The purpose of this blog is to provide insights from the Christian perspective. It exists to present the teachings of the glorious Gospel through the preaching of sound doctrine, biblical exegesis, and by conducting apologetics. The Apostle Paul gave the following exhortation, "...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." (1 Corinthians 4:6)
Examining Ourselves To See Whether We Are In The Realm Of Faith:
-If we who desire to preach and defend Christianity stand in error on any issues pertinent to salvation, then we are really in no place to speak because we are only deceiving ourselves and other people. That would make us hypocrites and blind guides. We must know whether we ourselves are upholding the biblical gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). We must examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
A Different Source Of Revelation:
-False teachers generally rely on sources of revelation outside the Bible. For example, Mormons carry around the Book of Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses appeal to the Watchtower. They base their doctrines off their own puffed up fleshy minds. Deceivers formulate their own inspired revelation and act as though it originated from God. Christians appeal to Scripture as their authoritative source of doctrine (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Examining The Substance Of The Message:
-Almost every person who claims to be a Christian insists that the central message of his or her teaching is Jesus Christ. It is rare to find groups that openly deny that Christ is Lord and Savior. Hence, heretics introduce their heretical ideas in a "secret" or deceptive manner (2 Peter 2:1). We must listen carefully to how each preacher phrases and articulates his or her teachings. For example, people could preach for the sake of earning money. They could only be concentrated on exalting themselves. False teachers can occupy Christian terminology to describe completely different concepts that actually blaspheme God. We must examine the central message of each professing Christian teacher. If Jesus Christ is not quint-essential to the message of a preacher, then he is to automatically be deemed an untrustworthy steward.
The Influence That A Message Has:
-While false teachers promise true spiritual freedom, they are in reality slaves to sin (2 Peter 2:19). They have been enslaved to any form of sin that they have chosen to continually partake of (for example, greed). A true Christian is able to escape selfish lusts because he or she has been indwelt by the Spirit of God (2 Peter 1:3-4). Jesus Christ is truth and life to us (John 14:6). False teachers point to themselves in their teaching. They do not glorify God. The validity of a person's ministry is not so much based on whether he or she can perform miracles but proclaims Jesus Christ as God come in the flesh (1 John 4:1-4).
The Impact A Message Has On Its Hearers:
-Another way to evaluate the truthfulness of a message to see how it alters people's lives. The true, biblical gospel will always influence converts to serve the Lord faithfully. On the contrary, a false gospel will lead people in the opposite direction of godliness. Those who are influenced by a false gospel will also be inclined to participate in sin. False converts are grandiloquent, disrespectful toward other people, greedy, lustful, and rebellious in nature (2 Peter 2:10-20). They will be legalistic, having developed an outward appearance of righteousness due to obeying extra-biblical rules. They will be ensnared in deception. False teachers will always preach a false gospel message. The true gospel involves a person placing his or her trust in Christ's work and His work alone for salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).
-It is an undeniable fact that sexual promiscuity has become a major issue in today's society. In fact, one could reasonably liken the content from the released videos in theaters to pornography. All that one has to do is browse the internet, turn on the television set, or pick up any random magazine to see this example of declining moral values. This paper is focusing on one aspect of sexual perversion which has been infecting mankind for centuries: homosexuality.
There Is No Such Thing As "Gay Christianity":
-The Levitical Law, which functioned as the governing law code for the Jewish nation, in the Old Testament expressly forbade homosexual acts, and prescribed the sentence of death to those who dared to indulge themselves in same-sex actions (Leviticus 18:22-25; 20:13). In fact, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of sexual immorality, which was homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-13). Interestingly, the New Testament writer Jude describes this destructive situation happening as a result of being rebellious against God's divine authority through the partaking of "strange flesh" (Jude 5-8)! The Apostle Peter described the men as "lawless" (2 Peter 2:7-10). The New Testament warns that any person who engages in homosexuality is under the wrath of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-11). God allows the hearts of those who exchange natural relations for unnatural to become darkened against the truth of the gospel (Romans 1:25-27). The pattern of marriage found in Scripture is always described as a permanent physical union between man and woman (i.e. Genesis 1:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6). Never do we even see God permitting homosexual marriages in the Bible. If the Holy Bible is indeed inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16), and is therefore infallible, then homosexuality should be opposed by all members of Christianity. Any detailed presentation on the biblical teachings regarding homosexuality such as this one should make any liberal attempt to defend homosexuality from the Bible appear to be nothing more than what it really is: a pile unscholary rubbish. As the saying goes, "God created Adam and Eve; not Adam and Steve!"
Our Bodily Design Refutes Homosexuality:
-Homosexuality is contrary to human nature. In other words, all people are born heterosexual by design. Our genitals exist for the purpose of procreation. Homosexuality is contrary to human nature. It does not produce life. Contrary to what liberals would have us believe, this life style is not even good for our physiological health and puts people at higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
What About Equal Rights?:
-If the legalization of same-sex marriage means equal rights for members of the LGBT community, then why can't there be equal rights for the people who want more than one partner in marriage? If we have to redefine the concept of marriage to include two homosexual people, then why would it be wrong for us to also redefine marriage to include more than one person, or even children? How does this decline in morality stop?
Refuting The "Born Gay" Argument:
-The testimonials presented by the increasing number of former homosexuals, who now happily have marital partners of the opposite sex, are solid evidence that homosexuality is a choice. In fact, a small, but recognizable, percentage of homosexuals openly admit that they chose to adopt the homosexual lifestyle.
-Homosexuality is a behavior, or an action, in the same sense that heterosexual intercourse is. Actions are things that we choose to do. Homosexuality is not in any way analogous to our skin color, height, or gender, which are genetic conditions. Science has confirmed that the primary causes of homosexuality are environment, culture, and freewill (i.e. genetic identity disorder, women getting abused by men, children getting abused by homosexuals, etc.).
-Twins are proof against the "born gay" argument because they always have identical genes or DNA. If genetics can cause homosexuality, then both babies must have the same condition. But this is hardly ever the case with twins. Only one in the pair of children tends to have a same-sex attraction. There is no such thing as a "gay gene". "Gay babies" are simply a preposterous and fictitious idea.
-Even granting the born gay argument as being valid, being born with the potential to act in a certain manner in no way provides justification for behavioral patterns. There is no genetic excuse for homosexuality, anymore than there is a genetic excuse for theft or lying. These tendencies, whether they are genetic or not, cannot be justified on the grounds of "being born that way". We can overcome all of these moral difficulties through the Holy Spirit. Behaviors are learned and chosen. And why is it that the LGBT community has worked overtime to silence medical research which could help homosexual individuals transition to the heterosexual lifestyle?
Addressing The Claim That Homosexuality Occurs In Nature:
-Just because animals do irrational things to each other does not mean that humans should be engaging in the same activities. Animals behaving in seemingly homosexual ways is relatively scare. The following behaviors can also be found among animal species:
+Raping other animals
+Eating their young when threatened
+Eating their sex partner
+Injuring sexual partners
+Have intercourse with their own children
^If the fact that animals may appear to participate in acts that are similar to those of homosexuals means anything at all, then that would also lead to the conclusion that we can justly accept the above described actions of animals occurring in the human race, as well. If this is not true, then on what grounds can this counter-argument be refuted?
Addressing Claims Of "Hate Speech":
-Merely disagreeing with differing points of view does not simply translate into evidence of "hate speech". Neither is it morally impermissible to tell somebody that he or she is wrong. Is telling children 2+2=4 "HATE"? No, it is telling them the truth. The same is the case when dealing with homosexuality. There are many rational arguments against the incorporation of the homosexual lifestyle into our daily lives, as provided in the article above. We need not set aside our differences for the sake of mere emotional comfort, but rather listen to our reason, as guided by scriptural revelation. The one who tells you the truth is the one who cares. So advocates of these abhorrent customs and practices need to terminate their loud and illogical protests.
-Atheists commonly portray Christians as establishing their beliefs on an empty shell of faith. In other words, opponents of Christianity argue that the entire religion is based on belief without any substantiated evidence. It is claimed that Christians uphold their beliefs on completely biased and irrational grounds, which means that they are allegedly based on personal feelings and so-called revelations. Many atheists maintain that we must possess "factual evidence" in order to believe in something with any degree of certainty. In summary, they reject the validity of anything that cannot be proven or tested in a laboratory. The people who subscribe to this view, known as scientism, automatically deem things that are beyond the scope of a laboratory to be false. A great deal of atheists and naturalists are quick to rule out the possibility of truth in anything that does not appeal to their five senses.
-On the contrary, it is quite unreasonable to dismiss any given idea (the concept of religion) as being false when there is no "scientific evidence" for establishing such a denial. The people who subscribe to scientism (including famous proponents such as Richard Dawkins) are being utterly inconsistent with their own ideological framework (that everything must be proven or disproved in a laboratory) because they are not making a verdict in accordance with known facts. What atheists term as "no evidence" (for the existence of God) cannot simply be regarded as "evidence against" the existence of God. Silence is not a substitute for evidence or reason. It is not reasonable to suggest that faith is inherently superstitious, since there are many things that we know to be real but cannot prove in a laboratory (consider, for example, our own existence).
Misrepresenting Biblical Faith:
-Biblical faith in itself is not merely a mental conviction that is founded without evidence. It is not equivalent to blind submission. It is not simply an irrational whim or a form of wishful thinking. There is a relationship between the notions of faith and certainty. We must have certainty beyond a shadow of a doubt in order to truly believe in anything. Our faith must be tested or proven (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It must be based on reason, which operates on the basis of our free will. Our faith is based on evidence. It is based on what we know to be true. This is what constitutes true, biblical faith in the fundamental tenants of the Christian religion. Faith and reason do not contradict, but rather compliment each other.
Boundaries Of Scientific Investigation:
-Additionally, it is impossible to examine the truth of everything that we have seen or heard every day. Our lives are simply too short to test the validity of everything that we may have learned, whether we obtained knowledge from experience or education. To doubt the truth behind everything would inevitably result in infinite regression. Such would undermine the concept of certainty, as well as would trust. It would corrode the objectivity of education and court rulings. Human beings inevitably have faith, which includes atheists because they claim to have reasons for rejecting the God of the Bible. Faith is necessary for the establishment of relationships. We can know things beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, it is wrong for atheists to charge that any degree of faith is irrational. They inevitably have a degree of faith because the existence of God cannot be disproven. Do atheists have faith in their own existence? The real problem is that skeptics are refusing to accept the evidence that Christians present in favor of a theistic worldview and the Bible.
Understanding That Scientific Inquiry Has Limitations (And Thereby Refutes Scientism):
-Let us consider for a moment some of the essential features of human life. We have free will. We have conscience. We have rationality. We have intellect. We acknowledge the existence of moral truths. We know that human life has intrinsic value. We yearn for an ultimate purpose in life. Mathematics consists of several infallible formulas, proofs, and theorems. Universals, propositions, and possible worlds are examples of abstract realities. There are principles of beauty and artistic innovation, which are known as aesthetics. The universe came into being for a reason. Physical constants have a fine-tuning. Scientific laws themselves are based on major (empirically unverifiable) assumptions. If scientism is true, then all of the aforementioned ideas must be rejected as false because they cannot be verified by the scientific method. In fact, science itself would be self-refuting. From this perspective, none of the previously mentioned notions would be true, let alone applicable to our lives. Truths do exist beyond the scope of the scientific laboratory. It does not contain all the answers to the questions of life. What we are arguing against is a "science only" worldview, not science itself.
The Word of
God is the key and foundation for all wisdom in life. Without it, we would not
have any structure of organization to our daily lifestyles. The Bible is the
infallible compass to all divine truths pertaining to salvation. It feeds the
minds of those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God. The words of
the Creator impart wisdom to the simple. "The law of the Lord is
perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes" [Psalm 19:7-8]. If the precepts of the Lord are perfect,
then continually studying His words will enrich the mind with valuable lessons
about life and morality. Why would any reasonable person refuse an opportunity
to gain an understanding of what life is truly about? Life is like a book; for
God is the author and we are all the main characters. The Scriptures cover
several vital aspects of life such as gratitude, fear of the Lord, honesty,
self-control, generosity, and how to speak wisely.
People learn many great lessons about wisdom when the Scriptures
are closely examined. One of the most important teachings of the Bible is to
have gratitude for everything we receive on a daily basis. People should be
grateful and remember the magnificent works of the Lord such as the
creation of life, the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, and the
materials that we occupy each day. "Give thanks to the God of heaven, For
His loving kindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures
forever" [Psalm 136:26]. We should reveal much gratitude because of what
He has done for us. "You are the God who does wonders; among the peoples
you have revealed your might" [Psalm 77:15]. We have emphatically been
taught to view the glass of life as being at least half full, rather than as
being half empty. Otherwise, human life will become unable to function properly
because of a lack of compromise and the world would become an absolutely
joyless place. We must give the Lord praise for everything that He has provided
The Lord has instructed us to always be cautious of what we say to
others. We must always remain truthful. We must always choose to act
respectfully. In other words, we must choose to watch our tongues because our
words may be false, disrespectful, or irrelevant to a given situation. “A
perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends”
[Proverbs 16:28]. How would a person feel if his or her reputation was
ruined simply because of another individual's gossip or misinformation? Can
this standard not be applied to everybody? Those who never think before
they speak are the ones who lack understanding. Conversely, a person who
has genuine wisdom has control over their words. Unwise speech is like a virus,
pass it around and the minds of other people will be infected with the stain of
meaningless thoughts. Those who wish to be wise with their mouths will also
heed to the words of the Lord.
Another moral lesson that we can learn by studying the inspired
words of God is the necessity of remaining honest. We could never trust a
person who constantly spreads falsehood. Furthermore, lying can severely damage
a person's reputation for a very lengthy period of time, if not permanently.
"An honest witness does not deceive; but a false witness pours out
lies" [Proverbs 14:5]. The only reason that a person spreads lies about
others is for selfish motives. People talk behind other's backs because they
want to inflict physical or mental harm. They want to harm an individual's sense
of dignity. Gossip is like a double-edge sword; when it cuts, it harms the
confidence of others and slashes the armor of the perpetrator's conscience. A
lie leaves an everlasting slash on the person who tells it. Dishonesty is only
the springboard for more dishonesty, whether it is about oneself or other
people. Hence, we see the dire need for honesty in the lives of
The Scriptures teach the necessity for the spiritual virtue
known as fear of the Lord. A wise person would have fear of the Lord our God
because He is infinitely smarter and stronger than we are. We are all His
creations. Having fear of the Lord keeps our hearts humble. It keeps our moral
thinking on the right track, for it helps us recognize the limits of our
abilities. God will cast all of the unfaithful and unbelieving into the
everlasting fires of hell. He is the One who set all forms of life and non-life
into motion. "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth"
[Genesis 1:1]. "God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He
created them; male and female He created them"[Genesis 1:27]. If we fear
the Lord, then we will also learn to obey His commandments. This is the perfect
message for us blind sinners to heed to.
The Holy Bible repeatedly reinforces our obligation to love and
respect others. "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one above
yourselves" [Romans 12:10]. Care is what keeps the world turning. It is
the underlying basis for all relationships. It is necessary for human
communication. It is the foundational virtue for the development of all other
virtues. We must choose to help those who are less fortunate than we are. We
must feed the homeless. We must care for the sick. We must offer education to
the illiterate. We must shelter the homeless. We absolutely need to be holy.
"Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God,
honor the emperor" [1 Peter 2:17]. "Love your neighbor as
yourself..." [Leviticus 9:18]. We have been called by God to love our neighbors
as ourselves [Matthew 5:43-48]. This is true wisdom. The Bible instructs us to
be gentle to everybody else, regardless of how they treat us. Hatred is like a
raging fire; let it burn and the house of companionship will collapse entirely.
People can learn the virtue of self-control by observing the
words of God. We need an infallible guide in our lives because our minds are
finite and are thus liable to error. Our conscience alone is not an infallible
guide, which means that we need to appeal to an infinite, outside entity who
can give us the necessary knowledge pertaining to life and godliness. All
learning must originate from an outside source, which eventually points to an
ultimate standard that governs every aspect of our lives. That final court of
authority is God. We must learn how to resist the evil temptations of this
world. The wise person would do well to follow the teachings of God. The path
of destruction exists for those who do not obey His words of heavenly wisdom.
We must place our trust in God, rather than the vain desires of the mind. "The
heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know
it?" [Jeremiah 17:9]. Only through Him can we find complete satisfaction
in life. The way of sin is finite and will thus never satisfy the longing human
heart. We must reject our foolish lusts. We learn self-control by learning the
ways of God.
