Becoming a Resurrection People

KEY VERSE: “My beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the LORD.” —I Corinthians 15:58

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Luke 24:1-11; I Corinthians 15:12, 17, 56-58

IT SEEMS INCREDIBLE that there should have been some in the church at Corinth who did not believe in the resurrection, but apparently it was so. And it is this that forms the background for Paul’s masterful presentation of this basic teaching of Christianity as we find it in I Corinthians 15. “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” he asks.—vs. 12

God’s holy prophets taught the resurrection, yet the Jewish sect of the Sadducees did not accept this teaching. Perhaps some of these, attracted by the moral and ethical teachings of Christ, had feigned belief in him, and had associated themselves with the Corinthian brethren, yet had brought their unbelief into the church.

Paul’s reasoning on the issue was logical and to the point. If there is no resurrection of the dead, he argued, it would mean that Christ is not risen. (vs. 13) If this be true, he added, “Your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”—vss. 17-20

It was after Peter preached his wonderful sermon on restitution that the “priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 3:19-21; 4:1,2) The priests and captain [Margin, ruler] of the temple properly believed in the resurrection, but they were opposed to the idea that it would be through Christ. However, as the Scriptures clearly teach, this is God’s arrangement for fulfilling his promises to restore the dead to life. Because Jesus took the sinner’s place in death, he now possesses “the keys of hell and of death.”—Rev. 1:18

Paul says that Jesus became the ‘firstfruits’ of them that slept. This implies after-fruits; so he adds, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (vss. 20-23) The ‘firstfruits.’ of the resurrection include the body members of Christ, for they share in his resurrection. (Rom. 6:5; Col. 3:1-4; James 1:18; Rev. 14:4) The use of the word ‘firstfruits’ is based upon God’s typical dealings with Israel, and Jesus was the “first of the firstfruits.”—Exod. 34:26

After the firstfruits, there is the resurrection of those who will become Christ’s during his Second Presence. The word ‘coming’ in verse 23, obscures the meaning of Paul’s explanation. In the Greek text it is parousia, meaning ‘presence’. The period of Christ’s presence to which Paul refers is Christ’s thousand year kingdom. “He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”—vss. 24,25

In the resurrection, Paul explains, some will be given “celestial [or, heavenly] bodies”; while others will have “terrestrial [or human] bodies.” (vss. 39-42) “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” writes Paul. (vs. 50) This refers to those who inherit the rulership of the kingdom. All the subjects of the kingdom will be ‘flesh and blood’, or humans. These will be raised from the dead during the period of the kingdom.

But the consummation of the divine plan must wait until all of the ‘firstfruits’ class have been exalted to glory. Then the promises of ‘restitution’ will begin to be fulfilled. “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” (vss. 54,55) “He will swallow up death in victory.” (Isa. 25:8) “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.”—Hos. 13:14

Dawn Bible Students Association
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