This morning’s sermon will be the last on Moses until after the new year as next Sunday we transition to Advent and join in looking forward to the day that our gracious Christ, God’s Messiah, eternal Son of the Father, came to earth in the form a babe in a manger in order to take upon himself the sins of all who believe I him!

I knew a woman who liked to tell the story of how when they were teenagers—a time, I might add, when girls can be especially mean!—her sister had her convinced that she had been adopted. Her sister was persuasive because she had evidence that this was the case. No, not adoption papers, but photo albums! The sister pointed out that when she had been born, their parents had taken hundreds of pictures of her. But the same wasn’t true of this woman. Her photographic history only began about the time that she was three years old or so. She, of course, hadn’t been adopted but was simply victim to parents who were all-too-exhausted by the time she was born to take any pictures and who, additionally, had gotten over the thrill of having their very first child. Had I known this woman as a young teenager, I might have pointed out to her that even if her sister had been telling the truth—and she hadn’t—then she would still be special because it would mean that her parents had chosen her to be their daughter by adoption. But the point is that if you aren’t a firstborn child (I have an older brother), it can be difficult to appreciate why Scripture places so much emphasis on the importance of the firstborn. By the end of today’s service, we’ll hopefully have a better understanding of this. But in fact, having already considered the final plague that occurred when Pharaoh for the tenth time refused to let God’s people go and worship him[1] which consequently resulted in the loss of all of Egypt’s firstborn children and animals, we already know—or at least can anticipate—why Scripture places such a high premium upon the firstborn.

The importance of the firstborn is stated right in the opening verses of Exodus 13, “1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 ‘Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.’” To consecrate is to “make or declare something sacred;” to “dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.” Or, combining these two ideas, “to make holy by giving to God.”[2] Every “firstborn male,” every “first offspring of every womb among the Israelites” “whether human or animal” was sacred to God; was to be set aside for his divine purpose; was made holy by virtue of being given over to God. And, if you’ll recall, one of the first things that the LORD had Moses tell Pharaoh prior to his returning to Egypt was, “Israel is my firstborn son.”[3] So the entire nation of Israel was sacred to God, was set aside for his divine purpose, was made holy by virtue of belonging to him.

Moses then provides the context for such consecration—and if you experienced a sense of déjà vu in reading this chapter, it’s because much of what it contains has already been spelled out in longer form in Exodus 12. This repetition tells us how important these instructions are to the LORD. Starting with verse 3, Moses told the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand.”[4] This day was special and to be remembered because this was the day on which Israel’s four-hundred plus years of dwelling in Egypt had come to an end. And this period of Egyptian captivity ended not by Israel’s strength or initiative but “because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand.” The Israelites hadn’t delivered themselves—the LORD had delivered them. Therefore this was an event worth celebrating.

Moses then reiterated the practices associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread[5] that followed the sacrifice of a sheep or goat on Passover.[6] As stated beginning with the last part of verse 3 through verse 7:

Eat nothing containing yeast. 4 Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. 5 When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6 For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.

Again, because of God’s deliverance of his people after the tenth plague, Aviv would now become the first month of the year for the Israelites, another indication of the magnitude of what the LORD had done for them. Subsequently, God’s people would return to the land that the LORD had first promised Abraham.[7] This land had been occupied by other nations at the time the promise had been made and continued to be occupied by the five groups listed: the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites. Yet as the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt, so would he bring Israel into the land he promised. (As we’ll see later in the book of Exodus, the occupants of the Promised Land didn’t readily give up their occupation.)

After re-establishing the importance of observing the ceremony of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that the LORD had instituted, the importance of continuing its practice by passing it down to future generations is similarly reiterated in verses 8–10:[8]8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.” This observance memorializing God’s deliverance—notice that his “mighty hand” is repeated a second time[9]—was to be so imprinted upon Israel and future generations that it would be as though it were attached to their body—“like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead…this law of the Lord is to be on your lips.”[10] These miraculous events were, in effect, to become second nature to Israel’s identity. Therefore, in order to make sure that these events weren’t forgotten, this ordinance from God was to be repeated, specifically, “at the appointed time year after year.”

