The message of this verse is magnificent.
Some might complain that it is too magnificent.
They might complain that it moves us into an atmosphere which only a saint or an apostle can be expected to breathe.
Many of us seem to think we need something more than this to help us combat the petty temptations of our day.
But, if we look at these words, we will see that the man who wrote them was most familiar with the everyday sufferings of men.
We imagine that such lofty yearnings rise far above the common day experiences
to give us any strength in meeting the temptations of everyday life.
Paul, and the people to whom he wrote, were surrounded by severe, earthly temptations.
And yet, Paul tells those tempted people that both he and they were praying for the redemption of the body.
And in our day such aspiration is the only safeguard against temptation's daily snares.
Paul now proceeds to call our attention to our own feelings and experiences.
This means that if the unintelligent and inanimate creation is longing for the revealing of the sons of God,
how much more we should long for that glorious event.
Even now we enjoy a blessed freedom.
We are delivered from the guilt and dominion of sin and the curse of the law.
Still, we have much to suffer while we live in this world.
But we wait for the full manifestation of our adoption as children of God.
Paul had turned aside from his main theme about present trial and coming glory for the children of God,
and had drawn an illustration of the greatness of that glory from the prospect,
which lies before the whole created universe.
Then, his thought swings back to focus itself on the pain and travail which are common to the world of nature,
and to the sons of God before we can receive the glorious destiny which He has planned for us.
We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, but we have not yet received our inheritance.
We have received the Spirit, but as yet only as a firstfruits and guarantee of the glory that is to be.
The inheritance is assured, but the full possession is not yet ours.
We have received the Spirit and already live in the security of our sonship,
but we still live in the flesh looking forward to the fulfillment of which Paul calls the "revealing of the sons of God."
So, Paul moves from the creation to the church which is the new creation of God.
Notice, the transition from the one to the other as we see from verse 22 and verse 23.
"Not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit,..."
It is as though Paul would invest the truth with as strong a personal element as words would permit.
Its meaning is defined by the qualifying parenthesis: "Which have the firstfruits of the Spirit."
Paul borrowed the image of firstfruits from the ancient custom of a thank offering at the time of harvest.
Used figuratively, the firstfruits; signify the assurance of much more to follow.
It is the first down payment which secures the rest of the payment in God's time.
The first portion of the harvest is regarded as a first installment and as a pledge of the final delivery of the whole.
The Holy Spirit is regarded as an anticipation of final salvation, and has a pledge that we,
who have the Spirit shall receive the fullness of the glory of our Lord.
Possession of the Spirit is a great privilege, but that possession is not God's final gift
for which we, as Christians, still look forward to eagerly.
So, the present experience of God's children is that of the firstfruits. (5:23)
The meaning of firstfruits is expressed with other metaphors,
such as anointing, sealing, and earnest or guarantee. (2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:20)
The same teaching about the Spirit as firstfruits is conveyed by the use of the words "pledge" or "earnest."
The word "earnest" is employed in modern Greek for an engagement ring as the pledge of the coming marriage.
It has been suggested that some readers of the epistle may have inferred
from Paul's use of "firstfruits" in this passage that the possession of the Spirit
is the believer's identification card.
There is papyrus evidence for this sense of the word.
Although that is not precisely what Paul means here, this is something similar to that,
which is implied by the "sealing" with the Spirit as seen in Eph.1:13 and Eph. 4:30.
Firstfruits refers to the Jewish custom of presenting to God
the earliest ears of corn or fruit as a thanksgiving and a prayer.
Used figuratively, "the firstfruits" for the Christian signify the assurance of much more to follow,
namely the revelation of the glory or the liberty of the glory.
These are the firstfruits because: