The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
March 4, 1990


1) Jesus -- "The First-Born" (Part One) (Tom Edwards)
2) Sentence Sermons


Jesus -- "The First-Born" (Part One)

by Tom Edwards

The Bible uses various phrases which helpfully convey a more thorough understanding of the nature of Jesus. For example, Isaiah 9:6 refers to the name of the Lord as "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."  How can we not be mindful of the Lord's supreme character after reading this passage?

Another such term is seen in Colossians 1:15 where Paul gloriously declares Jesus to be "...the image of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN of all creation" (emphasis mine). Just what did Paul mean by proclaiming Jesus the "firstborn"? Is he indicating that the Lord had a beginning?

Let us first note that to take the term literally would mean that Jesus was born and could not be used, as some have tried, to teach that He was created. Was Jesus, however, born somewhere back in time before the creation of the universe? If so, who gave birth to Him?  And if He was not, then we must agree that the term "firstborn" is used figuratively.

The Bible testifies to Christ's eternal nature: He was the "Word" who was "in the beginning with God" (John 1:1-3) and through whom all created things came into being. Colossians 1:16 states, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."  With this verse in mind, how then could one view Jesus as being a created being since He was the One who had made all created things? If He were created, then He would have had to have been the One responsible for creating Himself also.

Let us next briefly consider the figurative usage of the term "first-born" as seen in Isaiah 14:30. It reads, "And the first-born of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety...." Are we to assume that the "firstborn of the poor" has reference to those who were only the first ones born into poor families? Seeing this passage in different Bible versions helps us to better understand the meaning of this phrase. The New American Standard renders it in the following manner.  "And those who are MOST HELPLESS will eat, and the needy will lie down in security...." (emphasis mine). And notice the translation in the New International Version, "The POOREST OF THE POOR will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in safety...." (emphasis mine).  It is obvious from this verse that the "firstborn of the poor" does not have reference to the time of their birth, but rather to the EXTREME poverty in which they were living; it indicates poverty at its worse.

In Isaiah 14:30, "firstborn" is used in connection with poorness; but that is only one way -- and a rare way -- in which the Bible applies it. May this lesson serve as an introductory study to help us see that the term "firstborn" can be used to express figuratively an EXTREME POSITION above all others.  Next week we will consider some other passages that use this word and see of the very special positions they refer to.


Sentence Sermons

When you have nothing left but God, you begin to learn that God is enough.

Pick your friends, but not to pieces.

It's been observed that many people use mighty thin thread when mending their ways.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards