Back to the text: Revelation mentions orders and death in two contexts:
1:5 - ... first begotten of the dead ...
20:14 - And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the
21:8 - "bad folks" shall have their part in the lake ... which is the
There is no specific reference to "first death" only to "second death." In
my glossary, I was defining "first death" as "physical death" only in
reference to "second death" in context of chapters 20 and 21. I believe
this an accurate approach, as the "second death" seems clearly to be at
least a spiritual death and separation from God. I did not connect that to
the meaning of 1:5, although I see that could be helpful.
I struggled a bit with how to understand 1:5. Jesus is clearly not the
first to be raised from the dead. This verse can't mean that, or I have to
throw out Revelation as not being "true." I also find that there is not
sufficient support in just this text to take the theological position that
Jesus was spiritually separated from God, and was the first to be reborn to
Him spiritually. Although, I'm not capable of arguing either side of that
question. It may also be a bit of a cop out to say He is the "primary"
begotten of the dead.
My sense is that He is the first to conquer death on his own; that by his
own act, he beat death, and allows us all to follow in that act. He is in
essence the first to be not a slave to death.
At any rate, I'm willing to accept this evocatively rather than try to
understand it with scientific precision. The message of 1:5 is about Jesus
being beyond/above death. That he is the "first" as in "first shall be
last." That he is "leading" us, and is therefore in the front or "first"
position. I presume "John" intended all these things, that his audience
understood all these things in hearing it, and that I have sufficient
understanding of it as well by not worrying about the nuances of the details.
Thank you for pointing out the confusion in my glossary.
> From: merritt spencer <mspencer@...>
>Subject: Re: Introducing myself
>Revelation 1:5 talks about Jesus being the first born from the dead. You
>mention that Jesus was not the first born from physcial death, so we must
>conclude it is from spiritual death that He is first born. In you
>first death you say it is the death of the earthly body. I thought that
>also, but when I thought about Jesus being the first born from the death
>must be spiritual death that He is the first born from, I came to the
>that the first death is not the physcial death but the spiritual death that
>results from our having left the source of life, God though sin. It is
>first death, that is the spiritual death, that we are raised to walk in
>of life. I believe that from God's point of view physcial death is of minor
>importantance and spiritual death is of major importantance and from the view
>presented in Revelation, much of the death being referred to both second and
>first is spiritual, not physical because these are the deaths that matter.