In Rev 1:5, John refers to Jesus as “firstborn of the dead”. Can someone explain this expression? Tnx
Just was the first to experience the resurrection that we all hope for. Jesus suffered, died, was buried. Then rose again on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. He was the firstborn into the life that God promises for all of us.
I second this post and want to add that I think the phrase “firstborn” Might not refer to His being Chronologically first. I think it does though.
One reason why it might not is because some people were resurrected chronologically before Jesus’s resurrection. The prophets Elijah and Elisha raised some people from the dead and Jesus did too before He rose to life.
But there is another reason why I think it probably refers to His resurrection as being chronologically first. Jesus’s resurrection is a different kind from simple resuscitation. He rose with a new and glorified humanity. He changed His appearance, walked through walls, and was taken into heaven by a cloud. That’s all stuff the earlier resurrected people could not do. I believe that is the kind of stuff we’ll be able to do once the General resurrection happens, when All good people will receive glorified bodies. So in that sense I think Jesus’s resurrection is being spoken of as chronologically first in the phrase “firstborn of the dead.”
If the phrase Doesn’t refer to His being chronologically first, then it probably refers to Him being first in importance. This usage is still sometimes used in English. When we say “First Lady” in reference to the President’s wife, we do not mean she is the first lady ever in the chronological sense, but rather that she currently is the first lady in honor. Perhaps it is similar with Jesus being the “firstborn of the dead.” In one sense He is not the first person chronologically to rise from the dead, but He is certainly the most important and highest in honor.
You’re right in thinking Christ rose first chronologically:
Acts 26:23 “that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.”
1Co 15:20, 23 “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep…But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits,*** then ******at his coming ***those who belong to Christ.”
The context is the resurrection and onto eternal glory in which the ***previously raised ***participate following Christ. Jesus is referred to as the “first to rise from the dead” because he is the first to rise and not die again:
“Many had been raised from the dead before Jesus; the child of the widow of Sarepta, Lazarus, and others. How, then, is Jesus first? He is the first who rises not to die again; and as such the Messias is always represented by the prophets. Others were raised from the dead, but returned again to their graves. Jesus dies no more. He is the first too who raises himself.” - Haydock *Acts: 26:23 *
Tnx…bmullin, dmar198 and slMike. I was relating the term “firstborn of the dead” to birth rather than to the resurrection. So I was completely off base. Blessed Easter to you all and your loved ones