Near the end of the first letter Paul suddenly jumps back to the basics - the basic gospel that they first responded to. He gives a superbly concise version of the gospel in v3-4. Its always worth us having such a crisp view in our minds ready to share when needed.
Yet the brevity of words opens huge concepts. The resurrection of the one man Jesus Christ shows the general principal of resurrection for the many. The converse logic is true also (v12) - no resurrection of people, then surely Christ was not raised either. In this case we should all pack and go home, its futile (v14-19). For Paul everything hangs on the physical resurrection of Jesus: without it we are still in our sins (v16-17).
That ought to make us curious - for didn't Paul start the letter with a resolve to know nothing other than Christ and Him crucified (2:2)? Is it not in the cross where there is the power to save? The answer is that you can't have one without the other: cross with no resurrection leaves just a dead body with holes in, and no cross means no possibility of resurrection!
Paul is emphatic: v20 Christ has indeed been raised from the dead. He has led the way, and from this all else now makes sense. In fact it radically changes our understanding of death, the end of our current lives. Death is not something to be feared, in fact it can even be embraced. It is not the end of the road, but more the point of take-off, like an aircraft leaving the runway. As Christians we should live in the comfort of this reality.
Further it is important to understand (v44f) that Paul is talking of physical resurrection. We don't leave our old bodies behind and become floating spirits - Jesus appeared with a changed-but-physical body, so will we. God renews creation, rather than simply binning it. He takes it forward to its fulfilled purpose. That raises lots of questions of course, which Paul admits (v35), but is content to sum up in v52 as 'we will all be changed'.
Of greatest importance is to understand that Christ is raised first because He is Lord - He reigns! Now everything, bit by bit, is being brought under His Lordship. For that reason we can now expect signs of this breaking in to the now. This is why we should not settle for situations being stuck in decay, despondency or despair, but rather pray in the Name of Jesus for His transformation to be seen. We may not see all the transformation immediately, but rather than just giving up let us resolve to get even closer to Jesus.
So as the term starts, and we discover broken life scenarios through our church's activities, let us live and act in the light of the risen Lord, praying expectantly for signs of resurrection life to appear in lives across the city.