Friday, November 27, 2015

Paul now explain the meaning of Christ death and resurrection to the Gentiles.

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).

The 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 23:10-11,15).

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.

The 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.

Paul clearly 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 Revelations.

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.

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