The Apostle Paul is concluding v.19 his discourse on the facts of Christ’s resurrection. He makes his point for those who deny the deity and resurrection of Christ are:
If in Christ…: This assumes the reader (hearer probably in ancient times) is a part of the Body of Christ
We have hope in this life only…: This is all there is once dead we are dust, food for the maggots. What have you gained by following the teachings of Jesus without the hope of resurrection in Christ?
A people most to be pitied: What hope do we really have if it is all only for the present and not eternal? Paul answers the question of what hope is there apart form a resurrected Christ with a resounding, NOTHING. If all our hope our FAITH is in a man who died on a cross for naught, we are truly miserable beings. We have gained nothing, no advantage (peace, comfort, hope) going through life’s trials and tribulations.
But in fact Christ…: But the reality is Christ has risen from the dead. The hope of true believers everywhere is simple we serve a risen savior. He alone beat down deaths door, paid the penalty for my sins and won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)
The firstfruits of those…: Christ resurrection was just the first to be raised in an incorruptible and immortal body. His resurrection paved the way for all members of the body of Christ to be so resurrected some day.
This passage of Scripture describes five sad consequences if Christ is not risen from the dead and is not alive today as the only Lord of the universe with all authority in heaven and on earth. What I would like to do this morning is show you these five consequences, and then take just one of them and use it to unfold a very powerful and often-neglected incentive for us to believe in Jesus Christ as the living Lord and the greatest treasure of your life – beyond the grave and forever.
My hope and prayer is that many of you – for your everlasting good – will be won over by him this morning. Not me, but him, because he is alive and here and able to persuade you that he is true and the greatest treasure in the universe.
The text begins in verse 12 by pointing out that in the community in Corinth, some were saying, “There is no resurrection of the dead.” Period. Nobody rises from the dead. So in verse 13 Paul points out the obvious: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised.” And then he begins the list of five consequences if this is true – if Christ is not raised from the dead.
Now let’s be sure before we see these, that we know what Paul really believes. Verse 20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” In other words, this apostle of Jesus is persuaded that Jesus did rise from the dead, and that his resurrection is the guarantee of our resurrection – that’s what “first fruits from the dead” means. The first fruits were the first pickings of the harvest which showed that there is a harvest – this resurrection signifies the certainty of our resurrection. The way Paul put it in Romans 8:11 is: “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” If Christ is raised, then those who belong to Christ will be raised with him in everlasting life and ever-increasing joy… (Continued at source link above)