But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another Man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when He comes back. After that the end will come, when He will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.1 Corinthians 15:20-24
While discussing whether Christ really did rise from the dead or not Paul expands the view or perspective considerably. He addresses the issue of the factuality of the resurrection because it was an issue for the believers in Corinth. Just like it is an issue for believers now. The truth of the matter is that it is unbelievable, yet true. That fact back in the time of Paul had many saying this is unbelievable. Christ can’t have risen from the dead. Men don’t rise from the dead. Like the writer to the Hebrews says
It is appointed for men to die once and after that comes judgement.Hebrews 9:27
Paul goes on to say, not only did Christ rise from the dead but there is more. Get your mind around this fact. He is the first of many more to come. There will be a great harvest of all who have died. Death entered this world through one man – Adam. But now release from death (resurrection from among the dead) has begun, through Christ. There are two groups of people – those who belong to Adam and those who belong to Christ. Christ’s resurrection from the dead ensures all who are “in Him” will rise from the dead as well. You are either in Adam and so everyone will die or you are in Christ and will escape the second death. Paul is not meaning you will not die physically. He is talking about the biblical concept of the second death.
Let John explain it for you:
Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.Revelation 20:6
Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.Revelation 20:14
But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.Revelation 21:8
When God said to Adam if he sinned / disobeyed God he would surely die he meant two things. Yes he would know physical death, contrary to God’s plan for mankind. But he would also know spiritual death – separation from God forever and ultimately eternal destruction. This is what Paul is meaning here in his comments to the Corinthians.
But just as the “surely die” comment would not happen immediately, so too the resurrection for all “in Christ” won’t happen immediately either. Paul goes on to say there is an order to this resurrection happening. First, Christ was raised (fact), Second, all who belong to Him will be raised when He comes back (promise). Note two things that are inferred (promised) here. Christ will come back and we will be raised from the dead. After that the end will come and the second death will be applied. Paul is connecting thoughts here that have not been openly stated but lie behind the concepts he is talking about. Paul’s perspective is the widest one possible – wrapping up all of human history from the sin of Adam to the return of Christ and the ushering in of the second death.
The only place in the universe you find atheists is on earth. God lets you deny Him your entire life, but then He’ll deny you.Ian Vail
Our world is in trouble because we are too serious about trivial matters & flippant about things of eternal significance.Rick Warren
You don’t need to know what tomorrow holds; all you need to know is the One who holds tomorrow.Joyce Meyer