Once the Israelites took over the currently-occupied Promised Land, in addition to Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, yet another tradition, the one introduced in the opening verses of Exodus 13 was to be established: that of consecrating to the LORD “every firstborn male,” “the first offspring of every womb,” “whether human or animal.” Because, again, the firstborn belonged to the LORD. As reiterated in verses 11–13, “11 After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12 you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord. 13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.” In Hebrew the verb used for “redeem” means to “obtain release by means of payment.” Whereas some firstborn animals were sacrificed (blood shed) and others were to be killed by having their necks broken (which didn’t involve any shedding of blood), firstborn donkeys—beasts of burden used for labor—and humans were redeemed by a lamb that was sacrificed in their place: the sacrifice of a lamb’s life was used to pay for their life.

Concerning the consecration of the firstborn, “in days to come” when asked by their sons, “What does this mean?,” the Israelites were to answer with the words recorded in verses 14–15, “With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.” For a third time, the “mighty hand” of the LORD is invoked.[11] One commentator suggests that in addition to highlighting God’s power, this repetition “seems intended to encourage Israel to fear the Lord and not the nations who inhabit the land of Canaan.”[12] Indeed, only Almighty God is sovereign. He rules with power and justice and compassion over the nations therefore all nations should turn to him, seeking his wisdom and care. As the LORD had spared the firstborn of all Israelites who had marked the tops and sides of their doorframes with the blood of lambs and goats sacrificed in place of their firstborn, the firstborn whose lives had thus been spared now belonged to God who had redeemed them. One scholar puts it this way: “Israel was not exempted from the death sentence on the firstborn in Egypt. The firstborn were spared only through the blood of the Passover lamb.”[13] The death of the Passover lamb had purchased the life of the firstborn for whom it had been sacrificed, the firstborn for whom its life had been given.

Last, what was stated in verse 9 is again repeated in verse 16, “And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”[14] In other words, “Don’t ever forget what the LORD has done for you, delivering you from Egypt, and delivering your firstborn by the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.”

Now as we noted a few weeks ago,[15] in turning to the New Testament it’s evident that not only had the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread been kept in the hundreds of years that had passed between the time of Moses and that of Christ’s coming to earth, but so, too, had the consecrating of the firstborn children to the LORD. Our Lord Jesus himself was consecrated in this manner. As Luke records in his Gospel, “22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took [Jesus] to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord’), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: ‘a pair of doves or two young pigeons.’”[16] In presenting Jesus to the LORD, Mary and Joseph were obeying the law stated in our passage from Exodus 13 in verses 2[17] and 12.[18] They did so because they understood that this miraculously born baby didn’t belong to them—not because of his miraculous birth but because he was their firstborn.[19] But Jesus wasn’t only Mary’s firstborn but, as the author of Hebrews teaches, Jesus is also God’s firstborn—and only—Son[20] and, as one who is himself God, he is worthy of worship.[21]

In turning to our passage from Colossians 1, we learn even more about Jesus for he was not only Mary’s firstborn, fully human yet miraculously conceived and born to her while she was yet a virgin;[22] nor is he only God’s firstborn; but he is “the firstborn over all creation” (verse 15) and “the firstborn from among the dead (verse 18). As one scholar notes, in stating this Paul is highlighting “the supremacy of Christ both in creation…and in redemption….”[23] Beginning with verse 15, Paul declares, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Whereas every other human that has ever existed has been made in the image of God,[24] Jesus Christ, Son of God, is the visible image of the invisible God. He is the image because he himself is God who has ever existed. He has no beginning or end. By his Incarnation, his taking on human flesh, eternal God took on human form. In this Incarnation, he visibly reveals God who is otherwise invisible.

