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. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23–26, NKJV)
All who die will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The resurrection of the dead will be orderly, not haphazard or random. Christ’s empty tomb signaled His defeat of physical death and began the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus returns, those who are His, as well as those who are condemned, will be raised (John 5:28-29). With the resurrection completed, judgment will occur, and Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27). Here is a prominent and pivotal truth: Christ will not return to establish the kingdom. When He returns, He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. The kingdom of God exists today; it is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 29-36, 41, 47). The end or conclusion will occur when Christ comes and raises the dead. If the kingdom begins when Jesus returns, then that is not the end. But, when Christ returns all enemies will have been vanquished, the last one being death itself. When Christ returns, the King and His kingdom will be victoriously presented to God the Father.
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. (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, NKJV)
The resurrection of Christ is the keystone of the gospel. Without it, the entire structure of human redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ crumbles to the ground (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). With it, Christ is powerfully declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4). His resurrection from the dead proves all the dead will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:12-13). (Please note that this passage addresses bodily death and bodily resurrection.) Christ’s resurrection from the dead is described as the firstfruits – the beginning – of the resurrection of all the dead (Acts 26:23). Under the Law of Moses, the firstfruits of harvest were dedicated to the Lord, indicating the full harvest was a blessing from His hand (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 26:1-11). In like manner, Christ’s resurrection assures us that all who experience physical death as a result of Adam will be raised from the dead (Genesis 3:19). Jesus said the time will come when “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Death will not end your existence. You will be raised from the dead to either eternal life or eternal condemnation (John 5:29). Get ready for your resurrection by always following Jesus Christ.
8 I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. 11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:8–11, NKJV)
The assurance of David’s faith was so strong that, even in the face of death, he rejoiced in the abiding presence and strength of the Lord. Hope sustained him, for he knew that in God’s plans for him did not end in the grave. In God’s presence is the path of life, joy and eternal pleasure. This great statement of faith is applied to Christ Jesus in Acts 2:25-31 as a prophecy of his resurrection from the death. Jesus died and was buried, and three days later his tomb was empty. The death of His saints is precious is the sight of the Lord (Psalm 116:15). Christians do not sorrow over death like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). As you face daily forces designed to weaken and destroy your faith, remain faithful and true to the Lord. Be strengthened and rejoice in your hope of eternity, confident that the path of life given you by God leads to eternal joy.
“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. (Matthew 16:4, NKJV)
Jesus had just feed “four thousand men, besides women and children,” from seven loaves of bread and a few fish, with seven large baskets full of leftovers (Matthew 15:32-38)! Then, the Pharisees and Sadducees came, testing Him and asking for a sign from heaven (Matthew 16:1). They fully rejected the signs Jesus had already given them. That is why His response in today’s verse is so sharp. We cannot refuse heaven’s evidence that evokes discernment that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and then demand a sign to prove it so (Matthew 16:2-3). Faith is not blind. It is not void of substantive evidence to sustain its case. Therefore, in addition to all the signs Jesus gave while He was on earth, His resurrection from the belly of the earth would be the crowning proof He is the Son of God (John 20:30-31; Romans 1:4). And, their rejection of Him (by refusing the evidence), would be their crowning act of rebellion. Let it not be that we refuse to discern who Jesus is.
21 I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:21–24, NKJV)
We often hear verse 24 quoted and applied to the the first day of the week, the Lord’s day of worship. Without question, the Lord set the first day for assembled worship (Acts 20:7). Yet, the thanksgiving of this passage transcends the day of our weekly assemblies. It speaks of a day that evokes rejoicing and praise every day, including the first day of the week. “We will rejoice and be glad” in the day of God’s marvelous work of salvation, that He accomplished when He set Christ as the chief cornerstone of His temple, the church. The great day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection declared Him to be the Son of God, the very truth upon which He built His church (Romans 1:4; Matthew 16:18). His ascension, and exaltation at God’s right hand, declares the power to save us is in Him, and Him alone (Acts 2:32-36; 4:10-12). God made the day of salvation. It is accomplished in Jesus Christ. That day is marvelous in our eyes. Let us rejoice, and be glad in the day “the Lord has made.”
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)
Paul had not yet won the prize to which he aspired. He was pressing toward it, chasing after it as one runs to the finish line to win the crown (1 Corinthians 9:24). The prize he sought was “the resurrection of the dead” unto eternal life (Philippians 3:11). Not many years later, he wrote, “I have finished the race…finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul did not believe in the impossibility of apostasy; He believed in the possibility of faithfulness. He had been forgiven of his past sins – God remembered them no more (Hebrews 10:16-17). So, he would not be hindered by them in his quest. He was “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” – he did not yet hold the prize, he was not “already perfected.” But, he pressed forward, knowing that his crown of righteousness was certain in Christ, as he remained loyal to Him (Philippians 3:8-10). Are you faithfully running your race to attain eternal life? If you will do so, you will be victorious in Christ Jesus.
31 “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31–32, NKJV)
The Sadducees attempted to justify their false doctrine of no resurrection with what they thought was an insurmountable dilemma (read Matthew 22:23-28). Without hesitation, Jesus said, “You are mistaken (deceived, footnote), not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (verse 29). Please notice that Jesus made His made the case for life after death from the present tense of the verb, “I am” (verse 32). Jesus regarded the tense of the verb as being inspired by God and worthy of note. Since God said at the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham…,” Jesus expected them to draw the necessary inference (conclusion) that humans continue to exist after physical death. We must approach Bible study with the utmost respect and care, for it is God’s word, not man’s (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Even the tense of a verb is not without significance. And, please be aware that Christ expects us to use necessary inferences to know the Scriptures and avoid being deceived by error.