and as an eyewitness of the risen Christ he was not about to let a rumor take over that He did not rise.  In verses 12-18 Paul affirmed that the dead also rise because of His resurrection so he is maintaining a mouthful when he affirms here that Christ is risen from the dead.  There is a real powerful force in the word “now” that is used.  He seems to be saying:

“I have shown the consequences which would follow from the supposition that Christ was not raised up. I have shown how it would destroy all our hopes, plunges us into grief, annihilates our faith, makes our preaching vain, prove us liars and make the passing of our fellow saints most bitter.  

“Most miserable,” would be the result.  But all of this was total supposition and there is no need to be alarmed because, ”now he is risen from the dead!”  Then Paul adds to the resurrection and what it produced, by saying:

 . . . and became the first-fruits of them that slept.

The word translated first-fruits (aparchin) and it is used a number of times in the Apostolic Record but its origins and import are established in the Tanakh. We will soon learn that the term first-fruits is also described in scripture as first born.

Prior to the establishment of the New and Eternal Age of the Kingdom, the age which we presently live in, God through Christ set in place a number of things – now listen – some of those things that we today are not part of – even if we would like to be. But let’s talk about this idea of first-fruits.  In the Old Testament first-fruits had relation to

CROPS

Leviticus 23:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest:-

Note that in a harvest there are the first-fruits, which by the name itself suggests  that there is . . . more fruit to come! Second fruits, third, tenth . . . and then there is the gleanings of the field – so that nothing be lost.    Nothing.

Remember the Lord multiplying fishes and loaves and having the apostles gather up all that remained, “so that nothing be lost.”   In these things we see that God cares about the fruits and fishes and bread so that nothing would be lost.  I suggest that if He is this way about these items He is certainly this way about those made in His image.

We then read about first-fruit sons.

SONS

Exodus 13:12 says: That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.

In the Old Testament, the first-born sons enjoyed certain special privileges.  Deuteronomy 21:17; Genesis 25:23,31,34; 49:3; 1st Chronicles 5:1; Hebrews 12:16; Psalm 89:27 all speak to these privileges.   The status of these privileges were also called the “birthright.” In fact, the concept of firstborn even works in the reverse as the “first-born of the poor” signifies the most miserable of the poor (according to Isaiah 14:30).   We also know that the destruction of the first-born was the last of the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians (Exodus 11:1-8; 12:29-30

Anyway, from the beginning the office of the priesthood in each family belonged to the eldest son or firstborn of each family.   Under the law, a special sanctity was attached to the first-born both of man and of cattle.  God claimed that the first-born males of man and of animals should be consecrated to him, the one as a priest (Exodus 19:22,24) representing the family to which he belonged, and the other, in the case of animals to be offered up in sacrifice. (Genesis 4:4)  When the extensive plan of sacrificial worship was introduced through Moses, (which required a company of men to be exclusively devoted to this ministry) the primitive office of the first-born in families was superseded by that of the Levites (Numbers 3:11-13) and it was ordained that the first-born of man and of unclean animals should henceforth be redeemed (Numbers 18:15)

That word redeemed in the Old Testament means buy back, and so since the first born were God’s, he allowed them to be bought back from him with the sacrifice of a lamb while the Levites assumed the role of the firstborn in the Nation.  All the laws concerning this redemption of the first-born of man are recorded in Exodus 13:12-15; 22:29; 34:20; Numbers 3:45; 8:17; 18:16; Leviticus 12:2,4.

The first-born male of every clean animal was to be given up to the priest for sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:6; Exodus 13:12; 34:20; Numbers 18:15-17

But the first-born of unclean animals was either to be redeemed or sold and the price given to the priest (Leviticus 27:11-13,27). 

Interestingly, the first-born of an ass, if not redeemed, was to be put to death (Exodus 13:13; 34:20)

Scripture also talks about first-born NATIONS – did you know that?  Paul writes in Romans 11:16 

“For if the first fruit be holy (The Nation of Israel), the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” 

Of course, here in 1st Corinthians we also have YESHUA– the firstborn of Mary.

Matthew 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Yeshua.

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn

And we know that He was the firstborn of every creation, asColossians 1:15 reads

speaking of Yeshua

“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.”

