By Charles H. Welch
Much that is implied by the word ‘birthright’ will be found in the article
ADOPTION, but as the word birthright
has a place in the unfolding of the message of Hebrews, some attention must be
given to it here. The Greek word translated ‘birthright’ in Hebrews 12:16 is
prototokia, and the Greek word translated
‘firstborn’ in Hebrews 12:23 is prototokos,
and these two words are the foci of the structure of Hebrews 12:15-25, which we
here set out.
a Looking diligently.
b Lest any man fall
B 12:16,17. The birthright bartered
C 12:18-21. Ye are not come.
C 12:22,23. But ye are come.
B 12:23,24. The birthright enjoyed
b Lest ye refuse.
The earlier part of Hebrews 12, namely verses 5-14 deals with
sons, and of what all sons are partakers.
The second part of Hebrews 12, namely verses 15-25 deals with
firstborn sons and with the special
blessings to which the firstborn may attain. Here comes the example of Esau.
Esau for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. The Philippians on higher
ground but in a parallel case were warned about those whose ‘god is their belly’
in the same chapter that speaks of pressing on to the prize of the high calling
Mount Sion is first mentioned in Scripture in 2 Samuel 5:7. It was a
stronghold, and held out against the people of Israel, even though Jerusalem
itself had fallen to them. When David however was crowned king over all Israel,
Joab as an overcomer, effected an entry into Sion and it became the city of
David. Those who press on, as the Hebrews were exhorted to, those who run as the
Philippians were exhorted to, they find their place in the heavenly Sion. Those
who do not sell their birthright for a few moments of ease in this life, find
their inheritance among the church of the firstborn, which are written in
heaven. (For fuller and further light on this aspect of truth, see