“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Today we will conclude our study on the Holy Spirit by considering ‘The Holy Spirit as Frist fruits. We have already studied part of Romans 8:23 in the previous days, We must know turn our attention to a specific phrase which Paul uses here to mean something very similar to the word arrabon which we learned in the last days. Paul tells us that while we as Christians are eagerly waiting the redemption of our bodies we do have first fruits of the Spirit.
The Greek word for ‘first fruits’ is aparache, and this, like arrabon and sphragis, is closely associated with the connection between our present experience of the Spirit and our future life in the kingdom of God. The concept come from the Old Testament where we read that the first fruits of the harvest were to be offered to God (Exodus 23:16-19, 34:22-26, Leviticus 23:9).
It is interesting to note that Paul doesn’t only use the term first fruits to refer to the Holy Spirit, but also uses this phrase to refer to Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)/ Paul teaches us that because Christ rose from the dead we too, one day will be raised. Just as the first fruit of the harvest was offered to God in thanks for the full harvest which was to follow, so Christ was raised from the dead as the first fruit of when the dead in Christ shall rise.
How does this relate to the idea of the Holy Spirit as first fruit? Levitcus 23 is very helpful here, if read carefully we can see two occasions when first fruits where offered to the Lord.
- As seen above, the sheaf was waved before the Lord on the Sabbath following Passover (Levitcus 23:11).
- Seven weeks later two loaves were waved before the Lord (Leviticus 23:15-17). This took place at the Feast of Weeks, later know as the ‘Day of Pentecost’ (Pentecost comes from the Greek word 50, representing the 50 days, seven weeks referred to in Lev 23:15-16).
In both cases the basic idea of the first fruit is the same. They as an assurance and a pledge of more to follow! So Jesus resurrection was part of our resurrection and at the same time guarantees it. The Gift of the Spirit is both part of our inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14) and at the same time, point forward to a day when that inheritance shall be ours in all it’s fullness.
Like the symbolism of the pledge and the seal, first fruits implies something much greater to come in the future. We have access even now by the Spirit to the powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:4-5) but we must recognise that we are not in that age yet.
This is perhaps the most appropriate way to bring out study on the Holy Spirit to a conclusion. A right understanding of the present role of the Holy Spirit in relation to the age to come, will keep us from the unwise extremes of Health, Wealth and prosperity (Romans 8:18) or doing nothing and postponing all expectations of the miraculous. While it is true we are still eagerly waiting our adoption (Romans 8:23), the very same verse as seen today, makes it clear that we have the Spirit as first fruits, as a first instalment and a guarantee of our future inheritance. God intends us to enter in and enjoy the blessings of a relationship with the Holy Spirit now.