Then through His firstborn Son, God established His church-bride, and she was unique in the family of God. How?  She was the firstborn, or the first-fruits of all that would be His by faith throughout the ages!  As hard as this is to hear for some, which it shouldn’t be hard at all, but believers today are NOT part of the first-fruits of the faith.   Neither are believers today his bride.  God established all of that in and through them/then.  And it was established as a means to bless and benefit all who come thereafter – but the first-fruits and the firstborn were part of another age.  She was extremely devout, pure and unblemished, and is even described, in part, as 144000 who were undefiled by women.

We call her THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

James 1:18 says, speaking of this church-bride,

“Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.”

This title is synonymous with the name the “CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN” 

“To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect . . .

This church of the firstborn, these “first-fruits of the Body of Christ,” were from the Jews and from those Gentiles then who helped form the Bride.  They took places in the Heavenly New Jerusalem – places of management perhaps, of administration, of ministration in the operations of the Bride of Christ and in anticipation of all who would come to God through Christ over the ages.

The 144,000 would be part of this group – if not the whole of it – but again, we are NOT the first-fruits, the bride, the firstborn, or the 144,000.  Why?  Listen to how revelation describes them,

Revelation 14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb.  Some of us are born in families where we are not the oldest.  We can hem and haw over this, but nothing will change the fact that there were some before us and on them were placed certain expectations and responsibilities.   Such is the case with the establishment of His kingdom in heaven to govern the Kingdom on earth.

Then scripture speaks of the first-born of the Spirit.  Paul says in  . . .

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Then we come to the first-fruits of the dead(who is Yeshua!) and we read,

1st Corinthians 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.

1st Corinthians 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

Recall what Paul says in the first chapter of Colossians,

Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 

Finally, we cannot forget that Christ is the the firstborn of many to come, or as Romans 8:29 says . . .

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren . . .

This describes the Bride, folks, who I believe were predestined by God to do what they would do and be what they would be as a means to pave the way for all the rest of the human harvest to come throughout the ages.  

I am convinced that God is like a generous billionaire who is also father to twelve children, grandfather to 72 grandchildren, and great-grandfather to 310 great-grandchildren.  Let’s say that He has created the most wonderful estate for all of his creations to exist – it’s a seven million acre piece of land that has everything anyone would ever want or need in life.  The land contains wonders of nature, mountains, oceans, deserts and every type of animal, vegetable, mineral, it contains houses of every kind, and every entertainment known to man through sport, the arts, restaurants, theaters, and all the other things humans enjoy.  He even has a place where some family members are able to freely choose to destroy themselves – lined with bars, and drug-dealing and the like.

The choice is up to everyone in the family.  This billionaire has made transportation available and has enabled his family to possess the total freedom to live and speak and do whatever they want to do and it is entirely up to them on how they will choose to live their lives.   Everything has been taken care of in terms of what is necessary for them to experience life.  His love is unconditional.  There is no expectation or payment required from any of his creations.  None.  Ever.  Because they are His family.

Now this billionaire lives in a twenty-story house that has no elevator, no air conditioning and not many frills – and he spends his time in a top floor apartment in a dimly lit library.  Travel is required to get to him and once someone arrives they have to take a twenty-floor set of stairs to reach Him.   All are welcome and all the time – his doors are always open – but he lives far from the exciting areas of the land, is accessible only by traveling 500 miles of dirt roads and sometimes, after making the trip, and climbing the stairs, he is not even there.  There is no way to know this so those who want to see him have to wait – on his timing and his agenda to see Him.  All the time and effort spent to try and reach Him could have been spent engaging in all that the land offers.  Those who seek Him out embrace all the discomfort and sacrifice to reach Him.  There is no benefit of reaching out to Him as He has already blessed His family with everything.  So the attempts to reach or see Him are based entirely on love.  No other reason.

Some of the younger generation boast at never having visited him or even ever having spoken to him, and yet their lives are still great and blessed! Right?

I would suggest that this is the world and age we all live in today.  And we are all free to choose to live our lives as we please, in and through the things provided to us freely by God.  In fact, God is pleased when we enjoy ourselves and experience the wonders He has given.  Remember, He loves us.  But there is a major difference between being one of His creations, who enjoys all the benefits of the human life provided them, and those who love and seek him out.  Because to love and seek Him always requires a sacrifice on the part of those who embark on such a tour – fun and entertainment is lost to the time and effort to so do.  But because they love Him and want relationship with him they take the time to travel the 500 miles of dusty roads, and to then climb the twenty flights of stairs, and to wait outside the dark door knocking – sometimes without any reply.  But these come anyway, turning their back on all the earthly delights they could readily possess as a means to take the time to hear from him and learn from Him, and to thank Him for the life that He has provided them.

