Take our Bible now, and let’s look at 1 Corinthians chapter 15 again, this wonderful chapter on resurrection. So, you might as well get comfortable; you might as well determine in your mind you’re going to be here awhile; there’s 58 verses. We’re just in verse 20 today and following, and we’re just going to have a great time nailing down this whole theme of resurrection.
This is one section where I feel very frustrated, because I don’t feel that my puny little mind can grasp the grandeur of it, and even less can my limited vocabulary express the grandiose concepts that are here in this passage. I wish there was some way to visualize, some way to get a grip on the thrust of this section - verses 20 to 28 - we’re going to be looking at this morning.
Now, this is just part of our continuing study of 1 Corinthians. We’ll soon be done. As we go through 16, that’s it. But God has blessed us so much in the years that we’ve been studying together here.
Erich Sauer, a great theologian, said this, quote, “The present age is Easter time. It begins with the resurrection of the Redeemer and ends with the resurrection of the redeemed. Between lies the spiritual resurrection of those called into life through Christ. So, we live between two Easters. And in the power of the first Easter, we go to meet the last Easter.” End quote.
The last Easter. What is the last Easter? It’s what’s fulfilled when we all get to heaven. We sang about it this morning. And there are four great promises connected with the last Easter in the Bible. There are many, many details, but four major elements. Let me remind you what they are. The last Easter will first of all involve what Paul calls the Judgment Seat of Christ. Jesus says, “Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me to give to every man according as His work shall be.” So, that’s going to be part of it. “And we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ,” says Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:10. The Judgment Seat of Christ where we receive rewards for our service.
The second element of the last Easter is what you might simply call the marriage supper of the Lamb. After we have been rewarded by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us in Revelation 19 that we’ll be called to a great supper. We who are the bride, the Church, join together with the Bridegroom who is Jesus Christ, consummating the spiritual marriage, and we’ll have a marriage supper that’ll end all. Great, glorious time. That’s Revelation 19.
So, the last Easter promises the Judgment Seat of Christ, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Thirdly, the coming earthly kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 6, we studied some months ago that we will rule with Christ in His kingdom. And so, we anticipate that. A time of rewards, a time of great fellowship with Christ, and a time to return to earth to reign with Him in His kingdom.
But there’s one more event. The fourth event is really the key to it all, and that’s what the Bible calls the resurrect. That’s got to come first. Before the Judgment Seat of Christ, before the marriage supper of the Lamb, before the coming earthly kingdom, for us there’s going to be a wonderful resurrection. This is the climax of redemptive history, and it is also the theme of 1 Corinthians 15.
Now remember, some among the Corinthians were denying the resurrection of the body. They had bought the Greek philosophy that dead people don’t rise. In fact, verse 12, Paul confronts them with that, “How say some among you that there is no resurrection of dead men?” Some were saying the dead don’t rise. But Paul tackles that here, and he gives us the greatest chapter ever penned on bodily resurrection. And he inextricably ties two together: the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the believer. Both are really one and the same.
Now, you’ll remember that his argument follows a very logical procedure. He begins, in the first 11 verses, without even announcing the problem that he’s discussing, without even discussing what they said about dead men don’t rise. He just begins with the first 11 verses by reminding them that they already received, believed in, stood on, and were saved by the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. He just reminds them that they are already believers in bodily resurrection, at least the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. “You already believe that,” he says.
And they were all probably saying, “Amen, brother, amen.”
And then the point is, in verse 12, “Now if Christ is preached that He rose from the dead, and the assumption being that you already believe that, why are some of you saying there is no resurrection from the dead when you already believe Christ rose from the dead?” That’s the beginning of his argument.
Well, one of the responses to that might be, “Well, we do believe Christ rose from the dead, but that doesn’t have anything to do with us. That was unique. That was a one-time deal. That was a one-shot effort. Christ rose from the dead, right. Amen. Physically? Oh, yeah. Literally? Oh, yeah. Bodily? Right. But it just really doesn’t have anything to do with us.”
