Firstborn Sonship of Christ

Vol 23 No 11
November 1998
The New Birth
Series Number: 1

      "Who is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature," Col 1:15.
      God has made Christ the Firstborn of all creation in a divine redemptive excellence that excels all the fantasies of human imagination. As the Firstborn of all creation Christ has preeminence over all created things.
      "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power," Gen 49:3.
      In the Scriptures the "firstborn" carries immeasurable significance and requires our undivided attention. The word "firstborn" in its eternal promissory significance is applied to Christ and the covenant people (Ex 4:22-23; Heb 12:23), but never to saved people outside the covenants. The saved person does not have to be faithful to be a son of God among the nations, but he must be faithful to be a firstborn son within the firstborn sonship of Christ, Mt 5:9,43-45; Lk 6:35; Rom 8:28-30; 2Co 6:17-18; Gal 4:19-5:4; Heb 12:1-23; 2Pe 1:1-10; 2Jn 9; Rev 21:7.
      The "firstborn" in the Scriptures is intended to exemplify all the excellencies of the father, and therefore of Christ as the Firstborn of God. It pleased the Father that all the fullness of deity dwell at home in Christ in a human body, Col 1:19; 2:9. This was the God-appointed attitude that earthly parents in Israel should have toward their firstborn son (Ex 12 & 13; Num 3 & 8), in order to emphasize God's purpose according to His election of Christ as the firstborn of all creation, and of the faithful covenant people sharing Christ's firstborn sonship above all creation in all ages to come, Rom 8:28-30; 9:4; 11:1-32; Col 3:15; Heb 12:15-23; 2Pe 1:1-10.
      The faithful in Israel are God's covenant firstborn people prepared by Him to be the firstborn nation of firstborn sons to rule eternally over the other saved nations of other sons who will never be firstborn sons, Ex 4:22-26; 19:1-6; Deu 7:6-11; 14:2; 26:16-19; 28:1.
      In like manner, still as God's ingrafted Israel, the faithful in the church are likewise being prepared to jointly share Christ's firstborn sonship and rule eternally with Christ over the nations of other sons who will never be firstborn sons, Rom 2:28- 29; 8:17-30; 9:4; 11:1-32; 2Co 6:14-18; Gal 3; 4 5:1-4; Eph 2:11-22; Phi 3:7-14; Heb 3:14; 12:1-23; 2Pe 1-10; Rev 21:7.

      18 "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence," Col 1:18.
      Observe the preeminence of the firstborn son over the other sons. This is emphasized throughout the Scriptures, Gen 27:27-37; Ex 4:22-23; 11:5; 12:12; 13:2,13,15; Num 3:2,12.13,40-50; 8:16-18.
      Christ is called the "Firstborn" of God at least six times in the Scriptures. Two of those six times Christ is specifically called the "First-born from the dead." The question therefore arises: was the resurrection of Christ's human body a BIRTH?
      The answer is, "Yes, Christ's human body was born of God in His resurrection," as we will observe from many passages. And having this divine birth in the resurrection of His human body from the dead, Christ, by means of His human body, created a new kind of human body, specifically a divine human body. He thereby became the first divinely born firstborn of every creature, and therefore has preeminence above all creation.
      What happened to Christ's body in His resurrection that produced a birth? What must happen to any human body in its resurrection that will genuinely produce a birth? Will the resurrection of the bodies of the unsaved be a birth? Will the bodies of the unsaved be born out of the grave to stand before God in judgment and then be cast into the lake of fire? Can the resurrection of the bodies of the unsaved be defined as a birth? Can the resurrection of the bodies of the unfaithful saved be called a birth? What constitutes the resurrection birth?
      The "firstborn from the dead" addresses the resurrection of the body - in this case, the resurrection of Christ's human body that He received from Mary in the virgin birth. Mary was not the "mother of God," or of Christ as the Son of God. Mary was not divine and could not give Christ a divine body. Furthermore, though the virgin birth was a miracle, God did not work another miracle by giving Christ a divine body through Mary. In His virgin birth, Christ was given a perfect human body without the sinful human nature.
      Why did God give the first Adam a physical flesh body in the first place? Evidently because God wanted man to have a flesh body, as the predominate creature among millions of different kinds of physical creatures, larger and smaller, Gen 1:26-31; Heb 2:5-18; Col 1:15-19; 2:9-10. And God gave man some unique characteristics which made man in God's likeness in many ways, such as spirit (a major factor), reason (a second major factor), and conscience (a third major factor). It was God's pleasure to do so, and He did it with perfect knowledge of all future events in an endless eternity. God has displayed a portion of His infinite knowledge, power, and diversity in His physical creation as well as in His creation of many different spirit creatures, 1Ki 8:7; Eze 1:6; Rev 4:8; Isa 6:2; Rev 9:1-11; Rev 9:12-19; Jude 6; et al.
      The first Adam failed in a human body, therefore Christ as God's substitute for all the human race, had to be born of woman in order to become our Kinsman Redeemer, which was the first major step toward Christ becoming the second Adam as the Head of a new kind of man, 1Co 15:44-50; 2Co 5:16-17. Christ then had to live a perfect life in that human body, after which He further had to endure God's wrath against the sins of the first Adam and his descendants in order to redeem the human race from its fallen state. However, God's predetermined purpose was to produce not only a human race in a sinless state of being, but to fulfill the promise offered by putting the "tree of life" in the midst of the Garden of Eden, Gen 2:9. This would be done in the resurrection only after the above redemption requirements were accomplished.

