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.