Oh? That’s what Paul attacks in verses 20 to 28. It doesn’t? Watch verse 20, “Now is Christ risen from the dead” – that’s an affirmation of what he said back in verses 1 to 11. And it doesn’t stop there. “He is the first fruits of them that slept.”
In other words, he’s saying you can’t just say, “Oh, yes, Christ rose. We believe that, but it has no impact on us. His bodily, literal, physical resurrection was believable. But that doesn’t mean we will rise.”
Paul says, “Listen, not only is Christ risen from the dead, but He is also the first fruits of them that slept.” In other words, He is the first fruits of resurrection; you will be the following harvest of resurrection. Now, that’s what he goes into in verses 20 to 28. He says, “If you deny the resurrection of the body, you are really in trouble. If you deny the resurrection of the body, then Christ isn’t risen, the Gospel is useless, faith is empty, apostles are liars. We are all in our sins, dead men are damned, and Christians are the most pitiful people in the world. So, you don’t want to do that. So, I know you want to believe Christ is risen.”
So, in verse 20 he says, “Now we know Christ is risen, but don’t stop there and say it has no impact. His resurrection is just the first fruits of a whole harvest of resurrection yet to come. You see, you’ve got to have that,” he says. “You can’t just stop with Christ. He was raised to be the first fruits of all of us in resurrection life.”
Now, with that in mind, let’s look at the text. We find here simply three things, three major elements of the impact of resurrection. First he deals with the Redeemer, secondly with the redeemed, and thirdly with the restoration. The Redeemer, the redeemed, and the restoration.
Now, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was very, very, very unique. And that’s where he begins. Let’s look at point one, the Redeemer. “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.” Now, he affirms again that Christ is risen. That’s a fact they already believe. From verses 1 to 11, he reminded them they believed it; in verses 12 to 19, he showed them they better believe it or they’ve lost everything. So, now reaffirming, “Christ is risen from the dead.” Now you drop out the words “and become” because they don’t appear in the better manuscript. “Now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that slept.
Now, what were the first fruits? Leviticus chapter 23:10 required at Passover, that before the harvest could be made. Before you could harvest your whole field and bring your crop in, you had to cut down the first fruits of barley in that case, and you had to bring it in a sheaf, all wrapped up, present it to the priests. That was before you could harvest. Before the harvest could be made, the first fruits had to be given.
Now, when you planted your crop, you usually planted your crop in somewhat of a progression so that when your field of grain came in, it would come in a little like this, because what you had planted earliest would come in first. And this was one way to hedge against weather problems. You might beat a storm by planting a little early. You might gain some rain by coming in a little later. So, very frequently, they would plant in a slower way so that the crop might come in at little different times and hedge a little bit against what might be the elemental involvement.
So, what happens here is that the first part that comes in, you know that’s good. That’s there. And to show your love to God, you take the first part, and rather than stashing it away in case the rest doesn’t come, you give it to God as an act of faith. You give Him, right off the top, the very best you have. And you can’t harvest the rest till you’ve done that at Passover, Leviticus 23:10.
And the whole point that he’s making here is just as the full harvest could never be made until the first fruits was given, so we will never rise until Christ has risen. That’s his point. It is the resurrection of Christ, and He comes out of the grave, and He offers Himself to God, and then, in that offering, He secures for us our resurrection. First fruits was a sign – mark it now in your mind – first fruits was a sign or a symbol of the coming harvest. And the resurrection of Christ was a sign or a symbol of the coming resurrection of believers. That’s what he’s saying.
In other words – now watch, people – you can’t have Christ being raised and it have no impact or no effect. Christ is raised not in isolation; He is not a piece of grain grown in a special garden. He is not a piece of grain, a seed that falls into the ground and dies and grows up in a greenhouse; He is just a part of the whole harvest of resurrection, and He was thrown into the ground in terms of the seed that dies. He springs forth to life and becomes the guarantee of the rest of us who fall into the ground and die and shall also rise in life. You can’t isolate that; it must go together. Now, here we see the first fruits.
