Arguably the most important defense of the resurrection in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and its benefits for those who belong to Him.
The resurrection of Jesus has massive implications. One major implication is that those who belong to Jesus will also one day be resurrected to life. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees ours. Paul referred to Jesus’ resurrection as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v. 20). Paul’s use of the term firstfruits recalls the firstborn child, animal, or first harvest of a crop that would be considered holy and belonging to the Lord. The firstfruits, as a foretaste of more to come, were offered to God in thanksgiving for His graciousness in providing them. Jesus’ resurrection was the pattern of things to come, a foretaste for those who belong to Christ.
Paul reminded the Corinthian believers not only of participation in a future bodily resurrection but also participation in the eternal reign of God’s kingdom in Christ. When Christ returns, the culmination of God’s redemptive plan will be brought with Him. Several profound activities occur as the result of Christ’s victorious resurrection and triumphant return.
- Jesus will hand over “the kingdom to God the Father” (v. 24). Jesus taught us to pray that God’s kingdom would come “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). The kingdom is the rule and reign of God over all things and all people. Currently, there are still enemies who oppose and disrupt this kingly reign of God. When Jesus returns, all things will finally be restored as they were originally designed to be before the wreckage of Adam’s sin.
- Jesus will put “all his enemies under his feet” (v. 25). As it stands, “the last enemy to be abolished is death” (v. 26). The truth is, death has been defeated but has not yet been abolished and subjected to Christ (Heb. 2:8). Humanity still languishes under the shadow of death and is “held in slavery … by the fear of death” (Heb. 2:15). That’s why we need the reminder of these truths from Paul.
- Christ Himself will “be subject to the one who subjected everything to him” (v. 28). God sent His Son to restore what Adam wrecked, which Jesus did. Because Jesus is the true and better Adam, Paul cited Psalm 8:6 as a reminder that “God has put everything under his feet” (v. 27). Of course, “it is obvious that he who puts everything under him [Christ] is the exception” (v. 27). The Father is still the Father! In the final analysis, what Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection is for the glory of the Father. When Paul said that Christ will “be subject to” (v. 28) the Father, he was not in any way implying that the Son is inferior to the Father. The Persons of the Trinity are equal in essence and glory. The subordination Paul spoke about was one of role or function.
When all is said and done—death is finally abolished and the kingdom is handed over to the Father—all things will be put in their rightful place and order. God’s authority over all things will be eternally exercised. There will no longer be an enemy—death or the devil—rising to challenge Him.
This article was adapted from Explore the Bible: Adults Personal Study Guide Spring 2018, Session 5—Assurance of the Resurrection. Explore the Bible is a book-by-book group Bible study that encourages participants to let the Word dwell in them and challenges them to live it out in their own context. Preview one month free at lifeway.com/ExploreTheBible