By Joseph L. Watkins
Now, as we read the words of our great all-loving Creator, Christ Jesus, and yes, as we read and study the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians especially, we need to always hold in view the marked out "contrasts" - the in Adam and the in Christ, the first man and the second man, the first man and the last Adam, the natural and the spiritual, the heavenly and the earthly, the corruptible and the incorruptible, death and life - always keeping in view what is said to be in Adam and what is said to be in Christ, and just how and when they got into Adam, and just how and when and why they can be said to be "in" Christ Jesus.
From the Greek text of 1 Cor. 15:20-22 we read:
"But now Christ has been raised out from the dead (the) firstfruit of the ones having fallen asleep He became. For since by man is the death, also by a man is resurrection of (the) dead, for as in the man Adam all die. In like manner, also in the man Christ Jesus all are to live."
Yes, the contrasts we find in the Scriptures serve to both help us know and understand the Great Truths of our Lord. He has made the truth most clear and understandable; anyone not "found" to be in Adam is not said to be under the judgment of this death. And also from this, we can both know and understand that anyone not found to be in Christ Jesus is not to live again.
This truth of God is verified unto the believing ones in the very next verse, 1 Cor. 15:23:
"But every man in his own order, the firstfruit; Christ afterward the ones of Christ, in the paraousia (coming) of Him."
However, the understanding we are seeking in this paper is "every man in his order." The word order is Strong's #5001, tagma. The Englishman's Greek Lexicon offers these words: rank, company divisions, class, a group; and they also suggest we also study the word #5021 where we find these words: to arrange, set in order, appoint, a set purpose, to ordain, addicted. And I also think of a church, an assembly, a body, a company - the ones that together may compromise one of the many "orders" of God.
Perhaps the largest number of God's holy ones that are to make up an "order" might be the ones that He is to raise up in the "last day" (see John 6:39, 40, 44 & 54; also 11:24 and 12:48). In Daniel 12:13 we read of this same day of resurrection, only Daniel calls this "the end of days"; and where Paul calls it an "order" Daniel uses the words "thy lot." And we must note that these are all to be raised up in the earth yes, the "new earth."
Another "lot" or "order" in Rev. 21:2 & 9, and also 22:17, are called by the name "the Bride." And from Heb. 11:8-10 we learn that Abraham, with Isaac, and also Jacob, were also said to be heirs with him of the same promise. Yes, each of these men had exercised their faith in God's call unto this great "calling," this hope, yes, this great promise of their Lord.
From Heb. 12:22 and Rev. 25:2 we see that this hope was the closest to a heavenly hope that the Lord gave unto that nation. And also, we read of two other "orders" in verse 23, the general assembly and the church of the firstborn. One time we read these words this seems to us to be two other different "orders," yet, perhaps these could both be numbered with "the bride." Now yes, this city New Jerusalem is seen as being in heaven, but it is to come down to be just above earth, so it is a part of the earth.
The next "order" we take note of is of the ones who are to be made alive in His coming - His coming "parousia" - His coming kingdom - the days He is to be personally present upon the earth, the 1,000 year kingdom. Some are to be raised up "in" His parousia, not at His coming, but in His kingdom days.
And as we read over in 1 Thess. 4:13-18: "...even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." And yes, the ones which are alive and remain unto the coming parousia of the Lord.
The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout (to awaken the sleeping dead), and the ones that are still alive at that hour are to be "changed...for this corruptible shall have put on incorruption..." (1Cor. 15:51-58).
Now, some men see the word order as referring to God raising up the dead all throughout the 1,000 years of His kingdom - or in His own time, perhaps? No man is to know today, for this musterion is not truth for today.
Now, of the one church, or order, or perhaps we should say body for that is how the Spirit has seen right to call the first order of holy ones to be named, he (Paul) says in Col. 1:24: "On behalf of the body of Him which is the out-called."
And in Phil. 3:11 Paul says, "If somehow I might attain unto the out-resurrection, the one out from being among the dead."
In Col. 3:4 Paul adds, "When the Christ is revealed, the very life of us, then also you with Him will be revealed, in glory."