People say, “Well, does that mean that Christ is the first to ever rise from the dead?” No, no. It doesn’t say He is the first to ever rise from the dead. Some people in the Old Testament – right? – rose from the dead. Elijah brought a boy back to life. You have resurrection. Jesus Himself, the New Testament records that He brought back to life three different people. Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow, and Lazarus. He is not the first out of the grave; He is the first fruits. He is the guarantee of resurrection harvest.
By the way, let me give you an interesting footnote. Every other person in the Bible who was ever raised from the dead died again except Jesus. Okay? So, his resurrection was the only one where He was raised to glory.
You say, “What about Enoch and Elijah? Well, they never died any time. They just took off one day. They took a walk with God and walked right up into heaven. But they never died. Of those that died, only one has risen, never to die again, and that’s Christ. And that’s because He was the first fruits; He was the unique one whose resurrection was a resurrection of life that could never be killed, which is passed on to the rest of the field of grain, the rest of us who will be raised in the days to come. So, Christ had a unique resurrection.
You say, “Well, John, what about Colossians 1:18 where it says He’s the firstborn from the dead? And what about Revelation 1:5, where it says He’s the first begotten of the dead?” The word “firstborn” and “first begotten” in the Greek is prōtotokos. It doesn’t mean first in terms of one, two, three, four, five; it means the primary one. It means the best one. It means the greatest one. Christ is not the first person to rise from the dead; He is the greatest person who ever rose from the dead. That’s what Paul is saying. He is the – He is the prōtotokos of all who have ever risen, the greatest, the best. And He is the first fruits. That is He is the guaranteer of the ultimate resurrection harvest. Those are the uniquenesses.
Now, he says, then, “Look, Christ rose, and He is the first fruits or the guarantee of them that slept.” Now, who are those that are sleeping? Now, this is not talking about soul sleep, and it’s not talking about the folks that are taking a nap. It’s talking about death, but it’s talking about the body. They referred to death from the physical as the sleep of the body. The soul went right to be with the Lord.
When any Christian dies – now mark this – since Jesus’ death and resurrection, on through history – when a Christian dies, the moment he dies, he’s in the presence of Jesus Christ. “Absent from the body” – what? – “present with the Lord,” 2 Corinthians 5:8. Paul says in Philippians 1:23, he says, “I’d like to stay with you; far better to depart and be with Christ.” The believer goes immediately to be with Christ in His spirit, but his body sleeps in the grave, awaiting resurrection. It’s really a beautiful term. It’s better than saying, “And become the first fruits of them that rotted in the ground.” It’s just a nice way of saying it. They were sleeping, waiting resurrection.
Now you say, “Oh, my.” The argument’s going to be, “What are you – you’re saying that the resurrection of one person can have such an effect on all other people? That everybody who ever slept in Christ, everybody who ever was a believer who died, every body ever put in the grave that belonged to somebody who loved God, they’re all going to come out of the grave just because of what Jesus did? How can the resurrection of one man have such an impact on all those other people?”
Glad you asked. Verse 21 and 22 answers it. He says, “Let me give you a principle. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” Now, stop there. There’s a principle. Who was the one man whose one act brought death on the human race? Who was it? Adam. Do you realize that one man, doing one thing – Adam; simple man. God created man – Adam. God created woman – Eve. Said, “Don’t do that.” Eve said, “I think I’ll do that.” Adam said, “You did it; I’ll do it, too.” They did it. You know what happened? The whole pile of us went. That’s right. We were all bound up in the loins of Adam. When Adam sinned, we all fell. When Adam died, we all died, and every one of us born in the seed of Adam, every one of us with humanity, every one of us with humanness, whoever came into the world came into this world as sinners because we were in the loins of Adam. And when he did his one thing, we all went right down the drain with him. And the death principle passed on all men, Romans 5, for all have sinned in Adam.
Now, the one act of one man, at one time, in one point, in one place in history, affected every human being that ever lived. That’s Paul’s point. Now, if one man can do one thing and cause death to pass on all men, then why can’t one other man do one thing and cause life to pass on all men? See his point?
