“Firstborn from the dead” — Colossians 1:18

One of the several salvifical titles ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament is “the firstborn from the dead.”

The word “firstborn” translates the Greek noun “prototokos” (πρωτότοκος). It is a compound word from two other Greek words “prṓtos” (which means “first, pre-eminent”) and “tíktō” (meaning “bring forth”). “Prototokos” (πρωτότοκος) refers to a first experience of something, which serves as an example that others would follow identically after. This is typified in the Old Testament offerings (see Gen. 4:4, Deuteronomy 12:17 & Exodus 22:29) and explained in the Epistles, as relating to Christ Jesus.


Colossians 1:15 (NKJV)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.


What creation? The succedent text explains.


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.


Jesus is seen as the first of creations who have been raised from the dead (New Creations, the Church). Obviously, the “death” here cannot be physical death ALONE as several individuals had been raised from physical death before Him (see 2 Kings 13:21, Matthew 9:23-26, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:43-44). Hence, He cannot be referred to as the “firstborn from PHYSICAL death.” This “death” would be the spiritual death of sin (Gen. 2:15-17, Isaiah 53:9), particularly that consummated in Sheol (Matthew 12:40). He dies carrying the sins of humanity. However, at Jesus’ Resurrection, He is not just raised BODILY but is also raised FREE from sin (or “born again”), hence Acts 13:32-33.


Acts 13:32-33 (NKJV)

32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. 33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:


‘You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.’


He is “begotten” anew. So Jesus is the first Man to be born again out of sin and spiritual death and He then becomes the “prototype” (“firstborn”) as it were, for His Church — all who believe on Him become EXACTLY like Him!


Romans 8:29 (NKJV)

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.


He tastes Resurrection and glorification from sin FIRST, then His Church follow suit in His image.


Hebrews 12:22-24 (NKJV)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.


John points the attention of the Churches to the blessed fact that Christ has been raised from the dead and in His Resurrection is theirs.


Revelation 1:18 (NKJV)

18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.


(For more information on this subject, get the sermon-series “What God Always Wanted” by Pastor Josh Banks).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020.


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