At the end of the day, all in His kingdom are His creations, and he has taken measures to insure all are blessed and cared for.  But very few, of their own volition and desire, are His true children.  Again, this is the age we are in now.    

So, getting back to the family of the human race, who all experience physical death, Paul has told us that Yeshua is the firstborn (or first-fruits) of them that sleep meaning of them that had died. He was the first to rise from the grave and the first to never die again – which is key to the definition.  Paul adds (verse 21 and 22 together which will help in comprehension):

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Think about this para-syllogism for a minute:

First, the PROBLEM

For since by man came death

For as in Adam all die

Then, the SOLUTION

By man came also the resurrection of the dead

Even so in Christ shall all be made alive

For this reason, Paul calls Yeshua “the Second or the Last Adam.”

We might ask, however, “Why because of one man, came death?” 

Romans 5:12 says Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Again, we know that, “the wages of sin is death.”  By Adam sin entered into the world and therefore death, because “the wages of sin is death,” since all have sinned, all die!

In other words, Adam would not have died had it not been for his sin and Romans 5:12 is proof that if Adam had not sinned, he would have remained immortal on the earth and/or would have been translated to heaven, as Enoch and Elijah were, without seeing death in the typical sense. 

But Paul confirms to us that since the sin and death nature of human beings came to all by and through one Man (Adam) it is reasonable and even logical that freedom from sin and death would also come by one man, even Yeshua.   Apples to apples.

So, as Adam was not born into sin from fallen parents, Yeshua too was not born into sin from His.  But like Adam, Yeshua too had the ability to sin, but UNLIKE ADAM, chose not to, therefore earning the right to overcome all the effects of the Fall.  For us!  All of us!   Including victory over the grave, Satan, hell and death.

STOP

We might wonder why the Christ did not overcome physical death by stopping it all together.  In other words, He came and paid for the sin of the world, and rose from the grave, why do we all continue to die physical deaths.  We might respond to this with another question:  Since Yeshua overcame and paid for all sin – why do we still sin?

Because Yeshua VICTORY amounts to SPIRITUAL results and have never been 100% effective or purposeful in the material world.

I mean, Yeshua overcame death yet all people still die.  Because His victory over death has spiritual application – we will all overcome the grave at our resurrections (which are spiritually based, not materially based).

Just like Yeshua paid for all sin and this has application spiritually in our lives – before God and His Kingdom – but not so much in the material world where all of us are still susceptible to sinning.

Get it!  EVERYTHING He did has spiritual eternal heavenly application, with only a scant application to the material.

The implications are far reaching but go to prove that Yeshua kingdom was never of this world, and so the true application of His work is in the spiritual, leaving all of us – believer and unbeliever alike – to cope and thrive in the present evil world while personally choosing to abide in Him and His resurrection, or to remain responsive to the material world in which we live.

The very fact that He did not put an end to physical death on this earth and/or sin (which is the unfortunate way materialist religionists ultimately see Yeshua victory as having application) shows – proves – that His kingdom is NOT of this world but is placed, and governed from the New Heaven and New earth and from the New Jerusalem which is on high.

So, while here, faith in Yeshua does not preclude our experiencing temptation to sin nor the committing of.  Nor does it prevent us from earning the wages of these sins, which is death; but He certainly has redeemed all from both sin and death in the kingdom to come – from sin by His death and from death by His resurrected life.

Paul reiterates in verse 22 

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

We need to do is go backward and build upon this phrase presented here in verse 22:

Was there death before Adam?  Apparently not in this creation.  Was Adam physically alive?  Yes, they were.

Were they spiritually alive?  Yes, they were – they had direct relationship with God in the garden without any issues.

But then through the Fall – death was introduced – the spiritual, which was  immediate, then of the soul of Man, which was processional, and then physically, which was ultimate when Adam died 930 years later.

But God said to him, “don’t eat of the fruit because in that day (that you do) YOU will surely die.”   

So to me – could be wrong – but to me, when Paul writes FOR AS IN ADAM ALL DIE – I take the ways the human race died in and through the life and actions of Adam – and those are spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical.

In other words, Adam and Eve killed everyone who followed in after them, completely relative to what God desired for human kind.

Many believers think that, because this is the chapter on the resurrection that Paul is speaking only about physical death, but because of what he says later about Christ having the victory and God through this victory over all things becoming “all in all,” I tend to see the first line of this verse as speaking to ALL FORMS OF DEATH are inherited from the actions of Adam.