But what does it mean to say that he is “the firstborn over all creation”? According to one commentator, “What Paul had in mind here was the rights and privileges of a firstborn son, especially the son of a monarch who would inherit ruling sovereignty.”[25] What is more, to say that Christ is the firstborn “over all creation” indicates that all of creation belongs to him for he created it. As verse 16 goes on to explain, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” As Creator over all things, there is nothing greater than Christ. Think of it this way: as the LORD created Israel and therefore stated that Israel is his firstborn, Christ Jesus who is not only fully human but also fully God, created everything that exists and therefore all creation is his. Apart from the Son, nothing that exists would exist for, again, he is the one who created it all: everything in heaven—everything on earth—everything that is visible to us—everything that isn’t visible to us. Even the most powerful human and spiritual beings, “whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities” are possible only because of Christ Jesus for “all things have been created through him and for him.” Not just some things, but all things. He made them all therefore all are his. This is possible because, as stated in verse 17, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” If he is before all things, clearly he himself has not been created. For, again, before he took on human form, Christ, the eternal Son of God, existed. And as the one who, along with the Father and Holy Spirit, created all things, he sustains the things he has created; he holds all things together.

Now if Christ created and is head over all things, both visible and invisible, this includes his Church. As stated in verse 18, “And he is the head of the body, the church.”[26] Whenever I hear someone state that a pastor is the head of a particular church, based upon this verse I correct them (gently, of course) and say, “No, Jesus Christ is the head of all churches. Pastors, whether senior, lead, associate or otherwise, serve at the pleasure of our Lord and of his congregation. Jesus is the only one who is the head of the church, his body.” Notice how the second half of verse 18 emphasizes that “he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Jesus is the beginning and the end, the Alpha (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) and the Omega (the last letter of the Greek alphabet).[27]

But what does it mean that he’s “the firstborn from among the dead”? It means that by his life, death, and resurrection from death, he himself has conquered death in himself. This is how he’s able to give his eternal life to all who believe in him. As one commentator states, “Christ was the first to rise from the dead with a resurrection body…. Others who were raised from the dead…were raised only to die again.”[28] Another states, “As the first to rise from the dead, Christ inaugurates the new age anticipated by the Old Testament prophets…and founds a new humanity in Himself to replace the old humanity in Adam. His own resurrection is an anticipation and a guarantee of the resurrection that all His brothers and sisters will enjoy.”[29] Indeed, the risen Lord Jesus gave the apostle John a foretaste of this new age when he revealed himself to him as “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth… who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.”[30]

Therefore, not only in life does Christ have supremacy, but also in death. Jesus Christ has supremacy “in everything”! As stated in verses 19–20, “19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Again, as one who is fully God, Christ Jesus embodied the fullness of God. And it’s through his sacrificial death and resurrection from death that he made it possible “to reconcile to himself all things.” By his death and resurrection he reconciled or “restore[d] friendly relations between” us and him; he restored the harmony that had existed when he first created this world, a harmony that was lost at the time of the Fall. This reconciliation was only possible “through his blood, shed on the cross.” This is the sacrifice God made, this is the price Christ paid, to make us his own. And because he is God, this reconciliation has a reach so far that it extends to “all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

But there are two other uses of firstborn to which we need to give our attention. We’ve noted that God called Israel his firstborn.[31] But so too, does he call his Church. As the author of Hebrews declares concerning those who “have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” “You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.”[32] As the nation of Israel was created by and for God and, as his firstborn, belonged to him, so too Christ’s church was created by and for God and, being comprised of his firstborn, also belongs to him. The apostle Paul confirms this teaching in saying that “those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”[33] Our dear Lord Jesus isn’t only Savior to those who believe and receive him but he is also our sibling. For God’s firstborn and only Son is the way our heavenly has provided for us, by the Holy Spirit he sends to seal[34] and indwell and unite us to himself, to become his children as well.[35] All praise be to him!

This is why we needn’t be concerned if we are second-born, like myself, or third-, or fourth-, or tenth-born. For in Christ, we are all firstborn by virtue not of our individual identities but our corporate identity in him. We are one in him who is the firstborn: of God—and of Mary—and of creation—and of the dead who will rise in him. And as his firsborn, all who have believed and received Jesus Christ have been declared sacred; have been dedicated to his divine purposes; have been made holy by being given to God. We belong not to ourselves, but to him.

This is so because like the firstborn of Israel, we have been redeemed. Our release from death has been obtained by means of a payment. But the payment that’s been made on our behalf isn’t a sacrifice of a lamb or goat that needs to be repeated yearly. No, the lamb that has died to pay for our lives is none other than the Lamb of God, eternal Son who willingly gave his life by dying on the cross in order to guarantee that by his death and resurrection from death, even death doesn’t separate us from his love.