The Holy Scriptures are the cornerstone to all wisdom
because they record the direct words of God. In fact, they themselves are the
inspired words of God which were recorded on to scrolls by the faithful
prophets and apostles. Those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will
immediately find satisfaction when they place themselves into His presence.
They gain wisdom when they meditate on His statutes. Without an ultimate
standard of wisdom, human life would be in a constant state of anarchy. The
words of the Lord are pure. They are flawless. They impart understanding to the
simple. There is therefore no valid reason to object to imitating His ways. The Scripture leads the faithful on the path to all righteousness. God is our Rock and Salvation.
-Moral Relativism is the philosophical stance that no existing moral standard or belief system is better than ones found in different societies. In other words, relativism is the belief that all points of view are equally correct or valid. According to this philosophical perspective, the acceptance of all aspects pertinent to knowledge, truth, and morality are governed by individual, separate societies, civilizations, and different periods of time. Moral relativism teaches that truth is changeable and is determined by each person. This viewpoint denies the existence of a universal standard of morality that dictates all of our moral thoughts and behaviors. It teaches that truth is relative to the individual.
Moral Relativism Is Self-Refuting:
-If all moral perspectives are of equal validity, then that means that the rejection of moral relativism is also valid. Moral relativists must accept the belief that moral relativism is false.
-To say that all truths are relative is to either make a relative or absolute proposition. If relative, then one cannot simply deny the existence of absolutes. If the statement is meant to be an absolute, then absolute statements must exist. This would testify to the existence of objective truths! In this case, not all truths would be relative to the individual.
-Those who claim that no absolute truths exist have subscribed to a completely untenable position, for it is self-contradictory. While denying the existence of absolute truths, moral relativists make an absolute statement: "There are no absolute truths." Can moral relativists be absolutely sure that no absolute standards exist? How do they know that they are not simply deceiving themselves?
-If two (or more) perceptions of truth contradict each other, then how can we know which view is correct? Which perception of truth is more trustworthy? Can truth be self-contradictory? No, such a proposition would be self-refuting. This would mean that either one or both perceptions of reality are in error.
-If moral relativists want to claim that moral relativism cannot be critiqued by any form of logic to search for fallacies within the boundaries of such a mindset, then by what standard or final court of authority can they exclude moral relativism from being critiqued by logic? What criteria was used to exclude moral relativism from being evaluated by logic?
-If moral relativism is true, then how can we judge the actions of people living in different societies? How could we condemn murder, theft, or rape? Is there anything that is morally wrong? If so, then why? How can we know? Should we silence math instructors who could possibly offend students when they teach that 1+1=2 in an objective manner?
- Appealing to later sources you agree with doesn’t explain earlier sources for whom evidence has been offered of their disagreement with you. You can't justify your view of a passage like John 3:5, Acts 2:38, or Galatians 3:27 solely by appealing to what people like Irenaeus, Cyprian, and Augustine believed.
- The Bible covers a far larger period of time than the patristic era does, and baptismal justification is highly inconsistent with the Biblical view. If I think I’ve misunderstood what a Biblical author says about justification, I can look for clarification elsewhere in his writings. If I think I’ve misunderstood that author, I can look to another Biblical author. Etc. Before we even get to the church fathers, we have multiple documents from multiple Biblical authors giving us information and clarification. For example, Galatians is widely thought to be the earliest New Testament document or one of the earliest. And Paul’s letters circulated widely early on and were highly regarded even before the apostolic generation came to a close (Colossians 4:16, 2 Peter 3:15-16, etc.). If somebody like Luke or John wrote fifteen, thirty, or more years after Galatians was written, then we can take what he wrote as an indication of how he interpreted Galatians or would have interpreted it if he’d read it (assuming apostolic unity, which conservative Catholics and Evangelicals do). It’s not as though we have to wait until the patristic era to get some idea of how a book like Galatians was being interpreted early on. A portion of the New Testament can be a line of evidence as to how another portion of the New Testament was being interpreted. What does Acts or the gospel of John, for example, suggest about how Galatians was interpreted early on? Or how do Paul's later letters suggest that an earlier letter, like Galatians, should be read?
- Advocates of baptismal justification often try to focus the discussion on post-apostolic sources by making the Biblical sources seem less relevant than they actually are. It's often asserted, for example, that justification apart from baptism in the Old Testament era is irrelevant, since baptism didn't become a requirement until later and, thus, there's some discontinuity between the Old and New Testament eras accordingly. But that conclusion needs to be argued, not just asserted. The New Testament authors suggest a high degree of continuity between the means of justification in the Old and New Testament eras. They cite Abraham and other Old Testament figures to illustrate how people are justified today. Bringing in baptism as a new means of receiving justification diminishes that continuity. Such a diminishing of continuity needs to be argued, not just asserted, since Biblical authors like Paul and James don't suggest such a qualified continuity when they discuss the subject.
- Similarly, John’s gospel emphasizes Jesus’ statements about salvation during His earthly ministry (John 3:16, 5:24, 11:25-26, etc.), and John tells us that he wrote his gospel to lead people to salvation (John 20:31), using language similar to Jesus’ language earlier in the gospel. Yet, advocates of baptismal justification often argue that baptism wasn’t added as a means of justification until after Jesus’ earthly ministry. Again, adding baptism diminishes the continuity suggested by the Biblical authors. A reason why many advocates of baptismal justification want to place the adding of baptism after Jesus’ earthly ministry is because that ministry was characterized by Jesus’ forgiving, pronouncing peace, and healing people upon their coming to faith, without baptism....The discontinuity that advocates of baptismal justification want us to accept needs to be argued, not just asserted.
- Josephus tells us that John the Baptist’s baptism wasn't justificatory (Antiquities Of The Jews, 18:5:2). Given the close relationship between John's baptism and Christian baptism, the non-justificatory nature of John's baptism is a significant line of evidence for the non-justificatory nature of Christian baptism. And here we also see an example of the relevance of extra-Biblical sources other than the church fathers (Josephus in this case).
- Even if we limited ourselves to data postdating Jesus' earthly ministry and limited ourselves to Christian baptism, we're still told that justification occurs through believing response to the gospel, prior to baptism (Acts 10:44-46, 19:2, Galatians 3:2, etc.). And there's no reason to conclude that such passages represent exceptions to a rule.
- If the advocate of baptismal justification has to exempt the entire Old Testament era, exempt Jesus' earthly ministry, distance the non-justificatory nature of John's baptism from Christian baptism, and dismiss passages like Acts 10:44-46 as some sort of exception to the rule, then we're not in a situation in which we're looking to the church fathers and other later sources to clarify something that's unclear. Rather, the Biblical evidence heavily favors justification through faith alone. The reason why the advocate of baptismal justification wants to make a series of dubious exemptions (exempting the Old Testament era, etc.) and shift the focus to post-apostolic sources is because the earlier sources are so unfavorable to his position.
- We find a few views of baptism and justification, not just one view, in the patristic sources. The view that justification is normatively attained at the time of baptism was popular, and I consider that popularity the best argument for the doctrine. But we also find the view that justification occurs prior to baptism and views involving at least a beginning of justification prior to baptism.
- When a source like Clement of Rome or Polycarp discusses justification without even mentioning baptism, any assumption that baptism was meant to be included must be argued, not merely asserted. Including baptism in such passages isn't the most natural way of reading the text. And it can't be assumed that such men must have agreed with other sources who advocated baptismal justification. Why not assume, instead, that they must have agreed with the rejection of baptismal justification that we see in other sources, including earlier ones? Clement of Rome could be read in light of Justin Martyr or Irenaeus, but he also could be read in light of Paul or Luke.
- We can know what people believed about baptismal justification by a variety of means, not just how they interpreted a passage like John 3:5 or Galatians 3:27. For example, if a Jehovah’s Witness were to interpret a passage in Isaiah in a manner that contradicts the deity of Christ, we wouldn’t need to have an extant document in which Athanasius comments on that passage in order to conclude that Athanasius probably didn’t view the passage as the Jehovah’s Witness does. Since Athanasius affirmed the deity of Christ, we would assume that he didn’t interpret the passage in Isaiah as the Jehovah’s Witness interprets it. Similarly, we wouldn’t judge whether a patristic source saw baptismal justification in Galatians 3:27 solely on the basis of what he said when commenting on that passage in particular. Since some Christian sources of the patristic era did reject baptismal justification, we can conclude that they probably didn’t see baptismal justification in Galatians 3 without having any documents from them in which they comment on that passage in particular.
