Acts 26:23 says Jesus is the first to rise from the dead, but what of those who resurrected prior to Jesus (e.g. Lazarus or those raised by Elijah and Elisha)?
While other human beings were brought back to life prior to Jesus' death and resurrection, there is a fundamental and critical difference between those earlier events and the one Jesus experienced. In all other cases, the person who was raised returned to an earthly, sinful body, and therefore they had to die again one day.
Those resurrections were miraculous displays of God's power, but they do not represent a solution for the fundamental problem of sin and death. If Lazarus still died again, then his earlier resurrection was ultimately meaningless to him and the question remains how does he conquer death once and for all?
The answer is by faith in the One Who conquered death, Jesus Christ! He died to pay the price for sin and then rose again to prove His power over death. And most importantly, Jesus never dies again. The Bible testifies that unlike Lazarus and others who were resurrected prior to Jesus, our Lord will never suffer death a second time:
Rom. 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
Rom. 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
Rom. 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
2Cor. 13:4 For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.
Heb. 7:24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.
Heb. 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Jesus' death and resurrection and continuing life is our evidence that He possesses eternal life and can give us eternal life as well. As Paul testifies:
1Cor. 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
1Cor. 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
1Cor. 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
1Cor. 15:4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1Cor. 15:5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
1Cor. 15:6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
1Cor. 15:7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
1Cor. 15:8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
In this sense, Jesus was the first resurrection, because His resurrection was the first to result in eternal life without end. All believers in Jesus will follow in His footsteps one day at our resurrection when we receive eternal sinless bodies that never die again. For more information, please read: