Paul is systematically proving to the Corinthian Christians that their faith in Christ and His resurrection logically expostulates out to the physical resurrection of all believers. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Paul brings home his second point: to wit, that Jesus’ resurrection is a preview of what will happen to His followers.
By calling Christ the “firstfruits,” Paul implies that there will be subsequent fruits. The firstfruits offering required of Israel in the old testament was an offering of the first of their crops harvested, and was a thank you to God for the harvest to come.
Death came through Adam. Resurrection had to come through Adam’s fruit–his offspring. If you think about it, when God created Adam, Eve was there. She had to be, as God made her from Adam’s body. In Adam and Eve, were the whole human race. So you were there when Adam sinned. I was. And Jesus was. And since Adam’s race committed the crime, only Adam’s race could pay for it. But we could not. Only God could
Jesus was the “seed of the woman” as predicted, but not the seed of the man. Fully God and fully human, only Jesus could defeat sin in the human race. I can’t go into this in the depth it deserves, but if you’d like a full treatment, I refer you to Watchman Nee’s excellent study of Romans 1-8, The Normal Christian Life.
In Adam, when Adam sinned, we were all separated from God. We were there. In Adam, all died. In Jesus, all are made alive. That means spiritually, of course, but it means physically as well.
We are not raised from the dead physically upon believing in Jesus. We die to ourselves and are raised to Him spiritually. (Death is the only way out of Satan’s domination.) The physical resurrection of believers is reserved for Jesus’ return.
Death is the last enemy. Death will be defeated and abolished in the very last act of this drama, though the people of Christ will already have been freed from it. In the end, our whole planet and everything on it will also be freed from the curse of sin and death. This passage appears to refer to the millennial reign of Christ and its culmination.
So many pronouns! It gets a bit confusing until you remember that God is one. It doesn’t really matter to whom any particular pronoun refers, as they all refer to God. The Son has always been subject to the Father, as has the Father (in other passages) to the Son. This is the picture of perfect love, where each (and throw in the Holy Spirit here as well) lives to honor and serve the others.
This is the oneness God wants for us, His people. Unnecessary to say, but we cannot do this. We cannot even help. But we can submit to God as He performs it in us by His grace. Just as He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, He labors in us until Christ is formed in us and we can all be one as the Father and the Son are one.
Grace and Peace to you,