Dear sisters and brothers, this is why all who have believed and received Jesus are not our own but belong to God for he has purchased, he has redeemed, our lives by the sacrifice of his Son. As Paul so powerfully states, “19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”[36]

Dear ones, this Thanksgiving week, let us thank God for his Firstborn. Let us reflect upon how great is his love that he would send his beloved Son into this fallen world to redeem not only this world, but us—his Church, his firstborn—by sacrificing his life to spare us from dying. Let us never forget what our gracious LORD has done in redeeming us, in delivering us from all evil and death, by the sacrifice of his Son, the Passover Lamb, who came to take away the sins of the world.[37]

Let us pray.

Benediction: Hebrews 13:20–21 20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

 

[1] See Exodus 11:1–10; 12:29–30.

[2] This last definition is from Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 13:2. The other two are from The New Oxford American dictionary.

[3] Exodus 4:21–23 (see verse 22): 21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

[4] Compare Exodus 12:14: This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

[5] Exodus 12:15–20: 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do. 17 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”

[6] The original Passover sacrifice instructions can be found in Exodus 12:1–13: 1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

[7] Genesis 13:14–17: 14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

[8] Compare Exodus 12:14, 17, 26–27: 14 This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance…. 17 Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come…. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ Then the people bowed down and worshiped.

[9] The first time occurs in verse 3: Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand….”

[10] As stated in the Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 13:9: “Interpreting this figurative expression literally, Jews later put brief passages of the Law (13:1–10, 11–16; Deut. 6:4–9; 11:13–21) in small boxes and attached them to the left arm and forehead. These are the tephillim, the phylacteries (protections) of later Judaism, to which Jesus referred in criticizing the Pharisees’ ostentatious displays of piety (Matt. 23:5).”

[11] The first time in verse 3: Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand.”; the second time in verse 14: “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

[12] Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 13:3.

[13] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Exodus 13:15.

[14] Compare verse 9: This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips.

[15] See sermon preached on November 7, 2021, The Passover Sacrifice, on Exodus 12:1–30.

[16] Luke 2:22–24. Mary and Joseph offered a pair of doves or two young pigeons because they were too poor to offer a lamb. See Leviticus 12:8: But if [a woman who gives birth] cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.

[17] Exodus 13:2: “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”

[18] Exodus 13:12: you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord.

[19] Luke 2:7: “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” After the virgin birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph would later go on to have other children. See Mark 6:1–3: 1 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.; Matthew 13:53–57: 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.; John 7:1–5: 1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.; 1 Corinthians 9:5: Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas.

[20] John 3:16–18: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

[21] Hebrews 1:6: And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

[22] Luke 1:26–35: 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

[23] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Colossians 1:15–20. Emphasis added.

[24] Genesis 1:26–27: 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

[25] Crossway ESV Study Bible note on Colossians 1:15.

[26] Paul also makes this point in various places. See, e.g., Ephesians 1:22–23: 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.; Ephesians 4:15–16: 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.; Ephesians 5:21–27: 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.; See also 1 Corinthians 12:27: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

[27] Revelation 21:6:  He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.; Revelation 22:13:  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

[28] Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Colossians 1:18. Examples given are 2 Kings 4:32–35: 32 When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. 33 He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm. 35 Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.;  Luke 7:14–15: 14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.; John 11:43–44: 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”; Acts 9:36–41: 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.; Acts 20:7–12: On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” 11 Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. 12 The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

[29] Reformation ESV Study Bible note on Ephesians 1:18. Emphasis added.
[30] Revelation 1:5–6. Verses 4–6 provide John’s greetings and doxology: 4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

[31] Exodus 4:21–23 (see verse 22): 21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

[32] Hebrews 12:22–23a.

[33] Romans 8:29. Verses 28–30 state, “28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

[34] Ephesians 1:13–14: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.; Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

[35] Romans 8:15–16: 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.[35]

[36] 1 Corinthians 6:19–20.

[37] John 1:29: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!