Pages

Categories

Archives

Meta

Doctrine of God the Son

January 16, 2011

God the Son
Preexistence of Christ
John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham
was born, I am.” This statement by our Lord to the Jews clearly affirms that the
preincarnate or preexistence of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It will be
noted that Christ’s existence prior to becoming a human being is nowhere in
Scripture argued as a doctrine, but is everywhere assumed and used as the basis of
the doctrines of the incarnation, hypostatic union and atonement for sin.
Our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was not His origin, only His
incarnation. In the context of Christian theology, the incarnation is the act whereby
the eternal Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, without ceasing to be what
He is, namely God the Son, added to His deity what He did not possess before the
act, namely an impeccable human nature, thus making Him, the unique
theanthropic Person of the cosmos.
The incarnation is the act whereby God the Son became what He wasn’t before,
namely a human being. The incarnation was accomplished through the virgin birth.
It was the act of God becoming a human being that made possible or in other
words produced the hypostatic union.
The hypostatic union is a technical theological term describing the unique
theanthropic Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and which states that He is
undiminished deity and true humanity in 1 Person forever.
The word hypostatic is a Bible Word meaning that it is derived from the
original language of Scripture (Heb. 1:3).
The term hypostatic comes from the Greek word hupostasis. Hupostasis was a
term that belonged to the realm of science and medicine, and has a variety of
meanings in classical Greek. Hupostasis means “essence,” or “substance.”
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines essence, “the properties or
attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or
identified as being what it is.” The word essence refers the “nature of something.”
The doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches that our Lord’s deity and humanity
were united.
John 1:14, “And the Word (The Lord Jesus Christ) became flesh (a Man),
and dwelt (“tabernacled”) among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the
only uniquely born One from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Romans 8:3, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the
flesh (humanity), God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (in His humanity).”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 2
1 Tim 3:16, “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He
who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
There could be no incarnation and hypostatic union without our Lord having a
previous existence. To deny the preexistence of our Lord renders the incarnation
and hypostatic union impossible. To go back further, could there be a Trinity were
there no preexistent Son of God? The one necessarily presupposes the other.
Christ’s preexistence is not a matter of purely academic interest but in fact it is the
foundation on which the whole superstructure of the Christian faith rests. If our
Lord is not preexistent, He cannot be God, and if He is not God, He cannot be
Creator or Redeemer. Jesus was unique among men in that His birth did not mark
His origin, but only His appearance as a man on the stage of time. Of no other
person would it be possible to distinguish between His birth and His origin, or to
say that His life did not begin when He was born.
Jesus was the meeting place of eternity and time, the uniting of deity and
humanity, the junction of heaven and earth. His origin was not related to His birth,
or His nature dependent only on human ancestry. His nature was derived from His
eternal being.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not become God’s Son at the incarnation or when He
rose from the dead. His resurrection in fact demonstrated that He was the eternal
Son of God who has no beginning.
Rom 1:1-4, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set
apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His
prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a
descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God
with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of
holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is God, supreme and without beginning. Our Lord was
conscious of a previous existence. He spoke of the glory He had with the Father
before the foundation of the world.
John 17:5, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory
which I had with You before the world was.”
He claimed preexistence in explicit and unmistakable terms. John 16:26-28,
“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will
request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you,
because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the
Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am
leaving the world again and going to the Father.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 3
Every other man in history entered life as the result of a biological process and
as a new being, but the Lord Jesus knew neither beginning of days nor end of life
(Heb. 7:3).
Our Lord’s 1st appearance on earth was not when born of His virgin mother.
The Lord appears many times in the Old Testament and is called the “Angel of the
Lord.” These appearances in the Old Testament are called in theology,
theophanies. A theophany is a theological term used to refer to either a visible or
auditory manifestation of the Son of God.
Ex 3:2, “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the
midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire,
yet the bush was not consumed.”
Ex 19:18-20, “Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD
descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace,
and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet
grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.
The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the
LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.”
Gen 3:8, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden
in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the
presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
Gen 32:29-30, “Then Jacob asked him and said, “Please tell me your
name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And he blessed him
there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, for he said,”I have seen God face to
face, yet my life has been preserved.”
Josh 5:13-15, “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he
lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him
with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him,
Are you for us or for our adversaries? He said, “No; rather I indeed come
now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the
earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his
servant? The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your
sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And
Joshua did so.”
Dan 3:26, “He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the
midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son
of the gods!”
1 John 1:1-4, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we
have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands,
concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen
and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 4
was manifested to us, what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also,
so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with
the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our
joy may be made complete.”
“What was from the beginning” is composed of the following: (1) Accusative
neuter singular form of the relative pronoun hos, which is ho, “who.” (2) 3rd
person singular imperfect active indicative form of the verb eimi, which is en, “has
always existed.” (3) Preposition ap’, “from.” (4) Genitive feminine singular form
of the noun arche, which is arches, “eternity past.”
The relative pronoun hos, should be translated “who” since it is personal
reference to the unique theanthropic Person of history, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The figure of speech called constructio ad sensum is in effect here where sense
agreement supersedes tactical agreement. The neuter gender of the relative
pronoun does not agree with the masculine gender of logos, “Word,” and feminine
gender of zoe, “life.”)
The context clearly indicates that this a personal reference to the Lord Jesus
Christ since John is stating that he heard someone speak, witnessed with Him with
his own eyes, observed and even touched with his own hands.
In context, the verb eimi is used in an absolute sense meaning “to exist.” This is
a customary imperfect tense, which can be used to indicate a regularly recurring
activity in past time (habitual) or a state that continued for some time (general).
Here in verse 1 the latter is in view. The customary imperfect here refers to an
ongoing state. The customary imperfect tense of the verb eimi in 1 John 1:1
indicates that the Lord Jesus Christ has always existed from eternity past. This is a
stative active voice indicating that the subject (the Lord Jesus Christ) has always
existed from eternity past. This is a declarative indicative used to present John’s
assertion that the Lord Jesus Christ has always existed from eternity past as a noncontingent
(or unqualified) statement. The declarative indicative here indicates
John’s assertion is a dogmatic statement of fact or absolute truth of Bible doctrine.
Here in 1 John 1:1, the preposition apo, “from” is used in a temporal sense. It is
employed with the genitive of time arches. Arche refers to eternity past. The
preposition apo plus the genitive arches does not emphasize kind of time but rather
the extent of time. Together, they answer the question as to how long the Lord
Jesus Christ has always existed. Lord Jesus Christ has always existed from eternity
past.
1 John 1:1, “Who has always existed from eternity past, who we have
heard, who we have witnessed with our eyes, who we observed, even our
hands touched concerning the Word who is the life (of God).”
The apostle John in 1 John 1:1 mentions the 1st 2 of 3 states or spheres of
existence of the Lord Jesus Christ: (1) Pre-incarnate: Eternity past as the 2nd
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 5
Person of the Trinity, the Son of God. (2) Incarnate: Virgin birth through the 1st
Advent to the resurrection. (3) Glorified Incarnate: Resurrection and on into
eternity future.
Isa 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the
government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Mic 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the
clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His
goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
John 1:1-4, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came
into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that
has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.”
1 John 2:13a, “I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him (the
Lord Jesus Christ) Who has been from eternity past.”
1 John 2:14a, “I have written to you, fathers (pastor-teachers), because
you know Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) who has been from eternity past.”
Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, Who
is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 21:6, “And He (the Lord Jesus Christ) said to me, it is done. I
am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”
Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last,
the beginning and the end.”
The verb huparcho in Philippians 2:6 clearly expresses the fact that the Lord
Jesus Christ existed as God before becoming a human being. Philippians 2:6-11
formed a hymn to Christ in the church during the middle of the 1st century. It has
been widely recognized as an early Christian hymn on the humiliation and
exaltation of Christ. It is called the Carmen Christi in Latin. The hymn may well
be the earliest extant statement of the 3-fold division of Christ’s career: (1) His
preincarnate state as the Son of God in eternity past. (2) His incarnate state as the
Theanthropos functioning under Kenosis during His 1st Advent. (3) His glorified
state as resurrected humanity.
The hymn consists of 2 main sections, which are built up in parallel style. The
1st section is contained in verses 6-8 and forms the catabasis of our Lord or His
gradual descent from existence in eternity past to His substitutionary spiritual death
on the cross. The 2nd section is contained in verses 9-11 and forms the anabasis of
our Lord or His gradual ascent from resurrection out from the dead to the Great
Genuflex at the conclusion of human history. The traditional view of the hymn
expresses the true humility of the Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 6
functioning according to Kenosis. The hymn emphasizes the obedience of Christ as
the Last Adam in contrast to the disobedience of the 1st Adam.
Philippians 2:6-11 is a Christ-hymn from the 1st century which expresses a
succession of events from our Lord’s preexistence in eternity past to the
incarnation continuing to His glorification at the Great Genuflex at the conclusion
of human history which runs coterminous with the appeal trial of Satan.
Phil 2:5-11, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ
Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality
with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a
bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in
appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point
of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him,
and bestowed on Him the name, which is above every name, so that at the
name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on
earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Let’s look at verse 6 in greater detail. Philippians 2:6, “who, although He
existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be
grasped.”
“Although He existed” is the nominative masculine singular present active
participle huparchon, which is from the verb huparcho. Huparcho occurs as early
as Homer in the 8th century B.C. It is a compound word composed of the
preposition hupo, “under,” and arche, “a beginning.” The preposition hupo is
often prefixed to other words to intensify or alter their meaning. The prepositions
apo, ek, para, and hupo all denote “issuing, proceeding from.” As we noted in 1
John 1:1, the term arche means “eternity past.” Huparcho is a word use to denote
existence, which proceeds or issues from eternity past.
Paul does not use the simple verb of being here which is einai but instead
employs the stronger huparcho to denote existence, which proceeds or issues from
the beginning. In Philippians 2:6, huparchon denotes the inherency and expression
of the divine attributes by our Lord in His preincarnate state. It refers to eternity
past in which our Lord functioned as infinite and eternal God. Huparchon
expresses the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ prior to entering the human race was
the eternal Son of God, and who expressed all the attributes of deity.
Colossians 1:18, “He (the Lord Jesus Christ) is also the Head of the body,
the Church; and He is the beginning (arche), the first-born out from the dead;
so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.”
The gnomic present of the verb huparcho in Philippians 2:6 indicates the
perpetual possession and expression of the divine attributes by our Lord in eternity
past. The gnomic present expresses the perpetual state of our Lord as infinite and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 7
eternal God expressing all the attributes of the divine essence as the 2nd Member
of the Trinity.
Huparchon is what we call a concessive participle, which is used by Paul to call
attention to the fact that God the Son, 2nd Member of the Trinity did something for
us under unfavorable circumstances, i.e., He became human! He became for a little
while lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9).
2 Cor 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though
He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His
poverty might become rich.”
Heb 2:7-8, “YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER
THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND
HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR
HANDS; YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS
FEET.”
The Creator left heaven where He received the worship of angels in order to
become a human being and to suffer the humiliation of dying as a criminal on a
cross as well as spiritual death! God the Son made the concession of becoming
human.
We will translate huparcho, “although existing from eternity past.”
Philippians 2:6, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not
regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
The phrase “In the form of God” in Philippians 2:6 is composed of the
preposition en plus the feminine singular locative noun morphe and the masculine
singular noun, genitive of possession theou. Morphe can have the following
meanings depending upon the context: “essence, nature, character, form, external
appearance, shape.” Morphe is only used in the NT with reference to our Lord. In
Mark 16:12, morphe was used for a post-resurrection appearance of our Lord.
Morphe is used in 2 antithetical or contrasting statements in Philippians 2:6 and 7.
In Philippians 2:6, the word is used as an expression for the function or
expression of our Lord’s divine attributes in His preincarnate, incarnate and
glorified states with the latter continuing up to the present.
In verse 7, it is used with reference to God the Son adding to His divine
essence, the essence of a servant.
In Philippians 2:6, the noun morphe refers to the expression of our Lord’s
divine attributes, which compose His divine essence.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines essence, “the properties or
attributes by means of which something can be placed in its proper class or
identified as being what it is.” They also define attribute, “an inherent
characteristic.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 8
Morphe denotes the expression of the inherent characteristics of deity in the
Person of the Theanthropos, the Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union.
The preposition en plus the locative of morphe expresses the pre-incarnate,
incarnate and glorified states of our Lord as infinite and eternal God expressing all
attributes of deity, which compose His divine essence. The absence of the definite
article before the noun morphe denotes the qualitative aspect of the word rather
than its mere identity. The anarthrous construction emphasizes our Lord’s divine
attributes, which compose His divine essence as the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
Here the prepositional phrase en morphe theou emphasizes our Lord’s divine
essence as infinite and eternal God.
We will translate the prepositional phrase en morphe theou, “in the essence of
God.”
Philippians 2:6, “Who although existing from eternity past in the essence of
God, He never regarded existing equally in essence with God an exploitable
asset.”
Deity of Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal God (John 1:1-2; John 8:58;
10:30a; Col. 2:9a; Rev. 1:8). The titles assigned to His deity are as follows: (1)
“The Son of God” (Luke 1:35) (2) “The Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) (3)
“Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) (4) “Eternal Father” (Isaiah 9:6) (5) “His goings forth
are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). (6) “Lord” (Rom.
15:30; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:11). (7) “God” (Titus 2:13).
He has the same divine essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He
possesses all the attributes of deity: (1) Sovereignty (Matt. 28:18a; Col. 2:10b). (2)
Perfect righteousness (John 8:46a; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John
2:21b). (30 Justice (John 8:16a; 2 Tim. 4:8; Psa. 9:8; Deut. 32:4; Rev. 15:3b). (4)
Love (John 13:34; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 3:19; 1 John 4:9-10). (5) Eternal life (1 Tim.
1:17; 1 John 5:11). (6) Omniscience (Luke 11:17; John 2:24-25; 6:64; 21:17). (7)
Omnipresence (Matt. 18:20; Prov. 15:3) (8) Omnipotence (John 1:3, 10; 5:21; 1
Cor. 1:23-24; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:8). (9) Immutability (Mal. 3:6; Heb.
1:10-12; 13:8). (10) Veracity (John 1:14; 14:6a; 1 John 3:16).
He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16-17;
Heb. 1:3, 10). The Lord Jesus Christ has authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6; Luke
5:24; Col. 3:13). The Lord Jesus Christ has the power to raise the dead (John 5:21;
6:40; 11:25). All judgment belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22; 1 Cor.
3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-14), and receives worship from both men and
angels (Psa. 99:5; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 5:13-14). In His Deity always occupied a place
of equality and fellowship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The Lord
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 9
Jesus Christ as God was equal with the Father (John 10:30, 37-38; 14:9; 17:5, 24-
25).
Incarnation
The word Incarnation is from the Latin: In and caro, stem carn means, “flesh.”
In the context of Christian theology, the Incarnation is the act whereby the eternal
Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, without ceasing to be what He is, namely
God the Son, added to His deity what He did not possess before the act, namely an
impeccable human nature, thus making Him, the unique theanthropic Person of the
cosmos. Therefore, the hypostatic union is the result of the Incarnation. It was
accomplished by means of the Incarnation and the Incarnation was accomplished
by means of the Virgin Pregnancy.
The theological terms hypostatic union and kenosis further explain the meaning
and implications of the Son of God becoming incarnate. The doctrine of the
Incarnation simply contends that the 2nd member of the Trinity, God the Son added
to His deity, a perfect human nature while on the other hand the doctrine of the
hypostatic union explains the relationship between the Christ deity and His perfect
humanity. The doctrine of the kenosis explains how the unique theanthropic Person
of Christ functioned while on planet earth during His 1st Advent.
The second person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, entered permanently
into the human race by means of the Virgin Birth. He is the only member of the
Trinity to take upon Himself a human nature; therefore, He is different from the
other members of the Godhead. He is different from the other members of the
human race in that He is God, and without a sin nature because He did not have a
human father. He did not cease to be God because He became a man, nor was He
no less of a man because He was God. Therefore, there is no one like Him in the
universe, He is a totally unique person, because He combined forever in Himself
undiminished Deity along with perfect sinless humanity.
There are several reasons for the Incarnation. No Incarnation, no resolution to
the angelic conflict. There would be no judgment of Satan. John 12:31, “Now
JUDGEMENT is upon this world (Cosmic Diabolicus); now the ruler of this
world shall be cast out.” John 16:11, “and concerning judgment, because the
RULER OF THIS WORLD (Satan) has been JUDGED.”
The Cross was the Lord’s victory over Satan. Colossians 2:15, “When He
(God the Father) had disarmed the rulers and authorities (Satan and the
fallen angels), He (God the Father) made a public display of them, having
TRIUMPHED OVER THEM THROUGH HIM (the Lord Jesus Christ).”
Satan rebelled against God by committing the sin of “independence.” Isaiah
14:13-14, “But you (Lucifer) said in your heart (leb, in his soul), ‘I will
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 10
ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God (a reference to
the angels), and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will MAKE MYSELF LIKE
THE MOST HIGH.'”
Lucifer (Satan) thought more highly of himself than he should have because of
his awesome beauty and wisdom. Ezekiel 28:11-18, “Again the word of the
Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of
Tyre (Lucifer), and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘You (Lucifer) had
the seal of perfection, FULL OF WISDOM AND PERFECT IN BEAUTY.
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your
covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the
jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; and the gold, the
workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you
were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers,
and I place you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in
the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day
you were created, UNITL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS WAS FOUND IN YOU. By
the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you
sinned; THEREFORE I HAVE CAST YOU AS PROFANE FROM THE
MOUNTAIN OF GOD. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from
the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was LIFTED UP BECAUSE OF
YOUR BEAUTY; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I
CAST YOU TO THE GROUND; I put you before kings, that they may see
you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade,
you profaned your sanctuaries. THEREFORE I HAVE BROUGHT FIRE
FROM THE MIDST OF YOU; IT (FIRE) HAS CONSUMED YOU, and I
have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you.'”
One third of the angels rebelled against God with Satan. Revelation 12:3-4a,
“And another sign appeared in heaven; and behold, a great red dragon
having seven heads and ten horns, on his heads were seven diadems. And his
(Satan) tail swept away A THIRD OF THE STARS OF HEAVEN, and threw
them to the earth.”
Satan and the fallen angels were judged and condemned to the Lake of Fire
forever and ever, therefore, failing in their appeal trial. Luke 10:18, “I (the Lord
Jesus Christ) was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” Revelation
20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and
brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be
tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Mankind would still be enslaved to Satan without the Incarnation. Hebrews
2:14-15, “Since the children share in flesh and blood, He (the Lord Jesus
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 11
Christ) Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He
might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
and might DELIVER those (Fallen humanity) who through fear of death were
subject to SLAVERY all their lives.”
Colossians 1:13, “For He (God the Father) DELIVERED US FROM THE
DOMAIN OF DARKNESS, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved
Son, in whom (the Lord Jesus Christ) we have redemption, the forgiveness of
sins.”
All of creation would still be in the slavery to corruption without the
Incarnation. Romans 8:20-21, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not
of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation
itself also WILL BE SET FREE FROM ITS SLAVERY TO CORRUPTION
into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
God’s purpose for creating man, who is to resolve the Angelic Conflict, would
not be fulfilled without the Incarnation. Colossians 2:15, “When He (the Lord
Jesus Christ) had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He (the Lord Jesus
Christ) made a public display of them (Fallen Angels), HAVING
TRIUMPHED OVER THEM THROUGH HIM (the Lord Jesus Christ).”
No Incarnation, no Cross and Resurrection. No Cross and Resurrection, no
salvation and hope for mankind. Man would die in his sins and would be without
hope of redemption without the Incarnation. 1 Corinthians 15:17, “and if
Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; YOU ARE STILL IN
YOUR SINS. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be
pitied.”
Ephesians 2:12, “remember that you were at that time (before salvation)
separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and
strangers to the covenants of promise, HAVING NO HOPE AND WITHOUT
GOD IN THE WORLD.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is our hope. 1 Timothy 1:1, “Paul, an
apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and
of Christ Jesus, WHO IS OUR HOPE.” Romans 8:24a, “For IN HOPE we
have been saved.”
Man would not be reconciled to God without the Incarnation. “Reconciliation”
comes from two verbs, katallasso, “to reconcile, to end a struggle between
enemies and to bring about peace between the two.” “To exchange war for peace.”
Apokatallasso, “to reconcile, to restore a relationship to its previous peaceful
state or condition.” Christ has restored man to his previous state before the fall of
Adam and the Woman in the Garden.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 12
Romans 5:10-11, “For if while we were enemies, we were RECONCILED
to God through the death (spiritual) of His Son, much more, having been
RECONCILED, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also
exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now
received the RECONCILIATION.”
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “Now all these things (the new creation) are from
God, who RECONCILED us to Himself through Christ, and gave us (the
Apostles) the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that GOD WAS IN CHRIST
RECONCILING THE WORLD TO HIMSELF, not counting their trespasses
against them, and He has committed to us the word of RECONCILIATION.”
Ephesians 2:13-17, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far
off HAVE BEEN BROUGHT NEAR by the blood of Christ. For He Himself
is our PEACE, who made both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one, and broke
down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh (a reference to
the Incarnation), which is the Law of commandments contained in
ordinances, that in Himself (the Lord Jesus Christ) He might make the two
into one new man, thus establishing PEACE, and might RECONCILE them
both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the
enmity (the Law). And He came and preached PEACE to you who were far
away (the Gentile), and peace to those who were near (the Jew).”
Colossians 1:19-22, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the
fulness to dwell in Him (the Lord Jesus Christ), and through Him (the Lord
Jesus Christ) to RECONCILE ALL THINGS TO HIMSELF, having made
peace through the blood of His cross; through Him (the Lord Jesus Christ), I
say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were
formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet HE (the
Lord Jesus Christ) HAS NOW RECONCILED YOU IN HIS FLESHLY
BODY THROUGH DEATH (spiritual), in order to present you before Him
holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all (unlimited
atonement), the just (the Lord Jesus Christ) for the unjust (fallen humanity),
in order that HE (the Lord Jesus Christ) MIGHT BRING US TO GOD,
having been put to death in the flesh (a reference to His humanity), but made
alive in the spirit.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is our “Kinsman Redeemer.” “Kinsman Redeemer” is
someone who pays a price to set someone free who is under bondage to another. 1
Corinthians 6:20a, “For you have been BOUGHT with a price.”
Codex 2 centers upon the person and work of Christ, teaches the doctrine of the
Kinsman Redeemer (Lev. 25:27, 48-49). Leviticus 25:47-48, “Now if the means
of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 13
of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger
who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family, then
he shall have REDEMPTION right after he has been sold. ONE OF HIS
BROTHERS MAY REDEEM HIM.”
The Book of Ruth also teaches this doctrine (Ruth 3:12-13; 4:4-6). The Lord
Jesus Christ is Israel’s “Kinsman Redeemer.” Jeremiah 50:33-34, “Thus says the
Lord of hosts, ‘the sons of Israel are oppressed, and the sons of Judah as well;
and all who took them captive have held them fast, they have refused to let
them go. Their REDEEMER is strong, THE LORD OF HOSTS IS HIS
NAME; He (the Lord Jesus Christ) will vigorously plead their case, so that He
may bring rest to the earth (Millennial Reign), but turmoil to the inhabitants
of Babylon.”
The Church has been “redeemed” by the work of Christ on the cross.
“Redemption”: The noun is apolutrosis, “the act of paying a ransom price to
release another from the state of slavery resulting in redemption, “to set a slave
free by paying a ransom.”
In the New Testament, apolutrosis refers to Christ paying the ransom price to
release mankind from the slave market of sin and the devil with His spiritual death
on the cross.
The verb is lutroo, “to free someone after paying a ransom, to purchase an
individual’s freedom by paying a ransom”
Romans 3:24, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the
REDEMPTION which is in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:13, “Christ
REDEEMED us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for
it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'” Ephesians 1:7, “In
Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) we have REDEMPTION through His blood
(spiritual death), the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of
His grace.” Colossians 1:14, “in whom (the Lord Jesus Christ) we have
REDEMPTION, the forgiveness of sins.” 1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you
were not REDEEMED with perishable things like silver or gold from your
futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood (our
Lord’s spiritual death), as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of
Christ.” Revelation 5:9, “And they sang (Winner’s at the Bema Seat
Judgment) a new song, saying, ‘Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to
break its seals; For Thou was slain, and DIDST PURCHASE for God with
Thy blood (spiritual death) men from every tribe and tongue and people and
nation.”
There would be no High Priest to represent us before God without the
Incarnation. “The High Priest” represented all the people of Israel before God by
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 14
making an offering for their sins. The Lord Jesus Christ is our “High Priest”
offering Himself for sin, once and for all.
Hebrews 9:24-28, “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands,
a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the
presence of God for us; nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the
high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own.
Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the
world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested
(a reference to the Incarnation) to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes
judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,
shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who
eagerly await Him.”
Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, He (the Lord Jesus Christ) had to be made like
His brethren (Incarnation) in all things, that He might become a merciful and
faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the
sins of the people.”
Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,
consider Jesus, the Apostle and HIGH PRIEST of our confession.”
Hebrews 4:14-16, “Since then we have a GREAT HIGH PRIEST who has
passed through the heavens, JESUS (a reference to our Lord’s humanity) the
Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest
who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted
in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with
confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find
grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 6:19-20, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope
both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has
entered as a forerunner FOR US, having become a HIGH PRIEST forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 7:25-27, “Hence, also, He (the Lord Jesus Christ) is able to save
forever (eternal security) those who draw near to God through Him, since He
always lives TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM. For it was fitting that
we should have such a HIGH PRIEST, holy, innocent, undefiled, separate
from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like
those high priests (Aaronic Priesthood), to offer up sacrifices, first for his own
sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He (the Lord Jesus
Christ) did once for all when He offered Himself.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 15
Hebrews 8:1, “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have
such a HIGH PRIEST, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne
of the Majesty in the heavens.”
There would be no “mediator” between God and man without the Incarnation.
“Mediator” is the word mesites, “one who settles disputes between two parties, to
act as an umpire or peacemaker.”
Job 9:32-33, “For He (God) is not a man as I am that I may answer Him,
that we may go to court together. There is NO UMPIRE BETWEEN US, who
may lay his hand upon us both.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and
one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave
Himself as a ransom for all (unlimited atonement), the testimony borne at the
proper time.”
Without the Incarnation, the believer would have no “Advocate” before the
Father when we are accused by Satan. “Advocate” is the word parakletos is a legal
term used of “someone who assists or defends another who has been accused of
something.”
Satan accuses the believer before the Father day and night. Revelation 12:10,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the
authority of His Christ have come, for the ACCUSER OF OUR BRETHREN
has been thrown down, who ACCUSES THEM BEFORE OUR GOD DAY
AND NIGHT.”
The Lord Jesus Christ defends the believer when Satan accuses us of sin before
God the Father. 1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to
you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an ADVOCATE with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
There would be no Church Age, Mystery Doctrine, and plan of God for the
church age without the Incarnation. Christ and the Church have an intimate union
with each other, which is a Mystery, something not revealed to the Old Testament
saints.
Ephesians 1:22-23, “And He (the Lord Jesus Christ) put all things in
subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
which (the Church) is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.”
Ephesians 3:3-6, “that by revelation there was made known to me the
MYSTERY, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you
read you can understand my insight into the MYSTERY OF CHRIST, which
in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now
been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific,
that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow
partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 16
Ephesians 3:8-10, “To me (Paul), the very least of all saints, this grace was
given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to
bring to light what is the administration of the MYSTERY which for ages has
been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold
wisdom of God might now be made known THROUGH THE CHURCH to the
rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is
the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”
Ephesians 5:24, “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives
ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the
church and gave Himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:26, “that He (the Lord
Jesus Christ) might sanctify her (the Church), having cleansed her by the
washing of water with the word.”
Ephesians 5:27, “that He (the Lord Jesus Christ) might present to Himself
the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but
that she should be holy and blameless.”
Ephesians 5:28-29, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their
own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated
his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the
church, because we are members of His (the Lord Jesus Christ) body.”
Ephesians 5:32, “This MYSTERY is great; but I am speaking with reference
to Christ and the church.”
Colossians 1:18a, “He (the Lord Jesus Christ) is also head of the body, the
church.”
Colossians 1:24, “Now I (Paul) rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and
in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling
up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
Colossians 1:25-26, “Of this church I was made a minister according to
the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully
carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, THE MYSTERY which
has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been
manifested to His saints.”
Colossians 1:27, “to whom (the church) God willed to make known what is
the riches of the glory of this MYSTERY among the Gentiles, which is Christ
in you, the hope of glory.”
There would be no “new creation” without the Incarnation.
2 Corinthians 5:17a, “Therefore if any man is IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW
CREATURE.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 17
Ephesians 2:14-15, “For He Himself (the Lord Jesus Christ) is our peace,
who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing
wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of
commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself (the Lord Jesus
Christ) He might make the two (Jew and Gentile) into one NEW MAN, thus
establishing peace.”
There would be no one to sit upon David’s Throne without the Incarnation.
Isaiah 9:7, “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of
peace, on the THRONE OF DAVID and over his kingdom, to establish it and
to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” Luke 1:32, “He (the Lord
Jesus Christ) will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and
the Lord God will give Him THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID.”
God promised David that his throne would be established forever.
2 Samuel 7:16, “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before
me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”
There would be no Millennium without the Incarnation.
Revelation 20:4, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and
judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been
beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,
and those who had not worshipped the beast (anti-Christ) or his image, and
had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they
came to life and REIGNED WITH CHRIST FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.”
Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first
resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be
priests of God and of Christ and will REIGN WITH HIM (the Lord Jesus
Christ) FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.”
There would be no manifestation of God to man without the Incarnation. The
answer to man’s question, “what is God like?” is answered in the person of Christ.
John 14:8-9, “Philip said to Him (the Lord Jesus Christ), ‘Lord, show us
the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long
with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen me
has seen the Father; how do you say, show us the Father’?” John 1:18, “No
man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God (the Lord Jesus Christ),
who is in the bosom of the Father, He (the Lord Jesus Christ) has explained
Him.”
“Explained,” is the verb exegeomai, “to lead out, to show the way to.” The
Lord Jesus Christ “led out into the open, who God is.” The Lord Jesus Christ
“fully revealed who God is,” He “made known the complete revelation of God to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 18
man.” Hence, He “explained,” or “declared” God to man. The Lord Jesus Christ is
the “exegesis” of God.
John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.”
God’s love for mankind is revealed through the Incarnation.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He (God the Father) gave
His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him (the Lord Jesus Christ)
should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 John 3:16a, “We know love by this, that He (the Lord Jesus Christ) laid
down His life for us.”
1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The prophecy of Moses that God would raise up a Man who would be a prophet
like himself is fulfilled through the Incarnation.
Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet
like me from among you (a reference to the humanity of the incarnate Christ),
YOU SHALL LISTEN TO HIM.”
Matthew 17:5, “While he (Peter) was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud
overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My
beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; LISTEN TO HIM!'”
Deuteronomy 18:18-19, “I will raise up a prophet from among their
countrymen like you, and I will put My words in His (the Lord Jesus Christ)
mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall
come about that whoever will not listen to MY WORDS which He (the Lord
Jesus Christ) shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
John 7:16, “My teaching is not Mine, but His (God the Father) who sent
Me.” John 8:28b, “I do nothing of My own initiative, but I speak these things
as the Father taught Me.”
John 12:47-50, “And if anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them,
I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the
world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who
judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did
not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given
Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His
commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the
Father has told Me.”
The grace of God towards mankind would not be manifested without the
Incarnation. Grace is the noun charis, “gift, kindness, favor.” God displayed His
“unmerited favor, kindness” towards us by sending His Son into the world.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 19
John 1:17, “For the Law was given through Moses; GRACE AND
TRUTH WERE REALIZED THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.”
Romans 5:15, “But the FREE GIFT is not like the transgression. For if by
the transgression (Adam’s sin) of the one (Adam) the many died (imputation
of Adam’s sin to all members of the human race), much more did the GRACE
OF GOD and the gift by the GRACE of the One MAN, Jesus Christ, abound
to the many.”
Ephesians 2:4-7, “But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love
with which He loved us (the church), even when we were dead in our
transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by GRACE YOU HAVE
BEEN SAVED), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him (the Lord
Jesus Christ) in the heavenly places, IN CHRIST JESUS, in order that in the
ages to come He might show the SURPASSING RICHES OF HIS GRACE in
kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Titus 2:11, “For the GRACE of God has appeared (a reference to the
Incarnation of Christ), bringing salvation to all men.”
Hebrews 2:9, “But we do see Him (the Lord Jesus Christ) who has been
made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the
suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that by the GRACE OF
GOD He might taste death for EVERYONE.”
The Incarnation was accomplished through the Virgin Birth (Isa. 9:6-7; Micah
5:2; Luke 1:30-35).
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a
virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name
Immanuel.”
“Immanuel” is a proper name and means “with us is God.” A “virgin” would
give birth to Immanuel, therefore, signaling a miraculous birth. “Virgin” is the
Hebrew word `almah. `Almah means a “young woman who has not had sex yet
with a man, but is at the age to be married.”
The angel Gabriel prophesied to Mary that the Child’s name would be called
“Jesus” (Luke 1:31). “Jesus” (Iesou) is a Greek form of a Hebrew name, Joshua,
meaning “Jehovah our salvation.” It is from the Hebrew name Jehoshua which is
taken from two famous Jewish names: (1) Joshua, the successor of Moses (2)
Jeshua, the high priest of the Jews upon their arrival back from the Babylonian
exile. Joshua was originally named Hoshea which means “saving,” but was altered
by Moses (Num. 13:16) into Jehoshua, “Jehovah our salvation,” therefore, we get
the expression, Savior. The promised Savior would have a totally unique birth
from other men: He is the “only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14, 18; 3:16,
18; Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5; 1 John 4:9)
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 20
The promised Messiah would have no human father, but instead would be born
of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Because He would have no human father, therefore,
His Father would be God (Heb. 1:5; 10:5). Joseph, who married Mary, was not the
natural father of our Lord. He was excluded from sitting upon the throne of his
great ancestor King David because of the Coniah Curse (Jeremiah 22:24-30);
therefore, he had no part in the birth of Jesus. David had two sons, Solomon and
Nathan. God used Nathan’s line and not Solomon’s. Mary was in the line of
Nathan. Joseph was in the line of Solomon. Coniah was in the line of Solomon.
Coniah’s line was cut off, therefore, excluding Joseph from taking part in the birth
of the Messiah. Nathan’s line would be used to produce the humanity of our Lord,
and not Solomon’s. Mary was in Nathan’s line. The marriage of Mary and Joseph
made our Lord the “adopted” son and “legal heir” of Joseph. This reflects God’s
Divine Sovereignty, Omniscience and Omnipotence. Our Lord’s claim to the
Davidic Throne could be proven through the Temple Register. Both Mary and
Joseph’s ancestry could be traced all the way back to David through the Temple
Register. Mary and Joseph would not have gone to Bethlehem, David’s birthplace,
when Caesar. Augustus gave the command to have a census taken unless they were
of the House of David (Luke 2:1-5). No one, not even our Lord’s enemies, the
Pharisees and the Sadducees, contended with our Lord about His Davidic ancestry
since the records were in the Temple Register. Those records were destroyed when
the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in A. D. 70. These
records can now only by found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
The Old Testament prophets as well as the New Testament writers clearly state,
that the child to be born of a virgin, would be God Himself: (1) “The Son of God”
(Luke 1:35) (2) “The Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) (3) “Mighty God”
(Isaiah 9:6) (4) “Eternal Father” (Isaiah 9:6) (5) “His goings forth are from long
ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).
The Virgin Birth is a tremendous act of Grace on the part of God towards
mankind. God alone produced the body of our Lord: (1) “The zeal of the Lord of
Hosts will accomplish this” (Isa. 9:7) (2) “The Lord Himself will give you a
sign” (Isa. 7:14) (3) “The Holy Spirit” came upon Mary and “the power of the
Most High” produced the body of our Lord (Luke 1:30-35).
Mary’s womb was only the vehicle for the formation of the human body of our
Lord, which was not contaminated by Adam’s old sin nature. Because of the virgin
pregnancy the humanity of Christ did not have an old sin nature. He had a human
body that was produced through the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 10:5-7).
The Incarnation produced the hypostatic union or in other words, it is the result
of the Son of God becoming a human being. The theological term hypostatic union
means that the Lord Jesus Christ is undiminished deity and true sinless humanity in
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 21
1 Person forever. He unites in Himself the essence of God and the essence of man
without compromising the integrity of the attributes of each nature.
The Lord Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal God (John 1:1-2; John 8:58;
10:30a; Col. 2:9a; Rev. 1:8). The titles assigned to His deity are as follows: (1)
“The Son of God” (Luke 1:35) (2) “The Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) (3)
“Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) (4) “Eternal Father” (Isaiah 9:6) (5) “His goings forth
are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). (6) “Lord” (Rom.
15:30; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:11). (7) “God” (Titus 2:13).
He has the same divine essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He
possesses all the attributes of deity: (1) Sovereignty (Matt. 28:18a; Col. 2:10b). (2)
Perfect righteousness (John 8:46a; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John
2:21b). (30 Justice (John 8:16a; 2 Tim. 4:8; Psa. 9:8; Deut. 32:4; Rev. 15:3b). (4)
Love (John 13:34; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 3:19; 1 John 4:9-10). (5) Eternal life (1 Tim.
1:17; 1 John 5:11). (6) Omniscience (Luke 11:17; John 2:24-25; 6:64; 21:17). (7)
Omnipresence (Matt. 18:20; Prov. 15:3) (8) Omnipotence (John 1:3, 10; 5:21; 1
Cor. 1:23-24; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:8). (9) Immutability (Mal. 3:6; Heb.
1:10-12; 13:8). (10) Veracity (John 1:14; 14:6a; 1 John 3:16).
He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16-17;
Heb. 1:3, 10). The Lord Jesus Christ has authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6; Luke
5:24; Col. 3:13). The Lord Jesus Christ has the power to raise the dead (John 5:21;
6:40; 11:25). All judgment belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22; 1 Cor.
3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-14), and receives worship from both men and
angels (Psa. 99:5; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 5:13-14). In His Deity always occupied a place
of equality and fellowship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The Lord
Jesus Christ as God was equal with the Father (John 10:30, 37-38; 14:9; 17:5, 24-
25).
The Lord Jesus Christ condescended to the human race by adding to His
undiminished deity, a perfect, sinless humanity. He had human emotions and
human limitations. This condescension allowed Him to experience the human
condition with all its limitations and emotions except for sin. It also enabled Him
to die for the sins of the world and rise from the dead since deity cannot die.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines condescend, “to descend to a
less formal or dignified level, to waive the privileges of rank.” Webster’s New
Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines condescend, “to waive dignity or
superiority voluntarily and assume equality with an inferior.”
The Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily waived His superiority of rank with its
privileges and dignity as the second Person of the Trinity by assuming equality
with inferior humanity in Hypostatic Union. Christ’s humanity was foreordained in
eternity past (1 Pet. 1:20). The Old Testament prophets wrote of a human Messiah
(Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14). The Old Testament wrote of a suffering human Messiah
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 22
(Psa. 22:6-8; 14:18; Isa. 52:14; 53:3-5), and a triumphant Messiah (Isa. 63:1; Zech.
14:9, 16-17). In His humanity, He was able to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies
concerning the suffering Messiah and will be able to fulfill the future glorious
Millennial reign of the Messiah. He will save Israel at the end of the Tribulation
and will physically reign over all the earth for a thousand years (Isa. 63:1; Zech.
14:9).
The Lord Jesus Christ is trichotomous in His humanity. He has a human body
like ours but without a sin nature (John 1:14; Heb. 10:5; 1 John 1:1; 1 John 4:2-3).
He has a human soul (Matt. 26:38a; Isa. 53:11a). He also has a human spirit (Luke
23:46; John 13:21; 19:30). The Scriptures use the following titles when stressing
our Lord’s humanity: (1) “The Son of Man” (Matt. 24:30; Mark 26:64; Luke
5:24; 6:5; John 1:51; 3:14; 8:28). (2) “The Son of David” (Matt. 1:1; Mark 10:47;
Luke 1:32; 18:39; Rev. 22:16). (3) “The Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). (4)
“Jesus” (Acts 2:32; 8:35; Rom. 3:26; 1 Thess. 4:14; Heb. 2:9; 6:20).
Our Lord as a human being: (1) “Wept” (John 11:35; Heb. 5:7). (2) “Slept”
(Mark 4:38). (3) Became “hungry” (Luke 4:2). (4) Was “thirsty” (John 19:28). (5)
“Prayed” (Luke 21:41-42; Heb. 5:7). (6) “Ate” and “drank” (Mark 2:16; Luke
5:30). (7) Was “weary” (John 4:6). (8) Was in “agony” (Luke 22:44). (9) Had to
“grow” physically and mentally (Luke 2:40). (10) Had to “learn” Bible Doctrine
(Luke 2:52). (11) Had to learn “obedience” (Heb. 5:7). (12) Was “tempted” (Luke
4:2; Heb. 2:18; 4:15). (13) Was a Man of “sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). (14) Was
“despised” and “forsaken” of men (Isaiah 53:3). (15) “Rejoiced” (Luke 10:21).
(16) “Died” physically (John 19:33). (17) “Died” spiritually (Matt. 27:45-46).
The following is a list of individuals and church councils, which believed in the
doctrine of the Incarnation.
THE NICENE CREED (The First Council of Nice, A. D. 325): “We believe in
one God, the Father Almighty, the maker of all things visible and invisible; and in
one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the
substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,
begotten (gennethenta), not made, being of one substance (omoousion,
consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be
in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and our salvation CAME DOWN (from
heaven) AND WAS INCARNATE AND WAS MADE MAN. He suffered and the
third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And He shall come again to
judge both the quick and the dead. And (we believe) in the Holy Spirit. And
whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (en pote
hote ouk en), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of
things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence (from the
Father) or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion-all that so say,
the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 23
THE COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON (A.D. 451): “We teach with one voice that
the Son of God and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same
(Person), that He is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very
man, of a reasonable soul and (human) body consisting, consubstantial with the
Father as touching His Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his
manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of His Father
before the worlds according to His Godhead; but in these last days for us men and
for our salvation born (into the world) of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
according to His manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten
Son (of God) must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably,
indivisibly, distinctly.”
BENJAMIN WARFIELD (1851-1921): “These manifestations of a human and
Divine consciousness simply stand side by side in the records of our Lord’s selfexpression.
Neither is suppressed or even qualified by the other. If we attend only
the one class we might suppose Him to proclaim Himself wholly Divine; if only to
the other we might equally easily imagine Him to be representing Himself as
wholly human. With both together before us we perceive Him alternately speaking
out of a Divine and out of a human consciousness; manifesting Himself as all that
God is and as all that man is; yet with the most marked unity of consciousness.
He, the one Jesus Christ, was to His own apprehension true God and complete man
in a unitary personal life.”
CHARLES HODGE (1797-1878): “The facts which the Bible teaches
concerning the person of Christ are, first, that He was truly man, i.e., He had a
perfect or complete human nature. Hence everything that can be predicated of man
(that is, of man as man, and not of man as fallen) can be predicated of Christ.
Secondly, He was truly God, or had a perfect divine nature. Hence everything that
can be predicated of God can be predicated of Christ. Thirdly, He was one person.
The same person, self, or Ego, who said, ‘I thirst,’ said, ‘Before Abraham was, I
am.’ This is the whole doctrine of the Incarnation as it lies in the Scriptures and in
the faith of the Church” (Systematic Theology Vol. 2., pg. 380).
LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER (1871-1952): “Through His Incarnation Christ
combined both the perfect, divine nature of God and human nature in one Person.
He was no less God because of His humanity and no more than human as respects
humanity because of the divine being which He was. If the Logos was to become
‘flesh’ and as Immanuel be one of the human family, there was but one way it could
be done. He must submit to a human birth. Had He suddenly appeared on earth
among men as if one of them or even been seen descending from heaven, the
identity of His person-without a human body, soul, and spirit all of His own-could
never have been established satisfactorily. It is too often assumed that Christ
began to be at the time of His birth of the virgin, whereas He was from all eternity.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 24
From the standpoint of fact, then, humanity was only added to Deity” (Systematic
Theology, Vol. 7, pg. 196).
Birth of Christ
Christmas is a holiday observed by many Christians around the world who
celebrate the fact that the Son of God entered into the human race, to be identified
with all humanity and to give His life as a ransom so that the entire human race
might be set free us from the curse of sin and the tyrant Satan.
The Virgin Birth provided all of mankind with a Redeemer.
Gal 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son,
born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who
were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Without the miracle of the virgin birth there would be no incarnation. If there
was no incarnation, there would be no resolution to the angelic conflict.
2 Cor 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though
He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His
poverty might become rich.”
If not for the virgin birth of Christ, there would be no Cross and Resurrection
and therefore there would be no salvation or hope for mankind. Titus 2:11, “For
the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.”
The virgin birth was the means by which the incarnation became a reality.
John 1:14, “And the Word (The Lord Jesus Christ) became flesh (a Man),
and dwelt (“tabernacled”) among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the
only uniquely born One from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
1 Timothy 3:16, “And by common confession great is the mystery of
godliness: He (The Lord Jesus Christ) who was revealed in the flesh, was
vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
1 John 1:1-3, “We announce to you what was from eternity past, what we
have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and what our
hands touched, regarding the Word of Life and the Life was manifested, and
we have seen, and we bear witness, and we announce to you the Eternal Life
which was with the Father, and was manifested to us. We announce to you
what we have seen, and what we have heard, that you also may have
fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His
Son, Jesus Christ.”
The Old Testament prophets as well as the New Testament writers clearly state,
that the child to be born of a virgin, would be God Himself: (1) “The Son of God”
(Luke 1:35) (2) “The Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) (3) “Mighty God”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 25
(Isaiah 9:6) (4) “Eternal Father” (Isaiah 9:6) (5) “His goings forth are from long
ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).
In 700 B.C., the prophet Isaiah was used by God the Holy Spirit to prophecy the
birth of our Lord. Isa 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name
Immanuel.”
In Isaiah 7:14, Immanuel is the Hebrew proper name `Immanuel (la % WnMu* )! ,
“God with us.” The name Immanuel refers to the Incarnation or that God would
become a man by entering into the human race through the virgin birth.
The 2nd Person of the Trinity, God the Son, would become something that He
wasn’t before, a human being without a sin nature.
“A Virgin” is composed of 2 Hebrew words: (1) Definite article ha (h)* . (2)
Noun `almah (hm*lu)^ , “young woman who has not had sex yet with a man, but is at
the age to be married.” The definite article preceding the noun `almah indicates a
specific virgin in God’s plan.
Contrary to Jewish tradition, no father is mentioned. The omission fits with the
fact that the Child is virgin-born. Matthew 1:23 tells us who Immanuel is, the
Lord Jesus Christ, and who “the virgin” is, Mary. The phrase “God Himself will
give you a sign” points to the fact that the omnipotence of God will perform the
miracle of implanting the seed for the formation of the humanity of Christ.
Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35 and Hebrews 10:5 says that God the Holy Spirit
prepared a human body for God the Son.
Matt 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother
Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found
to be with child by the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will
come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for
that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Isa 9:6-7, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the
government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end
to the increase of {His} government or of peace, On the throne of David and
over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and
righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts
will accomplish this.”
The phrase “will be born” is the 3rd person feminine singular pual perfect form
of the verb yaladh (rly^ )* , “to bear a child, to give birth.” The perfect tense says that
in 700 B.C. when this was written, God saw the virgin birth as already having
occurred. The verb yulladh is also in the Pual stem which is an intensive passive
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 26
stem meaning that the virgin birth is a promise by God to the house of Israel which
is certain to occur or pictured in the mind of God as already having taken place.
The pual passive means that the house of Israel will receive the virgin birth from
God.
“Will be given” is the 3rd person masculine singular niphal perfect form of the
verb nathan (/jn^ )* , “to give.” The pual stem is used in the passive sense meaning
that the nation of Israel is going to be acted upon by God when God the Holy Spirit
will produce a sinless human body for the Son of God and God the Father will
impute soul to the sinless human body. The perfect tense indicates that God
already considers that the birth of Christ is a certainty since He knows all things
because He is omniscient.
“The government will rest on His shoulders,” means He will be a King.
