1 Corinthians 15:20–24 (MEV): But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came by man, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward, those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end when He will deliver up the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
Jesus is First Fruits of the resurrection of the dead. As Paul continues to explain the resurrection, we’ve understood from that context before, it is bodily. It is to a new type of body that isn’t subject to sin. (This idea is elaborated upon later in the text.) In his continuing instruction, there is something more for us to understand. Rightly, it points to Jesus. He is the First Fruits, but of what?
The term first fruits is significant. But first, let’s explore the significance of this term from one perspective; the feasts established in the Torah, The law is called a schoolmaster.
Galatians 3:23–24 (MEV): But before faith came, we were imprisoned under the law, kept for the faith which was later to be revealed. So the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
It was to bring us to Christ. Therefore the feasts established for Israel in the law would also be a tutor. These feats are patterns to help us identify the Messiah. There were seven established, some of which have been fulfilled by Jesus on Earth.
The first is Passover. The first Passover we learn that the blood of an unblemished lamb protected the household where it was applied to the doorposts from the death of the firstborn. In the same way, Jesus fulfilled this by shedding His own blood. That when properly applied by the believer, metaphorically on the doorposts of the heart. It protects the firstborn of that house, the believer himself from sudden death. This isn’t protection from any death, but the death that comes as a judgment from God.
The second is The Feast of Unleavened Bread. Biblically, leaven is a typification of sin. The idea conveyed is the haste to escape Egypt. They had no time to leaven their bread. It is also at this time that leaven is also removed from houses. In the same way, Jesus takes away the leaven in our lives. In a sense… We also ought hurry to believe when we are confronted with truth.
The third is The Feast of First Fruits. This is a celebration of the first fruits and is done at the beginning of the spring harvest. It was signified by waving a sheaf of the first grain harvested to the priest. He would then wave this before the Lord in an offering. In like manner, Jesus also had to be presented before God.
John 20:17 (MEV): Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father. But go to My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.’ ”
These are the spring feasts, the first three of seven ordained for Israel. All three have been fulfilled by Jesus just as the Old Testament patterns indicate. The fourth feast Pentecost, is also one said to be fulfilled, but I will leave for another time.
I want to talk about first fruits. Just as the pattern is established in the feasts, this was the first of the first of the entire harvest. What then is the significance?
Paul shows the order of the harvest. “Christ the first fruits; afterward, those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end when He will deliver up the kingdom to God the Father.” I think that’s inclusive of the harvest. What I mean is, we have the beginning of the harvest given and the end when Christ comes, which is not the rapture. This is clearly explained to us in another place.
Revelation 20:4–5 (MEV): I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and the authority to judge was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness of Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
Jesus has to come again to reign on Earth. At His coming, those who died justified (Acts 24:15) will be raised up to reign with Him. “Then comes the end.”
The harvest that Jesus is First Fruits of began with His resurrection. It will end with the beginning of His Millennial reign. The harvest will continue, meaning there will be multiple resurrections in between. All of which are part of the First Resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14) to life (John 5:29.)