(This is from 2 different articles from November 2016 that was originally published on my “I Don’t Care If Anyone Reads This” a Facebook page.)
I recently saw a teaching on when do the firstfruits resurrect and the person turned to a future time in Revelation. We see that Jesus was the firstfruits. We see this is true in Scripture. He in fact was resurrected on firstfruits fulfilling this feast and bringing the firstfruits with him. The firstfruits aren’t for a future time at the so called “rapture”. They resurrected with Him at His resurrection when He went to set those in Abrahams bosom free. In Leviticus we see this happening after the Sabbath. This word ‘aparchē (ἀπαρχὴ)’ comes from a compound of apo and archomai; meaning “a beginning of sacrifice”. Let’s look at firstfruits and see what it’s all about. “For the Feast of Firstfruits, a sheaf (a bundle of stalks tied together) of barley is harvested and brought to the Temple as a thanksgiving offering to the Lord. It represents the entire barley harvest and serves as a pledge that the rest of the harvest will be brought in. (https://oncedelivered.net/2008/05/29/jesus-in-the-feasts-of-israel-the-feast-of-firstfruits/)
This comes from the same website. Let’s look at the observance and ritual of this feast. “he ritual for Firstfruits (Deut. 26:1-11): Firstfruits is to be observed, “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance …” (v. 1).The firstfruits are to be brought to the priest and the giver is to say, “Today I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land the Lord swore to our fathers to give us” (v. 3).The priest takes the firstfruits and places them before the altar at the tabernacle (later the Temple), and the giver recites the story of God’s deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and the giving of the Promised Land (vv. 4-10).The giver then bows down and worships the Lord (v. 10).The giver joins the priest and even the foreign resident among the people in rejoicing in all the good things the Lord has given him and his household (v. 11).” (https://oncedelivered.net/2008/05/29/jesus-in-the-feasts-of-israel-the-feast-of-firstfruits/)
We see that this was done due to their deleverance in Egypt, before they entered into their inheritance and the promise land. This was fulfilled through Jesus. He delivered them from the curse, gave them their inheritance through Abraham and they entered into the kingdom ie the promise land. The thousand year reign of Jesus had begun at the resurrection.
9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Paul said there was an order to everything. Jesus was the firstfruits of them that slept. Where were they “sleeping”? Abraham’s bosom. Remember, Jesus went to set the captives free.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
1 Corinthians 15
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
We see here that this order is Chris the firstfruit first THEN those at His coming. This is at the END. This isn’t after a “1,000 year future earthly reigm”. It doesn’t mention that anywhere now does it”? Jesus must reign now until He puts all the enemies under His feet then at that time, He will have delivered the kingdom back to the Father. Look at what Matthew says about what heppened AFTER the resurrection of Jesus
I have already went over this in another post so you can reference the verses from Matthew here:(https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1029016240541261&substory_index=0&id=519754571467433). I suggest you read that before moving on through this study. Here is the study.
Matthew 27:52,53 “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
“After God brought the people mentioned in Matthew 27:52-53 back to life, they undoubtedly went back to their homes, where many acquaintances saw them. It’s hard to imagine how utterly startling such an experience would be for their relatives and friends! The Bible says nothing further about these people God resurrected at Christ’s death, leaving us to conclude that they eventually died (again) and their families buried them (again). Along with all other saints who died, they await in their graves their resurrection to spirit life.” (https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/bible-questions-and-answers/what-happened-to-the-resurrected-saints-mentioned-in)
“Scholars have looked for reports of this resurrection in other ancient writings, but no definite references to it have been found…Another possible explanation for Matthew’s passage relates it to a story known as the “Harrowing of Hell”. According to this story, which is mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed, after Jesus died on the cross he descended to Hell and rescued the souls of all the ancient dead saints from their imprisonment there. After these rescued souls left Hell, they could have returned to their old bodies in the tombs and brought them back to life. But if this is what happened, it must have taken place very quickly, because Matthew says that the saints were resurrected almost immediately after Jesus died.” (http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/resurrection-saints.html)
These two quotes come from the first two websites that came up on Google. As you can see, this is your basic answer to this question, who were those that resurrected when Jesus died? First off I want to say is that scripture says these people came out of there graves AFTER His resurrection. Did you catch that? AFTER means it preceded something, not at that moment but at a later time AFTER something happened. So the second quote is blatantly wrong about that. What he isn’t wrong about is that there is absolutely positively no, and I mean NONE, eyewitness account of anyone being resurrected at the death of Jesus or AFTER His resurrection. At least not in human bodily form as Lazarus did. There is not one historical account of this. Josephus makes no mention of it nor does any other historian.
The first thing is that they “came out of the graves after His resurrection”. This happened after Jesus’ resurrection obviously. There is no biblical proof that anybody saw any of these people in Jerusalem if they were real living people. Josephus (for what it’s worth) makes no mention of this. The second thing is that they went to the “holy city”. Most interpreters say that this is the literal Jerusalem. This holy city was mentioned a few times in the old testament and specifically in Daniel 9:24. Its also mentioned in the New Testament for the first time in Matthew 4:5 when Jesus is tempted by Satan to throw Himself off of the pinnacle of the temple. This is obviously prior to Jesus’ resurrection.