“Wonderful” and “Counselor” indicates His character. “Wonderful” is a noun
and means He will be a supernatural wonder, a marvel (Ex. 15:11; Judges 13:18).
“Mighty God” is the Hebrew name El Gibbor which refers to the fact that the
Child will be the omnipotent God. “The Everlasting Father” (Aviad) could be
translated “Father of all eternity” (Micah 5:2). “Prince of Peace” (Sar-Shalom)
means that He is the One bringing salvation to men.
The Lord Jesus was born on September 11, 3 B.C. just after sundown on the 1st
of the Jewish month of Tishri, which marked the beginning of the Jewish New
Year Rosh sha’shanah, which the Bible calls the Feast of Trumpets. First of all, we
know that John was six months older than Jesus (Lk.1:24, 26, 36). We know that
John began his ministry sometime in the 15th year of Caesar Tiberius, which was
reckoned from 19 August, 28AD, to 18 August, 29AD (Lk.3:1). We know that at
the time Jesus “began His ministry” He “was about thirty years of age”
(Lk.3:23). We know that John the Baptist was conceived during the time frame
when his father “was performing his priestly service before God in the
appointed order of his division” at the Temple. This is a key because Zacharias’
course was that of Abia (Heb., Abijah), which was the 8th course (of 24 courses
established by David). The 8th course served two times (each course served one
week twice a year), once in late spring, and again in late autumn. Jewish tradition
said that the first priestly course commenced its duty on the Sabbath before Nisan
1 (first month of religious year).
In 4BC, Nisan 1 was March 29, and so the preceding Sabbath was March 24,
making the week of the duties of the first course (Jehoiarib; see 1Chr.24) from
Sabbath noon, March 24 to Sabbath noon, March 31 (2nd: March 31 to April 7,
etc.). The third course (started April 7) was interrupted by the period of the
Passover when all priests officiated together; this interruption caused the third
course not to end its administration until the Sabbath after Passover, which was
April 21 in 4BC. The period for the 8th course of Abujah would have been from
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 27
May 19 to May 26. So Zechariah was serving in the Temple when the Gabriel
appeared and struck Zacharias was struck dumb during his administration, which
immediately disqualified him, from that moment, from exercising the priest’s office
(Lev.21:16-23). He left for home and sometime near May 26 to June 1, Elisabeth
conceived.
Since the human gestation period is about 280 days (9 months and 10 days), this
would place the birth of John near March 10 in 3BC. This would place Christ’s
birth in the 1st half of September, 3BC because Jesus was 6 months younger than
John. Now we can conclude that Jesus was born on the 11th of September because
September 11th was Tishri One on the Jewish calendar.
Tishri One is none other than the Jewish New Year’s day (Nisan 1 was the
beginning of the Jewish ecclesiastical year; in 3 BC this fell on 18 March).
Otherwise known as Rosh sha’shanah, or as the Bible calls it, the Day of Trumpets
(Lev.23:23-25]. Sundown on 11 September 3 BC (6 p.m.), was the beginning of
Rosh sha’shanah (Jesus was born very soon after 6 p.m. when the day changed
from 30 Elul to 1 Tishri). The theme of the Day of Trumpets’ is that of kingship in
Israel. This was the very day that the kings of Judah reckoned as the inauguration
day of their rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon,
Jeremiah, and Ezra (Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, pp. 28,
31, 161, 163). The Day of Trumpets was acknowledged as the time for counting
the years of kingly rule. Indeed, it was customary that the final ceremony in the
coronation of kings was the blowing of trumpets (for Solomon, 1Kgs.1:34, for
Jehu, 2Kgs.9:13, for Jehoash, 2Kgs.11:11).
So Jesus was born in a stable in the early evening hours (just as the Jewish
calendar advanced to 1 Tishri) of September 11, 3BC. He was circumcised on
September 19, 3BC, Lk. 2:21. He was dedicated in the Temple on October 21,
3BC.
Luke says, “they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth”,
Lk.2:39. This means that they did not go to Egypt after the birth of Christ. After
all, they had only gone to Bethlehem for the “census”, not to move there. So, the
family returned to Nazareth in the latter part of October (during that time, they
located a house to live in). Then for some reason (they probably thought that a
better place to raise the Messiah would be in Jerusalem’s back yard) they decided
to move to Bethlehem. This could have been in the spring or summer of 2BC. They
set up house there, Mt.2:11. Then on December 25, 2BC, when the planet Jupiter
came to its stationary point in mid-Virgo and was in meridian over Bethlehem, the
Magi arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts meant for a king.
Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt, having been forewarned by an angel in late
December, 2BC. Herod killed the male children “in Bethlehem and in all its
environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 28
ascertained from the magi”, Mt.2:16. This matter of killing two-year-old children
can now make good sense. If Jesus was born in September, 3BC, the slaying of
infants was about 15 months after His birth. If the conception period were also
considered, it comes to 24 months exactly. Joseph and Mary returned from Egypt,
having been told that Herod was dead (Herod died in January, 1BC) and took up
residence in Nazareth, Mt.2:19-23. In the spring of 11AD, Jesus visited Jerusalem
with His parents and observed Passover, Lk.2:41-42. Jesus began His public
ministry just after He reached the age of 31, in October or November, 29AD. This
satisfies the statement in Lk.3:23, “And when He began His ministry, Jesus
Himself was about thirty years of age…”.
Luke 1:1-25, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account
of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by
those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it
seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from
the beginning, to write {it} out for you in consecutive order, most excellent
Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have
been taught. In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named
Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of
Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous in the sight of
God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the
Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were
both advanced in years. Now it happened {that} while he was performing his
priestly service before God in the {appointed} order of his division, according
to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of
the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in
prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. And an angel of the Lord
appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was
troubled when he saw {the angel} and fear gripped him. But the angel said to
him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your
wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. You
will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be
great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will
be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn
many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go {as
a forerunner} before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE
HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the
disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people
prepared for the Lord.” Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this
{for certain?} For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.” The
angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 29
God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these
things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled
in their proper time.” The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were
wondering at his delay in the temple. But when he came out, he was unable to
speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and
he kept making signs to them, and remained mute. When the days of his
priestly service were ended, he went back home. After these days Elizabeth his
wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months,
saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He
looked {with favor} upon {me} to take away my disgrace among men.” Now
in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee
called Nazareth.”
Luke 1:26 says that the angel Gabriel was sent on a mission by God to a city in
Galilee called Nazareth. Nazareth was located 70 miles northeast from Jerusalem
and was a half-way house between that city and Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia.
Nazareth stood on a hillside, and at the foot of the hill ran the great highway
between Tyre and Sidon and Jerusalem. Along that highway there passed Roman
soldiers, Greek merchants, Greek travelers, and Jewish priests. It contained at least
15,000 inhabitants in our Lord’s day and possibly more. It was one of the cities of
Galilee and being where it was geographically, it was the place where Roman
soldiers often stayed overnight and Greek merchantmen put up in the
caravansaries. Nazareth was a hotbed of corruption much like our modern cities
such as New York and Los Angeles. Remember what Nathanael said, “Can any
good thing come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46)? He said this because it was filled
with all the vices that are contained in our modern cities today. Gabriel was sent to
this city called Nazareth by God to visit a virgin named Mary who was engaged to
a man named Joseph.
Luke 1:27, “to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the
descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
“Virgin” is the noun parthenos (parqevno$), which denotes “a young,
unmarried girl who has not had sex with a man yet.” Joseph and Mary were legally
considered to be married but had not consummated the marriage by having sex.
The Jews had a tradition called betrothal or engagement period. The betrothal was
an agreement that included witnesses, a marriage contract, and the payment of the
bridal price. The betrothal or engagement period was the 1st stage of the marriage
and usually began when the girl was about 12 years of age. This period was
generally concluded after a year when the woman would go to live at the man’s
house instead of her parents. The betrothal was considered preparation for
marriage but was legally binding. If the marriage did not take place because of a
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 30
breach of contract such as the dowry not paid to her parents or if she had sex
before marriage, the young woman could not be married to another man until she
was freed by due process and a certificate of divorce.
“Joseph” who was engaged to Mary is said to be “of the descendants of
David.” This is intended to show Jesus’ legitimate claim to the throne of David
through his legal father Joseph (see verse 31). Joseph, who married Mary, was not
the natural father of our Lord.
Joseph was excluded from sitting upon the throne of his great ancestor King
David because of the “Coniah Curse” (Jeremiah 22:24-30); therefore, he had no
part in the birth of Jesus. David had two sons, Solomon and Nathan.
Jer 22:24-30, “As I live,” declares the LORD, “even though Coniah the son
of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet {ring} on My right hand, yet I would
pull you off; and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking
your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. I will
hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were
not born, and there you will die. But as for the land to which they desire to
return, they will not return to it. Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar?
Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled
out and cast into a land that they had not known? O land, land, land, hear the
word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD, “Write this man down childless, a
man who will not prosper in his days; for no man of his descendants will
prosper sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah.’”
God used Nathan’s line and not Solomon’s. Mary was in the line of Nathan.
Joseph was in the line of Solomon. Coniah was in the line of Solomon. Coniah’s
line was cut off, therefore, excluding Joseph from taking part in the birth of the
Messiah. Nathan’s line would be used to produce the humanity of our Lord, and not
Solomon’s and Mary was in Nathan’s line. The marriage of Mary and Joseph made
our Lord the “adopted” son and “legal heir” of Joseph. This reflects God’s Divine
Sovereignty, Omniscience and Omnipotence. Our Lord’s claim to the Davidic
Throne could be proven through the Temple Register.
Both Mary and Joseph’s ancestry could be traced all the way back to David
through the Temple Register. Mary and Joseph would not have gone to Bethlehem,
David’s birthplace, when Caesar Augustus gave the command to have a census
taken unless they were of the House of David (Luke 2:1-5). No one, not even our
Lord’s enemies, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, contended with our Lord about
His Davidic ancestry since the records were in the Temple Register. Those records
were destroyed when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the
Temple in A. D. 70. These records can now only by found in the Gospels of
Matthew and Luke.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 31
Luke 1:28-35, “And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one!
The Lord {is} with you.” But she was very perplexed at {this} statement, and
kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do
not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will
conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will
be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will
give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of
Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will
overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of
God.”
God the Holy Spirit was responsible for Mary’s pregnancy.
Matt 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother
Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found
to be with child by the Holy Spirit.”
Matt 1:20, “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to
take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the
Holy Spirit.”
God the Holy Spirit was the source of Mary’s pregnancy (Matt. 1:18). The
preposition ek plus the genitive of pneumatos hagiou denotes the source of Mary’s
pregnancy, which was God the Holy Spirit. The divine omnipotence of God the
Holy Spirit created the human body of our Lord. In Luke 1:35, the term
“overshadow” is an OT image of the cloud of God’s presence that descended upon
the tabernacle (Ex. 40:35).
The term is a metaphor for the presence of God. An act of divine omnipotence
produce the sperm that fertilized the egg in Mary’s womb. The Lord Jesus Christ
had no sin nature like we do because He did not have a human father. God could
not impute Adam’s original sin in the garden because there was no place to impute
it. Our Lord did not have a genetically formed sin nature like we do. The reason
being is that He did not have a human biological father, but instead, had a divine
Father in heaven. Therefore, God could not impute an old sin nature to our Lord’s
human body. The principle of sin was not found in Him. He did not have an old sin
nature to tempt as we do though He was tempted many times to reject the plan of
God for His life which was to die for the sins of the world.
God the Holy Spirit produced the body of our Lord: (1) “The zeal of the Lord
of Hosts will accomplish this” (Isa. 9:7). (2) “The Lord Himself will give you a
sign” (Isa. 7:14) (3) “The Holy Spirit” came upon Mary and “the power of the
Most High” produced the body of our Lord (Luke 1:30-35).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 32
Mary’s womb was only the vehicle for the formation of the human body of our
Lord. The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit provided 23 perfect chromosomes
to fertilize Mary’s normal, pure ovum. This produced a fetus in Mary’s womb that
was uncontaminated by Adam’s old sin nature. Our Lord did not receive an old sin
nature because He did not have a human father. Our human father produces the 23
contaminated chromosomes needed to fertilize our mother’s ovum. In Mary, as in
all normal women, approximately once a month that one egg cell was purified
through meiosis. Her sin nature’s presence in an immature reproductive cell had
crossed over into polar bodies, leaving the mature ovum uncontaminated. In other
words, the physical basis for the virgin birth can be found in any good biology
textbook. The old sin nature is in the male sperm. We receive Adam’s old sin
nature from our human father’s sperm. Every person whether male or female
possesses an old sin nature as a result of this (Rom. 5:12). When the female ovum
is fertilized by the male sperm, it is contaminated by the sin nature carried in the
sperm. Mary conceived apart from the contamination by the male sperm. Her
pregnancy was, therefore, a virgin pregnancy. The blastocyst, embryo and fetus
that developed within Mary was totally free from the corruption of Adam’s sinful
trend. At the instant when, in the Bethlehem stable, the fetus emerged from Mary’s
womb, God the Father imputed human life to its divinely prepared home, Christ’s
human soul. The result of this imputation, as it would have been with any other
member of the human race, was physical life.
Our Lord was born true humanity, qualified to represent mankind before God.
But at the same moment, when the justice of God would normally impute Adam’s
original sin to a newly born infant, no such imputation was possible. Christ had no
genetically formed old sin nature. Adam’s sin had no home in Him. Christ was not
seminally in Adam. Jesus Christ was thus born unique. He was born both
physically and spiritually alive.
The Greek adjective monogenes (monogenhv$ ) in John 3:16 is not “only
begotten” Son but “uniquely born” Son. The Unique Person of the universe, the
Lord Jesus Christ, was born perfect in the midst of totally depraved mankind.
Christ was the only free Man ever to enter Satan’s world. The 2nd Person of the
Trinity entered into the world as perfect, uncontaminated Man, qualified to go to
the Cross as our Substitute.
Our Lord was free from: (1) 1. The devil’s rulership. (2) The sovereignty of the
old sin nature. (3) The imputation of Adam’s sin. (4) The condemnation of spiritual
death.
Luke 1:36-38, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived
a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
For nothing will be impossible with God. And Mary said, “Behold, the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 33
bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And
the angel departed from her.”
Mary had to agree with God’s plan before the omnipotence of God the Holy
Spirit could implant the seed that would form the perfect humanity of our Lord
Jesus Christ. When Gabriel announced that God had selected her as the virgin to
take part in the formation of the perfect sinless body of our Lord, Mary had to first
give her consent.
When Mary said, “be it done to me according to your WORD” (Luke 1:38).
She was saying yes to the plan of God. Mary believed that the prophesy of the
virgin birth which was related to her by the angel Gabriel would be fulfilled, and
therefore, she was blessed because of her faith in God’s WORD. The fact that God
had selected her as the human vehicle to form the humanity of Christ was the
greatest privilege conferred upon a woman (Luke 1:28, 30, 48).
Luke 1:28, “And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The
Lord {is} with you.”
Luke 1:30, “The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have
found favor with God.”
Luke 1:48, “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.”
Also we must not forget that Joseph exercised positive volition towards the
Word of God as well.
Matt 1:18-19, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His
mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she
was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being
a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away
secretly.”
The word “righteous” means that He was a believer with integrity. When he
learned that Mary was pregnant, his first inclination must have been that she was
unfaithful. Instead of embarrassing her by divorcing her publicly and exposing her
to public ridicule, he chose to divorce her secretly (Matt. 1:19). Joseph did not
want to bring public disgrace upon her by making an official complaint, which he
could have according to the Mosaic Law (Deut. 22:23-24).
Deut 22:23-24, “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and
{another} man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring
them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the
girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has
violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”
He was also motivated by his love for her. Infidelity was punishable by death
according to the Mosaic Law. The Romans would not let the Jews carry out the
death penalty themselves, therefore, divorce was common. Divorce was very easy
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 34
in the days of our Lord because of the teaching of the Pharisees. Joseph though
was compassionate and he chose mercy over his “rights” under the Law and
decided to release Mary with a secret divorce. In fact, Joseph was ready to take the
blame for her pregnancy. Everyone would suspect Joseph as being the father
anyway and would blame him for Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph was a God pleaser
and not a people pleaser. He was a righteous man because he did the right thing.
Joseph truly loved Mary because he was willing to protect her. He obeyed the
command of God to take Mary as wife even in the face of public criticism. Joseph
cared what God said to him and not what men would say about him, therefore,
Joseph was a God pleaser and not a people pleaser. If he was a people pleaser, he
would have divorced Mary publicly as was within his rights under the Mosaic
Law.
Matt 1:20-25, “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the
Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be
afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her
is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus,
for He will save His people from their sins. Now all this took place to fulfill
what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN
SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL
CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH
US.” And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord
commanded him, and took {Mary} as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she
gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”
As Joseph was preparing to secretly divorce Mary, the angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream (Matt. 1:20). The angel explained to Joseph was God
was responsible for Mary’s pregnancy (Matt. 1:20-21). The angel also explained
the purpose Mary’s pregnancy, to bring forth the Savior of the world.
The angel of the Lord told Joseph “not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife”
(Matt. 1:20). Joseph showed his positive volition toward the WORD of God by
taking Mary as his wife as he was commanded by God (Matt. 1:24). Joseph did not
have sex with Mary until she gave birth to our Lord (Matt. 1:25). Joseph also
obeyed the command to call the Child “Jesus” (Matt. 1:25).
The name “Jesus” is from the Hebrew name Jehoshua which is taken from two
famous Jewish names. Yoshua (Joshua): Joshua was the successor of Moses.
Yeshua (Jeshua): Jeshua was the high priest of the Jews upon their arrival back
from the Babylonian exile. Jesus (Iesou) is a Greek form of a Hebrew name,
Joshua, meaning “Jehovah our salvation,” or “Savior.”
Luke 2:1, “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus,
that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 35
Our Lord’s birth took place during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Caesar
Augustus was the great nephew of Gaius Julius Caesar who was one of the greatest
men of the ancient world. Caesar Augustus was the adopted son of Gaius Julius
Caesar. The name Caesar Augustus was his title. His real name was Caius
Octavius. The title Augustus was a religious title and an attempt to claim deity. He
took the name Caesar by adoption and was the first Roman Emperor.
Rome was a Republic and then became an Empire under Octavius. He was the
sole ruler of the Roman Empire, which stretches over most of the inhabited world
at that time. He was the most powerful man in all the known world and the
supreme commander of the greatest army in the world…He was Imperator. Caesar
Augustus ruled from 31 B.C. to 14 A.D. and our Lord was born under his reign.
Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken of everyone in the Roman Empire.
God moved Augustus to issue this census so that the prophesy in Micah 5:2 could
be fulfilled. God acts upon human history and takes part in human history. The
Lord Jesus Christ controls human history. Mary and Joseph who were from the
house of David had to go to Bethlehem when the census was issued. Our Lord had
to be born in Bethlehem to fulfill the prophesy in Micah 5:2.
Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, {too} little to be among
the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His
goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
When Christ was born the religious climate was diverse. The Gentiles were
polytheists as were the Romans. The Greeks also worshipped many gods along
with philosophy. It appears that many among the Jews were expecting and looking
for the Messiah to come. They were well aware of the prophecies.
Luke2:2, “This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of
Syria.”
The phrase “all the inhabited earth” refers to the entire Roman Empire in the
days of Caesar Augustus. In Luke 2:2, the Word of God says that this census also
took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Quirinius was governor of Syria
on 2 different occasions (1st Lk. 2:2; 2nd Acts 5:37). The census in Luke 2:1 took
place 3 B.C. during the 1st reign of Quirinius as governor of Syria. It was during
this 1st census during the reign of Quirinius as governor of Syria that our Lord was
born. Cyrenius was a Roman procurator who had powers directly from Augustus,
which in contemporary terms means a powerful “right-hand man”, a Legatus
Augusti.
The year 2BC was one of the most important in the career of Augustus, as he
was sixty years old and it was the Silver Jubilee of his rule (begun in 27BC; it was
also the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome). On February 5, 2BC, the
Senate and the people of Rome awarded him the highest of all decorations: Pater
Patriae (Father of the Country). There was no year like it for celebrations in Rome,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 36
and the festivities and celebrations encompassed the Empire in its entirety (the
provinces). Augustus knew beforehand of the special honor, and issued an “edict”
calling for a fresh registration of all who lived within the borders of the greater
Empire (Lk.2:1-5). The purpose of this registration was to secure an oath of
allegiance to Caesar Augustus in his Jubilee year.
Quirinius had been sent to the East to conduct it. It is reasonable that a period
of about a year was allowed for complete enrollment, thus beginning the
registration of 3BC, in plenty of time for the celebrations in 2BC when the title
became official. When Herod became king, however, the tribute to Rome ceased
and Herod collected all the taxes.
The year 2BC, however, was reckoned so glorious a new beginning for
Augustus and Rome that the imperial taxation and evaluation ceased during that
year if people would give their oath of allegiance to Augustus as their Pater Patriae
and universal lord.
In 3BC Quirinius was special governor during the time of the governorship of
Saturninus, who was responsible for conducting the special census concerning the
Pater Patriae for Augustus. This census issued by Augustus in 3BC brought
Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to their native city of Bethlehem.
Mary normally would not have needed to go with Joseph, but since both were
royal claimants, both had to appear in person and sign the document. All “royal
claimants” would have especially been singled out to take the oath. Luke tells us
that the reason why both Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem was because he was
reckoned as belonging to the house of David, and of course, so was Mary (Lk.2:4).
The census of 3BC is the only census after the one in 8BC, and most would
consider 8BC as too late for the birth of Christ.
Luke 2:3-5, “And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each
to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to
Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the
house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was
engaged to him, and was with child.”
The birthplace of our Lord was in the town of Bethlehem. It is a very historic
place and is mentioned 11 times in the Old Testament from the Patriarchs to
Nehemiah. Bethlehem originally belonged to the Canaanites and was dedicated to
the god of war. Bethlehem was located 5 miles south of Jerusalem and is from the
Hebrew words beth, “house” and lehem, “bread.” Originally, the city’s name
meant “the house or sanctuary city of Lahum.” “Lahum” was the god of war of the
Canaanites. After the conquest of Canaan, the Jews revocalized the name Laham to
make it read lehem, which means, “bread.” So Bethlehem means “house of bread.”
It is interesting in connection with this that the Hebrew verb laham can mean
“to eat,” or “to make war,” i.e. to devour an enemy by war. The significant point
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 37
here is that Jesus Christ who spoke of Himself as the “bread of life” (Jn. 6:35),
who is called the “Prince of peace” (Is. 9:6), who is portrayed as “our Peace”
(Eph. 2:14), and the “Peacemaker” (Eph. 2:15-17) was born in the city which once
meant “the house of war” and then came to mean “the house of bread.” This was no
accident…this was the Sovereignly designed to take place by God Himself.
When Christ was born, Judea was under Roman rule. Each man went to the
town where his family’s register was kept. Joseph’s family register was kept in
Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary lived in the town of Nazareth but both Joseph and
Mary’s family registers were in the town of Bethlehem. Both Mary and Joseph
were of the house of David.
The last 3 months of Mary’s pregnancy were spent in Bethlehem away from the
gossip and the turmoil that would have surrounded her in Nazareth. Both, Joseph
and Mary as born-again Jews were aware of the prophesy in Micah 5:2 which said
that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:6-7, “While they were there, the days were completed for her to
give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in
cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the
inn.”
The word for “manger” is the Greek noun phatne (fatv nh), “feeding trough.”
The feeding trough was employed by Mary and Joseph as a crib for the baby Jesus.
The mangers in the ancient world were often made of stones laid like blocks, then
plastered over with a substance to make them waterproof. These feeding troughs
could also be carved from a single block of stone. It is significant that our Lord
was laid in a feeding trough. Animals would eat and drink at these troughs. Our
Lord’s being laid in one of these troughs speaks of the believer feeding from our
Lord who is the Word of God.
We are to feed off the Word of God. Our Lord was the Word of God in a human
body (John 1:14). The Word of God became something that He wasn’t before, a
human being. Our Lord said to His disciples in John 6:53 that unless you eat the
flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourself.
John 6:54-56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My
blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me
(has fellowship with the Lord), and I in him.” Matthew 4:4, “man does not
live on bread alone but from every WORD that proceeds from the mouth of
God.”
Eating the flesh of our Lord is having fellowship with Him by eating the Word
of God or by taking in Bible Doctrine. We have to go to the feeding trough, which
speaks of Christ in order to be fed spiritual food. The spiritual food that we need is
Bible Doctrine, the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Our Lord was not laid in a
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 38
wooden crib but one cut out of rock, which is also significant. Our Lord is
described in many passages in the Word of God as a Rock (Deut. 32:4, 15, 31; 1
Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 22:2-3, 32, 47; 23:3; Psa. 18:2; 19:14; 62:2; 89:26; 94:22; 144:1;
Isa. 26:4; 30:29; Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:8).
1Corinthians 10:4 calls the Lord a spiritual Rock. We are to build a spiritual
house in our soul upon this Rock, which speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt.
7:24-25). Our Lord in His death was laid in a tomb that was cut out of rock
(Matthew 27:60; Luke 23:53). The Lord is the Rock of our salvation (Psa. 95:1).
The Lord is the Rock that delivers us from our sins (Psa. 18:2). The Lord is the
Rock that redeems or purchases us out from the slave market of sin (Psa. 19:14).
The is the Rock that gives us protection (Psa. 31:3; 94:22). The feeding trough cut
out of rock speaks of the believer feeding off the spiritual rock, which is Christ.
Luke 2:8-12, “In the same region there were {some} shepherds staying out
in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the
Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around
them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not
be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all
the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord. This {will be} a sign for you: you will find a baby
wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Mary wrapped the Child in strips of cloth like bandages used to keep the
infant’s limbs straight and to limit movement. This type of treatment was
considered appropriate and also served to identify a newborn (Luke 2:12). This
process was similar to the preparing the body for burial as we noted in our Lord’s
burial when we study the resurrection of Christ. So this foreshadowed our Lord’s
death.
The mother who bore the child had to wrap the child herself. The custom of the
day included cleaning and rubbing the baby with oil, usually olive oil. Then the
arms were placed at the baby’s side and were wrapped in strips of cloth. This also
served as a sign to the shepherds who were in field and were told by the angel of
the Lord that they could see the Messiah wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger
(Luke 2:12).
Luke 2:13-20, “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of
the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. When the angels had
gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds {began} saying to one
another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has
happened which the Lord has made known to us. So they came in a hurry and
found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
When they had seen this, they made known the statement, which had been
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 39
told them about this child. And all who heard it wondered at the things, which
were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things,
pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and
praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told
them.”
The announcement of the birth of Christ was not given to the religious people in
Jerusalem. It was not given to the Pharisees. It was given to a despised class of
people, the shepherds. Shepherds were looked down upon in Jewish society. The
Pharisees despised them, putting them under the same classification as publicans
and tax-collectors, depriving them of certain rights in the community. They were
not allowed to hold a judicial position and could not be admitted as a witness in
court. The shepherds were the first to receive the news of the Savior being born in
the town of Bethlehem, not the Pharisees (Luke 2:8-20). It was a despised,
ostracized group of people who first received the good news of the Messiah being
born. The Pharisees hated the shepherds but our Lord identified with them, calling
Himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14). He is described in Hebrews 13:20 as
the Great Shepherd of the sheep.
Peter describes our Lord as the Shepherd (1 Pet. 2:25). The Pharisees ostracized
the shepherds from Jewish society, classifying them as sinners, but our Lord loved
sinners. This gave rise to a great mistrust of shepherds in Israel after the
Babylonian exile. The reason for this harsh treatment was that the shepherd was
out alone in the fields for months at a time without supervision, which was a great
temptation to steal some of the increase of the flock. The fact that the good news of
the Savior being born in Bethlehem was given to the shepherds provides a striking
picture of the mission of Christ on earth.
Matt 2:1-2, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days
of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, Where is
He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and
have come to worship Him.”
Who were the Magi? The Magi came from the court of the Parthian kings
(East) bearing expensive gifts for a newborn king. The Magi were originally one
of the six tribes of the Medes [Herodotus, I, 101; Pliny, Natural History, V, 29], a
priestly caste similar to the Levites. In their early history their occupation was to
provide the kings of the Medes and Persians (also Babylonians) with divine
information about daily affairs [Strabo, XVI, 762; Cicero, De Divin., I, 41].
Because of the high religious esteem accorded them by the peoples of the East
[Doig. Laert. IX, 7,2], they were able, in the 6th century BC, to overturn royal
powers [Herodotus, III, 61 sq.]. Their role in interpreting divine matters is also
mentioned in the Bible, as Daniel in the days of Nebuchadnezzar became the
“chief of the magicians (master of the “Magi”), conjurers, Chaldeans, and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 40
diviners” (Dan.5:11; cp. Jer.39:13, where one Rab-mag was the chief office of the
Magi). Daniel’s influence over the Magian colleges of the East must explain why
they were looking for astronomical confirmation to go along with the prophesies
that called for a Jewish king to be born in those days (Dan.9:24-27). They were not
of the certain classes of charlatans and sorcerers who preyed upon people, as
Herod and Jerusalem would have hardly been troubled by such persons (Mt.2:1-
12).
The Romans were also aware of the prophecy: “A firm belief had long
prevailed through the East that it was destined for the empire of the world at that
time to be given to someone who should go forth from Judaea” [Suetonius,
Vespasian, 4]. “The majority of the Jewish people were very impressed with the
belief that it was contained in ancient writings of the priests that it would come to
pass that at that time, the East would renew its strength and they that should go
forth from Judaea should be rulers of the world” [Tacitus, History, V, 13]. “Even
Nero was advised by court astrologers that it was prudent for him to move his seat
of empire to Jerusalem because the city was destined to become the capital of the
world” [Seutonius, Nero, 40].
Certainly, the Magi were well acquainted with the national aspirations of the
Jews (as with all peoples, so they could act as advisers). Most Jews of the time
admired the Magi, as they were not idolaters, and because of their former
association with Daniel (their main occupation was in the interpretation of things
divine: dreams, visions, prophecies, astronomical signs).
Tiridates of the order of Magi was made king over Armenia by Nero (he went
to Rome with other Magi and gave gifts to the emperor [Pliny, Natural History,
XXX, 6]). When the particular group came to Jerusalem, they came to worship the
king, and isn’t it interesting that the gifts brought by the Magi (gold, frankincense,
and myrrh) were the gifts mentioned in the Greek translation of Isa.60:6 that
foreign kings would bring to Israel’s Messiah?
Isa 60:6, “A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of
Midian and ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and
frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the LORD.”
The gifts were the customary gifts of subject nations, and so this act signified
something more than another royal birth (their presence got Herod’s attention, as
well as all Jerusalem, and so Herod called a special session of the Sanhedrin to
evaluate what the Magi had said).
Matt. 2:3-6, “When Herod the king heard {this} he was troubled, and all
Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the
people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to
him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the
prophet: AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 41
MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU
SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE
ISRAEL.’”
Matt 2:7-10, “Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from
them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and
said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found {Him}
report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him. After hearing the
king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went
on before them until it came and stood over {the place} where the Child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
Matthew reports that the Magi saw the “star” rising in the East, and so it would
naturally be called a “morning star” (Christ said of Himself: “I am the root and
the offspring of David, the bright morning star”, Rev.22:16; cp. 2Pet.1:19).
Genesis 1:14-15, “And He, God said, let the lights be in the expanse of the
heavens to divide the day from the night and they will be for signs and for
seasons and for days and years and they will be for luminaries in the expanse
of the heavens to give light on the earth and it was so.”
Luke says: “They returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth”
(Lk.2:39). This means that they did not go to Egypt after Jesus’ birth. Then for
some reason, they decided to move to Bethlehem, where they set up house
(Mt.2:11). When the Magi arrived, the parents of Jesus were then living in a house
(not a stable; Mt.2:11), and Jesus was being called a paidion (paidivon), “child” not
a brephos (brevfo$), “infant.” After the Magi presented their gifts, they returned
home by a different route, having been warned by an angel.
Matt. 2:11-14, “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary
His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening
their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned {by God} in a dream not to return to Herod, the
magi left for their own country by another way. Now when they had gone,
behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get
up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I
tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph
got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for
Egypt.”
The holy family fled to Egypt in late December, 2BC.
Matt. 2:15-18, “He remained there until the death of Herod. {This was} to
fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF
EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.” Then when Herod saw that he had been
tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male
children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 42
under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then
what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “A
VOICE WAS HEARD IN RAMAH, WEEPING AND GREAT MOURNING,
RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN; AND SHE REFUSED TO BE
COMFORTED, BECAUSE THEY WERE NO MORE.”
Herod, in his paranoia, murdered the male children in and around Bethlehem
two years old and younger (Mt.2:16; this killing of all male children two and under
makes sense in light of the astronomical phenomena of the previous two years).
Joseph took Mary and our Lord to Egypt in fulfillment of the prophesy found in
Jeremiah 31:15 (compare Matthew 2:17-18).
Matt. 2:19-23, “But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord
appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, Get up, take the Child and
His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s
life are dead. So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into
the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea
in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being
warned {by God} in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and
lived in a city called Nazareth. {This was} to fulfill what was spoken through
the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Humanity of Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ condescended to the human race by adding to His
undiminished deity, a perfect, sinless humanity. He had human emotions and
human limitations. This condescension allowed Him to experience the human
condition with all its limitations and emotions except for sin. It also enabled Him
to die for the sins of the world and rise from the dead since deity cannot die.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines condescend, “to descend to a
less formal or dignified level, to waive the privileges of rank.” Webster’s New
Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines condescend, “to waive dignity or
superiority voluntarily and assume equality with an inferior.”
The Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily waived His superiority of rank with its
privileges and dignity as the second Person of the Trinity by assuming equality
with inferior humanity in Hypostatic Union. Christ’s humanity was foreordained in
eternity past (1 Pet. 1:20). The Old Testament prophets wrote of a human Messiah
(Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14). The Old Testament wrote of a suffering human Messiah
(Psa. 22:6-8; 14:18; Isa. 52:14; 53:3-5), and a triumphant Messiah (Isa. 63:1; Zech.
14:9, 16-17). In His humanity, He was able to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies
concerning the suffering Messiah and will be able to fulfill the future glorious
Millennial reign of the Messiah. He will save Israel at the end of the Tribulation
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 43
and will physically reign over all the earth for a thousand years (Isa. 63:1; Zech.
14:9).
The Lord Jesus Christ is trichotomous in His humanity. He has a human body
like ours but without a sin nature (John 1:14; Heb. 10:5; 1 John 1:1; 1 John 4:2-3).
He has a human soul (Matt. 26:38a; Isa. 53:11a). He also has a human spirit (Luke
23:46; John 13:21; 19:30). The Scriptures use the following titles when stressing
our Lord’s humanity: (1) “The Son of Man” (Matt. 24:30; Mark 26:64; Luke
5:24; 6:5; John 1:51; 3:14; 8:28). (2) “The Son of David” (Matt. 1:1; Mark 10:47;
Luke 1:32; 18:39; Rev. 22:16). (3) “The Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). (4)
“Jesus” (Acts 2:32; 8:35; Rom. 3:26; 1 Thess. 4:14; Heb. 2:9; 6:20).
Our Lord as a human being: (1) “Wept” (John 11:35; Heb. 5:7). (2) “Slept”
(Mark 4:38). (3) Became “hungry” (Luke 4:2). (4) Was “thirsty” (John 19:28). (5)
“Prayed” (Luke 21:41-42; Heb. 5:7). (6) “Ate” and “drank” (Mark 2:16; Luke
5:30). (7) Was “weary” (John 4:6). (8) Was in “agony” (Luke 22:44). (9) Had to
“grow” physically and mentally (Luke 2:40). (10) Had to “learn” Bible Doctrine
(Luke 2:52). (11) Had to learn “obedience” (Heb. 5:7). (12) Was “tempted” (Luke
4:2; Heb. 2:18; 4:15). (13) Was a Man of “sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). (14) Was
“despised” and “forsaken” of men (Isaiah 53:3). (15) “Rejoiced” (Luke 10:21).
(16) “Died” physically (John 19:33). (17) “Died” spiritually (Matt. 27:45-46).
Our Lord in His humanity rapidly advanced through the 3 stages of spiritual
adulthood with its accompanying 3 categories of suffering for blessing: (1)
Spiritual self-esteem (Luke 2:4) (2) Spiritual autonomy (Luke 2:52) (3) Spiritual
maturity (John 1:14)
As a human being the Lord Jesus Christ employed the 2 power options and 3
spiritual skills to execute the Father’s plan for His life, which was the cross. As a
human being He defeated Satan and at the same time provided salvation for all
mankind at the cross the Spirit of God and the Word of God (Mt. 4:1-11; Heb.
9:14).
The 6-Fold Purpose of the Incarnation: (1) Defeat Satan in the angelic conflict
by vindicating the integrity of God. (2) Provide salvation for all mankind. (3)
Demonstrate the divine power of the prototype spiritual life to the Church. (4)
Fulfill 4 unconditional covenants to Israel. (5) Rule over all creation. (6) Fulfill the
righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law.
Hypostatic Union
The term hypostatic union is a critical doctrine in Christology. Christology is
the study of Christ. The word hypostatic is a Bible Word meaning that it is derived
from the original language of Scripture (Heb. 1:3). The term hypostatic comes
from the Greek word hupostasis. Hupostasis was a term that belonged to the realm
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 44
of science and medicine, and has a variety of meanings in classical Greek.
Hupostasis means “essence,” or “substance.” Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate
Dictionary defines essence, “the properties or attributes by means of which
something can be placed in its proper class or identified as being what it is.” The
word essence refers the “nature of something.” The Doctrine of the hypostatic
union teaches that our Lord’s deity and humanity were united.
John 1:14, “And the Word (The Lord Jesus Christ) became flesh (a Man),
and dwelt (“tabernacled”) among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the
only uniquely born One from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Romans 1:2-5, “which good news God had promised beforehand through
the intermediate agency of His prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning His
(God the Father) uniquely born Son (incarnation), who (Lord Jesus Christ)
came of David’s seed as with respect to His humanity, who (Lord Jesus
Christ) was openly demonstrated as Son of God by means of Divine
Omnipotence belonging to God the Holy Spirit by means of resurrection from
the deaths (physical and spiritual)-Jesus Christ our Lord through whom
(Lord Jesus Christ), we (I, Paul) have received grace and in particular the
gift of apostleship with a view to promoting obedience to the Faith among all
the Gentiles on behalf of His Name.”
Romans 8:3, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the
flesh (humanity), God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh (in His humanity).”
Philippians 2:6-8, “who (The Lord Jesus Christ) although existing from
eternity past in the essence of God, never regarded existing equally in essence
with God an exploitable asset. On the contrary, He voluntarily denied
Himself of the proper function of His deity by having assumed the essence of a
slave, when He was born in the likeness of men. In fact, when was discovered
in outward appearance as a man, He humbled and abased Himself by
voluntarily yielding up His dignity and prestige as God, having entered into
an obedient state, up to the point of death (spiritual), that is, the death of the
cross.”
Colossians 2:9, “For in Him (The Lord Jesus Christ) all the fulness of
Deity dwells in bodily form.”
1 Timothy 3:16, “And by common confession great is the mystery of
godliness: He (The Lord Jesus Christ) who was revealed in the flesh, was
vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He
Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might
render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 45
might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their
lives.”
1 John 1:1-3, “We announce to you what was from eternity past, what we
have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and what our
hands touched, regarding the Word of Life and the Life was manifested, and
we have seen, and we bear witness, and we announce to you the Eternal Life
which was with the Father, and was manifested to us. We announce to you
what we have seen, and what we have heard, that you also may have
fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His
Son, Jesus Christ.”
The hypostatic union is the 1st of the Christocentric Dispensations. Each of the
Christocentric dispensations ends in resurrection. Christocentric means Christ
centered. A dispensation is a period of time and is God’s viewpoint of human
history. A dispensation is a period of time during which a specific revelation
concerning God’s mind, will, purpose and plan is manifested and in which man is
tested as to his obedience to it. There are 6 Dispensations divided into 3
Categories: (1) Theocentric: Old Testament Dispensations (from the creation of
Adam to the virgin birth of Christ) (a) Gentiles (from the creation of Adam to the
Exodus, Genesis 1-Exodus 11) (b) Jews (from the Exodus to the birth of Christ
1441-4 B.C.; Exodus 12-Malachi) (2) Christocentric: New Testament
Dispensations (from the birth of Christ to the yet future resurrection, or Rapture of
the Church) (a) Hypostatic Union: Birth of Christ to His death, resurrection,
ascension and session (the era of the New Testament Gospels; B.C. 4-30 A.D.) (b)
Church Age: Pentecost to the Rapture (30 A.D.-Rapture) (3) Eschatological:
Dispensations after the Rapture of the Church (a) Tribulation: Rapture of the
Church to the 2nd Advent of Christ (approximately 7 years from the Rapture of the
Church to the 2nd Advent of Christ; prophesied in the Old Testament, Christ’s
Olivet Discourse [Matt. 24-25], and Revelation 6-19) (b) Millennium (the 1000
year reign of Christ on earth from His 2nd Advent of Christ to the end of human
history, prophesied throughout the Old Testament and in Revelation 20). Eternal
State (following the final dispensation of human history, Revelation 21-22).
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines the word union as, “an act
or instance of uniting or joining two or more things into one.” To unite is to put
together 2 things to form a single unit. Christ unites in Himself: (1) The essence of
God (2) The essence of man.
The uniting of the essence of God and the essence of man forms a new
hupostasis, or “essence,” the hypostatic union, the God-Man. If we were to make
the hypostatic union a mathematical equation, it would look like this: The essence
of God + the essence of man = the hypostatic union. The hypostatic union is the
complete Unique Person of Christ.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 46
The Lord Jesus Christ is the unique theanthropic Person of the universe. He is
undiminished deity and true humanity in 1 Person forever. These two natures, deity
and true humanity, are combined in 1 Personality, forever. He did not have 2
personalities because He had 2 natures. Because He is a man does not make our
Lord less than God. Nor, does His being God prevent Him from being truly a man.
His 2 natures, though united, retain their separate identities. His divine attributes
are always united to His divine nature. His human attributes are always united to
His human nature. Deity remains deity and humanity remains humanity. The
infinite cannot become finite and the immutable cannot be changed. No attribute of
deity was altered when our Lord became a Man through the Incarnation. To take
away a single attribute from His divine nature would destroy His deity. To take
away from His perfect human nature a single attribute would destroy His
humanity. Our Lord is both God and Man. He is different from the other members
of the Trinity in that He is true humanity. He is different from the rest of humanity
in that He is God. This makes our Lord the only Theanthropic Person of the
universe. There is no one like Him in the Universe and there will never be
someone like Him ever again.
The hypostatic union is personal. A new Personality came into being at the
virgin birth with 2 natures. The doctrine of the Incarnation refers to the virgin birth
of Christ. A unique hupostasis came into being at the virgin birth. Our Lord was a
unique Person with 2 natures. The 2nd Person of the Trinity, God the Son, took
upon Himself true humanity, and therefore, became a totally unique personality.
The hypostatic union is eternal as well as personal. Eternal means “no beginning,
and no end.” Christ as eternal God will never cease to be a member of the human
race (Heb. 13:8). Our Lord in His deity always existed. At this moment Jesus-as a
man-is seated at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 5:31; Heb. 1:3).
Our Lord’s deity is omnipresent and does not sit but rather our Lord’s humanity
sits. The humanity of Christ will return to the earth at the 2nd Advent (Zech. 14:1-
11; Rev. 1:7). And as King David’s hypostatic union heir Jesus will eternally rule
over Israel (2 Sam. 7:8-17; Psa. 89:20-37). Our Lord is both undiminished deity
and true humanity forever. This means that our Lord is both God and Man and this
personal union is forever. The Bible teaches that Christ is God and Man. The
greatest temptations that our Lord had to deal with in His humanity was the
temptations of using His deity to solve His problems with fallen angels and fallen
humanity.
Hebrews 12:3a, “For consider Him (The humanity of Christ) who has
endured such hostility by sinners against Himself.”
Kenosis
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 47
The Lord Jesus Christ was able not to sin through the function of Kenosis,
which contends that the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union
voluntarily restricted in the independent use of His divine attributes. The Kenosis
explains how the supreme God of the universe stooped to become a man and suffer
the humiliation of the cross. Although Jesus Christ “was rich (God), yet for your
sake He became poor (true humanity), that you through His poverty (true
humanity) might become rich (have eternal life and the perfect righteousness
of God)” (2 Cor. 8:9).
Philippians 2:5-8, “Everyone continue thinking this (according to humility)
within yourselves, which was also in (the mind of) Christ Jesus, Who although
existing from eternity past in the essence of God, He never regarded existing
equally in essence with God an exploitable asset. On the contrary, He denied
Himself of the independent function of His deity by having assumed the
essence of a slave when He was born in the likeness of men. In fact, although
He was discovered in outward appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by
having entered into obedience to the point of spiritual death even death on a
Cross.”
God the Son as co-equal, co-infinite, and co-eternal with God the Father and
God the Holy Spirit, voluntarily subjected Himself to the plan of the Father.
Hebrews 10:7, “Then I (the deity of Christ, 2nd Person of the Trinity) said,
‘Behold, I have come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) TO DO
YOUR WILL, O GOD (the Father).’”
Following the Father’s plan for the Incarnation, Christ voluntarily denied or
deprived Himself of the independent use of His divine attributes from the virgin
birth until His resurrection. Not once did He ever surrender any attribute of His
divine essence. God can never become less than God.
The Father’s plan called for our Lord to be the Messiah, “Anointed One,” who
would come to save fallen mankind (John 11:27). In order to do this, the plan
called for our Lord to “take on the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of
men” (Phil. 2:6-7). By doing this, He would serve both God and man. Christ
served God by revealing God to man (John 1:18). He served man by redeeming
mankind. By redeeming mankind I mean that He “purchased” man’s freedom
from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). In order to become a
servant Christ had to cover His preincarnate glory, a glory, which was before the
world, was created (John 17:5).
Our Lord was called upon to enter into hypostatic union with sinful humanity
and restrict the expression of His deity. He could not independently express His
deity for this would prevent Him from executing the Father’s plan. The Father’s
plan called for Him to use His humanity and not His deity. Our Lord was tempted
over and over again by the kingdom of darkness to independently use His deity
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 48
apart from the Father’s plan (Matt. 4:1-11). Our Lord came to execute the mission
given to Him by the Father, which was to use His humanity to die for the sins of
the world. He did not use His deity to bring glory to Himself. His mission was the
cross. He had to deny Himself of His deity to carry out this mission. He voluntarily
denied Himself the independent use of His divine attributes in order to operate in
and fulfill the Father’s plan for His life. He used His human volition to deny
Himself of the use of His deity. The Kenosis teaches us what true humility is.
Having humility is not having no confidence, in fact, it is having confidence but in
who God is and what He has done for us.
True humility refers to obedience to the Plan of God and using what God has
given us to execute that Plan.
Hebrews 5:7-9, “In the days of His flesh (humanity), He offered up both
prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save
Him from death, and He was heard because of His respectful submission to
the Father’s plan. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the
things, which He suffered. And having been made perfect (execution of the
plan of God at the Cross), He became to all those who obey Him the source of
eternal salvation.”
We are to have the same attitude of humility that the humanity of Christ had.
He executed God’s Plan for His life by using what God had given him. The
Kenosis reveals the thinking of our Lord’s humanity (Phil. 2:5). God the Son
voluntarily submitted to the plan of the Father and, as a man, demonstrated an
attitude that we are to have.
Kenoo (verb), “to restrict oneself of a rightful function, to debase or humiliate
oneself.” The verb’s usage goes back to the 5th century B.C. during the Age of
Pericles of Athens. Liddel and Scott list the following meanings of the word in
classical literature: (1) “to empty” (2) “to be emptied, to be made or left empty” (3)
“to desert a place” (4) “to empty be depletion, to evacuate” (5) “to make away
with” (6) “to expend” (7) “to waste away, shrivel” (8) “To make empty
(metaphorically), to make void or of no effect.” Albrecht Oepke list the following
meanings of the word in his research (Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New
Testament, volume 3, page 661): (1) “to make empty” (2) “to deprive of content or
possession,” mostly with a genitive of object more rarely of person, or absolute. (3)
“To empty” (medically) (4) “to be desolate” (passive) (5) “to nullify, destroy” (6)
“to come to nothing” (passive). The Herodotus, Thucydides, Hippocrates, Plato,
Aeschylus, Josephus and Philo used the word. There are only 2 instances of kenoo
in the LXX (Jer. 14:2; 15:9). The Hebrew equivalent in each case is the pulal of
`amal (lma), “to waste away, languish.”
