Romans 8:29 - What is a firstborn?
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Rom 8:29
Specifically, what is 'firstborn' here in this context?
- Most Bibles have 'brethren' or 'brothers', which would naturally include 'sisters'. But the critical matter here is among, ἐν (en).
- ἐν (en) can also be 'in' or 'within'. Jesus is the firstborn from among his brothers in the faith. From within the ranks of his brothers. He is the first to realise the destiny God had planned for all men (and women).
- Other similar uses of firstborn are in Col 1:15,18, Heb 1:6 and Rev 1:5. They all refer to Jesus being the firstborn of creation and of the dead. Which is essentially the same thing. Jesus, the last Adam, is the first to go from mortal humanity to immortal humanity. Rom 6:9
- All humanity is dead/corrupted because of sin inherited from Adam. Jesus, is the first to receive the promised spirit in the form of new eternal life.
He has been exalted at the right hand of God, and has received the promise of the holy spirit from the Father... Acts 2:33
Jesus is the first to be born of the new, eternal, spirit life that God designed for all to have. We see this also in the passage -
God... predestined (those) to be conformed to the image of his Son.
Without Christ as Saviour, there could be no life after this age. He, having destroyed the power of sin and death (Rom 5 explains this in great detail), is the firstborn of a new age where God is the only God and all evil is banished or destroyed. Finally, all creation can be what God intended all along in and through Jesus the firstborn.
for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist through him 1 Cor 8:6
God never intended His human creation to stop with the mess Adam initiated. He intended all to have opportunity to realise true life through the one to come, His son and saviour, Jesus. All things, as Paul expresses, are destined to have their ultimate existence, of a true spiritual nature, in Jesus.
The saints of old including Abraham and David etc are waiting (while dead) for their change with the saints of this age, for they too are given life only through Jesus the Christ. Affirming that Jesus truly is the firstborn of even these from ages ago. Heb 11:39-40
No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. John 3:13
As the firstborn, Jesus has led the way for all humans to follow his transformation to eternal life. This has nothing to do with other resurrections like Lazarus etc, for they did not awake into a new spirit life.