You can’t isolate the resurrection any more than you can isolate the act of Adam. This is an analogy that Paul uses in Romans 5, verses 12 to 20, and develops it fully and beautifully. And it’s an analogy that every Christian ought to read and understand. Sometime today, or whenever you get a chance, study Romans 5 and see that great analogy.
By the way, this is the first use of it, because this was written before the book of Romans in Paul’s chronological lifespan. So, this is the first use of this analogy.
But he says, “Look, one man brought death” – and, you know, no Jew would argue that. The Jew – do you know that the Jews actually believe that – in what is called racial solidarity? That’s very – that’s a very common belief. They believe that everybody is in the loins of everybody who was the progenitor. They believe the race was all in Adam’s loins. They don’t have any problem with that.
They believe in solidarity of guilt. We’re all sinners, and we all have the death principle because we all sinned in Adam. We were all there in his loins. And he’s just playing on that same concept and saying the same is true of Christ.
Now, he goes to verse 22, and he gets very specific. He says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” He says, “You don’t have a problem with the concept that we all die, do you?”
No, we can’t fight that. We know that. The earth is pockmarked with proof of that. Graves all over everywhere. No question about it. We all die. Why? One man did one thing, and we all died. Why can’t one man do one other thing and we all live? That’s his point.
You see, it all depends on who that man is doesn’t it? Dam stood in a very unique place in human history, and so did Jesus Christ. And so, Paul says, “You can’t say, ‘I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but I don’t think it has any effect on anybody else’s resurrection.’ No, no, no. Can’t say that; it does.”
Now, people get kind of choked up at verse 22. And they say that, “For as in Adam all die, even in Christ all be made alive.” And they always ask this question, “Um, does that mean ultimately everybody gets saved?” And their thinking is this, “It’s a parallel.” How many died in Adam? All. Then how many are going to live in Christ? All. And so, you know what? This drives people to what is known in theology as universalism. And universalism is the idea that everybody’s going to get saved in the end. Everybody’s going to get saved in the end.
In fact, it’s like the head of the American Baptist Convention Evangelism Department said, “We don’t need to go around the world telling people to be saved; we simply need to announce to them that they already are.” See, they get mixed up on the “all.”
Now, let me show you what it’s saying here. Now, we know from other Scriptures that all are not going to be saved, don’t we? We know that, because the Bible talks about hell, and it says, “It’s a broad road, and many there be that go in thereat.” And it’s eternal. So, we know that.
“Well,” you say, “what’s it saying, John?”
It’s simply saying this, by one man all died. By one man all are made alive. Now watch; it depends upon the link with the man. That’s the point. Who died? All who were in Adam. Who live? All who are in Christ. You see? The “all” has to be connected to the individual and His work. Listen, by natural descent from Adam we all die, and all who are naturally descended from Adam will die. And all who are supernaturally descended from Christ will live. That’s the point. It is the all of who you’re in. All in Adam die. All in Christ live. If you’re not in Christ, you’re still in Adam. You die. You see?
The first “all” includes all who were in Adam by the common factor of sin. The second “all” includes all who are in Christ by the common factor of faith. All who are in Adam die; all who are in Christ live. So, Paul’s first point is the impact of the resurrection. It deals with the resurrection of the Redeemer, and it is the first fruits, the guarantee, the source. As Adam was the first fruits and the source of death, so Christ is the source of life.
And by the way, the main emphasis he’s making here is physical life. There is a spiritual part of it, because when Adam sinned, we not only die physically, we die spiritually. And when Christ lives, we not only live spiritually, we live physically in a glorified body. But the emphasis he’s making here is on the body part of it. Bodies die because of Adam’s sin. Bodies live because of Christ’s resurrection.
Now, he moves from there, from the Redeemer to the redeemed, point two, in verse 23. As he traces the impact of resurrection, verse 23, following this, he looks to the future now to the harvest. The first fruits being Christ, later on comes the harvest. And here’s the harvest, “Every man” – every man? Every man, of course, who is in Christ. Every man in the “all” of verse 22. And the “all” are those in Christ. “Every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits” – now here it is very clear – “afterward they that are Christ’s” – do you see? It isn’t everybody, and that’s the phrase that qualifies the “all” of verse 22. The “all” are they that are Christ’s. Not everybody in the world.