      5 "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten (firstborn) of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood," Rev 1:5.
      This is a second witness that Christ was "the Firstborn from the dead." The Greek word "prototokos" here in Rev 1:5 is the same Greek word translated "firstborn" in Col 1:18.
      Again, the "body" Christ received in the virgin birth was altogether a human body, though He was the divine Son of God dwelling in that human body - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GOD," Jn 1:1.
      In His human body Jesus grew from an infant into adulthood. His human body required food to live, otherwise the forty days and nights He went without food would mean nothing. "And having fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward hungry," Mt 4:2.
      After forty days and nights, Jesus must have been very hungry and weak physically. This was not a game and Satan was not unaware of the food requirement of the human body of Christ. So in this very real and major temptation of Jesus, Satan put forth his best effort by saying, "If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread," Mt 4:3. God cannot be tempted (Ja 1:13), but the Son of God in a human body could be tempted and was tempted because His human body required food, Mt 4:1-11.
      God does not need food and water to maintain a perfect state of life in His being. God's life is constant and does not require intake of food to constantly maintain a complete and perfect state of life.
      However, Jesus in a sinless human body thirsted, Jn 4:7,10; 19:28. God is all powerful. He never becomes tired or sleepy (and never sleeps), but Jesus in a perfect human body became both tired and slept soundly, Jn 4:6; Mk 4:37-38; Lk 8:23.
      God is not flesh and blood as we are, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 15:50), yet before the resurrection of Jesus the life of His perfect flesh body was in the blood which He shed for our sins, Heb 9:12; 1Pe 1:19; 1Jn 1:7; Rev 5:9; 7:14.
      God cannot die, but the perfect human body of Christ was made sin and died on the cross, was buried, and remained in the grave three days and nights, 2Co 5:21; 1Pe 2:24; 1Co 15:3-4.
      When the body of Christ was raised out of the grave it was no longer a flesh and blood body. The life of His glorified body was no longer in the blood (1Co 15:50), but in the divine nature which now permeates His human body. His flesh body is no longer mere flesh. It is now a spirit body (1Co 15:44-50; 6:15-17) - indeed, a divine body, a new kind of human body, a new race of mankind will emerge through the second Adam, 1Co 15:44-50. This is the "new man" of the Scriptures, Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10; 2Co 5:16-17; Eph 2:10,15-16. Of course, the "new man" (the body that Christ now has) is neither male nor female, Gal 3:28; Lk 20:34-36.
      The divine body can be visible or invisible, tangible or intangible, shine like the sun, burn like a fire, travel bodily as fast as we can now travel in our minds, cannot be ill-affected by any of the physical or spiritual forces of the universe, and will share in a one entity relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, etc., Dan 12:3; Mt 13:43; 17:2-3; Lk 9:28-32; 24:13-53; Jn 20:11-29; Act 26:13-19; 1Co 6:15-17; 15:1-2,44-55; 2Co 3:17-18; 5:1-5,16-17; Eph 2:10,15-16; 4:22-24; Phi 3:7-14,21; Col 3:9-10; Heb 2:9-13; 5:8-9; etc.
      9 "For in Him is dwelling all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," Col 2:9 Christ is the Firstborn of God, and therefore possesses all the excellencies (divine attributes) of God. Christ in His human body, received from Mary in His virgin birth, now possesses all the attributes of God in that human body as the second Adam. Christ, therefore, is the Firstborn of all creation (preeminent above all creation), and He is also, as the second Adam, the Firstborn of all mankind in a new kind of divine human body. See verses above.
      God will not subject the world (age) to come to angels (Heb 2:5-18), but has made Christ to be our "Kinsman Redeemer" by making Him the Firstborn from the dead into a divine body, therefore Christ and those joined together in Him will have preeminence over the ages to come. This is the heart of God's divine purpose.
      God's grand and divine plan before creation was to create all things by and for Christ and finally at God's appointed time for Christ to become the "Firstborn from among the dead." It was God's pleasure for Christ in this unique and divinely appointed redemptive process to have the preeminence over all creation.
      16 "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. 17 "Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people," Heb 2:16-17.
      The angels are immeasurably greater than man is, yet God chose to take of the very least of His intelligent and eternal creatures, and sent His Son to be born in a human body. Then through the redemptive process bring many sons (faithful firstborn covenant sons only) to glory (Heb 2:10; 5:8-9) by bringing them into Christ's firstborn sonship to share in the fullness of God in this unique relationship, Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; Col 2:9-10-17,19-21; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.

