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.…
I. The figure suggests the idea of PRECEDENCE. As the presenting of the first-ripe fruits preceded the gathering in of the remainder of the harvest — so Christ's rising from the grave, and, on His ascension, appearing before God, was the prelude of the rising of all His people and their gathering in to everlasting life. The resurrection of the blessed surety was the first irrecoverable and permanent rescue from the power of the grave. He was the first released victim which death was never to get back.
II. The second idea suggested by the type is that of SECURITY. The first-fruits, when duly offered to the Lord, in obedience to His prescription, and as a becoming expression of dependence and thankfulness, formed a kind of Divine pledge to Israel of the remaining harvest. There are two ways in which the resurrection of Jesus may be considered as giving assurance of the resurrection of His people.
1. It involved in it an attestation, on the part of the Father that sent Him, to the divinity of His mission, and to the truth of all His testimony.
2. It was closely connected with His death, as the principal proof of its having answered its end. That end was atonement. It is not the fact that Christ died, even connected with the additional fact of His rising again, that constitutes the gospel. Both the facts may be believed, and yet the gospel rejected. The gospel lies in the purpose of His death — "He died for our sins"; and then His resurrection becomes the evidence of the purpose having been effectually answered — of the Father's having accepted the propitiation.
III. The last idea suggested by the figure in the text is RESEMBLANCE. The first ripe fruits were a specimen of the harvest. They were to be the best indeed in quality; and had it been otherwise, the type would ill have agreed with what the apostle represents it as having prefigured. For we must never fancy that, in the case before us, resemblance means the same as equality. The glory of His people can never be supposed equal in degree to that of Jesus Himself. But the glory shall be the same in kind; His the glory of the sun, ours of those stars that receive and reflect His light. See Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4. And oh, is not this enough? — enough to kindle all the ardour of desire, enough to fill the conceptions of the most capacious mind, enough to exhaust the efforts of the boldest and loftiest imagination? To be like Christ! Oh, what is there higher, holier, or happier, which it is possible for you to wish, either for yourselves or for the dearest objects of your love?
(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.