-When people are confronted about their erroneous ways, their usual stock rejoinder against Christians is to lay the charge of being "intolerant". These groups of people include, but are not limited to, liberals, atheists, feminists, and the LGBT community. In short, critics of Christianity constantly accuse us of being "bigots". They falsely claim that Christians are insensitive to different points of view. Our opponents have even gone as far as to depict us as being "judgmental" or "hateful" homophobes or Islamophobes. These responses have been generated to shut down opponents. In truth, these empty responses are simply a psychological barrier that has caused the uninformed to stumble into grievous error by the blind relinquishment of morally correct views, in exchange for views that are politically correct. In our modern-day society, people are too afraid to speak out against immoral customs because they are too afraid of "getting singled out". In other words, many Christians are copping out when they attempt to correct the perverted norms of society because they are in reality focused on "fitting in". Generally speaking, people are only focused on emotional comfort, rather than being intellectually grounded by the use of our reason.
Not Only Are We All Intolerant To Different Perspectives Of Life, But Intolerance In Some Cases Is Absolutely Necessary:
-First of all, the definition of a bigot is a person who forms an opinion that is utterly biased, irrational, unjust, hateful, and hypocritical. This sort of mentality has no moral or logical grounds for substantiation. Therefore, it is incorrect to characterize faithful Christians in such a manner because they have been commanded by their Lord to pragmatically present their views in love and kindness (Matthew 5:43-48; 22:39). Furthermore, the burden of proof lies on the person who makes an accusation. In other words, those who affiliate themselves with anti-Christian movements must demonstrate how we are being intolerant bigots. Simply disagreeing with other people is not tantamount to bigotry. It is not morally impermissible to tell somebody that his or her views are wrong. It is not hate to tell somebody the truth. One must also examine the context and manner in which the correction is done.
-Christians do have rational grounds to reject the claims of their liberal and atheistic critics, which directly refutes the charges of various pseudo-scientific "phobias" (such as homophobia). While it is definitely true that some professing Christians are guilty of bigotry, it is fallacious to dismiss every claim of the entire group as being cruel or hateful.
-We must all be intolerant to something. For instance, secular governments agree with Christians that murder is wrong. They would agree that theft is morally wrong, as well. Notice that in both examples, there is intolerance to certain actions. Hence, not only is intolerance to something morally acceptable (depending on the various moral criterion), but it is sometimes even necessary for the peace and safety of mankind.
A Hypocritical Double Standard:
-Why is it that we are forbidden from expressing our views, while critics such as liberals and leftists get to express their views? Why are we forbidden from defending ourselves from attacks on our own religion, when they get to attack us AND defend their views, which stand in direct opposition to ours? Why do opponents of Christianity get to shove their disguising beliefs down our throats? Why do we Christians have to be tolerant of opposing views, while everybody else gets to be intolerant? How is such a standard just?
The Truth Of The Matter:
-Of course, the source of contention among Christians and differing groups in this world is not really a matter of permanently settling issues of hatred, prejudice, or insensitivity, as critics may very well claim to be the problem. Inquisitive folks can only develop this conclusion, if they only decide to examine the surface of the debate. The real problem that the world has with the Christian Church is the usage of the Bible. Most people have a problem with this sacred religious text because it outwardly condemns their views. It diametrically opposes the beliefs of the world. It provides absolutely no room for groups such as the LGBT community. People immediately claim that the Bible is nothing more than an antique, outdated, musty book. Consequently, the folks of our modern world automatically mock and ridicule those who turn to it as the ultimate spiritual standard to determine truth or reprove error. Christian claims are usually dismissed without consideration.
Why Do We Turn To The Pages Of The Bible?:
-Everybody has an internal sense of right and wrong. In other words, everybody appeals to an ultimate moral standard that governs all moral codes of each different civilization. Good morals do not randomly appear out of thin air or fall from the sky. Societies, which are comprised of human individuals, cannot be the source of good moral values, for they are fallible and are thus liable to contradict each other and themselves. Any given proposition cannot be spontaneously true and false. This must mean that our sense of good and evil must be derived from an infallible, transcendent source. They originated from God. We therefore use the Bible as our ultimate spiritual standard because the contents therein are the very words of God, which were carefully inscribed with ink on to scrolls for the sake of posterity. For additional evidence of the reliability of the biblical manuscripts available to us today, just look at the positive impact that the Bible has had on the world. The Bible has provided mankind with a sound life pattern for centuries. Justice, equality, and human rights are indeed fundamental biblical principles. It is from that same religious text that we derive the correct nature of truth and logic. The Bible is supernatural revelation from a loving God who has redeemed mankind from the snares of sin and spiritual death. What will we do in response to what God has done for us?
A Note Of Encouragement To Christian Brethren:
-We must continue to be the salt of the world (Matthew 5:13-14). If we cease to shine our light of faith before others who are lost in this dark world of perdition, then nobody will be able to discover the truth of the gospel. The propitiatory work of the Lord Jesus Christ would be all forgotten about. If that happens, then how can anybody hear the message of the gospel, believe on it, and thus be saved (Romans 10:17)? Although critics of Christianity will always be working diligently to deride the Bible, there will always be thorough refutations available to their objections. We must continually fight the good fight of faith because there will continually be hope for the salvation of lost souls. Anybody who disagrees with the moral teachings of Scripture is also saying that his or her moral standards are superior to that of God's. We must be prepared to give sound, accurate defenses of our faith. First, we must examine our consciences to see whether we are solidly established in the apostolic doctrines of Christianity (2 Corinthians 13:5). Then, we must take action by contending for the faith which was once delivers to the saints (Jude 3). We must preserve the rights of humanity. We must never allow our rights to be polluted or substituted by the counterfeit rights that the liberal agenda is continually striving to promote. Hearts need to be transformed and unshackled by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel.
"We, the undersigned students of the Natural Sciences, desire to express our sincere regret that researchers into scientific truth are prevented by some in our own times into occasions for casting doubt into occasions for casting doubt upon the truth and authenticity of the Holy Scriptures.
We conceive that it is impossible for the Word of God, as written in the book of nature, and God’s Word written in Holy Scripture, to contradict one another, however much they may appear to differ.
We are not forgetful that physical science is not complete, but is only in a condition of progress, and that at present our finite reason enables us only to see as through a glass darkly, and we confidently believe, that a time will come when the two records will be seen to agree in every particular.
We cannot but deplore that Natural Science should be looked upon with suspicion by many who do not make a study of it, merely on account of the unadvised manner in which some are placing it in opposition to Holy Writ.
We believe that it is the duty of every scientific student to investigate nature simply for the purpose of elucidating truth, and that if he finds that some of his results appear to be in contradiction to the Written Word, or rather to his own interpretations of it, which may be erroneous, he should not presumptuously affirm that his own conclusions must be right, and the statements of Scripture wrong.
Rather, leave the two side by side till it shall please God to allow us to see the manner in which they may be reconciled; and, instead of insisting upon the seeming differences between Science and the Scriptures, it would be as well to rest in faith upon the points in which they agree."
A manifesto signed by 617 men of science at the British Association of Scientists in 1865; cited by Alfred M. Rehwinkel in The Flood, p. XVIII-XIX
-Antinomianism is the belief that Christians are not obligated to obey any moral laws that were established by God. In other words, this theology teaches that God has no moral standards for His followers to heed to. It teaches that our faith "frees" us from the obligation of choosing to act in accordance to the moral principles of God. The word "antinomianism" is derived from two Greek words, which are "anti" (against) and "nomos" (law). Antinomianism argues that since Christians are not saved by the keeping of the Law (which is true), God has no moral laws that He expects us to obey (which is not true). In summary, this doctrine distorts a biblically grounded teaching by formulating an unbiblical conclusion.
-We know that God has moral commandments for us to obey because He inspired the Apostle Paul to write that the unrighteous will not inherit His kingdom which is in heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5-7). We must get our sins forgiven and removed by God. True Christians will choose to glorify God for the free gift of salvation that He has given through good works. The New Testament operates on the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2), which is a law of unmerited grace. This "Law" instructs us to love God above everything else and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40).
