1 Corinthians 15:20
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
Contemplate this as —
I. AN ESTABLISHED FACT. It is established —
1. On the testimony of the most competent witnesses — those who had a thorough knowledge of the facts, and such an invincible love for truth as would render it impossible for them to misrepresent them.
2. On the very existence of Christendom. What gave birth to Christendom? The gospel; and the truth of the gospel rests on the resurrection of Christ.
3. On the consciousness of genuine disciples. Such consciousness attests that they are "not in their sins," and they feel that this deliverance came from the gospel.
II. A SIGNIFICANT FACT. The reference here is to the "first-fruits" of the harvest (see Leviticus 23:12-19). Those first-fruits were both an earnest and a sample of the full harvest at hand. Hence Christ's resurrection was regarded —
1. As a pledge of the resurrection. As He rose so will all rise.
2. As a pattern. The sheaf waved before the Lord was a specimen or sample of what remained in the field to be gathered in. "Our vile bodies shall be fashioned and made like unto His glorious body" (vers. 21, 22).
III. AN INFLUENTIAL FACT. Between the influence of Adam and that of Christ on the race there is —
1. A resemblance. The resemblance is in its extensibility. Though Adam's influence upon the race is more extensive at present than that of Christ, it is not more extensible. It has in it the power of extending over the whole race down through all times, and it will do so.
2. A contrast. The influence of the one is destructive, the influence of the other quickening. If by death here bodily death is meant, then the idea is that Christ will quicken to life all that have died. But what does it mean to be in Adam and in Christ. In the sense of character. All men live in the characters of others; children in the character of their parents, pupils in their masters, the present generation in the preceding. The characters of the men of past ages constitute the moral atmosphere of existing men. In Adam's character — the character of selfishness, carnality, unbelief — all unregenerate men live to-day, his principles pulsate in all hearts. In the character of Christ, in His self-sacrificing love, spotless purity, and godly devotion, all the godly live to-day. Now those who live in the character of Adam must die, not merely in the sense of the dissolution of the soul from the body, but in the more awful sense of the dissolution of the soul from God; whereas those who live in the character of Christ live by a vital connection with the Eternal Fountain of all life.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.