Ranks in the Resurrection
E. J. Davis
Ranks in the Resurrection is part of the revelation God revealed to our Apostle Paul. I Cor. 15:21-23, “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.” Death comes to all men, but only those who believe on Christ shall all be made alive (resurrected) in Him. “Every man in his own order.” The Greek word (Tagma) for “Order” means, ’something orderly in arrangement (a troop), a series or secession’- Strong’s Concordance. Vine’s Expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words, says this is a military term, denoting a company and is used metaphorically in this verse of the various classes of those who have part in the first resurrection (which started with Christ resurrection). So it read, “every man in his own order or rank. Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.”
The Greek word rendered “coming” (parousia) means ‘presence.’ His coming or presence will continue through the millennium when the last trumpet shall sound. I Cor. 15:52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” There can’t be a last trumpet without trumpets before it.
Verse 35, “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” In verses 36 through 42, Paul uses the natural to illustrate the spiritual to answer this question. The different kinds of grains, and of men, animals, fishes birds, celestial bodies, terrestrial bodies, the glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, another glory of the stars, and one star differeth from another star in glory. “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Different ranks in the resurrection is plainly taught here. They differ even as men differ from animals and animals differ from one another. Ezek. 34, God likens His people to cattle and sheep and says, He judges between fat cattle and between lean cattle.
Consider the difference between believers, they do not have equal victory over the world or over their own flesh. Some lay hold of being “preserved blameless” and some do not. I Thess. 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Just as there are different kinds of flesh, so there are differing degrees of Christian experience which necessitates different ranks or orders in the resurrection. There is no other meaning to Paul’s illustration, “So also is the resurrection of the dead.” Believers are finding their rank today. Some refuse the first rank, choosing a lower rank by their walk. It cost something to renounce the world. After receiving Christ some go no farther spiritually.
God wants His children to grow. II Pet. 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” Believers should desire the new man, to grow and mature in Christ. Believers who stay a babe spiritually or have a worldly walk will be raised in a lesser rank. The provision is all of grace, but we must lay hold of the offer and press on to full development. This means denying self, it means suffering and sacrifice. I Tim. 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
Even Paul said in I Cor. 9:27. That he kept his body in subjection, lest that by any means, he should be disapproved or miss the mark. By experience we learn the subtile trickery of our own flesh. Either we make excuses and deceive ourselves or we count with God, that we are dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6). We count what God says is true and yield to the Christ life in us, and we gain the victory over our own flesh. Every step forward separates us more from the world and even worldly minded friends. Titus 2:14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purity unto himself a peculiar people (Peculiarly His own), zealous of good works (of faith).”
Of course this arouses Satan to come against us, but we go on in faith. Eph. 6:11-12, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, again the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” A conflict not all saints know. Some draw back, not able to take the trials. It may be more lonely, but we have the assurance of I Pet. 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with Joy unspeakable and full of glory.” We begin to see and feel as God sees and feels. What a privilege is ours.
Christ’s resurrection guaranties our resurrection. There is a better resurrection, an out-resurrection, out from the believing dead. That is how Phil. 3:11 reads in the Greek text. “If by any means I might attain unto the (out) resurrection of the dead.” A rank raised earlier than the rest of the church. All believers are in the resurrection, but suffering with Christ obtains a better resurrection. II Tim. 2:12, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…”. I Cor. 15:51, “Behold I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” But only those who have fellowshiped His sufferings, shall know the fellowship of His glory. The prospect of reigning con-jointly with Christ should inspire us. May we “look unto Jesus the author and finished of faith” Heb. 12:2. Trust Him completely to bring down all rule, power and authority in us. The book of Revelation, tells of different ranks going up at different time, which I will write of at another time.