The Last Will Be First
Biblical Themes
Trace the theme of the firstborn through the story of the Bible in this animated video. Discover how God overturns human systems and redefines power as love.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. Read Genesis 4:1-5, 17:15-21, and 25:21-26, taking note of the brothers’ names for future reference. The Bible was written in a society that granted unique privileges and responsibilities to a family’s firstborn son. How does God challenge this cultural norm in these Genesis stories?
  2. Read Genesis 4:5-9, 21:8-9, 27:41-42. How do the older siblings in each story and generation react to God overturning their status?
  3. Jacob and Esau’s bitter rivalry spanned generations, and now their children are at war. Note the names in Esau’s bloodline as you read Genesis 28:6-9, 36:1-2, and 36:11-12. See also Exodus 17:9-9 and Joshua 24:11. Discuss how Esau partners with Cain and Ishmael’s bloodlines to attack Jacob’s descendants (Israel).
  4. Let’s look at another family feud in Matthew 20:20-28. Why are the 10 disciples mad at the two brothers? What does Jesus say to those who want the rights and power that come with being “first”?
  5. Jesus is the firstborn of a new bloodline characterized by peacefulness. Read Hebrews 12 out loud as a group. How does Jesus invite us to endure difficult situations? Zoom into verse 24. What does Jesus’ blood “speak” that Abel’s does not?
  6. Take time to discuss other themes, questions, or key takeaways from what you learned together.

Jesus is referred to as “the firstborn” throughout the New Testament, but what does this mean? This title communicates authority in the ancient world, as the firstborn sons received blessings and inheritance from their fathers. Most of the conflicts in the Bible stem from battles between siblings fighting over who gets the power. It’s all one big dysfunctional family feud.

But Yahweh takes this cultural norm and turns it upside-down. He repeatedly blesses and anoints the second-born, or the latecomer, making clear that he is the one who grants authority. In the gospel accounts, the authors identify Jesus as the exalted Son who is given a place of firstborn authority over all creation. This is a revolutionary statement about Jesus’ identity, and Jesus himself claimed that God’s power was arriving on Earth through him—but it was power redefined.

In Jesus’ Kingdom, the last are first, and true power is found through loving all people, even your enemies. Jesus’ early followers called him the firstborn among creation, seeing him as the ultimate heir in the family of God. And as his followers, we share in the great inheritance of Yahweh.

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Podcast Series
Firstborn: The Last Will Be First
11 Episodes
In the ancient world, firstborn sons received inheritance and blessing from their fathers. But throu

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