on 1-corinthians 15 :20
But now is Christ risen - On the contrary, Christ is raised from the dead, and is become the first fruits of them that slept. His resurrection has been demonstrated, and our resurrection necessarily follows; as sure as the first fruits are the proof that there is a harvest, so surely the resurrection of Christ is a proof of ours. The Judaizing teacher at Corinth would feel the force of this observation much sooner than we can, who are not much acquainted with Jewish customs. "Although," says Dr. Lightfoot, "the resurrection of Christ, compared with some first fruits, has very good harmony with them; yet especially it agrees with the offering of the sheaf, commonly called עומר omer, not only as the thing itself, but also as to the circumstances of the time. For first there was the passover, and the day following was a Sabbatic day, and on the day following that the first fruits were offered. So Christ, our passover, was crucified: the day following his crucifixion was the Sabbath, and the day following that, He, the first fruits of them that slept, rose again. All who died before Christ, and were raised again to life, died afterwards; but Christ is the first fruits of all who shall be raised from the dead to die no more."
on 1-corinthians 15 :20
But now is Christ risen ... - This language is the bursting forth of a full heart and of overpowering conviction. It would seem as if Paul were impatient of the slow process of argument; weary of meeting objections, and of stating the consequences of a denial of the doctrine; and longing to give utterance to "what he knew," that Christ was risen from the dead. That was a point on which he was certain. He had seen him after he was risen; and he could no more doubt this "fact" than he could any other which he had witnessed with his own eyes. He makes, therefore, this strong affirmation; and in doing it, he at the same time affirms that the dead will also rise, since he had shown 1 Corinthians 15:12-18 that all the objection to the doctrine of the resurrection was removed by the fact that Christ had risen, and had shown that his resurrection involved the certainty that his people also would rise. There is special force in the word "now" in this verse. The meaning may be thus expressed: "I have showed the consequences which would follow from the supposition that Christ was not raised up. I have shown how it would destroy all our hopes, plunge us into grief, annihilate our faith, make our preaching vain, and involve us in the belief that our pious friends have perished, and that we are yet in our sins. I have shown how it would produce the deepest disappointment and misery. But all this was mere supposition. There is no reason to apprehend any such consequences, or to be thus alarmed. "Christ" is "risen." Of that there is no doubt. That is not to be called in question. It is established by irrefragable testimony; and consequently our hopes are not vain, our faith is not useless, our pious friends have not perished, and we shall not be disappointed."
And become the first-fruits - The word rendered "first-fruits" (ἀπαρχὴ aparchē) occurs in the New Testament in the following places; Romans 8:23 (see the note on this place); Romans 11:16; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4. It occurs often in the Septuagint as the translations of חלב cheleb, "fat," or "fatness" Numbers 18:12, Numbers 18:29-30, Numbers 18:32; as the translation of מצשׂרה ma‛asrah, "the tenth" or "the tithe" Deuteronomy 12:6; of צוון ‛awon, "iniquity" Numbers 18:1; of ראשׁית rē'shiyt, "the beginning, the commencement, the first" (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:1; Numbers 15:18-19, etc.): of תּרמה teruwmah, "oblation, offering; lifting up; of that which is lifted up or waved as the first sheaf of the harvest," etc. Exodus 25:2-3; Exodus 35:5; Numbers 5:9; Numbers 18:8, etc. The first-fruits, or the first sheaf of ripe grain was required to be offered to the Lord, and was waved before him by the priest, as expressing the sense of gratitude by the husbandman, and his recognition of the fact that God had a right to all that he had; Leviticus 23:10-14. The word, therefore, comes to have two:
(1) That which is "first," the beginning, or that which has the priority of time; and,
(2) That which is apart and portion of the whole which is to follow, and which is the earnest or pledge of that; as the "first" sheaf of ripe grain was not only the first in order of time, but was the earnest or pledge of the entire harvest which was soon to succeed.
In allusion to this, Paul uses the word here. It was not merely or mainly that Christ was the first in order of time that rose from the dead, for Lazarus and the widow's son had been raised before him; but it was that he was chief in regard to the dignity, value, and importance of his rising; he was connected with all that should rise, as the first sheaf of the harvest was with the crop; he was a "part" of the mighty harvest of the resurrection, and his rising was a "portion" of that great rising, as the sheaf was a portion of the harvest itself; and he was so connected with them all, and their rising so depended on his, that his resurrection was a demonstration that they would rise. It may also be implied here, as Grotius and Schoettgen have remarked, that he is the first of those who were raised so as not to die again; and that, therefore, those raised by Elisha and by the Saviour himself do not come into the account. They all died again; but the Saviour will not die, nor will those whom he will raise up in the resurrection die any more. He is, therefore, the first of those that thus rise, and a portion of that great host which shall be raised to die no more. May there not be another idea? The first sheaf of the harvest was consecrated to God, and then all the harvest was regarded as consecrated to him. May it not be implied that, by the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, all those of whom he speaks are regarded as sacred to God, and as consecrated and accepted by the resurrection and acceptance of him who was the first-fruits?
Of them that slept - Of the pious dead; see the note on 1 Corinthians 15:6.
on 1-corinthians 15 :20