20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
but now (v.20) — turning from the “if Christ is raised” of the previous verses to the fact of His resurrection
firstfruits (v.20) = two words in the original, “chief or principle” and earliest ripe fruit of a crop or tree
Here is a fact positive. It is stated so because it can be proved true — “but now is Christ risen.” The ample proofs have preceded in the apostles’s argument.
The result of this proven fact is the pledge which Christ’s resurrection brings concerning our resurrection. He had “become the firstfruits of them that slept.” This was a very understandable thing. Every Jew knew what the “firstfruits” were. They were the farmer’s first sheaf of ripened grain presented to the Lord as the pledge of the ingathering of the whole harvest. This procedure was in connection with the third of seven Jewish feasts known as “The Feast of the First-Fruits.” On the first day of the feast, selected delegates marked out he spot in the grain field from which the sheaf would be cut. On the second day the sheaf was cut and brought into the sanctuary. On the third day, corresponding to the day of Christ’s resurrection, this sheaf was presented to the Lord as a pledge, sample or guarantee, that the remainder of the harvest would be brought in.
According to this previous type, the present fact is that Christ, as the firstfruits raised from the dead, is the sample pledge and guarantee that all Christians will be raised from the dead. Prove Christ’s resurrection and you prove the Christian’s resurrection It has been proved and its proof is our certainty. — Laurin, pages 280-281
Notice first of all that Christ is the first fruits of all resurrections. At the resurrection of the Lord Jesus a great host of Old Testament saints were also raised from the dead and were seen upon the streets of Jerusalem. In Matthew 27 we read: And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:52-53). — DeHaan, page 175.
Christ is not only the firstfruits from the dead, but also the firstborn (Colossians 1:18). The others raised from the dead before were only resuscitated, and died again, but not so our Lord. He arose with a new resurrection life that can never die. In that order of dignity He is absolutely the firstborn. The firstborn of the Father in Israel had all the prerogatives of might, authority, right, and all the inheritance, and this it is with our Lord. Whereas the term only begotten denotes His essential relation to the Father, the term firstborn describes His relation the the creatures. The honors of primogeniture are His. — Bultema, page 127.
by man came death (v.21) — Adam — Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
by Man (v.21) — Christ
resurrection of the dead (v.21) — The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
in Christ all shall be made alive (v.22) — As Adam is the head of the natural race, and, in virtue of this natural relation with him, death is the common lot of men, so by reason of the fact that Christ is the Head of the spiritual, all who possess spiritual relation with Him will be made alive. There is no idea of the universalism of the human race in the comparison of the second statement with the first. That unbelievers are “in Christ” is utterly contrary to the teaching of Scripture. — Vine, page 109.
order (v.23) — used of military rank
coming (v.23) = arrival and consequent presence
then (v.24) = after an interval — sequence — not referring to an immediate next action
comes (v.24) — not in the original text — it should read “then the end [ones] — Revelation 20:5 — at the end of the millennial kingdom
end (v.24) = last in a series, the last ones
delivers (v.24) — when Christ has accomplished what the Father committed to Him
when (v.24) = whenever — indicating the time is unknown
puts (v.24) = reduces to inactivity