The first son and the first fruits of a crop had a special significance for the Hebrews and other ancient peoples in the area, and were dedicated to God to ensure a blessing on the rest of the family or the crop. The first‐born son had special privileges in inheritance (Deut. 21: 15–17) and authority (2 Kgs. 2: 9). The last of the plagues inflicted on Egypt was the death of the first‐born, and the ritual of the feast of Passover owed something to the memory of this (Exod. 13: 11–16). In the NT Jesus is called the first‐born of the Father (Rom. 8: 29; Rev. 1: 5).

Paul regards his first converts in Asia as first‐fruits (Rom. 16: 5, NRSV marg.), and Christians in this earthly life have already received the first‐fruits of the Spirit (Rom. 8: 23).