The word appears 5 times in the NT (Rom. 4:14; 1 Cor. 1:17; 9:15; 2 Cor. 9:3;
Phil. 2:7). It is found exclusively in the Pauline corpus. The verb means “to make
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 49
invalid, to render void, to nullify” in Rom. 4:14; 1 Cor. 1:17; 9:15. Twice kenoo
occurs in connection with kauchesis, “boasting” (1 Cor. 9:15; 2 Cor. 9:3). It is
used of faith being nullified or made invalid if the promise of eternal life was
through adherence to the Mosaic Law (Rom. 4:14). The word is used of Paul being
deprived of his reason for boasting (kauchesis) if he relied upon human power (1
Cor. 9:15). Kenoo is also used of Paul’s boasting losing its justification or his
boasting being deprived of its justification if the Corinthians failed to be gracious
in their giving to needy members of the royal family in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 9:3).
In Philippians 2:7 the subject of the verb ekenosen is the preincarnate Christ
since the context of the passage indicates this as stated in verse 6, “Who (Christ
Jesus) although existing from eternity past in the essence of God, He (Christ
Jesus) never regarded existing equally in essence with God an exploitable
asset.”
The verb ekonosen is therefore used with reference to God the Son, the 2nd Person
of the Trinity Who voluntarily limited or put restrictions on Himself during the
incarnation (cf. Heb. 10:5-7).
Albrecht Oepke commenting on the word’s usage in our passage, writes, “Here
sense b. ‘He negated Himself, deprived himself of his worth, denied Himself”, is
ruled out by the resultant weak tautology of epapeinosen heauton. We are rather to
supply tou einai isa theo as an omitted object, and we thus have the equivalent of
en morphe theou huparchon. There is no suggestion of a temptation of the Preexistent
to aspire beyond His existing state. What is meant is that the heavenly
Christ did not selfishly exploit His divine form and mode of being, but by His own
decision emptied Himself of it or laid it by, taking the form of a servant by
becoming man. The subject of ekenosen is not the incarnate but the pre-existent
Lord. There is a strong sense of the unity of His person. The essence remains, the
mode of being changes-a genuine sacrifice. Docetism is excluded. The best
commentary is to be found in the par. 2 Cor. 8:9: eptocheusen plousios hon, ‘He
became a beggar even though (of Himself, and up to this point) He was rich’”
(Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume 3, page 661).
As Vincent states of our Lord, “The general sense is that He divested Himself
of that peculiar mode of existence which was proper and peculiar as one with God.
He laid aside the form of God. In so doing, He did not divest Himself of His
divine nature. The change was a change of state: the form of a servant for the
form of God. His personality continued the same. His self-emptying was not selfextinction,
nor was the divine Being changed into a mere man. In His humanity
He retained the consciousness of deity, and in His incarnate state carried out the
mind, which animated Him before His incarnation. He was not unable to assert
equality with God. He was able not to assert it” (Vincent’s Word Studies in the
New Testament, Volume 3, Epistles of Paul, page 433).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 50
Wuest writes, “He did not empty Himself of His deity, since Paul says that the
expression of His deity was a fact after His incarnation, that expression implying
the possession of the essence of Deity. He set aside the outward expression of His
deity when expressing Himself as a bondslave. It was the outward expression of
the essence of His deity, which our Lord emptied Himself of during the time when
He was giving outward expression of Himself as a bondslave. But the emptying
Himself of the expression of Deity is more implied by the context than stated
specifically by the verb ‘emptied.’ When our Lord set aside the expression of
Deity in order that He might express Himself as a bondslave, He was setting aside
His legitimate and natural desires as prerogatives as Deity. The basic, natural
desire and prerogative of Deity is that of being glorified. But when Deity sets
these aside, it sets its desires aside, and setting its desires aside, it sets Self aside”
(Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, volume II, page 67).
One time Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Oxford University Walter
Lock writes, “In this passage the extent of the self-emptying is explained by the
following participle, morphen doulou labon: that of which He emptied Himself,
by the proceeding words, to einai isa theo: so that the meaning is ‘He emptied
Himself’ of His position of equality with God, of ‘that condition of glory and
majesty which was the adequate manifestation of the divine nature’ by ‘taking on
Himself the form of a servant.’ The phrase means little more than that He accepted
the limitations implied in incarnation (cf. eptwcheusen plousios hon, 2 Cor. 8:9),
and was probably suggested to St. Paul as the antithesis to the conception of the
fulness (pleroma) of God which dwelt essentially in His Son. In correspondence
with this, kenosis in its earliest theological use is little more than a synonym for the
Incarnation, but it emphasized the Incarnation as a divine act, human nature being
saved from above rather than by self-development from below, and hence it is a
favorite word with Cyril in his argument against Nestorius; it emphasized also the
free voluntary condescension of the preincarnate Son, and the fact that there were
real limitations imposed by Himself upon Himself during the incarnate life. It is
put forward by St. Paul as an example of the way in which men should not look
only each to his own things, but each also to the things of others. But mediaeval
and Reformed theology attempted to define more exactly what these limitations
were, and with this there followed a change in the exact meaning of the word
kenosis. It was applied to the limitations upon the Christ in His incarnate human
life; to the limitations imposed upon divine omnipotence and divine omniscience
within the human sphere of action, in order to allow a real growth and action of
human will and human knowledge; and the word was sometimes used widely to
apply to all such limitations, sometimes (e.g. in the discussions of the 17th
century.) it was used, in antithesis to kruphis, of a virtual surrender of such
attributes, as opposed to a possession but conscious restraint in the use of them.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 51
On these exact points the Bible does not define, but it supplies the factors that have
to be reconciled, viz. the reality of a divine oneness between the Father and the Son
(John 1:1-18; 10:30; Heb. 1:3), certain limitations of perfect intercourse between
the Father and the Incarnate Son (Matt. 27:46 hina ti me engkatelipes;), certain
statements of the Lord Himself as to the limitations of His own knowledge (Mark
13:32) and of His own ‘glory’ (John 17:4), and statements of NT writers as to the
reality of temptation, and of growth in wisdom and learning in Him (Luke 2:40-
52; Heb. 4:15; 5:7-8). The analogy of the primary use of the word by St. Paul
also suggests that the kenosis was always a self-kenosis; that at the original
Incarnation was an act of voluntary self-restraint, so the whole statement of the
incarnate life implied a constant voluntary limitation imposed upon a power or a
knowledge that was His by right, ‘He willed not to use His power, not to use His
knowledge,’ is a surer formula than ‘He could not.’ It has been also applied to
limitations imposed upon the Incarnate Christ with respect to His divine attributes
as exercised within the sphere of action during the incarnate life; so that kenosis
will imply the absolute or partial cessation of the Word’s cosmic functions while
He was incarnate. On this point, again, the Bible supplies no clear teaching,
though the language of Heb 1:3 (hon…pheron…ekathisen) seems to imply a
permanence of cosmic functions; and such cessation conflicts not only with the
general stream of Christian theology, but with the conception of the unchangeable
character of the divine nature” (Hastings A Dictionary of the Bible, volume 2, page
835).
Colonel R.B. Thieme, Jr. states, “The doctrine of kenosis takes its name from
the Greek verb kenoo, ‘to deprive oneself of a rightful function, to debase oneself.’
Kenosis explains how the supreme God of the universe condescended to become a
man and suffer the humiliation of the Cross. Although Jesus Christ ‘was rich, yet
for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich’ (2
Cor. 8:9). In eternity past God the Son, who is coequal and coeternal with God the
Father and God the Holy Spirit, voluntarily subordinated Himself to the plan of the
Father. Complying with the Father’s plan for the Incarnation, Christ voluntarily
deprived Himself of the independent exercise of His divine attributes from the
virgin birth until His resurrection. At no time did Christ surrender any attribute of
His divine essence or ‘empty Himself’ of His deity, as alleged by a false doctrine
of kenosis. God can never become less than God. He did not divest Himself of His
deity because in Christ ‘all the fulness of deity dwells in bodily form’ (Col. 2:9).
The Father’s plan called for our Lord to be the Messiah, the Anointed One, who
would come to save fallen mankind (John 11:27). For the First Advent this plan
required our Lord to ‘to take on the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of
men’ (Phil. 2:6-7), serving both God and man. Christ served God by revealing
God to man (John 1:18) and served man by redeeming mankind, purchasing man’s
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 52
freedom from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). To become a
servant Christ had to veil his preincarnate glory, ‘the glory which [He] ever had
with [God the Father] before the world was ‘ (John 17:5). He was called upon to
enter into hypostatic union with unglorified humanity and restrict those
expressions of His deity that would prevent Him from executing the plan of the
Father. As the lowest degradation, Christ had to suffer divine judgment for the
sins of mankind (Phil. 2:8). The second person of the Trinity voluntarily accepted
this messianic mission. In eternity past He was appointed to be ‘the Lamb slain,’
the sacrifice for our sins (Reve. 13:8). Throughout His first advent Jesus Christ in
hypostatic union continually refused to exercise the attributes of His deity apart
from the mission given Him by the Father. As deity Christ remained omniscient,
but as humanity He was born ignorant and learned Bible doctrine ‘precept upon
precept, line upon line, a little here, a little there’ (Isa. 28:10; Matt. 24:36). As
God, Christ remained omnipresent, existing equally in heaven and on earth (John
3:13), while as a man He endured long journeys on foot, subordinating Himself to
primitive technology of His day. He refused to relieve His human fatigue by
supernaturally transporting Himself or depending on His deity’s simultaneous
presence at His destination. Nor did His deity tell His humanity about automobiles
or airplanes. When He was hungry, Christ resisted the satanic temptation to turn
stones into bread (Matt. 4:3-4) while His omnipotence held together the universe,
including all the bread on earth (Col. 1:17). Sustaining the universe did not
jeopardize the Father’s plan for the Incarnation; materializing bread for His own
sustenance would have compromised His mission as a servant. During the
Incarnation Jesus Christ did not exercise His divine attributes to benefit or glorify
Himself. Instead, the Father’s design of the prototype spiritual life assigned to God
the Holy Spirit the mission of sustaining and glorifying Christ (John 8:56; 16:14).
Upon the foundational virtue of genuine humility, Jesus as a man exemplified the
motivational confidence in God just as we, who do not possess divine attributes,
are commanded to trust in God. We could never turn stones into bread, but in our
trials and temptations we rely on the same power system that sustained Christ
when tempted to violate kenosis. This self-imposed limitation of kenosis ended
with the glorification of Christ-His resurrection, ascension, and session at the
Father’s right hand-after His mission for the First Advent was accomplished (John
19:30)” (Christian Integrity, pages 196-197).
This word is not used literally but rather metaphorically and should be
translated as such. The preincarnate Christ limited or more accurately voluntarily
restricted Himself from independently exercising His divine attributes apart from
the Father’s will, purpose and plan in order to execute that particular will, purpose
and plan for the incarnation. The preincarnate Christ did not literally empty
Himself of His divine attributes as Thieme noted above, “At no time did Christ
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 53
surrender any attribute of His divine essence or ‘empty Himself’ of His deity, as
alleged by a false doctrine of kenosis. God can never become less than God. He
did not divest Himself of His deity because in Christ ‘all the fulness of deity
dwells in bodily form’ (Col. 2:9).
The kenosis means that God the Son voluntarily denied Himself of the proper
function of His deity. He deprived or denied Himself of the proper expression of
His divine attributes. God the Son put restrictions or limitations upon the use of
His divine essence during the incarnation. He put restrictions or limitations upon
the use of His divine attributes by entering into the human race.
2Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
though He was rich (He was God), yet for your sake He became poor (He
became humanity), that you through His poverty (dying for the sins of the
world as a Man) might become rich (eternal life).”
Philippians 2:5-8, “Everyone keep on thinking this (according to humility)
within yourselves, which was also in (the mind of) Christ Jesus, Who (Christ
Jesus) although existing from eternity past in the essence of God never
regarded existing equally in essence with God an exploitable asset. On the
contrary, He denied Himself of the proper function of His deity by having
assumed the essence of a slave when He was born in the likeness of men. In
fact, although He was discovered in outward appearance as a man, He
humbled Himself by having entered into obedience to the extent of spiritual
death, even the death of the cross.”
The Kenosis teaches us what true humility is. Having humility is not having any
confidence, in fact, it is having confidence but in who God is and what He has
done for us. True humility refers to obedience to the Plan of God and using what
God has given us to execute that Plan. We are to follow our Lord’s example of
humility. He executed God’s Plan for His life by using what God had given him.
The Kenosis reveals the thinking of our Lord’s humanity (Phil. 2:5). God the Son
voluntarily submitted to the plan of God the Father and, as a man, demonstrated an
attitude that we are to have. Christ was not only humble, but He possessed all the
confidence, courage, strength, capacity, and happiness contained in the prototype
spiritual life. Our Lord could become a slave because the deity of God the Holy
Spirit sustained His humanity. This self -imposed limitation of kenosis ended with
our Lord being glorified. After His mission was accomplished (John 19:30), He
was glorified.
The doctrine of the Kenosis takes its name from the Greek verb kenoo, which
looks like this in the Greek. Kenoo means, “to deprive or deny oneself of a rightful
function, to debase or humiliate oneself.” Our Lord “voluntarily denied Himself of
the independent use of His divine attributes.” He didn’t walk around using His
deity any time it was convenient to solve a problem. The Kenosis explains how the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 54
supreme God of the universe stooped to become a man and suffer the humiliation
of the cross.
The Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union functioning under kenosis utilized the
prototype spiritual life which was the Father’s provision for Him in time which
enabled our Lord to: (1) Defeat Satan and resolve the angelic conflict. (2) Provide
salvation for all mankind. (3) Demonstrate the divine omnipotence of the spiritual
life. (4) Fulfill the righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law.
Our Lord was the first human being to operate in this unique spiritual life
provided by God the Father from eternity past. It is utilized by applying the Word
of God while filled by means of the Spirit. Our Lord demonstrated these 2 Great
Divine Provisions through His impeccable humanity when He defeated Satan 1 on
1 (Mt. 4:1-11). He had the prototype spiritual life. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate
Dictionary defines prototype as, “an original model on which something is
patterned, a first full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a
construction (as an airplane).” Only the prototype unique spiritual life explains the
impeccability of our Lord. He was tempted in every way that we are, as well as in
unique temptations that no one else will ever face, i.e., the temptation to use His
deity (Matt. 4:1-4). He never violated His Kenosis but consistently relied upon the
power of God the Holy Spirit by utilizing the unique spiritual life.
The unique spiritual life gave Him the power to reach the Cross fully qualified
to bear our sins. The Father gave this unique spiritual life to His Son as a gift. The
plan of the Father gave our Lord a mission, which was to purchase the salvation of
mankind (Mark 10:45) and to defeat Satan in the angelic conflict. He always relied
upon the power of God the Holy Spirit inside the unique spiritual life. Our Lord
consistently relied upon the power of God the Holy Spirit inside the unique
spiritual life in order to become the 1st Invisible Hero. Hebrews 9:14 says that our
Lord used the power of the Spirit to offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice to God for
our sins. He learned and applied Bible Doctrine inside the unique spiritual life. The
doctrine of the unique spiritual life makes clear or explains the doctrine of kenosis
by showing what Christ voluntarily chose to do, not just what He voluntarily chose
to restrict. We as Church Age believers are to follow His example and operate in
our very own jet fighter called the unique spiritual life. The Lord Jesus Christ is the
hero of the Angelic Conflict. Our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death on the
Cross was the strategic victory over Satan (Matt. 27:45-46).
Philippians 2:5-11, “Everyone continue thinking this (according to
humility) within yourselves, which was also in (the mind of) Christ Jesus, Who
although existing from eternity past in the essence of God, He never regarded
existing equally in essence with God an exploitable asset. On the contrary, He
denied Himself of the independent function of His deity by having assumed
the essence of a slave when He was born in the likeness of men. In fact,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 55
although He was discovered in outward appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself by having entered into obedience to the point of spiritual death even
death on a Cross. For this very reason in fact God the Father has promoted
Him to the highest-ranking position and has awarded to Him the rank, which
is superior to every rank. In order that in the sphere of this rank possessed by
Jesus every person must bow, celestials and terrestrials and sub-terrestrials.
Also, every person must publicly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord for
the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:6-11 form a hymn to Christ, which is called in the Latin, Carmen
Christi. It contains the 3 major divisions in the career of Christ: (1) The
preincarnate state of Christ in eternity past as God the Son. (2) The incarnate state
of Christ in Hypostatic Union during His 1st Advent. (3) The glorified state of the
humanity of Christ in Hypostatic Union at the Great Genuflex which concludes 2
co-terminus events, human history and the appeal trail of Satan.
The hymn is divided into 2 sections: (1) Verses 6-8 form the catabasis or the
descent of our Lord from His existence in eternity past as God the Son to His
substitutionary spiritual death on the cross as impeccable humanity. (2) Verses 9-
11 form the anabasis or the ascent of our Lord from the resurrection of His
humanity out from the dead to the Great Genuflex as Victor in the angelic conflict
over Satan and the fallen angels.
The Lord Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal God possessing and expressing all
the attributes, which compose the divine essence as the 2nd Member of the Trinity.
There are 3 states, conditions or modes of existence in which God the Son has
possessed and expressed these divine attributes: (1) His preincarnate state as God
the Son in eternity past. (2) His incarnate state as the Theanthropos during His 1st
Advent. (3) His glorified state as resurrected humanity seated at the right of God
the Father in heaven.
He is without beginning and without end because He is eternal God. This
section of the hymn emphatically states the deity of Christ. He is co-infinite, coequal
and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The 1st step of
our Lord’s catabasis or descent from His existence in eternity past as eternal God
to the Cross-begins with the description of a restriction of a thought process since
thought precedes action. The Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union as the unique
Theanthropic Person of the universe refused to take advantage or exploit the fact
that He was eternal God possessing the attributes of the divine essence en toto.
This attitude of humility in the mind of Christ was a rebuke to Satan since he
ambitiously sought to be like the Most High God. Our Lord refused to selfishly and
ambitiously seek to exploit His deity. Satan coveted what Christ in Hypostatic
Union possessed, the divine essence.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 56
The impeccable humanity of Christ in Hypostatic Union of His own volition
refuse to regard His divine essence as an asset to be exploited to promote Himself
as the ruler over all of creation as Satan has selfishly and ambitiously sought to do
from his own angelic attributes as the greatest creature to come from the hand of
the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. This refusal by the humanity of Christ in
Hypostatic Union to exploit His divine essence to promote Himself as ruler over all
of creation was a rebuke to Satan’s pride and arrogance. The Lord Jesus Christ in
Hypostatic Union functioning according to the Kenosis rebuked the creature
arrogance of Satan by refusing to promote Himself as God through the exploitation
of His divine attributes. God the Father’s plan was for God the Son to promote His
dependence as a human being upon the Father’s provision of the omnipotence of
the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
Satan has a selfish and ambitious lust for power whereas in contrast the
humanity of Christ refuse to think in those terms choosing instead to adopt an
attitude of humility and obedience towards the Father’s plan rather than to promote
Himself by exploiting His divine omnipotence. The humility of the deity of Christ
was first expressed in eternity past when God the Son agreed to humiliate Himself
by entering the human race and go to the cross to provide salvation for His
creatures. The humility of the deity of Christ was manifested in time from the
Virgin Birth to the Cross. The humility of God the Son Who was willing to
humiliate Himself by taking on a lower creation than angels to provide salvation
for His creatures, both angels and mankind was incontrovertible and condemning
evidence against Satan in his appeal trial.
The humanity of Christ’s refusal to exploit His divine attributes to promote
Himself from His birth to His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross was
incontrovertible and condemning evidence that the Supreme Court of Heaven was
indeed just in sentencing Satan and the fallen angels to the Lake of Fire for eternity
and that God in fact does love His creatures beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The humanity of Christ’s humility and obedience to the Father’s plan
manifested by His refusal to exploit His divine attributes to promote Himself from
His birth to His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross was a stern rebuke to
the self-justifying arrogant disobedience of Satan and the fallen angels.
The humanity of Christ’s humility and obedience to the Father’s plan
manifested by His refusal to exploit His divine attributes to promote Himself from
His birth to His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross was condemning and
incontrovertible testimony in the appeal trial of Satan.
Humility and obedience will be blessed by the integrity of God, whereas
arrogance and disobedience will be judged. Not only was the humility and
obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union operating according to the
kenosis condemning and incontrovertible testimony in the appeal trial of Satan but
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 57
it also serves as an example as to how Church Age believers are to function during
their stay on earth in order that they too may become witnesses for the Prosecution
in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trail.
God promotes the humble but He makes war against the arrogant (Prov. 3:34;
29:23; Matt. 18:1-4; 23:10-12; Luke 9:23; 14:11; James 4:6, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5).
Humility is unselfish and self-sacrificial but arrogance is selfish and inordinately
ambitious. Humility thinks of others whereas arrogance thinks only of self. The
Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union functioning according to Kenosis provided
the perfect example of humility for members of the royal family of God in the
Church Age. The Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union functioning according to
Kenosis manifested an unselfish and self-sacrificial attitude that members of the
royal family of God are to express towards one another. The spiritually mature
Church Age believer who consistently utilizes the 2 Great Divine Provisions of the
Spirit and the Word is an imitator of Christ’s humility and obedience and will also
become a witness for the Prosecution in the appeal trial of Satan.
Philippians 2:6 states emphatically that Jesus Christ pre-existed human history
as infinite and eternal God. He was God before becoming a human being. Jesus
Christ was God before the incarnation and during the incarnation He never
regarded possessing the attributes an exploitable asset.
Verse 7 completes the first 4 stages in our Lord’s catabasis: (1) ouch
harpagmon hegasato to einai isa theo, “He (Christ Jesus) never regarded
existing equally in essence with God an exploitable asset.” (2) heauton
ekenosen, “He voluntarily denied Himself of the independent function of His
deity.” (3) morphen doulou labon, “by having assumed the essence of a slave.”
(4) en homoiomati anthropon genomenos, “when He was born in the likeness of
men.”
Instead of exploiting His divine attributes to promote Himself as the ruler of the
world and to receive the worship of men, the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union
functioning under a self-imposed kenosis voluntarily restricted the independent use
of His divine attributes in order to execute the Father’s plan to provide salvation
for all His creatures and to demonstrate the integrity of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union functioning under kenosis voluntarily
restricted the independent exercise of His divine attributes in order to serve both
God and man rather than to promote Himself as God. The doctrine of kenosis
states that the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union voluntarily restricted the
independent exercise of His divine attributes in compliance with the Father’s will,
purpose and plan for the incarnation.
The greatest act of humility and obedience in the universe was performed by the
Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union during the incarnation or His 1st Advent.
This act of humility and obedience was in response to the greatest act of arrogance
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 58
and disobedience in the universe when Satan or the devil rebelled against God
seeking to live independent from His Creator in order to promote himself and to
receive the worship of God’s creatures. The greatest of act of humility and
obedience in the universe was performed by the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic
union while functioning under kenosis. This act of humility and obedience to the
Father’s plan for the incarnation by the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union was
also the response to the arrogance and disobedience of Adam and the woman in the
garden when they ate from tree of the knowledge of good and evil in disregard to
the command of the Lord God not to do so.
God the Son in eternity past had to make a decision to enter into the human race
and to restrict the independent exercise of His divine attributes. God the Son in
eternity past had to make a decision to become a human being in order to serve
both God and His creatures. The humanity of Christ during the incarnation had to
make numerous decisions to restrict the use of His divine attributes in order to
execute the Father’s plan for His life. The humanity of Christ demonstrated His
obedience to the Father through the kenosis in antithesis to Satan’s and Adam’s
disobedience.
The deity of Christ demonstrated God’s integrity towards His creatures in direct
response to Satan’s attack upon His integrity by voluntarily by giving up His
preincarnate glory in heaven and becoming a human being while restricting the
independent expression of His divine attributes during the incarnation. The Lord
Jesus Christ in hypostatic union demonstrated the integrity of God before the
angels both fallen and elect through the function of kenosis during the incarnation.
The Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union resolved the angelic conflict
defeating Satan through His self-imposed kenosis during the incarnation. The Lord
Jesus Christ in hypostatic union became the faithful witness for the Prosecution in
the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial by means of His voluntary kenosis during
the incarnation. The Lord Jesus Christ’s testimony during the incarnation which is
the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial destroyed Satan’s argument that God
lacks integrity for sentencing him and the fallen angels to the Lake of Fire for their
rebellion. There would be no resolution to the angelic conflict if God the Son had
not agreed to the Father’s plan for Him to become a human being. There would be
no resolution to the angelic conflict if the humanity of Christ had not made
numerous decisions during the incarnation to restrict the independent exercise of
His divine attributes to deal with His limitations as a human being and to solve His
problems with unregenerate humanity and adversity. By the same token, there
would be no salvation if God the Son had not agreed to the Father’s plan for Him
to become a human being. There would be no salvation if the humanity of Christ
had not made numerous decisions during the incarnation by obediently restricting
the independent exercise of His divine attributes.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 59
The integrity of God would not have been demonstrated to His creatures if the
Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union did not function under kenosis during the
incarnation. The Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union functioning under kenosis
emphatically demonstrates the justice of God for sentencing Satan and the fallen
angels to the Lake of Fire forever. The hypostatic union is a result of a decision
made in eternity past by God the Son to become a human being. The kenosis is a
result of numerous decisions made in time by the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic
union to obediently and voluntarily restrict the independent exercise of His divine
attributes. The Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union utilizing the omnipotence of
the Word of God and the Spirit of God to execute the Father’s will, purpose and
plan for the incarnation demonstrates God the Father’s perfect grace provision of
the operational type spiritual life for the Church Age.
Our Lord’s voluntary kenosis was achieved through the utilization of these 2
Great Divine Provisions which composed the prototype spiritual life. All
precedence for the spiritual life in the Church Age derives itself from the
dispensation of the hypostatic union when the Lord Jesus Christ as Theanthropos,
the God-Man obediently and voluntarily restricted the independent exercise of His
divine attributes. There would be no Church Age and thus no spiritual life if God
the Son in eternity past had not made the decision to become a human being. There
would be no Church Age and thus no spiritual life if the humanity of Christ had not
made numerous decisions in time to operate according to kenosis. There would be
no Church Age and thus no spiritual life if the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic
union had not voluntarily functioned in time according to kenosis.
God the Son humbled Himself by assuming the nature of a slave and a slave’s
existence revolves around serving others. God the Son humbled Himself by being
born in the likeness of humanity. There would have been no hypostatic union and
no kenosis if it were not for the virgin birth of Christ. Humility is serving God and
others rather than serving self as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in
hypostatic union functioning under kenosis. Arrogance is demonstrating an
acknowledged superiority to others in a given area in order to benefit self whereas
humility is restraining any demonstration of superiority to others in order to benefit
others. The Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union did not assert His superiority
over members of the human race in order to benefit Himself but rather chose not to
assert His superiority over members of the human race in order to serve them.
Humility is choosing not to assert an easily demonstrated superiority over others.
Arrogance seeks to assert an easily demonstrated superiority over others. The Lord
Jesus Christ in hypostatic union chose not to assert His superiority over members
of the human race through the function of kenosis.
Philippians 2:8 completes the catabasis of our Lord which encompasses His
existence from eternity past as the 2nd Person of the Trinity extending through the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 60
incarnation and culminating with His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on a
Roman cross.
The 7 stages of the catabasis are contained in Philippians 2:6-8: (1) ouch
harpagmon hegasato to einai isa theo, “never regarded existing equally in
essence with God an exploitable asset.” (2) heauton ekenosen, “He denied
Himself of the independent function of His deity.” (3) morphen doulou labon,
“by having assumed the essence of a slave.” (4) en homoiomati anthropon
genomenos, “when He was born in the likeness of men.” (5) kai schemati
heuretheis hos anthropos, etapeinosen heauton, “In fact, although He was
discovered in outward appearance as a man, He humbled Himself.” (6)
genomenos hupekoos mechri thanatou, “by having entered into obedience to the
point of spiritual death.” (7) thanatou de staurou, “even death on a cross.”
Instead of promoting Himself as God in order to serve His own interests, the
Lord Jesus Christ chose rather to humble Himself in order to serve others, namely
His creatures. The mental attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union
functioning under kenosis was the direct antithesis to the mental attitude of Satan
who sought to promote himself in order to serve himself. Our Lord humbled
Himself to the extent of subjecting Himself to the most humiliating and
excruciatingly painful forms of capital punishment known to mankind, that of
Roman cross.
The Son of God humbled Himself to such an extent that He was not only
willing to become a human being but also to submit to substitutionary spiritual
death as an impeccable human being on the cross in order to reconcile His
creatures to God. He was willing to make the concession of submitting to
substitutionary spiritual death as an impeccable human being for His creatures as
well as suffering the worst form of capital punishment known to mankind, the
Roman cross. Although the Shekinah Glory was discovered inside of a human
being by both angels and mankind during the incarnation or 1st Advent, the Son of
God voluntarily chose to humble Himself to the extent of suffering the imputation
of the sins of the entire universe (cosmos) and being judged by the justice of God
the Father as well as the most humiliating of all death sentences known to
mankind.
Our Lord’s humility of soul expressed itself to the extent that He was willing to
voluntarily subject Himself to substitutionary spiritual death as an impeccable
human being, receiving the imputation of the sins of the entire universe and being
judged for them by the justice of God the Father on a Roman cross which was
reserved for the worst criminals in the Roman Empire. Our Lord expressed His
humility by voluntarily obeying the Father’s plan for the incarnation, which was
substitutionary spiritual death on a Roman cross.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 61
Humility precedes obedience expressing itself in action. Our Lord’s obedience
to the Father will was to such an extent that He was willing not only to become a
human being but also to suffer substitutionary spiritual death as an impeccable
Person receiving the imputation of the sins of the entire universe and be judged for
them by the justice of God the Father on a Roman cross which was reserved for
criminals and traitors of the Empire. Our Lord’s voluntary act was a public triumph
over Satan and the fallen angels (Col. 2:14). Our Lord’s voluntary act on the cross
was incontrovertible and condemning testimony in the appeal trial of Satan and the
fallen angels that God indeed was just in sentencing them to the Lake of Fire
forever. Our Lord’s voluntary act on the cross demonstrated the integrity of God
composed of His righteousness, justice and virtue-love in that He was willing to
send His Son into the world as a human being and suffer the humiliation of the
cross and substitutionary spiritual death for the sins of His creatures, both angels
and mankind.
The greatest illustration of humility that the apostle Paul as a teacher of the
Word of God could give to the Philippians was the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic
union functioning under a self-imposed kenosis voluntarily enduring
substitutionary spiritual death for the sins of His creatures on a Roman cross. The
greatest act of humility and obedience in the universe was displayed at the cross
for the entire universe to observe.
The cross was the 7th and final trial that our Lord had to endure. The first 6
trials were before human judges with little or no integrity. The last trial was before
God the Father Who has perfect integrity. The decisive moment in the angelic
conflict took place at the cross when our Lord received the imputation of the sins
of the entire universe as an impeccable human being and was judged by the justice
of God the Father.
Our Lord’s voluntary act on the cross on behalf of all His fallen rational
creatures (angels and humanity) proved conclusively and beyond a shadow of a
doubt that the Supreme Court of Heaven was just in its decision to sentence Satan
and the fallen angels to the Lake of Fire and that God does indeed love His
creatures thus destroying Satan’s arguments which were to the contrary.
Our Lord’s voluntary act on the cross on behalf of all His fallen rational
creatures (angels and man) was the decisive, incontrovertible and condemning
piece of testimony that was presented by the Prosecution (God) in the rebuttal
phase of Satan’s appeal trial.
Humility defeated arrogance. Integrity is based upon humility of soul. God has
integrity and Satan does not. The common thread, which weaves itself throughout
the Word of God, is the cross of Christ. The course of history was determined at
the cross of Christ. The most controversial figure in the universe is Theanthropos,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 62
the Lord Jesus Christ and the most controversial event in all of human and angelic
history was His crucifixion on a Roman cross.
The most profound Person in all of history was Jesus Christ and the most
profound act in all of history was performed by Him at the cross of Calvary
approximately 2000 years ago. The cross of Christ is the greatest expression that
God could give of Himself. The cross of Christ is the greatest expression of Who
and What God is and What He has done for all His creatures. Occupation with
Christ demands the concentration by the believer upon the Person and Work of
Christ on the cross. The greater the believer’s knowledge of what actually took
place at the cross and its ramifications to His fallen rational creatures, the greater
the love and appreciation and respect the believer will have toward Him.
Knowledge of what took place at the cross is essential for the believer to reach the
objective of the operational type spiritual life for the Church Age, which is
spiritual maturity.
Knowledge of what our Lord did at the cross is essential in the maturation of
the believer’s virtue-love which is composed of personal love for God the Father
and occupation with Christ as motivational virtue and impersonal unconditional
self-sacrificial virtue-love.
The greatest expression of virtue-love took place at the cross when the Lord
Jesus Christ in hypostatic union functioning under a self-imposed kenosis
voluntarily submitted to substitutionary spiritual death on a Roman cross on behalf
of all His fallen rational creatures, both angels and men. There is no greater
illustration of virtue-love and integrity that a teacher of the Word of God could
present to his students than the virtue-love and integrity expressed through the
Person and Work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union were performing a
private transaction exclusively between themselves when our Lord received the
imputation of the sins of the entire universe and received their judgment by the
justice of God the Father during the last 3 hours of total darkness on the cross. The
perfect integrity of God in all its glory was demonstrated before all the angels and
mankind at the cross of Christ.
The very thing that Satan attacked in eternity past, the integrity of God and
which prompted the granting of his appeal was the very thing that defeated him in
the angelic conflict. Satan in effect defeated himself when he attacked the integrity
of God in eternity past. In the end, arrogance always defeats itself while humility
acts in integrity patiently waiting for the defeat to come. Humility expresses itself
in obedience to the Father’s will, purpose and plan. Our Lord’s voluntary
substitutionary spiritual death on the cross as an impeccable human being on
behalf of all fallen creatures (both men and angels) earned Him the Title of the
“Faithful and True Witness” in the appeal trial of Satan (Rev. 3:14).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 63
Philippians 2:9 presents the 1st two upward steps in the anabasis of our Lord:
(1) dio kai ho theos auton huperupsosen, “For this very reason God the Father
has promoted Him to the highest ranking position.” (2) kai echarisato auto to
onoma to huper pan onoma, “and has awarded to Him the rank which is
superior to every rank.”
The humanity of Christ in hypostatic union has been promoted to the highestranking
position in the entire cosmos. He has been awarded the sovereign rulership
over all of creation and every creature. This promotion is a result of what Paul
states in verse 8, which in corrected translation says, “He humbled Himself by
having entered into obedience to the point of spiritual death even death on a
cross.” This promotion is a result of the humanity of Christ’s obedience to Father’s
will, purpose and plan for the incarnation. This promotion is a result of the
humanity of Christ’s execution of the Father’s plan for the incarnation. This
promotion is a result of the humanity of Christ’s substitutionary spiritual death on a
Roman cross. The cross must come before the crown. The reason the humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union has been promoted to the highest ranking position of
power and authority in the cosmos is that He voluntarily subjected Himself to a
substitutionary spiritual death on a Roman cross for the sins of the entire cosmos as
an impeccable human being.
God the Father as Supreme Court Judge in the angelic conflict not only imputed
and judged the impeccable humanity of Christ at the cross for the sins of the entire
cosmos but also awarded Him the highest rank as sovereign ruler of the entire
cosmos as a result of His obedience to the Father’s plan for the incarnation. God
the Father promoted the incarnate Son of God to the highest-ranking position of
power and authority in the cosmos. The promotion of the humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union to the highest-ranking position of power and authority in the
entire cosmos involves 4 major events in history: (1) Resurrection (2) Ascension
(3) Triumphal Procession (4) Session.
There are 12 major events in relation to the appeal trial of Satan and the
promotion of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union: (1) The humanity of
Christ’s strategic victory over Satan through His substitutionary spiritual death on
the cross (Psa. 22:1-3; Matt. 27:44-46; Mark 15:34; Rom. 5:6-10; 2 Cor. 5:14-15a;
Heb. 2:9). (2) The resurrection of the humanity of Christ 3 days after the
crucifixion (Matt. 27:62-66-28:1-20; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18;
Acts 1:22; 2:31; Rom. 1:4; Col. 2:12). (3) The ascension of the humanity of Christ
into heaven in order to receive the award from God the Father as Victor in the
angelic conflict (John 20:17 cf. Luke 24:38-40; Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:9-11; Phil.
2:9; 1 Pet. 3:22; Heb. 4:14). (4) The 1st triumphal procession of the humanity of
Christ in heaven as Victor in the angelic conflict (Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:15). (5) The
present session of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union at the right hand of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 64
God the Father possessing the highest ranking position of power and authority as
supreme ruler of the entire cosmos (Psa. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; 14:62;
16:19; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22).
(6) Church Age believers will be evaluated at the Bema Seat Evaluation of Christ
(Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). (7) The Rapture is a
technical theological term for the Resurrection of the Royal Family of God which
terminates the Church Age dispensation and takes place in the earth’s atmosphere
(1 Cor. 15:51-57; 1 Th. 4:13-17; Phlp. 3:21). (8) The 2nd Advent of Christ when
the resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union comes back with His Bride,
the Church and orbits the earth and then descends and lands upon the Mount of
Olives to defeat Israel’s enemies and to imprison Satan and the fallen angels for a
1000 years (Zech. 12:7-14; 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19). (9) Regenerate Israel
who lived during the Age of Israel and Tribulation period will evaluated at the 2nd
Advent (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-30). (10)
Regenerate Gentiles who lived during the Age of the Gentiles and Tribulation
period will be evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Matt. 25:31-46). (11) Millennial reign
beginning with the 2nd Advent ending with the Gog-Magog Revolution (Isa.
11:35, 62, 65; Psalm 72; Zech. 14:4-9; Rev. 20). (12) Great White Throne
Judgment concludes human history and thus the appeal trial of Satan resulting in
the casting of all unregenerate humanity and Satan and the fallen angels into the
lake of fire (Re. 20:11-15).
God the Father has awarded the humanity of Christ in hypostatic the highest
rank in the entire cosmos for His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross with
power and authority over the following: (1) Angels (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22; Col.
1:15-17; 2:10; Heb. 1:3-5, 13; 1 Pet. 3:22). (2) Church (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18; 1
Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). (3) Israel (Matt. 1:1; 20:30; Mark 10:47-48; Luke
1:32; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16).
The humanity of Christ in hypostatic union has been awarded the sovereign
rulership over the entire cosmos for His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross
and now possesses the power and authority to preside over and conduct the
following judgments: (1) Bema Seat Evaluation: Takes place at the Rapture of the
Church and is the evaluation of the Church Age believer’s life after salvation
(Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). (2) Israel: Takes place at
the 2nd Advent and is the removing unregenerate Israel from the earth leaving only
regenerate Israel to enter into the Millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech.
13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-30). (3) Gentiles: Takes place at the 2nd Advent
and is for the purpose of removing unregenerate, anti-Semitic Gentiles from the
earth (Matt. 25:31-46). (4) Fallen Angels: Takes place at the end of the appeal trial
of Satan which runs co-terminus with human history and is execution of Satan and
the fallen angels sentence for the pre-historic rebellion against God (1 Cor. 6:3; 2
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 65
Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 20:10). (5) Great White Throne: Takes place at the end of
human history and is the judgment of all unregenerate humanity in human history
for the rejection of Christ as Savior (Rev. 20:11-15).
God the Father by judicial decree has awarded the meritorious Person and Work
of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, the highest rank in the entire cosmos,
which transcends all ranks in terms of power and authority. As a result of our
Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death on the cross God the Father has awarded Him
His 3rd royal title: (1) Son of God: 2nd Person of the Trinity (John 1:34, 49; 3:18;
20:31; Matt. 4:3; 27:54; Luke 1:32, 35; 2 Cor. 1:19; 1 John 1:3; 5:10; 5:20; 2 John
1:3; Rev. 2:18). (2) Son of David: Ruler of Israel (Matt. 1:1; 20:30; Mark 10:47-
48; Luke 1:32; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16). (3) King of kings and Lord of
lords: ruler of the Church (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). The humanity of
Christ’s power and authority over the entire cosmos is equaled only by that which
is possessed and exercised by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 2:10 presents the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th stages of the anabasis section
of the Carmen Christi which was a hymn composed in honor of our Lord in the
early 1st century Church: (1) dio kai ho theos auton huperupsosen, “For this very
reason in fact God the Father has promoted Him (Lord Jesus Christ) to the
highest ranking position.” (2) kai echarisato auto to onoma to huper pan onoma,
“and has awarded to Him the rank which is superior to every rank.” (3) hina
en to onomati Iesou pan gonu kampse, “In order that in the sphere of this rank
possessed by Jesus every person must bow.” (4) epouranion, “celestials.” (5)
kai epigeion, “and terrestrials.” (6) kai katachthonion, “and subterrestrials.”
Philippians 2:10 presents the distinct purpose in God the Father promoting the
humanity of Christ in hypostatic union to the highest ranking position in the
cosmos and awarding Him the sovereign rulership over all of creation and every
creature. This passage teaches the sovereign authority of the victorious, resurrected
incarnate Son of God. The sphere of our Lord’s rulership encompasses all of
creation and every creature whether angelic or human. The humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union possesses a rank superior to any angelic or human authority. This
passage teaches the universal eschatological compulsory subjection to the
victorious resurrected incarnate Son of God.
Every regenerate human being in every dispensation of human history must at
some point in the future submit to an evaluation of their lives after salvation which
will be conducted by the resurrected and sovereign humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union: (1) Regenerate Israel who lived during the Age of Israel and
Tribulation period will evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9;
Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-30). (2) Regenerate Gentiles who lived during the Age of
the Gentiles and Tribulation period will be evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Matt.
25:31-46). (3) Church Age believers will be evaluated at the Bema Seat Evaluation
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 66
of Christ (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). (4) Regenerate
Jews and Gentiles who lived during the Millennium will be subjected to a
judgment at the conclusion of human history (Rev. 20:15). (5) Every unregenerate
human being in every dispensation of human history must submit to a judgment
which will also be conducted by the resurrected and sovereign incarnate Son of
God at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). (6) Every fallen angel
has already been judged and sentenced to the Lake of Fire by the Supreme Court of
Heaven before human history.
The execution of that sentence will not be carried out until the conclusion of the
appeal trial of Satan and the fallen angels (Rev. 20:10). The appeal trial is human
history. The purpose of human history was to resolve the pre-historic angelic
conflict. The angelic conflict was resolved at the cross when the impeccable
humanity of Christ in hypostatic union voluntarily died a substitutionary spiritual
death on a Roman cross 2000 years at Calvary.
The phrase pan gonu, “every person” teaches the universality of this
subjection to the victorious, resurrected and sovereign incarnate Son of God. Gonu
is used figuratively for the whole person. It is a synecdoche of the part where the
knee is put for the whole person. Two categories of homo sapiens are in view here
with this phrase pan gonu, “every person.” (1) Regenerate (2) Unregenerate.
Two categories of angelic creatures are in view here with this phrase: (1) Elect
(2) Fallen. Both, regenerate and unregenerate humanity will not be judged for their
sins because the impeccable humanity of Christ voluntarily died a spiritual death as
a substitute for them. Both, elect and fallen angels were not judged for their sins
because the impeccable humanity of Christ reconciled them to God with His
voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross (Col. 2:15). All of regenerate
humanity will have their lives after salvation evaluated by the resurrected incarnate
Son of God in order to determine whether or not they will receive rewards and the
conveyance of their Escrow Blessings for executing the plan of God for their lives.
All of unregenerate humanity will have their “works” (ergon) evaluated by the
resurrected incarnate Son of God. Their “works” do not measure up to the
Finished Work of the impeccable humanity of Christ on the cross and therefore
they are cast into the Lake of Fire for trusting in their own human good rather than
on the Person and Work of our Lord. Those who make the non-meritorious
decision to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation will not come under condemnation
and therefore will not face judgment. Those who rejected Christ as Savior will
receive condemnation and will therefore come under judgment at the hands of the
One Whom they have rejected as Savior.
The future subjunctive and the gnomic aorist tense of the verb kampse, “must
bow,” emphasizes that this subjection to the victorious, resurrected incarnate Son
of God is eschatological, compulsory and a dogmatic statement from the Word of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 67
God. The figure of speech called metonymy of the adjunct indicates the universal
compulsory subjection in the future to the sovereign authority of the victorious
resurrected incarnate Son of God. This figure is where the sign is put for the thing
and is signified with a phrase. Here pan gonu kampse, “every person must bow”
is put for universal compulsory subjection.
Paul uses 3 masculine singular appositional genitives to identify the 3-fold
dimensions of the victorious resurrected incarnate Son of God’s sovereign
rulership: (1) epouranios, “celestials.” (a) Elect angels functioning in the 1st, 2nd
and 3rd heavens. (b) Fallen angels functioning in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd heavens. (3)
OT saints from the Theocentric dispensations (Age of the Gentiles and Jews)
located in the 3rd heaven. (4) Church Age believers who have died located in the
3rd heaven. (2) epigeios, “terrestrials.” (a) The Church who are alive functioning
on planet earth. (b) Unegenerate human beings functioning on planet earth. (3)
katachtonion, “subterrestrials.” (a) Fallen angels imprisoned in Tartarus, Abyss
and under the Euphrates River in Iraq. (b) Unregenerate humanity from every
dispensation of human history in the 2nd compartment of Hades called Torments.
This passage teaches that there is to be a Great Genuflex in the future, which
encompasses every regenerate and unregenerate rational creature that has lived
throughout angelic and human history. There will be a Genuflex or Proskunesis
that will precede the following evaluations of regenerate human beings and
judgment of unregenerate human beings: (1) Bema Seat Evaluation of Christ
involving the regenerate from the Church Age. (2) 2nd Advent of Christ evaluation
of all the regenerate from the Age of Israel and the Tribulation. (3) 2nd Advent of
Christ evaluation of all the regenerate from the Age of the Gentiles and the
Tribulation. (4) 2nd Advent of Christ evaluation of all the regenerate of the
Millennium. (5) Great White Throne Judgment of all unregenerate human beings
from every dispensation.
There will be a Genuflex or Proskunesis that will precede the execution of
Satan and the fallen angels sentence to the Lake of Fire at the conclusion of the
appeal trial, which runs co-terminus with human history. 2 Categories of angelic
creatures will take part in this Genuflex or Proskunesis at the conclusion of the
appeal trial and preceding the execution of Satan and the fallen angels sentence to
the Lake of Fire: (1) Elect (2) Fallen.
The victorious resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union now
possesses sovereign authority over all of creation and every creature. This passage
also teaches Proskynesis to the victorious resurrected and sovereign incarnate Son
of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, Theanthropos. Proskynesis is obeisance or the
movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential courtesy or homage
before a superior. This ceremonial act was employed by the Persian Court.
Alexander the Great attempted to employ it but soon discarded the practice in his
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 68
court. It involved different things ranging from an exchange of kisses to total
prostration before the ruler in the way a Muslim says his prayers. The Greeks were
repulsed by such a ceremony since this meant adoration of a living human being.
Proskynesis will be employed in the presence of the victorious resurrected and
sovereign humanity of Christ in hypostatic union.
Philippians 2:11 concludes the anabasis portion of the Carmen Christi or the
hymn to Christ. It contains the 7th and final stage of the anabasis, which is
contained in verses 9-11: (1) dio kai ho theos auton huperupsosen, “For this very
reason in fact God the Father has promoted Him (Lord Jesus Christ) to the
highest ranking position.” (2) kai echarisato auto to onoma to huper pan onoma,
“and has awarded to Him the rank which is superior to every rank.” (3) hina
en to onomati Iesou pan gonu kampse, “In order that in the sphere of this rank
possessed by Jesus every person must bow.” (4) epouranion, “celestials.” (5)
kai epigeion, “and terrestrials.” (6) kai katachthonion, “and subterrestrials.”
(7) kai pasa glossa exomologesetai hoti kurios Iesous Christos eis doxan theou
patros, “Also, every person must publicly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is
Lord for the glory of God the Father.”