ACTS 13:29-33
      29 "Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. 30 "But God raised Him from the dead: 31 "And He was seen many days of them which came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people. 32 "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 "God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that He hath RAISED UP Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, You are My Son, TODAY have I begotten You," Act 13:29-33.
      Verses 28 through 37 specifically provide inspired proof of the resurrection of Christ's physical body out from among the dead, which body experienced no corruption.
      37 "But He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption." The verses that follow: 34, 35, and 37, emphasize that Christ's body saw no corruption. Verse 36 states that David's body did see corruption, which emphasizes that the prophecies in the other verses were speaking of Christ's human body and not the body of David.
      The human body of Christ was born of God the very day it was raised out of the grave. By means of the virgin birth God gave Jesus a perfect human body, then in the resurrection God infused the divine nature into that flesh body so that it also became divine as Christ was otherwise always divine from before creation, Jn 1:1-2; Phi 2:6-11; Col 1:15-19. Indeed, Christ was God dwelling in that human body during His earthly life, Jn 1:1-3,14; Phi 2:6-11.
      This birth of the human body of Christ into a divine, spirit body was a new thing - a "new man," - not just a new man, but a "new kind of man," which we must put on daily after we put off our "old man" by the renewing of our minds, Eph 4:22-24; Col 2:11; 3:9-10.
      This passage, Act 13:33 (28-37) states unequivocally that Christ's human body was born of God in the resurrection of that body. This fact is confirmed by Col 1:18 and Rev 1:5 which clearly state that Christ is the "Firstborn from the dead." This makes four inspired witnesses of this wonderful truth, including the prophesy of Ps 2:7.

      5 "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, You are My Son, TODAY I have BEGOTTEN You? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son? (witnesses five and six). 6 "And again, when He brings in the FIRSTBEGOTTEN into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him," Heb 1:5-6. Witness seven.
      "You are My Son, today I have begotten You" is addressing the resurrection of Christ as in Act 13:29-33.
      "I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son," is quoted from 2Sa 7:14 and also refers to the resurrection birth of Christ. Both of these verses (Heb 1:5-6) are addressing the resurrection of Christ as the divine birth of Christ's human body into a divine, heavenly, spirit body. Though generically we once knew Christ after the flesh (in a mere human body), we no longer know Him in a mere human body, 2Co 5:15-16.

