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Christ is the firstfruits; he was the first person to be resurrected. Why did he need to be the first? Why couldn't anybody else be resurrected until after Christ was first resurrected?

We are taught that Christ loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. What are the pains of death?

When we were born, some power enabled our spirits to enter our bodies. We also know that some people have been brought back to life; some power enabled their spirits to re-enter their bodies after having left. So what then are the bands of death, if not a power that keeps our spirits out of our bodies? Yet the power to put our spirits into our bodies already exists.

So what then did Christ's resurrection enable? What did it overcome? Why couldn't anybody be resurrected until after Christ was?

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You tagged this question lds; any particular reason why? Are you looking for an LDS-centric answer? –  Matt Apr 25 at 4:36
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Just to be specific, he wasn't the first. Check up on Elijah raising the widow's son in the OT –  khaverim Apr 25 at 4:59
    
@khanahk He was the first to be resurrected as the widow's son was revived, but died again before being resurrected. –  Matt Apr 25 at 5:02
    
@Matt If the answer were to differ between sects, I would prefer an LDS answer. Though I am open to anybody with insight. –  JustinY Apr 25 at 13:37
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Not really an answer, but Colossians 1:18 says: And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. –  Greg Apr 26 at 4:17

5 Answers 5

The answer is because Jesus was without sin.

When Adam and Eve first sinned, not only were they thrown out of the Garden of Eden, but they were also rendered mortal; they were now capable of dying. Everyone who sins dies, and everyone sins. Even those before Jesus who died and were returned to life (like Lazarus) still had to die again later.

Jesus however never sinned. When He died on the cross, Jesus paid the price for all of our sins. And when Jesus was reborn, He was reborn in a form that no longer had to die.

And that was why Jesus had to die: to be the sacrifice in payment for our sins. That is why no one could be resurrected as He was until after He was; the debt for our sin was still outstanding. Our resurrection will not be into these bodies we currently live in, but into new bodies that will be free of sin.

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Welcome to Christianity.SE! This is a good first answer, but could you cite some sources to back it up or for further reading? Also, even though the question isn't currently clear about why, it is tagged lds, and this answer doesn't cover the LDS perspective specifically. It might be something to consider. –  Matt Apr 25 at 4:35
    
Really. You want boiler-plate doctrine from a majority of denominations cited? I might as well just say pick a Bible and read it, but here goes: Romans, Hebrews and 1 Peter all have good passages on the nature of sin and what Jesus has done for us. As to the LDS, I admit I'm not up enough on my Mormon doctrine to know for sure how to relate this specifically to them. –  Brian_Drozd Apr 25 at 4:57
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Don't take it personally. It's what makes a good, supported answer on Stack Exchange sites. –  Matt Apr 25 at 5:00
    
@Brian_Drozd please do not take this the wrong way, if you do not know about LDS then you shouldn't answer this question. This isn't a place to soapbox theology. Please consider reading: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/692/… –  The Freemason Apr 25 at 11:25
    
@Brian_Drozd I appreciate the insight. It's likely that your answer is correct, but I'm looking for something that authoritatively says so. We know that only Christ could redeem us from sin because he was without sin, but I don't know of any scriptures that explain how and why his perfection was also necessary for the resurrection. –  JustinY Apr 25 at 13:46

In short, Jesus' resurrection had to be first, because his resurrection is the cause of our resurrection.

Keep in mind that the resurrection of Jesus is unique. Jesus is fully man, certainly, but he is also fully God, hypostatically united to the Word. (See John 1:1 and 1:14: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.") Therefore, unlike the rest of us, Jesus can rightly be said to have raised himself up from the dead. None of the rest of us, obviously, have the power to raise ourselves or anyone else from the dead.

We must distinguish Jesus' resurrection from other "resurrections" that are recounted in the Bible. The raising of Lazarus (Jn. 11), for example, is best described as a "revivification," not a resurrection, because Lazarus returned to his earthly life and eventually died again. (The same holds true for the boy raised by Elijah, the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus' daughter, and even for Dorcas, raised by Peter in the Acts.) Jesus on the other hand, cannot die again and now has a glorified body (the "spiritual body" that Paul talks about in 1 Cor. 15:44).

So when we speak of the General Resurrection (the "resurrection on the last day"--see Jn. 11:24), we are awaiting, not a revivification into our earthly bodies, but a true resurrection into a glorified body, like the one that Jesus has now.