“First Christ” – and then that’s the first fruits – “and afterward” – there’s a time gap; the word “afterward” is an unresolved time gap; we don’t know how long a period; it refers to a time separation, but at a later time – “they that are Christ’s” – and when is this going to happen? – “at” – what? – “His coming.”
So, Jesus rose from the dead as the first fruits. And when He rose out of that grave, He guaranteed that after a time gap, they that are Christ’s would also come out of the grave. And when is that going to be? At His coming. When Jesus comes. The word, incidentally, “coming” is parousia. In the Greek it means presence. At His presence, when He arrives. When Jesus arrives, resurrection will take place.
There’s coming a resurrection then, and that resurrection is tied to the resurrection of Christ as death is tied to the sin of Adam. Now, the Scripture speaks about this resurrection again and again and again. Many places. Let me remind you of something. Don’t try to follow, but you can jot the Scripture down, Luke 14:13. Luke 14:13 says this, “But when thou givest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” – then verse 14 says “and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
Now, there is an interesting word by our Lord. He says, “Look, when you see somebody who’s poor, and crippled, and lame, and blind, and you’re blessed” – you know, the implication is give them what they need, even though they can’t pay you back. The Lord will pay you back. When? “At the resurrection of the just.” There’s coming a special resurrection. It’s harvest time, folks. A special resurrection of the just, the righteous. They that are Christ’s.
In further Scriptures, John chapter 5, verse 28, we read these words, “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” So, you have the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of life. This is the harvest time.
In Philippians chapter 3, and verse 10, most interesting Scripture, Paul talks about the power of the resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings. And then he says, “If by any means I might attain unto” – the Greek says “the out resurrection of the dead.” The dead are coming out. Sort of a coming out. The graves will unload; the righteous dead. So, it is the resurrection of the just; it is the out resurrection of the dead. It is the resurrection of life in John 5.
In Hebrews 11:35, further it says, “that they might obtain a better resurrection.” It’s called a “better” resurrection. And finally, in Revelation chapter 20, in verse 6, “Blessed and holy is he that has part in the” – what? – first resurrection.”
So, the Scripture very generally talks about the resurrection of the just, the resurrection of life, a better resurrection, the out resurrection from the dead, and it calls it the “first” resurrection. Now watch this. The first resurrection – there’s only two resurrections: the first and the second. The first resurrection is the resurrection of the just, the redeemed. The second is the resurrection of the unjust, the condemned. The first resurrection, the just; the second resurrection, the condemned.
The first resurrection – now hang onto your hat – has four parts. All right? The first resurrection, which is the resurrection of the just, has four parts. Part one is the resurrection of whom? Christ. Part two is the Church, resurrected at the rapture. First Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 16, “The Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God. The dead in Christ shall rise first” – it’s a resurrection. So, you have the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of the Church. Later on, you have the tribulation time, and during the tribulation time, there’s judgment, and slaughter, and all kinds of horrible things going on. And a lot of people die in the tribulation, don’t they? A lot of godly people die.
At the end of the tribulation, they will be raised, and that’s part three. If you want to read about that, read the twentieth chapter of Revelation, verses 3 to 5. It says there was a resurrection of the souls beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and they were raised to live and reign with Christ. So you have, then, the resurrection of Christ, part one of the first resurrection; the resurrection of the Church, which occurs at the rapture at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation; the resurrection of the tribulation saints at the end of the seven years; and the fourth part is the resurrection of the bodies of the Old Testament saints. And that occurs at the end of the tribulation simultaneous with the tribulation saints’ resurrection. We got that?
You say, “Why are you going through all of that?”
Well, because it says in verse 23 – I’ve got to be faithful to the text – “Every man in his own order.” In other words, there is a sequence. Tagma in the Greek is the word order. It means sequence. It originally had to do with military lines. And it is – there is a sequence to resurrection: Christ, the Church, the tribulation saints, and the Old Testament saints. That makes the first resurrection. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the ungodly and the condemned occurs a thousand years later at the end of the kingdom when God gets all the rebels from all over and gathers them together and casts them to hell.