Verse 11 contains the 2nd of God the Father’s 2-fold purpose for promoting the
humanity of Christ to the highest ranking position in the divine government and
awarding to Him the sovereign rulership over all of creation and every creature
whether angelic or human as a result of His strategic victory over Satan in the
angelic conflict which was accomplished through His voluntary substitutionary
spiritual death on the cross: (1) Philippians 2:10: “In order that in the sphere of
this rank possessed by Jesus every person must bow, celestials and
terrestrials and subterrestrials.” (2) Philippians 2:11: “Also, every person must
publicly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord for the glory of God the
Father.”
Philippians 2:11 teaches the universal eschatological compulsory public
acknowledgement of the sovereign rulership of the victorious resurrected humanity
of Christ in hypostatic union by every angelic or human being. Philippians 2:10
teaches the universal eschatological compulsory subjection to the victorious
resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union by every angelic and human
being. The universal eschatological compulsory subjection to the victorious
resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union by every angelic and human
being as taught by Paul in Philippians 2:10 therefore teaches that there will be a
Great Genuflex or Proskunesis. Both the universal eschatological compulsory
Proskunesis or subjection to the victorious resurrected incarnate Son of God and
the universal eschatological compulsory public acknowledgement of Him as
Kurios, “Lord” precede the following evaluations of regenerate human beings and
judgment of unregenerate human beings: (1) Bema Seat Evaluation: Evaluation of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 69
all the regenerate from the Church Age. (2) 2nd Advent of Christ: Evaluation of
all the regenerate from the Age of Israel and the Tribulation. (3) 2nd Advent of
Christ: Evaluation of all the regenerate from the Age of the Gentiles and the
Tribulation. (4) 2nd Advent of Christ: Evaluation of all the regenerate of the
Millennium. (5) Great White Throne Judgment: Judgment of all unregenerate
human beings from every dispensation.
This Great Genuflex or Proskunesis involves every human being from every
dispensation of human history. There will be a Genuflex or Proskunesis that will
precede the execution of Satan and the fallen angels sentence to the Lake of Fire at
the conclusion of the appeal trial, which runs co-terminus with human history. 2
Categories of angelic creatures will take part in this Genuflex or Proskunesis at the
conclusion of the appeal trial and preceding the execution of Satan and the fallen
angels sentence to the Lake of Fire: (1) Elect (2) Fallen.
The application of the Kurios title to the victorious resurrected humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union signifies His: (1) Equality with the other Members of the
Trinity possessing the same exact divine essence. (2) Identification as the Yahweh
of the OT. (3) Joint-rulership with the Father. (4) Highest ranking position as Chief
Executive Officer of the divine government. (5) Absolute sovereign authority as
Supreme Ruler over all of creation and every creature. (6) Strategic victory over
Satan and the kingdom of darkness in the angelic conflict. (7) Superiority over
every angelic and human creature. (8) Messiahship. (9) Session. (10) Vindication
of the integrity of God. (11) Total and complete rebuke of the pride and arrogance
of Satan and the fallen angels. (12) Invisible Heroship. (13) Rulership over the
Church. (14) Rulership over Israel. (15) Suffering on the cross was rewarded by
God the Father. (16) Successful execution of the Incarnation Plan. (17) Precedent
setting utilization of the prototype spiritual life. (18) Receipt of His 3rd royal
warrant as King of kings and Lord of lords. (19) Future certain fulfillment of the 4
unconditional covenants to Israel during the Millennium. (20) Ascension.
The Kurios title is applied to the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union as a
result of His: (1) Voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross. (2)
Resurrection. (3) Ascension. (4) Session.
The ultimate purpose for God the Father promoting the victorious resurrected
humanity of Christ in hypostatic union to the highest ranking position in the divine
government and awarding Him the sovereign rulership over all of creation and
every creature is for the glory of God the Father. The glorification of God the
Father is the ultimate purpose for this universal compulsory subjection to the
victorious resurrected incarnate Son of God and public acknowledgement of Him
as Kurios, “Lord.”
The Father was glorified because He was able to bless the humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union. The incarnate Son of God refused to glorify Himself but rather
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 70
sought the glory of the Father (John 8:50-54). The ultimate objective of Incarnation
Plan was to glorify God the Father. It was to manifest His perfect character
integrity and demonstrate divine omnipotence. The Father was glorified when He
imputed every sin in human and angelic history-past, present and future to the
impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union since it manifested the Father’s
perfect character and integrity and demonstrated divine omnipotence.
The Father was glorified when He judged the impeccable humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union for every sin in angelic and human history-past, present and
future since it manifested the Father’s perfect integrity and demonstrated divine
omnipotence. The Finished Work of the impeccable humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union on the cross-expressed the glory of God the Father. The ultimate
purpose of the Father’s Incarnation Plan was to manifest to both angelic and
human beings the perfect integrity and demonstrate His divine omnipotence as it is
expressed through His grace policy.
The execution of the Incarnation Plan by the impeccable humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union manifested the perfect integrity of God the Father and
demonstrated His divine omnipotence as it was expressed through His grace policy
during the 1st Advent. Thus, the execution of the Incarnation Plan by the
impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union glorified the Father. The
voluntary substitutionary spiritual death by the impeccable humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union manifested the perfect integrity of God the Father and
demonstrated His divine omnipotence. The strategic victory over Satan and the
kingdom of darkness at the cross by the impeccable humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union through the utilization of the Word of God and the Spirit of God,
which God the Father provided Him from eternity past manifested the perfect
integrity of the Father and demonstrated His divine omnipotence.
The utilization of these 2 Great Divine Provisions of the prototype spiritual life
provided by God the Father in eternity past for the humanity of Christ in hypostatic
union resulting in the execution of the Incarnation Plan glorified the Father
because it manifested His perfect integrity and demonstrated His divine
omnipotence.
The execution of the prototype spiritual life by the impeccable humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union set all precedence for the believer in the Church Age as
to how he is to glorify God the Father. All precedence for glorifying God the
Father during the Church Age is derived from the dispensation of the hypostatic
union. The resurrection, ascension and session of the humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union manifested the perfect integrity of the Father and demonstrated
His divine omnipotence.
The Father was glorified by promoting the victorious resurrected humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union to the highest ranking position in the divine government
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 71
and awarding Him the sovereign rulership over all of creation and every creature
because it manifested His perfect integrity and demonstrated His divine
omnipotence. The divine motive is for His own glory, but not for self-praise. This
is not arrogance for it is perfectly compatible with God’s infinite attributes. God
recognizes His glory and He claims all glory in the interest of absolute truth. The
impeccable incarnate Son of God’s dependence upon the Father’s provisions of the
prototype spiritual life glorified the Father. This dependence upon the Father’s
provisions set all precedence for the believer in the Church Age as to the method of
glorifying God. Creature dependence glorifies God. The Son of God as Creator set
the example for His creatures during His incarnation as to the modus operandi and
modus vivendi in glorifying God. The Son of God as Creator set the example for
His creatures during His incarnation as to the method and procedure in glorifying
God. Satan sought to promote himself through the 3 arrogance skills whereas the
humanity of Christ in hypostatic union did the exact opposite and did not seek to
promote Himself. Instead, He waited for the Father to promote Him upon the
execution of the Father’s Plan for His life through the utilization of the 2 Great
Divine Provisions thus, setting the example for the believer in the Church Age as
to the procedure in glorifying God.
Humility depends upon the Father’s provision whereas arrogance seeks to be
independent of His provisions. A humble person waits for God to promote whereas
an arrogant person seeks to promote self. This passage in Philippians 2:9-11 is an
answer to the Son’s High Priestly prayer at the conclusion of His Upper Room
Discourse (John 17:5). This passage also teaches the manner in which the Father
chose to rebuke the pride and arrogance of Satan which was through the
Incarnation Plan. The Father is glorified when the Son is glorified and both the
Father and the Son are glorified when the believer is glorified since the believer’s
glorification manifests the perfect integrity of God and demonstrates His divine
omnipotence when they execute the Plan of God for the church age.
Glory (doxa) is a manifestation and demonstration of Who and What God is and
What He has done for His Son and His creatures. It is a manifestation of His
perfect integrity and demonstration of His divine omnipotence. It refers to His
reputation. God’s reputation was vindicated at the cross since it destroyed Satan’s
argument in the appeal trial that God was unjust in sentencing him and the fallen
angels to the Lake of Fire for eternity. The term doxa, “glory” capsulizes the
essence of the divine existence. It reveals Who and What God is and His modus
operandi and modus vivendi in human and angelic history. The term doxa, “glory”
reveals the character and nature of God. It reveals His integrity and divine
omnipotence. The glory of God is expressed through His grace policy, which has
been extended to all His creatures. This glory was unveiled and revealed during the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 72
incarnation as well as through the resurrection, ascension and session of our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ.
Impeccability of Christ
The term “impeccability” refers to the fact that Christ could not sin or in other
words, there was never any possibility or potential of our Lord ever sinning.
John 8:46a, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin?”
2 Corinthians 5:21, “He (Christ) who never knew sin experientially (Christ
was impeccable), on behalf of us (as our Substitute), was made (the
representative of) sin in order that we might become the very righteousness of
God in Him.”
Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize
with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are,
yet without sin.”
Hebrew 7:26, “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest,
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the
heavens.”
1 Peter 1:19, “But with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and
spotless, the blood of Christ.”
1 Peter 2:22, “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His
mouth.”
1 John 3:5, “And you know that He appeared in order to take sins; and in
Him there is no sin.”
The term “peccability” denotes that our Lord could have sinned meaning that
there was a potential for Him sinning.
In regards to our Lord’s deity, both views contend that Jesus Christ is infinite
and eternal God (John 1:1-2; John 8:58; 10:30a; Col. 2:9a; Rev. 1:8). They agree
that He has the same divine essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
They agree that our Lord possesses all the attributes of deity: (1) Sovereignty
(Matt. 28:18a; Col. 2:10b). (2) Perfect righteousness (John 8:46a; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb.
7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 2:21b). (3) Justice (John 8:16a; 2 Tim. 4:8; Psa. 9:8; Deut.
32:4; Rev. 15:3b). (4) Love (John 13:34; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 3:19; 1 John 4:9-10). (5)
Eternal life (1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 5:11). (6) Omniscience (Luke 11:17; John 2:24-
25; John 6:64). (7) Omnipresence (Matt. 18:20; Prov. 15:3) (8) Omnipotence (1
Cor. 1:23-24; Rev. 1:8). (9) Immutability (Heb. 13:8). (10) Veracity (John 1:14;
14:6a).
Both views are in agreement that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator and
Sustainer of the universe (Col. 1:16-17), that He has authority to forgive sins
(Matt. 9:6). They agree that the Lord Jesus Christ has the power to raise the dead
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 73
(John 5:21; 6:40) and that all judgment belongs to Him (John 5:22), and that
receives worship from both men and angels (Psa. 99:5; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 5:13-14).
The peccability view and the impeccable view both agree that in His Deity, Jesus
Christ always occupied a place of equality and fellowship with God the Father and
God the Holy Spirit. They both agree that as God, He is equal with the Father
(John 10:30, 37-38; 14:9; 17:5, 24-25).
In regards to our Lord’s humanity, both the peccable and impeccable view are
in agreement that our Lord was totally free from sin, which means He was perfect
or flawless. They both agree that Christ remained free from all three categories of
sin in the human race: (1) Old sin nature (2) Adam’s original sin (3) Personal sins.
The peccability view and impeccable view both agree that the Lord Jesus Christ
has a human body like ours but without a sin nature (John 1:14; Heb. 10:5; 1 John
1:1; 1 John 4:2-3), that He has a human soul (Matt. 26:38a; Isa. 53:11a) and a
human spirit (Luke 23:46; John 13:21; 19:30).
These two views are in agreement that because of the virgin birth our Lord did
not have an old sin nature like every human being born in Adam. They agree that
He did not have an old sin nature because He did not have a human father (Luke
1:35).
The peccable view and the impeccable view both agree that the Lord Jesus
Christ was found to be without sin in His humanity (John 8:46a; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb.
7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5). They agree that in His humanity that our Lord was
tempted in all things as sinful humanity (Heb. 4:15). They agree that in His
humanity, He was tempted to act and live independently from God the Father’s
plan for His life (Luke 4:1-4; Matt. 16:21-23) and that He was tempted not to go to
the cross (Luke 22:39-44).
Therefore, both views are in agreement that our Lord did not sin, but the
peccability view contends that He could have sinned. They say that there was a
potential of Him sinning. While on the other hand, the impeccability view contends
that our Lord could never have sinned meaning there was absolutely no potential of
Him ever sinning once because He had a divine nature.
Most orthodox theologians agree that Jesus Christ never committed an act of
sin. Walvoord writes, “This seems to be a natural corollary to His deity and an
absolute prerequisite to His work of substitution on the cross. Any affirmation of
moral failure on the part of Christ requires a doctrine of His person which would
deny in some sense His absolute deity” (The Person and Work of Christ Part VII,
The Impeccability of Christ).
There has been debate regarding whether the sinlessness of Christ was the same
as that of Adam before the fall or whether it possessed a unique character because
of His divine nature. Could the Son of God be tempted as Adam was tempted and
could He have sinned as Adam sinned? Was there any potential of Him sinning
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 74
once? Most theologians who are orthodox agree that Christ could be tempted
because of the presence of a human nature, but there is great division as to whether
being tempted He could have sinned or was there the potential of Him ever
sinning.
The term used to describe the teaching that there was a potential that Christ
could sin is called “peccability.” The term used to designate that there was no
potential of Christ sinning is called the “impeccability” of Christ.
Those who adhere to “peccability” and “impeccability” are in agreement that
Christ did not sin. However, those who are proponents of “peccability” contend
that He could have sinned meaning that there was a potential that He could sin. On
the other hand, those who declare the “impeccability” contend that He could not
sin meaning that there was no potential whatsoever that He could sin because of
His divine nature.
The impeccability position has been challenged. Can an impeccable person be
tempted in any proper sense? Since Christ had a human nature that was subject to
temptation, does this mean that He could have sinned? The point of view of those
who believe that Christ could have sinned is expressed by Charles Hodge, he
writes, “This sinlessness of our Lord, however, does not amount to absolute
impeccability. It was not a non potest peccare. If He was a true man, He must have
been capable of sinning. That He did not sin under the greatest provocations; that
when He was reviled He blessed; when He suffered He threatened not; that He was
dumb as a sheep before its shearers, is held up to us as an example. Temptation
implies the possibility of sin. If from the constitution of his person it was
impossible for Christ to sin, then his temptation was unreal and without effect and
He cannot sympathize with his people.” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II,
457)
John Walvoord makes the following comment in response to Hodge, he writes,
“The problem that Hodge raises is very real, and, judging by our own experience,
temptation is always associated with peccability. Hodge, however, assumes certain
points in his argument which are subject to question. In order to solve the problem
as to whether Christ is peccable, it is necessary, first of all, to examine the
character of temptation itself to ascertain whether peccability is inevitably involved
in any real temptation and, second, to determine the unique factor in Christ, i.e.,
that He had two natures, one a divine nature and the other a sinless human nature.
It is generally agreed by those who hold that Christ did not commit sin that He had
no sin nature. Whatever temptation could come to Him, then, would be from
without and not from within. Whatever may have been the natural impulses of a
sinless nature which might have led to sin if not held in control, there was no sin
nature to suggest sin from within and form a favorable basis for temptation. It must
be admitted by Hodge, who denies impeccability, that in any case the temptation of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 75
Christ is different than that of sinful men. Not only is there agreement on the fact
that Christ had no sin nature, but it is also agreed on the other hand, that as to His
person He was tempted. This is plainly stated in Hebrews: “For we have not a high
priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath
been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (4:15 ). It is also clear
that this temptation came to Christ in virtue of the fact that He possessed a human
nature, as James states: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God;
for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man” (1:13 ). On
the one hand, Christ was tempted in all points except through that of a sin nature,
and on the other hand His divine nature could not be tempted because God cannot
be tempted. While His human nature is temptable, His divine nature is not
temptable. On these points all can agree. The question is, then, can such a person
as Christ is, possessing both human and divine natures, be tempted if He is
impeccable? The answer must be in the affirmative. The question is simply, is it
possible to attempt the impossible? To this all would agree. It is possible for a
rowboat to attack a battleship, even though it is conceivably impossible for the
rowboat to conquer the battleship. The idea that temptability implies susceptibility
is unsound. While the temptation may be real, there may be infinite power to resist
that temptation and if this power is infinite, the person is impeccable. It will be
observed that the same temptation which would be easily resisted by one of sound
character may be embraced by one of weak character. The temptation of a drunken
debauch would have little chance of causing one to fall who had developed an
abhorrence of drink, while a habitual drunkard would be easily led astray. The
temptation might be the same in both cases, but the ones tempted would have
contrasting powers of resistance. It is thus demonstrated that there is no essential
relation between temptability and peccability. Hodge’s viewpoint that temptation
must be unreal if the person tempted is impeccable is, therefore, not accurate.
Temptability depends upon a constitutional susceptibility to sin, whereas
impeccability depends upon omnipotent will not to sin.” (The Person and Work of
Jesus Christ Part VII: The Impeccability of Christ)
Shedd writes: “It is objected to the doctrine of Christ’s impeccability that it is
inconsistent with his temptability. A person who cannot sin, it is said, cannot be
tempted to sin. This is not correct; any more than it would be correct to say that
because an army cannot be conquered, it cannot be attacked. Temptability depends
upon the constitutional susceptibility, while impeccability depends upon the will.
So far as his natural susceptibility, both physical and mental, was concerned, Jesus
Christ was open to all forms of human temptation excepting those that spring out
of lust, or corruption of nature. But his peccability, or the possibility of being
overcome by those temptations, would depend upon the amount of voluntary
resistance which he was able to bring to bear against them. Those temptations were
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 76
very strong, but if the self-determination of his holy will was stronger than they,
then they could not induce him to sin, and he would be impeccable. And yet
plainly he would be temptable.” (William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, II,
396)
Therefore, the doctrine of the impeccability of Christ acknowledges the reality
of the temptations of Christ due to the fact that our Lord had a human nature which
was temptable. Our Lord might have sinned if His human nature had not been
sustained by His divine nature. Adam sinned because he was not sustained by
divine power, nor did he have a divine nature to sustain him of course. However,
there is absolutely no possibility or potential that Christ could have sinned since He
was infinite and eternal God, having a divine nature.
Walvoord makes another insightful comment that helps understand the
relationship between our Lord’s divine and human nature, he writes, “The ultimate
solution of the problem of the impeccability of Christ rests in the relationship of
the divine and human natures. It is generally agreed that each of the natures, the
divine and the human, had its own will in the sense of desire. The ultimate decision
of the person, however, in the sense of sovereign will was always in harmony with
the decision of the divine nature. The relation of this to the problem of
impeccability is obvious. The human nature, because it is temptable, might desire
to do that which is contrary to the will of God. In the person of Christ, however,
the human will was always subservient to the divine will and could never act
independently. Inasmuch as all agree that the divine will of God could not sin, this
quality then becomes the quality of the person and Christ becomes impeccable.”
(The Person and Work of Christ Part VII: The Impeccability of Christ)
The concept of peccability in the person of Christ is refuted by the attributes of
immutability and omnipotence. For example, the immutability of Christ (Hebrews
13:8) supports the impeccability of Christ in the sense that since Christ was infinite
and eternal God in eternity past, it is absolutely essential that this divine attribute
as well His others be preserved unchanged eternally. Therefore, our Lord must be
impeccable since He is immutable. It is ridiculous to think that God could sin in
eternity past, thus, it was impossible for God to sin in the person of Christ
incarnate. The nature of His person forbids susceptibility to sin. To say that He
could have sinned, you would have to separate the deity of Christ from His
humanity.
Also, the omnipotence of Christ makes it impossible for Him to sin. We must
remember that peccability always implies weakness on the part of the one tempted
in the sense that He is weak to the extent that He can sin. However, with our Lord,
this was impossible. It is true that if the human nature of Christ was left to itself,
He would have been both peccable and temptable, but since His human nature was
permanently united to an omnipotent divine nature, this made our Lord
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 77
impeccable. The infinite quality of our Lord’s omnipotence makes it clear that
Christ is impeccable.
One final comment from Walvoord, “It is rationally inconceivable that Christ
could sin. It is clear that Christ is not peccable in heaven now even though He
possesses a true humanity. If Christ is impeccable in heaven because of who He is,
then it is also true that Christ was impeccable on earth because of who He was.
While it was possible for Christ in the flesh to suffer limitations of an unmoral
sort—such as weakness, suffering, fatigue, sorrow, hunger, anger, and even
death—none of these created any complication which affected His immutable
holiness. God could have experienced through the human nature of Christ these
things common to the race, but God could not sin even when joined to a human
nature. If sin were possible in the life of Christ, the whole plan of the universe
hinged on the outcome of His temptations. The doctrine of the sovereignty of God
would forbid any such haphazard condition. It is therefore not sufficient to hold
that Christ did not sin, but rather to attribute to His person all due adoration in that
He could not sin. While the person of Christ could therefore be tempted, there was
no possibility of sin entering the life of Him appointed from eternity to be the
spotless Lamb of God.” (The Person and Work of Christ Part VII: The
Impeccability of Christ)
In his great work, “Systematic Theology, volume 5, chapter 5, Lewis Sperry
Chafer makes the following comment, which though long is well worth reading, he
writes, “At least twenty-seven incidents or references are recorded in which it is
said that God has been or might be tested; but these are always to be considered in
the light of the assurance that God cannot be tempted in the way of evil, nor does
He so tempt any man (James 1: 13-15). The divine testings extend to each Person
of the blessed Trinity. Of the Father it is said with respect to the imposition of the
Mosaic Law upon perfected believers, ‘Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a
yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to
bear?’ (Acts 15: 10). To those who, perhaps in ignorance, teach that the Mosaic
system is a rule of life for the believer already perfected in Christ, the warning
which this Scripture advances should be effective. There are no elements of piety
in the act of imposing the Mosaic system upon the Church; rather it is a dangerous
and awful provoking of God. It is significant that, of all the wickedness in which
Christians may indulge, only this one high crime against God is mentioned as the
cause of His testing from believers. Thus, also, the Spirit may be tested. In this
there is a similarity with the preceding, since but one incident of the Spirit’s testing
is recorded. This experience was brought to pass by a falsehood uttered by two
early Christians, which falsehood was declared to be against the Holy Spirit. It is
written: ‘And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so
much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 78
have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them
which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell
she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men
came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband’
(Acts 5:8-10). Of the temptation of Christ the Son more Scripture is written–cf.
Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15. The discussion of these important
declarations will be considered in the following section.”
Chafer goes on to say, “When declaring, as above, that the testings which came
to Christ were in the sphere of His humanity and not addressed directly to His
Deity, not only is the truth asserted that He, being God, could not be solicited
respecting things evil, but the whole problem, which may be extended into infinity,
concerned with the relations of His two natures to one another is introduced again.
There is general agreement that, had Christ sinned, the lapse would have arisen
wholly from His human nature; but in all the discussion respecting His
impeccability the truth is too often ignored that Christ was wholly free from a sin
nature and all that the sin nature generates. Some theologians, much as heathen
philosophers might do, have based their speculations on the acknowledged
limitations of fallen men. It is argued that no man is free from sin and, since He
was a man, Christ was solicited to evil even as other men. In his discourse on the
problem of Christ’s personal relation to sin, Bishop Martensen writes (Christian
Dogmatics, pp. 284-85): The fact that the Second Adam experienced all
temptations–enticements to sin, threats and tortures of body and mind–is to be
explained upon the ground, not of His moral freedom only, nor of the
progressiveness of His nature, but of both these combined. The propositions, potuit
non Peccare, ‘it was possible for Him not to sin,’ and non potuit peccare, ‘it was
impossible for Him to sin,’ so far from being distinct or contrasted, may be said to
include and to presuppose each other. The first, which means that sinlessness was
only a possibility for Christ, implies that He experienced temptation as an actual
power; for while it came upon Him from without, it must, if it were not a mere
pretence, have excited some corresponding feeling within Him; through which
alone He could have been really tempted. And as the contrast between the cosmical
and the sacred–the natural and the spiritual–was necessary in the Second Adam in
order to a twofold influence upon the will;–as the Second Adam cannot be viewed
as Monotheletic, which would be in fact to consider Him Monophysite, but
Duotheletici—the same principle must have been active in Him which made the
fall of the first Adam possible. The possibility of evil existed in the Second Adam;
but this possibility never became active, was never realized; it served only as the
dark and obscure background to show forth His perfect holiness. This was
guaranteed, not by the force of virtue or innocence, which the very idea of
temptation makes uncertain and doubtful, pending the trial, nor again by the force
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 79
of the Divine nature as distinct from the human, or the human as distinct from the
Divine, but in virtue of the indissoluble union of the divine and human natures in
Him; that bond which might indeed be strained and shaken to the greatest apparent
tension and contrast of the two natures, but which never could be broken. This is
expressed in the second proposition non potuit peccare, ‘it was impossible for Him
to sin.’ Though the temptation itself and the conflict against it were not apparent
merely but real and sternly earnest, the result could never have been doubtful; for
the bond between the Divine and the human natures, which may be severed in the
creature, was indissoluble in Him who is the Mediator between the Father and all
His creatures. This bond may be broken only when the connection of the divine
with the human is merely relative and representative; never when it is essential and
archetypal, as in Him, in whom the counsels of the Father were comprehended
before the foundation of the world. Dr. Martensen here, along with many
theological leaders, sustains a very high regard for the theanthropic: Person, but his
implications are that Christ suffered those temptations which belong to a fallen
nature; still, Christ could not have possessed a sin nature without having par- taken
of the fall, since that nature does not belong to unfallen humanity. Naturally, the
only examples of this form of human existence are restricted to Adam before he
fell and to Christ. If Christ had been Himself a fallen Being, He could not have
been the uninvolved Kinsman-Redeemer that was demanded. Perhaps some fail at
this point to realize that the saving work of Christ extends as much to the sin nature
of those He saves as to their individual transgressions. Had Christ been Himself a
fallen man, He would have needed to be saved and could not have saved Himself
or another. If, on the other hand, He was unfallen and theanthropic in His Being,
He had no solicitations to evil such as arise out of a sin nature. It is intrinsic divine
holiness which is predicated of Him (Luke 1:35). It has been declared on previous
pages and is reasserted here that Christ was impeccable in the non potuit peccare
sense; that is, it was impossible for Him to sin. That which creates doubt in many
devout minds is the obvious fact that, as illustrated by Adam, an unfallen human
being is capable of sinning. Tragic indeed, in this instance, is the failure to
recognize that the first Adam was unsupported in the hour of his testing, but that
the Last Adam though equally possessed of an unfallen human nature was–as Dr.
Martensen so well affirms–because of “the indissoluble union of the divine and
human natures” unable to do what He might otherwise have done if His human
nature had been left to itself, which disunion of the two natures could never occur.
Even then the case, as with Adam, differs from that of any fallen man. While the
fallen man is utterly prone to sin, both the unfallen Adam and the humanity of
Christ had no such impetus to sin, and the unfallen Adam might have easily
avoided the thing that he did. Since this bond of union which unites Christ’s two
natures–for He is one Person–is so complete, the humanity of Christ could not sin.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 80
Should His humanity sin, God would sin. When the absolute Deity of Christ is
recognized, there is no logic which is more inexorable than this. Though
unsupported unfallen humanity might sin, a theanthropic Person even if He
incorporates an unfallen human nature is incapable of sinning. The contention that
Christ could, but would not, sin is far removed from the contention that Christ
could not sin. The former either denies His Deity or else dishonors God with the
calumnious averment that God is Himself capable of sinning. Again, it must be
declared that Christ’s human traits which did not involve moral issues could be
exhibited freely. The idea might be admitted with certain reservations that He was
both omnipotent and impotent, omniscient and ignorant, infinite and finite,
unlimited and limited; but it could never be allowed that He was both impeccable
and peccable. There are no God-dishonoring elements in human weakness, human
pain, human hunger, human thirst, or human limitations with respect to various
capacities–even human death may be admitted as a death undergone for others, but
not for Himself.”
Therefore, the debate surrounding peccability and impeccability is easily
resolved by an accurate understanding from the Scriptures of the Person of Christ
and the nature of His testings.
First of all, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal God (John
1:1-2; John 8:58; 10:30a; Col. 2:9a; Rev. 1:8). The titles assigned to His deity are
as follows: (1) “The Son of God” (Luke 1:35) (2) “The Son of the Most High”
(Luke 1:32) (3) “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) (4) “Eternal Father” (Isaiah 9:6) (5)
“His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). (6)
“Lord” (Rom. 15:30; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:11). (7) “God” (Titus 2:13).
He has the same divine essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He
possesses all the attributes of deity: (1) Sovereignty (Matt. 28:18a; Col. 2:10b). (2)
Perfect righteousness (John 8:46a; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John
2:21b). (30 Justice (John 8:16a; 2 Tim. 4:8; Psa. 9:8; Deut. 32:4; Rev. 15:3b). (4)
Love (John 13:34; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 3:19; 1 John 4:9-10). (5) Eternal life (1 Tim.
1:17; 1 John 5:11). (6) Omniscience (Luke 11:17; John 2:24-25; 6:64; 21:17). (7)
Omnipresence (Matt. 18:20; Prov. 15:3) (8) Omnipotence (John 1:3, 10; 5:21; 1
Cor. 1:23-24; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 1:8). (9) Immutability (Mal. 3:6; Heb.
1:10-12; 13:8). (10) Veracity (John 1:14; 14:6a; 1 John 3:16).
He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (John 1:3, 10; Col. 1:16-17;
Heb. 1:3, 10). The Lord Jesus Christ has authority to forgive sins (Matt. 9:6; Luke
5:24; Col. 3:13). The Lord Jesus Christ has the power to raise the dead (John 5:21;
6:40; 11:25). All judgment belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22; 1 Cor.
3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-14), and receives worship from both men and
angels (Psa. 99:5; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 5:13-14). In His Deity always occupied a place
of equality and fellowship with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The Lord
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 81
Jesus Christ as God was equal with the Father (John 10:30, 37-38; 14:9; 17:5, 24-
25).
Therefore, since Jesus Christ is God, then there as to His divine nature, there is
no inherent propensity for Him to sin. In other words, there is nothing in the divine
nature of Christ that could incite Him to sin.
James 1:13a, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’
For God cannot be tempted by evil.”
Also, the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is a human being. This is indicated
in that our Lord: (1) “Wept” (John 11:35; Heb. 5:7). (2) “Slept” (Mark 4:38). (3)
Became “hungry” (Luke 4:2). (4) Was “thirsty” (John 19:28). (5) “Prayed” (Luke
21:41-42; Heb. 5:7). (6) “Ate” and “drank” (Mark 2:16; Luke 5:30). (7) Was
“weary” (John 4:6). (8) Was in “agony” (Luke 22:44). (9) Had to “grow”
physically and mentally (Luke 2:40). (10) Had to “learn” Bible Doctrine (Luke
2:52). (11) Had to learn “obedience” (Heb. 5:7). (12) Was “tempted” (Luke 4:2;
Heb. 2:18; 4:15). (13) Was a Man of “sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). (14) Was “despised”
and “forsaken” of men (Isaiah 53:3). (15) “Rejoiced” (Luke 10:21). (16) “Died”
physically (John 19:33). (17) “Died” spiritually (Matt. 27:45-46).
The Word of God teaches that Jesus Christ had a human body.
1 John 1:1-4, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands
have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. he life appeared;
we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which
was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we
have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our
fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.’”
The difference between Jesus Christ and the human race is that He did not have
a sin nature (John 1:14; Heb. 10:5; 1 John 1:1; 1 John 4:2-3).
Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize
with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are,
yet without sin.”
Hebrew 7:26, “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest,
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the
heavens.”
1 John 3:5, “And you know that He appeared in order to take sins; and in
Him there is no sin.”
Unlike the human race, Christ did not have a sin nature and thus did not have an
inherent propensity to sin like we do!
Therefore, since Jesus Christ is fully human, yet without a sin nature, then like
His divine nature, as to His human nature, there was no inherent propensity to sin.
In other words, there was nothing in His human nature that would incite Him to sin
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 82
because He did not have a sin nature. Thus, if there was nothing in both His divine
and human natures that could incite Him to sin or tempt Him to sin, then, there
could have been no possibility whatsoever, that Christ could have sinned. The
temptations that the Lord’s human nature had undergone were from without.
However, those temptations unlike the first Adam did not incite in Him anything
that could cause Him to sin since there was nothing in both His divine and human
natures that would be enticed to sin.
There are some who argue that God would be unfair to Satan in his appeal trial
if there was no possibility for Christ to sin. However, this view is based upon a
misunderstanding of God’s holiness, His justice and righteousness. Matthew 25:41
teaches that God sentenced Satan to the Lake of Fire for his rebellion. God would
have been fair if He executed that sentence. However, in His grace, He did not as
evidenced by the fact that Satan is the god of the world according to 2 Corinthians
4:4 and that he deceives the entire world according to 1 John 5:19 and Revelation
12:10.
To say that God would have been unfair to Satan if there was no possibility for
Christ to sin fails to recognize that God would have been fair to execute Satan’s
sentence immediately, and the fact that God did not execute the sentence
immediately indicates that God was operating in grace towards Satan. To say that
in order to be fair to Satan that there had to be a possibility that Christ could sin is
to call into question God’s justice and righteousness, His integrity since God did
not have prove His fairness to His creatures since He would have been fair in the
first place to execute Satan’s sentence immediately. What God was doing for Satan
and the angels was demonstrating His grace and love towards them by not
executing their sentence immediately.
Therefore, the argument that it would have been unfair to Satan if there was no
possibility of Christ sinning is a faulty argument that in fact attacks God’s integrity
and character.
Also, the fact that Christ did die on the Cross for sinners in obedience to the
Father’s will demonstrated the righteousness of God itself and that God is integrity
(Romans 3:21-26; 5:6-8) and not the fact that there was a possibility of Christ
sinning! To say that God demonstrated His integrity through the potential of Christ
sinning is without Scriptural basis. However, the fact that Christ dying on the
Cross for sinners demonstrated God’s justice and righteousness does have wealth
of Scripture to support it.
3-Fold Offices of Christ
The Hebrew title Meshiach, “Messiah,” that is employed by the OT of
Scripture is translated by the NT writers of Scripture by the Greek term Christos,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 83
“Christ” and thus the 2 are synonymous with each other. They are both terms
employed by the OT and NT writers of Scripture as appellative or metaphorical
titles designative of our Lord’s: (1) Person (2) Work.
Many appellative and metaphorical titles are found in Scripture for Christ,
designative of His Person, Work and Life: (1) God (Jn 20:28) (2) Lord (Mt 22:43-
44) (3) Word (Jn 1:1,14) (4) Son of God (Mt 3:17; Lk 1:35; Col 1:15; I Jn 5:20)
(5) Firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18) (6) Beginning of the Creation of God
(Rev 3:14) (7) Image of God (2 Cor 4:4) (8) Express Image of His Person ((Heb
1:3) the King James Version) (9) Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8; 22:13) (10) Son of
Man (Mt 8:20; Jn 1:51; Acts 7:56) (11) Son of David (Mt 9:27; 21:9) (12) Last
Adam (1 Cor 15:45,47) (13) Captain of Salvation ((Heb 2:10) (14) Savior (Lk
2:11; Jn 4:42; Acts 5:31) (15) Redeemer (Isa 59:20; Tit 2:14) (16) Author and
Perfecter of Faith (Heb 12:2) (17) Light of the World (Jn 8:12) (18) Lamb of
God (Jn 1:29,36) (19) Creator of all things (Jn 13:10) (20) Mediator (1 Tim 2:5)
(21) Prophet (Deut 18:15; Lk 24:19) (22) Great High Priest (Heb 4:14) (23)
King (Lk 1:33; Rev 17:14; 19:16) (24) Way, Truth and Life (Jn 14:6).
These and many others express the mediatorial office of the Lord. As mediator,
He stands between God and Man, revealing the Father to man, and expressing the
true relation of man to God. Both the OT Hebrew term Meshiach, “Messiah” and
the Greek NT term Christos, “Christ” imply a 3-fold official responsibility of our
Lord: (1) Prophet (2) Priest (3) King.
He functions as a representative in each of these offices: (1) He represents God
before man as prophet. (2) He represents man before God as priest. (3) He
represents both God and man as king.
The 3-fold offices are all directly to both the Person and Work of Christ. They
are related to the Person of Christ: (1) Preincarnate state (2) Incarnate state (3)
Glorified state. They are all related to the Work of Christ: (1) His sovereign work:
(a) Creator of the cosmos: Past (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17). (b) Sustainer
of the cosmos: Present (Col. 1:17; Hb. 1:3, 10). (c) Ruler of the cosmos: Future
(Eph. 1:20-23; Phlp. 2:9-11). His finished work on the cross: (1) Redemption (Eph.
1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19) (2) Propitiation (Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2) (3) Reconciliation
(2 Cor. 5:18; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-21). They are also all directly related to His
past, present and future (Rv. 1:4): (1) Past: Prophet (2) Present: Priest (3) Future:
King. The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His prophetic office during His 1st Advent.
The Lord Jesus Christ is presently fulfilling His priestly office during the church
age. The Lord Jesus Christ will fulfill His kingly office during His millennial reign.
The responsibility of the prophet was to represent God to man. The biblical
teaching concerning the office of a prophet is that the prophet is the mouthpiece of
God speaking to man (Dt. 18:18; Jer. 1:9; Gal. 1:11f. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). The prophet
thus reveals to man the Word of God, which may be a statement and explanation of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 84
that which is past, is present or will come in the future (Dt. 34:10f.; Jgs. 2:1-5; 3:9-
11; Jer. 15:1). Our Lord was the greatest of all the prophets.
The first appearance of the idea of the special prophet of Yahweh is in (Deut
18:15). Moses had been sent by the people to hear the Lord’s words on their behalf
(Exo 20:19; Deut 5:27); and this incident in the later passage of (Deut 18:15-22) is
connected with the promise of a prophet, while at the same time reference is made
to the general fact of prophecy and the conditions of its validity and acceptance.
Here we find the germ of the expectation of the Prophet, which occupied so large a
place in the mind of Israel. In the act of the people sending Moses to receive the
word, and Yahweh’s promise to send a prophet whom they would accept, we see
also the suggestion of a distinction between the first dispensation and the latter.
The Divine promise was to the effect that what was given by Moses God would
consummate in a prophetic revelation through a person. The conception of this
personality is found in the second part of Isa (40-66). Isaiah’s mission was vain,
(Isa 49:4), but the coming one shall prevail, 49-53 (passim). But the success of this
servant of Yahweh was not to be only as a prophet, but by taking on himself the
penalty of sin (53:5), and by being made an offering for sin; and as Mighty Victor
triumphing over all foes (53:10-12), the dignities of whose kingship are set forth in
various parts of the prophetic writings. Thus the general effect of the course of the
earlier revelation may be summed up in this prophetic ministry with which has
been combined a priestly and a royal character.
Christ’s ministry illustrates the prophetic office in the most extensive and
exalted sense of the term. He was designed and appointed by the Father ((Isa 61:1-
2); compare (Lk 4:16-21; Mt 17:5)). In (1 Cor 1:30), Christ is declared to be made
to us wisdom. His intimate knowledge of God (Jn 1:18; Mt 11:27; Jn 16:15), the
qualities of His teaching dependent upon His nature, both Divine and human (Jn
3:34); His authority (Jn 1:9,17-18; Lk 4:18-21); His knowledge of God (Mk 12:29;
Jn 4:24; Mt 11:25; Jn 17:11. 25; Mt 18:35)– these all peculiarly fitted Christ to be
the Revealer of God.
Besides His doctrine of God, His ministry included the truth concerning
Himself, His nature, claims, mission, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and the
religious life of man. He taught as none other the foundation of religion, the facts
on which it was based, the essence of Divine service, the nature of sin, the grace of
God, the means of atonement, the laws of the kingdom of God and the future state.
By the acknowledgment of even those who have denied His Divine nature and
redemptive work, He has been recognized as the Supreme Moral Teacher of the
world. His claim to be the Prophet is seen in that He is the source of the everextending
revelation of the eternal. His own words and works He declared were
only part of the fuller knowledge, which would be furnished by the system, which
He established (Lk 9:45; 18:34; Jn 12:16; 14. 26; 15:26; 16:12-13-14).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 85
Christ’s Manner of Teaching: He employed parables, proverbs, absolute
affirmations, suggestions, allusions to simple objects, practical life– these all made
His teaching powerful, easily understood, living.
Sometimes His action was His word– and all with a commanding dignity and
gracious winsomeness, that was felt by His hearers and has ever been recognized
(Mt 7:29). So perfect and exalted was the teaching of Jesus that many have
supposed that revelation ceased with Him, and the immediate followers whom He
especially inspired to be His witnesses and interpreters. Certainly in Him the
prophetic ministry culminated.
The responsibility of the priest is to represent man to God. The history of the
development of the priesthood of Israel is the basis upon which our Lord’s High-
Priesthood is ideally based.
The chief source of the priestly conception of Our Lord is the Epistle to the
Hebrews where Christ is declared to have by Himself purged our sins (Heb 1:3); to
taste of death for every man (Heb 2:9); that He might be a merciful and faithful
High Priest to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Heb 2:17); compare
(He 3:1); the community of sacrifice (Heb 3:14); our great High Priest has passed
into the heavens (He 4:14); His reverence (4:15); the authority and power of
Christ’s priesthood fully set forth (Heb 5). Christ was made a High Priest after the
order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:6). The priesthood of Christ being of the order of
Melchizedek is more excellent than the Aaronic priesthood (Heb 7). Christ’s
priesthood being eternal, that of the Aaronic is abolished (Heb 8). Christ’s highpriesthood
is made effectual by His own blood; and He entered once for all into the
holy place, and has become the Mediator of a New Covenant (He 9:11-15). Christ
is forever the representative of man in heaven (Heb 9:24-28). Christ by the
sacrifice of Himself forever takes away sin, and has consecrated the new and living
way to God (Heb 10). He is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 12:24).
The entire Epistle is steeped in the conception of Christ’s priesthood. In (1 Pet
1:2) the sacrificial element appears in the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
The sufferings of the Lord were prophesied, the spirit of the Anointed One
signifying what the prophets desired to know (1:11); the redemption by the
precious blood of Christ is of “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1:19);
the priesthood of believers was through Christ (2:5), who carried up our sins in his
body to the tree ((2:24) the Revised Version, margin). In the Johannine writings we
have the cleansing from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Jn 1:7). Christ is said
to have laid down His life for us (1 Jn 3:16). The sacrifice as well as the teaching
of Christ is insisted on in the coming by blood as well as by water (5:6). The
appearance of Christ in (Rev 1:13) is high-priestly; His robe is the talar, the highpriestly
garment. The sacrificial place of Christ is indicated by “a Lamb …. as
though it had been slain” (Rev 5:6,9,12).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 86
The doctrine of sin was intimately associated with the priestly service of the
temple. The sacrifices were in some cases sin offerings, and in these there ever
appeared, by the function of the blood, which is the life, the fatal loss of life by sin,
the punishment of which was the withdrawal of the Divine gift of life. The life was
always in the sacrifice reserved for God. It was natural therefore when Christ
appeared that His work in taking away sin should have been interpreted in the light
of sacrificial thought. We find the idea steadily developed in the New Testament.
He was the sacrifice, the Lamb of God. The question as to who offered the
sacrifice was answered– Himself. Then He became in the conception of apostolic
teaching, especially emphasized in the Epistle to the He, the priest as well as the
sacrifice. This was at length completely defined in the theology of the church, and
has generally been accepted as setting forth an important aspect of Our Lord’s
redemptive work. Our Lord’s Great High Priesthood is directly related to both His
finished work on the cross and His present mediatorial work in heaven at the right
hand of the Father. Romans 8:34 states that our Lord intercesses for the believer as
a part of His session at the right hand of God the Father. Instead He offered
Himself as a substitute and became the Mediator of a New Covenant, which was
based upon His spiritual death on the cross. He intercedes for the believer in prayer
and when Satan accuses the believer of sin (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). The
intercessory ministry of Christ is a part of His Priesthood (Heb. 2:17; 8:1). He is
our faithful High Priest (Heb. 2:17). Our Lord’s High Priesthood is permanent
(Heb. 7:24). He performs His intercessory ministry for the believer in the Holy of
Holies in heaven (Heb. 8:2). Our Lord’s high priesthood is after the order of
Melchizedek (Heb. 5:9-10; 6:20). He entered into the veil in heaven as High Priest
(Heb. 6:20). His ministry is superior to the Levitical high priests on earth during
the dispensation of Israel since He did not have to offer sacrifices for Himself since
He was impeccable (Heb. 7:26). In fact, He offered Himself up as a substitute for
the entire human race as our High Priest (Heb. 7:28). As our High Priest He is a
mediator of a superior covenant for the 1st covenant with Israel under the Law has
been abolished and He has replaced it with a new and superior one.
The Levitical conducted their ministry under the Law whereas our Lord’s High
Priesthood is conducted under the policy of grace, which is superior to the Law in
every respect. Our Lord as High Priest fulfilled the Mosaic Law in every detail
during His incarnation. Our Lord put away sin with His substitutionary spiritual
death on the cross thus laying the foundation for the dispensation of grace called
the Church Age (Heb. 9:26). The Church is a kingdom of priests (1 Pet. 2:6, 9) of
which Christ is the High Priest.
The responsibility of the king is to rule over all of creation or the entire cosmos.
Christ’s kingship arises out of His sovereignty over the entire creation by virtue of
His creative and providential activities. The preincarnate Christ ruled as king of the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 87
cosmos in eternity past and during the OT dispensations. He was rejected as King
in His incarnate state but He now rules invisibly in His glorified incarnate state and
will visibly rule in this glorified incarnate state in the future during the
Millennium.
After the successive attempts to establish a visible and earthly monarchy, its
settlement in the family of David was associated with Divine premonitions of
continued and gracious royalty (2 Sam 7:18-29; 23:1-7; Pss 2,45,72,110). The
failure of the earthly monarchy and the fatal experiences of the kingdom turned the
thought of the devout, especially guided by prophetic testimony, to a coming king
who should restore the glory of the Davidic house and the people of Israel. Here
and there the conception appears of the more extended reign of the Coming One,
and the royal authority finds a growing place in the prophetic Scriptures (Isa 2:1-4;
9:6-7; 11:1-10; 42:1-4; 52:13-15; 53:12; 60; Jer 23:5-6; 30:18-24; Dan 2:44; 7:9-
14,27; Micah 5:1-4; Zech 3).
The postexilic conception of the king became one of the supreme and most
active ideas in the Jewish mind. The reign of the Messiah was to be earthly, and all
nations were to be subject to the Jew. The Jews of Palestine seem to have retained
the more patriotic and the more material form of the idea (see 1 Macc 14:41),
while the Egyptian and dispersed Jews began to regard the more spiritual character
of the coming Messiah.
In the New Testament we have references to the strong expectation of the
restored royalty and kingdom (Jn 1:49; 6:15; 12:12-15; Acts 1:6). Christ’s kingship
was speedily recognized by those who saw His works of power, and acknowledged
His authority and He Himself clearly claimed this authority (Mt 22:43-45; Jn
18:36-37). It was thus He described the new order which He had come to establish,
of which He was to be the Lord and Administrator; not an earthly dominion after
the fashion of this world’s kingdoms; it was to be the rule of mind and of spirit. It
was to be centered in Christ Himself. The kingship of our Lord will be literally and
visibly and ultimately manifested during His millennial reign (Zech. 14:9; Mt. 25;
Rv. 19). There will be a perfect world government under the rule of Christ (Isa.
11:1-2; Zech. 14:9). The Millennium begins with the 2nd Advent of Christ and
ends with the destruction of planet earth (Isa. 11:35, 62, 65; Psalm 72; Zech. 14:4-
9; Rev. 20).
The responsibility of the Messiah entails each of these 3 offices of prophet,
priest and king since the OT term Messiah is equivalent to the NT term Christ.
That the developments of Jewish thought centered round what may conveniently
be called the idea of the Messiah is plain to any student of the Old Testament and
other Jewish writings. They sprang from the ethical and theological ideas of this
people, interpreted by and expressed in their political and religious forms, and
continually nurtured by their experiences in the varied course of their national life.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 88
The essence of Messianic belief was a personal deliverer. Jewish history had
always been marked by the appearance and the exploits of a great man. The
capacity of the production of exceptional and creative individuals has been the
characteristic of the race in all its ages. A judge, a lawgiver, a teacher, a seer, and
a king– each had helped, or even saved the people in some critical period. Each
had added to the knowledge of God, whether received or rejected by the people.
The issues of such service had remained, enshrined in a growing liturgy, or made
permanent in a finally centralized and unified ritual, recorded in chronicle and
lyric. The hope of Israel at one time did not take the completely personal form;
indeed, it is probably easy to exaggerate the Messianic element, as we look back
from the perfect realization of it, in the Christian revelation and history. Much that
has been called Messianic has been the result of reading into the Old Testament
what has been derived from Christian thought and experience. Zephaniah has been
described as a picture of Israel’s restoration and triumph. Yet apparently it has no
reference to the personal element. Still the “Messiah” begins to appear in the
prophetic writings (see above), especially in the royal elements of His office.
It is at this point that the meaning of the term is to be considered. “Yahweh’s
anointed” is found as applied to a king, and is familiar in this use in the Old
Testament. But anointing belonged to the priesthood and to the prophetic order, if
not actually, at least metaphorically, as setting apart (see (1 Kin 19:16; Ps 105:15;
Isa 61:1)). And the word Messiah (Christ) the Anointed, came to be used for that
conception of a person, perhaps first employed definitely (Dan 9:24-26), who
should be the Deliverer of the Jews and even still more widely, a Redeemer. In the
age immediately preceding the Christian, the idea had taken possession not only of
the Jews, but also of the Samaritans (Jn 4:25); and was not altogether unknown in
gentile thought; e.g. Sib Or, iii. 97; Virgil Ecl. iv. It involves certainly the
prophetic and royal offices and, in the idea of a Suffering Servant, was closely
allied to the objects of the sacrificial order. The claim of Jesus to be the Christ, and
the recognition of this claim by His followers and apostles, gave a new meaning to
the teaching of the Old Testament, and the writings lying outside the canon, but
which were familiar to the people. Especially was the suffering and death of the
Lord and its relation to sin the occasion of a new Understanding of the Mosaic and
later-developed sacrificial system.
Jesus as the Offerer of Himself perfected the function of the priest, as He
became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He thus
completed the threefold ministry of the Messiah as the Prophet who reveals, the
Priest who offers and intercedes, and the King who rules. In Him the offices are
commingled. He rules by His sacrifice and His teaching; He reveals by His
Kingship and His offering. The offices spring from both His person and His work,
and are united in the final issue of the salvation of the world.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 89
Cross of Christ
The crucifixion of the impeccable humanity of Christ is an historical fact. It
took place in Jerusalem in the Jewish month of Nisan (April) 30 A.D. He suffered
through 7 trials with the last 1 being before the Supreme Court of Heaven as He
received the imputation of the sins of the entire world by the justice of God the
Father. The 1st 6 trials preceding His crucifixion were before: (1) Annias (2)
Caiaphas (twice) (3) Herod (4) Pilate (twice). The Lord Jesus Christ died 2 deaths
on the cross: (1) Spiritual (2) Physical.
Our Lord first died spiritually during the last 3 hours on the cross and then He
died physically after He had accomplished His Finished Work (John 19:30). He
died physically of His own volition and not through asphyxiation or exhaustion.
Our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death on the cross accomplished 3 things: (1)
Defeated Satan in the angelic conflict by disproving Satan’s claims that God lacks
integrity and does not love His creatures. (2) Provided salvation for all mankind as
well as angels. (3) Fulfilled righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law.
The Cross of Christ is the central point in all of angelic and human history since
it resolves the angelic conflict, which is the reason why mankind was created. The
greatest suffering the humanity of Christ endured on the cross was not the physical
and mental torture of the cross but rather when He received the imputation of the
sins of the entire world by the justice of God the Father and was separated from the
Father during the last 3 hours on the cross.
It seems that the Persians invented or first used this mode of execution. The
historian Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) writes that the Persian king Astyages ordered
Magian interpreters to be “impaled” for giving him poor counsel (The History,
Book I 128). Also, King Arxes ordered Sataspes “impaled” for not following his
orders (The History, Book IV 43). The Persians probably invented it in order not
to defile the earth, which was consecrated to Ormuzd, by the body of the person
executed. Later the cross is used by Alexander the Great, the Diadochoi princes
and especially the Carthaginians. The Romans acquired crucifixion from the
Carthaginians. They seldom executed Roman citizens by this method of
punishment. Usually only slaves and the most serious criminals such as traitors,
perjurers were crucified. In Greece this punishment was restricted to slaves and
was never considered for free Greeks. Only barbarians crucified free men (Hdt. I,
128; IV, 43).
In Rome it was already a mode of executing slaves even in the days of the
republic. In the imperial period it was regarded as servile supplicium but was also
used on aliens who were not Romans citizens. It could not be imposed on citizens
(Cicero Verr. II, 5, 62, 162-165). But autocratic governors ignored this. In the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 90
Roman provinces the penalty of crucifixion was one of the strongest means of
maintaining order and security. Governors imposed this servile punishment
especially on freedom fighters that tried to break away from Roman rule. Josephus
mentions innumerable crucifixions-mass executions of rebels-in Judea. The
Maccabean king Alexander I, when he had captured the rebellious city of
Bethome, had the prisoners brought to Jerusalem and he crucified 800 men (Jews)
(Josephus Antiquities 13, 380).
Punishment by crucifixion was seen as a disciplinary measure for the
maintenance of existing authority, intended more as a deterrent than as a means of
retribution. This explains why the instrument of execution was set up in a public
place. Contemporary writers condemned this form of execution as excessively
cruel and disgraceful (Cicero, In Verrum, 64, 165 and often; Tacitus, Historia, 4, 3,
11; Josephus, War, 7, 203). The Jewish Historian Josephus (37-100 A.D.)
described crucifixion as a “most miserable death” (Wars Book 7, 203). Tacitus the
historian described it as “the most pitiful of all means of death”. The one to be
crucified experienced the ridicule and mockery of his executioners; onlookers
participated in this too, as did the judges (Matt. 27:27-31, 39-44; Mark 15:16-20;
29-32; Luke 23:35-39). The site of execution, outside the town gate, was itself a
place of disgrace (Heb. 13:12-13) and because of this understanding; a crucified
Messiah caused many Jews to disbelieve (1 Cor. 1:23).
First, there was a legal conviction and only in extraordinary cases, such as in
times of war, did this occur at the place of execution itself. After sentencing, the
criminal was stripped and scourged, itself a punishment so painful and horribly
debilitating that some died from it. This took place either immediately after the
sentence was pronounced or en route to the execution site. In Jesus’ case the
scourging probably took place before He was sentenced, perhaps in the hope that
the crowds might have compassion on the exhausted bleeding Man from Galilee
ask Pilate to release Him (Luke 23:16; John 19:1). That His punishment was so
severe may explain why Jesus did not have to bear the cross the last steps to
Golgotha (Matt. 27:32).
If the execution took place at somewhere other than the place of sentencing, the
condemned man carried the patibulum to the spot, which was usually outside the
town. The expression “to bear the cross (stauros)” which is a typical description
of the punishment of slaves has its origin here. Ordinarily the criminal was forced
to carry the crossbeam all the way to the execution site. The upright stake was
usually left in place at the crucifixion site. Then on the ground he was bound with
outstretched arms to the beam by ropes, or else fixed to it by spikes. Jesus was
nailed to the crosspiece (John 20:25). The beam was then raised with the body and
fastened to the upright post. About the middle of the post was a wooden block,
which supported the suspended body. There was no foot-rest in ancient accounts.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 91
The height of the cross varied. It was either rather more than a man’s height or
even higher when the offender was to be held up for public display at a distance.
On the way to the execution a tablet was hung around the offender stating the
causa poenae, and this was affixed to the cross after execution so that all could see
(Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). The charge was displayed
above the criminal on a board or a tablet in black or red letters. In Jesus’ case the
charge was written in 3 languages: (1) The language of Judea: Hebrew (2) The
language of the occupying force from Rome: Latin (3) The common language of
the day: Greek.
To die upon a cross meant excruciating pain. Death came slowly after
extraordinary agony, probably through exhaustion or suffocation. The terrible open
wounds from scourging and spikes in the hands and feet, the agonizing thirst and
hunger, the hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the head and heart, the scorching
heat of the sun by day or the cold of the nights gradually robbed the victim of all
strength. He became insane from the pain. Medical studies show that death itself
was caused by asphyxiation. Ordinarily the crucified person lived for some time,
frequently lasting more than 24 hours and sometimes as long as 48 hours. Some
records exist of crucifixions lasting from 3 to 6 days.
At times the legs of the victim were broken to put an end to the suffering of the
victim (John 19:32). Thus Pilate was surprised when he was told that Jesus died
within 6 hours (Mark 15:44f). The condemned person was exposed to mockery.
Sometimes he was stripped and his clothes were divided among the executioners,
thought this was not the common rule. Crucifixion took place publicly on streets or
elevated places. Usually the body was left to rot on the cross to provide food for
predatory animals and carrion crows. There is evidence that the body was
occasionally given to relatives or acquaintances. The physical and mental
sufferings, which this slow death on the cross involved, are unimaginable.
Crucifixion as a capital penalty was ended only by Constantine the Great.
In June 1968 an ossuary was discovered on Ammunition Hill, north of
Jerusalem, containing the bones of a young man who had plainly been crucified,
about the beginning of the 1st century A.D. One nail had been driven through each
of his forearms, and a third, which was still in situ, through both his ankles
together. His legs were broken like those of the 2 criminals on either side of Jesus
(John 19:32).
The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ is a historical fact and attested to by
secular historians. Tacitus writes, “Christus, from whom the name (Christians) had
its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of
one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus
checked for the moment broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but
even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 92
find their centre and become popular” (Annals XV, 44). Josephus writes, “Now,
there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he
was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such men as receive the truth with
pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.
He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst
us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not
forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine
prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning
him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day”
(Antiquities Book 18, chapter 3).
The apostle Paul declares to King Agrippa that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus
Christ “had not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). On the day of Pentecost,
the apostle Peter declares to the Jews the well-known fact that in Jerusalem the
Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and then rose from the dead (Acts 2:22-25). Christ
crucified is said to be a “stumbling block” to Jews and “foolishness” to the
Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:22-25). The Mosaic Law pronounced a curse on anyone who
was hung on a tree (Deut. 21:22-23). The cross is called the “power of God” and
“foolishness” to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). We are reconciled to God
and now have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ death on the cross
(Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-22). The cross dealt with man’s sins, which have all been
forgiven and have been “nailed to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14).
The Cross is the central point of all human and angelic history for the Lord
Jesus Christ won a great strategic victory over Satan and the kingdom of darkness
(John 12:31-33; Col. 2:15). The Cross defeated Satan who had the power of death
over the human race (Heb. 2:14-15).
The procession arrived at Golgotha (Matt. 27:33). The Lord Jesus Christ was
offered a stupefying drink of vinegar and gall, which He refused (Matt. 27:34).
Jesus was crucified between 2 thieves (Luke 23:32-33), followed by the 1st cry on
the Cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke
23:34). The soldiers gambled for His clothes, as was the Roman custom (Matt.
27:35-36). The Jews began to mock Him (Matt. 27:39-43). The thieves began
mocking Him, but one of them believed (Luke 23:39-43). The 2nd cry on the
Cross, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Lord made
sure His family was taken care of, this was His 3rd cry, “Woman, behold your
son” (John 19:26-27). Noontime, darkness covered the earth (Matt. 27:45). This
was followed by the 4th cry, “Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani” (Matt. 27:46). The 5th
cry, “I thirst.” Christ thirsted so that we might never thirst. (John 19:28). The 6th
cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The 7th cry, “Father, into your hands I
commit my human spirit” (Luke 23:46). After this our Lord dismissed His human
spirit (Matt. 27:50).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 93
There are 2 word groups which speak of death in the NT: (1) Thanatos (2)
Nekros. Both words are used in the NT for spiritual and physical death. They are
synonyms. The difference in usage between the 2 words is that thanatos is always
used by the NT writers in reference to our Lord’s voluntary substitutionary
spiritual death on the cross. Nekros and its word group is never used in relation to
the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ on the cross.
The words pneumatic and somatic come from 2 Greek nouns: (1) Pneuma,
“spirit.” (2) Soma, “body.” Pneumatic death refers to spiritual death. Somatic
death refers to physical death or the death of the human body. Pneumatic or
spiritual death precedes somatic or physical death. The humanity of Christ died
twice, spiritually and physically, so that we might be born twice, physical birth and
spiritual birth. Our Lord died 2 unique deaths occurred on the Cross: (1) Spiritual
or Pneumatic (2) Physical or Somatic.
Our Lord in His perfect humanity first died spiritually or pneumatically (Matt.
27:44-45), and then He died physically or somatically (John 19:30). It was our
Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death in the last 3 hours on the Cross-, which was
the payment for our sins (Matt. 27:45-46; Mark 15:34). Our Lord was still alive
when He said “It is finished” (tetalestai, “it (the work of salvation) is finished
in the past with results that go on forever”) (John 19:30).
His physical death was not the payment for our sins but rather His spiritual
death when in His perfect humanity He was separated from His Father in the last 3
hours on the Cross when He was receiving the imputation of the sins of the whole
world-past, present and future, and was being judged for them.
The humanity of Christ accomplished the following through His substitutionary
spiritual death on the Cross: (1) The Defeat of Satan (John 12:31; 16:8-11; Col.
2:15; Heb. 2:14). (2) God the Father’s Salvation Plan for all mankind (Rom. 5:18-
19; 6:10a, 8:3; Heb. 2:14-18; 2 Cor. 5:14-15, 18-19; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet.
2:24; 3:18; John 3:17; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 2 Pet. 3:9). (3) Fulfillment of the Mosaic Law
(Mt. 5:17-18; Rm. 10:4).
The humanity of Christ’s spiritual death provided mankind with redemption
which that He purchased the entire human race out from the slave market of sin in
which every human being is born as a result of the imputation of Adam’s sin (1
Tim. 2:6; Mark 10:45; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9). The humanity
of Christ’s spiritual death propitiated or satisfied the perfect justice of God (Rom.
3:22-26; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). The humanity of Christ’s spiritual death
reconciled the entire human race to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-
22; 1 Pet. 3:18). The humanity of Christ was judged by the justice of God for every
personal sin committed by the human race-past, present and future.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 94
Salvation was completed while our Lord was still living (John 19:30). Our Lord
in His perfect, sinless humanity died twice on the cross so that we could be born
twice (John 3:1-7). He died spiritually so that we could be born again spiritually.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not die from suffocation or exhaustion. The Lord
Jesus Christ died triumphantly, in control of His senses and of His own volition.
Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded
up His spirit.”
“Cried out” is kraxas, which is an aorist active participle from krazo, “to cry
out aloud, scream, shreik.” Kraxas is a constative aorist which takes the action of
the verb in its entirety and takes us from its beginning to its conclusion. Kraxas
describes the actual sound of the Lord Jesus Christ’s dying. The Lord Jesus Christ
screamed or shouted with a loud voice.
“Yielded up” is apheken which is an aorist active indicative from aphiemi, “to
dismiss, to release, to let go.” Apheken is a culminative aorist, which views an
event from its existing results, the Lord Jesus Christ’s physical death.
Mark 15:37, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.”
“Uttered” is apheis, which is also a constative aorist and describes the breath
control of the Lord Jesus Christ at His physical death. The constative describes the
last breath of our Lord. The constative aorist describes states that the Lord Jesus
Christ died of His own volition.
John 10:18a, “No one has taken it (His life) away from Me, but I lay it
down on My own initiative.”
The Lord Jesus Christ did not bleed to death, die of a broken heart, or die from
exhaustion. If He had bleed to death, He would have fainted. The Lord Jesus Christ
was in total control of His faculties and was totally and completely alert throughout
all His suffering on the cross.
Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into
Thy hands I commit My spirit.’ And having said this, He breathed His last.”
“Crying” is phonesas is constative aorist active participle and is from phoneo,
“to speak clearly, to enunciate.” Phonesas emphasizes the content of The Lord
Jesus Christ’s last words on the cross. Ekpneo is used by both Mark and Luke to
indicate that at the close of the Lord’s words, He did not breath again. Matthew
uses aphiemi to state that the sound of His words were discontinued at the point of
His last exhale. The Lord Jesus Christ of His own volition and in total control of
His faculties dismissed His spirit by clearly enunciated the words, “Father into
Thy hands I commit (“deposit”) My Spirit,” and then did not breath again.
The perfect sinless humanity of Christ was born trichotomous: (1) Body (2)
Soul (3) Spirit. Therefore, our Lord’s somatic or physical death was unique
because it was a trichotomous separation: (1) His physical body went to the grave
(Luke 23:50-53). (2) His human spirit went to heaven (Luke 23:46; John 19:30).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 95
(3) His human soul went into Paradise a compartment of Hades (Luke 23:43; Acts
2:27; 2:31; Eph. 4:9).
The Lord was brought back from the dead by 3 Categories of divine
omnipotence: (1) Omnipotence of God the Father sent back our Lord’s human
spirit to the body in the grave (Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess.
1:10; 1 Pet. 1:21). (2) Omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit sent back our Lord’s
human soul to the body in the grave (Rom. 1:4; 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18). (3)
Omnipotence of God the Son raised His physical body from the grave (John 6:39-
40, 54 10:17-18).
We are all reproductions of Adam after the Fall. We share his original sin
nature by real imputation. We share his sin nature because it is passed down to us
genetically, and as a result of this, we share his spiritual death. Adam’s sin becomes
our sin. Adam’s sin nature becomes our sin nature. Adam’s condemnation becomes
our condemnation. The Lord Jesus Christ was born a type of Adam before the Fall
(Rom. 5:14). Adam was created perfect. The Lord Jesus Christ was born perfect.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not have a sin nature. The Lord Jesus Christ did not have
a human father; therefore, he had no sin nature. Adam did not have a human father
and neither did the Lord Jesus Christ.
Adam’s original sin could not be imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ because He
had no sin nature. There was no target or home for a real imputation with the Lord
Jesus Christ. Christ was not “in Adam” because He had no human father and
consequently, no sin nature. The Incarnation made this possible. The Virgin
pregnancy was the reason why the Lord Jesus Christ had no sin nature. Jesus Christ
was born both physically and spiritually alive. He is called the “uniquely born” Son
(John 3:16). Christ was the only free Man ever to enter Satan’s world (John 834-
36). Christ was free from: (1) The devil’s rulership. (2) The sovereignty of the old
sin nature. (30 The imputation of Adam’s sin. (4) The condemnation of spiritual
death. (5) There was no principle of sin in Him.
Jesus Christ had to be acceptable to the righteousness of God in order for the
justice of God to judge our sins in Him as our Substitute. He could not be our
Substitute unless He was perfect and He is. He was perfect at birth and He was
perfect when He went to the Cross. This means the Lord Jesus Christ could not
commit any personal sins during His life on earth; otherwise, He would be
disqualified to be our Substitute. Christ in His humanity could be tempted and
could have sinned. Christ in His deity could not be tempted and could not sin. The
Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union was temptable but impeccable. The
Hypostatic Union is the union of 2 natures, deity and true humanity in the Person
of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was able not to sin in His humanity (posse
non peccare). The Lord Jesus Christ was not able to sin in His deity (non posse
peccare). The Father’s plan for the Incarnation was the Cross. The Lord Jesus
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 96
Christ in His humanity could have used negative volition to that plan and would
have sinned.
Adam when he was without sin and perfect committed an act of negative
volition when he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore,
like perfect Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ could have sinned by committing an act
of negative volition to the plan of God. The Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity was
tempted not to go the cross repeatedly by Satan (Matt. 4:1-11; 16:22-23; Luke
22:39-46; Heb. 4:15). First Adam and Last Adam (Christ) Comparisons (1 Cor.
15:22, 45): (1) First Adam: Unique as perfectly created man. (2) Sinned (3)
Physical birth (4) We are condemned in Adam. (5) Condemnation, Justice of God:
condemns man. Last Adam: (1) Unique as the God-Man. (2) Impeccable (3) New
Birth and spiritual life. (4) We are born again in Christ. (5) Salvation (6) Justice of
God: free to bless man. (Read Romans 5:14-21)
The imputation of personal sins to Jesus Christ is a judicial imputation. A
judicial imputation emphasizes the function of divine justice. A judicial imputation
has no target or home but emphasizes the source, the justice of God.
Jesus Christ is God’s gift of grace to mankind. Our Lord was acceptable to the
integrity of God because He was impeccable. Adam’s original sin was not imputed
to Him at birth because He had no sin nature. Our personal sins had absolutely no
place in Him on the Cross; thus, the justice of God imputed our sins to Him. This
was a judicial imputation. A judicial imputation is “attributing or crediting to a
person something which does not belong to him.” When the sins of mankind were
charged to the impeccable humanity of Christ, the justice of God took action. God
judged the Lord Jesus Christ. Cursing must precede blessing. God’s judgment of
our sins in Christ including Adam’s first sin wiped our slate clean. God forsook
Christ for our sakes. Now, all we need to do is accept God’s action on our behalf.
The Cross was an act of love (Rm. 5:6-8) and an act of justice (Rm. 3:22-26; 5:12-
19). God’s love is His perfect integrity and virtue. God’s love is characterized by
righteousness and justice. Justice imputed our sins to Christ, and justice judged
them. Now, all we need to make a non-meritorious decision to believe in Jesus
Christ.
Salvation is provided for us by 2 imputations, which are both judicial. One is
for cursing and one is for blessing: The 1st judicial imputation is for cursing: Our
personal sins were imputed to the impeccable humanity of Christ and were judged.
The 2nd judicial imputation is for blessing: At the moment of personal faith in
Christ, God imputes to us His own divine righteousness. These 2 judicial
imputations add up to form the greater salvation. The greater salvation is a
reference to the a fortiori principle used by Paul in Romans 5:15, which says, that
if God could accomplish the greater, i.e., our salvation, then He certainly can do
the lesser and bless us in time. Therefore, the imputation of our personal sins to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 97
Christ on the Cross results in the blessing of imputed divine righteousness when
we make a nonmeritorious decision to believe in Jesus Christ. Cursing always
precedes blessing.
There is a barrier, which separates man from God. The Finished Work of Christ
on the cross removes this barrier (Eph. 2:14-16). The barrier was removed by the
substitutionary spiritual death of Christ on the cross. It was not removed by His
physical death. The Barrier consists of the following: (1) Mankind commits acts of
sin (Isa. 64:6b; Rom. 3:23). (2) The penalty of sin is spiritual death (Rom. 5:12;
6:23a). (3) All are born spiritually dead at physical birth (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12;
Eph. 2:1). (4) Man’s relative righteousness cannot compare to God’s perfect
righteousness (Isa. 64:6a; Rom. 9:30-33). (5) The character of God demands that
our personal sins be judged (Isa. 46:9b; 64:6b; Rom. 8:8). (6) Man’s position in
Adam as a result of the imputation of his sin (1 Cor. 15:22a).
The Work of Christ on the cross which removes the Barrier is as follows: (1)
Redemption resolves man’s problem with sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:7; Titus 2:14;
1 Tim. 2:6a). (2) The Unlimited Atonement also resolves man’s sin problem (1
John 2:2). (3) Expiation resolves man’s problem with the penalty of sin, which is
spiritual death (Col. 2:14). (4) Regeneration resolves man’s problem with being
born spiritually dead (John 3:1-18). (5) Imputation resulting in justification
resolves the problem of man’s relative righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21;
Rom. 4:1-5; Gal. 2:16). (6) Propitiation resolves man’s problem with the perfect
character of God (Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2). (7) Our position in Christ resolves
man’s position in Adam (1 Cor. 5:22b; 2 Cor. 5:17).
The believer’s sanctification is directly tied to the Cross of Christ. The
believer’s sanctification cannot be accomplished independently from Christ’s
Cross, i.e. His finished work. Sanctification is a technical theological term, which
means to be set apart exclusively for God’s will, purpose and plan and is
accomplished in 3 phases: positionally (Rom. 6:3, 8; 1 Thess. 5:23), experientially
(John 17:17), and ultimately (1 Cor. 15:53-54; Gal. 6:8; 1 Pet. 5:10).
There are 3 categories of sanctification: (1) Positional: The entrance into the
Plan of God for the Church Age resulting in eternal security as well as 2 categories
of positional truth (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 5:26-27; Heb.
2:11; 10:10; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 6:3, 8; 2 Thess. 2:13). (a) Retroactive: The
Church Age believer’s identification with Christ in His death (Rom. 6:3-11; Col.
2:12). (b) Current: The Church Age believer’s identification with Christ in His
resurrection, ascension and session (Col. 3:1-4). (2) Experiential: The function of
the Church Age believer’s spiritual life in time through the utilization of the 2
Great Divine Provisions of the Spirit of God and the Word of God (John 17:17;
Rom. 6:19, 22; 2 Tim. 2:21; 1 Pet. 3:15; 1 Thess. 4:3-4, 7; 1 Tim. 2:15). (3)
Ultimate: The perfection of the Church Age believer’s spiritual life at the exit
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 98
resurrection or Rapture of the Church which is the completion of the Plan of God
for the Church Age (1 Cor. 15:53-54; Gal. 6:8; 1 Pet. 5:10; John 6:40).
Positional sanctification of the Church Age believer in relation to the angelic
conflict is critical to understand since it elevates him to a rank that is positionally
higher than the angels. Positional sanctification is defined as the Church Age
believers eternal union with Christ through the Baptism of the Spirit, which occurs
at the moment of salvation. We are identified with Christ in His death and
Resurrection (Rom. 6:5). The purpose of positional sanctification is for the Church
Age believer to execute the Plan of God for the Church Age (Rom. 6:11-13, 19).
Documentation: 1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 5:26-27; Heb. 2:11;
10:10; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 6:3, 8; 2 Thess. 2:13. Results of positional
sanctification: (1) Believer is placed under grace (Rom. 6:14). (2) Believer is
released from the bondage to the old sin nature (Rom. 6:6-7). (3) Receives a new
nature at the moment of salvation (2 Cor. 5:17-19). (4) Slaves to God (Rom. 6:22)
(5) We are the adopted children of God (Rom. 8:15-16). (6) Heirs of God and
Joint-Heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). (7) Eternal Security (Rom. 8:35-39). (8)
Members of the Royal Family of God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). (9) New Spiritual Species (2
Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:22-24). (10) Resurrection Body (Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor.
15:54-55). (11) Eternal Life (Rom. 6:22-23; John 11:25-26).
The Church Age believer is identified with Christ in His death positionally
through the Baptism of the Spirit at the moment of salvation (Rom. 6:3-11; Col.
2:12). Positional sanctification is God’s perspective of the believer. Experiential
sanctification is the believer walking in agreement with God’s viewpoint of
himself, namely that the believer died with Christ and was raised with Christ.
When Christ died on the Cross for our sins, we died. We have died with Christ
in order that we can be raised with Him in resurrection. The believer has been
identified with Christ in His death on the Cross; therefore, we are identified with
Him in resurrection. We can never die spiritually again because we have been
identified with Christ in His spiritual death on the Cross, which paid for our sins
once and for all (Rom. 6:10-11). Retroactive positional truth looks back to the
Cross (Rom. 6:3-6). It looks back 2000 years ago when our Lord suffered spiritual
death on the Cross as the payment for our sins. Retroactive positional truth looks
back 2000 years ago when our Lord satisfied the justice of God with His spiritual
death. It looks back 2000 years ago when our Lord purchased the entire human
race out from the slave market of sin. It looks back 2000 years ago when our Lord
made peace between God and man with His spiritual death on the Cross. The
believer has been crucified with Christ on the Cross (Rom. 6:6). We have been
buried with Him in Baptism (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). We have positionally rejected
all human good and evil for it has been crucified. The Church Age believer’s
identification with Christ in His resurrection, ascension and session (Col. 3:1-4).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 99
The believer is identified with Christ as He is currently seated in heaven. The
believer is now positionally higher than angels (Heb. 1 and 2). Our identification
with Christ makes us greater than the angels now in heaven. Satan and the
kingdom of darkness hates the Church because of this.
Experiential sanctification is the believer’s experience after salvation. It is the
application of Christ’s Cross by the believer. Its purpose is for the believer to attain
Christ-like character in time after salvation.
Philippians 3:8, “Furthermore in fact, yes without a doubt, I continue to
regard each today as a liability because of the incomparableness of the
knowledge pertaining to Christ Jesus, my Lord because of Whom, I have
renounced all of them, even regarding all of them today as piles of excrement
in order that I myself might attain Christ-like character.”
Christ-like character is attained or experiential sanctification is accomplished
through the application of the Word of God, which utilizes the Spirit of God. The
means by which Christ-like character is attained is stated in Philippians 3:3,
“Because we are the circumcision, those who are serving the Father by means
of the Spirit of God, who are priding themselves in Christ Jesus, who have no
confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3 refers to the 2 Great Divine Provisions of
the church age believer’s spiritual life: (1) Filling of the Spirit: “by means of the
Spirit of God” (2) Application of doctrine: “who are priding themselves in
Christ Jesus.”
The filling of the Spirit is unique to the church age. It is the mental state of the
believer who does not have any unacknowledged sins in the stream of
consciousness and is applying the Word to his thought process. It is not an
emotion. It is one of the seven salvation ministries of the Holy Spirit. At the
moment of salvation every believer is filled with the Spirit, but he loses it through
committing personal sin. It is recovered by acknowledging any known sin to the
Father in the name or, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 1:9). Every
believer in the church age is commanded to permit the Holy Spirit to control and
influence his soul (Eph. 5:18). The filling of the Spirit takes place in the soul of the
believer when he allows God the Holy Spirit to control and influence his soul. It is
a dynamic whereas the indwelling of the Spirit is static meaning it never changes,
it is eternal. The filling of the Spirit is the operational power of God the Holy
Spirit, which empowers the believer to execute the will of God the Father. The
filling of the Spirit enables the believer to be conformed to the image of the Lord
Jesus Christ meaning to become like Him experientially in His death and
resurrection. It enables the believer to become like Jesus Christ in thought, word
and action or in other words, it gives the believer the ability to acquire the
character of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 100
It is necessary for the believer to allow himself to be controlled by the Spirit in
order that he may walk by the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit is actively choosing to
conduct oneself by means of the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit and walking by the
Spirit are 2 sides of the same coin. You cannot walk by the Spirit unless you are
filled with the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit is directly related to the believer’s
mental attitude whereas walking by the Spirit directly related to how the believer
conducts himself.
The filling of the Spirit is directly related to being a doer of the Word of God.
The believer who is applying the Word of God is influenced by means of the
Spirit. The Spirit takes the doctrines of Christ, i.e., the Word of God and makes
them understandable to the believer. The Spirit does not act independently of the
mind of Christ, i.e., the Word of God (Jn. 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-16). Therefore, the
believer who is controlled or influenced by means of the Spirit is a doer of the
Word. The Spirit of God and the Word of God work in concert with one another on
behalf of the believer who has no acknowledged sin in his stream of consciousness
and is applying the Word of God to his thought process.
The filling of the Spirit is the only means of the spirituality in the church age.
Spirituality is the filling of the Spirit. It is an absolute meaning that you are either
filled with the Spirit or the believer is living in carnality or in other words, the old
sin nature. The filling of the Spirit is the only means of having fellowship with
God (Jn. 4:23-24). It is the only means by which the Holy Spirit produces Christlike
character in the believer. The filling of the Spirit is the only means by which
the believer can execute the plan of God. The filling of the Spirit is a power option
meaning that the believer has to choose whether or not to allow God the Holy
Spirit to fully influence and control his soul.
The believer who desires to attain Christ-like character must reject the use of
the 3 arrogance skills of Satan and cosmic system. He must reject human dynamics
in favor of spiritual dynamics. He must also reject operating under the old sin
nature in favor of operating according to the new nature, i.e., the Christ-nature. The
believer who desires to attain Christ-like character must adjust to the integrity of
God. He must be cognizant that the Father has a plan designed for every church
age believer and then he must determine what the specific details of that plan are
for his life. The Father’s will is that every believer attain Christ-like character thus
He has provided in eternity past under the principles of election and predestination,
equal privilege and equal opportunity to do so. The believer who desires to attain
Christ-like character and thus execute the Father’s plan for the church age must
therefore must be possess a humble mental attitude and pick up his cross.
Therefore, the believer must determine what the will of God is specifically for their
life.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 101
In general, the believer is to execute the Father’s plan for the church age, but
the specific details of that plan are different for every believer because each
believer has their very own specific set of circumstances to deal with. Every
believer also has a unique relationship with the Lord because every believer is an
individual with their very own set of weaknesses and strengths to overcome. The
believer who desires to attain Christ-like character must determined for himself
what the specific details of the plan for his life through the mentorship of God the
Holy Spirit, the Word of God and by vigilance in prayer.
The will of God (as to what would exist, i.e., the divine decree) call for God’s
will (His attribute of sovereignty) to function toward us in certain ways (directly
stating what He desires of us or permissively allowing us to have our own way or
overruling our decisions-not letting them have their intended results-in order to
protect us and the rest of mankind from our own negative volition and to preserve
and perpetuate His own marvelous plan). All things depend on God’s will (the
decree), and nothing is certain apart from God’s will. God’s decrees originate from
His own omniscience and in eternity past the decrees separated fact from fiction.
Every believer must be totally dependent upon divine guidance in order to attain
Christ-like character. Academic principles of guidance: (1) Knowledge: doctrine in
the human spirit (Ps. 32:8; Prv. 3:1-6; Is. 58:11; Rm. 12:2). (2) Submissiveness:
Filling of the Spirit (Rm. 6:13; 12:1-2; Eph. 5:17-18; 1 Jn. 1:9). (3) Spiritual
Growth: Erection of a spiritual house in the believer’s soul (2 Pt. 3:18) and
advance to spiritual maturity (Jm. 4:6). The categories of the will of God: (1)
Viewpoint will of God: What does God want me to think? (2) Operational will of
God: What does God want me to do? (3) Geographical will of God: Where does
God want me to be? Mechanics of determining the will of God: (1) Prayer (Acts
11:5). (2) Mentality of the soul (Acts 11:6). (3) Word of God (Acts 11:7-10) (4)
Providential circumstances (Acts 11:11). (5) Filling of the Spirit (Acts 11:12) (6)
Fellowship and comparison data (Acts 11:13-15) (7) Remembering Scripture (Acts
11:16).
The believer who desires to attain Christ-like character in his life must
consistently remain in fellowship with the Lord on a daily basis. He must
cognizant on a daily basis that the Lord Jesus Christ from His hypostatic union
controls human history and thus his circumstances. The believer who desires to
attain Christ-like character must be diligent in his study of the Scriptures (Col. 3:1-
2; 2 Ti. 2:15-16). He must consistently operate according to virtue-love (Deut. 6:5;
Mt. 22:34-37; Mk. 12:28-30; Rm. 8:28; Jo. 13:33-34; 15:12; 1 Jo. 3:23):
Unconditional personal love for God the Father; Impersonal unconditional selfsacrificial
love for all mankind, especially of believers.
He must be occupied with Christ rather than self and he must be unselfish rather
than selfish. The believer who desires to attain-Christ like character in his life must
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 102
develop His relationship with the Lord through consistent and persistent learning
and applying the Word of God (the mind of Christ) in conjunction with the
mentorship and enabling power of God the Holy Spirit. The attainment of Christlike
character demands that the believer develop his relationship with the Lord
through prayer as well. The believer who desires to attain Christ-like character
must imitate the Lord in his thoughts, words and actions (Eph. 4:28-5:1). Galatians
5:22-23 lists the 9-fold production of the Spirit, which is in essence the
characteristics of Christ (Gal. 5:22-23).
The believer who desires to attain Christ-like character must comprehend who
and What God is and What He has provided through 3 categories of divine grace
provision. (1) Antecedent grace: God the Father in eternity past provided every
Church Age believer with a Portfolio of Invisible Assets and has given him Equal
Privilege and Equal Opportunity to execute the Plan of God or the spiritual life for
the Church Age under the principles of Election and Predestination. (2) Living
grace: Every Church Age believer has been given 2 power options, 3 spiritual
skills, and 5 spiritual mechanics as well as 3 categories of divine omnipotence
which enable the believer to execute the operational type spiritual life known as the
Plan of God for the Church Age. (a) The omnipotence of God the Father as related
to the Church Age believer’s Portfolio of Invisible Assets. (b) The omnipotence of
God the Son Who preserves and sustains human history in order for the Church
Age believer to execute the Plan of God or the spiritual life for the Church Age. (c)
The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit Who supplies the believer the operational
power to execute the unique spiritual life for the Church Age known as the Plan of
God. (3) Eschatological grace: Every Church Age believer will receive a
resurrection body at the Rapture or exit-resurrection of the Church and will receive
rewards and the conveyance of their Escrow Blessings at the Bema Seat Evaluation
if they became a winner (nikao) in time by reaching spiritual maturity and
becoming a witness for the Prosecution in the Rebuttal Phase of Satan’s Appeal
Trial.
The believer who desires to attain Christ-like character must be cognizant that
he is the recipient of 3 categories of divine love (Phlp. 2:12: agapetos): (1) God the
Father (2) God the Son (3) God the Holy Spirit. The virtue-love of God the Father
motivated Him to send God the Son to the cross and to perform His work in
eternity past on behalf of every church age believer: (1) Election (2) Predestination
(3) Escrow Blessings. The virtue-love of God the Son motivated Him to become a
human being and perform His work in time at the cross: (1) Redemption (2)
Propitiation (3) Reconciliation, The virtue-love of God the Holy Spirit motivated
Him to perform His work from regeneration to resurrection: (1) Efficacious grace
(2) Regeneration (3) Baptism of the Spirit (4) Indwelling of the Spirit (5) Filling of
the Spirit (6) Sealing of the Spirit (7) Spiritual gifts (8) Mentorship.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 103
The virtue-love of the Trinity was the motivation to provide 40 irrevocable
things for every Church Age believer at the moment of salvation. The believer who
attains Christ-like character will equate time with eternity, living with dying (Phlp.
1:20-21), He live his life in light of eternity and thus in light of his citizenship in
heaven (Phlp. 1:27-30; Phlp. 3:20).
Deaths of Christ
One of the misconceptions about the death of Christ is that it took place on a
Friday, which is most definitely not the case. What day in the week was our Lord
crucified? In order to answer this, we must determine the day in which He was
resurrected and then work back.
Matthew 28:1, Luke 24:1 and John 20:1 tell us that our Lord was
resurrected on Sunday, the 1st day of the week. By Sunday morning, the Lord
was out of the grave. He did not die on a Friday. Matthew 12:38-40 will help
us to determine the day of the week that our Lord died.
Matt 12:38-40, “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him,
“Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to
them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign
will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS
THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA
MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart
of the earth.”
We know that our Lord rose from the dead on the 1st day of the week Sunday.
We also know that our Lord said that He would be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart
of the earth in the grave.
Now, all we need to do is use simple arithmetic. However, in Scripture there are
2 timetables: (1) Jewish time: You start with the day and go back. (2) Gentile
time: You begin with the night and count back.
In Matthew 12:40, Jewish time is used. In 1 Corinthians 15:4, Gentile time is
used.
1 Cor 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also
received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He
was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the
Scriptures.”
“The sign of the prophet Jonah” mentioned in Matthew 12:40 is 3 days and 3
nights. We have to use Jewish time in Matthew 12:40. If we count back from
Sunday, it brings us back to Wednesday night. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Christ was
on the cross at midday on Wednesday, which is the time of darkness covered the
earth. Sometime around 3 in the afternoon, He dismissed His spirit. Jewish time is
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 104
reckoned from sundown to sundown. The Sabbath for the Jews starts at sundown
Friday. It ends Saturday at sundown. Jesus Christ could have risen any time early
Sunday morning. The women who arrived in early at dawn to anoint the body of
our Lord with spices and found the tomb empty (Mt. 28:1).
He could have risen any time after 12 midnight but remember, we are
speaking of Jewish time now and according to Jewish time, He could have
risen any time after sundown on Saturday.
For the Jews, Sunday actually started at sundown on Saturday. Jesus Christ died
in the afternoon and His body was put in the grave just before sundown, which
would mean that His time in the heart of the earth began Wednesday night. Then,
counting the next day, Thursday, the 1st of “Jonah’s 3 days and 3 nights” is
completed.
Thursday night the 2nd night, Friday, the second day, and Friday night and
Saturday complete the 3 days and 3 nights. Anytime after sundown Saturday He
could have come out of the grave and fulfilled the prophecy in Matthew 12:40.
Now, there were 2 Sabbaths in between the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Special Sabbath to begin the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:15-17; Lev.
23:7) and the regular Sabbath on Saturday. Therefore, on the day of the
crucifixion, Thursday, they had a special Sabbath (John 19:31), followed by the
regular weekly Sabbath on Saturday.
Therefore, the 2 Mary’s could not come to the tomb until Sunday morning
because no work could be down during these Sabbaths.
The word “Sabbath” in Matthew 28:1 is actually in the plural in the Greek and
therefore, should be rendered “Sabbaths.” The prophecy of our Lord in Matthew
12:40 says that He would be 3 days and 3 nights in the grave. But 1 Corinthians
15:3-4 says that He rose “on the 3rd day.” Did God make a mistake? No. Our
Lord rose on the 3rd day according to Gentile time.
Gentile time starts at midnight so Saturday night after sundown He rose, and
that is on the 3rd day if we reckon it according to Gentile time. Remember that
Gentiles begin their day at 12:01 in the morning and the Jews begin their day at
sundown, approximately 6 PM. Therefore, we can conclude that the day that our
Lord died on the Cross was on a Wednesday, therefore, the 14th of Nisan was on a
Wednesday and not on a Friday.
The crucifixion of the impeccable humanity of Christ is an historical fact. It
took place in Jerusalem on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan (April) 30
A.D. The crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ is a historical fact and attested to by
secular historians.
Tacitus writes, “Christus, from whom the name (Christians) had its origin,
suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our
procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition. Thus checked
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 105
for the moment broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in
Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find
their centre and become popular” (Annals XV, 44).
Josephus writes, “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be
lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such
men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the
Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those
that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again
the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other
wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him,
are not extinct at this day” (Antiquities Book 18, chapter 3).
The apostle Paul declares to King Agrippa that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus
Christ “had not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). On the day of Pentecost, the
apostle Peter declares to the Jews the well-known fact that in Jerusalem the Lord
Jesus Christ was crucified and then rose from the dead (Acts 2:22-25). Christ
crucified is said to be a “stumbling block” to Jews and “foolishness” to the
Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:22-25).
Matt 26:36-56, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,
and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He
took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved
and distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point
of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” And He went a little beyond
them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let
this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the
disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not
keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may
not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went
away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass
away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again He came and found them
sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away
and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
Luke 22:39-44, “And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the
Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the
place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And
He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began
to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not
My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him,
strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and
His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 106
Heb 5:7-9, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and
supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from
death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He
learned obedience from the things, which He suffered. And having been made
perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
Our Lord’s soul was not in great anguish because of approaching physical death
since our Lord stated in John 12:24, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of
wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears
much fruit.”
Rather our Lord’s soul was in great anguish because of His approaching
spiritual death or in other words, His separation from His Father for the last 3
hours on the Cross. The Lord valued His fellowship with His Father and did not
ever wanted to be separated from the Father.
In our Lord’s deity, He has never, nor will He ever be separated from the Father
but in His humanity, our Lord suffered the loss of fellowship with His Father.
The Father valued the fellowship with the impeccable humanity of Christ,
whom the Father called His “beloved Son.” It was this loss of fellowship that the
Father considered the full payment for our sins and propitiated the Father’s
righteous demands that our sins be judged.
Our Lord’s obedience to the Father’s will that He submit to a voluntary
substitutionary spiritual death as a Substitute for all mankind did not go
unrewarded for our Lord in His resurrected humanity sits at the right hand of the
Father as victor in the angelic conflict and Lord of history!
Philippians 2:5-6, “Everyone continue thinking this (according to humility)
within yourselves, which was also in (the mind of) Christ Jesus, Who although
existing from eternity past in the essence of God, He never regarded existing
equally in essence with God an exploitable asset.”
Philippians 2:7-8, “On the contrary, He denied Himself of the independent
function of His deity by having assumed the essence of a slave when He was
born in the likeness of men. In fact, although He was discovered in outward
appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by having entered into obedience
to the point of spiritual death even death on a Cross.”
Philippians 2:9, “For this very reason in fact God the Father has promoted
Him to the highest-ranking position and has awarded to Him the rank, which
is superior to every rank.”
Philippians 2:10, “In order that in the sphere of this rank possessed by
Jesus every person must bow, celestials and terrestrials and sub-terrestrials.”
Philippians 2:11, “Also, every person must publicly acknowledge that Jesus
Christ is Lord for the glory of God the Father.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 107
Matthew 26:45-49, “Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are
you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man
is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. “Get up, let us be going; behold,
the one who betrays Me is at hand!” While He was still speaking, behold,
Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords
and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he
who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the
one; seize Him.” Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!”
and kissed Him.”
Luke’s Gospel also records this incident, which was a fulfillment of prophecy.
Luke 22:47-48, “While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and
the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he
approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you
betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Ps 41:7-9, “All who hate me whisper together against me; Against me they
devise my hurt, saying, “A wicked thing is poured out upon him, that when
he lies down, he will not rise up again.” Even my close friend in whom I
trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
Matthew 26:50-56, “And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have
come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And
behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword,
and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to
him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword
shall perish by the sword. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My
Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of
angels? “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must
happen this way?” At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out
with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day
I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. “But all this has
taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left
Him and fled.”
The fact that our Lord was forsaken by all of His disciples was prophesied not
only in the Old Testament but also by our Lord Himself.
Zech 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man,
My Associate, declares the LORD of hosts. Strike the Shepherd that the sheep
may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.”
The apostle John gives his account of this event in the Garden of
Gethsemane.
John 18:2-6, “Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for
Jesus had often met there with His disciples. Judas then, having received the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 108
Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came
there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things
that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you
seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am
He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So
when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
“Fell” is the verb pipto, which means here, “to fall down before high ranking
persons or divine beings.” These soldiers including Judas fell down before the Son
of God because our Lord was exercising His divine omnipotence. Here we have a
brief unveiling of our Lord’s deity.
Rev 4:10-11, “the twenty-four elders will fall down (pipto) before Him who
sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will
cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and
our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things,
and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
John 18:7-9, “Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And
they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so
if you seek Me, let these go their way,” to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of
those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
6 trials of our Lord endured before His crucifixion: (1) Annas (Jn. 18:15-25) (2)
Caiaphas (Mt. 26:57-68) (3) Caiaphas (Lk. 22:66-71) (4) Pilate (Jn. 18:28-38) (5)
Herod (Lk. 23:8-12) (6) Pilate (Jn. 18:39-19:12).
Our Lord suffered through 7 trials with the last 1 being before the Supreme
Court of Heaven as He received the imputation of the sins of the entire world by
the justice of God the Father and was judged as our Substitute.
Let’s look at the 1st Trial of our Lord in John 18.
John 18:12-13, “So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers
of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he
was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.”
Annas served as high priest from A.D. 6 to 15 and through astute politics, had
succeeded in securing from the Romans the succession of this office to his 5 sons,
and now his son-in-law Caiaphas, who was the present occupant of the high
priesthood.
Annas owned the famous Bazaars of Annas, which ran a monopoly on the sale
of animals for the sacrifices and the stalls of the moneychangers. It was the vested
interests of this monopoly that Jesus had assailed in the 1st and 2nd cleansing of the
Temple. From the day of the 1st cleansing, our Lord was a hated enemy of Annas
and his gang.
John 18:14-24, “Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that
it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. Simon Peter was
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 109
following Jesus, and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to
the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but
Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known
to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought Peter
in. Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one
of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the
officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and
they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and
warming himself. The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples,
and about His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the
world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews
come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. “Why do you question Me?
Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.”
When He had said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus,
saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If
I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike
Me?” So Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.”
Next, we have the 2nd Trial of Christ recorded in Matthew 26.
Matthew 26:57-61, “Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to
Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered
together. But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of
the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the
outcome. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain
false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did
not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on
two came forward, and said, “This man stated, “I am able to destroy the
temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'”
Matthew 26:59-61 was also a fulfillment of prophecy.
Ps 35:11, “Malicious witnesses rise up; They ask me of things that I do not
know.”
Matthew 26:62-68, “The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not
answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept
silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that
You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him,
“You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE
SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and
COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” Then the high priest tore his
robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of
witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 110
They answered, “He deserves death!” Then they spat in His face and beat
Him with their fists; and others slapped Him.”