-The "Law of Christ" is not a comprehensive list of legal codes, as was the case with the Levitical Law. The Law of the New Covenant stands on love of God and love of neighbor, just as did the Mosaic Law. True Christians desire to keep their thoughts and actions in harmony with His principles of morality. True Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit. True Christians will obey God (John 14:15-24; 1 Corinthians 7:19; 1 John 2:3-4). We do not obey the "Law of Christ" to earn eternal salvation in heaven (nor was that the purpose of the Mosaic Law). Rather, we obey out of gratitude for the sacrificial work of His Son. We obey because our hearts have been changed by His grace. The Apostle Paul describes the direction of sanctification: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2).
-We shall know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-23). We will be judged according to our conduct in this life (Romans 2:6-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We demonstrate the reality of our faith by our deeds (James 2:14-26). We shall reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9). God is the Author of Eternal Salvation to those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). Grace and faith do not nullify the Law (Romans 3:31). The two are not to be treated as a smokescreen against holiness in the Christian life. Believers are called to set good moral examples. Every nation needs to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior through conversion of heart (Romans 1:5). Also, Scripture repeatedly attributes both titles to Him. His commandments are a reflection of His character. Salvation is a transformation.
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:26-28)
The Lord Jesus Christ told the twelve apostles that He needed to depart from the world so that the Advocate could come, who is the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-8). If Jesus never left this earth physically, then the Spirit could not come to fulfill His designated purposes on earth.
What did the Holy Spirit do for the apostles? He guided the twelve disciples to all Truth (John 16:13). Not only did the Spirit of God give the first century Christians all of the necessary revelation for learning about God's divine character and His will for us (John 14:16; 26), but He also is a source spiritual nourishment.
Today, He continues to fulfill the same tasks that He was originally appointed for. The Holy Spirit works by helping true members of the church persevere daily through all sorts of sinful temptations. He leads searching people to truth. The Spirit combats evil through the spread of the Gospel Message, which is His fighting gear (Ephesians 6:10-18; Hebrews 4:12).
The Lord Jesus Christ is eternally present in His divinity along with the Holy Spirit. Both members of the Holy Trinity intercede on our behalf in prayer. They know us and what we need even better than we ourselves. The Holy Spirit is a source of comfort
"But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." (Hebrews 7:24-28)
Appointed members of the Old Testament Levitical priesthood were finite creations of God who continually needed to be replaced because of physical death. The High Priests of the Jewish community needed to repeatedly offer the blood from sacrificed animals to temporarily satisfy the wrath of God. However, the customs of the Law were only a shadow of the greater things to come. They prefigured the coming of the newer and better Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. In other words, the entire Old Testament sacrificial system pointed directly to the perfect, single atonement sacrifice performed by the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.
While the Old Testament priests were sinners who were in need of a Savior, Jesus is the pure, unblemished High Priest who has made the once-for-all perfect sacrifice on the cross. He is the Source of everlasting life (Hebrews 5:9). Because of what He has done for us, we are able to approach God with confidence in His promises (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus Christ will always be there for us. We will always have access to the grace of God because of what He has done on our behalf. He is our direct channel to God. As Hebrews 7:25 says, Christ forever lives to make intercession on behalf of repentant sinners
me-si'-a (mashiach; Aramaic meshicha'; Septuagint Christos, "anointed"; New Testament "Christ"):
1. Meaning and Use of the Term
2. The Messianic Hope
I. THE MESSIAH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. The Messianic King
(2) Jeremiah and Ezekiel
(3) Later Prophets
2. Prophetic and Priestly Relations
3. Servant of Yahweh
4. Transformation of the Prophetic Hope into the Apocalyptic
II. THE MESSIAH IN THE PRE-CHRISTIAN AGE
1. Post-prophetic Age
2. Maccabean Times
3. Apocalyptic Literature
III. THE MESSIAH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. The Jewish Conception
(1) The Messiah as King
(2) His Prophetic Character
(3) The Title "Son of God"
2. Attitude of Jesus to the Messiahship
3. The Christian Transformation
4. New Elements Added
(1) Future Manifestation
(2) Divine Personality
(3) Heavenly Priesthood
5. Fulfillment in Jesus
1. Meaning and Use of the Term:
"Messias" (John 1:41; 4:25 the King James Version) is a transcription of Messias, the Greek representation of the Aramaic. "Messiah" is thus a modification of the Greek form of the word, according to the Hebrew.
The term is used in the Old Testament of kings and priests, who were consecrated to office by the ceremony of anointing. It is applied to the priest only as an adjective--"the anointed priest" (Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 6:22 (Hebrew 15)). Its substantive use is restricted to the king; he only is called "the Lord's anointed," e.g. Saul (1 Samuel 24:6, 10), etc.); David (2 Samuel 19:21 (Hebrew 22); 2 Samuel 23:1, "the anointed of the God of Jacob"); Zedekiah (Lamentations 4:20). Similarly in the Psalms the king is designated "mine," "thine," "his anointed." Thus also even Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1), as being chosen and commissioned by Yahweh to carry out His purpose with Israel. Some think the singular "mine anointed" in Habakkuk 3:13 denotes the whole people; but the Hebrew text is somewhat obscure, and the reference may be to the king. The plural of the substantive is used of the patriarchs, who are called "mine anointed ones" (Psalms 105:15; 1 Chronicles 16:22), as being Yahweh's chosen, consecrated servants, whose persons were inviolable.
It is to be noted that "Messiah" as a special title is never applied in the Old Testament to the unique king of the future, unless perhaps in Daniel 9:25 f (mashiach naghidh, "Messiah-Prince"), a difficult passage, the interpretation of which is very uncertain. It was the later Jews of the post-prophetic period who, guided by a true instinct, first used the term in a technical sense.
2. The Messianic Hope:
The Messiah is the instrument by whom God's kingdom is to be established in Israel and in the world. The hope of a personal deliverer is thus inseparable from the wider hope that runs through the Old Testament. The Jews were a nation who lived in the future. In this respect they stand alone among the peoples of antiquity. No nation ever cherished such strong expectations of a good time coming, or clung more tenaciously amid defeat and disaster to the certainty of final triumph over all enemies and of entrance upon a state of perfect peace and happiness. The basis of this larger hope is Yahweh's covenant with Israel. "I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God" (Exodus 6:7). On the ground of this promise the prophets, while declaring God's wrath against His people on account of their sin, looked beyond the Divine chastisements to the final era of perfect salvation and blessedness, which would be ushered in when the nation had returned to Yahweh.
The term "Messianic" is used in a double sense to describe the larger hope of a glorious future for the nation, as well as the narrower one of a personal Messiah who is to be the prominent figure in the perfected kingdom. It may be remarked that many writers, both prophetic and apocalyptic, who picture the final consummation, make no allusion whatever to a coming deliverer.
This article will treat of the personal Messianic hope as it is found in the Old Testament, in the pre-Christian age, and in the New Testament.
I. The Messiah in the Old Testament.
1. The Messianic King:
The chief element in the conception of the Messiah in the Old Testament is that of the king. Through him as head of the nation Yahweh could most readily work out His saving purposes. But the kingdom of Israel was a theocracy. In earlier times Moses, Joshua, and the judges, who were raised up by Yahweh to guide His people at different crises in their history, did not claim to exercise authority apart from their Divine commission. Nor was the relation of Yahweh to the nation as its real ruler in any way modified by the institution of the monarchy. It was by His Spirit that the king was qualified for the righteous government of the people, and by His power that he would become victorious over all enemies. The passage on which the idea of the Messianic king who would rule in righteousness and attain universal dominion was founded is Nathan's oracle to David in 2 Samuel 7:11. In contrast to Saul, from whom the kingdom had passed away, David would never want a descendant to sit on the throne of Israel. How strong an impression this promise of the perpetuity of his royal house had made on David is seen in his last words (2 Samuel 23); and to this "everlasting covenant, and sure," the spiritual minds in Israel reverted in all after ages.
Isaiah is the first of the prophets to refer to an extraordinary king of the future. Amos (9:11) foretold the time when the shattered fortunes of Judah would be restored, while Hosea (3:5) looked forward to the reunion of the two kingdoms under David's line. But it is not till we reach the Assyrian age, when the personality of the king is brought into prominence against the great world-power, that we meet with any mention of a unique personal ruler who would bring special glory to David's house.
