1 Corinthians 15:23-24
But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.…
There are two different ideas attached to "kingdom." One regards it as the empire of Satan, and the other as the empire of Christ. If the former be adopted, then the passage teaches that when Christ has subdued all the principalities and powers of this kingdom, He will deliver the whole up to the Father. Then "the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever." If the latter, then it means that when Christ, in the exercise of His mediatorial authority, has subjugated all the powers of moral evil, He will deliver up His commission to God, who will then be acknowledged as the absolute ruler of all. The latter is the most plausible. Learn then —
I. THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF OUR WORLD IS ADMINISTERED BY CHRIST. The New Testament is full of the doctrine that Christ reigns over our world, and this explains several things otherwise inexplicable.
1. The perpetuation of the human race. Death was threatened on Adam if he sinned. He sinned, and died not, but became the father of the human family. The Biblical doctrine of mediation is the only principle that explains this.
2. The coexistence of sin and happiness in the same individual. Under the government of absolute righteousness we should antecedently expect that wherever there was sin there would be misery proportioned to it. There is perfect happiness in heaven, because there is perfect holiness; there is unmitigated misery in hell, because there is unmixed depravity; but here there is sin and happiness. The mediative government is the only principle that explains this
3. The offer of pardon, and the application of remedial influences to the condemned and corrupt. Under a righteous government, how is this to be explained? This is explicable only on the ground that He is "exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance," etc.
II. THAT CHRIST ADMINISTERS THE GOVERNMENT OF OUR WORLD IN ORDER TO PUT DOWN ALL HUMAN EVILS. There are two classes of evil referred to.
1. Moral. "All rule, all authority, and power." Sinful principles are the moral potentates of this world — "the principalities and powers of darkness." Christ's government is to put them down from governments, churches, books, hearts, etc.
2. Physical. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Death is the issue — the totality of all physical evils. Christ will destroy this. He will one day open the graves of the globe.
III. THAT WHEN THESE EVILS ARE ENTIRELY PUT DOWN, CHRIST WILL RESIGN HIS ADMINISTRATION INTO THE HANDS OF THE EVERLASTING FATHER. Moral evil shall be exterminated, and death swallowed up in victory. Then comes the end. Christ having finished the work that was given Him to do, resigns His office. The end realised, the means are no longer needed. Patriarchalism had its day; and Abraham delivering up his ministration to Moses. Judaism had its day: and Moses delivered up his ministration to Christ. Mediation is having its day; and when it shall have realised its design, Christ will deliver up His administration to the primal fountain of all authority and power.
IV. THAT WHEN CHRIST SHALL HAVE RESIGNED HIS ADMINISTRATION, GOD "WILL BE ALL IN ALL."
1. This does not mean —
(1) That there will be dissolution in the human and Divine in the constitution of Christ.
(2) That Christ will lose any part of His influence in the Divine empire. Christ will ever rise in the esteem and devotion of all who know His history, and especially of all who have been saved by His grace.
(3) That God will become something different to the universe in general than He has ever been. To the unfallen districts of His vast kingdom He has ever been "all in all."
2. The apostle is speaking of humanity, and what he means, I presume, is that God will become "all in all" to it — that He will become to man, after this, very different to what He had ever been. Two facts will illustrate this.
(1) He will treat all men after this on the ground of their own moral merits. From the fall up to this period He had treated them, during their existence in this world, on the ground of Christ's mediation; but now, the mediation removed, each man shall "reap the fruit of his own doings."(2) All good men will, after this, subjectively realise the absolute one as they have never done before. The atmosphere of their nature purified, He shall appear within them as the central orb, revealing everything in its light — uncovering the Infinite above and the finite beneath — making the finite manifest and glorious in the conscious light of the Infinite.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.