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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, September 05 2019

The 'firstborn from the dead' - What does it mean?

The moment Jesus Christ walked out of the tomb, a momentous opportunity began for you and me. With His resurrection and ascension to the very throne of God, Jesus was the first of many who would become spirit beings dwelling in the presence of God.

The God family, from the beginning, comprised two divine Beings—God and the Word (John 1:1-2). The Word became flesh some 2,000 years ago as the Son of God, Jesus Christ (verse 14). After Jesus’ human life and death, He was resurrected to divine spirit existence as “the firstborn from the dead” and “firstborn among many brethren” (Colossians 1:18; Romans 8:29).

The “many brethren” are all God’s faithful people --- those who will join Jesus Christ as His brothers and sisters in the divine family of God when they are resurrected to immortal spirit life. The apostle Paul explained that Jesus conquered death and is “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). In other words, Christ paved the way into the Kingdom of God, so that those who are truly devoted to Him can have assurance and expectation of the resurrection.

Jesus overcame death and is the forerunner, the first to be resurrected from the dead, making eternal life possible for many others to follow (Romans 8:29). The Bible leaves no doubt —there will be others to follow in time. As Paul tells us, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:5).

The Bible is speaking here of a resurrection to permanent, everlasting life as a spirit being. Most people assume we will go to live in heaven when we die, but that isn’t what is taught in Scripture. To the contrary, we are told, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13). The Apostle John wrote these words near the end of the first century. He knew that only Jesus Christ had been resurrected and gone to heaven. No one else had in all of human history!

To clarify this, we are reminded in the book of Acts, in the apostle Peter’s inspired message on the Feast of Pentecost when the Church was founded: “The patriarch David … is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day … For David did not ascend into the heavens” (Acts 2:29, Acts 2:34). This tells us that even a man “after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22) still rests in the grave, awaiting the resurrection at Jesus’ return. No one, other than Jesus Christ, has ascended to heaven or been resurrected to immortal, spirit life.

Our reward is being brought with Jesus when He returns to the earth. This is God’s purpose for man—to give us eternal life in His family through the resurrection, to be His divine offspring, His sons and daughters. This is why Paul described Jesus as “the firstborn among many brethren.”

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