After Paul explains the importance of recognizing the occurrence of resurrection, he then explains what Christ’s resurrection signifies.
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.
Paul’s explanation here gets a little thick with custom and theology. The term “first fruits” comes from the beginning of time when people offered an offering of each harvest to God. These days it has turned into an idea of manipulation, as in “God will bless me if I do this and that” instead of “I will honor God with a portion of my first harvest.” It is where tithing comes from. Paul’s explanation here of Christ’s resurrection is that His sacrifice was offered as a “first fruits” to God in reference to the rest of mankind. In verse 22, we see Paul explaining the difference between those of us who have only died in Adam (being of the world and sinful) and those made alive in Christ (freed from the burden of sin because of Christ’s sacrifice).
Verse 23 to 26 are a great summation of the book of Revelation. The explanation here is to explain that those of us who are “in Christ” will be resurrected in the end and death will no longer be a factor of the living. As Paul explains the events of the end of days, what do we see as the main factor? The sovereignty of God. This is the hope we have in God. His sovereignty, whether we like it or not, will overcome all things: pain, suffering, and even death. This is one of the important things we need to recognize in our lives (the other being that He loves us). In verse 25, Paul uses interesting wording: He MUST reign. The very essence of being God is His reign over all. If it isn’t a part of who He is, then He isn’t really God. In considering who God is, we must understand that it is all or nothing. There is no halfway, lukewarm, make you feel good inside explanation.
I think that as a result of all the horrible things that have been done in the name of Christ, we have swayed to the other side too far. This isn’t to say that He isn’t a loving God, rather that we look at the worldly definition of love instead of the godly definition of love that is clear in the bible. We have distorted what true love is and then we turn that to represent who God is and we are misrepresenting Him altogether. I’m not saying I do it perfectly either, but we have to seek out the true meaning of love to understand who God is. In this very passage we first see the totality of God: His sacrifice for us so we can be reunited with Him and how He deals with His enemies. Do we even know what the bible says a loving God is? Instead of asking the infamous, “how can a loving God…?” the question instead should be: Are you His enemy?
I don’t say this to scare someone into believing or following God (that isn’t possible anyway). Rather, my intent is to encourage you to find out for yourself. Read the word of God to understand what it means to be an enemy of God. Evaluate your life and if you truly desire that close relationship with Him, then act accordingly. Nobody has a close relationship with another if they constantly hurl stones and give them the finger. Thankfully, God is more patient than anyone else we have ever known and He really desires for you to come back to Him. Before you shake this off and think, “yeah, I read my bible, go to church, don’t cuss, and smile at everyone I meet,” keep in mind that playing the role is much different than actually being in a relationship with God. Jesus once warned us, “19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Are you real?