When he was alive, Jesus said the number of people in heaven was zero. The Old Testament scriptures tell us everyone from those times were waiting in their graves for their change to come. Paul reaffirms the teaching of Jesus, by declaring Jesus was the first to be resurrected. Paul encourages us by explaining believers will be made alive again, but in a God ordained order. First Jesus then the believers at the return of Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23…24-28…29-32 International Standard Version

20 But at this moment the Messiah stands risen from the dead, the first one offered in the harvest of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in the Messiah will all be made alive. 23 However, this will happen to each person in the proper order: first the Messiah, then those who belong to the Messiah when he comes. 

Foreshadowing events found in Revelations, Paul gives us a glimpse of coming events.

24 Then the end will come, when after he has done away with every ruler and every authority and power, the Messiah hands over the kingdom to God the Father. 25 For he must rule until God puts all the Messiah’s enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be done away with is death, 27 for “God has put everything under his feet.” Now when he says, “Everything has been put under him,” this clearly excludes the one who put everything under him. 28 But when everything has been put under him, then the Son himself will also become subject to the one who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Paul goes on to extol the resurrection as the primary reason for why he was willing to be persecuted during his life and why he encouraged others to follow his example.

29 Otherwise, what will those people do who are being baptized because of those who have died? If the dead are not raised at all, why are they being baptized because of them? 30 And why in fact are we being endangered every hour? 31 I face death every day! That is as certain, brothers, as it is that I am proud of you in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord. 32 If I have fought with wild animals in Ephesus from merely human motives, what do I get out of it? If the dead are not raised, “Let’s eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

What future reward are you looking forward to? Are you surprised Jeus and Paul taught no one was in heaven before Jesus was resurrected and the believers must wait for his return?