This event recorded in Matthew 26:62-68 fulfilled Isaiah 50:6.
Isa 50:6, “I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those
who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and
spitting.”
Matthew 26:69-75, “and said, “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one
who hit You?” Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servantgirl
came to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he
denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”
When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said
to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again
he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” A little later the
bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; for
even the way you talk gives you away.” Then he began to curse and swear, “I
do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter
remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will
deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Next, we have the 3rd Trial of Christ. Luke gives his account of this 3rd trial.
Luke 22:66-71, “When it was day, the Council of elders of the people
assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their
council chamber, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them,
“If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer.
“But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT
HAND of the power OF GOD.” And they all said, “Are You the Son of God,
then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further
need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own
mouth.”
4th Trial of Christ
John 18:28-40, “Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium,
and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so
that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Therefore Pilate
went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”
They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would
not have delivered Him to you.” So Pilate said to them, “Take Him
yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We
are not permitted to put anyone to death,” to fulfill the word of Jesus, which
He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die. Therefore
Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to
Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 111
on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I
am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to
me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.
If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that
I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this
realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered,
“You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I
have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said
this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.
“But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you
wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” So they cried out
again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.”
Luke gives his account of this 1st trial before Pilate.
Luke 23:1-7, “Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him
before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man
misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that
He Himself is Christ, a King.” This was a lie since our Lord stated in Luke
20:25, “And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are
Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” So Pilate asked Him, saying,
“Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you
say.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in
this man.” But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching
all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.” When Pilate
heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that
He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also
was in Jerusalem at that time.”
5th Trial of Christ before Herod
Luke 23:8-12, “Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had
wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him
and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him
at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the
scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his
soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in
a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became
friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with
each other.”
6th Trial of Christ
Paul makes reference to this trial where the Lord Jesus gave Pilate the Gospel.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 112
1 Tim 6:13, “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all
things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius
Pilate.”
John 18:33-19:15, “Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium,
and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus
answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you
about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the
chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My
servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but
as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So
You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For
this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the
truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him,
“What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews
and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. “But you have a custom that I
release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for
you the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but
Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber. Pilate then took Jesus and scourged
Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His
head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and
say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came
out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you
may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the
crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!”
So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying,
“Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify
Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law,
and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of
God.” Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid;
and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You
from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You do not
speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I
have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no
authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he
who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made
efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man,
you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king
opposes Caesar.” Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus
out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 113
Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was
about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they
cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to
them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no
king but Caesar.”
Matthew gives his account of this trial before Pilate.
Matthew 27:11-12, “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the
governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus
said to him, “It is as you say.” And while He was being accused by the chief
priests and elders, He did not answer.”
Matthew 27:12 was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7.
Isa 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His
mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent
before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.”
Matthew 27:13-26, “Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many
things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to
even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed. Now at the feast the
governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom
they wanted. At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called
Barabbas. So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom
do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”
For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. While he was
sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have
nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a
dream because of Him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the
crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said
to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they
said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is
called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil
has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was
starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I
am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people
said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” Then he released
Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to
be crucified.”
This fulfilled Isaiah 53:5.
Isa 53:5, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was
crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 114
Matthew 27:27-31, “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the
Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. They
stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a
crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and
they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the
Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the
head. After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put
His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.”
Our Lord’s face was destroyed from the beating He took at the hands of both
the Jews and the Romans.
Isa 52:14, “So His appearance was marred more than any man and His
form more than the sons of men.”
The fact that our Lord was able to withstand the tremendous physical
punishment and torture and not die demonstrates His tremendous physical strength
that He possessed as a perfect human being.
Matthew 27:32-34, “As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene
named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when
they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, they gave
Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to
drink.”
The gall was a drug designed to deaden the pain that He would experience
through crucifixion.
Ps 69:21, “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave
me vinegar to drink.”
Matthew 27:35, “And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His
garments among themselves by casting lots.”
It seems that the Persians invented crucifixion first used this mode of execution.
The historian Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) writes that the Persian king Astyages
ordered Magian interpreters to be “impaled” for giving him poor counsel (The
History, Book I 128).
The Persians probably invented it in order not to defile the earth, which was
consecrated to Ormuzd, by the body of the person executed. Later the cross is used
by Alexander the Great, the Diadochoi princes and especially the Carthaginians.
The Romans acquired crucifixion from the Carthaginians. They seldom
executed Roman citizens by this method of punishment. Usually only slaves and
the most serious criminals such as traitors, perjurers were crucified.
In Greece this punishment was restricted to slaves and was never considered for
free Greeks. In Rome it was already a mode of executing slaves even in the days of
the republic. In the imperial period it was regarded as servile supplicium but was
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 115
also used on aliens who were not Romans citizens. It could not be imposed on
citizens (Cicero Verr. II, 5, 62, 162-165) but autocratic governors ignored this.
In the Roman provinces the penalty of crucifixion was one of the strongest
means of maintaining order and security. Governors imposed this servile
punishment especially on freedom fighters that tried to break away from Roman
rule.
Josephus mentions innumerable crucifixions-mass executions of rebels-in
Judea. Punishment by crucifixion was seen as a disciplinary measure for the
maintenance of existing authority, intended more as a deterrent than as a means of
retribution. This explains why the instrument of execution was set up in a public
place.
Contemporary writers condemned this form of execution as excessively cruel
and disgraceful (Cicero, In Verrum, 64, 165 and often; Tacitus, Historia, 4, 3, 11;
Josephus, War, 7, 203). The Jewish Historian Josephus (37-100 A.D.) described
crucifixion as a “most miserable death” (Wars Book 7, 203). Tacitus the historian
described it as “the most pitiful of all means of death”.
The one to be crucified experienced the ridicule and mockery of his
executioners; onlookers participated in this too, as did the judges (Matt. 27:27-31,
39-44; Mark 15:16-20; 29-32; Luke 23:35-39).
The site of execution, outside the town gate, was itself a place of disgrace (Heb.
13:12-13) and because of this understanding; a crucified Messiah caused many
Jews to disbelieve (1 Cor. 1:23).
First, there was a legal conviction and only in extraordinary cases, such as in
times of war, did this occur at the place of execution itself. After sentencing, the
criminal was stripped and scourged, itself a punishment so painful and horribly
debilitating that some died from it. This took place either immediately after the
sentence was pronounced or en route to the execution site.
In Jesus’ case the scourging probably took place before He was sentenced,
perhaps in the hope that the crowds might have compassion on the exhausted
bleeding Man from Galilee ask Pilate to release Him (Luke 23:16; John 19:1). That
His punishment was so severe may explain why Jesus did not have to bear the
cross the last steps to Golgotha (Matt. 27:32).
If the execution took place at somewhere other than the place of sentencing, the
condemned man carried the patibulum to the spot, which was usually outside the
town. The expression “to bear the cross (stauros)” which is a typical description of
the punishment of slaves has its origin here.
Ordinarily the criminal was forced to carry the crossbeam all the way to the
execution site. The upright stake was usually left in place at the crucifixion site.
Then on the ground he was bound with outstretched arms to the beam by ropes, or
else fixed to it by spikes. Jesus was nailed to the crosspiece (John 20:25). The
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 116
beam was then raised with the body and fastened to the upright post. About the
middle of the post was a wooden block, which supported the suspended body.
There was no footrest in ancient accounts. The height of the cross varied. It was
either rather more than a man’s height or even higher when the offender was to be
held up for public display at a distance.
On the way to the execution a tablet was hung around the offender stating the
causa poenae, and this was affixed to the cross after execution so that all could see
(Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). The charge was displayed
above the criminal on a board or a tablet in black or red letters.
In Jesus’ case the charge was written in 3 languages: (1) The language of Judea:
Hebrew (2) The language of the occupying force from Rome: Latin (3) The
common language of the day: Greek.
John 19:16-22, “So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They
took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place
called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they
crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in
between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was
written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore
many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified
was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. So the
chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, “The King of the
Jews’; but that He said, “I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I
have written I have written.”
To die upon a cross meant excruciating pain. Death came slowly after
extraordinary agony, probably through exhaustion or suffocation. The terrible open
wounds from scourging and spikes in the hands and feet, the agonizing thirst and
hunger, the hemorrhaging of the blood vessels in the head and heart, the scorching
heat of the sun by day or the cold of the nights gradually robbed the victim of all
strength. He became insane from the pain.
Medical studies show that death itself was caused by asphyxiation. Ordinarily
the crucified person lived for some time, frequently lasting more than 24 hours and
sometimes as long as 48 hours. Some records exist of crucifixions lasting from 3 to
6 days. At times the legs of the victim were broken to put an end to the suffering
of the victim (John 19:32). Thus Pilate was surprised when he was told that Jesus
died within 6 hours (Mark 15:44f).
The condemned person was exposed to mockery. Sometimes he was stripped
and his clothes were divided among the executioners, thought this was not the
common rule. Crucifixion took place publicly on streets or elevated places. Usually
the body was left to rot on the cross to provide food for predatory animals and
carrion crows.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 117
There is evidence that the body was occasionally given to relatives or
acquaintances. The physical and mental sufferings, which this slow death on the
cross involved, are unimaginable. Crucifixion as a capital penalty was ended only
by Constantine the Great.
In June 1968 an ossuary was discovered on Ammunition Hill, north of
Jerusalem, containing the bones of a young man who had plainly been crucified,
about the beginning of the 1st century A.D. One nail had been driven through each
of his forearms, and a third, which was still in situ, through both his ankles
together. His legs were broken like those of the 2 criminals on either side of Jesus
(John 19:32).
Luke 23:33-34, “When they came to the place called The Skull, there they
crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But
Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are
doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”
This is our Lord’s 1st statement on the Cross and it too fulfilled prophecy. This
intercessory prayer by our Lord for His enemies fulfilled Isaiah 53:12.
Isa 53:12, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will
divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and
was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
and interceded for the transgressors.”
Luke 23:35-43, “And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers
were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is
the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming
up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the
Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS
THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals who were hanged there
was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself
and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even
fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we
indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our
deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus,
remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him,
“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Matthew 27:43 records the 2nd statement made by our Lord on the Cross.
Matthew 27:35-43, “And the people stood by, looking on. And even the
rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if
this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him,
coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King
of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him,
“THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals who were
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 118
hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ?
Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do
you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of
condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what
we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was
saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He
said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Psalm 22 presents to us the tremendous physical suffering He underwent
on the Cross.
Ps 22:11-18, “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; For there is none to
help. Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled
me. They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am
poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue
cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. For dogs have
surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my
hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
John 19:26-27 records the 3rd saying of our Lord on the Cross.
John 19:26-27, “When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom
He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your
son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour
the disciple took her into his own household.”
Matthew 27:46 records the 4th of the 7 statements of Christ on the Cross.
Matthew 27:46, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,
saying, ‘ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?’ that is, ‘MY GOD, MY GOD,
WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?’”
By making this statement, our Lord is also fulfilling a prophesy that was made
1000 years before our Lord made this statement.
Ps 22:1-3, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my
deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but You
do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Yet You are holy, O You who
are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.”
Matthew 27:46 also records the unique voluntary substitutionary spiritual death
of our Lord, which was the payment for our sins. It was voluntary in that our Lord
in His impeccable humanity “chose” to be separated from His Father during those
last 3 hours of darkness upon the Cross. It was substitutionary in that He died in
our place.
Rom 5:6-8, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died
for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 119
for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His
own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a
substitute for all of us.”
1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the
unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the
flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Spiritual death is separation from God.
There are 8 categories of death mentioned in Scripture: (1) Spiritual death is the
imputation of Adam’s sin to our genetically formed old sin nature at the moment of
physical birth resulting in spiritual death or the total inability to have a relationship
with God in time (Gen. 2:17; Prov. 14:12; Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor.
15:22; Eph. 2:1, 5). (2) Physical death is the separation of the human soul (and in
the case of the believer, the human spirit also) from the body (Matt. 8:22; Rom.
8:38-39; 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:20-21; 2:27, 30). (3) Second death is the perpetuation
of real spiritual death into eternity or eternal separation from God and it is the final
judgment of the unbelievers in the human race and fallen angels whereby they are
cast in the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:41; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:12-15). (4) Positional
death is part of the Baptism of the Spirit, which identifies all believers with Christ
in His death on the Cross and specifically with His rejection of human good and
evil (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12; 3:3). (5) Operational death is failure to produce divine
good on the part of the reversionistic believer under the influence of evil (James
2:26; 1 Tim. 5:6; Eph. 5:14; Rev. 3:1). (6) Temporal death is the status of carnality
or the believer out of fellowship through personal sin (Rom. 8:6, 13; Eph. 5:14; 1
Tim. 5:6; James 1:15; Luke 15:24). (7) Sexual death is the inability to copulate
(Rom. 4:17-21; Heb. 11:11-12). (8) The unique voluntary substitutionary spiritual
death of the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union on the cross (Matt.
27:45-46; Mark 15:34; Phlp. 2:8; Hb. 2:9, 14).
Our Lord’s spiritual death was unique in that He suffered separation from God
while as a perfect human being and He did it voluntarily in order to accomplish the
Father’s plan of salvation for all mankind. His physical death was not the payment
for our sins but rather His spiritual death when in His perfect humanity He was
separated from His Father during the last 3 hours on the Cross when He was
receiving the imputation of the sins of the whole world-past, present and future,
and was being judged for them. His physical death was essential in that it was for
our justification and that He might receive His resurrection body and be the first
fruits in resurrection.
The Lord Jesus Christ died 2 voluntary deaths on the cross: (1) Spiritual (2)
Physical.
Our Lord first died spiritually during the last 3 hours on the cross and then He
died physically after He had accomplished His Finished Work (John 19:30). The
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 120
payment for our sins was not the physical death of Christ but the spiritual death.
The penalty of sin is spiritual death, which means the inability to experience
fellowship with God in time.
Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal
life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Spiritual death originated with Adam in the Garden of Eden when he chose to
disobey the command of the Lord not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil. Disobedience to this command resulted in spiritual death and
eventually physical death.
Gen 2:16-17, “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any
tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will
surely die.”
When Adam disobeyed the command, he lost his fellowship with God.
Gen 3:6-8, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that
it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise,
she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and
he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they
were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin
coverings. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in
the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence
of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
Notice that Adam and the Woman do “not” die immediately physically but
rather they died immediately spiritually when they disobeyed and this is
demonstrated by their actions after their disobedience, namely they became aware
that they were naked and they hide themselves from the Lord. Since then, every
human being past, present and future receives the imputation of Adam’s sin in the
garden.
Rom 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world,
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned –
when Adam sinned.”
The reason why God did this is found in 2 passages.
Gal 3:22, ‘But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the
promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
Rom 11:32, “For God has shut up all in (Adam’s) disobedience so that He
may show mercy to all.”
Physical death is not the penalty for sin since Adam died 930 years later (Gen.
5:5). Therefore, the physical death of Christ was not the payment for our sins.
Physical death is the result of spiritual death and since the penalty of sin was
spiritual death, Christ must pay the penalty with His spiritual death.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 121
His spiritual death was the judgment for our sins and this is illustrated in Isaiah
53.
Isa 53:10-11, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to
grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in
His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as
He will bear their iniquities.”
“Anguish of His soul” refers to the intense suffering of our Lord’s human soul
as a result of being separated from the Father on the Cross and which suffering no
angel or man will ever be able to identify with since no angel or man has kept
themselves experientially sinless.
Isaiah 53:12, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He
will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of
many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Our Lord was still alive when He said “It is finished” (tetalestai, “it (the work
of salvation) is finished in the past with results that go on forever”) (John 19:30).
John 19:30, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It
is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
Our Lord in His perfect, sinless humanity died twice on the cross so that we
could be born twice (John 3:1-7). He said, “it is finished” while still alive,
therefore, it was the loss of fellowship with the Father that was the payment for our
sins and not His physical death.
He died spiritually so that we could be born again spiritually.
The greatest suffering the humanity of Christ endured on the cross was “not”
the physical and mental torture of the cross but rather when He received the
imputation of the sins of the entire world by the justice of God the Father and was
separated from the Father during the last 3 hours on the cross.
Our Lord’s loss of fellowship with His Father in His humanity during those last
3 hours in darkness on the Cross was infinitely more painful to our Lord than the
physical suffering He had endured and was enduring.
Our Lord’s loss of fellowship with His Father in His humanity during those last
3 hours in darkness on the Cross was valued infinitely more by the Father than the
shedding of His literal blood or His physical suffering.
This is not to say that the Father did not value the physical suffering of His Son,
or His literal blood, which was sinless, He did, but literal blood though sinless
cannot resolve man’s problem of separation from God under real spiritual death.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 122
The separation from God of a perfect human being whose soul was never
contaminated by sin was the penalty that had to be paid in order to redeem human
souls from the curse of Adam sin of disobedience and real spiritual death.
The anguish of the Son’s soul was valued much more than His blood since
blood is inanimate but the human soul is created in the image of God. Our Lord in
His perfect humanity learned obedience through His physical suffering and at the
same time He became the perfect example for us to follow when we go through
undeserved suffering as a result of our identification with Him.
Heb 5:7-9, “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and
supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from
death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He
learned obedience from the things, which He suffered. And having been made
perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
Our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death on the cross-accomplished the
following: (1) Defeated Satan in the angelic conflict by disproving Satan’s claims
that God lacks integrity and does not love His creatures.
Heb 2:14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He
Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might
render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and
might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their
lives.”
1 John 3:8b, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the
works of the devil.”
(2) Provided salvation for all mankind as well as angels.
Col 1:19-20, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to
dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made
peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on
earth or things in heaven.”
(3) Fulfilled righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law.
Rom 8:3-4, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the
flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an
offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the
Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but
according to the Spirit.”
The Cross of Christ is called the “power of God” and “foolishness” to those
who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). It is the power of God because it has crucified the
old Adamic sin nature and therefore, freed the believer from its power.
Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 123
Gal 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh
with its passions and desires.”
Gal 6:14, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and
I to the world.”
The Cross of Christ dealt with man’s sins, which have all been forgiven and
have been “nailed to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14).
Col 2:13-14, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having
forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt
consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it
out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
The impeccable humanity of Christ’s voluntary substitutionary spiritual death
purchased the entire human race out from the slave market of sin in which every
human being is born physically alive but spiritually dead as a result of the
imputation of Adam’s sin (1 Tim. 2:6; Mark 10:45; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet.
1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).
1 Tim 2:5-6, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the
testimony given at the proper time.”
The impeccable humanity of Christ’s spiritual death propitiated or satisfied the
righteous demands of a holy God that are sins be judged (Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John
2:2; 1 John 4:10).
1 John 2:2, “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for
ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
The impeccable humanity of Christ’s spiritual death reconciled the entire
human race to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-22; 1 Pet. 3:18).
John 19:28-30 record the 5th and 6th statements made by our Lord as He hung on
the Cross.
John 19:28-30, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been
accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour
wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a
branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had
received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and
gave up His spirit.”
Luke 23:46 records the 7th and final statement made by our Lord on the Cross.
Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO
YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this, He breathed His
last.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 124
After this 7th and final statement our Lord dismissed His human spirit. Our Lord
died physically of His own volition and not through asphyxiation or exhaustion.
Remember what our Lord said in John 10:18.
John 10:18, “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My
own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it
up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
The Lord Jesus Christ did not die from suffocation or exhaustion. The Lord
Jesus Christ did not bleed to death, die of a broken heart, or die from exhaustion. If
He had bleed to death, He would have fainted. The Lord Jesus Christ was in total
control of His faculties and was totally and completely alert throughout all His
suffering on the cross.
Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded
up His spirit.”
“Cried out” is kraxas, which is an aorist active participle from krazo, “to cry
out aloud, scream, shriek.” Kraxas is a constative aorist which takes the action of
the verb in its entirety and takes us from its beginning to its conclusion. Kraxas
describes the actual sound of the Lord Jesus Christ’s dying. The Lord Jesus Christ
screamed or shouted with a loud voice.
“Yielded up” is apheken which is an aorist active indicative from aphiemi, “to
dismiss, to release, to let go.” Apheken is a culminative aorist, which views an
event from its existing results, the Lord Jesus Christ’s physical death. The active
voice expresses the fact that the Lord Jesus died of His own volition since the
active voice indicates that the subject produces the action of the verb. The Lord is
the only human being in history to dismiss His own spirit from His body. Every
human being that dies physically as a result of a sovereign decision of God but
here the Lord chooses to die physically.
He died physically so that He could be raised for our justification.
Rom 4:25, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and
was raised because of our justification.”
Our Lord’s voluntary physical death was another indication to those observing
Him at the Cross that He was indeed the Son of God. He died like no other man in
history, namely, of His own choosing.
This is why the centurion made the following remark: Mark 15:39, “When the
centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed
His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
A great miracle took place when our Lord died physically of His own sovereign
will.
Matthew 27:51, “And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from
top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 125
The Holy Place in the Temple was divided from the Holy of Holies by a great
and beautiful veil and was suspended by hooks from four pillars of gold. It
measured 60 feet long by 30 feet wide, worked in 72 squares and was reputed to be
as thick as the palm of the hand. So heavy was it that the priests claimed it took
300 men to handle it. The veil was a barrier and effectively excluded the Levitical
priests from the entering the Holy of Holies. Only once a year was it drawn aside
to admit the high priest on the Day of Atonement. He entered the sacred presencechamber
to sprinkle the Mercy Seat with the Lamb’s blood, making atonement for
his own sins and those of the nation of Israel. The rending of the veil in the
Herodian Temple was symbolic of the new and living way into the presence of
God, which has been opened to everyone, both Jew and Gentile.
Heb 10:13-25, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who
are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “THIS
IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE
DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,
AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, “AND
THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO
MORE.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer
any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter
the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He
inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.”
There is a barrier, which separates man from God. The Finished Work of Christ
on the cross removes this barrier (Eph. 2:14-16).
The Barrier consists of the following: (1) Mankind commits acts of sin (Isa.
64:6b; Rom. 3:23). (2) The penalty of sin is spiritual death (Rom. 5:12; 6:23a). (3)
All are born spiritually dead at physical birth (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1). (4)
Man’s relative righteousness cannot compare to God’s perfect righteousness (Isa.
64:6a; Rom. 9:30-33). (5) The character of God demands that our personal sins be
judged (Isa. 46:9b; 64:6b; Rom. 8:8). (6) Man’s position in Adam as a result of the
imputation of his sin (1 Cor. 15:22a).
The Work of Christ on the cross, which removes the Barrier, is as follows: (1)
Redemption resolves man’s problem with sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:7; Titus 2:14;
1 Tim. 2:6a). (2) The Unlimited Atonement also resolves man’s sin problem (1
John 2:2). (3) Expiation resolves man’s problem with the penalty of sin, which is
spiritual death (Col. 2:14). (4) Regeneration resolves man’s problem with being
born spiritually dead (John 3:1-18). (5) Imputation resulting in justification
resolves the problem of man’s relative righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21;
Rom. 4:1-5; Gal. 2:16). (6) Propitiation resolves man’s problem with the perfect
character of God (Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2). (7) Our position in Christ resolves
man’s position in Adam (1 Cor. 5:22b; 2 Cor. 5:17).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 126
John 19:31-36, “Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so
that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that
Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and
that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the
first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus,
when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one
of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water
came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he
knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these
things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL
BE BROKEN.”
This fulfilled Psalm 34:20. Ps 34:20, “He keeps all his bones, not one of them
is broken.”
John 19:37, “And again another Scripture says, “THEY SHALL LOOK
ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.”
This fulfilled Zechariah 12:10.
Zech 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants
of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on
Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for
an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over
a firstborn.”
John 19:38-42, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of
Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take
away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took
away His body. Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came,
bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. So
they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as
is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified
there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet
been laid. Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb
was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
Our Lord’s burial in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb fulfilled prophecy as well.
Isa 53:9, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich
man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit
in His mouth.”
The perfect sinless humanity of Christ was born trichotomous: (1) Body (2)
Soul (3) Spirit.
Therefore, our Lord’s somatic or physical death was unique because it was a
trichotomous separation: (1) His physical body went to the grave (Luke 23:50-53).
(2) His human spirit went to heaven (Luke 23:46; John 19:30). (3) His human soul
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 127
went into Paradise a compartment of Hades (Luke 23:43; Acts 2:27; 2:31; Eph.
4:9).
The Lord was brought back from the dead by 3 Categories of divine
omnipotence: (1) Omnipotence of God the Father sent back our Lord’s human
spirit to the body in the grave (Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess.
1:10; 1 Pet. 1:21). (2) Omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit sent back our Lord’s
human soul to the body in the grave (Rom. 1:4; 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18). (3)
Omnipotence of God the Son raised His physical body from the grave (John 2:20-
23; 6:39-40, 54 10:17-18).
Redemption
The saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross whereby all of humanity has been
purchased out from the slave market of sin in which they were born spiritually
dead and delivered to the freedom of grace. Redemption is appropriated through
the non-meritorious decision to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. Redemption is
one of the 3 major doctrines of Soteriology: (1) Redemption: inward (2)
Reconciliation: manward (3) Propitiation: Godward.
Greek New Testament: (1) Antilutron (noun), “the substitution of money for a
slave or prisoner, the payment for the slave or prisoner in order to set free”; (2)
Apolutrosis (noun), “buying back a slave thus making him free by payment of a
ransom, the act of release or state of being resulting in release or redemption”
(Luke 21:28; Rom. 3:24; 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:7; 1:14; 4:30; Col. 1:14; Heb.
9:15; 11:35); (3) Lutrotes (noun), “redeemer” (Hapax legomenon: used only in
Acts 7:35 of Moses); (4) Lutrosis (noun), “ransoming, releasing, redemption,
deliverance” (Luke 1:68; 2:38; Heb. 9:12); (5) Lutron (noun), “ransom price paid
in order to free a slave, price of release, ransom, money for the manumission of
slaves” (The suffix -tron denotes the instrument or means by which the action of
the verb is accomplished, the means of releasing, or the payment”) (Matthew
20:28 and Mark 10:45); (6) Lutroo (verb), “to release for a ransom, to redeem, to
liberate, to deliver, the actual deliverance, the setting at liberty” (Luke 24:21;
Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18); (7) Agorazo (verb), Related to the noun agora,
“marketplace,” “to buy in the marketplace, to redeem, to buy, to acquire by
paying a ransom price,” (Used 5 times w/reference to the doctrine of redemption);
(8) Exagorazo (verb), “to buy out from the marketplace, “to purchase slaves from a
slave market, to release by paying a ransom price” (Emphasizes the price paid)
(Col. 4:5; Eph. 5:16; Gal. 3:13; 4:5);
Hebrew Old Testament: (1) Padhah (verb), “to ransom, to rescue, to deliver,
redemption by payment of a ransom, to achieve the transfer of ownership from one
to another through payment of a price or an equivalent substitute”; (2) Ga`al
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 128
(verb), “to redeem, to rescue, to avenge, to ransom, do the part of a kinsman, to do
the part of a kinsman and thus to redeem his kin from difficulty or danger”
Documentation: Psa. 49:15; 77:15a Psa. 78:35; Isa. 43:14; 44:24; 49:7; 54:5, 8;
60:16; Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:24; 8:23;1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23; 1 Cor. 1:30;
Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7, 14; 4:30; Col. 1:13-14; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14; Heb. 2:14-15;
Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:19.
You are either a slave of sin or a slave of Christ Jesus. The Bible teaches that
the whole human race is in the slave market of sin (Gal. 3:13). Gal 3:13, “Christ
redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it
is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”.
“Redeemed” is the verb exagorazo, “to buy out from the slave market, to purchase
slaves from a slave market for the purpose of setting them free, to release by
paying a ransom.” Exagorazo is a compound verb and is from the preposition ek,
“out from,” and the verb agorazo, “to buy from the marketplace.” Agorazo is from
the Greek word agora meaning “marketplace.” Slaves in the ancient world were
sold in the agora. The Word of God teaches that the whole human race is enslaved
to sin.
Everyone who commits sin is the slave to sin and resides in the slave market of
sin (John 8:34). A slave could not live in the house forever unless he is a son. We
cannot live in the Father’s household forever if we are slaves to sin (John 8:35).
Only the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Son of God can set us free from our slavery
to sin (John 8:36).
Man’s problem with sin began in the garden when Adam and the Woman
disobeyed the command of God to not eat from tree of the knowledge of good and
evil (Gen. 2:17). Adam and the Woman’s negative volition to the command of God
are responsible for sin entering into the world, not immorality (Rom. 5:12a). It was
negative volition towards the Word of God. The imputation of Adam’s original sin
in the garden is responsible for the whole human race residing in the slave market
of sin (Rom. 5:19a; 5:18a). Man does not become a sinner through personal sin.
Man is born into the world with 3 strikes already against him: (1) Adam’s original
sin is imputed to him at physical birth. (2) Man inherits a sin nature, which is the
source of personal sin. (3) Man commits personal sins.
Adam’s first personal sin was imputed or officially charged to the entire human
race. We are sinners before we ever committed an act of sin. God says that when
Adam sinned, we all sinned (Rom. 5:12). Each member of the human race received
a sin nature, which is the source of temptation to personal sin. Sin takes place when
you give in to the temptation of the old sin nature.
There are 3 categories of sin: (1) Mental (2) Verbal (3) Overt. Sin is anything
contrary to the character and integrity of God. Sin is disobedience towards the
commands of God. It is rejection of the will of God. The will of God is recorded in
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 129
the Word of God and the Spirit reveals the Word of God so that we might
understand what the will of God is for our lives.
Personal sin is always directed toward God (Psa. 51:4). This is why we are
never to “confess” our sins to other people. Synonyms for personal sins: (1)
“Falling short” (Rom. 3:23) (2) “Transgressions”: Rebellion against or
overstepping the Law (Psa. 51:1) (3) “Acting unfaithfully”: Self will over God’s
will (Josh. 22:20) (4) “Trespasses” (Eph. 2:1) (5) “Lawlessness and rebellion”:
Failure to keep the Mosaic Law (1 Tim. 1:9-10) (6) “Unbelief”: Rejection of
Christ as Savior (John 8:24; 16:9).
Corrected translation of Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and are falling
short of the essence (with emphasis on His righteousness) of God.” This
passage says that all of humanity doesn’t measure up to the perfect character and
integrity of God. Sin causes the entire human race to fall short of the essence of
God. “Have sinned” is the Greek verb for sin is hamartano, “to sin, to miss the
mark, to miss the target of God’s perfect righteousness.” Paul explains in Romans
3:19-22 why a man cannot justify himself before God through the “works of the
Mosaic Law,” or his own “good works.” Man is not perfectly righteousness, as he
needs to be to live with God forever. Man is not as holy as God. Man cannot hit the
target of the perfect righteousness of God because he is in a constant state of
sinning. All of mankind “misses” the target of God’s perfect righteousness because
everyone commits acts of personal sin. “Are falling short” is the Greek verb
hustereo, “to be inferior to, to fail to obtain, to lack in some quality, to fall short, to
come short of, to be in need of, to fail to reach the target.” Hustereo says in
Romans 3:23 that the entire human race: “lacks the perfect righteousness of God,
falls short of the perfect righteousness of God, comes short of the perfect
righteousness of God, fails to reach the target of the perfect righteousness of God,
fails to obtain the perfect righteousness of God.”
“The essence of God” refers here to God’s perfect divine essence with
emphasis on His righteousness. God’s integrity is made up of His righteousness
and His justice. Righteousness rejects sin. Justice condemns sin. What the
righteousness of God demands, the justice of God executes. God’s righteousness
does not approve of man’s relative righteousness or his human works. God’s
righteousness does not approve of sin. Sin leaves all of humanity far short of the
righteousness of God. We don’t measure up to the righteousness of God. We don’t
measure up to His perfect character and integrity. Man’s problem with sin is
resolved through redemption (Col. 1:13-14; Eph. 1:7). All of our personal sins
have been paid for at the Cross by our Lord’s spiritual death and are no longer an
issue with God. Our Lord died in our place. We receive the righteousness of God
needed to live with Him forever when we exercise personal faith in Jesus Christ
who provided for our redemption (Rom. 3:24).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 130
The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only Redeemer of mankind and the only
sacrifice that God will accept (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6). He is the only
one qualified to be mankind’s Redeemer due to the fact that He is impeccable (1
Pet. 1:19). Impeccable means that He was perfect when He went to the Cross. He
never committed any mental, verbal or overt sins in His life. He had no sin nature
because He had no human father. He was totally free from sin. Only a free man can
set a slave free.
Our Lord was truly free and the only human being qualified to purchase the
whole human race out of the slave market (John 8:36; Gal. 4:4-7). Jesus Christ
came into the world without imputed sin and without a sin nature. This was
accomplished by means of the Virgin Birth (Matt. 1:23; 1 Tim. 3:16). Our Lord
lived a perfect life without personal sin because He had no sin nature and He
always exercised positive volition towards the Father’s will. Our Lord was
impeccable in His humanity (Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 19:4; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15;
7:26-28). This qualified Him to be the redeemer for all of humanity, which is
trapped inside the slave market of sin. Man cannot redeem himself but only the
God-Man, Jesus Christ can (Psa. 49:7-8).
The redemption of a human soul is costly. Our Lord’s spiritual death was more
than sufficient to meet the cost to redeem our souls. He purchased the souls of all
mankind through His spiritual death on the Cross. We have been bought with a
price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). Only divine omnipotence can redeem the souls of men
(Psa. 49:15; 77:15a). The Lord is the Redeemer of Israel (Psa. 78:35; Isa. 43:14;
44:24; 49:7; 54:5, 8; 60:16). He is redeemer of the Church (1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 3:13;
Eph. 1:7, 14; Col. 1:14; Titus 2:14).
The Lord Jesus Christ is mankind’s Kinsman-Redeemer. A Kinsman-Redeemer
must be related to the one who is being redeemed and must be able to afford the
ransom price and thus fulfill its righteous demands. Our Lord fulfilled this in His
incarnation by becoming true humanity. He satisfied the righteous demands of God
the Father. As our Kinsman-Redeemer, our Lord had to be like us. The 2nd Person
of the Trinity became a man (John 1:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 1:1).
The doctrine of the Incarnation states that God the Son entered into the human
race and took upon Himself flesh and blood by means of the Virgin Birth (John
1:14). The doctrine of the Kinsman-Redeemer originates in the OT. The Hebrew
word in the OT for Redeemer is goel. Kinsman redemption was of persons, estates,
and inheritance (Lev. 25:25, 48; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:7, 11, 14). The Lord Jesus Christ
is a type of Kinsman-Redeemer in that He became like one of us-human. He was
able to afford and pay the ransom price, which was His substitutionary spiritual
death, and was also willing to pay the ransom price. Christ as the Kinsman-
Redeemer fulfills the type of being willing to redeem. The Kinsman-Redeemer
type states that the Redeemer: (1) Must be a kinsman or related by blood (Lev.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 131
25:48-49; Ruth 3:12-13; Heb. 2:14-15) (2) Must be able to pay the redemption
price (Ruth 4:4-6; cf. Jer. 50:34; John 10:11, 18) (3) Must be able to pay the
righteous demands (Lev. 25:27; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:18-19) (4) Must be “willing” to
pay the redemption price (John 10:18)
It God cost quite a bit to free us from the slave market of sin. It cost Him His
Son Jesus Christ. We have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). The price
was our Lord’s spiritual or pneumatic death on the Cross. This death occurred the
last 3 hours on the Cross. Money did not purchase us from the slave market of sin,
but our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death did.
Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having
become a curse for us for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a
tree.’” “Redeemed” is the verb exagorazo, to purchase slaves from a slave market
for the purpose of setting them free, to release by paying a ransom.” Exagorazo is a
compound verb and is from the preposition ek, “out from,” and the verb agorazo,
“to buy from the marketplace.” The preposition ek intensifies the buying and it
focuses attention on the price paid by the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, which
was His spiritual death. It means, “to redeem or purchase a slave’s freedom,” and
carries a critical connotation with reference to the slave market of sin. It expresses
the purpose for which God the Father sent His Son into the world (Mark 10:45).
Our Lord’s spiritual death on the Cross was the ransom price paid in order to
free the entire human race from the slave market of sin. Our Lord set us free from
the slave market of sin so that we could have spiritual freedom. Spiritual freedom
provides the believer equal privilege and equal opportunity to execute the Plan of
God and receive blessings for both time and eternity. Spiritual freedom excludes
legalism. The result of Christ’s spiritual death is that it was substitutionary (1 Pet.
3:18). It was His spiritual death that set us free from the slave market of sin.
Exagorazo states that our Lord purchased the entire human race “out from” the
slave market of sin through His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross.
“For us” is the preposition huper, “on behalf of,” plus the genitive of advantage
from ego, which means that Christ is our substitute. “The curse of the Law” refers
to the Mosaic Law with its rules and regulations, which conclusively prove that the
every human being is a sinner. No one has kept the Mosaic Law. The Lord Jesus
Christ is the only man who kept the Mosaic Law completely and flawlessly (Gal.
3:10-11; 4:4-5; Rom. 10:4). Only He could redeem mankind because He was
impeccable (1 Tim. 2:6a). Timothy 2:6a, “Who gave Himself as a ransom for all,
the testimony borne at the proper time.”
“Ransom” is the compound verb antilutron, and is made up of the preposition
anti, “instead,” or “in place of” and lutron, “ransom.” The preposition anti refers to
substitution. Our Lord’s spiritual death was in fact substitutionary. Lutron is from
the verb lutroo meaning “to release for a ransom, to redeem.” Lutroo emphasizes
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 132
the idea of purchase or ransom by paying a price. “For” is the preposition huper,
which means “on behalf of, for the sake of.” Huper with the genitive expresses
some advantage that accrues to persons, therefore, it means “on behalf of,” or “in
place of,” hence, “substitution.” The use of antilutron plus the genitive of huper
intensifies or doubles the meaning of substitution. Paul is stressing our Lord’s
substitutionary spiritual death in 1 Tim. 2:6 by using the verb antilutron plus the
preposition huper. “All” is panton, which refers to the entire human race and the
doctrine of the unlimited atonement. Our Lord’s spiritual death was for the entire
human race.
Money cannot purchase mankind’s freedom but only our Lord’s substitutionary
spiritual death (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:7). The “blood of Christ” depicts the saving
work of Christ on the cross. It refers to His substitutionary spiritual death on the
cross, which was the payment for our sins. The blood of Christ does not refer to the
literal blood of Christ but is part of a representative analogy between the physical
death of the animal sacrifice in the Mosaic Law and the spiritual death of Christ.
The animal blood was the means of teaching the doctrine of redemption in the Old
Testament (Ex. 12:7; 12-13; Heb. 9:22). The animal sacrifice is a representative
analogy in which the physical death of the animal on the altar represents the
spiritual death of Christ on the cross. The blood of the animal sacrifices were
merely a shadow pointing to the reality of the cross (Heb. 9:12-24). The blood of
the animal is the seat of animal life (Lev. 17:10-14). The blood of the animal was
used to represent redemption to OT believers (Heb. 9:18-22). Animal blood was
used to represent the figurative blood of Christ. This was done from Genesis 3:21
to the Levitical offerings of Leviticus 1-5. The animal was real and literal but it did
not represent the literal blood of Christ shed on the cross. The animal blood
represents the spiritual death of Christ on the cross (Col. 1:20; Heb. 10:19; 13:20; 1
Pet. 1:2). Our Lord was still alive on the Cross when He finished making the
payment for our sins (John 19:30). Our Lord did not bleed to death like the animals
in the Mosaic sacrifices. He didn’t pass out on the Cross from loss of blood, but in
fact was in total command and was totally alert when He said, “It is finished.” He
didn’t die like ordinary men who die involuntarily, but instead, He did voluntarily
(John 10:17-18).
A “real” analogy would be a literal death compared to a literal death. Real
analogy: The physical death of the animal would be compared to the physical
death of Christ. Representative analogy: The physical death of the animal on the
altar represents the spiritual death of Christ on the cross. Figurative language: The
analogy requires that the blood of Christ be taken figuratively. Webster’s Ninth
New Collegiate Dictionary defines figurative, “representing by a figure or
resemblance: emblematic; of or relating to representation of form; expressing one
thing in terms normally denoting another with which it may be regarded as
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 133
analogous: metaphorical.” Metaphor: The term “the blood of Christ” is a
metaphor. Webster’s defines metaphor, “a figure of speech in which a word or
phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to
suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” “The blood of Christ” is analogous
to: (1) Redemption (2) Reconciliation (3) Propitiation.
Christ died 2 deaths on the cross: (1) Spiritual (2) Physical. It was Christ’s
spiritual death, which was the price of redemption. His physical death was not the
price paid for our redemption.
Christ’s somatic (physical) death occurred by an act of His own volition, not
from bleeding to death (John 10:17-18). Occurred after His work on the cross was
finished when He exhaled His last breath with the words of Psalm 31:5 and Luke
23:46. Christ did not exhale again after having exhaled this last sentence (Matt.
27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30). Christ had already completed His
salvation work for us when He died physically. His physical death took place so
that He could be raised from the dead in fulfillment of His prophecies. It took place
so that He could be raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25).
Christ’s pneumatic (spiritual) death was the price of redemption (1 Peter 1:18-
19). Occurred when our Lord cried out in Matthew 27:46, “Eli, Eli, lama
sabachthani?’ ‘My God, My God that is, why hast Thou forsaken me?’” His
spiritual death was completed when He said in John 19:30, “It is finished.” It
occurred during our Lord’s last 3 hours on the cross when darkness covered the
whole land (Matt. 27:45; Luke 23:44-45). Our Lord’s spiritual death was
responsible for God tearing the veil in the temple for it broke down the barrier,
which separated God and man (Matt. 27:51; Luke 23:45).
Definition: The judgment of Christ on the cross for the sins of the entire human
race without exception. Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines
the noun atonement as the “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury;
amends.” The verb atone means “to make amends or reparation as for an offense or
a crime, or for an offender, to make up for errors or deficiencies, to become
reconciled; agree.” The Atonement is unlimited. Christ was judged on the cross for
every sin of the entire human race. Christ was judged for the sins of the entire
human race-past, present and future. Christ was judged for every personal sin
committed by the entire human race-mental, verbal and overt. Christ paid for the
sins of the entire human race, not just the elect, or those who believe in Christ
(Rom. 5:6; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 19; 1 Tim. 2:6; 4:10; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2).
The “limited” atonement: (1) Attacks the character and integrity of God. (2)
Directly from the kingdom of darkness and the mind of Satan. (3) Contradicts
Scripture. (4) Says that Christ died for only the believer. (5) Makes personal sin an
issue and not man’s volition. (6) Attacks the saving work of Christ on the Cross.
(7) Says that Christ’s work on the Cross is insufficient as the payment for the sins
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 134
of the world. (8) Says that God wills or desires the unbeliever to go the Lake of
Fire forever. (9) Calls God unjust. (10) Says that God is a respecter of persons,
which He is not. (11) Says that God is a partial judge.
The “unlimited” atonement: (1) Eliminates sin from the unbeliever’s indictment
at the Last Judgment. (2) Does not make personal sin an issue. (3) Makes man’s
volition the issue at salvation. (4) Clearly supported by the original languages and
the Scriptures. (5) Magnifies the integrity of God. (6) Says that Christ’s saving
work on the Cross was sufficient as payment for the sins of the entire human race.
(7) Says that God desires or wills for all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4a; 2 Pet. 3:9;
John 3:17). (8) Calls God just. (9) Says that God is not a respecter of persons. (10)
Says that God is impartial (Deut. 10:17; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6; Eph. 6:9b).
The Results of Redemption: (1) Forgiveness of sins (Isa. 44:22; Eph. 1:7; Col.
1:14; Heb. 9:12-15) (2) Basis of justification (Rom. 3:24) (3) Basis for
sanctification (Eph. 5:25-27) (4) Basis for eternal inheritance of believer (Heb.
9:15) (5) Basis for strategic victory of Christ in the Angelic Conflict (Col. 2:14-15;
Heb. 2:14-15).
Redemption of the soul in salvation leads to redemption of the body in
resurrection (Eph. 1:14). Redemption of the body is the ultimate status of the royal
family of God forever (Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30).
One of the results of redemption is that the sins of the entire human race have
been forgiven. The doctrine of the unlimited atonement says that Christ was judged
on the cross for the sins of the entire human race. Every sin committed by the
human race-past, present and future was imputed to Christ and judged by the
justice of God. Every mental, verbal and overt sin committed by the human race
was imputed to Christ and judged. Christ died for every personal committed by the
human race-past, present and future. All our sins have been forgiven because of
Christ’s saving work on the Cross. The only sin that Christ did not die for was the
sin of rejection Himself. Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief in Himself. The
unbeliever goes to the Lake of Fire for their unbelief in Christ. The personal sins of
the entire human race are no longer an issue with God. The personal sins of the
entire human race are remembered no more by God because of Christ’s redemptive
work on the cross (Psa. 103:12; Isa. 44:22; 53:5a; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).
Redemption is the basis for justification. Justification means an act of
vindication. It is a judicial act of vindication, because we are born under
condemnation, being spiritually dead through imputation of Adam’s original sin to
our genetically formed old sin nature. Justification is an official judicial act, which
occurs every time anyone believes in Christ. The justice of God acts on our behalf
pronouncing us justified, which means that we have a relationship with God
forever. When an individual has personal faith in Christ, the righteousness of God
demands that the justice of God declare the believer justified. We have the perfect
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 135
righteousness of God imputed to us at salvation. Justification means that God
recognizes that He has given us His perfect righteousness. Justification is the
judicial act by God, whereby He recognizes we have His perfect righteousness
(Rom. 5:16). Justification is God’s recognition of imputed righteousness in every
believer. There would be no possibility of justification if it were not for Christ’s
redemptive work on the cross. No Cross, no justification. No redemption, no
justification (Rom. 3:24; 5:9). One is justified by faith alone in Christ alone (Rom.
5:1; Gal. 2:16). We are not justified by what we do but what Christ has already
done for us. We are to have faith or rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ.
Justification occurs instantaneously but in 3 logical steps: (1) We believe in Christ
(2) The righteousness of God is imputed to us (3) God recognizes as valid His
righteousness in us and pronounces us justified.
There would be no sanctification if were not for the redemptive work of Christ.
Redemption also provides the basis for the sanctification of the believer.
Sanctification is a term describing the status quo of the Royal Family of God in 3
phases of the Plan of God. It means to be set apart to God for a special purpose.
Sanctification means that the believer has been set apart for God’s will, purpose
and plan. Sanctification is the greatest thing God could possibly do for all members
of the Royal Family of God. We have gone from being slaves to the old sin nature
and the Cosmic System to being sanctified or set apart to execute God’s will,
purpose and plan for our lives. We are no longer to present ourselves as slaves to
the old sin nature but slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification (Rom.
6:19). Our release from the slave market of sin results in sanctification (Rom.
6:22). The believer has been sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2). This has been
accomplished through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This has been done by
means of the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit at salvation placing the believer
into union with Christ (Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 1:30). The will of God for the believer
is to be sanctified or set apart for Him to do His will (1 Thess. 4:3a). The believer
has been sanctified by our Lord’s offering Himself up at the Cross (Heb. 10:10).
Our Lord’s substitutionary spiritual death provides sanctification for the believer.
There are 3 categories of sanctification: (1) Positional: Believer identified with
Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. (2) Experiential: Believer’s experience
inside the Plan of God. (3) Ultimate: Believer receives a resurrection body at the
Rapture of the Church.
Positional sanctification is when we believe in Christ, God the Holy Spirit
places us into union with Christ so that positionally we share all that He is and has.
Experiential sanctification is when Bible Doctrine saturates our souls so that under
the Filling of the Spirit, the mind of Christ becomes our mind, displacing the good
and evil of satanic thinking. Experiential sanctification is when we are operating in
the spiritual life and are in the Plan of God and thus on the road to spiritual
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 136
maturity. Ultimate sanctification is when the Royal Family of God is complete and
each of us receives a resurrection body like Christ. We will be physically like Him
and prepared to share in His triumph and coronation at the 2nd Advent and to
become His Bride forever (Phil. 3:20, 21; Rev. 19:6-9).
Redemption is the basis of the believer receiving an eternal inheritance (Heb.
9:15). The believer has received an eternal inheritance (Eph. 1:11). We received it
at the moment of salvation when we had positive volition towards the gospel (Eph.
1:14). God the Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14). This
inheritance is reserved in heaven for the believer and is incorruptible (1 Pet. 1:4).
