Bible Question:

Could you please explain what the birthright is and how it applies to us today?

Bible Answer:

The birthright was usually given to the oldest son in the family. The one who received the birthright was honored with a double share of his father’s inheritance. This was a special honor, for the birthright also included certain rights and privileges as well as responsibilities.

Birthright Could Be Sold

The birthright first appears in the Bible when Jacob asked Esau to sell his birthright.

But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” And Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (NASB) Genesis 25:31-35

This is a clue that the birthright was not always given to the oldest son in the family. In fact, archaeology has revealed that the father could give the birthright to a son who was not the oldest. The Bible also tells us that Jacob ignored his oldest son and gave the birthright to the sons of Joseph.

Now the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel (for he was the first-born, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph) . . . (NASB) 1 Chronicles 5:1

The birthright could be sold. But when it was given, it gave honor and status to that son.

Jesus’ Birthright

In the New Testament, Jesus received a birthright too!

And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. . . . (NASB) Col. 1:15

In this passage the English word for “first-born” is the Greek word PROTOTOKOS. It means “priority one.” This word also means “birthright.” It does not mean the first one born. It has nothing to do with time. It is about importance!


The birthright is about inheritance and importance. Today, a birthright can be given to any child. If a parent wants to give a birthright to a child, they may. The nature and type of the birthright would be the parent’s choice. Today, it is usually called an inheritance and it is commonly shared among the children as specified in a parent’s will.

God the Father gave Jesus Christ a birthright with the privilege of being our High Priest, head of the church, our Savior, our King, and our Lord. Jesus is the priority one!

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