“Primogeniture” is the right of the firstborn in the administration of the inheritance. Peoples throughout time and culture have assumed the practice, and having administrated my own inheritance, I understand some of its dynamics. Though the eldest son may be reimbursed for his administrative role, more often than not it’s just a lot of work and responsibility (though an honor, of course!). Primogeniture is an important concept because eternal life and the kingdom of God are presented in the bible as the “inheritance” of the saints (Mt. 19:29; 25:34; Eph. 1:14).
Because of the Platonic perversion of the gospel, most assume the kingdom of God and eternal life to consist of a harp, a cloud, and an eternal sing-a-long in the sky. However, the bible teaches the resurrection of the body and a New Earth, which will be ultimately administrated by one man, Jesus of Nazareth, “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15; cf. Heb. 1:6; Ps. 89:27). Moreover, he will be “the King of the Jews” (Mt. 27:42; Jn. 19:3) and “the King of Israel” (Mt. 27:42; Jn. 1:49), which is God’s “firstborn” among the nations (cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). Though we in modern times infer little more than birth order to the term “firstborn”, its application in the Scriptures inherently implies primogeniture. Thus, the age to come will be transnational and “Israelocentric”, as the nations will bring their glory into Israel and into the new Jerusalem (cf. Is. 2:2f; 60:3; Rev. 21:24f).
We Gentiles often find this idea offensive, as though we’re getting gipped or something. But in my own inheritance, my sister never thought to herself, I sure wish I could deal with all of that! She was grateful, and I was honored. So it will be in the age to come. There will be “no difference between Jew and Gentile” (Rom. 10:12) in the quality of inheritance, but there will be a marked difference in the role of inheritance. At the “day of wrath” (Rom. 2:5), punishment and eternal life will be doled “first for the Jew first, then for the Gentile” (v. 9f). It is our destiny which defines our identity and function. Primogeniture and the administration of the age to come through the descendants of Abraham (cf. Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18) is what Paul is referencing when he says that Israel has not “stumbled so as to fall” (Rom. 11:11). This is because “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (11:29).