Firstborn

Topics: New Testament, Jesus, Old Testament Pages: 9 (1882 words) Published: April 29, 2014
Calling Christ “firstborn”, according to Colossians 1:15, shows his preeminence over all creation. Both the Old and New Testament affirm firstborn as caring a meaning of supremacy. This meaning is frequently tied into the right of inheritance going to the firstborn. In context the passage in which Colossians 1:15 is located necessitates Christ’s eternality and declares he is sovereignty. Using “firstborn” as a means to assert that Christ is a created being is unfounded. Jesus Christ is highest in position equal to the Father having the right of inheritance and rule over all of creation. The term “firstborn” has its roots in the Old Testament.1 The Hebrew word for “firstborn” carries with it both the idea of first in terms of birth order and supremacy in status, usually the two are connected.2 The Hebrew term for “firstborn” is translated by the same Greek word used in Colossians 1:15 130 times in the LXX.3 Most often it is used in genealogies to indeed describe the eldest born child.4 Deuteronomy 21:15-17 holds clearly to the meaning of birth order while at the same time revealing the privileges that come along with being the firstborn. The words usage outside of the literal meaning in the Old Testament testifies to its great range.5 “Firstborn” is greatly influenced by the birthright that accompanies the position; the word signifies the inheritance and rule that come with this special place in the Jewish family.6 The idea of a special place and priority frequently takes the place of the literal meaning.7 Israel is called God’s firstborn in Exodus 4:22 and Jeremiah 31:9, it is impossible to give the literal meaning to these verses. They demonstrate rather, Israel’s importance and special position to God as the nation he chose and will give an inheritance.8 In Psalm 89:27 God calls David, as well as the future Messiah, his firstborn, promising in verse 29 an inheritance of a permanent love, covenant, and throne.9 David by no means was the eldest son of his father Jesse, rather he was the youngest. Inheritance was of great importance to the firstborn. The one who held specific rights as Primogeniture received not just wealth, but status and rule amongst the family.10 Foremost among the inheritance given to the firstborn was a double portion of the father's estate, shown in Deuteronomy 21:17. The inheritance could include land, money, livestock, and servants thus the birthright could be an enormous amount in a wealthy family.11 In Genesis 25:5 Isaac would benefit from the vast material assets given to him as the firstborn of Sarah, even though Ishmael was truly the firstborn of Abraham. It simply states that Abraham gave Isaac “everything he owned” and as told in Genesis 24:35 it was quite a large estate. The firstborn son of a king would also receive, along with the wealth and property, the throne as succeeding king.12 In several cases such as Solomon the birthright of heir to the throne is removed from the oldest and given to the one whom is highly favored, 1 Kings 1:1-13. Inheritance was not the only right falling to the firstborn son. The firstborn was also bestowed the privilege of being considered the glory of the family.13 He was given the position of preeminence amongst the siblings.14 In Deuteronomy 21:17 the firstborn was seen as "the first sign of his father’s strength" and in Psalm 105:36 "the firstfruits of [his father’s] manhood.” Jacob would call his firstborn Reuben, in Genesis 49:3, "my might", “excelling in honor," and "excelling in power.” These rights did not always go to the eldest child. One might be given the special preeminence in the family; though they are not physically born first they become the “firstborn”.15 Genesis has several stories of the rights of a firstborn going to another. Jacob received Esau’s blessing from both Isaac in Genesis 27:28-29 and God in Genesis 25:23. Reuben lost out on the birthright to Joseph and subsequently Ephraim even though Manasseh was also older.16 Although...

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