Firstborn of the Dead

The vision of the “Son of Man” in the Book of Revelation is preceded by “greetings” from the “One who is, who was, and who is coming,” the “Seven Spirits before His Throne,” and from Jesus Christ, the “Faithful Witness” and the “Firstborn of the Dead.” In his death, he gave faithful testimony, and God vindicated his sacrifice by raising him from the dead. Moreover, his resurrection is the precedent for the future resurrection of his followers, therefore, he is the “Firstborn of the Dead,” the first of many over whom the “Second Death has no power.

In his Letter to the Corinthians, Paul applied the same idea to the past resurrection of Jesus and the future resurrection of his followers upon his “arrival,” though he uses the term “first fruits” instead of “firstborn” - (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

Sunrise Photo by Terry Tan De Hao on Unsplash
[Photo by Terry Tan De Hao on Unsplash]

Likewise, in writing to the Colossians, he called Jesus the “head of the church, the beginning, the FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD.” He is the first of a great many who will be raised from the dead at the end of the age – (Colossians 1:18).

His position as the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” is based on his faithful “witness” in his sacrificial death, and on his subsequent resurrection. It is “by his blood” that the saints were and are “loosed from their sins and made a kingdom of priests.” He “overcame” and qualified to reign on his “Father’s throne” through his unjust death on a Roman cross - (Revelation 1:4-6, 3:21).

The importance of his death and resurrection is reiterated by the figure of the “one like a Son of Man” who declared:

  • I am the Living One, and I was dead, and behold, I AM ALIVE FOREVERMORE, and I have the keys of death and of Hades!

His authority over “Death and Hades” is based on his own death AND his resurrection from the dead. Because he now possesses this authority, the names of his followers are “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Therefore, though they still die, they will not “taste the second death” - (Revelation 1:18, 3:14).

In the introduction to his letter to Smyrna, Jesus describes himself as the “First and the Last, the one who was dead and lived.” The term “First and Last” refers not to his divine nature, but to his position as the “Firstborn of the Dead” - (Revelation 2:8-11).


This description is especially apt for the Assembly in Smyrna. The congregation was enduring “tribulation” and facing increased persecution, and that is why Jesus exhorted its members to “become faithful unto death.”

But death will not be the last word. Because he is the one “who became dead and lived,” his faithful martyrs may rest assured they will receive the “crown of life” since he who “overcomes will not be hurt of the Second Death.”

Final judgment and punishments follow the “thousand years” when all men will appear before the “Great White Throne of Judgment.” Anyone whose name is not found “in the Book of Life” will be “cast into the Lake of Fire.”

All those whose “names are written in the Book” will find themselves standing before the “Lamb” and the “Throne” in the “city of New Jerusalem,” where God will “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.”

The Book’s description of “New Jerusalem” paints a vivid picture of resurrection life in the city where the saints will “Tabernacle” with God and dwell with the “Lamb” forevermore. All this is because of the death and resurrection of the “Son of Man.”



Destruction of Babylon

Gog and Magog