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. 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. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
1. By man [The first man, Adam] came death, 1 Cor 15:21,22.
2. By man [The second man, Christ, the last Adam] came the resurrection from the dead, 1 Cor 15:21,22.
3. Christ must be raised first then others will be raised at His coming, 1 Cor 15:23.
4. Christ is called the 'firstfruits of them that slept', 1 Cor 15:20. He was the 'first' to be raised from the death with an incorruptible body. He was not the first to be raised from the dead. There were those in Old Testament and New Testament times who were raised from the dead before Him. However, Jesus Christ is the first to rise from the dead with an incorruptible body. In this sense He is the 'firstfruits'.
5. At Christ's second coming all those who are Christ's will be raised from the dead with incorruptible bodies. This will be 'the resurrection of the just' or 'the first resurrection' spoken of in Luke 14:14 & Rev 20:5,6, respectively. This resurrection will be in a moment of time, 1 Cor 15:51,52. Those raised will be forever with the Lord, 1 Thess 4:13-18.
6. Next in order comes the 'end', 1 Cor 15:24. Christ's 'coming', v23 and the 'end', v24, can't be the one and same event. The Greek preposition translated 'then' at the commencement of v24 forbids this understanding of the two verses as it means 'next in order'. His 'coming' and the 'end' therefore are two separate events. The Greek preposition 'eita' also appears in 1 Cor 15:5,7. In these two places it clearly means 'next in order', as it does in all fifteen places where it appears in the New Testament. Its use in 1 Cor 15:5,7 is to list the order in which different individuals saw the risen Christ. They did not see the risen Christ all at the same time. They saw Him consecutively.
There has been until now almost two thousand years between Christ the firstfruits being raised and those that will be Christ's at His second coming. There is to be no surprise that a period of time can elapse between Christ's second 'coming' and the 'end'. The Greek preposition translated 'then' [Greek: eita] allows this. For example this preposition is used twice in Mark 4:28, to denote the period of time that elapses between the appearance of the shoot, and then the stalk and then after another period of time the fruit at harvest time: For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then [eita] the ear, after that [eita] the full corn in the ear. This preposition is used to denote consecutive events divided by a period of time.
7. Christ shall reign after comes. His coming and the end is separated by His reign on earth. His reign, in which He will put down all rule and all authority and power, is mentioned after His coming and not beforehand. He must reign, until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
8. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. The effects of death will be greatly reduced during His millennial reign but death will still be present in the millennial earth. However, at the end of His reign Christ will also raise millennial saints from the dead. All His redeemed will now have been raised with incorruptible bodies. Christ will also at the 'end' of His reign raise the unjust. This is the second resurrection mentioned in Rev 20:11-15. At the end of His reign the great judgment will also take place.
9. At the 'end' Christ having put down all rule and all authority and power will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.
10. Death is said to be fully destroyed at the 'end', which is at the end of His reign and not at His second coming. When is death destroyed? The simple answer is that for an individual believer to a certain extent it is when they are raised from the dead with an incorruptible body. The more complete answer is that death will be destroyed when Christ has put all enemies under His feet. This is specifically said to take place at the 'end', 1 Cor 15:24. And as we have noticed His 'coming' and the 'end' are not the one and same event.
For a-millennialists and post-millennialists death is not technically the last enemy to be destroyed. If the word 'last' [as in 'last in order'] doesn't mean as its says then we are no different than the Dispensationalists who believe that there are a whole series of trumpet blasts after the 'last trump' has blown. According to a-millennialists and post-millennialists this destruction of death happens when Christ comes to the air the second time and believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Cor 15:51-57; 1 Thess 4:13-18.
However, these end-time views create two major difficulties:
1. This would require that the unholy trinity of the antichrist, the false prophet and the devil, to be dealt with prior to the resurrection and glorification of saints for death must be the 'last' enemy, in order, to be destroyed.
Is this so? Is the antichrist destroyed, prior to the resurrection of the saints? Is the false prophet cast alive into the lake of fire, prior to the resurrection of the saints? Again, is the devil cast into the lake of fire, prior to the resurrection of the saints?
The devil is clearly said to be cast into the lake of fire sometime after the antichrist and the false prophet are, Rev 20:10: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Their destruction is not collective and is therefore not in a moment of time. For death to be the last enemy, in order, to be destroyed it would require that all these enemies must be dealt with prior to the resurrection and glorification of the saints.
The same word 'destroy' is used of all of Christ's enemies generally in 1 Cor 15:24: Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have 'put down' [destroyed] all rule and all authority and power; and of the antichrist in particular in 2 Thess 2:8: And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall 'destroy' with the brightness of his coming.
2. This would also require that the last judgment has taken place prior to the resurrection and glorification of the saints. The second death has not been pronounced on Christ's enemies until they are raised from the dead and judged at the great white throne of judgement. These enemies have not yet been destroyed! After all, the second death is described as being 'destroyed', 1 Cor 6:13: Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.…. As already observed the same Greek word translated as 'destroy' in 1 Cor 15:26 is used in 1 Cor 15:24: 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.
Therefore technically death, according to the a-millennialist and post-millennialist scheme of events, is not the 'last' enemy, in order, to be destroyed. Not unless they believe that the Antichrist, the false prophet and the devil and all of unbelieving, ungodly mankind are 'destroyed' prior to believers being raised from the dead and changed at Christ's appearing. I don't think they do!