Romans 8:23 is about people – not about a firstfruit pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
Today, it appears that many of God’s people believe that in Romans 8: 23 the term ‘firstfruits of the Spirit’ (KJV) refers to some sort of initial giving of the Holy Spirit – and dismiss any idea that the term firstfruits in this verse refers to Christians
However, when one examines the meaning of the Greek word and other verses where the same Greek word is translated “firstfruits” in the New Testament – the above belief makes no sense at all.
See now a typical way the verse has been translated:
“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.” (Romans 8: 23; NKJV).
The way this verse reads, communicates the idea to God’s people that the term firstfruits refers to some kind of initial giving of the Holy Spirit, and not to the people as firstfruits. However, it is my intention to show that the term firstfruits in this passage refers to people, not the Holy Spirit, and that every translation I have seen so far is wrong. Evidence for this conclusion can be found by doing the following:
1) Looking at the meaning original Greek from which the word firstfruits was translated
2) Seeing what the original Greek is referring to in ALL other New Testament verses.
Meaning of the Greek word translated firstfruits
It may come to you as a surprise to some, but to think that the English word firstfruits is a good enough translation of the Greek is a significant oversight, and contradicts what is contained in reputable Bibles dictionaries such as Strong’s and Vines. See below how the meaning of the Greek is not defined as mere firstfruits, but as an offering of firstfruits or beginning sacrifice
Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance
NT: 536 aparche (ap-ar-khay'); from a compound of NT: 575 and NT: 756; a beginning of sacrifice, i.e. the (Jewish) first-fruit (figuratively):
Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
aparche (NT: 536) denotes, primarily, "an offering of firstfruits" (akin to aparchomai, "to make a beginning"; in sacrifices, "to offer firstfruits").
Thus a more accurate way to translate Romans 8:23 would be to use the words an offering of firstfruits, instead of just the word firstfruits. In the Old Testament, it is well documented that the firstfruit of agricultural products as well as various prepared foods made from them belonged to God, and Israelites were commanded to offer them to Him for His use. It is also well known by Bible commentators and scholars that in the Old Testament firstfruit offerings were made by individuals, as well as two separate ones which were made on behalf of the nation as a whole. The two national offerings were the wave sheaf offering after Passover and the meat offering at the Feast of Weeks.
Therefore, regarding Romans 8:23, the logic that needs to be taken into account when translating this verse is quite simple. Crops in the Old Testament typify people – not the Holy Spirit. And when they are offered to God as firstfruit offerings in the Old Testament they picture Christians, who just like firstfruit crops, have been set apart by God for Holy use and purpose. They NEVER symbolise some sort of firstfruit giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often symbolised by water – but never crops. This fact alone should be enough to show that Romans 8:23 is not referring to any firstfruit pouring out of the Holy Spirit, but to Christians who are being described as firstfruit offerings as a result of being given the Holy Spirit. In other words, converted people are the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit.
I shall now add more evidence to this argument by showing the way the Greek word aparche (NT536), often translated firstfruits, has been used in other verses in the New Testament.
Other New Testament verses that refer to firstfruits offerings
Having examined the meaning of the Greek word aparche (NT:536) in Romans 8:23, it should come as no surprise to find that where the same Greek word is used figuratively in all other New Testament verses it refers to people (Romans 8:23; 16:5; 1 Corinthians 15:20,23; 16:15; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4). Thus indicating that Romans 8:23 is likely also to be about a kind of firstfruit people – not some kind of first giving of the Holy Spirit.
So why do all the translators I have seen believe it refers to the Holy Spirit? One can only assume that they believe Holy Spirit is a person and were influenced by that false teaching. What do you believe?
Taking into consideration the above information, Romans 8:23 is referring to Christians as the firstfruits, and professional translators need to take that into consideration when trying to convey the correct meaning.