After the death and resurrection, of Jesus. Part 16
By Terry Cropper.
“Yahweh is salvation,” long ago promised Israel resurrection from the
dead. While the Old Testament does not use the phrases resurrection the
concept is most certainly there. Daniel 12:2 And many of those who
sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) "I
will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from
death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your
destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.
Not only did Paul have
problems with the Jews accepting the Gentiles. Paul had trouble with
the Gentiles as well accepting that fact that God had not abandon his
promise to Israel.
Because the nation of Israel rejected Christ
as Messiah; the Gentiles imagined God had abandon his plans for Israel’s
dead. “There would be no resurrection.” They believed that Christ had
rose but had a false idea that God had abandoned His promises to Israel.
Paul then explains. Now if Christ is preached that He has been
raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no
resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead,
then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching
is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false
witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up
Christ, whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead do not rise. For if
the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. (1Corinthians 15:12-16)
Paul pointed to the fact of the resurrection of Christ, and
showed that the two stand or fall together, saying, “if the dead do not
rise, then Christ is not risen. Paul demonstrates beyond all doubt that
Jesus resurrection from the dead, is an importance fact of Israel’s
resurrection using a metaphorically concept of firstfruits Greek
aparche. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the
firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came
death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all
die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own
order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His
coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, emp. added).
Now the only way you
can understand this kind of language is to go back to the Old Testament
and if you don't understand the Old Testament then for sure you can't
understand what Paul is saying here. So let's go back to Old Testament
were did this idea of "first fruits" originate? "On the same general
principle that the firstborn of man and beast belonged to the God of
Israel and were to be devoted to Him (Nehemiah 10:35-39).
first fruits including the first grain to ripen each season, were to be
brought as an offering to God. Every Israelite who possessed the means
of agricultural productivity was under this obligation (Exodus 23:19;
34:26; Numbers 15:17-21; 18:12-13). "Speak the to children of Israel,
and say to them." When you come into the land which I give to you, and
reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of
your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to
be accepted on your, behalf on the day after the Sabbath the priest
shall wave it (Leviticus 23:10-11).
The first fruits were brought
in a basket to the sanctuary and presented to the priest, who was to
set the basked down before the altar. Then, the offering recited the
story of Jacob’s going to Egypt and the deliverance of his posterity
from there. He then acknowledged the blessings with which God had
visited him (Deuteronomy 26:2-11).
It would be natural for Paul
to have thought of Christ as the first fruits, because the day of
Christ’s resurrection was the second day of Passover week on which the
first ripe sheaf of the harvest was offered to the Lord (Lev
Paul was also establishing another basic point.
While Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection. The first century
saints were also significance of the "first ripe sheaf" (Romans 16:5; 1
Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18). All of the first century saints who put
their trust in Christ were apart of collective believers known as first
fruits to God. This select group of Christians were purchased from the
earth as a FIRST FRUITS offering to God. (1Corinthians 6:20, 7:23) The
Greek ἀγοράζω for purchased, means to go to the market. It is a picture
of God coming to the earth, to select His FIRST FRUITS representative of
a whole harvest before God (Revelation 14:4).
Eternal Life, or
resurrection was a gift to the first fruits Christians. The time for
death to be abolished had arrived. (2 Timothy 1:10) One of the
principles that a first fruit offering taught was that a future harvest
was promised - the first fruit were just a taste of what lay in store at
the end of the age full ingathering harvest. Every Jewish Christian
understood this Old Testament concept. The firstfruits ingathering is
separate in time to those which follow after, as it occurs.
second important truth inherent in the first fruits figure is the
readiness of the harvest to be gathered as signified in the offering of
the first fruits. The act of reaping had already begun, with the first
fruits and the harvest would soon be ready to be cut (Revelation 14:15).
The harvest were all the saints who had died under the Old Covenant and
had not received the promise of resurrection. Prior to Jesus' messianic
work, no one went to Heaven-- where did people go when they died? They
went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of
Christ and the resurrection from the dead. All people were believed to
go to Sheol when they die: Psalms 89:48 (NASB) What man can live and
not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah.
God had promised to redeem His people from the grave: Hosea 13:14
(NKJV) "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem
them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be
your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.
taught that the resurrection was the hope of Israel. Acts 26:6-8 (NKJV)
"And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God
to our fathers. 7 "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving
God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I
am accused by the Jews. 8 "Why should it be thought incredible by you
that God raises the dead?
These were people like Noah, Abraham,
Moses, David, Job, Isaiah, and Daniel etc. These "Old Covenant saints"
were the rest of the harvest, the general resurrection. These were the
ones Jesus addressed "though he may die, he shall live in. (John 11:23).
Knowing the biblical concept of the first fruits and the harvest we can
appreciate why God said: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living
(Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38).
The harvest, follows
the ripening "perfecting and offering of the first fruits saints." With
the return of Christ and the destruction of temple, the way into God
presence was now fully opened. (Hebrew 9:8) The Hadean realm was
emptied, and all the Old Covenant saints harvest were gathered in the
general resurrection in A.D.70. This is the second resurrection that
John mentioned in the first part of verse 5 of chapter 20 of
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 Paul’s use of the metaphor
“firstfruits” (Greek aparche) is to understand how "firstfruits" was
used in the Old Testament. Under the Old Law, the firstfruits were the
earliest gathered grains, fruits, and vegetables that the people
dedicated to God in recognition of His faithfulness for providing the
necessities of life.
The Israelites were to offer to God a sheaf
of the first grain that was harvested on the day after the Sabbath
following the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:9-14). Paul used the term
“firstfruits” in this letter to the Corinthian church to reinforce the
certainty of the resurrection. Just as the term “firstfruits” indicates
that “the first sheaf of the forthcoming grain harvest will be followed
by the rest of the sheaves, Christ, the firstfruits raised from the
dead, is the guarantee for all those who belong to him that they also
will share in his resurrection.
Jesus is God’s “firstfruits” of
the resurrection. And, like the Israelites, God would gather the rest of
the harvest at the final resurrection. Paul wanted the Corinthians to
understand (by way of metaphor) that Christ’s resurrection is a pledge
of a future harvest. It is inevitable—guaranteed by God Himself.