The kings of Syria and Israel having entered into a league to dethrone Ahaz and supplant him by an obscure adventurer, Isaiah 7:10-17 announces to the king of Judah that while, by the help of Assyria, he would survive the attack of the confederate kings, Yahweh would, for his disobedience, bring devastation upon his own land through the instrumentality of his ally. But the prophet's lofty vision, though limited as in the case of other seers to the horizon of his own time, reaches beyond Judah's distress to Judah's deliverance. To the spiritual mind of Isaiah the revelation is made of a true king, Immanuel, "God-with-us," who would arise out of the house of David, now so unworthily represented by the profligate Ahaz. While the passage is one of the hardest to interpret in all the Old Testament, perhaps too much has been made by some scholars of the difficulty connected with the word `almah, "virgin." It is the mysterious personality of the child to which prominence is given in the prophecy. The significance of the name and the pledge of victory it implies, the reference to Immanuel as ruler of the land in 8:8 (if the present rendering be correct), as well as the parallelism of the line of thought in the prophecy with that of Isaiah 9, would seem to point to the identity of Immanuel with the Prince of the four names, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace" (9:6 the Revised Version margin). These Divine titles do not necessarily imply that in the mind of the prophet the Messianic king is God in the metaphysical sense--the essence of the Divine nature is not a dogmatic conception in the Old Testament--but only that Yahweh is present in Him in perfect wisdom and power, so that He exercises over His people forever a fatherly and peaceful rule. In confirmation of this interpretation reference may be made to the last of the great trilogy of Isaianic prophecies concerning the Messiah of the house of David (11:2), where the attributes with which He is endowed by the Spirit are those which qualify for the perfect discharge of royal functions in the kingdom of God.
A similar description of the Messianic king is given by Isaiah's younger contemporary Micah (5:2), who emphasizes the humble origin of the extraordinary ruler of the future, who shall spring from the Davidic house, while his reference to her who is to bear him confirms the interpretation which regards the virgin in Isaiah as the mother of the Messiah.
(2) Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
After the time of Isaiah and Micah the throne of David lost much of its power and influence, and the figure of the ideal king is never again portrayed with the same definiteness and color. Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk make no reference to him at all. By the great prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, however, the hope of a Davidic ruler is kept before the people. While there are passages in both of these writers which refer to a succession of pious rulers, this fact should not dominate our interpretation of other utterances of theirs which seem to point to a particular individual. By Jeremiah the Messiah is called the "righteous Branch" who is to be raised unto David and be called "Yahweh (is) our righteousness," that is, Yahweh as the one making righteous dwells in him (Jeremiah 23:5; compare 30:9). In Ezekiel he is alluded to as the coming one "whose right it is" (21:27), and as Yahweh's "servant David" who shall be "prince" or "king" forever over a reunited people (34:23; 37:24). It is difficult to resist the impression which the language of Ezekiel makes that it is the ideal Messianic ruler who is here predicted, notwithstanding the fact that afterward, in the prophet's vision of the ideal theocracy, not only does the prince play a subordinate part, but provision is made in the constitution for a possible abuse of his authority.
(3) Later Prophets.
After Ezekiel's time, during the remaining years of the exile, the hope of a preeminent king of David's house naturally disappears. But it is resuscitated at the restoration when Zerubbabel, a prince of the house of David and the civil head of the restored community, is made by Yahweh of hosts His signet-ring, inseparable from Himself and the symbol of His authority (Haggai 2:23). In the new theocracy, however the figure of the Messianic ruler falls into the background before that of the high priest, who is regarded as the sign of the coming Branch (Zechariah 3:8). Still we have the unique prophecy of the author Of Zechariah 9:9, who pictures the Messiah as coming not on a splendid charger like a warrior king, but upon the foal of an ass, righteous and victorious, yet lowly and peaceful, strong by the power of God to help and save. There is no mention of the Messianic king in Joe or Malachi; but references in the later, as in the earlier, Psalms to events in the lives of the kings or the history of the kingdom prove that the promise made to David was not forgotten, and point to one who would fulfill it in all its grandeur.
2. Prophetic and Priestly Relations:
The Messianic king is the central figure in the consummation of the kingdom. It is a royal son of David, not a prophet like unto Moses, or a priest of Aaron's line, whose personal features are portrayed in the picture of the future. The promise in Deuteronomy 18:15-20, as the context shows, refers to a succession of true prophets as opposed to the diviners of heathen nations. Though Moses passed away there would always be a prophet raised up by Yahweh to reveal His will to the people, so that they would never need to have recourse to heathen soothsayers. Yet while the prophet is not an ideal figure, being already fully inspired by the Spirit, prophetic functions are to this extent associated with the kingship, that the Messiah is qualified by the Spirit for the discharge of the duties of His royal office and makes known the will of God by His righteous decisions (Isaiah 11:2-5).
It is more difficult to define the relationship of the priesthood to the kingship in the final era. They are brought into connection by Jeremiah (30:9,21) who represents the new "David" as possessing the priestly right of immediate access to Yahweh, while the Levitical priesthood, equally with the Davidic kingship, is assured of perpetuity on the ground of the covenant (Jeremiah 33:18). But after the restoration, when prominence is given to the high priest in the reconstitution of the kingdom, Joshua becomes the type of the coming "Branch" of the Davidic house (Zechariah 3:8), and, according to the usual interpretation, receives the crown--a symbol of the union of the kingly and priestly offices in the Messiah (Zechariah 6:11). Many scholars, however, holding that the words "and the counsel of peace shall be between them both" can only refer to two persons, would substitute "Zerubbabel" for "Joshua" in Zechariah 6:11, and read in 6:13, "there shall be a priest upon his right hand" (compare the Revised Version (British and American), Septuagint (Septuagint). The prophet's meaning would then be that the Messianic high priest would sit beside the Messianic king in the perfected kingdom, both working together as Zerubbabel and Joshua were then doing. There is no doubt, however, that the Messiah is both king and priest in Psalms 110.
3. Servant of Yahweh:
The bitter experiences of the nation during the exile originated a new conception, Messianic in the deepest sense, the Servant of Yahweh (Isa 40--66; chiefly 41:8; 42:1-7,19; 43:8,10; 44:1,21; 49:3-6; 50:4-9; 52:13--53). As to whom the prophet refers in his splendid delineation of this mysterious being, scholars are hopelessly divided. The personification theory--that the Servant represents the ideal Israel, Israel as God meant it to be, as fulfilling its true vocation in the salvation of the world--is held by those who plead for a consistent use of the phrase throughout the prophecy. They regard it as inconceivable that the same title should be applied by the same prophet to two distinct subjects. Others admit that the chief difficulty in the way of this theory is to conceive it, but they maintain that it best explains the use of the title in the chief passages where it occurs. The other theory is that there is an expansion and contraction of the idea in the mind of the prophet. In some passages the title is used to denote the whole nation; in others it is limited to the pious kernel; and at last the conception culminates in an individual, the ideal yet real Israelite of the future, who shall fulfill the mission in which the nation failed.
What really divides expositors is the interpretation of Isaiah 52:13--53. The question is not whether this passage was fulfilled in Jesus Christ--on this all Christian expositors are agreed--but whether the "Servant" is in the mind of the prophet merely the personification of the godly portion of the nation, or a person yet to come.
May not the unity argument be pressed too hard? If the Messiah came to be conceived of as a specific king while the original promise spoke of a dynasty, is it so inconceivable that the title "Servant of Yahweh" should be used in an individual as well as in a collective sense? It is worthy of note, too, that not only in some parts of this prophecy, but all through it, the individuality of the sufferer is made prominent; the collective idea entirely disappears. The contrast is not between a faithful portion and the general body of the people, but between the "Servant" and every single member of the nation. Moreover, whatever objections may be urged against the individual interpretation, this view best explains the doctrine of substitution that runs through the whole passage. Israel was Yahweh's elect people, His messenger of salvation to the Gentiles, and its faithful remnant suffered for the sins of the mass; even "Immanuel" shared in the sorrows of His people. But here the "Servant" makes atonement for the sins of individual Israelites; by his death they are justified and by his stripes they are healed. To this great spiritual conception only the prophet of the exile attains.
