Who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18b)
The beginning of this verse told us of the position that our Lord Jesus Christ has in His ascended, exalted position far above all as the Head of the body. Now we are going to see Him as the beginning. As the beginning, it must be remembered what the first half of this verse is about—it is Christ as the Head—the Head of the new creation. He is also the beginning of this new creation. Perhaps, I say perhaps, this is the answer to the question of the meaning in Revelation 3:14 where He calls Himself the Beginning of the creation of God. He could truly be called the beginning of the first creation as well, because of His position as Creator, but here in this verse in Colossians, it is absolutely referring to the new creation, the one new man (Ephesians 2:15), the Body of Christ.
He is also here set forth as the Firstborn from the dead. He is firstborn here in exactly the same way as He was referred to previously as the firstborn of every creature, or the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15). He is firstborn of all creation because He is the Creator. He is firstborn from the dead because He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). As Martha spoke and thought of the resurrection, she tought of it as a future event, which it is, but… the resurrection is not wrapped up in time, but in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
There is no resurrection of the dead apart from Christ—He is the resurrection, He is the Firstfruits, He is the Firstborn from the dead! It could be no other way. All other resurrections from the dead are only possible because of He Who is the resurrection and the life.
I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18)
Jesus Christ is the master of death…that in all things, He might have the preeminence. No one else could have brought themselves out from among the dead, but He that liveth, and was dead, and is alive for evermore. His conquest—His exceedingly victorious conquest of death—is the only way the new creation, the church which is His Body, could ever have come into existence. His victory is the only means by which anyone ever will be resurrected to life. Because of His resurrection to life, all that are in Him can walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). In fact, every believer has been baptized into Jesus Christ and into His death (Romans 6:3), and because of this the command to walk in newness of life is possible.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:3-11)
Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)
Notice this baptism is the operation of God, not of men. No clergyman has the authority to baptize anyone into Christ. It is God’s work. Because God has declared us and recognized us and identified us with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, the apostle later in the book of Colossians brings us to the practical reality of this position:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
Real practical teaching of Christian behavior begins with correct doctrine of the Firstborn from the dead. The position of the believer—those that have heard the gospel of Christ, and believed that He died for their sins—is risen with Christ and seated with Him in the heavens The thought of a Christian being so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good is not scriptural. The Christian is to be so heavenly minded that he should be of most heavenly good. Then we will be walking in the will of God here on earth, and can do the most good for His Name’s sake here on earth.
Perhaps the reader is unclear of the gospel message that is to be believed that saves. It is proclaimed in Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians as the matter of first importance:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures… (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)