By the way, the resurrection of the Old Testament saints is promised in Daniel 12:1 and 2, in a very beautiful way. And I might take just a moment to share that with you very quickly. Daniel 12:1, “At that time” – and that’s talking about the tribulation – “At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of the people. And there shall be a time of trouble” – tribulation – “such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time. And at that time, Thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Israel will be delivered.
Now watch, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
So, Christ is already raised from the dead. That’s phase one, right? Phase two is the rapture. We’re looking for that, right? Then at the end of the tribulation come the tribulation saints and the Old Testament saints out of the grave. And you know what? That’s the first resurrection; that finishes it, folks. Resurrection has happened. Tribulation saints, Old Testament saints, Church saints – we’re all alive. And there doesn’t need to be any more resurrection. That’s it.
But there’s one more, of course; the second resurrection at the end of the kingdom. John 5:29, the resurrection of damnation. Discussed in Revelation 20, where it talks about the great white throne.
And so, Paul says, “Look, the Redeemer, He doesn’t come out of the grave in isolation; He is simply the taste, the symbol, the guarantee of the full harvest that’s going to come later when the Church is raised, when the trib saints are raised, and when the Old Testament saints are raised.
And that leads to the third and last stage. The final impact of resurrection – this is great; I call it the restoration because it takes everything back to where it began; it restores everything. Paradise restored. Verse 24, “Then the end” – then the end. Now, for most of us, we see “The End,” we see, “Oh, that’s it, folks. Go home.” The end of a movie. Lights come on; it’s all over. The End. That’s not what it means.
Telos in the Greek means then the fulfillment, or the culmination, or the purpose, or the goal. Then the thing which God has been pointing to all along, the end. And what is the end? Well, let’s find out. “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God.” The end is when we go right back to God, right where we started, “In the beginning, God” – “Then the end, God.” And everything goes right back to restoration and is restored to God. The kingdom is given to God. That’s the goal of everything.
God created a paradise – paradise lost. God calls the paradise back – paradise restored. In the end, it will be as it was in the beginning: no sin, God reigning.
Let’s go on and see what the verses say. “Then comes” – or then literally – “the goal” - or – “the purpose” – “when He shall have delivered” – and the “He” there is Christ – “when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when Christ shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For Christ must reign, till Christ hat put all enemies under His feet. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
“For God the Father” – that’s the “He” there; I’ll help you to understand this – “For God the Father has put all things under Christ’s feet.” Stop right there.
Now, do you see what’s going to happen here? Watch this; I’ll give it to you in a nutshell, real quick. Christ takes the kingdom. Christ subdues all other kingdoms, all other rule, all other authority, all other power. He establishes the kingdom. He builds the kingdom. He squashes all rebellion. And then, in the end, He takes the kingdom and does what with it? Presents it to the Father. That’s what these verses are saying.
Now, follow this great, great truth there. This is the consummation of everything, people. Everything. And you have Christ reigning here. First, Christ has to come. Then there’s resurrection. And when the resurrection happens, then Christ begins, at the end of verse 24, to rule the earth. And He puts down all rule and authority and power. Now, it takes Him a while to do this. First phase of the resurrection in the future is what? The Church, right? And after the Church is raptured, then Christ begins to work on this world. Read what happens: in Revelation chapter 5, Christ takes the title deed, the scroll – you know the seven-sealed scroll? – He takes the title deed to the earth in His hand, and He begins to unroll the scroll. And what it is, it’s the title deed to the earth. And as He unrolls it and breaks the seals, it pictures Him taking back the earth, back to God, back from the usurper. And you read Revelation 5 through 19, through chapter 20, and that whole thing discusses how Christ takes the earth back and begins to establish His rule, and how He subdues all authority and all power, and all dominion, and all rule; how He squashes all rebels; how He crushes all rebellion. And even at the end of the kingdom, Satan is loosed for a little time. He brings a world-wide rebellion. Christ puts that rebellion out, and all rebels are finished, and all dominion is broken, and He reigns supreme. And that’s what verse 25 says. He will reign continually through that thousand years, until all enemies are put under His feet.
