The First Man to be Born Again
There are many folks who have been conditioned to think that being born again is equivalent to saying one was forgiven of their sins. But this is not quite right because it conflates the cross and the resurrection into one thing. The forgiveness of our sins pertains to death and the Cross of Christ but our new birth pertains life and the Resurrection of Christ. The cross happened first and the resurrection happened after the cross. Our sins are washed away first and we are raised up with Christ into a new life next. The new birth is something which happens only after we have died with Christ. The new birth only happens after we bodies of flesh have had our sins washed away and we are made as white as snow, pure virgin white, like the bride of Joseph, the virgin Mary, in whom Jesus was born from above by the Spirit of God. God only plants in uncorrupted soil. Only when there is no sin may we be born again and that is why, if we want to be born again from above, we must first die with Christ and have our sins washed away. And having had our sins washed away we are, at that moment, pure and free from all our past sins. And only after this has occurred can we sinless bodies of flesh be born anew by the Spirit of God into Jesus' resurrection life. Only sinless humans can be born again and they are made completely sinless by uniting with the Cross of Christ and dying with him so that they might be raised up with him in his resurrection life, the new birth.
The Scriptures tell us that the sinless man Jesus was born again, born a second time. He had been born in Bethlehem of pure virgin flesh, the flesh of his mother Mary. But having died on the cross, the sinless man Jesus was stone dead. He died for you and me, so that we could die with him and become sinless, having our sins washed away by the sacrifice of the cross so that we too could be born again, born a second time by God as our Father. Just as we are born again after becoming sinless by the blood of the cross, Jesus who was sinless was born again when God raised him from the dead. Death cannot hold a sinless man.
God raised Jesus out of the dead. Jesus was begotten out of the dead. And for this reason, Jesus is called "the firstborn out of the dead."1
When Paul came to Pisidian Antioch to proclaim the gospel, he recounted how God had raised the man Jesus from the dead fulfilling the second Psalm, "You are my son, today I have begotten you.":
When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, those who are now His witnesses to the people. And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers - that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus JUST AS IT IS WRITTEN in the second Psalm, 'You are my son, TODAY I have begotten you.' And that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to corruption, He has spoken in this way: 'I will give you the Holy and Sure blessings of David.' Therefore He also says in another [Psalm], 'You will not allow your Holy One to will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and saw corruption but He whom God raised did not see corruption.2
Observe carefully that the second Psalm,'You are my son, Today I have begotten you3 was fulfilled WHEN God raised Jesus from the dead. The Hebrews writers expresses the very same idea and further adds additional insight by quoting God's promise to King David:
Having made purification of sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High, having become superior to the angels, inasmuch as he has inherited a more excellent name than them. For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'You are my son, TODAY I have begotten you.' and again, "I will be a father to him and he shall be a son to me"?4
And again we see the second Psalm is said to be fulfilled once Jesus had made purification for sins and had become superior to the angels when he had risen from the dead and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus had first been begotten in Bethelhem of Judea in the days of Herod.5 But he died and he was dead. In order for the man Jesus to come to life again, He needed to be begotten again, born again out of the dead. Jesus was the firstborn out of the dead, the first human being to be born again a second time, begotten again from above.6 Jesus was begotten again from above when God raised him from the dead.
The Hebrews writer immediately goes on to say, "And when He again brings the firstborn into the oikoumene, He says, "'And let all the angels of God bow down to him'."7 The word oikoumene word is a Greek word which they used to refer to a population, a large scale community, an economy of people.8 The Hebrews writer tells us explicitly what specific "oikoumene" he has in mind, "the oikoumene to come of which we are speaking,"9 that is, the Kingdom of God, the heavenly economy of God and all his angels. We see the writer return to this idea later in the book of Hebrews, "you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven."10 God brought the man Jesus into this heavenly economy, the oikoumene to come when He raised him from the dead and exalted him to God's throne in heaven. Jesus was the firstborn out of the dead and in this way God brought his firstborn, the risen man Jesus, into this oikoumene, "the oikoumene to come," the economy of God and all his angels in heaven.
The man Jesus of Nazareth had been begotten to Mary in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod. But having been crucified this man was now dead. In great love, this innocent and sinless man had given himself up as a sacrifice for our sins and had died on the cross for our sins. Jesus was dead. The dead man Jesus had once lived. He had come to life when he was begotten in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod to his mother Mary. But now he had been laying dead in a tomb, lifeless. He no longer lived; Jesus was dead. He had died to that life in which he was begotten the first time. Now dead, he had once lived, and in order for him to live again a second time, he had to be begotten again out of the dead. And this did happen when God raised him from the dead. He was begotten again to new life, resurrection life.
The Hebrews writer and the Apostle Paul both demonstrated to us that the second Psalm, "You are my son, today I have begotten you," was fulfilled when God raised Jesus from the dead. In his resurrection, Jesus who had once been begotten in Bethlehem, had died and was dead, but now he had been begotten again out of the dead, begotten again a second time, born again. For this reason, he is the firstborn out of the dead, the firstborn among many brothers, the firstborn of many sons of God who are begotten of God. Because of him who died and was born again out of the dead, we too can be born again IN HIM into new resurrection life.
1. Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5.
2. Acts 13:30-37.
3. Psalm 2:7
4. Hebrews 1:5; see 2 Samuel 7:11-14 and 1 Chronicles 17:11-14.
5. Matthew 1:20; 2:1,4; Luke 1:35.
6. See John 3:3-8.
7. Hebrews 1:6.
8. See Matthew 24:14; Luke 2:1; Acts 11:28; 17:31; 24:35.
9. Hebrews 2:5.
10. Hebrews 12:22-23.