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20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.


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20. now—as the case really is.

and become—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.

the first-fruits—the earnest or pledge, that the whole resurrection harvest will follow, so that our faith is not vain, nor our hope limited to this life. The time of writing this Epistle was probably about the Passover (1Co 5:7); the day after the Passover sabbath was that for offering the first-fruits (Le 23:10, 11), and the same was the day of Christ's resurrection: whence appears the appropriateness of the image.

21. by man … by man—The first-fruits are of the same nature as the rest of the harvest; so Christ, the bringer of life, is of the same nature as the race of men to whom He brings it; just as Adam, the bringer of death, was of the same nature as the men on whom he brought it.

22. in Adam all—in union of nature with Adam, as representative head of mankind in their fall.

in Christ … all—in union of nature with Christ, the representative head of mankind in their recovery. The life brought in by Christ is co-extensive with the death brought in by Adam.

23. But every man in his own order—rather, "rank": the Greek is not in the abstract, but concrete: image from troops, "each in his own regiment." Though all shall rise again, let not any think all shall be saved; nay, each shall have his proper place, Christ first (Col 1:18), and after Him the godly who die in Christ (1Th 4:16), in a separate band from the ungodly, and then "the end," that is, the resurrection of the rest of the dead. Christian churches, ministers, and individuals seem about to be judged first "at His coming" (Mt 25:1-30); then "all the nations" (Mt 25:31-46). Christ's own flock shall share His glory "at His coming," which is not to be confounded with "the end," or general judgment (Re 20:4-6, 11-15). The latter is not in this chapter specially discussed, but only the first resurrection, namely, that of the saints: not even the judgment of Christian hollow professors (Mt 25:1-30) at His coming, is handled, but only the glory of them "that are Christ's," who alone in the highest sense "obtain the resurrection from the dead" (Lu 14:14; 20:35, 36; Php 3:11; see on Php 3:11). The second coming of Christ is not a mere point of time, but a period beginning with the resurrection of the just at His appearing, and ending with the general judgment. The ground of the universal resurrection is the union of all mankind in nature with Christ, their representative Head, who has done away with death, by His own death in their stead: the ground of the resurrection of believers is not merely this, but their personal union with Him as their "Life" (Col 3:4), effected causatively by the Holy Spirit, and instrumentally by faith as the subjective, and by ordinances as the objective means.

24. Then—after that: next in the succession of "orders" or "ranks."

the end—the general resurrection, and final judgment and consummation (Mt 25:46).

delivered up … kingdom to … Father—(Compare Joh 13:3). Seeming at variance with Da 7:14, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away." Really, His giving up of the mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the end for which the mediatorial economy was established has been accomplished, is altogether in harmony with its continuing everlastingly. The change which shall then take place, shall be in the manner of administration, not in the kingdom itself; God shall then come into direct connection with the earth, instead of mediatorially, when Christ shall have fully and finally removed everything that severs asunder the holy God and a sinful earth (Col 1:20). The glory of God is the final end of Christ's mediatorial office (Php 2:10, 11). His co-equality with the Father is independent of the latter, and prior to it, and shall, therefore, continue when its function shall have ceased. His manhood, too, shall everlastingly continue, though, as now, subordinate to the Father. The throne of the Lamb (but no longer mediatorial) as well as of God, shall be in the heavenly city (Re 22:3; compare Re 3:21). The unity of the Godhead, and the unity of the Church, shall be simultaneously manifested at Christ's second coming. Compare Zep 3:9; Zec 14:9; Joh 17:21-24. The oldest manuscripts for "shall have delivered up," read, "delivereth up," which suits the sense better. It is "when He shall have put down all rule," that "He delivereth up the kingdom to the Father."

shall have put down all rule—the effect produced during the millennary reign of Himself and His saints (Ps 110:1; 8:6; 2:6-9), to which passages Paul refers, resting his argument on the two words, "all" and "until," of the Psalmist: a proof of verbal inspiration of Scripture (compare Re 2:26, 27). Meanwhile, He "rules in the midst of His enemies" (Ps 110:2). He is styled "the King" when He takes His great power (Mt 25:34; Re 11:15, 17). The Greek for "put down" is, "done away with," or "brought to naught." "All" must be subject to Him, whether openly opposed powers, as Satan and his angels, or kings and angelic principalities (Eph 1:21).

25. must—because Scripture foretells it.

till—There will be no further need of His mediatorial kingdom, its object having been realized.

enemies under his feet—(Lu 19:27; Eph 1:22).

26. shall beGreek, "is done away with" (Re 20:14; compare Re 1:18). It is to believers especially this applies (1Co 15:55-57); even in the case of unbelievers, death is done away with by the general resurrection. Satan brought in sin, and sin brought in death! So they shall be destroyed (rendered utterly powerless) in the same order (1Co 15:56; Heb 2:14; Re 19:20; 20:10, 14).




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