6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
the firstborn into the world [inhabited earth], He says:
The word for “world” here is not the common Greek term for world. The normal word means the order of a system (kosmos), but here the idea is inhabited earth. He will come to an already organized and inhabited earth.
Jesus was not the first person born on earth, but He was the first in rank. “Firstborn” means priority in rank or prominence of position; this term does not convey the concept of time. The idea is not that the Son was the first to be born in creation but that He holds the highest position in the universe.
The word “firstborn” occurs nine times in the New Testament, and eight of them refer to the Lord Jesus. This term does not relate to time but to status or position; it is a title. The firstborn in a family was usually the oldest son. He was also the heir of the father’s estate (Ge 49:3). This was not always the case. Esau was born first but he lost his status as the firstborn to Jacob. Esau then became the firstborn.
“Firstborn” was used in the Old Testament where the first child born into a family received an inheritance. In Jewish culture the oldest son received a double inheritance and other prerogatives. He carried a higher rank than his brothers. At times a younger son could be elevated to the rank of firstborn. We see an overshadowing of the issue of age in Genesis 48:17-20 and Exodus 4:22.
The idea of double-portion inheritance was applied to the Messiah because He would become King (Ps 89:27). The term “firstborn” was also applied to a Davidic King in verse 6 who was exalted above other kings on earth. The application of this title to Jesus in the book of Hebrews anticipates the argument of the entire epistle. The destiny of the firstborn will also guarantee that of “many sons and daughters” as well (He 2:510).
The Son ranks above all creation.
Psalm 89:27 gave the title “firstborn” to the Messiah with reference to His positional status. Colossians 1:15, 18 uses it with the emphasis of status or position as God. It is a term of superiority.
Jesus has the supreme right to rule because He was the firstborn. As sovereign He carries this right. He has the right to be sovereign over the church (Co 1:18). He was the firstborn from the dead.
The Son is the firstborn because He exists in rank above creation. It is His heritage. Five of the seven quotations in this chapter relate to the Davidic Covenant. The idea is the return of Christ to the divine realm after His resurrection. This “coming” was already present for God and the Son but was in process from the perspective of the author and audience.
The Father will again bring the Christ into the world at the Second Coming. That event contrasts the Son’s reception with the role that angels will obtain at that point. The world will welcome Jesus as the universal King, but angels will merely assist Him and worship Him (Re 19:6, 14).
Our passage was at the heart of the Arius and Athanasius controversy. Arius claimed that Jesus was God’s highest creation (as do some cults today). Athanasius asserted that the Son was complete deity (as evangelicals do today).