“Putting under the feet” is a term that came to do with subjection, because kings were always elevated on high seats, and subjects always came and were below their feet when they bowed to them.
And so, Christ will be the king, and all others will be broken and bowed, and there’ will be no other rule, and no other authority, and no other power. In other words, the world will be totally ruled by one person: Jesus Christ. And we will be co-reagents with Him as we carry out His orders. And He’ll – He’ll go all through the tribulation, gaining that role of king. All through.
And then finally, when the kingdom begins, after He crushes the end of the tribulation, after He wins the battle of Armageddon, He returns to earth. He wipes out the enemies. He begins to reign. And even during that thousand years, there will be rebellion. We know it. Why? Because He has to rule it with what? A rod of iron, which means there’s got to be rebellion going on. But He puts it down, and puts it down.
And finally, Satan, who has been bound for the thousand years, is released at the end – read the twentieth of Revelation; it explains it all – and He then squashes that rebellion, and all enemies are subject to Him. There are no more enemies.
“And the last enemy” - verse 26 – “to be destroyed is death itself.” He destroys death. What a great thing. He squashes every enemy. He already won the victory over death and the grave, didn’t He? Hebrews 2:14 and 15 says that He already destroyed him who had the power of death – Satan – in the cross. And when He came out of the grave, He broke the shackles of death.
So, He’s already gained the victory over death. But ultimately, He will destroy death. There will be no more death. And in Revelation 21, it says there will be no more crying, there will be no pain, there will be no more sorrow, there’ll be no more death. The last enemy. Christ will rule.
This is talking about the thousand-year, marvelous, millennial kingdom on earth. Now watch.
You say, “But after He rules, what does He do?”
Verse 24, “Then the end; He will deliver that kingdom to God the Father.” Now watch. That is the millennial kingdom, phasing into the eternal state. The thousand-year millennial kingdom then phases into the eternal state: the new heaven and the new earth.
In chapter 5 of Revelation, John is looking at a vision in heaven, and he’s looking around, and somebody says, “Who is worthy to take back the earth?” And they look around, and they can’t find anybody. And all of a sudden, the Lamb comes forth, and they begin to cry, “He is worthy; He is worthy.” And Jesus Christ takes the assignment from the Father to redeem the earth, and He goes about and does it. And when He’s all done, when He’s all finished – He’s finished coming as a baby; He’s finished living as a man. He’s finished dying, rising, coming back. He’s finished with all the rebellions; He’s squelched all the enemies; He’s crushed all the foes.
It’s all done, and He reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He’s got all the redeemed, and they’re all gathered together, and all the ones who were unbelieving are gone, and they’re judged, and they’re all away. And all that’s left are the redeemed. Then He gives it all to God and says, “Here, I did My task.” He gives it to the Father. And that’s what the Bible calls the eternal state: the new heaven and the new earth. No more rebels. He gives it all to God. All things in the kingdom are under His feet.
There’s an interesting footnote, in verse 27, I’ll call your attention to. He says, “God the Father’s going to put all things under His feet in that kingdom.” But he adds one thing, “But when God the Father says, ‘All things are put under Christ,’ it is obvious” – manifest means obvious – “it is obvious that He” – that is God the Father – “is an exception.”
In other words, somebody might say, “Well, when He puts all things under Christ, does that mean God the Father goes under Christ?”
No. No, that’s an exception. That’s just a little footnote so you’re clear on that. God is not subject, but all other things. So, in the kingdom, Christ rules. Matthew 28:18, “Jesus said, ‘All power authority has been given to Me in heaven and earth.’” And that’s right.
In John 5, he talked about the fact that God the Father gave Him the authority and the right to reign and judge. And He will reign. Psalm 2:6 said it. Psalm 8:6 said it. Psalm 110:1 said He will reign till He put all enemies under His feet. Those are all Messianic quotes right there in verse 27 and verse 25.
