1 Corinthians 15:20-28
Christ’s Resurrection Is the Father’s Victory
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” Prior to this statement, Paul was challenging the proposals of some of the Corinthians and saying, in effect, that (to paraphrase), “If there is no resurrection of the dead, as you so say, then neither has Christ been raised, as is the logical conclusion of your argument.” But then Paul announces the glorious truth just quoted: Christ is risen! So what does our Lord’s resurrection mean in this passage?
First, Paul shows that God has established an order to the resurrection of people. Christ is called the “firstfruits.” Now, why is this? Because Christ was the first to rise from the dead, which was his specific honor. No, the Old Testament saints did not experience a resurrection upon death. Of course, their souls went to heaven (or “Paradise,” Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:3), but their bodies remained in the grave. As for appearances before our Lord’s resurrection, such as our Lord’s transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36), we must assume that Moses and Elijah appeared before him in some spiritually visible form, but not in the body. 2) And as of right now, Christ is the only one to have risen, for “then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” These are the “all” who have been made alive in Christ AMONG the “all” who are dead in Adam. At any rate, the distinction of resurrection belongs solely to Christ at this time, though he shall share that resurrected state with us upon his return.
But Paul continues. The resurrection is the crowning event of the Father’s royal power, His seal and testimony that only He is Ruler of all things. Even death, the last enemy to be destroyed, is “living” on borrowed time. At the present time, the Father has subjected all things under the feet of Christ who reigns from the Right Hand of Power and who is slowly bringing all creation under the dominion of Him who already rules it. But the time will come when that which is now invisible to us will become fully visible to all. And in that day, our Lord shall give everything over to the Father that He may be the “all in all,” not in some Eastern sense in which we all become united into God as a drop in the ocean, but in the sense that He shall reign over all and be our reason for rejoicing in a kingdom where our souls will be purified of all sin, such that we may inhabit glorified and perfected bodies, without corruption or decay, sickness or disease. We shall finally be fully alive, in perfect fellowship with God—which is what we were created for. The resurrection serves as the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning, the vindication of our God who has and will have the victory.