What Does 1 Corinthians 15:23 Mean?

But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,

1 Corinthians 15:23(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

God has set eternity in the heart of man and believing in life after death is part of our human make-up. The certainty of the resurrection of the body is a doctrine that is clearly identified in both Old and New Testaments. The 15th chapter of first Corinthians is the most comprehensive treaties on the absolute assurance that dead bodies will come out of their graves - some to the FIRST 'Resurrection of Life Eternal', and others to the SECOND 'Resurrection of Everlasting Damnation', and the lake of fire.

Many assume that the resurrection of dead souls is an isolated incident when all the deceased of the past will be raised together. But just as there was an order in the creation of the world and order in God's plan of redemption.. so also there is a clearly defined order in the resurrection of the dead, and order in the inevitable day of judgement, when the secrets of all hearts will be exposed. 

Paul's detailed argument in support of the resurrection, and his clear description of what will take place when graves are opened, and the dead raised, engenders great hope and encouragement in the heart of every living soul, but Paul makes it clear that each will be resurrected "in his own order". There is a clear, sequential order to the resurrection - and Christ's resurrection is the key to unlocking this divinely ordered plan.

The power of God to forgive sins is embedded in Christ's death on the cross - the only substitute for sin. And it is only by faith in Him we can be forgiven of our sin and receive His gift of eternal LIFE. BUT if Christ had not risen from the dead, there could be no resurrection to Life. Our sins would be forgiven, but without the resurrection of Christ to life eternal - death would have gained its prey.

The power of the resurrection is rooted in Christ's own resurrection from the grave. If Christ had not risen from the dead there could be no 'Resurrection to Life Eternal', and everyone who ever lived, would remain in their graves, without hope in the world. But Christ IS risen from the dead and began to fulfil God's planned order - Christ is the Firstfruits from the dead.

The incarnate Son of God is the first member of the human race who rose from the dead - never to die again. Christ is therefore the 'Firstfruits from the Dead' and we who have trusted Him for the forgiveness of sins have received His free gift of eternal life-in Christ... and the promise of our resurrection to life. God has His pre-planned order for the resurrection of the dead - Christ had to rise FIRST - the Firstfruits From The Dead, "and after that those who are Christ's at His coming".

The sequence that God has embedded in scriptures is Christ FIRST and THEN - "those who are Christ's at His coming". "THOSE..." are people who are saved when Christ returns at the rapture. Only those saved by grace through faith in His death, burial and resurrection are Christ's at His coming and are destined to be part of the 'The Resurrection to Life'. Those who are Christ's at His coming are the first group in their graves to be resurrected to life eternal.

The 'Resurrection to Life' is also called the 'First Resurrection' and covers ALL the saved of history - who are credited with righteousness, by faith. But the first group to be raised are Church age believers. The righteous of every other dispensation are also part of 'The Resurrected to Life' - but in God's foreordained order.

The 'Resurrection of Everlasting Damnation' - is called the 'Second Resurrection'. This is the terrifying judgement of unbelievers at the Great White throne of God.. at the end of the Millennial rule of Christ on earth. They will be judged for their works and found wanting and will be thrown into 'The Lake of Fire' - which is also called 'The Second Death'.

Paul continues to show, in his comprehensive chapter on the resurrection, that the first to be raised to life are "the dead IN CHRIST" at the rapture - Christians of the past 2 millennia will come out of their graves.. followed by Christians alive at that time - ALL will be caught up together - to meet the Lord in the air.

It is only as one examines every other passage on the resurrection, in both Old and New Testaments that we discover who are part of the 'First The Resurrection to Life'. a) those saved before the flood; b) Jews and Jewish proselytes, who were under the Law and c) Church age believers, d) saved saints who die during the great tribulation. ALL ALSO part in the FIRST Resurrection to Life but all must be resurrected in God's appointed order - "Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming - the Church".

Paul describes the order of the FIRST "Resurrection Unto Life" - 1st) Christ the First-fruit and then 2nd) the Church; followed by 3rd) a great multitude of Tribulation saints, who are finally followed... at the end of the 'Jacob's Trouble', by 4th) saved Israel - when many asleep in the dust of the earth will awake - some to everlasting life, and the unsaved  to 5th) the SECOND resurrection unto damnation and everlasting contempt - 1000 years later.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Paul's amazingly comprehensive chapter on 'The First Resurrection to Life' and 'The Second Resurrection to Damnation'. Thank You that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sin and thank You Father, that death had no hold on His sinless body and He rose from the dead as the glorious First-fruit of ALL who would place their faith in Him. Thank You that His resurrection broke the power of sin and death in my life, and that through Him the sting of death has been neutralised for all who believe... and death is swallowed up in victory. Give me greater understanding of Your amazing plan of redemption, this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.

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