The concept of “first fruits” appears several times in the Bible. “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the first fruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.” (Nehemiah 10: 35) We can learn what the term means by looking into the Old Testament. When you harvest your crop, the first grains you harvest are to be presented to and deemed worthy by the Lord. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” (Proverbs 3: 9) You can find the term defined clearly in Leviticus 23: 10-17.
When we turn to the New Testament, we find the term “first fruit” is used symbolically. In Romans 16: 5 (KJV), Paul refers to Epenetus as a ‘first fruit’. His meaning here is that Epenetus was the first of many converts to Christianity. James 1: 18 reads, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.” Consider all that God has created, from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the heights of space. The Old Testament teaches us that first fruit would be the best (see Exodus 23: 19). God’s church is first fruit. How amazing is that! Just like the first of the harvest of the Old Testament, as Christians we too have been set apart, set apart as witnesses to the glory of God.
Christ is the first fruit of first fruits. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 15: 20) There can be no first fruit without Him. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sin.” (I Corinthians 15: 17) No one is worthy without His sacrifice. We are the first fruit that can now be brought before God, and be worthy. “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8: 23)
In the Book of Revelations we read of the 144,000 (chapters 7 and 14). This symbolic number represents all of God’s people. It is written of them, “…They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as ‘firstfruits’ to God and to the Lamb.” (Revelations 14: 4)
Now we remember Christ’s Great Commission, to go and make disciples of all nations. We need to produce more fruit for God’s glory. “No good tree bears bad fruit nor does a bad tree bear good fruit…The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6: 43-45) Jesus further tells us, “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” (John 15: 8)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.