DARBY translated v.23 as:

But each in his own rank: [the] first-fruits, Christ; then those that are the Christ's at his coming. (DARBY 1Co 15.23)

What is the correct Translation of this Scripture

  • 1
    I have attempted to work out from JND's prefaces what it is that he is translating. But I still have no answer. Robert Young made public comments about Textual Criticism being very separate to translation and I wonder if his comment is aimed at JND. If JND was attempting to 'improve' the TR, then he should have said so and should have - first - produced his altered Greek text for peer review before publishing simply an English 'translation', which does not properly identify its source. So I cannot answer your question as JND did not make clear what text we look at to see if he did a good job.
    – Nigel J
    May 13 '21 at 12:02
  • Darbys translation of The New Testament was completed in 1867. The version is exceedingly literal, based upon modern critical editions of the Greek text, and abundantly supplied with text-critical and philological annotations. The annotations are by far the most comprehensive and detailed to be found in an English version. It was consulted by the translators of the English Revised Version of 1881 (see F.F. Bruce, History of the Bible in English, 3rd ed., 1978, p. 132). May 13 '21 at 12:40
  • Darby certainly leaned on Tregelles but the question remains : What Greek text is Darby using in 1867, fourteen years before the Westcott & Hort text was published in 1881 ? Nor does the margin in JND approximate to a 'Critical Apparatus' by any stretch of the imagination.
    – Nigel J
    May 13 '21 at 12:57
  • I think the Greek text Darby used was almost the same as the TR. He even includes 1 John 5:7, 8.
    – Dottard
    May 13 '21 at 21:34

I would conservatively translate the passage as follows:

Now Christ was raised from the dead the firstfruits of them that have fallen asleep. For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: The firstfruits, Christ, then them that are of Christ, at his coming.

The point is that Christ is the firstfruit or the prime example of the resurrection from the dead, and of life after death for those that are born of Adam. Following the firstfruits, Christ, are those that "believe" (Vulg.) in Christ, or are "of Christ" (οι του Χριστου) who will be raised "at his coming" (εν τη παρουσια αυτου).

The anarthrous and verbless nature of the words απαρχη Χριστος doesn't matter, since in this particular context and construction, it semantically means "Christ, the firstfruits."

  • Then why would it be plural. Firstfruits not first fruit? May 13 '21 at 23:12
  • 1
    The first fruits refer to the first crop to come up (together) in the season. It never refers to a literal, single fruit, even though the word is grammatically singular (it's virtually an uncountable noun). To call Christ the firstfruits is to say He is the beginning of what is to come for us. May 14 '21 at 20:28
  • Allright I understand now May 15 '21 at 18:37


23 versions use the definite article.

New International Version

But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

2 versions use the indefinite article.

Literal Standard Version

and each in his proper order: Christ, a first-fruit, afterward those who are the Christ’s in His coming,

The overwhelming majority use the definite article.


Darby's translation may reflect a peculiarity of his personal theology (more on this shortly).

First, the Greek text of 1 Cor 15:23 is undisputed - we find the same text in NA28/UBS5, Byzantine text, Majority text, TR, etc.

Second, the Greek word used here is ἀπαρχή which is ALWAYS singular in all eight instances in the NT text. Thus, technically, it should be translated "firstfruit"; however, because it means the first offerings of class or kind sacred to the deity before the rest could be put to secular use (BDAG), it usually translated "firstfruits".

Third, the word ἀπαρχή occurs in 1 Cor 15:20, 23. In V23 might be literally translated:

Each, however, in its own order; firstfruit Christ, then those of Christ at His coming.

Because, "firstfruit" is a noun in the nominative case, Darby translates as though there is a comma between firstfruit and Christ as though firstfruit is different and distinct from Christ, presumably (??) those raised at the special resurrection recorded in Matt 27:52. However, there are two matters that strongly militate against such a translation:

  1. The word ἀπαρχή (firstfruit) in 1 Cor 15:20 indisputably refers to Christ
  2. In 1 Cor 15:23, the text reads ἀπαρχὴ Χριστός, ἔπειτα = "firstfruit Christ, THEN ..." That is, we only have two items in the list, not three. Hence "Christ" and "firstfruit" sit in the same case are are used in apposition to each other = two words for the same thing.


Thus, I would argue that most modern versions by rendering something similar to (say) BSB:

But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him.

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