So, the question that remains, Did Adams’s act (which took all of us into spiritual, soulish and physical death) trump the work of God through Christ?

It is a serious question – and let me tell you right now, unless we embrace the Calvinist idea that God only elects and loves and recognizes a few as His own, then the outcome of Christ work is universally applied leaving Him the consummate Victor over all things, not just some.

In other words, as a means to refute universal reconciliation of all things to God, Reformed theology was created to try and illustrate that this was not the case!

Arminianism is the worst approach of the extremes because at least in Calvinism God could have victory – being a sovereign – he just chooses not to.

But with Arminianism, God is a failure anyway you look at it – He failed in the creation and lost out to the wiles and will of Satan, and he failed in providing a solution to the fall through His Son because Human beings choice trumps His will.

So while the Arminianist God “really really” wants to reconcile the world totally from the effects of Adam and the fall, Man is not willing and so God fails.

But let’s look closely at the verse again:

“for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ will all be made alive.”

Shall be made alive (dzyo-op-oh-aye-oh) – which means to quickened alive in either the physical sense, as in the resurrection of the dead to life or damnation, and it is also used to indicate spiritual quickening, as in John 5:21 and 6:63.

In John 5:21, we read something interesting as it says:

“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them (referring to resurrection); even so the Son quickeneth whom he will (referring to spiritual regeneration (in my opinion) as Yeshua did come baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire).

In other words, what Yeshua brought, in overcoming the flesh, sin and the grave was a world of spiritual renewal, one that would occur in physical beings here by and through spiritual rebirth (which is in and through Him) and which continues on in and through the resurrection of the body from being carnal to being heavenly.

In John chapter 6 Yeshua is in the synagogue and he introduces to the large crowd that was following him the idea of eating his body and drinking his blood.  And many walked away from following Him that day.   And we read:

John 6:59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

61 When Yeshua knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, “Doth this offend you?”

Remember, he was referring to the communion he was going to establish as the Passover lamb  –  which they were to partake of until he returns, right?  So, then he adds:

 62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? (moving from the physical realm and into the spiritual, is the idea – and he adds so wisely)

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Paul hits us with some powerful words in 

Romans 5:17-18 sayin

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one (and I would ask, What kind of death reigned by one?  And I would answer all death – spiritual, soulish and physical) much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Yeshua Christ.) 

Then Paul adds:

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

How to interpret verse 22 of 1st Corinthians 15, folks? It’s really clear in my estimation:

For as in Adam all die (in every way – spirit, soul and body) – EVEN SO – 

Do you know what that means, “even so” – it means as in Adam all die and in the very same way, even so (referring to ALL of humankind) even so . . .

“In Christ will ALL be made alive.”

Now some suggest – true true – but only in CHRIST will all be made alive.  I don’t dispute this.  All life is IN Christ.  No doubt.

But this does not suggest that all must come to Christ in this life or they will be lost.  If that is the case, then the case is one of Arminianism which, as described, is a wholesale fail of an impotent God.

If God created a universe of humans and allowed all of us to hang our very lives on the decisions of one man named Adam, then that same God, in Christ, would reverse the deleterious effects Adam had on the rest of us, and win the Edenic state back to the hearts of every individual – leaving each of us responsible for the lives we choose to live!

That is the victory Yeshua had over Adam – He brought the whole human race back to the Garden state where all of us are daily confronted with the choice – to eat of the forbidden fruit or to eat of the Tree of life.

To listen to an obey God or to go our own way, and do what we will.

See, just because the conditions of the Fall, brought on by Adam, have been overcome completely by God with us – the debts paid, the sin wiped away, the grave unable to hold it contents any more, many remain lost or shall I say, resistant.

They want the world of entertainments and pleasure.  He can reconcile and redeem us from the effects, and he can lead us to the bread of life and to living water, but even he cannot make us eat and drink.

That comes by choice.   But while every knee will ultimately bow and every tongue will confess, those who choose to believe on Him here will never be lost, and like the son who remained at home with his father, it will be said of them:

You were always with me.”

It is no mistake that here in this chapter, and after writing that as in Adam all die (all deaths, I would add) EVEN SO IN CHRIST will all be made alive (in every form of life, I would add) that Paul would then say:

23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

We will pursue this line of thought in part 8.

Shawn McCraney
Shawn McCraney
Articles: 108

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