It may be added that in the Suffering Servant, who offers the sacrifice of himself as an expiation for the sins of the people, prophetic activity and kingly honor are associated with the priestly function. After he has been raised from the dead he becomes the great spiritual teacher of the world--by his knowledge of God and salvation which he communicates to others he makes many righteous (Isaiah 53:11; compare 42:1; 49:2; 50:4); and as a reward for his sufferings he attains to a position of the highest royal splendor (Isaiah 52:15 b; 53:12a; compare 49:7).
See SERVANT OF JEHOVAH.
4. Transformation of the Prophetic Hope into the Apocalyptic:
In the Book of Daniel, written to encourage the Jewish people to steadfastness during the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Messianic hope of the prophets assumes a new form. Here the apocalyptic idea of the Messiah appears for the first time in Jewish literature. The coming ruler is represented, not as a descendant of the house of David, but as a person in human form and of super-human character, through whom God is to establish His sovereignty upon the earth. In the prophet's vision (Daniel 7:13) one "like unto a son of man," kebhar 'enash (not, as in the King James Version, "like the son of man"), comes with the clouds of heaven, and is brought before the ancient of days, and receives an imperishable kingdom, that all peoples should serve him.
Scholars are by no means agreed in their interpretation of the prophecy. In support of the view that the "one like unto a son of man" is a symbol for the ideal Israel, appeal is made to the interpretation given of the vision in Daniel 7:18, 22, 27, according to which dominion is given to "the saints of the Most High." Further, as the four heathen kingdoms are represented by the brute creation, it would be natural for the higher power, which is to take their place, to be symbolized by the human form.
But strong reasons may be urged, on the other hand, for the personal Messianic interpretation of the passage. A distinction seems to be made between "one like unto a son of man" and the saints of the Most High in Daniel 7:21, the saints being there represented as the object of persecution from the little horn. The scene of the judgment is earth, where the saints already are, and to which the ancient of days and the "one like unto a son of man" descend (7:22,13). And it is in accordance with the interpretation given of the vision in 7:17, where reference is made to the four kings of the bestial kingdoms, that the kingdom of the saints, which is to be established in their place, should also be represented by a royal head.
It may be noted that a new idea is suggested by this passage, the pre-existence of the Messiah before His manifestation.
II. The Messiah in the Pre-Christian Age.
1. Post-prophetic Age:
After prophetic inspiration ceased, there was little in the teaching of the scribes, or in the reconstitution of the kingdom under the rule of the high priests, to quicken the ancient hope of the nation. It would appear from the Apocrypha that while the elements of the general expectation were still cherished, the specific hope of a preeminent king of David's line had grown very dim in the consciousness of the people. In Ecclesiasticus (47:11) mention is made of a "covenant of kings and a throne of glory in Israel which the Lord gave unto David"; yet even this allusion to the everlasting duration of the Davidic dynasty is more of the nature of a historical statement than the expression of a confident hope.
2. Maccabean Times:
In the earlier stages of the Maccabean uprising, when the struggle was for religious freedom, the people looked for help to God alone, and would probably have been content to acknowledge the political supremacy of Syria after liberty had been granted them in 162 BC to worship God according to their own law and ceremonial. But the successful effort of the Maccabean leaders in achieving political independence, while it satisfied the aspirations of the people generally "until there should arise a faithful prophet" (1 Macc 14:41; compare 2:57), brought religious and national ideals into conflict. The "Pious" (chacidhim), under the new name of Pharisees, now became more than ever devoted to the Law, and repudiated the claim of a Maccabean to be high priest and his subsequent assumption of the royal title, while the Maccabees with their political ambitions took the side of the aristocracy and alienated the people. The national spirit, however, had been stirred into fresh life. Nor did the hope thus quickened lose any of its vitality when, amid the strife of factions and the quarrels of the ruling family, Pompey captured Jerusalem in 63 BC. The fall of the Hasmonean house, even more than its ascendancy, led the nation to set its hope more firmly on God and to look for a deliverer from the house of David.
3. Apocalyptic Literature:
The national sentiment evoked by the Maccabees finds expression in the Apocalyptic literature of the century and a half before Christ.
In the oldest parts of the Sibylline Oracles (3:652-56) there occurs a brief prediction of a king whom God shall send from the sun, who shall "cause the whole earth to cease from wicked war, killing some and exacting faithful oaths from others. And this he will do, not according to his own counsel, but in obedience to the beneficent decrees of God." And in a later part of the same book (3:49) there is an allusion to "a pure king who will wield the scepter over the whole earth forever." It may be the Messiah also who is represented in the earlier part of the Book of Enoch (90:37 f) as a glorified man under the symbol of a white bull with great horns, which is feared and worshipped by all the other animals (the rest of the religious community) and into whose likeness they are transformed.
But it is in the Psalms of Solomon, which were composed in the Pompeian period and reveal their Pharisaic origin by representing the Hasmoneans as a race of usurpers, that we have depicted in clear outline and glowing colors the portrait of the Davidic king (Ps 17:18). The author looks for a personal Messiah who, as son of David and king of Israel, will purge Jerusalem of sinners, and gather together a holy people who will all be the "sons of their God." He shall not conquer with earthly weapons, for the Lord Himself is his King; he shall smite the earth with the breath of his mouth; and the heathen of their own accord shall come to see his glory, bringing the wearied children of Israel as gifts. His throne shall be established in wisdom and justice, while he himself shall be pure from sin and made strong in the Holy Spirit.
It is evident that in these descriptions of the coming one we have something more than a mere revival of the ancient hope of a preeminent king of David's house. The repeated disasters that overtook the Jews led to the transference of the national hope to a future world, and consequently to the transformation of the Messiah from a mere earthly king into a being with supernatural attributes. That this supernatural apocalyptic hope, which was at least coming to be cherished, exercised an influence on the national hope is seen in the Psalter of Solomon, where emphasis is laid on the striking individuality of this Davidic king, the moral grandeur of his person, and the Divine character of his rule.
We meet with the apocalyptic conception of the Messiah in the Similitudes of Enoch (chapters 37--71) and the later apocalypses. Reference may be made at this point to the Similitudes on account of their unique expression of Messianic doctrine, although their pre-Christian date, which Charles puts not later than 64 BC, is much disputed. The Messiah who is called "the Anointed," "the Elect one" "the Righteous one" is represented, though in some sense man, as belonging to the heavenly world. His pre-existence is affirmed. He is the supernatural Son of Man, who will come forth from His concealment to sit as Judge of all on the throne of His glory, and dwell on a transformed earth with the righteous forever.
See APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE (JEWISH); ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
III. The Messiah in the New Testament.
To the prevalence of the Messianic hope among the Jews in the time of Christ the Gospel records bear ample testimony. We see from the question of the Baptist that "the coming one" was expected (Matthew 11:3 and parallel), while the people wondered whether John himself were the Christ (Luke 3:15).
1. The Jewish Conception:
(1) The Messiah as King.
In the popular conception the Messiah was chiefly the royal son of David who would bring victory and prosperity to the Jewish nation and set up His throne in Jerusalem. In this capacity the multitude hailed Jesus on His entry into the capital (Matthew 21:9 and parallel); to the Pharisees also the Messiah was the son of David (Matthew 22:42). It would seem that apocalyptic elements mingled with the national expectation, for it was supposed that the Messiah would come forth suddenly from concealment and attest Himself by miracles (John 7:27, 31).
But there were spiritual minds who interpreted the nation's hope, not in any conventional sense, but according to their own devout aspirations. Looking for "the consolation of Israel," "the redemption of Jerusalem," they seized upon the spiritual features of the Messianic king and recognized in Jesus the promised Saviour who would deliver the nation from its sin (Luke 2:25, 30, 38; compare 1:68-79).
(2) His Prophetic Character.
From the statements in the Gospels regarding the expectation of a prophet it is difficult to determine whether the prophetic function was regarded as belonging to the Messiah. We learn not only that one of the old prophets was expected to reappear (Matthew 14:2; 16:14 and parallel), but also that a preeminent prophet was looked for, distinct from the Messiah (John 1:21, 25; 7:40). But the two conceptions of prophet and king seem to be identified in John 6:14, where we are told that the multitude, after recognizing in Jesus the expected prophet, wished to take Him by force and make Him a king. It would appear that while the masses were looking forward to a temporal king, the expectations of some were molded by the image and promise of Moses. And to the woman of Samaria, as to her people, the Messiah was simply a prophet, who would bring the full light of Divine knowledge into the world (John 4:25). On the other hand, from Philip's description of Jesus we would naturally infer that he saw in Him whom he had found the union of a prophet like unto Moses and the Messianic king of the prophetical books (John 1:45).
