First Fruits of Redemption

Romans 8:22,23

22 “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

The apostle Paul twice in these verses uses “groan” and “groans.”  He says that creation groans and that God’s children groan, vocalizing pain or grief.  When our first parents disobeyed God, frustration and groaning entered into our world. The created world was subjected to chaos and destruction which we see in many ways such as tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and extreme weather conditions.  We also see the curse of sin in the strain within human relationships and in our relationship with God.  This is why we groan, because sin has impacted our world.  When we experience these difficulties, we don’t have to wonder why these things are happening, it is the result of sin on our world and in our lives.  But note that the apostle Paul does not leave us in the doldrums of this bad news.  While he acknowledges the reality of our sin and the consequence which is our groaning, he also encourages God’s people that this is the not the end of the story!

Paul tells us that we have the firstfruits of our redemption – the Holy Spirit is with us as we eagerly await our final salvation.  The word “firstfruits” is connected to the Feast of Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks or the “day of first fruits” (Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Numbers 28:26). This feast is celebrated in May/June and God’s people give thanks to God for the early harvest. In the New Testament on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church and 3,000 were converted to Christ resulting in the spiritual harvest of the kingdom of God.  The presence and the working of the Holy Spirit in us is a foretaste of God’s final kingdom in Christ’s kingdom. 

Right now, it is the knowledge of God’s final kingdom that inspires us to eagerly wait in hope. Hope is more than wishful thinking and optimism but is based on God’s faithfulness and His sure promises.  This hope is so sure that we can patiently endure suffering in anticipation of Christ’s Kingdom.  As we persevere along our journey in this world, and as we groan, let us firmly hold onto the hope of our final redemption, the redemption of our bodies when we will be resurrected at the Last Day.  For Christian believers, while we experience travail, pain, and grief because of how things are right now, our outlook with the help of the Holy Spirit can be permeated with expectation, patience, and eagerness.