18 … He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
In verses 15 through 17 Paul established Jesus as the priority of all creation, the purpose for life, and the creator and sustainer of that life. Prior to Jesus’ life on earth, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus’ primary claim to headship over His church was in His priority. The second claim Paul makes to Jesus’ priority is revealed in verses 18-19: His resurrection.
Jesus has been resurrected from the dead, never to suffer death again. He is resurrected into an eternal, physical state and has overcome death.
He is the beginning. The beginning of life, real life. The life that does not end. Full, abundant life (John 10:10)! This is an important truth for the Christian to grapple with. Life begins with Jesus. Anything lived without Him is death. All of mankind is born into a state of death, unable to commune with the creator and sustainer of all life. Romans 1-3 explains that all are sinful and are born into sin. Further, Ephesians 2:1-3 explains that all are dead in their sins. Man is in need of resurrection from the dead. Man needs a beginning. Jesus is that beginning. He is the start to life. Life begins with Him.
He establishes Himself as the beginning because He is resurrected from the dead. He is the first to be resurrected from the dead permanently. Others have been resurrected, but only to suffer death a second time. Jesus, on the other hand, was the only one who was resurrected, never to die again. In Jesus, death is defeated and life begins.
Life begins in Jesus. Life does not begin at birth. Life begins at new-birth. As Jesus discussed with Nicodemus in John 3, life begins when we are born from above! Before faith in Christ, we remain dead in our sins. After faith in Christ, we come to life. So it is with those who trust in Christ. We are resurrected to a new life. This is why a Christian who does not walk a holy life is so tragic. It is as if a child has been born and then decided to never see, hear, or grow. Christianity is the beginning of life for people. It is a birth! It is an explosion into life that necessitates growth and sensory development. When a person trusts in Jesus for salvation, that person is granted life.
Jesus is not only the beginning, He is also the first to be resurrected permanently. He is the first among many (c.f. Romans 8:29)! Just as Jesus was resurrected from the dead, never to die again, so shall those who trust in Him (Romans 6:1-5). Indeed, victory over death is a certainty for believers. It is assured that Christians who die, will be resurrected to new life in the last day. That new life will be a physical resurrection for those who trust in Christ (c.f. 1 Corinthians 15).
Paul offers Jesus’ resurrection as the second proof that He is worthy of all worship and praise. His resurrection secures life for those who trust in Him. Thus, He is preeminent over all things!