And so, He squashes every enemy. And everything is subject to Him except God Himself, verse 27. And then He gives it all to the Father. Verse 24, “At the end of it all, He gives it all to the Father.”
And what is the kingdom that He gives to the Father? Listen, beloved, what is the kingdom that He gives to the Father? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s people. That’s all. Redeemed people. Now, listen to me; if there is no resurrection, then Christ didn’t rise. If Christ didn’t rise, then He cannot take the earth and give it to the Father. Right?
Then you say, “But He did rise. It’s the rest of us who don’t.”
If we don’t rise, there are no subjects for the kingdom. That’s his point. You see, resurrection is that which makes the whole finale a reality. As all died spiritually and physically in Adam, so all live spiritually and physically in Christ. And if there’s no physical life, then there’s no millennial kingdom. And if there’s no millennial kingdom, there’s no restored earth. And if there’s no restored earth, then God lost it in the garden and never got it back again. It can’t be; it can’t be.
And so, you see, the resurrection of Christ has ramifications. We rise, and that means that He can reign, and we can reign with Him in the earthly kingdom. And then, when it’s all done, and all enemies are destroyed, He can give us all to the Father as a glorified humanity in resurrection form.
And when He does that - verse 28 describes it, “And when all things shall be subdued to Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject to Him” – that is to the Father – “that put all things under Him, in order that God may be all in all.”
You know what’s so beautiful about that, people? Christ, in His incarnation form, even in that day acts out the role of humility in submitting Himself to the Father. Always the servant, from the time He was given a body and He came into the world, till the time He presents it back to God, He is the servant fulfilling His task. And then He gives it back to God.
And you say, “Oh, and then God is all in all. Doesn’t Christ reign anymore?”
You say, “Christ is going to keep on reigning?”
Yeah, because when He was born, in Luke chapter 1 it said, “Fear not, Mary, for thou has found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great, be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David – now listen to this – and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be – what? – no end. He will reign forever. Forever.
In Revelation chapter 11, verse 15, it says, “He will reign forever and ever.” You know what I love? I’ll illustrate it, Revelation 3 he says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit down with Me in My throne.” And where is My throne? My throne is in the Father’s throne. You see what Jesus is saying? “Ultimately, My throne and the Father’s throne is your throne.” In other words, all things return to God. As in the beginning we were all coming out of God, in the end we all return to God, and we reign with Him in common life. No wonder Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I made everything, and all things resolve in Me.” That’s where history’s going. It came from God, it goes back to God, and resurrection makes it happen.
When God made a humanity, he made a humanity of righteousness, with a plan that they would dwell with Him forever. When they lost that righteousness, He didn’t give up the plan; He will raise them to a new humanity of righteousness and gain them back into His presence. That’s history. That’s history, that God may be all in all. Everything goes back to Him. And not in a mystical, Greek philosophical way are we – do we float back into some deity, but we are united with God by the common life that flows through us. And we sit with Him on His throne, with Christ who is in the same throne, and the Holy Spirit no doubt is there as well. A great, great reality. Well, let’s pray.
Thank You, Father, for showing us today that history is going where it’s going, and that all those things that were once promised, as man came out of Your very essence, and then lost in sin, will be regained in the restoration when all things are given back to You.
Father, we long for the day when God is all in all, when the Son and all that the Son has won, the kingdom itself, shall be given to You, and we shall be lost in Your presence forever. Thank You that You’re in control, and You’ve made it, and You will restore it. The plan will come to fulfillment.
Father, as we think about it in general, we can’t help but think about it in specific and realize that there might be some dear folks here who have never known Jesus Christ; who’ve never put their faith in Him; who, consequently, are not a part of the plan. They’re not going to be in the first resurrection. They’re not going to be in the kingdom. They’re not going to be in that great host of people given back to the Father. They’re going to be in the resurrection of the damned because they’ve not put their faith in Jesus Christ. Oh, Father, may this be the day they put their faith in Him.
For those of us who are Christians, help us to live like kingdom citizens. Help us to be worthy of the calling to which we’re called, amen.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.