1 Corinthians 15:23
But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) But every man in his own order.—Or, literally, in his own troop. There is to be a sequence in the resurrection of the dead, and St. Paul explains this by the three groups:—(1) Christ Himself, the firstfruits; (2) the faithful in Christ at His coming; (3) all the rest of mankind at the end, when the final judgment takes place. The interval between these latter two, as to its duration, or where or how it will be spent, is not spoken of here. The only point the Apostle has to treat of is the order of the resurrection. (See 1Thessalonians 4:13; 1Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 20)

1 Corinthians 15:23. But every man — Shall be reanimated, raised, and glorified; in his own order — Or in his own band, as τω ιδιω ταγματι more properly signifies, denoting a band of soldiers, a cohort, or legion; the word for order being rather ταξις. According to this interpretation, it is here intimated that the righteous will be raised by themselves, and the wicked by themselves; that is, according to the next verse, the righteous are to be raised at Christ’s coming, or are to be first raised, even before the living are changed, and much more before the wicked are raised. See 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.15:20-34 All that are by faith united to Christ, are by his resurrection assured of their own. As through the sin of the first Adam, all men became mortal, because all had from him the same sinful nature, so, through the resurrection of Christ, shall all who are made to partake of the Spirit, and the spiritual nature, revive, and live for ever. There will be an order in the resurrection. Christ himself has been the first-fruits; at his coming, his redeemed people will be raised before others; at the last the wicked will rise also. Then will be the end of this present state of things. Would we triumph in that solemn and important season, we must now submit to his rule, accept his salvation, and live to his glory. Then shall we rejoice in the completion of his undertaking, that God may receive the whole glory of our salvation, that we may for ever serve him, and enjoy his favour. What shall those do, who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Perhaps baptism is used here in a figure, for afflictions, sufferings, and martyrdom, as Mt 20:22,23. What is, or will become of those who have suffered many and great injuries, and have even lost their lives, for this doctrine of the resurrection, if the dead rise not at all? Whatever the meaning may be, doubtless the apostle's argument was understood by the Corinthians. And it is as plain to us that Christianity would be a foolish profession, if it proposed advantage to themselves by their faithfulness to God; and to have our fruit to holiness, that our end may be everlasting life. But we must not live like beasts, as we do not die like them. It must be ignorance of God that leads any to disbelieve the resurrection and future life. Those who own a God and a providence, and observe how unequal things are in the present life, how frequently the best men fare worst, cannot doubt as to an after-state, where every thing will be set to rights. Let us not be joined with ungodly men; but warn all around us, especially children and young persons, to shun them as a pestilence. Let us awake to righteousness, and not sin.But every man - Everyone, including Christ as well as others.

In his own order - In his proper order, rank, place, time. The word τάγμα tagma usually relates to military order or array; to the arrangement of a cohort, or band of troops; to their being properly marshalled with the officers at the head, and every man in His proper place in the ranks. Here it means that there was a proper "order" to be observed in the resurrection of the dead. And the design of the apostle is, probably, to counteract the idea that the resurrection was passed already, or that there was no future resurrection to be expected. The "order" which is here referred to is, doubtless, mainly that of "time;" meaning that Christ would be first, and then that the others would follow. But it also means that Christ would be first, because it was "proper" that he should be first. He was first in rank, in dignity, and in honor; he was the leader of all others, and their resurrection depended on his. And as it was proper that a leader or commander should have the first place in a march, or in an enterprise involving peril or glory, so it was proper that Christ should be first in the resurrection, and that the others should follow on in due order and time.

Christ the first-fruits - Christ first in time, and the pledge that they should rise; see the note on 1 Corinthians 15:20.

Afterward - After he has risen. Not before, because their resurrection depended on him.

They that are Christ's - They who are Christians. The apostle, though in 1 Corinthians 15:22 he had stated the truth that "all" the dead would rise, yet here only mentions Christians, because to them only would the doctrine be of any consolation, and because it was to them particularly that this whole argument was directed.

At his coming - When he shall come to judge the world, and to receive his people to himself. This proves that the dead will not be raised until Christ shall re-appear. He shall come for that purpose; and he shall assemble all the dead, and shall take his people to himself; see Matthew 25. And this declaration fully met the opinion of those who held that the resurrection was past already; see 2 Timothy 2:18.

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 [2293]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. In his own order, either with respect to time, or dignity, lest any should say: If Christ’s resurrection be the cause of the resurrection of believers, then why did not all the saints, that were in the graves, rise with Christ? The apostle saith: God had appointed an order, and this order was, that they that were dead, or should be dead, before Christ’s second coming, should not prevent one another, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, &c. Besides, the order which God had set was, That Christ should be

the first-fruits of this harvest, rising first from the dead, so as to die no more.

Afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming; then believers, that are members of Christ, by faith implanted into him, should also rise, but not before his second coming. But every man in his own order,.... Not of time, as if the saints that lived in the first age of the world should rise first, and then those of the next, and so on to the end of the world; nor of dignity, as that martyrs should rise first in the order of martyrs, and preachers of the word in the order of preachers, and private Christians in the order and rank of private Christians; or of age, as the elder first, and then the younger; or of state and condition, as married persons in the order of married persons, and virgins in the order of virgins; these are all foreign from the sense of the words; the order regarded is that of head and members, the firstfruits and the harvest. There seems to be an allusion to the ranging and marshalling of the Israelites, everyone by his "own standard"; which both the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan render , "by or according to his own order": and so the Septuagint , the word here used; and the sense is, that every man shall be raised from the dead, according to the head under which he is ranged and marshalled. Christ the head is risen first; next all those that are under him, as an head, will rise from the dead; the dead in Christ will rise first; and then a thousand years after that, those who are only in their natural head, by whom death came to them, and have lived and died in a natural estate, will rise last; but as the apostle is only upon the resurrection of the saints, he carries the account and observes the order no further than as it concerns Christ and his people:

Christ the firstfruits; he rose first in order of time, dignity, causality and influence; See Gill on 1 Corinthians 15:20.

afterwards they that are Christ's; not immediately after; for now almost two thousand years are elapsed since the resurrection of Christ, and yet the saints are not raised; and how many more years are to run out before that, is not to be known; but as there was an interval between the firstfruits, and the ingathering of the harvest; so there is a considerable space of time between the resurrection of Christ as the firstfruits, and the resurrection of his people, which will be the harvest; and that will be at the end of the world, according to Matthew 13:39 the persons who shall rise first and next after Christ, are they that are his; who were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, and were given to him by his Father as his spouse, his children, his sheep, his portion, and his jewels; who were purchased and redeemed by his blood, are called by his grace and regenerated by his Spirit, and who give up themselves to him, and are possessed by him: and the interest that Christ has in them here expressed, carries in it a strong argument of their resurrection; which may be concluded from their election in Christ, which can never be made void; from the gift of their whole persons to Christ by his Father, with this declaration of his will, that he should lose nothing of them, but raise it up at the last day; from his redemption of their bodies as well as their souls; from the union of both unto him; and from the sanctification of both, and his Spirit dwelling in their mortal bodies as well as in their souls: the time when they will be raised by Christ is,

at his coming; at his second and personal coming at the last day; then the dead in Christ will rise first, and immediately; and he will judge the quick and dead, those that will be found alive, and those that will be then raised from the dead: when this will be no man knows; yet nothing is more certain, than that Christ will come a second time; and his coming will be speedy and sudden; it will be glorious and illustrious, and to the joy and salvation of his people; since their bodies will then be raised and reunited to their souls, when they, soul and body, shall be for ever with the Lord. The Vulgate Latin reads the words thus, "they that are Christ's, who have believed in his coming"; both in his first and second coming; but there is nothing in the Greek text to encourage and support such a version and sense.

{13} But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

(13) He does two things together: for he shows that the resurrection is in such sort common to Christ with all his members, that nonetheless he far surpasses them, both in time (for he was the first that rose again from the dead) and also in honour, because from him and in him is all our life and glory. Then by this occasion he passes to the next argument.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 15:23. Each, however, in his own division, sc. ζωοποιηθήσεται.

τάγμα] does not mean order of succession, but is a military word (division of the army, legion, Xen. Mem. iii. 1. 11, and see the passages in Wetstein and Schweighäuser, Lex. Polyb. p. 610 f.), so that Paul presents the different divisions of those that rise under the image of different troops of an army. In Clement also, Cor. i. 37, 41, this meaning should be retaine.

ἀπαρχὴ Χριστός] as first-fruits Christ, namely, vivificatus est. What will ensue in connection with the ἀπαρχή, after the lapse of the period between it and the Parousia, belongs to the future. It would appear, therefore, as though ἀπαρχὴ Χ. were not pertinent here, where the design is to exhibit the order of the future resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:22). But Paul regards the resurrection of all, including Christ Himself, as one great connected process, only taking place in several acts, so that thus by far the greater part indeed belongs to the future, but, in order not simply to the completeness of the whole, but at the same time for the sure guarantee of what was to come, the ἀπαρχή also may not be left unmentioned. There is no ground for importing any further special design; in particular, Paul cannot have intended to counteract such conceptions, as that the whole τάγμα must forthwith be made alive along with its leader (von Zezschwitz), or to explain why those who have fallen asleep in Christ continue in death and do not arise immediately (Hofmann). For no reader could expect the actual resurrection of the dead before the Parousia; that was the postulate of the Christian hope.[44]

We may note that, in using ἀπαρχή, Paul departs again from his military mode of conception as expressed in τάγμα; otherwise he would have written ἀρχός, ἀρχηγός, ἔπαρχος, κορυφαῖος, or something simila.

οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ] the Christians, Galatians 5:24; 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ] at His coming to set up the Messianic kingdom, Matthew 24:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; Jam 5:7 f.; 1 John 2:28; 2 Peter 3:4. Paul accordingly describes the τάγμα which rises first after Christ Himself (as the ἀπαρχή) thus: thereafter shall the confessors of Christ be raised up at His Parousia. It is opposed to this—the only correct—meaning of the words to restrict οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ to the true Christians (οἱ πιστοὶ καὶ οἱ εὐδοκιμηκότες, Chrysostom), and thereby to anticipate the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10), or to include along with them the godly of the Old Testament, as Theodoret, and of late Maier, have done. Not less contrary to the words is it to explain away the Parousia, as van Hengel does: “qui sectatores Christi fuerunt, quum ille hac in terra erat.” This is grammatically incorrect, for the article would have needed to be repeated;[45] inappropriate as regards expression, for ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Χ. is in the whole New Testament the habitual technical designation of the last coming of Christ; and lastly, missing the mark as to meaning, since it would yield only a non-essential, accidental difference as to the time of discipleship as the criterion of distinction (Matthew 20:16).

ἔπειτα is simply thereafter, thereupon, looking back to the ἀπαρχή, not following next, as Hofmann would have it. The intervening period is the time running on to the Parousia. Hofmann inappropriately compares the use of the word in Soph. Ant. 611, where τὸ ἔπειτα occurs and denotes what follows immediately next; see Schneidewiin on Soph. l.c.; also Hermann in loc.: “a quo proximum est cum eoque cohaeret.”

[44] This applies also against the view of Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 429, that Paul wishes to anticipate the question, Why, then, has no other of them that sleep arisen, seeing that Christ has truly arisen already?

[45] Because ἐν τῇ παρουσ. αὐτοῦ does not blend together with οἱ τοῦ Χ. into a unity of conception; as, for example, τοῖς πλουσίοις ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι, 1 Timothy 6:17, where τοῖς πλουσ. receives an essential modification of the conception by the note of time added.1 Corinthians 15:23. But ἀπαρχὴ implies difference in agreement, distinction in order along with unity in nature and determining principle. Hence the added qualification, ἕκαστος δὲ ἐν τῷ ἰδίῳ τάγματι, κ.τ.λ.: “But each in his proper rank—Christ (as) firstfruit; thereafter, at His coming, the (people) of Christ”. τάγμα signifies a military division (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:40). There are two τάγματα (cf. Matthew 13:8) of the resurrection host; the Captain (ὁ ἀρχηγός, Hebrews 2:10; cf. ἀπαρχὴ above), in His solitary glory; and the rest of the army now sleeping, to rise at His trumpet’s sound (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).—It is incongruous to make a third τάγμα out of τὸ τέλος (1 Corinthians 15:24) as Bg[2356] and Mr[2357] would do, paraphrasing this as “the last act (of the resurrection),”—viz., the resurrection of non-Christians. Their introduction is irrelevant: P. has proved the resurrection of Christ, and is now making out that the resurrection of His sleeping ones is bound up with His own. Christ and Christians are the participants in the resurrection of life. ἔπειτα, opp[2358] of πρῶτον (cf. 46) implied in ἀπαρχὴ, is defined by ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ. Some attach the latter phrase to οἱ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, referring it to the first advent; but Christ’s παρουσία in the N.T. always signifies His future coming. There is nothing to exclude O.T. saints (see 1 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 11:40, John 1:11), nor even the righteous heathen (Acts 10:35, Matthew 25:32; Matthew 25:34, John 10:16), from the τάγμα of “those who are Christ’s”.

[2356] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[2357]
Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[2358] opposite, opposition.23. But every man in his own order] This explains why the last verb in 1 Corinthians 15:22 is in the future. Christ’s resurrection must necessarily precede in order the resurrection of the rest of mankind, for as in the world at large, so in every individual, the natural necessarily (1 Corinthians 15:46) precedes the spiritual. Christ’s mediatorial work was, in truth, but begun when He ascended to His Father. It continues in the gradual destruction of the empire of sin, the ‘bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Meanwhile the natural order for the present still exists. We live under it, subject to the law of sin and death, until Christ, having first destroyed the former (1 Corinthians 15:24-25), shall finally, as a consequence, destroy the latter (1 Corinthians 15:26), and then, and not till then, shall we be made fully partakers of the completed work of Christ.

