Why is Jesus the firstborn from the dead when Lazarus was resurrected before Him?

“And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5).

What does the phrase “firstborn from the dead” in revelation mean?

Neither Lazarus nor Jesus were the first individuals to be resurrected from the Dead. In the Old Testament we know that Moses got resurrected from the dead (Jude 9) and Elijah also resurrected a young boy (1 kings 17:21:22). And in the New Testament, Jesus Himself resurrected three individuals from the dead (John 11:44; Luke 7:15; Luke 5:42).

Though Jesus was not the firstborn from the dead in point of time, He is considered the first  in the sense that all others resurrected before and after Him gained their freedom from the bonds of death through His victory over death. Jesus’ power to give His life and to take it again (John 10:18) separates Him from all other men resurrected from the grave and identifies Him as the source of all life (Rom. 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:12–23; John 1:4, 7–9).

Jesus is the only One that can unlock the tomb “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:8, 18).

The word “first” has different meanings. For example, the president’s wife is called “the first lady” but that doesn’t mean she is the first lady to ever exist but rather she is “first” in rank or position. So, it is clear that in this verse the word “first” means preeminence in rank and honor.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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