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.
Verse 23 has three metaphors that give substance to the believer’s confidence of glorification:
Firstfruits of the Spirit
Adoption as sons
Redemption of our bodies
23 Not only that,
The words “not only that” indicate progression in Paul’s argument. Not only does creation groan about the fall and its consequences on itself, but believers also groan about the consequences of sin upon themselves.
but we [emphatic—we ourselves] also who have the firstfruits [pledge] of the Spirit,
“Firstfruits” on a farm was the first harvest of ripened crops. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, the “firstfruits” was the first of the harvest that was offered to God. There will be more fruit to come. It is the first installment or foretaste of the greater harvest to come. There will be more harvest to come. We received the Holy Spirit at salvation, but we will reap the greater harvest at our glorification. The Spirit is the down payment or first installment for our glorification in the eternal state.
The groaning here is not that of unbelievers but that of believers, indicated by their having the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the first installment as a foretaste of the believer’s glorification.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a promise that Christians will have an eternal harvest in glory. The Holy Spirit is a pledge that God will raise us from the dead. As an engagement ring involves a promise of a future wedding, so the indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s promise to us of our future glorification.
No Christian is satisfied completely with the first sheaf of initial salvation; we anticipate the full harvest of our glorification. We have a foretaste of our ultimate salvation in our salvation when the Holy Spirit began to indwell us. It is proper to get homesick for heaven!
It is because Christians have the Spirit that they anticipate ultimate salvation of souls and even of creation itself. The Spirit Himself is God’s first pledge to the believer of future salvation. The Holy Spirit is the firstfruits or pledge of both present and future redemption.
2 Co 1: 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
Eph 1: 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
The firstfruits of the Spirit is the down payment of certainty we have from God that we will receive our eternal inheritance. We groan until that day.
Firstfruits are the foretastes of heaven, a guarantee of our future there. God has made a pledge to us about this and He is faithful to His promise. The Father who imparted the beginning of salvation will finish our salvation to the full. This is enormously encouraging to believers who still live in time. It is encouraging because He will never break His promise.