Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 presents Jesus as the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. What is the significance of 'firstfruits?' Is this related to instructions in the Hebrew Bible about firstfruits (e.g. Exodus 23:14-18, Exodus 34:22-26, Leviticus 2:12-14, Leviticus 23:9-21, Numbers 28:26, Deuteronomy 26:1-11)?

share|improve this question
In any way. The first fruits show that there is more to harvest. Thus, the saints who have died will be resurrected also. –  Paul Vargas Feb 25 at 19:34
I asked this question to help out another user who is having difficulty asking good, on-topic questions. –  maj nem ɪz dæn Feb 25 at 19:35
Oh! Sorry. Well, then you might want to close it lest I try to answer. Ha ha. –  Paul Vargas Feb 25 at 19:40
@PaulVargas this question is on topic and good, so feel free to answer. –  maj nem ɪz dæn Feb 25 at 19:40

1 Answer 1

How are we to understand 'firstfruits' in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23?

20 But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. 22 For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming; —CJB

First, as touching the passages from the Hebrew Bible such as those from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; we must first address two significant facts.

  1. These passages are a part of Jewish law which is never imposed upon gentiles (cf. the Jerusalem counsel, Acts 15:6-35). This is not to say that those laws may not be applied in some manner to non Jewish worshipers, but non Jews (Gentiles) are not bound by them.
  2. The firstfruits being offered to God were typical of the ministry of Messiah. The offering of firstfruits required that only the best of the best be offered to God, and that offering must be done with thankfulness.

One key to understanding is found in the words, "...each in his own order..."

Messiah was (and remains) the best of humanity, and he was offered to God by, and on behalf of sinful humanity. Messiah being the one who did the "work" of salvation is naturally the first to partake in the resurrection of the righteous dead. After that, and each in his own order, the resurrection will occur for others, both righteous and unrighteous.

The apostle Paul had a marvelous insight into this when he stated:

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. —Romans 8:22-23 (AV)

Paul's emphasis on “together” in these verse 22 does not include believers in Messiah, who are specifically mentioned in verse 23, but rather points to the various parts of the natural Creation.

Paul began this section in verse 18 by referring to the believers’ “present sufferings," a subject to which he now returned to in verse 23.

Believers are described as the ones having the firstfruits of the Spirit. This is a declaration that the Holy Spirit is “the firstfruits” (aparchēn) of God’s work of salvation and re-creation in believers. Believers "spirits" have been resurrected from the dead and we are now spiritually alive in the Messiah. Believers are therefore awaiting the ultimate fulfillment of their sanctification, i.e., the redemption of their mortal (death doomed) physical bodies.

Yeshua Messiah has already received his glorified body and, as such, is the firstfruits of those who believe on him. And now believers groan together with all of creation in hope of receiving our immortal bodies and becoming fully conformed to the image of Messiah (Romans 8:29).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.