The imputation of perfect righteousness has qualified us to receive this eternal
inheritance (Col. 1:12).
Redemption is the basis for the strategic victory of Christ in the Angelic
Conflict. Satan and the fallen angels desperately tried to stop Christ from going to
the Cross and dying a spiritual death. They wanted Him to be stoned by the Jews
and thus be unable to die spiritually on the Cross. The Cross was an act of justice
as well as an act of love. Satan questioned the justice of God when God sentenced
Him to the Lake of Fire for His rebellion. The Cross proved that God was just. The
cross not only provided redemption for man but defeated Satan and the kingdom of
darkness (Col. 2:14-15). The Redemptive work of Christ on the Cross not only
freed mankind from slavery to Satan and the Cosmic system, but it also rendered
Satan powerless who had the power of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Satan questioned the
integrity of God when sentenced to the Lake of Fire for his rebellion and the Cross
displayed to all the angels both elect and non-elect, the integrity of God. The Cross
and the Redemptive work of Christ on the Cross was an act of integrity on the part
of God. The Cross was a display of God’s perfect character and integrity.
The redemption of our souls leads to the redemption of the body in resurrection
(Eph. 1:14). The believer has not only been freed from the slave market of sin
through the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ on the Cross but will also
receive a resurrection body like Christ’s (Rom. 8:23). The redemption of our
bodies will take place at the Rapture of the Church. Job looked forward to the
redemption of his body (Job 19:25-26). Job will not receive his resurrection body
with the Church but will receive it at the 2nd Advent with other OT saints. The
Lord Jesus Christ is the only human being with a resurrection body at this time. He
is the 1st fruits. The Church is the next group to follow in resurrection. We are to
receive our resurrection bodies next. OT saints will be the third group to receive
resurrection bodies. The Millennial saints will receive resurrection bodies at the
end of the Millennium. The redemption of the body is the ultimate status of the
Royal Family of God (Eph. 4:30). So we have 4 companies in resurrection: (1)
Alpha: the Lord Jesus Christ (2) Bravo: Church age saints (3) Charlie: OT saints
(4) Delta: Millennial saints.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 137
Propitiation
The Godward side of salvation whereby the Lord Jesus Christ satisfied the
justice God the Father through His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross as
the payment for the sins of the entire world-past, present and future.
Old Testament Terms: (1) Kaphar (verb), “To cover sin, to make atonement for
sin, to propitiate, to make reconciliation, to atone by offering a substitute” It should
be distinguished from the kaphar used in Genesis 6:14 where it means, “to smear
with pitch.” It was used primarily in connection with the removal of sin or
defilement. It denoted the priestly ritual of sprinkling the sacrificial blood of the
animal. It was used 49 times in the book of Leviticus alone and denoted the act of
propitiating God through the animal blood sacrifice. The act symbolized innocent
life given for guilty life. It was used primarily in the Piel stem, which denotes the
intensification of the action of the verb, i.e., the intensity of Christ’s spiritual death.
The Greek equivalent is the verb hilaskomai.
(2) Kippur (noun) (singular), Kippurim (in the plural), “Atonement.” It was
derived from kaphar as used in the Piel stem. It was used in the name of the Jewish
holiday Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement” (Lev. 25:9). Yom Kippur was the 10th
day of the seventh month, Tishri. Israel fasted on this day and it was celebrated by
a special sin offering for the whole nation. The high priest would enter within the
inner veil bearing the blood of the sin offering (Heb. 9:7). A 2nd goat was released
as an escape goat to symbolize the total removal of sin. Kippur denoted God’s act
of removing the guilt of Israel’s sin. The Greek equivalent is the noun hilasmos.
(3) Kapporeth (noun), “Mercy seat, place of atonement.” It was used 27 times
in the OT. It refers to the golden cover of the sacred chest in the shrine of the
Tabernacle or temple. The mercy seat covered the emblems of Israel’s sin inside
the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:17-22; 37:6-9). 2 Cherubs, representing God’s
righteousness and justice, gazed upon the sacrificial blood sprinkled on the mercy
seat. The blood covering the emblems of sin pictured the ceremonial satisfaction of
God’s righteousness and justice. Christ is our “mercy seat or place of propitiation”
(Rom. 3:25). The Greek equivalent is the noun hilasterion.
Greek New Testament Terms: (1) Hilaskomai (verb), “To make propitiate for,
to make satisfaction for.” It was used only twice in the NT (Luke 18:13; Heb. 2:17)
and refers to the ACT of propitiation. In classical Greek it means, “to please the
gods, to obtain their favor and goodwill.” The Greeks used the word in a perverted
sense with man as the subject, and the object a deity. The Jews in the LXX always
used the verb with Yahweh as the subject. Yahweh takes the initiative in being
propitious to man, not the other way around. The Greeks used the word of man
trying to gain the favor of the gods. The NT writers always used the word with
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 138
God as the subject. It was used of God’s action in providing the necessary Sacrifice
(Christ) who would perform the act of propitiation or satisfying the justice of God.
(2) Hilasmos (noun), “Propitiation, propitiatory sacrifice, the means of
appeasing, the atonement, sin offering, one who makes propitiation.” The Greeks
used with reference to the sacrifice (human or animal) which appeased the wrath of
the angered gods and thus repairs the relationship. The Greek usage was not just of
reconciliation but expiating guilt and cleansing men and cultic objects. It was used
twice in the NT (1 John 2:2; 4:10). The word in these 2 passages refers to Christ
Himself who is the propitiatory sacrifice, the sin offering, and the atoning sacrifice.
Christ is the sacrifice, He is the One God the Father has provided to be the
propitiatory sacrifice, or the Sacrifice that “satisfied” the righteousness and justice
of God the Father.
(3) Hileos (adjective), “Propitious, merciful.” The word meant “cheerful,” or
“happy” in classical Greek. Plato used it to mean “cheerful, joyous” (Plato, Laws
1, 649a). Xenophon used it with reference to being “kindly, gracious, benevolent
(Xen. Cyr. 1, 6, 2). It was used mainly to describe rulers or gods. The Greeks
believed that making the gods happy by propitiating them through sacrifice would
result in their benevolence toward men. It was employed in the LXX to translate
the Hebrew word salach, “to forgive.” It was used in the LXX to describe a
sentiment that God Himself possesses (Num.14: 19, 20; 2 Chron. 6:25-26), and as
a greeting (Gen. 43:23). It occurs 35 times in the LXX particularly in the phrase
hileos einai meaning “to be propitious.” It appears 2 times in the NT (Matt. 16:22;
Heb. 8:12). Matt. 16:22 literally says “propitious to You, Lord,” or “God be
favorable to You, Lord.” Heb. 8:12, “for I will be propitious to their
unrighteousness.”
(4) Hilasterion (adjective), “Place of propitiation, mercy seat.” In classical
Greek, it refers to “a gift to the gods, which procures atonement.” The LXX uses
the word 22 times for the Hebrew kapporet, “mercy seat.” It was used twice in the
NT (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:5). Christ is depicted in Rom. 3:25 as our “mercy seat.” It
functions as a technical term for the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant in both
the LXX and NT. The mercy seat was the golden lid of the Ark of the Covenant.
Christ is the literal fulfillment of the hilasterion in the OT. Christ is the site at
which atonement takes place through faith. Christ is the place of satisfaction.
There were 5 Levitical offerings authorized by the Mosaic Law (Lev. 1-6). The
Burnt offering taught propitiation with emphasis on the work of Christ (Lev. 1).
The Gift offering taught propitiation but this bloodless offering portrayed the
perfect Person of Jesus Christ (Lev. 2). The Peace offering called for the shedding
of blood and taught the doctrine of reconciliation (Lev. 3). The Sin offering taught
the doctrine of Rebound for unknown sins. The Trespass offering taught Rebound
of known sins.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 139
The Hebrew word for “burnt offering” is `ola. The `ola was first presented as a
“gift” (qorban) to Yahweh (Lev. 1:2, 10, 14). Sources from which this offering
could come: (1) “From the herd” (Lev. 1:2-9) (2) “From the flock” (Lev. 1:10-
13) (3) “Of birds” (Lev. 1:14-17). Each type of animal emphasized some aspect of
the doctrine of propitiation. The young bull “from the herd” pictured Jesus Christ
as a servant. The sheep or goat “from the flock” pictured Christ as the qualified
sin-bearer (John 1:29). The birds depicted Christ as the resurrected God-Man.
The bull had to be without blemish depicting the impeccability of our Lord’s
Person (Lev. 1:3). The transfer of sins from the sinner to the Sinless was performed
symbolically in the ritual when the offerer’s hand was placed on the bull’s head
(Lev. 1:4). The sins of the man were identified with the animal, which was to be
slain on his behalf.
Leviticus 1:4, “And he (sinner) shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt
offering (picturing the imputation of our sins to Christ), that it may be
accepted for him to make atonement (propitiation) on his behalf.”
“It may be accepted” is the Hebrew word rasa pronounced rah-tzah, “to be
favorably received,” or “graciously received.” In the Niphal stem which resembles
the Greek middle voice. This means that the subject is acting upon himself. The
Niphal stem here says that the acceptance of the burnt offering is a picture of God
the Father acting upon Himself by providing His Son as the acceptable Sacrifice
for our sins. The Niphal stem here says that God the Father provides the Sacrifice,
which is acceptable to Him. The sacrifice of the bull represented Christ propitiating
God the Father. The Niphal stem says that God the Father has accepted the work of
His Son on the Cross.
“To make atonement” is the Piel infinitive construct of the verb kaphar, “to
cover sin, to make atonement for sin, to make propitiation.” It speaks of the act of
propitiating God here. The Piel stem intensifies the action of the verb. It speaks of
the intensity of this sacrifice, which is a picture of Christ’s substitutionary spiritual
death on the Cross for us. The infinitive construct denotes purpose. The purpose of
the sacrifice was propitiation. The “soothing aroma” in verse 9, which takes place
after this sacrifice when the bull is burned, speaks also of propitiation. Yahweh is
satisfied with the sacrifice, which is a picture of Christ’s future work on the Cross.
The offerings from the flock also taught propitiation. The goat emphasized the
sins to be born by the Messiah on the Cross. The sheep was a picture of our Lord’s
perfect, sinless humanity. In either case, the animal had to be without blemish
(Lev. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
Israel was commanded by Yahweh in the OT to observe 7 Feasts: (1) Passover
(2) Unleavened Bread (3) Firstfruits (4) Pentecost (5) Trumpets (6) Atonement (7)
Tabernacles. Passover was instituted the 14th of April 1441 B.C. (Ex. 12:1-4; Lev.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 140
23:5). Christ is the literal fulfillment of the Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). It spoke of the
Cross.
The feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 1st day of April and lasted 7 days
immediately after Passover. The 3-day feast portrayed the burial of The Lord Jesus
Christ. Unleavened bread portrayed Christ in Hypostatic Union for Jesus Christ is
called the “Bread of Life.”
The feast of First-fruits occurred on the 1st Sunday after the Passover. It fell on
the 3rd day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:9-14). This feast portrayed
the resurrection of Christ who is the 1st fruits.
The feast of Pentecost was a 1-day feast. It occurred on the 1st week in June,
exactly 50 days after the Passover (Lev. 23:15-21). It marked the summer harvest
in which many crops were available. It was literally fulfilled by Christ who was
crucified on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread, raised on Firstfruits, sent God
the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
The feast of Trumpets represents the Rapture and the termination of the 5th
cycle of discipline to Israel and the regathering of Israel (Lev. 23:23). The trumpet
was a signal for the field workers in Israel to come to the Temple and the Jews will
begin the journey back to the Temple right after the Rapture of the Church.
The Feast of Atonement was a day of confession and will represent that the
Lord Jesus Christ is the Messiah. It represents the 2nd Advent. Documentation:
Leviticus 23:24-32; Zechariah 12:10; 13:1, 6. The feast of Tabernacles lasted 7
days and represented the Millennium. The Lord will establish His Tabernacle in
Jerusalem during the Millennial reign (Ezek. 37:26-27). The Day of Atonement
was a most solemn of these great Feasts (Lev. 16:26-32). It is derived from the
Hebrew Yom Kippur. The only day in which anyone was ever permitted to enter
the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, or in the Temple. Only the high priest was
permitted to enter it, and then only after he had brought an offering on behalf on
his own sins (Lev. 16:13). Sacrificed on the Day of Atonement was a young bull
(Lev. 16:6). It was for the sins of the high priest.
Also, 2 goats were sacrificed for the sins of the people (Lev. 16:7-10; 15-16).
The high priest sacrificed the bull on the brass altar as a sin offering for himself
(Lev. 16:11). The blood represented Christ’s spiritual death on the Cross. The
blood was collected in a basin and carried past the huge curtain into the Holy of
Holies. He then sprinkled it on the mercy seat (kapporet). The mercy seat was the
golden lid that fit over the top of the Ark of the Covenant, which contains the
emblems of Israel’s sin. (8) The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold and
stood in the Holy of Holies. The acacia wood of the box spoke of Christ’s
humanity. The gold spoke of His deity. Together these materials represented Christ
in Hypostatic Union or His uniqueness of the God-Man. On each end of the mercy
seat stood the golden figure of a cherub. One represented God’s righteousness and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 141
the other His justice. Righteousness and justice looked down on sin (the emblems
in the Ark) and condemned it. Once a year, the blood of the young bull was
sprinkled on top of the mercy seat. When Righteousness and Justice looked down,
they saw the completed work of Christ covering the sins of the high priest.
The high priest sacrificed 1 of the goats as an offering for the people. The live
goat was sent off into the wilderness after Aaron had laid both of his hands on its
head thus transferring the iniquities of the people to the goat (Lev. 16:20-22). The
“scapegoat” represents that aspect of Christ’s work, which puts away our sins
(John 1:29). The goat that was slain (the Lord’s lot) is that aspect of Christ’s death,
which satisfies or vindicates the holy and righteousness of God that is demanded in
the law. Aaron took the goats blood and entered into the Holy of Holies a second
time to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat. This time the spiritual death of Christ
on the cross was dramatized as covering the sins of all the people. God does not
remember our sins for they were put away and paid for by our Lord’s spiritual
death (Psa. 103:12). The fulfillment of the Old Testament ritual came in the Person
of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ entered the real Holy of Holies and
not the shadow one on earth (Heb. 10:24). Our Lord did not have to offer a
sacrifice for Himself as the Levitical high priest had to for himself for He was
without sin, impeccable (Heb. 8:26-27). Instead, The Lord Jesus Christ offered
Himself up once as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of all mankind (Heb. 8:27; 9:28a).
He entered heaven one time and sat down at the right hand of God the Father (Heb.
10:12). Christ’s has obtained a much greater ministry than Aaron (Heb. 8:6).
The Aaronic priesthood was a mere shadow of Christ’s Royal Priesthood (Heb.
8:1-6). The Tabernacle made on earth, which was made with human hands, was
just a picture of the real one in heaven. The animal blood sacrifices were shadows
or copies of the true sacrifice that was to take place on Calvary when our Lord died
spiritually for our sins (Heb. 9:23-26). Our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross fulfilled
completely the Mosaic sacrifices. His spiritual death paid for or covered our sins
permanently, as the blood on the mercy seat covered the sins of Israel temporarily
(Heb. 9:12-14; 10:4). The animal sacrifices in the OT pictured the future sacrifice
of Christ. They were merely shadows of Christ’s work on the cross (Heb. 10:1).
The phrase in Romans 3:25, “sins previously committed,” teaches that the sins
committed in the OT were not paid for by the animal sacrifices but with our Lord’s
sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary. The rituals performed in the OT were not the
reality. The reality or the sacrifice that propitiated God was the sacrifice of His Son
on the Cross, and not the animal sacrifices (Heb. 10:4-10). Ritual without reality is
meaningless. The animal sacrifices were merely teaching aids to communicate the
doctrines of propitiation, redemption and reconciliation to those who lived in OT
dispensations. Christ spiritual death satisfied the righteousness of God not the
animal sacrifices.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 142
Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, He (TLJC) had to be made like His brethren in
all things (reference to the necessity of the Incarnation), that He might become
a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make
propitiation for the sins of the people.”
This passage brings out that aspect of Christ’s substitutionary spiritual death,
which was Godward. Hebrews 2:17 brings out the purpose of the Incarnation that
God might be gracious towards us on the basis of the propitiatory act of Christ on
the Cross which was His substitutionary spiritual death. Hebrews 2:17 states that
the Lord Jesus Christ performs the act of propitiating God or satisfying the justice
of God the Father. Righteousness demanded that our sins be judged. Our Lord
received the imputation of our personal sins and received the judgment for those
sins on the Cross, thus, satisfying the justice of God. This fulfills the principle that
what the righteousness of God demands, the justice of God executes. The action
that satisfied the justice of God the Father was our Lord’s spiritual death on the
Cross. The Incarnation made possible salvation. The Doctrine of the Incarnation is
the period of time (33 1/2 years) in which the 2nd Person of the Trinity, God the
Son, lived on earth in Hypostatic Union. If God the Son did not become true
humanity then salvation would not be possible. For only humanity can die and not
deity. Therefore, it was imperative that God the Son become a human being so that
He could make the sacrifice that would propitiate the Father’s justice.
Hebrews 2:17 states the purpose for the Incarnation, which is “to make
propitiation for the sins of the people” is the NAS translation of the Greek
prepositional phrase, eis to hilaskesthai tas hamartias tou laou. We have a purpose
clause eis to plus the infinitive of hilaskomai. The preposition eis and the definite
article to plus an infinitive is a common Greek idiom to express a design or
purpose. The preposition eis is “temporal” or refers to a “goal in time.” It
introduces a “purpose” and when used in this manner should be translated, “with a
view to, for the purpose of.” The NAS does not translate this idiom properly. To
hilaskesthai is an articular infinitive or an infinitive with the definite article in front
of it. The articular infinitive is used here to express a purpose. The goal in time or
the purpose of the Incarnation was to propitiate or satisfy the righteous demands of
God the Father. The righteousness of God the Father demanded sin be judged. Our
Lord became true humanity in order that He might receive the imputation of our
sins and be judged for them and thereby satisfies the righteousness of God.
Hilaskesthai is the present middle infinitive of the verb hilaskomai, “to make
propitiation for.” It refers to the act of our Lord offering Himself on the Cross to
satisfy the righteous demands of God’s justice. Hilaskomai is etymologically
connected with hilaos and hileos, “friendly, gracious, and hilemi, “to be gracious.”
God is gracious towards us because His justice has been satisfied by our Lord’s
spiritual death, which was the act of propitiation itself. Grace and mercy can now
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 143
be extended to us on the basis of justice satisfied. Remember, God isn’t gracious to
us because He forgot our sins or swept them under the rug. No, they were imputed
to Christ on the Cross and judged. This means that no one gets away with sin
because Christ was judged for every sin committed by the human race-past, present
and future. God always deals with us with according to His own Integrity. This
means that He deals with us according to Who and What He is and What He has
done, not who and what we are or what we do. Our point of contact with God is
always His Integrity, which is His love. God’s love acts righteously and justly
towards members of the human race.
God is propitiated according to what He has done (2 Cor. 5:19a). God is
gracious towards us because of what He has done through Christ on the Cross. The
Lord Jesus Christ received the imputation of our sins in order to propitiate or
satisfy the Father’s righteous demands that our sins be judged. Vine writes,
“Through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, he who believes upon Him is by
God’s own act delivered from justly deserved wrath, and comes under the covenant
of grace.” Never is God said to be reconciled, a fact itself indicative that the
enmity exists on man’s part alone, and that it is man who needs to be reconciled to
God, and not God to man. God is always the same and, since He is Himself
immutable, His relative attitude does change towards those who change. He can
act differently towards those who come to Him by faith, and solely on the ground
of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, not because He has changed, but because He
ever acts according to His unchanging righteousness.” The present tense of
hilaskomai is a customary present denoting that which habitually occurs or may be
reasonably expected to occur. The action is assumed to be true in the past or future,
as well as the present. Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice for our sins is an act that is
assumed to be true in the past or future, as well as the present. The key word being
“assumed.” The infinitive is purposive. The present infinitive is also durative. God
provides the propitiatory sacrifice. This is an indirect middle signifying that the
action is closely related to the subject, or is related to the subject in some special
and distinctive sense, which the writer wishes to emphasize. The indirect middle
states that God took it upon Himself to provide the Sacrifice by means of the
Incarnation, which would satisfy His own justice. The indirect middle states that
God took it upon Himself to satisfy His own righteous demands and thus satisfy
His own justice. The indirect middle brings out the fact that only God can satisfy
His own Integrity. It brings out the fact God only accepts what He provides, and
thus excludes human works. God provided the Sacrifice, Christ, and as that
Sacrifice He would perform the ACT of propitiating the Father.
1 John 4:10, “In this is impersonal unconditional love, not that we loved
God, but that He impersonally unconditionally loved us (with emphasis on His
own Integrity) and sent His Son to be the propitiation (hilasmos,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 144
“propitiatory sacrifice”) for our sins.” Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice was an act
of justice as well as an act of love.
1 John 4:10 brings into view God’s love for all of humanity. God’s love cannot
save anyone though. God’s impersonal unconditional self-sacrificial love for the
world was the motivation for sending His Son to the Cross as the propitiatory
sacrifice, which took away the sins of the world. Our sins went to Christ on the
cross and His righteousness went to us at the moment of personal faith in Christ.
We become objects of God’s personal love at salvation because we now possess
His righteousness. God loves His own righteousness. God can give us His
righteousness when we believe in Christ because Christ has satisfied the Father’s
righteousness. God loves us because of who and what HE is. Because of the
provisions HE has made. Because on the Cross HIS justice fulfilled the demands of
HIS righteousness. This is grace.
Romans 3:25, “Whom God (the Father) displayed publicly as a
propitiation in His blood (Christ’s saving work which speaks of Redemption,
Propitiation and Reconciliation) through faith (you benefit from Christ’s
saving work upon believing in Him for salvation). This was to demonstrate
His (God the Father’s) righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He
passed over the sins previously committed (the Father knew in His
omniscience that He would send His Son to die for the sins committed in the
OT).”
Romans 3:25 identifies that the Lord Jesus Christ is the “mercy seat.” In the
OT, the blood of the sacrificed animal was sprinkled on the mercy seat (kapporet)
between the 2 cherubs, which represented God’s righteousness, and justice. This
occurred during the Day of Atonement, the most solemn of holy days in which the
high priest would make atonement the sins of Israel as well as his own. The mercy
seat was the golden lid that fit over the top of the Ark of the Covenant, which
contains the emblems of Israel’s sin. The Lord is the “true” mercy seat spoken of
in the OT although He did not have to offer a sacrifice for Himself as the OT high
priest because He was impeccable. The atonement took place in Christ, our mercy
seat. He is the sight of the atonement. The 3 items in the Ark: (1) A pot of manna:
called to mind man’s rejection of divine provision (2) Aaron’s rod that budded:
exhibited rejection of God’s plan regarding the authority of the Levitical
priesthood. (3) Tables of the Law: a reminder of Israel’s violations of the Mosaic
Law.
The Ark of the Covenant was overlaid with gold and stood in the Holy of
Holies. The acacia wood of the box spoke of Christ’s humanity. The gold spoke of
His deity. Together these materials represented Christ in Hypostatic Union or His
uniqueness as the God-Man.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 145
On each end of the mercy seat stood the golden figure of a cherub. One represented
God’s righteousness and the other His justice. Righteousness and justice looked
down on sin (the emblems in the Ark) and condemned it, but once a year, on the
Day of Atonement, the blood of the young bull was sprinkled on top of the mercy
seat. When Righteousness and Justice looked down, they saw the blood of the
animal covering the mercy seat representing the completed work of Christ.
Hilasterion in classical Greek referred to the act of appeasing the Greek gods by
a sacrifice. It was an effort to buy off the anger of the gods and buy his love. Of
course, this is not the case with the God of the Bible; you can’t buy off His love, as
some people seem to think. Hilasterion is related to hilasterios and belongs to a
group of words, which includes the verb hilaskomai, “to make propitiation for,”
and the noun hilasmos, “propitiatory sacrifice.” It functions in the LXX and the
NT as a technical term. The word in the LXX and NT means “the place of
propitiation, the mercy seat” (Heb. 9:5), i.e. the lid of the ark (compare frequent
similar use in the Old Testament LXX, Ex. 25:18). The lid of the ark was sprinkled
with atoning blood on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:14), representing that the
righteous sentence of the law had been executed, changing a place of judgment
into a place of mercy (Heb. 9:11-15; cp. “Throne of grace,” Heb. 4:14-16; place
of communion, Ex. 25:21-22).
Both, Exodus 25:21-22 and Hebrews 4:14-16 and 9:11-15 emphasize the place
where we are to meet with God. The only way we can “draw near to God” (Heb.
4:14-16), and “meet” with God (Ex. 25:21-22) is through the Person of Jesus
Christ-our mercy seat. He is the Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).
In the LXX, hilasterion translates the Hebrew word kapporeth, “the mercy
seat,” which is the golden lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The term serves other
purposes in the Old Testament as well, but it mainly refers to the mercy seat of the
Ark of the Covenant. Some theologians argue that Paul is speaking of the
sacrifice and not the mercy seat but if that was the case he would have used the
word hilasmos as the apostle John did in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10. But it is quite clear
that the Holy Spirit specifically guided Paul in using the technical term hilasterion,
“mercy seat, and the place of propitiation or atonement” so that we could see that
Christ is the site at which atonement takes place through faith. Wuest writes, “The
word hilasterion is used in Leviticus 16:14 (LXX) to refer to the golden cover on
the Ark of the Covenant. In the Ark, below this cover, were the tablets of stone
upon which were written the Ten Commandments, which Israel had violated.
Before the Ark stood the High Priest representing the people. When the sacrificial
blood is sprinkled on this cover, it ceases to be a place of judgment and becomes a
place of mercy. The blood comes between the violated law and the violators, the
people. The blood of Jesus satisfies the just requirements of God’s holy law which
mankind broke, pays the penalty for man, and thus removes that which had
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 146
separated between a holy God and sinful man, sin, its guilt and penalty. This is a
far cry from the pagan idea of propitiation, which appeased the anger of the god
and purchased his love. The words, “an expiatory satisfaction” seem to be the
words rather than propitiation to adequately translate hilasterion. Hilasterion is
the place of satisfaction, hilasmos (1 John 2:2; 4:10) that which provides that
satisfaction for the broken law. Thus, our blessed Lord is both the Mercy Seat and
the Sacrifice which transforms the former from a judgment seat to one where
mercy is offered a sinner on the basis of justice satisfied.”
Hilasterion is used by the apostle Paul as technical term. It represents the
Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It speaks of the “place” or “site” that we can meet
with God and have communion with Him, which is through His Son Jesus Christ.
The Hebrew equivalent for hilasterion is the word kapporet. Kapporet means
“mercy seat” and was the site or the place where propitiation took place. The
kapporet was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold, which spoke of our
Lord’s humanity and deity respectively. It spoke of the unique Person of our Lord
Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union. So Paul uses hilasterion with a very definite
purpose in mind. He wishes to emphasize the Person of our Lord. He wishes to
emphasize the “place” or the “site” of propitiation where we can meet or have
communion with God, which is through His Son Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s
propitiatory sacrifice changes the hilasterion from a place of judgment to a “throne
of grace” or place where mercy can be extended to man.
1 John 2:2, “And He Himself (“Jesus Christ the righteous”) is the
propitiatory sacrifice for our (personal) sins, but in fact, not for ours only, but
also for sins of the whole world (unlimited atonement).”
God’s Integrity is emphasized. Only a “Righteous” Person can satisfy the
justice of a “Righteous” God. Only a “Righteous” Person can produce a
“righteous” act. The sins of the world are no longer an issue with God because His
justice has been satisfied by a “Righteous” Person’s action (propitiatory sacrifice).
The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ is the basis for the strategic victory over Satan
in the Angelic Conflict. The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ resolves the problem of
the demands of God’s righteousness and justice. Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice was
accomplished by Him and Him alone, thus, excluding all human works or power.
Propitiation is directed towards God or it is said to be Godward. Propitiation
means “satisfaction.” The righteousness of God demanded that our sins be judged.
Christ received the imputation of our sins in order that He might be judged by the
justice of God for them and not us. Therefore, fulfilling the principle that “what the
righteousness of God demands, the justice of God executes.” Righteousness
demands righteousness. There is only 1 Person who was qualified to perform the
act of propitiating the Father. “Jesus Christ the righteous.” He alone possessed
the righteousness needed to be the Perfect Sacrifice for our sins. Jesus Christ is
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 147
both undiminished deity and true humanity in 1 Person forever. As God, He is
perfectly righteous. As true humanity, He was impeccable or was without sin. He
possessed the same Perfect Integrity and character that the Father possessed;
therefore, He was able to perform the necessary sacrifice, which would satisfy the
justice of God. “Jesus Christ the righteous” alone was able to meet the righteous
demands of God’s Integrity.
There are several passages, which teach that the Father was satisfied with His
Son (Matt. 3:16-17; 17:1-5). The Lord Jesus Christ was “well pleasing” to the
Father because He was impeccable in His humanity, and therefore, the Perfect
Sacrifice. God the Father was “satisfied” with Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice
because He was impeccable. The Father was testifying that Jesus Christ in His
humanity was perfectly righteous. God has never said He was “well pleased” with
any human being except The Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Romans 3:10, “There is
none righteous, not even one.” God the Father is only pleased or satisfied with 1
Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I am well pleased” in both Matthew 3:17 and 17:5 is the 1st person aorist
active indicative from the verb eudokeo. This verb is used 7 times in the NT
relating to Christ (Matt. 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; 2 Peter 1:17).
This verb is found frequently in the papyri in legal documents. Eudokeo when used
of persons or things means “to be well pleasing or acceptable, to be satisfied with,
to approve of, to take pleasure in, to have delight in.” This verb when used in
relation to Christ speaks of the Father’s satisfaction with the perfect humanity of
our Lord. Therefore, the humanity of Christ is able to perform the act of
propitiating the Father.
Our Lord was perfectly qualified to satisfy the justice of God the Father because
He was impeccable. Because our Lord was a truly “righteous” Person, He was
therefore able to perform a “righteous” action. In order to satisfy God’s perfect
righteous demands, one must be perfectly righteous himself. Christ’s righteousness
was equal to the Father’s. This can be considered both a gnomic or dramatic aorist
tense. The gnomic aorist or “timeless” aorist is a generally accepted fact or truth,
which may be regarded as fixed in its certainty or axiomatic in its character. The
gnomic aorist brings out the fact that the Father is perfectly satisfied with His Son.
It is to be accepted as fact, it is certain. The dramatic aorist states a present reality
with the certitude of a past event. The humanity of Christ was well pleasing to the
Father up to that point. The dramatic aorist is a device for emphasis. It is
commonly used of a state, which has just been realized, or a result, which has just
been accomplished, or is on the point of being accomplished. The dramatic aorist
tense states that the Son at that time was pleasing to the Father, and that the
humanity of Christ was at the point of perfectly accomplishing the work of
satisfying the Father-the Cross. The active voice states that the God the Father
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 148
performs the action of the verb. The active voice states that the Father is satisfied
or well pleased with the Person of Jesus Christ. The indicative mood is declarative
stating a dogmatic statement of fact. The indicative mood states that the Father is
dogmatically satisfied with His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, because the Father is
satisfied with the humanity of Christ, He will be satisfied with Christ’s sacrifice.
Colossians 2:15, “When He (God the Father) had disarmed the rulers and
authorities, He (God the Father) made a public display of them (Satan and the
fallen angels), having triumphed over them through Him (Christ).” Jesus
Christ was “publicly displayed” by God the Father as the Sacrifice for our sins in
order to demonstrate His justice (Rom. 3:25). This wasn’t done in a closest nor is it
a fairy tale but a historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth died on a Roman cross two
thousand years ago. God’s righteousness has been “publicly displayed” at the
cross before angels and men.
Our Lord defeated Satan at the Cross and this was seen by the elect and fallen
angels. The Cross was our Lord’s strategic victory over Satan and the kingdom of
darkness. “He made a public display” is the Greek verb deigmatizo, “to make an
example of, to expose, to make public, to exhibit.” It has a negative connotation of
“disgracing someone, of making public what someone would like to keep secret, or
of making an example of someone.” In eternity past, Satan challenged the Integrity
of God (His justice and righteousness) for sentencing him with the fallen angels to
the Lake of Fire. Satan challenged God’s Integrity by saying that He didn’t love
His creatures. The Cross proved Satan wrong. God does love His creatures even
creatures like us who are totally unworthy but are qualified to be recipients of His
grace. The Cross proved that God is the Greatest Lover in the universe since He
loves sinners such as us. God the Father vindicated Himself at the Cross through
Christ’s sacrifice. God the Father made “an example” out of Satan and the fallen
angels through Christ on the Cross. God the Father defeated Satan and the fallen
angels at the Cross through Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice. The Cross proved that
God was righteous for sending Satan and the fallen angels to the Lake of Fire. The
Cross proved that God does not compromise His Integrity but that He does indeed
judge sin. His Integrity says that He has to. The Cross proved before the whole
universe that God has perfect Integrity. It should not be questioned by angels or
men. Especially men, since they are beneficiaries of His Integrity.
Results of Propitiation: (1) Basis for the unlimited atonement (1 John 2:2; 1
Tim. 2:5; 2 Pet. 3:9). (2) Basis for the forgiveness of sins (2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 1:14;
Heb. 9:12-15). (3) Basis for the imputation of divine righteousness (Rom. 3:25-26).
(4) Basis for justification (Rom. 3:28; 2 Cor. 5:21). (5) Basis for reconciliation (2
Cor. 5:18; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:20-21). (6) Basis for the victory over Satan in the
Angelic Conflict (Col. 2:15).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 149
Reconciliation
Reconciliation is God’s peace treaty with the entire human race. It is the result
of the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Reconciliation removes the Barrier,
which separates God from man (Eph. 2:14-16). The peace offering in the Old
Testament depicts reconciliation (Lev. 3; 7:11-38; 8:15). The peace offering
emphasizes the Person of Christ. The peace offering sets forth God as propitiated
and the sinner reconciled. The Author of the Peace Treaty is God the Father (2 Cor.
5:18a; Eph. 1:3-7; 2:14-16). Man was the enemy of God (Rom. 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-
5). God the Father is the Initiator of the peace treaty with man. Man is totally
helpless to make peace with God (Rom. 3:10, 23; 8:5-8; Eph. 2:1). The Lord Jesus
Christ is the Mediator of the Peace Treaty (2 Cor. 5:18b; 1 Tim. 2:5). The Lord is
the peacemaker (Eph. 2:14). This peace treaty took place inside the Person of
Christ, the God-Man (2 Cor. 5:19a; Eph. 2:14-16; Col. 1:22; 1 Pet. 2:24). God
offers the entire world a full pardon of their sin through faith in Jesus Christ (2
Cor. 5:19b; Acts 13:38; Eph. 1:7; 4:32b; Col. 1:14; 2:13; 1 John 2:12). Every
believer in the Church Age has been an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20a). The
terms of the Peace Treaty is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; John
3:16, 36). Reconciliation is totally the work of God. It is God’s peace treaty with
the entire human race or the removal of the Barrier, which separated God from
man and is a result of the finished work of Christ on the Cross (2 Cor. 5:18; Eph.
2:14-16; Col. 1:20-21). The 3 Major Doctrines of Soteriology are: (1)
Redemption: inward (2) Propitiation: Godward (3) Reconciliation: manward.
Hebrews Terms: (1) Shalom (noun), “Peace, prosperity, health, safety,
completeness, soundness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment, the unimpaired
relationship with others and fulfillment in one’s undertakings.” (2) Shelem (noun),
“Peace offering, sacrifice for alliance or friendship.” (3) Shalam (denominative
verb), “To be in covenant of peace.” (4) Shalem (verb), “To be complete, sound,
perfect, whole, full, completion and fulfillment-of entering into a state of
wholeness and unity, a restored relationship.”
Greek Terms: (1) Eirene (noun), “Peace as the antithesis to war, the state of law
and order which results in the blessings of prosperity for the people, peaceful
conduct of men toward each other, a peaceful mental attitude.” (2) Katallasso
(verb), “To change or give away, to exchange one thing for another, to change a
person from enmity to friendship.” (3) Katallage (noun), “the restoration of the
original understanding between people after hostilities, reconciliation.” (3)
Apokatallasso (verb), “to reconcile enemies, to restore a broken relationship to its
former peaceful state, to reconcile by transferring from the original human status of
real spiritual death to the status of eternal salvation.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 150
Mankind commits acts of sin (Isa. 64:6b; Rom. 3:23). The penalty of sin is
spiritual death (Rom. 5:12; 6:23a). All are born spiritually dead at physical birth
(Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1). Man’s relative righteousness cannot compare to
God’s perfect righteousness (Isa. 64:6a; Rom. 9:30-33). The character of God
demands that our personal sins be judged (Isa. 46:9b; 64:6b; Rom. 8:8). Man’s
position in Adam as a result of the imputation of his sin (1 Cor. 15:22a).
Redemption resolves man’s problem with sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:7; Titus
2:14; 1 Tim. 2:6a). The Unlimited Atonement also resolves man’s sin problem (1
John 2:2). Expiation resolves man’s problem with the penalty of sin, which is
spiritual death (Col. 2:14). Regeneration resolves man’s problem with being born
spiritually dead (John 3:1-18). Imputation resulting in justification resolves the
problem of man’s relative righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:1-5;
Gal. 2:16). Propitiation resolves man’s problem with the perfect character of God
(Rom. 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2). Our position in Christ resolves man’s position in
Adam (1 Cor. 5:22b; 2 Cor. 5:17).
The 1st aspect of the barrier is sin. Sin is anything contrary to the character of
God or acting independently of God and His provision. Sin is coming short of
God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:23). The 1st sin in the human race was an act of
disobedience on the part of Adam, the 1st human being. We all became sinners
because of Adam’s sin in the garden (Rom. 5:19a). We receive the imputation of
Adam’s sin at the moment of physical birth. When Adam became a sinner, we
became sinners (Rom. 5:12). We are all born into the slave market of sin and will
remain slaves as long as we live unless we accept God’s solution for sinredemption.
Redemption is the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross whereby all
humanity is bought from the slave market of sin in which they were born and
delivered to the freedom of grace. It becomes a reality for a person when they
make the non-meritorious decision to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation (Eph.
1:7; Rom. 3:23). Christ’s spiritual death on the Cross was the ransom price paid to
redeem sinners from the slave market of sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Redemption is for
everyone, i.e., unlimited atonement (2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Tim. 4:10; 1 John 2:2), since
the entire world is affected by sin. It includes forgiveness by God of all sin (Heb.
9:22). Redemption also provides the basis for justification and immediate cleansing
of sin at salvation (Rom. 3:24).
Sin affects all members of the human race. The Lord Jesus Christ was judged
for every sin ever committed by the human race (2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Tim. 4:10). Sin
is not an issue anymore with God. The Lord Jesus Christ died for every member of
the human race. This speaks of the doctrine of the unlimited atonement (1 Tim.
4:10; 1 John 2:2). Because the Lord Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole
world, redemption is available to the entire human race (1 Pet. 2:24; John 1:12).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 151
Adam was commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
(Gen. 2:17a). The penalty for disobedience to the command was spiritual death
(Gen. 2:17b). Adam did not die physically, but spiritually when he ate from the
tree (Rom. 6:23a). Adam died physically 900 years later (Gen. 5:5). Spiritual death
has been passed down to the entire human race as a result of Adam’s disobedience.
Spiritual death is loss of fellowship with God. Adam’s original sin plus Adam’s
sinful trend equals spiritual death. Adam’s sin is directly imputed by the justice of
God at the moment of PHYSICAL BIRTH. Adam’s trend is passed down
genetically through the male in copulation. The genetically formed old sin nature is
the home or target for the imputation of Adam’s sin. This result is spiritual death in
us. When we receive the imputation of Adam’s sin to our genetically formed old
sin nature at physical birth, we are spiritually dead. We lack a human spirit. We are
totally helpless because we are born spiritually dead. God has to do something for
us.
Mankind would be destined to the Lake of Fire forever and ever if it were not
for the Lord Jesus Christ’s substitutionary spiritual death. Mankind has a debt that
it cannot pay. The Lord Jesus Christ’s spiritual death on the cross paid that debt.
The canceling of this debt is called “expiation” (Col. 2:14). “Having cancelled
out” is the Greek verb exaleipho which means, “to wipe out, to erase, to blot out,
obliterated.” This verb is an intensified form of the verb aleipho, “to anoint, smear
as with oil” The sins of the whole world have been completely obliterated by the
Lord Jesus Christ’s spiritual death on the cross. Expiate means “to atone for,” or “to
make amends for an offense.” Mankind could never repay the debt. No person can
meet God’s perfect righteous standards. The penalty for all our sins is spiritual
death. The payment for our sins was the Lord Jesus Christ’s substitutionary
spiritual death on the cross (Isa. 53:6; Titus 2:14). The Lord Jesus Christ suffered
spiritual death when God the Father forsook Him for 3 hours on the cross (Mark
15:34).
Adam was originally created a trichotomous being. Adam’s original sin resulted
in him dying spiritually. He lost his human spirit. He became dichotomous
meaning that he now had only a body and a soul. Not only did Adam lose his
human spirit but also he gained a sin nature. The sin nature is the source of
spiritual death. The sin nature is in the cell structure of our human bodies (Rom.
6:6). The sin nature receives the imputation of Adam’s original sin at the moment
of physical birth. This is why every person is born spiritually dead. The soul is the
immaterial essence of a person. The human spirit gives us the ability to understand
spiritual things. Adam lost his ability to understand the things of God, who is spirit
(John 4:24), when he sinned in the garden. Adam’s relationship with God was
severed. Every person is cut off from God because of the sin nature and the lack of
a human spirit as a result of Adam’s disobedience (Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1). This is
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 152
why we all need to be born again, spiritually. We receive a human spirit at the
second birth, which is called regeneration (John 3:36b; 1 Cor. 2:10; 2:12). We are
all born physically alive with a soul but spiritually dead (1 Cor. 2:14).
“Natural” is the adjective psuchikos which is from the noun psuche meaning
“soul.” Psuchikos describes a “soulish,” or an “unspiritual” person. We must be
born spiritually, regenerated, in order to have a relationship with God.
Regeneration is a supernatural work of God. When a person believes in Christ
eternal life is imputed by God the Father to the human spirit, which was created by
the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). Our Lord taught Nicodemus the doctrine of
regeneration in John 3:1-18.
Regeneration is solely the work of God, no human works are involved. God the
Holy Spirit creates a human spirit. God the Father imputes eternal life to our
human spirit. The results of Regeneration: (1) God becomes our Father (2 Cor.
6:18). (2) We become sons of God (John 1:12). (3) We become members of the
Royal Family of God (Gal. 3:26).
Human righteousness compares one set of morals and values with another.
People who have establishment principles and are virtuous, honorable, and moral
are considered “good” people. People who are selfish, immoral, irresponsible and
dishonorable are considered “bad” people. According to human standards, one
group is “bad” and the other is “good.” But if we compare both groups to God’s
standards, they don’t even compare (Rom. 3:23; Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:10; Isa. 64:6a).
There are 2 types of unbelievers: (1) Moral degenerates (2) Immoral degenerates.
Mankind doesn’t have a righteousness that is equal to God’s righteousness. The
Pharisees who were moral, religious, self-righteous individuals thought that their
good works would get them into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20b).
Unbelieving Israel sought righteousness through their own works and not by faith
in Christ (Rom. 9:30-33). Our sins were charged to Christ when He hung upon the
cross. God the Father imputed or credited all the sins of the entire human race to
the Lord Jesus Christ. That payment for sin removed the 1st problem, which is sin.
The Lord Jesus Christ was the only Man qualified because He was sinless. He bore
in His body every sin you and I would ever commit past, present and future (1
Tim. 4:10; 1 Pet. 2:24). Unless we accept His sacrifice by faith alone in Christ
alone (Eph. 2:8-9), we keep our own relative righteousness. Our own relative
righteousness is not good enough before God. We must believe on the Lord Jesus
Christ to receive God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:22). God’s righteousness is credited
to our accounts at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:5). “Reckoned”
is logizomai in the Greek which means, “to impute, to credit something to
someone’s account, to put on the credit side of the ledger.” Logizomai refers to
imputation. Expiation takes us out of the red. Imputation puts us in the black. The
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 153
work of Christ on the cross debits from our account our own relative righteousness
and credits to our account His perfect righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).
Abraham is an Old Testament example of imputation. He was the 1st Jew. He
was a Gentile before his circumcision. Abraham was saved before circumcision
and then became a Jew. He was saved on the basis of faith, not works (Rom. 4:1-
2). If Abraham was justified by works, he could boast (Rom. 3:27-28). Abraham
believed in the Lord and did not rely upon his own human righteousness (Rom.
4:3). God’s righteousness was credited to Abraham’s account through faith in the
Lord. Those who try to get to heaven by works will find only condemnation
because they can’t measure up to God’s righteousness (Rom. 4:4). The one who
does not work for salvation but believes in Christ will receive God’s righteousness
(Rom. 4:5). The imputation of divine righteousness results in justification for the
one who believes in Christ and the problem of relative righteousness are resolved
(Gal. 2:16).
Justification means an act of vindication. It is a judicial act of vindication,
because we are born under condemnation, being spiritually dead through
imputation of Adam’s original sin to our genetically formed old sin nature.
Justification is an official judicial act, which occurs every time anyone believes in
Christ. The justice of God acts on our behalf pronouncing us justified, which
means that we have a relationship with God forever. When an individual has
personal faith in Christ, the righteousness of God demands that the justice of God
declare the believer justified. Justification is the judicial act by God, whereby He
recognizes we have His perfect righteousness (Rom. 5:16-18). Justification occurs
instantaneously but in 3 logical steps: (1) We believe in Christ (2) The
righteousness of God is imputed to us (3) God recognizes as valid His
righteousness in us and pronounces us justified.
The whole human race falls short of the essence of God (Rom. 3:23). Man’s sin
is an outrage to God’s holiness, which consists of His righteousness and justice.
Since we all have sinned, we are unacceptable to God (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 8:8). God
can’t have anything to do with sin. His righteousness demands that sin be judged
and the condemnation of man. What the righteousness of God demands, the justice
of God executes. Sin must be judged. The divine blessings of salvation and the
Christian life cannot pour through the “grace pipeline” to man until the
righteousness and the justice of God are first satisfied. Propitiation means that the
Lord Jesus Christ “satisfied the justice of God” (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2). The Lord
Jesus Christ satisfied the Father’s holiness. This is the Godward side of the cross
meaning that it is the aspect of Christ’s saving work which is directed toward God.
Propitiation resolves man’s problem with God’s Holy Character or Divine Essence.
God has been propitiated by the work of Christ on the cross. Sin is no longer an
obstacle. Sin is not an issue because the Lord Jesus Christ propitiated God the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 154
Father. Our salvation has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ and is
complete (John 19:30). Therefore, we don’t need to add anything to salvation. No
human works are needed. The world could not be reconciled to God if Jesus Christ
did not first satisfy the justice of God. Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice made peace
with God. We can now be reconciled to God because Christ satisfied the justice of
God.
Adam was the representative “head” of the human race. We all come from
Adam. When Adam sinned, we all sinned because of the imputation of Adam’s
original sin. Sin and spiritual death came upon the entire human race because
Adam disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
(Rom. 5:17-19). Therefore, it says in 1 Corinthians 15:22a, “For as in Adam all
die (spiritually).” Because of our position “in Adam” we were “excluded from
the life of God” (Eph. 4:18). We are born into this position through physical birth.
We cannot have a relationship with God because of our position in Adam. Our
position in Adam means condemnation and death. The moment we believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit places us “in Christ.” This is called the
Baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). The BOTS is when the omnipotence of God
the Holy Spirit places us in union with Christ. We have a new relationship with
God because of our position “in Christ.” We are in union with Christ (1 Cor.
15:22b). Jesus Christ is called the last Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45, and is the
head of the new spiritual species. The new spiritual species are those believers who
are in union with Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
The “old things”: (1) Man commits acts of sin. (2) The penalty of sin is
spiritual death. (3) We are all born spiritually dead at physical birth. (4) Man’s
relative righteousness cannot compare to God’s perfect righteousness. (5) The
character or essence of God demands that our personal sins be judged. (6) Man’s
position in Adam as a result of the imputation of his sin.
