I recently had several people ask me over the last year or so whether or not Jesus was born again after His death on the cross. The reason they were asking this question is because they had heard several popular preachers make the statement that Jesus was the “first born-again man” after His death and resurrection.
The main verse these preachers were keying off to come to this kind of conclusion was the following one from Colossians:
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18)
For the record, we do NOT believe that Jesus was born again after His death and resurrection. We believe this to be an incorrect teaching. However, we can see how someone could easily jump to this conclusion after reading the above verse.
I believe this false statement can be easily refuted with the following arguments from our Bible.
1. This Verse Should Be Interpreted Literally
First, look very closely at the wording in the above verse. This verse says that Jesus is the “first-born from the dead.”
We believe this verse should be interpreted very literally. If Jesus was going to be born “again” like all humans have to be in order to get into heaven, then God would have made sure to put the word “again” after the word “born.” But notice He did not.
The word “again” after the word “born” is an extremely important word, and there is no way God would miss this if His Son Jesus truly had to be born again to get back into heaven after His death on the cross.
However, I can see how some people could easily jump to this conclusion. When you first see the words, “first-born,” it becomes very easy to want to add in the word “again” after the word “born,” since we all know about the born-again verse in the Gospel of John.
Once again, here is the verse from John that is telling us that we all have to be born again in order to be able to get into heaven after we die and cross over.
“… I say to you, unless one is BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God … unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3,5)
Notice this verse is talking about the human race, not Jesus Himself. Again, if Jesus had to be born again like we all have to be, then I think He would have specifically said so when He was making this statement to Nicodemus.
Just simple, strict, literal interpretation of this verse from Colossians will answer this question for all of us.
2. The Doctrine of the Incarnation
The second thing from our Bible that will answer this question for us is the Doctrine of the Incarnation. This doctrine tells us that when Jesus came down to our earth in the flesh, He came down to us as fully God and fully Man.
What this means is that Jesus did not lose one ounce of His divine nature when He came down to us and fully incarnated Himself into a human flesh body. He was still fully God during the entire time He was walking among us in the flesh.
Thus, if Jesus was still fully God when He came down among us, then He would never have to be born again, since His very nature and personality is already perfectly divine and does not need to be born again in any way.
Even though Jesus also became fully Man when He came down here to die on the cross for all of us, this did not do away with His divine nature and personality in any way. Jesus was still who He was and who He has always been when He came down to our earth to die on the cross for all of us.
3. The Doctrine of the Trinity
The third thing that will answer this question for us is the Doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine states that we are dealing with one God in 3 Persons – with God the Father being the first Person of the Divine Trinity, Jesus Christ being the 2nd Person, and the Holy Spirit being the 3rd Person.
Just because Jesus came down to our earth in the flesh as fully Man does not take away or diminish His divine nature in any way, nor does it take away from His place as the 2nd Person of this Divine Trinity.
It would make absolutely no logical sense for Jesus to be born again through the Holy Spirit since He was still fully God when He came down to our earth in the flesh and He had never lost His original place in the Divine Trinity.
If Jesus had to be born again in order to be able to get back into heaven after He had died on the cross, this would then have taken Him right out of His position in the Divine Trinity since He would no longer have been perfectly divine in His own nature and personality.
Bottom line – only imperfect and sinful human beings need to be born again through the Holy Spirit, not the perfect and sinless 2nd Person of the Divine Trinity, Jesus Christ.
4. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit
When a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they are immediately born again. And once they are born again, the Holy Spirit will then regenerate their human spirits. Here is the verse that will show you that the Holy Spirit will do a major regenerative type of work in each born-again believer:
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
Here is what the word “regeneration” means from some of the different Bible Dictionaries and Commentaries:
- Spiritually reborn
- Spiritual rebirth producing a new beginning
- A spiritual rebirth, being renewed, reformed or reconstituted
- Renewed or restored after a decline to a low condition
- New birth, the begetting of new life
- Renewal of moral and spiritual nature
- The rebirth of the human spirit to a restored relationship with God
- Renewed to life and salvation by faith in God
- An act of God through the Holy Spirit resulting in an inner, personal resurrection from sin to a new life in Jesus Christ
- The radical spiritual change in which God brings an individual from a condition of spiritual defeat and death to a renewed condition of holiness and life
If you look very closely at what happens when the Holy Spirit regenerates someone, it can only be referring to sinful human beings. There is no way Jesus Christ ever needs to go through any type of regenerative work by the Holy Spirit since He has always been perfectly divine in the Holy Trinity.
Since Jesus has always been perfectly divine and always the 2nd Person of the Divine Trinity, He does not need any type of rebirth, transformation, or renewal like the above definitions are telling us. If He did, this would take Him right out of the Divine Trinity since He would no longer be perfectly divine.
5. The Definition of the Word – “First-Born”
Another thing that will answer this question for us is the actual definition of the word “first-born” in the above verse from Colossians. According to some of the different Bible Dictionaries and Commentaries, the word “first-born” means the following:
- The eldest
- The term used in the Bible to describe a family’s oldest son or daughter
- Christ is the first-born of the Father by having preeminent position over others in relation to Him
- “First-born from the dead” – the first to rise bodily from the grave and not die again
- It stresses Christ’s preeminence over all because he was the first to rise from the dead. As first born, Christ is the head of all things and the head of the church
Notice the last two definitions – that Jesus being the first born among the dead is directly referring to Him being the first One to rise bodily from the grave and never having to die again. As a result of Jesus being the first One to bodily resurrect from the grave, this then gives Him full preeminence over everything since He was the first One to do this.
Also notice Jesus being the first-born from the dead has nothing to do with His divine nature and personality, or Him having to be changed or transformed in any way like we all have to do with the Holy Spirit. This verse is simply referring to Jesus being the first Person to rise bodily from the grave. It has nothing to do with Him being born again through the Holy Spirit.
Once you add the word “again” after the word “born”, you are adding something into Scripture that was never meant to be there. And once you do that, you will completely change the revelation that God is trying to give to us from this verse. Once again, God is saying exactly what He is meaning to say in this verse.
If you go back to the above verse from Colossians, notice how it ends. It ends with the words – “that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
These words are telling us exactly what this verse is talking about. This verse is telling us that as a result of Jesus being the first One to rise bodily from the grave, He now has total preeminence over all things. He is now Lord of lords and King of kings.
The key word in this sentence is the word “preeminence.” This word means – “being supreme above all.”
Again, I know it is very easy to want to add the word “again” after the word “born” in the above verse since we all have that born-again verse burned into our memory banks. But this is where you really have to stop and look at the specific words that God is using in a verse.
Sometimes God will speak to us so literally in His Word, that we sometimes will miss what He is trying to tell us. And this is a verse where this will sometimes happen to some of us.
Since Jesus Christ is already perfectly divine in His own nature and personality – and He has always been perfectly one with God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Divine Trinity – His perfect, divine personality does not need any type of renewal, rebirth, or transformation through the Holy Spirit like our personalities do.
Only imperfect and sinful human beings need to be born again through the Holy Spirit, not the one and only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.