(3) The Title "Son of God."
It cannot be doubted that the "Son of God" was used as a Messianic title by the Jews in the time of our Lord. The high priest in presence of the Sanhedrin recognized it as such (Matthew 26:63). It was applied also in its official sense to Jesus by His disciples:
John the Baptist (John 1:34), Nathaniel (John 1:49), Mary (John 11:27), Peter (Matthew 16:16, though not in parallel). This Messianic use was based on Psalms 2:7; compare 2 Samuel 7:14. The title as given to Jesus by Peter in his confession, "the Son of the living God," is suggestive of something higher than a mere official dignity, although its full significance in the unique sense in which Jesus claimed it could scarcely have been apprehended by the disciples till after His resurrection.
2. Attitude of Jesus to the Messiahship:
(1) His Claim.
The claim of Jesus to be the Messiah is written on the face of the evangelic history. But while He accepted the title, He stripped it of its political and national significance and filled it with an ethical and universal content. The Jewish expectation of a great king who would restore the throne of David and free the nation from a foreign yoke was interpreted by Jesus as of one who would deliver God's people from spiritual foes and found a universal kingdom of love and peace.
(2) His Delay in Making It.
To prepare the Jewish mind for His transformation of the national hope Jesus delayed putting forth His claim before the multitude till His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which, be it noted, He made in such a way as to justify His interpretation of the Messiah of the prophets, while He delayed emphasizing it to His disciples till the memorable scene at Caesarea Philippi when He drew forth Peter's confession.
(3) "The Son of Man."
But he sought chiefly to secure the acceptance of Himself in all His lowliness as the true Messianic king by His later use of His self-designation as the "Son of Man." While "Son of Man" in Aramaic, bar nasha', may mean simply "man," an examination of the chief passages in which the title occurs shows that Jesus applied it to Himself in a unique sense. That He had the passage in Daniel in His mind is evident from the phrases He employs in describing His future coming (Mark 8:38; 13:26 and parallel; 14:62 and parallel). By this apocalyptic use of the title He put forward much more clearly His claim to be the Messiah of national expectation who would come in heavenly glory. But He used the title also to announce the tragic destiny that awaited Him (Mark 8:31). This He could do without any contradiction, as He regarded His death as the beginning of His Messianic reign. And those passages in which He refers to the Son of Man giving His life a ransom "for many" (Matthew 20:28 and parallel) and going "as it is written of him" (Matthew 26:24 and parallel), as well as Luke 22:37, indicate that He interpreted Isaiah 53 of Himself in His Messianic character. By His death He would complete His Messianic work and inaugurate the kingdom of God. Thus, by the help of the title "Son of Man" Jesus sought, toward the close of His ministry, to explain the seeming contradiction between His earthly life and the glory of His Messianic kingship.
It may be added that our Lord's use of the phrase implies what the Gospels suggest (John 12:34), that the "Son of Man," notwithstanding the references in Daniel and the Similitudes of Enoch (if the pre-Christian date be accepted), was not regarded by the Jews generally as a Messianic title. For He could not then have applied it, as He does, to Himself before Peter's confession, while maintaining His reserve in regard to His claims to be the Messiah. Many scholars, however, hold that the "Son of Man" was already a Messianic title before our Lord employed it in His conversation with the disciples at Caesarea Philippi, and regard the earlier passages in which it occurs as inserted out of chronological order, or the presence of the title in them either as a late insertion, or as due to the ambiguity of the Aramaic.
See SON OF MAN.
3. The Christian Transformation:
The thought of a suffering Messiah who would atone for sin was alien to the Jewish mind. This is evident from the conduct, not only of the opponents, but of the followers of Jesus (Matthew 16:22; 17:23). While His disciples believed Him to be the Messiah, they could not understand His allusions to His sufferings, and regarded His death as the extinction of all their hopes (Luke 18:34; 24:21). But after His resurrection and ascension they were led, by the impression His personality and teaching had made upon them, to see how entirely they had misconceived His Messiahship and the nature and extent of His Messianic kingdom (Luke 24:31; Acts 2:36, 38). They were confirmed, too, in their spiritual conceptions when they searched into the ancient prophecies in the light of the cross. In the mysterious form of the Suffering Servant they beheld the Messianic king on His way to His heavenly throne, conquering by the power of His atoning sacrifice and bestowing all spiritual blessings (Acts 3:13, 18-21, 26; 4:27, 30; 8:35; 10:36-43).
4. New Elements Added:
(1) Future manifestation.
New features were now added to the Messiah in accordance with Jesus' own teaching. He had ascended to His Father and become the heavenly king. But all things were not yet put under Him. It was therefore seen that the full manifestation of His Messiahship was reserved for the future, that He would return in glory to fulfill His Messianic office and complete His Messianic reign.
(2) Divine Personality.
Higher views of His personality were now entertained. He is declared to be the Son of God, not in any official, but in a unique sense, as coequal with the Father (John 1:1; Romans 1:4,7; 1 Corinthians 1:3, etc.). His pre-existence is affirmed (John 1:1; 2 Corinthians 8:9); and when He comes again in his Messianic glory, He will exercise the Divine function of Universal Judge (Acts 10:42; 17:30, etc.).
(3) Heavenly Priesthood.
The Christian conception of the Messianic king who had entered into His glory through suffering and death carried with it the doctrine of the Messianic priesthood. But it took some time for early Christian thought to advance from the new discovery of the combination of humiliation and glory in the Messiah to concentrate upon His heavenly life. While the preaching of the first Christians was directed to show from the Scriptures that "Jesus is the Christ" and necessarily involved the ascription to Him of many functions characteristic of the true priest, it was reserved for the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews to set forth this aspect of His work with separate distinctness and to apply to Him the title of our "great high priest" (Hebrews 4:14). As the high priest on the Day of Atonement not only sprinkled the blood upon the altar, but offered the sacrifice, so it was now seen that by passing into the heavens and presenting to God the offering He had made of Himself on earth, Jesus had fulfilled the high-priestly office.
5. Fulfillment in Jesus:
Thus the ideal of the Hebrew prophets and poets is amply fulfilled in the person, teaching and work of Jesus of Nazareth. Apologists may often err in supporting the argument from prophecy by an extravagant symbolism and a false exegesis; but they are right in the contention that the essential elements in the Old Testament conception--the Messianic king who stands in a unique relation to Yahweh as His "Son," and who will exercise universal dominion; the supreme prophet who will never be superseded; the priest forever--are gathered up and transformed by Jesus in a way the ancient seers never dreamed of. As the last and greatest prophet, the suffering Son of Man, and the sinless Saviour of the world, He meets humanity's deepest longings for Divine knowledge, human sympathy, and spiritual deliverance; and as the unique Son of God, who came to reveal the Father, He rules over the hearts of men by the might of eternal love. No wonder that the New Testament writers, like Jesus Himself, saw references to the Messiah in Old Testament passages which would not be conceded by a historical interpretation. While recognizing the place of the old covenant in the history of salvation, they sought to discover in the light of the fulfillment in Jesus the meaning of the Old Testament which the Spirit of God intended to convey, the Divine, saving thoughts which constitute its essence. And to us, as to the early Christians, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). To Him, hidden in the bosom of the ages, all the scattered rays of prophecy pointed; and from Him, in His revealed and risen splendor, shine forth upon the world the light and power of God's love and truth. And through the history and experience of His people He is bringing to larger realization the glory and passion of Israel's Messianic hope.
Drummond, The Jewish Messiah; Stanton, The Jewish and the Christian Messiah; Riehm, Messianic Prophecy; Delitzsch, Messianic Prophecies; von Orelli, Old Testament Prophecy; A. B. Davidson, Old Testament Prophecy; Schultz, Old Testament Theology; Schurer, HJP, div II, volume II, section 29, "The Messianic Hope"; Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, chapter ii, "The Jewish Doctrine of Messiah"; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, book II, chapter v, "What Messiah Did the Jews Expect?"; E. F. Scott, The Kingdom and the Messiah; Fairweather, The Background of the Gospels; articles in DB, HDB, EB, DCG. For further list see Riehm and Schurer.
See also APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'MESSIAH'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.