But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits, then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (verses 20-26)
It seems that some of the Corinthians didn’t like the idea of a bodily resurrection. Oh, it was okay for Jesus, they would have said. But it certainly wasn’t what they thought should be in store for believing Christians. Likely they held a very Greek point of view that the body was bad, and that the soul was trapped inside it. Therefore, they looked forward to a future hope and glory that would involve a complete release from the body, leaving it behind forever. The idea that believers would experience a future physical resurrection would have been repugnant to them.
But, of course, all of this is contradicted by the resurrection of Jesus himself. If there is no future resurrection, then logically it is not possible that even Christ has been raised (verse 13). But Christ has indeed been raised! I’ve just reminded you of all the details, Paul says. Christ died and was buried. He was then raised to life and seen by many. The proof is in. This is what you have already received and believed, Paul asserts. And the resurrection of Jesus guarantees that we ourselves will also experience a future physical resurrection – Hallelujah!
Indeed, we are caught up in the grand sweep of this amazing celestial plan. When he was raised from the dead, Jesus was the first sign of an overwhelming future harvest. He is the “firstfruits,” the first taste of harvest that guarantees that the rest is sure to come. If we are “in Christ,” then we, too, “will be made alive,” just as he himself is fully, eternally alive.
Corinthians, Paul is saying, put aside your preconceptions – your misconceptions. Don’t miss this amazing truth! We will have glorious resurrection bodies, just like Jesus himself.
Paul will further describe this glorious reality in the next section, but in the meantime, he wants us to see that we are part of the irresistible flow that is inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus. Christ is risen, and he is coming again. When he comes, we who belong to him will be fully caught up in the power of his own resurrection life. At that point, there will be an end to all human history. The Kingdom of God will be fully established. All other dominion, authority, and power will be set aside. All Christ’s enemies will be subdued, forever. And finally, death itself will be eternally vanquished.
Hallelujah! What glorious hope. It’s like viewing a surging river, foaming and crashing, cascading down from the mountains, rushing forward, pouring relentlessly into the ocean. The resurrection of Jesus has set it all in motion. Our own future hope is sealed in him. The future glory of the Kingdom is guaranteed.
Oh Corinthians, don’t miss it. Oh, let me not either. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah.
O Risen Lord, you are the conqueror, the one who triumphs over death, the giver of life, the one who brings the Kingdom. Praise your name. My hope is in you.
Reflect: Christ is risen. What is different for you as a result? Name the changes. Affirm them as your own. Give him thanks. Submit to his lordship.