What Does The Church of The Firstborn Mean

This is from a teaching website and a standard interpretation.

A link to the site is at the end.    

What Does The Church of The Firstborn Mean?

Hebrews 12:22-24 states: But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

First, in the original language, the term “firstborn” is in the plural. It should be translated as “church of the firstborn ones.”                                          

Second, we must recognize that Jesus is The “Firstborn.” He was given the preeminence (superiority) by God the Father over the new creation (Colossians 1:15-20). He was also preeminent because He arose from the dead and was the first person to die no more (Revelation 1:5).                                                

Third, sinners who trust and obey the gospel of Christ (John 8:24; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:9,10; Acts 2:38) will undergo water baptism to identify with Jesus (Ephesians 1:3,12; 2:13; Acts 22:16 – His precious blood which washes away our sins), the Firstborn One, to also become firstborn ones because they have been raised from water “to walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3,4). They have experienced a death to the old life of sin, a burial of that old man of sin, and a spiritual resurrection of a new man by God’s grace through faith via water immersion. They also look forward if they are faithful (if they should die first) to a physical resurrection from the dead at the end of time (1 Corinthians 15) since Jesus was the first one to rise from the dead to die no more.

https://thegospelofchrist.com/knowledge-base/tgoc-kb–hwwgt

Discussion and Analysis

First, the fact that firstborn is in plural form is not Biblical interpretation, but Grade school grammar. The subject is ‘church’ which should require no explanation, as having many members. This requires the plural form in the object of the preposition, ‘firstborn.’                                                     

Second, Jesus is identified as the Firstborn, hence the church of the firstborn implies: His church, His body. This then supports the idea of ‘The Church of The Firstborn One’. Translating ‘church of the firstborn ones’ suggests to the reader that only firstborn children are allowed membership, and misrepresents the significance of the word.                                                                         

Third, and most elaborate is the explanation that sinners who are baptised in repentance become ‘firstborn ones’ by faith. No where in the New Testament are we ever instructed that we have become firstborn by grace through faith. To understand the significance of the firstborn, the seeker of Truth must look to the Law and the Prophets. 

Isaiah 8:20.  To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

[Here is an analysis based on Exodus 13 and associated scriptures.]  

Memorial of the Firstborn

Exodus 13:9.  And it shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand and for a memorial before your eyes that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.                                                     

After destroying all the firstborn males of Egypt and sparing Israel, both of man and beast, the Lord claims all the firstborn males who open the womb as His own possession. To eat bread without leaven for seven days is to acknowledge what God sanctifies unto Himself as an ordinance forever. These commandments are for a memorial to the strong hand of the Lord in our life, to direct our actions in accordance with His ways, not our own ability.

Exodus 13:1-8, (abbreviated).  The Lord spoke to Moses; sanctify unto me all the firstborn…remember this day you came out of Egypt, for the Lord brought you out with a strong hand, therefore you shall not eat with leaven….for seven days…and you shall tell your son in that day “This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when he brought me out of Egypt. 

Exodus 13:14, 15.   And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, what is this? You shall say unto him, with a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the house of slavery…..therefore I sacrifice to the Lord every male that opens the womb but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.                                 

The Lord displays His strong hand in judgment against the strength of man as a display of sovereignty.

1 Corinthians 1:25.   “For the weakness of God is stronger than men.”      

This perception of man invested in the first born male is clearly understood in the words of Jacob in his final blessing upon his sons.

Genesis 49:3.  Reuben you, my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.                                     

“The beginning of my strength” is the expression of a man’s virility.            

Psalm 105:36.  He smote all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength. 

On the other hand, God displays His might and the beginning of His strength in creation:

Isaiah 40:26.  Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one fails.                  

Moreover, this perception of the firstborn male is an expression of the pride of man. In this context, the Lord invests Israel before the witness of Pharaoh (the false man-god) with a severe warning:

Exodus 4:22&23.  And you shall say unto Pharaoh, thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn, and I say unto you; let my son go that he may serve me, and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, your firstborn.      

The priesthood became exclusive to the tribe of Levi after the golden calf incident, and as a result, they took the place of the firstborn redeemed of the Lord.

Numbers 3:12 & 13.  Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that open the womb from among the children of Israel, therefore the Levites shall be mine because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast, mine shall they be: I am the Lord.                                                                                                  

The census established the number of Levite males qualified to serve with Aaron in the priesthood, the sons of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The census of the firstborn males totaled 273 souls above that of the qualified Levite males, and these were redeemed by a five shekel per man redemption price.

In modern day Israel, the government mints a five shekel coin that can be purchased for a family to commemorate a son as the firstborn, by natural childbirth. Family restrictions in some countries, birth control, abortion and cesarean birth all restrict the number of firstborn males who open the womb, and thus the church of the firstborn.

Take heed to understand that the church is not exclusive to firstborn males of natural childbirth, but the number establishes a limit to the fullness. 

God has taken for Himself the firstborn reflecting the fact that the Son of God is the firstborn of all creation, as well the firstborn from the dead.

Luke 21:24.  For Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the gentiles until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.                                                                                   

Romans 11:25. For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 

Thus these prophetic scriptures apply to the gentiles, and this age has an established end.

The Great Reveal

Luke 2:3, 4. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 12:2, 3.  For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

1 Corinthians 3:13. Their work will soon become evident, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test and prove each one’s workmanship .

Luke 17:30.  Even so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13-16. Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former desires, in your ignorance;  but as He who called you holy, you also be holy in all conduct,  because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Jesus Christ Revealed To The Children Of God

Luke 10:21, 22. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal.

Revelation 1:1-3. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.  Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Matthew 16:17. Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Ephesians 3:3-6. How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:  that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.

The Righteousness of God Revealed

Romans 1:17.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:23.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 

Philippians 3:15, 16. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

1 Peter 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in every profession and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

God’s Glory Revealed

1 Peter 4:12-14. Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 

1 Peter 5:1. The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.

1 Peter 1:6-9. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

Romans 8:18.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 

Spiritual Wisdom By Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-20. Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.

The Mind of Christ by The Revelation of The Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:10-16. God has been revealed to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolish to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged by no one.  For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Benediction

Romans 16:25-27. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith. And to the only wise God: Glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.