Now here is the interesting thing. After Jesus’ resurrection, John called the holy city the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:2 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” and then again used the phrase in Revelation 22:19 “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” He also used it in Revelation 11:2 as this spiritual Temple John was seeing.
So we can see before Jesus’ resurrection the literal Jerusalem seemed to be called the “holy city” but after His resurrection the “holy city” refers to the believers/saints who are In Christ that make up the Temple of God. Now this can either be part of this spiritual resurrection like in John 5:25-26 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;” When we are born again. OR it could be the saints in Abraham’s bosom.
If the latter is true then it ruins soul sleep. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Read 2 Corinthians 5 in context. I personally think its the latter. I don’t think it was a literal resurrection of people in literal Jerusalem. And I think that would contradict scripture as far as a one time bodily resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
Matthew 27:50-53 “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.”
Now it says many BODIES of the saints which SLEPT AROSE. And they came out of there graves and went to the holy city. This seems to me to be a spirtual resurrection of sorts but not like the first resurrection of being born from above. Those saints prior to Jesus were in Abraham’s bosom who believed through faith in the Messiah. They were in fact In Christ. We can even see an example of this with the one thief on the cross. He was entering the kingdom spiritually, not bodily, as a firstfruit offering that was to be given by the High Priest.
Luke 24:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
We see that at our first resurrection (born from above through the spirit), that we are to obtain the firstfruits of the Spirit. This is different than the firstfruit offering at Jesus resurrection and a completely separate event from the bodily resurrection, the second and final resurrection. This is the second death that we won’t be apart of if your found to be In Christ at a HIS coming.
Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
We see that being born again, while we are physically here on earth, we too are to be a kind of furstfruits physically. Now the question is this. Are these that rose from the graves in Matthew, the same as those captives Christ set free, the same as these firstfruits in Rev. 14?
Revelation 14 :3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
If they aren’t then you have a view that is completely future and puts this timeline something like this (see below). And some of what He is saying is true. He states that 1st Thessalonians is presupposing that these firstfruits are already raised prior to the resurrection. But believing that this only happens in a future time brings some confusion as to what is happening in Revelation.
“1 Thess seems to presuppose the “firstfruits” are already raised at the time of the Rapture likely referencing elders seen by John in Rev 5 & 6 and those slain in Christ depicted in Rev 6:9-11: the 6th seal, but not those who die in Christ in the last seven years or or died without martyrdom. Rev 7:1-8 then introduces the last of the “firstfruits, the 144,000” who arrive at the beginning of the last seven years between the 6th and 7th seal. The 144,000 after their mission are depicted in heaven in Rev 14:1-5: “purchased from among men “firstfruits” to God and the Lamb”. Rev 14 account of the 144,000 “firstfruits” takes place at the time of the 7th and last trumpet, immediately following the abomination at the mid point of the last seven years (Dan 9:27) described in detail and exact timing in the chapter before: Rev 13:1-18. The purchased 144,000 event is placed at the end of 7th trumpet immediately before before the bowl wraths of Rev 15. This seems to be the order: Christ, first fruits and those slain for Christ, those who died in Christ, first half tribulation martyrs slain by Babylon, those who are still alive, then after Armageddon those slain by antichrist” (I wont name who wrote this but this is your typical pre-mill view)
So are there saints that rose with Jesus at His resurrection like the Gospel of Matthew said? Is this to be taken literal in the sense that people walked around Jerusalem? No. There are alot of people who think this to be true. I would lean toward this way of thinking if there was any historical record of people in Jerusalem seeing those who were dead that in fact resurrected. But there is no such record. This site holds to this view (http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/02/01/The-Resurrection-of-the-Jerusalem-Saints-at-the-Feast-of-the-Firstfruits.aspx).
Some people might say that Lazarus (and a few other people) were an example of dying and coming back to life. I think his case is an exception. Are we to take this as a spiritual application that this was a reference to being born again? No. This being filled with the Spirit didn’t happen until 50 days later at Pentecost. So this wouldn’t be it either. And the 50 days between firstfruits and Pentecost is significant. I think the only logical answer would be that our once and for all High Priest, Jesus, gathered the firstfruits (omer) and this is the cloud of witness that the writer of Hebrews talks about. These were real saints (prior to the Messiah) who resurrected with Jesus, who like us are awaiting a bodily resurrection on the last day. And this may answer the question as to who the 24 elders are in Revelation 5 (whether it be a literal number or symbolic).
One last connection I want to make with these firstfruits is that the same exact word is used for “falling asleep” in both Matthew 27:52 and 1 Corinthians 15:20. This word ‘κεκοιμημένων (kekoimēmenōn)’ is a key connection to these firstfruits that were asleep. A variation of this word ‘koimōmenōn (κοιμωμένων)’ is also used in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 so that we are to not be ignorant of those who are asleep. I’ll leave you with this…As Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal point out, “The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee and the beginning (firstfruits) of the final harvest, or resurrection, of all mankind. The Messiah fulfilled the prophetic meaning of this holy day by rising from the dead to become the firstfruits of the resurrection, and He did it on the very day of Firstfruits.” (The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Prophetic Calendar from Calvary to the Kingdom, p. 86) Let’s add that He took these firstfruits of the Harvest with Him. Now await the time for the rest of the harvest.