Christ the firstfruits] Cf. Acts 26:23; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5; also St John 14:19. “How should He be overcome by corruption, Who gave to many others the power of living again? Hence He is called ‘the first-born from the dead,’ ‘the firstfruits of them that slept.’ ” Cyril of Alexandria.

at his coming] The word here translated coming is most nearly expressed by our English word arrival. It implies both the coming and having come. See ch. 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6. It is the usual word used for the Second Coming of Christ, as in St Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:37; Matthew 24:39, and 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15. We are not restored to life until Christ comes again, because not till then will the present, or natural order of things, be brought to an end, and the spiritual order of things be finally and fully inaugurated, so that ‘God will be all in all.’ See succeeding notes, and note on last verse.1 Corinthians 15:23. Ἕκαστοςἀπαρχὴἔπειτα) In this verse we must thrice supply ἐστὶ or εἰσί. In 1 Corinthians 15:24 is must likewise be supplied.—τάγματι) in order divinely constituted. τάξις, however, is the abstract; τάγμα, the concrete. The conjugate, ὑπέταξεν, occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:27.—ἀπαρχὴ, first fruits) The force of this word comprehends the force of the word ἀρχὴ beginning, to which the end corresponds as its opposite.—ἔπειταεἶτα) Ἔπειτα is more disjunctive; εἴτα more copulative, 1 Corinthians 15:5-7. Ἔπειτα, afterwards, Latin, posterius, the comparative being opposed to primum, ‘first,’ 1 Corinthians 15:46; of which first the force is contained in first fruits, in this passage: εἴτα, afterwards, is used in a more absolute sense. The disjunctive power of the ἔπειτα, and the copulative power of the εἶτα is clear in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7. For the twelve are joined with Cephas by εἴτα; The five hundred are disjoined [from the Twelve and Cephas] and James from these; but the Apostles are coupled to the last named person by εἴτα. Therefore those, who are introduced by ἔπειτα, are put in between, as it were, by parenthesis. But here 1 Corinthians 15:23 the matter seems to be ambiguous. If we make a twofold division, we may either insert Christ and those who are Christ’s into the one member of the division, and τὸ τέλος, the end, into the other; or we may put Christ alone [by Himself] as the principle person, and join to the other side those who are Christ’s, and afterwards τὸ τέλος the end. By the former method, Christians are the appendage of their head; by the latter Christ everywhere retains His prerogative, and all the rest of persons and things are heaped together in one mass. By the former method, a comma is put in the text after χριστὸς,[136] by the latter also a colon; and so ΕἾΤΑ retains a more absolute sense, and yet its copulative power more than the ἜΠΕΙΤΑ. Paul describes the whole process of the resurrection, with those things that shall follow it, and therefore he renders the resurrection itself the more credible. For this resurrection is necessarily required to produce this result, that God may be all in all.—ΟἹ ΤΟῦ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ, those who are Christ’s) A pleasant variety of cases, Polyptoton, Χριστὸς, ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ, Christians are, so to speak, an appendage to Τῆς ἈΠΑΡΧῆς, the first fruits. The ungodly shall rise at the same time; but they are not reckoned in this blessed number.—ἐν τῆ παρουσίᾳ, at His coming) then it shall be the order of Christians [their turn in the successive order of the resurrection]. They shall not rise one after another [but all believers at once] at that time. Paul does not call it the judgment, because he is speaking of and to believers.

[136] This is the punctuation of Lachmann and Tischendorf. The former, however, puts a comma between τέλος and ὃταν: the latter does not.—ED.Verse 23. - In his own order. The word in classic Greek means "a cohort." Here it must either mean "rank" or be used as in St. Clement ('Ad. Corinthians,' 1:37), in the sense of "order of succession." They that are Christ's. "The dead in Christ" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). At his coming. The word here used for the second Advent is Parousia, which means literally, presence. It is implied (apparently) both here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 20:5, that there shall be an interval - how long or how short we do not know - between this resurrection of the just and the final resurrection. But all the details are left dim and vague. Order (τάγματι)

Only here in the New Testament. In Sept., a band, troop, or cohort; also a standard; Numbers 10:14; Numbers 18:22, Numbers 18:25. How the one idea ran into the other may be perceived from the analogy of the Latin manipulus, a handful of hay twisted round a pole and used by the Romans as the standard of a company of soldiers, from which the company itself was called manipulus. In classical Greek, besides the meaning of company, it means an ordinance and a fixed assessment. Here in the sense of band, or company, in pursuance of the principle of a descending series of ranks, and of consequent subordinations which is assumed by Paul. The series runs, God, Christ, man. See 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; 1 Corinthians 11:3. The reference is not to time or merit, but simply to the fact that each occupies his own place in the economy of resurrection, which is one great process in several acts. Band after band rises. First Christ, then Christians. The same idea appears in the first-fruits and the harvest.

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