In any case, Jesus had to be raised first, because it is precisely his redemptive act (that is, his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven) that allows us to partake in his resurrection.

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Indeed, Jesus' resurrection, along with His spotless life of perfect obedience to the Father, makes His the "full package" needed to resurrect us into the fullness of redemption. –  Steve Apr 27 at 14:08

I'm a Lutheran pastor, so I'll answer from a Lutheran perspective.

A good text that helps address this is Colossians 1:15-20. Paul says of Jesus Christ:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

This also ties in with the beginning of John's Gospel (John 1:1ff) where John makes the point that Jesus Christ is the Word of God through whom the Father spoke all things into existence. He is therefore the "firstborn of all creation" as Paul says; the meaning here is that he is pre-eminent over everything (i.e. in the sense that as the Son, he is the heir of all things). He also created all things, because he is the Word of God.

Christ is also "the head of the body, the church." He died and rose for us, the firstborn from the dead, in order to reconcile us to God, to each other, and to creation itself. He made peace between us and God "by the blood of his cross."

So, Christ is the first one to be resurrected, because his death and resurrection saves us. He died for our sins on the cross and then rose from the tomb to defeat death and the devil. His resurrection is also the pledge of our own resurrections. When Christ returns on the Last Day he will resurrect us all and finally cast out sin, death, and the devil from his good creation (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

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Why did Christ need to be first?

John 1;29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him , and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Leviticus 23;9,10,12

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye become 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. 12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.

John 11;25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

Jesus Christ had to be first, because of the sacrifical system and our life is in him. He is the life giver.

What are the pains of death?

Acts 2;24,27

24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Fiuratively, the " pains of death " is to die. to lose one's life, to go to the grave. Verse 27 refers to Jesus and his resurrection, the grave could not hold him.

When we are born, some power enabled our spirits to enter our bodies.

Genesis 2;7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

John 3;5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

We are living souls, to have the Holy Spirit, we must be born again.

We also know that some people have been brought back to life; some power enabled their spirits to re-enter their bodies after having left. So what are the bands of death, if not a power that keeps our spirits out of our bodies? Yet the power to put our spirits into our bodies already exists.

Ecclesiastes 9;5,6

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Also their love , and their hatred, and thir envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing done under the sun.

When death occurs, we go to the grave,we cease to exist. Those people who have outer body experiences, and come back to life, are obviously not dead. Nevertheless, we have absolutely no power to sustain our lives. That ability was taken away when Adam was driven out of the garden of Eden. Even then, we needed to eat from the tree of life to maintain immortality, we have no power within ourselves.

I Thessalonians 4;16 For the Lord himself shall decend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

The resurrection of the dead begins with the second coming of Jesus Christ.

So what did Christ's resurrection enable?

Revelation 20;6

Blessed and holy is he that hath a part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priest of God and Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years.

I Corinthians 15;54,55

So when this corruptable shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory.

The first resurrection with Jesus Christ brings immortality and avoids the second death.

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Jesus’ resurrection set into action a domino of effects that no other person's death could do. Through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, God is correcting several problems in the human race. As seen in His life of perfect obedience to God the Father, He lived a life of righteousness. All the rest of us were born as sinners and continue in that state; when we die, it would be the consequence for our own sins (Romans 5:12); on that basis, we would be raised from the dead later only to receive a negative judgment (Revelation 20:12-15). Jesus’ resurrection is proof that God accepts Him as perfect judge of the dead (Acts 17:31, John 5:22).

Believing in Him in this life, His righteousness is mystically (for want of a better word) imputed to us (Romans 4). His death and resurrection does a further mystical work in the believer: in Romans 6:5-7, we learn that when we believed on Him, our sinful part was buried with Him in the grave, and the new creation part was raised up with Him and is seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:5-6). His literal death and burial sets us free from the dominion of our sinful flesh (Romans 6:6-7) and joins us to him to be “in Christ.” In Christ, death no longer has a hold on us (Romans 6:8-10).

Of course, Jesus’ resurrection vindicates His trustworthiness, for He said that He would die and rise again (Matthew 16:21) -- if He could pull that off, then He could do everything else He said! His resurrection also vindicates the OT prophecies, as Peter attested in Acts 2:22-36, His resurrection testifying that God had chosen Him.

Thus, Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection completes the “salvation package” God offers to all. Through continued faith in Him, we access to every blessing God has to offer us, not only in this life, but in the life to come.

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