Author: Ron Graham
The Three Firsts of Jesus
—First cause, first born, first place
In Colossians 1:18, Paul proclaims three ways in which Jesus is first..."He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that in all things he might have the first place".
1 Jesus is First Cause
"He is the beginning..." Jesus is the First Cause, your Creator.
What does Paul mean by this? In what sense is Jesus the beginning? The two preceding verses answer this quite simply. There's no need for puzzlement or debate...
"By him all things were created in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17).
John says the same thing. "He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3).
Jesus existed with God before anything was created, and he was with God at the beginning of creation. He was with God as the First Cause of the creation. That is the sense in which he was "the beginning".
2 Jesus is First Born
"...the firstborn from the dead..." Jesus is your forerunner.
Paul calls Jesus "the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15). Some have interpreted “firstborn of all creation” to mean that he was the first created of all creatures. However we do not need anyone to interpret in what sense Jesus was the firstborn of all creation. We have Paul telling us exactly what is meant just two verses further on. "He is... the firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18).
Jesus is "firstborn from the dead" —the first to be raised from the dead, ascend to heaven, and live forever. Nobody else has ever yet done that. One day, all who believe and obey him will follow in his steps. But he is our forerunner (Hebrews 6:20).
"As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive; but each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at his coming" (1Corinthians 15:22-23). That is the sense in which he was "the firstborn from the dead".
3 Jesus has First Place
"...the first place in everything..." He is your Lord and God.
Some versions of the Bible use a big word for "first place". They call it "preeminence". But "first place" is what preeminence means. Jesus because of the other two firsts, deserves the first place in everything. Paul puts it another way in the verse following our key verse. "It pleased the Father that in him (Christ) all the fullness should dwell" (Colossians 1:19). Later Paul says, "In him dwells all the fullness of the deity bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Jesus has equality with God. That is the sense in which he has first place.
Let us worship Jesus and give him first place in our hearts and lives —he who is the first cause of all creation, who showed his power over all creation by becoming the firstborn from the dead.