      5 "So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, You are My Son, TODAY I have given birth to You," Heb 5:5.
      Here again the inspired Word provides an eighth witness of the resurrection of Christ, as the day of the divine birth of His human body, received in the virgin birth. Jesus said:
      30 "I can of My own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me. 31 "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true," Jn 5:30-31.
      As a human, Jesus was ordained and served as High Priest from the time of His baptism, but He was still in a very official testing (proving) time, as we see in the further writing of Heb 5:7 "Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; 8 "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; 9 "And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; 10 "Called of God an High Priest after the order of Melchizedek," Heb 5:7-10.
      Jesus did not "have it made" in His virgin birth, nor in His baptism, not until He endured the Cross and all its suffering and then was raised from the dead, thereby:
      14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; 15 "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ..... 19 "And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, is increasing with the increase of God. 20 "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 "Touch not; taste not; handle not," Col 2:14-17, 19-21.
      1 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. 2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth," Col 3:1-2.
      These verses concern those in the body of Christ (Col 2:17,19) who are credited (Rom 4:17) as being crucified, dead, buried, raised, and glorified together with Christ, Rom 6:3-6, 11-13; 1Co 6:15-17.
      The church in the figure (a metaphor) is the body of Christ. Those who are baptized into Christ in the metaphor are metaphorically "joined" to Christ as the members of His body. In the metaphor their bodies, as the members of Christ, were crucified, died, were buried, raised, and glorified together with and in the physical body of Christ when it passed through the crucifixion cycle.
      Someone wrote that when the Bible speaks of the church as the body of Christ and the bodies of church members as being the members of Christ, that it has nothing to do with the physical body of Christ. Please observe the following:
      Jesus spoke of the bread in the Lord's Supper as being His body and the fruit of the vine in the Lord's Supper as being His blood. The blood came from the physical body of Christ, Mt 26:26-28; 1Co 10:16-21.
      The sacrifices of 1Co 10:18 signify the bodies of sacrificial animals, a part of which bodies was burned on the altar, and which bodies represented the physical body of Christ. And 1Co 10:16-21 is talking about the Lord's Supper, the Lord's table. And the same is true with 1Co 5:7-11.
      1Co 11:17-34 speaks of the church as the body of Christ and associates the bread and the fruit of the vine of the Lord's Supper with the physical body of Christ. The blood represented in the Lord's Supper came from the physical body Christ received through Mary.
      Look also at 1Co 12:12-28 and observe that the physical body of Christ and the church as the physical body of Christ are being addressed. When the church is called the body of Christ, it is the physical body of Christ (now deified) that is under consideration.
      Again Eph 4:11-16 speaks of the body of Christ of which He is the Head as a physical body with all its joints and parts coordinating together in their appointed functions. This body, of course, is the church metaphorically representing the physical (now glorified) body of Christ.
      The bodies of the animal sacrifices and the blood from those animals that was used in many ways to cleanse and sanctify under the Law Covenant, were representative of what in the New Covenant? The bodies of all those animal sacrifices represented the physical body of Christ, and all the blood of sprinkling was representative of the blood from the physical body of Christ.
      The covenant people, and the covenant people only, ate the sacrifices and were sprinkled with the blood of the same sacrifices. This pictured the faithful New Covenant people (not all saved people) symbolically eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, Mt 26:26-28; 1Co 10:16-21; 11:17-34; Jn 6:27-67.
      20 "I have found David My servant; with My holy oil have I anointed Him..... 27 "Also I will make Him My FIRSTBORN, higher than the kings of the earth," Ps 89:20, 27.
      David was not the firstborn in his family. He was born number eight after seven older brothers, 1Sa 16:10-13. This passage (Ps 89:20, 27) is referring to David as a type of Christ. And the passage says "I will make Him My Firstborn," referring to the resurrection birth of Christ, which emphasizes two important things in view of the previous passages of Christ as the Firstborn of God: 1) Christ, as the son of David, would be born into a divine body in His resurrection, and 2) Christ would possess the first human body to be born into a divine state of being. This gave Christ, as a new kind of man, the preeminence above all creation.