Jesus the Firstfruits


Dr. John Hoole



In the first eleven verses of 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul gives a list of those who had seen Jesus alive after He had been crucified. Well over 500 had seen and recognized Jesus following His resurrection.


Beginning in verse 12, Paul points to those who proclaim and teach that there is no such thing as bodily resurrection.


Vs. 13 – If there is no resurrection, then Christ is still dead.


Vs. 14 – If Christ is dead, then his preaching and faith is dead.


Vs. 15-16 – If Christ is not risen, then He and others are false witnesses.


Vs. 17 – And if He is not risen, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins.


Vs. 18 – And those who have already died have perished.


Vs. 19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.”


Having said all that, Paul then makes a powerful statementby which he presents the resurrection as a fact and not an error in vs 20.


1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV


20  But now Christ IS risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.


Christians have the most wonderful and blessed hope. It is a hope that is based on scriptural facts, not errors, and the Word of God can never be broken. It is a future hope that is linked to the past and a hope that starts and ends with the Lord Jesus Christ.


In the verse 20 we read a moment ago, a term is used which we need to examine. It is the term: FIRSTFRUITSThe term “firstfruits” comes from the Old Testament, and is related to the harvest. The firstfruits is the produces that first rises from the ground. And Israel was to dedicate this beginning of harvest to the Lord as an offering of thanksgiving.


In Leviticus 23, God commands Israel to observe 7 annual feasts. One is the “Feast of Firstfruits. The Feast of Firstfruits is the third of seven Feasts commanded by God in Leviticus 23.


For nearly 3,500 years, these seven feasts or holy days have been observed by Jews. Each of them has special significance in the life of a Jew. They are to remind them of how God miraculously delivered them from Egypt, and how He would be with them in the future.


When we get to the New Testament, these feast days point to very important aspects of the life of Christ to Christians. The first two feasts, Passover and Unleavened bread, had their Messianic fulfillment in the death and burial of the Lord Jesus.


The feast of first fruits is all about the resurrection of Jesus. Like the first two feasts, we should note how God is very specific on the day that this feast should be celebrated.


Let's start with the Bible account of feast of the firstfruits as given in Leviticus 23. 


Leviticus 23:9-11 NIV


9  The Lord said to Moses,

10  "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.

11  He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.


The feasts of God are based around different times of the harvest. The barley harvest arrived first in the March/April period. So, this feast of the firstfruits has to do with the barley harvest.


Then came the wheat harvest normally around May and was associated with the feast of weeks (Pentecost).


Finally, the fruit harvests (grapes, figs, pomegranates etc.) came later around September and were associated with the fall feasts.


So, God instructed the Israelites that before reaping the barley harvest they were to take a sheaf of the first grain to the priest who would wave it before the Lord.


As they waved the firstfruits to the left and the right, this sheaf represented the entire crop. Until they did this the rest of their crop was not 'kosher' (acceptable).  This was to acknowledge and thank the Lord for the coming harvest and to ask His blessing upon it.


It was to be a joyous occasion trusting that the One who gave them the firstfruits would also bless the full harvest. Now there was a specific day of the week on which they were to do this.


The first feast, Passover, was to always occur on the 14th day of the month of Nissan. The second feast – Feast of Unleavened Bread – occurred on the  next day – the 15th day of the moth of Nissan. That means in any given year, Passover could occur on any day of the week, whenever the 14th occurs.


The Feast of Unleavened Bread was not to occur on a specific day of the month, like the first two feasts. Rather, it was to take place 'on the day after the next Sabbath after the Passover. That means his feast was to always to be observed on the first day of the week.


We are not left in any doubt as to how this feast was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us clearly:


1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NKJV


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.

23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.


Christ fulfilled the feast of firstfruits by being the firstfruits of the resurrection. He was the first to be raised into a new body that would never die again!


So, He is the 'sheaf', the first of the harvest, that is waved before God in celebration and with thanksgiving.  And just as the sheaf was waved to the left and the right to represent the entire harvest, so the resurrection of Jesus was not just for Himself.


He represented the many that, according to Matthew 8:11,  will come from the east and the west'  to faith in Him and be raised from the dead as well!  It took the resurrection of Jesus to make us acceptable (Kosher) to God.


Romans 4:25 NIV


25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.


The good thing about the word 'firstfruits' is the word 'first'. If there is a first, then there will be others that follow. Hopefully that includes you!


Paul is reminding us that Jesus' resurrection is a guarantee of our resurrection (as long as we belong to Him!).  He has been raised and has a new resurrection body but the same will happen to all that are His when the return for His bride.


Using the imagery of a grain of wheat going down into the ground Jesus said:


John 12:24 NKJV


24        Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.


Believers in Jesus Christ are the many 'seeds' that He spoke about. He fell into the ground and died but He didn't remain there! He rose up again and in like manner, the 'many seeds' – those that believe in Him - will do likewise. And they will have a new body like His new body.


But we shouldn't just think that we are to wait until His return to have new life. No. The personal aspect of firstfruits reminds us that we are new creations now. Yes, we still live in a fallen world in a fallen body. But praise God, believers in Him have been born again, and are a new creation in Him and have been given the Holy Spirit to be in us what we are not.




Paul calls Christ the firstfruits of God’s harvest, a harvest of living souls who will be raised to life because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ.


His resurrection is not just another resurrection. Better than that, it is the firstfruit of a harvest that will cover the earth and include believers from more than two thousand years.


Notice how Paul contrasts Adam and Jesus.


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.

23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.


In Adam, all have died. Because of his disobedience, Adam led the whole human race into death. By contrast, everyone who is in Christ (the second Adam) will be made alive. In fact, as 1 Corinthians 15:45 says, “the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”


To continue the harvest imagery, Christ as the firstfruits is…both the source of life and the guarantee that a harvest of blessed souls is coming.  Or to say it better: A harvest has already begun. And you are part of it if you belong to Him.