“The new things”: (1) Baptism of the Spirit (2) New Spiritual Species (3)
Members of the Royal Family of God (4) The Plan of God for the Church Age (5)
Equal Privilege and Equal Opportunity to execute the Plan of God for the Church
Age (6) Royal Commissions (7) 100% Availability of Divine Power (8) The
Unique Mystery Doctrines of the Church Age (9) The Indwelling of the Trinity
(10) Opportunity to become an Invisible Hero in the Angelic Conflict
Because of our union with Christ we share: (1) His eternal life (1 John 5:11-12)
(2) His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21) (3) His election (Eph. 1:3-4) (4) His Sonship
(Gal. 3:26) (5) His heirship (Rom. 8:16-17) (6) His priesthood (Heb. 10:10-14) (7)
His royalty (2 Tim. 2:11-12)
Our eternal union with Christ: (1) depends solely on the integrity and work of
God-not our works. (2) Permanent (3) Eliminates our position in Adam (4) gives
us eternal life (5) removes the final brick in the wall or barrier.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 155
There were 5 Levitical offerings authorized by the Mosaic Law (Lev. 1-6): (1)
The Burnt offering taught propitiation with emphasis on the work of Christ (Lev.
1) (2) The Gift offering taught propitiation but this bloodless offering portrayed the
perfect Person of Jesus Christ (Lev. 2). (3) The Peace offering called for the
shedding of blood and taught the doctrine of reconciliation (Lev. 3). (4) The Sin
offering taught the doctrine of Rebound for unknown sins. (5) The Trespass
offering taught Rebound of known sins.
The acceptance of the terms of God’s peace treaty, i.e., reconciliation.
Fellowship and communion with the Lord. Eating and drinking in the kingdom of
God (Luke 14:15; 22:30). The Peace offering emphasizes the Person of Christ. The
Lord Jesus Christ: (1) “is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). (2) “Made peace” (Col. 1:20).
(3) “Preached peace” (Eph. 2:17). (4) “Prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6).
The peace offering is found in Leviticus 3. The Hebrew word for “peace
offering” is shelem, or zebah shelamim, “sacrifice of peace.” The Peace offering
always followed the other offerings.
Categories of Peace offerings: (1) Thank offering (zebah hattoda, “sacrifice of
thanksgiving,” Lev. 7:12; 22:29) (2) Votive offering (zebah neder, “sacrifice of a
vow,” Num. 6:2; 15:3, 8) (3) Freewill offering (zebah nedaba, Lev. 7:16; 22:18,
21).
Peace offerings took place on: (1) Public occasions (2) Private occasions.
Public: (1) Customary on festive inauguration (Ex. 24:5; 2 Sam. 6:17-18; 1 Kings
8:63) (2) Election of kings (1 Sam.11: 15) (3) Joyous occasions (Deut. 27:7; Josh.
8:31) (4) Prescribed for the feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:19) (5) Festivals were
observed with them (Num. 10:10; 2 Chron. 30:22). Solomon arranged 3 times a
year a sacrificial festival of burnt and peace offerings (1 Kings 9:25). Private: (1)
Result of free impulse or fulfillment of a vow (Lev. 7:16; 22:21; Num. 15:8) (2)
Recognition of a special favor from Jehovah (Lev. 7:12; 22:29) (3) Regularly
employed at the expiration of a Nazirite vow (Num. 6:14).
The Peace offering had 2 sources: (1) “Of the herd” (Lev. 3:1-5) (2) “From
the flock” (Lev. 3:6-17). Types of animals were offered: (1) Bull (Lev. 3:1-5) (2)
Lamb (Lev. 3:6-11) (3) Goat (Lev. 3:12-16).
Qualification for the animals: (1) Must be unblemished which speaks of the
impeccability of the Person of Christ. (2) The animal could be either male or
female which represents the offerer and what he or she sees in Christ.
The fire in the peace offering represents the total commitment of Christ to God
the Father’s plan and His human testings and sufferings. The peace offering placed
on top of the burnt offering represents the fact that the Person and Work of our
Lord go together (Lev. 3:5). The sinner can come to God and have communion and
fellowship with Him on the basis of the Person and Work of Christ. The peace
offering sets forth God as propitiated and the sinner reconciled.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 156
Bull (Lev. 3:1-5): (1) Sets forth the servant side of our Lord (Mark 10:45). (2)
Domesticated animal used to “bear” burdens and to plow fields. (3) Represented
transportation and commerce in the ancient world.
Our Lord served man by paying the ransom price, which delivered all of
humanity from the slave market of sin. He served all of mankind by propitiating
God the Father’s justice at the Cross with His substitutionary spiritual death. Our
Lord served God by doing His will. God the Father’s will was for His Son to die
on the Cross as a propitiation for our sins.
Lamb (Lev. 3:6-11): (1) represents Christ in His complete identification with
man in life and death. (2) Pictured Christ as the qualified sin-bearer or His quality
and ability to take the place of man in bearing the sins of the world. John 1:29
speaks of the Lamb’s, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ, work on the Cross. John 1:36
speaks of the Person of our Lord. Isaiah 53 portrays our Lord as a Lamb who
becomes our Substitute. Our Substitute is called a lamb in His resurrection (Rev.
5:6). He is the Lamb in His return at the 2nd Advent (Rev. 6:16-17). The “entire fat
tail” refers to a special breed of sheep peculiar to Palestine. They were found in
Palestine, Syria, North Africa and Egypt. They often weighed 15 lbs. or more and
consisted of marrow and fat. All the sheep in Palestine were “broad-tailed.” The
broad part of the tail is abnormal projection or outgrowth of fat from which the true
tail hangs down. This is the rump or tail-bone, which passes over into the vertebrae
of the tail. This was the Lord’s portion.
Goat (Lev. 3:12-16): (1) represents the complete identification of Christ as
adequate to take away the sins of the world. (2) Represents that aspect of Christ’s
work, which propitiated God the Father. Lev. 16:10, the scapegoat was sent into
the wilderness on the Day of Atonement and represented that aspect of Christ’s
work, which puts away our sins (John 1:29). The Lord Jesus Christ is the
propitiation for our sins. God no longer remembers our sins (Psa. 103:12).
The Ritual for the Peace Offering (shelem): (1) Offerer led the animal to the
altar and laid his hand upon its head and killed it. (2) The priest caught the blood
and sprinkled it upon the altar. (3) The fat of the intestines was taken from the
animal and burned upon the altar on top of the burnt offering (Lev. 3:3-5, 9-11, 14-
16; 9:18-20). (4) The breast and right shoulder were separated from each other. (5)
The shoulder was laid aside for the priest. (6) The breast was waved, i.e.,
symbolically presented to the Lord, from whom the priests received it for their use.
(7) The priest’s part may be eaten by him, either boiled or roasted in some clean
place (Lev. 7:30-34; 10:13-14). (8) All the flesh of public peace offering belonged
to the priests (Lev. 23:20). (9) The rest of the flesh belonged to the offerer and was
to be shared with his family and guests. (10) Whatever remained after 3 days was
burned.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 157
The Law of the Peace Offering (Lev. 7:11-38): (1) Freewill offering for the
purpose of thanksgiving (Lev. 7:11-12; cf. Heb. 13:15) (2) Unleavened cakes and
wafers speak of the impeccability of Christ, or the lack of evil or sin in His life. (3)
The unleavened cakes mixed with oil speak of the presence of the Holy Spirit in
our Lord’s life and ministry. (4) The leavened cakes speak of the evil and sin still
present in the offerer. (5) The leavened cakes were elevated toward heaven, which
speaks of occupation with the Person of Christ.
Lev. 7:15-18: (1) Offering was to be eaten that same day without delay in order
to teach the importance of staying close to Christ for peace of conscience and for
power over temptation. (2) The sacrifice was to be burned on 3rd day in order to
guard against the desecration of the sacrificial meal, which was holy. (3) Flesh
putrefies on the 3rd day if it is not preserved artificially. Communion and
fellowship with God’s people was cut off if any flesh was eaten on the 3rd day.
The offerer’s sacrifice would not be accepted by God if the flesh was eaten on the
3rd day.
Lev. 7:19-21: (1) Speaks of the importance of confession of sin for there is no
fellowship and communion without confession of sin. (2) Fellowship and
communion was cut off if the offer came in contact with anything unclean which
speaks of residence in the Cosmic System of Satan.
Lev. 7:23-27: (1) The fat of animals that were not commanded to be sacrifice
Was unacceptable and could not be eaten because it was unclean. (2) The fat of
animals that had been torn to pieces by other animals was an unacceptable or
unclean sacrifice and defiled the eater, but could be used for the common purposes
of ordinary life. (3) Fellowship and communion was cut off if the individual
offered any of these animals as a sacrifice to God. (4) Fellowship and communion
was cut off if the fat portions of the ox, sheep or goat were eaten by the offerer
because they were gifts set apart for God. (5) The fat portions of the ox, sheep and
goat were considered the best portions of the animal and therefore, belonged to
God since He only demands the best. (6) Fellowship and communion with God
was cut off if the offerer ate any blood. (7) The soul life of the animal was in the
blood and was sanctified as the medium of atonement for the soul of man (Lev.
17:10-16). (8) The blood of the animal represented the spiritual death of our Lord
on the Cross.
Lev. 7:29-34: (1) the offerer of his own free will was to bring a peace offering.
(2) This represents the acceptance of the terms of God’s peace treaty, i.e.,
reconciliation. (3) The breast of the animal belonged to the high priest (Aaron) and
his sons. (4) The breast spoke of Christ’s love for us (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20).
The peace offering was performed with the breast-piece, which was called the
wave-breast (Lev. 7:34; 10:45; Num. 6:20; Ex. 29:27). The “waving” of the breast
was a private thank offering. The priest placed his own hands underneath and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 158
moved the hands of the offerer backwards and forwards in a horizontal direction.
The movement forwards in the direction of the altar indicated the presentation of
the sacrifice or the symbolic transfer of it to God. The movement backwards meant
the reception of it back again as a present, which God handed over to His servants
the priests. The right thigh belonged to the priest. The right thigh spoke of the
power of Christ to save us and keep us saved forever; Christ is our eternal security
(John 10:27-30). The right thigh was used as a heave offering. It was called the
heave offering because it was “lifted” or “heaved off” from the sacrificial animal
as a gift of honor for the officiating priest.
The heave offering enabled the priests to take part as God’s representatives in
the sacrificial meal. The heave offering was not waved like the breast-piece. The
wave and heave offerings were gifts to Jehovah and could only be used by the
priest and their children (Lev. 22:10; Num. 18:19).
A peace treaty is when 2 enemies agree to stop fighting against each other. We
are no longer enemies of God because of the Work of our Lord on the Cross.
Corrected translation of 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, “Now all these things (New
Creation) originate from the God (the Father), the One who reconciled us to
Himself through the intermediate agency of Christ and gave to us for our
benefit the ministry of this reconciliation (our Royal Ambassadorship),
specifically, that God the Father was reconciling the world to Himself in
Christ, not charging their personal sins to their account and has deposited in
us (the right lobes of born-again believers) the doctrine of this reconciliation
(the Gospel). Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since the God (the
Father) is urgently appealing through us: We beg you on behalf of Christ, be
reconciled to God. He (Christ) who never knew sin experientially (Christ was
impeccable), on behalf of us (as our Substitute), was made (the representative
of) sin in order that we might become the very righteousness of God in Him.”
Outline of the Peace Treaty (2 Cor. 5:18-21): (1) Author of the Peace Treaty: 2
Corinthians 5:18a, “Now all these things (New creation) originate from the
God (the Father), the One who reconciled us to Himself.” (2) Mediator of the
Peace Treaty: 2 Corinthians 5:18b, “through the intermediate agency of
Christ” (3) Gift for the Pardoned: 2 Corinthians 5:18c, “and gave to us for our
benefit the ministry of this reconciliation (our Royal Ambassadorship)” (4)
Initiator of the Peace Treaty: 2 Corinthians 5:19a, “Specifically, that God the
Father was reconciling the world to Himself” (5) Location of the Peace Treaty:
2 Corinthians 5:19a, “in Christ” (6) Full Pardon for the Enemy: 2 Corinthians
5:19b, “not imputing their personal sins to their account” (7) Acceptance of
the Terms of Peace: 2 Corinthians 5:19c, “and has deposited in us (the hearts
of born-again believers) the doctrine of this reconciliation (the Gospel).” (8)
Ambassadors of Peace: 2 Corinthians 5:20a, “Therefore, we are ambassadors
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 159
for Christ” (9) God’s Appeal for Peace: 2 Corinthians 5:20b, “Since the God
(the Father) is urgently appealing through us: We beg you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.” (10) Work of the Mediator: 2 Corinthians 5:21a, “He
(Christ) who never knew sin experientially (Christ was impeccable), on behalf
of us (as our Substitute), was made (the representative of) sin.” (11) Purpose of
the Peace Treaty: 2 Corinthians 5:21b, “in order that we might become the
very righteousness of God in Him.”
Resurrection of Christ
In accordance with the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead
after His physical body was in the grave for 3 days (1 Cor. 15:4). Jesus predicted
several times that He would rise from the dead on the 3rd day (Matt. 16:21; 17:9,
23; 20:19; 26:32; 27:63f. 28:6f; Mark 14:28; Luke 9:22; Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31;
10:34; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46). In fact our Lord declared that He was the
resurrection (John 14:6). The apostles confirmed that He had risen from the dead
on the 3rd day (Acts 1:22; 2:24, 32; 3:15). Neither the Romans nor the Jews could
produce the body of our Lord to disclaim what the apostles were proclaiming to the
world.
It was in the interests of these 2 groups to put an end to such talk by simply
producing the body which they could not since He had in fact risen from the dead.
Not even a guard of Roman soldiers protecting the tomb could prevent the
resurrection of the humanity of Christ. The tomb of our Lord was owned by Joseph
of Arimathea who was rich and was sealed with large rock by the Romans at the
request of the leaders of the Jews in order to prevent the theft of the body by the
disciples (Matt. 27:62-66). Even our Lord’s enemies remembered distinctly say
that He would rise from the dead on the 3rd day. Pilate’s own soldiers were sent to
perform the task of protecting the tomb (Matt. 28:14). These hardened Roman
soldiers were terrified by the angel who rolled away the large rock which had
sealed the tomb from entry on that Sunday morning of our Lord’s resurrection
(Matt. 28:4). In fact some of the guard went into the city of Jerusalem to report the
resurrection of Christ (Matt. 28:11-15). In Matthew’s day it was common
knowledge in Jerusalem that these Roman soldiers had witnessed the angels rolling
away the great rock which sealed the tomb and had accepted a bribe from the Jews
to keep quiet about the resurrection (Matt. 28:15). It was the guards that spread the
lie that the body had been stolen.
The foundation of Christianity is built upon the resurrection of Christ since the
integrity of our Lord is at issue and as attested by many witnesses He did rise from
the dead as He said He would (Acts 1:22; 4:2, 33; 17:18; 23:6; 1 Cor. 15:14). The
resurrection of Christ is the greatest attested fact in all of human history. It is
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 160
mentioned by secular historians as well. Tacitus writes, “Christus, from whom the
name (Christians) had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of
Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most
mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment broke out not only in
Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and
shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular”
(Annals XV, 44).
Josephus writes, “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be
lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such
men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the
Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ; and when Pilate, at the
suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those
that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again
the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other
wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him,
are not extinct at this day” (Antiquities Book 18, chapter 3).
Talmud states, “On the eve of Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days
before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to
be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one
who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’
But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of
the Passover.”
Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ:
The 4 gospels agree that Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb after His crucifixion
and that on the 3rd day it was empty. Even our Lord’s enemies could not dispute
that the tomb was empty. Our Lord’s enemies could have simply disproven the
resurrection of Christ and stop all the talk in Jerusalem concerning it if they could
have simply produced the body, which they knew they could not. They didn’t even
attempt to arrest the apostles in order to obtain because they trusted in the veracity
of the Roman soldiers who were under the command of Pilate himself. The silence
of the Jewish leaders is as significant as the boldness of speech by our Lord’s
disciples. The grave clothes were undisturbed in the tomb thus incontrovertible
evidence that our Lord’s body was not stolen by grave robbers since they would
not take the time to make sure everything was in proper order because of time
constraints to commit such a crime. Our Lord’s body was buried with myrrh,
which glues linen to the body not less firmly than lead. The gospels describe an
orderly scene, not one of confusion that would have resulted had the grave clothes
been torn from the body. That something extraordinary had taken place is shown
by the fact that John “saw and believed” (John 20:8). The 5 written accounts (the 4
Gospels and 1 Cor. 15) tell of 10 different appearances by Jesus after the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 161
Resurrection, 5 on the 1st day, 5 more spread over 40 days, then an abrupt
cessation.
Only 1 resurrection has taken place in human history-the humanity of our Lord
Jesus Christ. He was the first fruits in resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23). There were only
resuscitations prior to the humanity of Christ’s resurrection. The resurrection
involves the total and complete eradication of the old sin nature whereas
resuscitation doesn’t not. It is a body composed of flesh, bone and spirit, but no
blood where the old sin nature resides.
The resurrection body is composed a totally different molecular structure that is
designed to exist with God in the eternal state. Eternal life is a pre-requisite for
receiving a resurrection body like the Lord Jesus Christ’s. The resurrection body
needs eternal life to function and eternal life is an attribute of God.
The next group of people to resurrected from the dead is the Church at the
Rapture-Bravo Company. Everyone else who was raised from the dead in the OT
and in the NT was resuscitated. The following is a list of those who were
resuscitated in both the Old and New Testaments: (1) Elijah and “the widow’s
son” (1 Kings 17:17-24). (2) “The daughter of Jairus” was resuscitated by our
Lord (Matt. 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-26; Luke 8:41-56). (3) “The widow’s son” was
resuscitated by our Lord” (Luke 7:11-18). (4) “Lazarus” was resuscitated by our
Lord after being dead for 4 days (John 11:1-44). (5) “Paul” was resuscitated after
being stoned at Lystra (Acts 14:19-20; 2 Cor. 12:2-4). (6) Paul resuscitated
“Eutychus” who died after falling out of a 3rd floor window sill because fell
asleep during one of Paul’s doctrine classes (Acts 20:7-12).
Each of these individuals was resuscitated and not resurrected. The believers
who died just before our Lord’s death on the Cross were resurrected (Matt. 27:53).
They received resurrected bodies as our Lord did. They were the “wave offering”
of “the sheaf” and our Lord was the “first fruits” of resurrection as portrayed in
the Old Testament offerings (Lev. 23:20). They were raised on the “feast of
firstfruits after our Lord’s resurrection.
Our Lord is the 1st human being to be raised from the dead in history. There
have only been Resuscitations such as Lazarus. There have been no resurrections
since our Lord. There are 5 Companies in Resurrection: (1) Alpha: The Lord Jesus
Christ (2) Bravo: Church Age saints at the Rapture (3) Charlie: OT saints at the
2nd Advent (4) Delta: Saints at the end of Millennium. (5) Unbelievers at the
Great White Throne Judgment at the end of human history.
Unbelievers will be raised for eternal condemnation at the Great White Throne
Judgment at the conclusion of human history (Rev. 20:12-15). OT saints looked
forward to the resurrection from the dead (Job 19:26; John 11:24; Heb. 6:2). It is
found in OT prophecy (Psa. 16:9-10; 22:22-31; 118:22-24).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 162
The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit raised our Lord from the dead (Rom.
1:4; 8:11). The same Divine Power that raised Him from the dead will raise us
from the dead at the Rapture of the Church. Our Lord died 2 unique deaths
occurred on the Cross: (1) Spiritual (2) Physical.
Imputation of every personal sin committed by the human race-past, present
and future to the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was judged by the
justice of God for every personal sin committed by the human race-past, present
and future. Salvation was completed while our Lord was still living (John 19:30).
Spiritual death is the result of Adam’s sin. We all sin because we are spiritually
dead. He died twice on the cross so that we could be born twice.
The Lord Jesus Christ was trichotomous: (1) Body (2) Soul (3) Spirit.
Therefore, our Lord’s death was unique: (1) His physical body went to the
grave (Luke 23:50-53). (2) His human spirit went to heaven (Luke 23:46; John
19:30). (3) His human soul went into Paradise a compartment of Hades (Luke
23:43; Acts 2:27; 2:31; Eph. 4:9).
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are agents in the Resurrection. The
Lord was brought back from the dead by 3 Categories of Divine Power: (1)
Omnipotence of God The Father sent back our Lord’s human spirit to the body in
the grave (Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:4; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:21).
(2) Omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit sent back our Lord’s human soul to the
body in the grave (Rom. 1:4; 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18). (3) Omnipotence of God the Son
raised His physical body from the grave (John 6:39-40, 54 10:17-18). The same
power that raised the humanity of Christ from the dead is now available to you and
I in the church age.
Resurrection is the result of the exertion of 3 categories of divine omnipotence
by each member of the Trinity, which produces an immortal physical body with a
molecular structure, which functions only with eternal life and thus enables it to
live perpetually in fellowship with God in the eternal state. The resurrection body
is composed of the following: (1) Flesh (2) Bone (3) Spirit.
There is no blood in the resurrection body because blood contains the old sin
nature. The physical death of the believer is the total eradication of the old sin
nature. At the moment of salvation the believer receives eternal life at regeneration
and is thus a new creation. Eternal life is an attribute of God and is the life of God.
Eternal life is thus a pre-requisite for receiving a resurrection body. The reason
being is that eternal life will empower the resurrection body.
The believer can appropriate after salvation the power of eternal life by
operating in the new nature, which functions when the believer applies the mind of
Christ while controlled, guided and empowered by God the Holy Spirit. The
believer does not have to wait till the rapture to appropriate the power of the
resurrection, which is eternal life!
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 163
Every church age believer will receive a resurrection body at the Rapture of the
Church (1 John 3:2). The Resurrection of the Church is a part of the Mystery
Doctrine for the church age (1 Cor. 15:51-53). We will have a resurrection body
like our Lord’s (1 John 3:2). The same power that raised the humanity of Christ
from the dead will raise every church age believer from the dead at the Rapture
(Rom. 8:11).
The believer’s physical body is a body of humiliation compared to the
resurrection body, which is called the “body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21). The
resurrection body will be composed of flesh and bone and will not have blood as
the physical body now has. The resurrection body will have a different molecular
structure which will enable it to walk through walls as our Lord did in John 20:19.
It will be able to leave the earth vertically as our Lord did in Acts 1:9. It will be
able to travel through space in an instant and appear in heaven. The believer will
still be able to eat and drink in a resurrection body (Luke 24:42-43). The
resurrection body will never get tired or sick and will minus the old sin nature. It
will be a spiritual body with flesh and bones (1 Cor. 15:35-50). It will be an
imperishable body and not like the one believer’s now have (1 Cor. 15:52). The
resurrection body will be immortal (1 Cor. 15:53). The believer’s resurrection body
is a result of our Lord’s victory over death at the Cross (1 Cor. 15:57).
Our Lord delivered us from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). The believer in a
resurrection body will no longer be able to sin because it will be minus the old sin
nature which tempts the believer to commit acts of sin-mental, verbal and overt.
The resurrection body will be an eternal monument to the Grace Policy of God. All
church age believers will receive a resurrection body regardless of whether or not
they were a winner in time. The only requirement for receiving a resurrection body
is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Faith alone in Christ alone is the
means of receiving a resurrection body. It only takes 1 non-meritorious decision to
receive a resurrection body. The believer who makes thousands of non-meritorious
decisions in time will receive greater rewards to adorn the resurrection body.
Paul uses the Stellar Universe analogy to illustrate the fact that there will be
varieties of resurrection bodies in heaven (1 Cor. 15:40-41). The winners in time
will receive a resurrection body plus while the losers in time who failed to execute
the plan of God through consistent application of Bible Doctrine will receive only
a resurrection body.
First in the order of events of the resurrection of our Lord is Mary Magdalene,
Mary the mother of James, and Salome start for the tomb (Luke 23:55-24:1). Then
they find the stone, which was used by the Romans to seal the tomb, had been
rolled away (Luke 24:2-9). This is followed by Mary Magdalene going to inform
the disciples (John 20:1-2). Next, Mary, the mother of James, draws near the empty
tomb and sees the angel (Matt. 28:1-2). She then goes back to meet the other
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 164
women following with spices. Meanwhile Peter and John arrive, look in and depart
(John 20:3-10). Mary Magdalene returns weeping, and then sees two angels, then
Jesus Himself (John 20:11-18). The risen Christ bids her to tell the disciples (John
20:17-18). Mary (mother of James) meanwhile returns with the women (Luke
24:1-4). They return and see the 2 angels (Luke 24:5; Mark 16:5). They also hear
the angel’s message that Christ has risen as He said He would (Matt. 28:6-8). On
their way to find the disciples, they are also met by the resurrected Christ (Matt.
28:9-10).
The Scriptures describe 15 post-resurrection appearances by the resurrected
Christ. There are a great variety of witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. Both
men and women were witnesses to the fact that He had risen. He appeared before
large groups to individuals as well as small intimate gatherings of individuals. The
Lord Jesus appeared to one person (e.g. Peter 1 Cor. 15:5), to 2 on the way to
Emmaus (Luke 24:13-15), to the 11 (John 20:24-28), and on one occasion to more
than 500 (1 Cor. 15:6).
Especially important is Paul also known as Saul of Tarsus who was the greatest
enemy of the early Church. He was an intelligent and well-educated man and one
with a bias against the Christians. But he is emphatic that he saw the risen Jesus,
and this certainty altered the whole course of his subsequent life of suffering and
persecutions. Importantly Paul made the claim early, for his letters, the oldest
available documents that record this claim, were written within 20 or 30 years of
Jesus’ death. Paul says that “most” of the 500 to whom Jesus appeared were still
alive (1 Cor. 15:6), thus they could be interrogated as to the veracity of such a
claim. That there is no evidence of any serious attempt to refute the testimony to
the resurrection of Christ is significant.
Chronology of the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Christ are as follows: (1)
Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-18; Mark 16:9). (2) The women returning from the
tomb (Matt. 28:8-10). (3) Peter later on the day of the resurrection (Luke 24:34; 1
Cor. 15:5). (4) The disciples going to Emmaus in the evening (Luke 24:13-31). (5)
The apostles (except Thomas) (Luke 24:36-45; John 20:19-24). (6) The apostles a
week later (Thomas present) (John 20:24-29). (7) In Galilee to the 7 by the Lake of
Tiberius (John 21:1-23). (8) In Galilee on a mountain to the apostles and 500
believers (1 Cor. 15:6). (9) At Jerusalem and Bethany again to James (1 Cor. 15:7).
(10) To the 11 disciples (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:33-53; Acts 1:3-
12). (11) At Olivet and the ascension (Acts 1:3-12). (12) To Paul near Damascus
(Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor. 15:8). (13) To Stephen outside Jerusalem (Acts 7:55). (14) To
Paul in the temple (Acts 22:17-21; 23:11). (15) To John on the island of Patmos
(Rev. 1:10-19).
There evidently were more appearances that the Scriptures do not record but
which are implied by John at the end of his gospel since our Lord gave the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 165
disciples many infallible proofs that He had indeed risen from the dead (John
21:25).
There are 3 categories of sanctification, which compose the plan of God for the
church age believer. Each category is related to the resurrection of Christ in some
way. The 3 categories of sanctification are as follows: (1) Positional: The entrance
into the plan of God for the church age resulting in eternal security as well as 2
categories of positional truth (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 5:26-
27; Heb. 2:11; 10:10; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 6:3, 8; 2 Thess. 2:13). (a)
Retroactive: The church age believer’s identification with Christ in His death
(Rom. 6:3-11; Col. 2:12). (b) Current: The church age believer’s identification
with Christ in His resurrection, ascension and session (Col. 3:1-4). (2)
Experiential: The function of the church age believer’s spiritual life in time
through the utilization of the 2 Great Divine Provisions, namely, the Spirit and the
Word of God (John 17:17; Rom. 6:19, 22; 2 Tim. 2:21; 1 Pet. 3:15; 1 Thess. 4:3-4,
7; 1 Tim. 2:15). (3) Ultimate: The perfection of the church age believer’s spiritual
life at the exit-resurrection or Rapture of the Church which is the completion of the
plan of God for the church age (1 Cor. 15:53-54; Gal. 6:8; 1 Pet. 5:10; John 6:40).
Positional sanctification is defined as the church age believers eternal union
with Christ through the Baptism of the Spirit, which occurs at the moment of
salvation. We are identified with Christ in His death and Resurrection (Rom. 6:5).
The purpose of positional sanctification is for the church age believer to execute
the plan of God for the church age (Rom. 6:11-13, 19).
The church age believer is identified with Christ in His Resurrection, Ascension
and Session (Col. 3:1-4). The believer is identified with Christ as He is currently
seated in heaven. The believer is now positionally higher than angels (Heb. 1 and
2).
The church age believer’s experience after salvation inside the operational type
spiritual life under the Filling of the Spirit for the execution of the Plan of God.
Experiential sanctification means that the believer experiences the power of God in
his or her life. Experiential sanctification means being Filled with the Spirit and
using the same power that our Lord in His humanity used during the Great Power
Experiment of the Hypostatic Union.
The church age believer receives his resurrection body at the Rapture. The
church age believer receives a resurrection body like Christ (Phil. 3:20). The Body
of Christ is transformed into the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:6-9). Ultimate
Sanctification means that we will no longer have an Old Sin Nature.
7 Reasons for the Resurrection: (1) Christ arose because of Who He is. (2)
Christ arose that He might fulfill the Davidic Covenant (3) Christ arose that He
might become the source of resurrection life. (4) Christ arose that He might
become the source of resurrection power. (5) Christ arose to be Head over all
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 166
things to the Church. (6) Christ arose on account of the believer’s justification. (7)
Christ arose to be the literal First-Fruits in resurrection.
The indwelling of Christ Himself–His life within ours was dependent on the
resurrection (John 14:18-20). In Colossians Paul declares “Christ in you, the
hope of glory.” Our hope of divine enablement, of a new kind of life now, is
Christ dwelling within us, but this confidence depends on the resurrection. The
sending of the Holy Spirit as our enabler–Over and over again, the Lord promised
that He would send the Holy Spirit, but this too was contingent on His resurrection
and return to glory (John 7:37-39; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7).
So, compare Acts 2:32-33. The resurrection was the means of continuing
Christ’s ministry to us today. The major feature of this present age, the indwelling
Holy Spirit, was vitally dependent on the resurrection. The gift of eternal life–In
John 14:19 Christ said, “because I live, you shall live also.” Christ was thinking
of His resurrection as the basis for the gift of eternal life. The Head of the church,
the new Creation–It was only through resurrection that Christ became
authenticated as the head and preeminent Lord of the church (Eph. 1:20-23; Col.
1:17-18). As head, He forms the body of Christ, the church, via the Holy Spirit
whom He sent to place believers into union with Himself (1 Cor. 12:12-13).
Without the resurrection there would be no church. The present work of Christ as
our advocate and intercessor (Rom. 8:34). The bestowal of gifts to the church
(Eph. 4:7-11).
The basis of gifts is twofold, the cross where He defeated sin and Satan, and the
resurrection, the glorious triumph and proof of His victory. His preparation of a
place for us as the bride of Christ (John 14:2-3). It is our guarantee of resurrection
with a resurrection body like His (1 Cor. 15:20-23, 51-53; 1 Pet. 1:3; Phil. 3:20-21;
John 5:25-29). In John 11:25 He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he
who believes in me shall live even if he dies.” The resurrection marks Him out as
the eternal ruler of the earth. He will one day rule as God’s perfect king and
because of His resurrection and glorification, His rule will go on without end
(Luke 1:32-33; Psa. 2:7-9; Rev. 5:1-10; Psa. 22:28). The resurrection marks him
out as the judge who will judge all men. This is an awesome thought. For
believers, it involves their examination before the judgment seat of Christ, the
Bema (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12f; 2 Cor. 5:9; with Rev. 2:1-2).
For unbelievers, it involves the judgments of tribulation (Rev. 6-19), the
judgment of the Jews and Gentiles at the end of the tribulation (Matt. 24-25), and
the judgment of the GWT (Rev. 20). So, compare Acts 17:31 and 10:40-42. As to
mankind, the resurrection guarantees to men that: Through faith in Christ they can
find redemption from sin and peace with God. They can know the peace of God
and personal fellowship with Him through a living Savior. Death means to be in
God’s presence. They will also one day experience a resurrection like the Lord’s
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 167
and live eternally with God. In other words, the empty tomb authenticates all the
claims of the Bible and all that Jesus Himself declared as truth.
The gift of eternal life at the moment of salvation is down payment that the
believer will receive a resurrection body since the latter can only function with
eternal life. Thus, the believer after salvation can now appropriate eternal life and
not have to wait for the rapture of the church. In fact, the Scriptures implore the
believer after salvation to appropriate the power of Christ’s resurrection, which is
eternal life by operating in the new nature, applying the mind of Christ while
controlled, guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The term apologetics does not mean, “to apologize,” but rather it means, “to
give a defense of what one believes to be true.”
Remember what Peter said: 1 Peter 3:15, “But set apart Christ as Lord
(sovereign) in your hearts, always ready to make a defense (apologia) to
everyone who asks you to give an account for the confidence that is in you, yet
with gentleness and reverence.”
The word for “defense” is accusative feminine singular form of the noun
apologia, which apologian. This word apologia is used in 1 Peter 3:15 of the
defense or reply for the defense of what the Christian believes to be true. Every
believer should be able to give a defense for the Christian faith. It is a part of the
believer’s royal ambassadorship.
Remember what Paul said: 2 Cor 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for
Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on
behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
The word apology denotes a particular defense of the Christian faith or
doctrine; apologetics is the working out and presentation of intellectual, scientific
and philosophical arguments, which may underlie such an apology. In the early
Church Apologists like Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tertullian and Origen raised the
apology to the status of a distinct genre of theological literature. The noun
apologia was a word used by the Greeks in criminal law. It is derived from a verb
which was employed in the courts of ancient Greece, apologeomai, “to speak on
behalf of oneself or of others against accusations presumed to be false,” thus “to
defend oneself in court.” Apologeomai means “to defend oneself against a charge,
to make a defense in court.”
Luke 12:11, “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers
and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your
defense (apologeomai), or what you are to say.”
Luke 21:14, “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend
yourselves (apologeomai).”
The noun apologia refers to the content of what is said in defense, or how one
defends oneself. It denotes the “speech in defense.” There are 8 instances of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 168
apologia recorded in the NT (Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Cor. 9:3; 2 Cor. 7:11; Phil. 1:7,
17; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:15).
Philippians 1:7, “Since it is right for me to keep on thinking this about all
of you because you keep on having me in your heart both in my imprisonment
and in the confirmed defense (apologia) of the Gospel. All of you are my jointpartners
of this grace!”
Philippians 1:12-16, “Now I want all of you to know royal family that my
circumstances have resulted rather for the advancement of the Gospel so that
my imprisonment because of Christ has become well-known among the entire
Praetorian Guard and all the others. Even, the majority from the Royal
Family are confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, increasingly
daring, fearlessly communicating the Word of God. In fact, some even are
authoritatively proclaiming Christ because of jealousy and inordinate
competition but some also because of proper motivation. In fact, some from
virtue-love knowing that I have been appointed for the defense (apologia) of
the gospel.”
In the context of 1 Peter 3:15, the word is not only used of making a defense
when brought before those who persecute you but it also refers to the believer
personally replying to someone’s honest inquiry. A good example of a believer in
the Scriptures who personally replied to someone’s honest inquiry is Philip
speaking to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:25-40.
The resurrection of Christ makes Christianity distinct from Buddhism, or Islam
or any other religion on the face of the earth. The original accounts of Buddha
never ascribe to him any such thing as a resurrection. In fact the earliest accounts
of his death, we read that when Buddha died it was “with that utter passing away in
which nothing whatever remains.” Mohammed died on June 8, 632 A.D. at the age
of 61, at Medina, where his tomb is annually visited by thousands of devout
Mohammedans. All the millions and millions of Jews, Buddhists and
Mohammedans agree that their founders have never come up out of the dust of the
earth in resurrection.
As William Lane Craig states: “Without belief in the resurrection the Christian
faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed
and defeated men. Even had they continued to remember Jesus as their beloved
teacher, his crucifixion would have forever silenced any hopes of His being the
Messiah. The cross would have remained the sad and shameful end of His career.
The origin of Christianity therefore hinges on the belief of the early disciples that
God raised Jesus from the dead” (Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection,
pages 116-117).
Christianity is based upon the resurrection of Christ. It stands or falls with the
resurrection of Christ. If Jesus Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then He is the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 169
greatest deceiver of all time. If He did rise from the dead, then He is indeed the
Son of God and we are obligated to worship and adore Him as our Lord and
Savior. If the resurrection of Christ never took place, then as Paul says we as
Christians are of all people to be most pitied (1 Co. 15:15-23). The apostles always
appealed to the resurrection of Christ when evangelizing (cf. Acts 2:14-41; Not
merely is the resurrection of Christ the principle theme of apostle’s message but if
that doctrine were removed from his message, there would be no doctrine left. If
you remove the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ from the Bible, everything
else in the Bible is meaningless. For the resurrection is considered as being: (1)
The explanation of Jesus’ death (2) Prophetically anticipated as the Messianic
experience (3) Apostolically witnessed (4) The cause of the Baptism of the Spirit
(5) Certifying the Messianic and Kingly position of Jesus of Nazareth.
Thus the whole series of Peter’s arguments and conclusions is established
entirely upon the resurrection of Christ. Without the resurrection Jesus’ claims as
the Messiah would not be established. Without the resurrection there would still be
no fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Messiah’s suffering and glory.
Without the resurrection the Baptism of the Spirit would not have taken place. If
the resurrection of Christ is not historic fact, then the power of death remains
unbroken, and with it the effect of sin and the significance of Christ’s death
remains uncertified, and accordingly believers are yet in their sins, precisely where
they were before they heard the name of Jesus. There is no hope for this lost and
dying world under the deceptions of the Devil if Christ did not rise from the dead.
The Gospels record the teaching of Jesus that He must be betrayed, killed and rise
again (Mk. 8:31; Lk. 9:22). All the apostles testify as witnesses to the fact that the
tomb was empty and that Jesus appeared to His disciples as He said. The book of
Acts records the proclamation of the resurrection of Christ as its central fact. The
New Testament epistles and the book of Revelation are meaningless unless Christ
did indeed rise from the dead. The resurrection of Christ has been and always be
the central tenet of the church. It is one of the most fundamental doctrines to the
Christian faith. As W. Robertson Nicoll states: “The empty tomb of Christ has
been the cradle of the church.”
From her infancy, the church has not only believed in the resurrection of Christ,
but that her whole existence is totally dependent upon it. Without faith in the
resurrection of Christ there would be no Christianity at all. Christianity stands or
falls with the truth of the resurrection. If you can disprove the resurrection of
Christ, then you have destroyed Christianity. Christianity is based upon the
historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. It is based upon facts and these facts are
verified by eyewitnesses that testify as to it taking place. The resurrection of Christ
is either the greatest miracle of history or the greatest delusion which history
records. The resurrection of Christ is the doctrine that turned the world upside
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 170
down in the 1st century that lifted Christianity above Judaism and the pagan
religions of the Mediterranean world.
The resurrection of Christ is of critical, practical importance because it
completes our salvation. If Christ has not risen, then we are not justified before
God for Christ has been raised for our justification according to Romans 4:25. If
Christ has not risen, then we will not rise from the dead according to Romans 8:11,
and if we will not rise from the dead, then we have no hope. The resurrection
sharply distinguishes Jesus of Nazareth from all other religious founders. The
bones of Abraham and Muhammad and Buddha and Confucius and Lao-Tzu and
Zoraster are still here on earth. The tomb of Jesus is empty. How else can we
account for the transformation of the apostles? Before the disciples were a
frightened lot, who for the exception of John were not even there at the cross when
our Lord was crucified. They denied ever knowing Him as in the case of Peter
according to Matthew 26:69-75. They were huddled behind lock doors in fear and
confusion according to John 20:19. But after the resurrection, they were
transformed…they were courageous, and willing to give their lives for the Man
from Nazareth according to Acts 4:1-13 and many other passages. After the
resurrection, the apostles were confident, embarking on massive missionary
projects, evangelizing the entire Roman Empire. What could account for this
transformation? Simply, it was the resurrection of Christ. Something happened to
them that so utterly effected their innermost being. They became courageous
martyrs, rejoicing as ambassadors for Christ. They were not afraid of death. Why?
Simply, the resurrection of Christ. You might say well many individuals have died
for their religion such as the Muslims. When a member of Islam dies for his
religion it is in vain whereas when the Christian dies for the sake of Jesus Christ it
is not in vain. Why? Simply the Christian dies for someone, namely Jesus Christ
who rose from the dead. The member of Islam cannot make that claim.
The difference between a member of Islam dying for his religion and the
Christian dying for his, is that the Christian’s faith is based upon an historical
Person, Jesus Christ, who died and has risen from the dead whereas the member of
Islam cannot make that claim. The Christian dies for that which he knows to be
true and what he knows to be true is based upon factual historical evidence…the
same cannot be said of those who belong to the Islamic faith or any other religion
on the face of the earth. The Founder of Christianity has been raised from the
dead…the same cannot be said for the founder of Islam or any religion on the face
of the earth. The resurrection of Christ lends credibility to the Christian’s faith in
Jesus. Christianity, whose basis is that of the resurrection of Christ, is not a blind
faith, but rather it is a faith based upon verifiable factual evidence and witnesses.
What are the consequences of such an even in history? It is the concrete,
factual, empirical proof that life has hope and meaning. With the resurrection of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 171
Christ, God defeated through His Son our greatest enemies as human beings:
death! Heb 2:14-15, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He
Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render
powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those
who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
The Lord Jesus Christ has 3 credentials: (1) Impact of His life through His
miracles and teachings upon history (2) Fulfilled prophecy in His life (3) His
resurrection.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself during His ministry pointed to the sign of His
resurrection as His single most important credential. He boldly declared even to
His enemies that He would rise from the dead. He said something only a fool
would dare say. No founder of any world religion known to men ever dared say a
thing like that! But Jesus did! Christ predicted His resurrection in an unmistakable
and straightforward manner. His disciples didn’t understand the fact that He had to
suffer and rise again, but His enemies, the Jews took His assertions quite seriously
(Mt. 27:62-66). Think about this for a minute regarding Jesus’ claims of rising
from the dead. If you or I should say to any group of friends that we expected to
die, either by violence or naturally, at a certain time, but that, three days after
death, we would rise again, we would be quietly taken away by friends, and
confined to an institution until we got our act together. You would have to be a
fool to make the claims that Jesus made unless you knew without a doubt that this
was going to take place. Only someone who was the Son of God could know these
things about Himself and make the claims that Jesus made! Paul said that the
resurrection demonstrated to all that Jesus Christ was indeed who He claimed to
be, the incarnate Son of God (Rm. 1:1-4). Jesus never predicted His death without
adding that He would rise again. Look at the list of Scriptures in which Jesus
predicted His resurrection: Matthew 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:18-19;
26:32; 27:63; Mark 8:31-9:1; 9:10, 31; 10:32-34; 14:28, 58; Luke 9:22-27
John 2:18-22; 12:34; chapters 14-16.
Jesus not only predicted His resurrection but also emphasized that His rising
from the dead would be the “sign” to authenticate his claims as being the Messiah
(Jn. 2:13-22). You must always remember that the fact of the resurrection of Christ
is a historical matter. The meaning of the resurrection of Christ is a theological
matter. The resurrection of Christ is an event in history. The nature of the
resurrection body of Christ might be a mystery but the fact that the body
disappeared from the tomb is a matter to be decided upon by historical evidence.
Here are the basic facts surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection: (1) Jesus
was a Jew crucified by the Romans in the 1st century. (2) There is a vast mass of
literature that tells us that Jesus was a historical person. (3) He was condemned by
the Jewish Sanhedrin who then handed Him over to be executed by the Romans.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 172
(4) Pontius Pilate passed the death sentence. (5) Jesus died at 3pm in the afternoon
at the Jewish Passover, the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan (April). (6) The
body of Jesus was placed in a tomb near the crucifixion site, which was owned by
a friend of Jesus. (7) The Romans soldiers verified that Jesus was dead by thrusting
a spear into Jesus side, which pierced His heart, which released blood and water
from the heart. (8) The Jews requested of Pilate that he seal the tomb and place a
guard over it to prevent the disciples of Jesus from taking the body. (9) The place
where Christ’s body was laid is a specific geographical location near Jerusalem.
(10) The man who owned the tomb was a man living in the 1st half of the 1st
century. (11) Jesus was buried according to the Jewish custom of burying dead
bodies. (12) The tomb was composed of rock in a hillside near Jerusalem. (13)
There are many witnesses who claim to have seen Jesus on the 3rd day after His
death. (14) The disciples went out and proclaimed that Jesus had risen. (15) The
disciples were men among men, they were historical individuals. (16) The tomb of
Jesus was sealed with a large bolder. (17) The disciples of Jesus were not
expecting His resurrection. (18) The enemies of Jesus understood His claims that
He would rise again therefore they placed a seal on the tomb and assigned a
Roman Guard to prevent the body of Jesus from leaving the tomb. (19) The tomb
of Jesus was empty on the 3rd Day after His death. (20) The Seal on the tomb was
broken and rolled away from the tomb of Jesus. (21) Grave clothes of Jesus were
found undisturbed in the tomb by His disciples. (22) The enemies of Christ could
not produce the body of Jesus in order to refute the claims of Jesus’ disciples that
He rose from the dead. (23) The Jewish Sanhedrin bribed the Roman soldiers to
say that the disciples of Jesus stole the body.
In Acts 1:3, Luke tells us that Jesus showed Himself alive by many infallible
proofs (en pollois tekmeriois). This is an expression in the Greek, which indicates
the strongest type of legal evidence. The Greek word for “proofs” is the noun
tekmerion. It is a hapax legomenon in the NT meaning it appears only once in the
NT, namely, Acts 1:3. It is found in secular Greek from Herodotus to the 2nd
century A.D. Tekmerion refers to “that which causes something to be known as
verified or confirmed.” The word indicates “something that is surely and plainly
known, indisputable evidence, a proof.”
So what Luke is telling Theopholis is that the resurrection of Christ “was surely
and plainly known, and that there is indisputable evidence that supports that this
event took place.” Therefore, the resurrection of Christ is an event within history.
At no point within the New Testament is there any evidence that the Christians
stood for an original philosophy of life or an original ethic. Their sole function was
to bear witness to what they claimed to have taken place, namely, the resurrection
of Jesus Christ.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 173
Consider this: Have you noticed that in the book of Acts there is an enormous
amount of emphasis upon the resurrection of Christ but not a single reference to an
empty tomb. The Gospels record that fact. Now, why is there no mention of an
empty tomb when the apostles evangelized in the book of Acts? Simply this: There
was no point in arguing about the empty tomb. Everyone, friend and foe alike
knew that it was empty. The only questions worth arguing about were why it was
empty and what its emptiness proved.
In Acts 2, did you notice that there was no refutation given by the Jews to
Peter’s bold proclamation that Jesus had risen from the dead. Why not? They knew
the tomb was empty and they could not deny this fact. Now remember this: The
empty tomb does not prove the resurrection, but it does present 2 distinct
alternatives: (1) The empty tomb was either an act of divine power or a human one.
(2) There really is only 1 to chose from.
The enemies of Jesus had no motive for removing the body. The friends of
Jesus had not power to do so. It would have been to the advantage of the
authorities that the body should remain where it was. The view that the apostles
stole the body is impossible. Therefore, the power that removed the body of the
Savior from the tomb must have been divine!
Thomas Arnold, was for 14 years the famous headmaster of Rugby, author of
the famous 3-volume History of Rome, appointed to the chair of modern history at
Oxford, and one well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining
historical facts, states the following: “The evidence for our Lord’s life and death
and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good
according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad.
Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as
carefully as every judge summing up on a most important cause. I have myself
done it many times over, not persuade others but to satisfy myself. I have been
used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and
weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one
fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of
every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God
hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead” (The New Evidence
That Demands A Verdict, page 217).
Former Chief Justice of England, Lord Darling states: “we, as Christians, are
asked to take a very great deal on trust; the teachings, for example, and the
miracles of Jesus. If we had to take all on trust, I, for one, should be skeptical. The
crux of the problem of whether Jesus was, or was not, what He proclaimed Himself
to be, must surely depend upon the truth or otherwise of the resurrection. On that
greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favor as living truth
there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 174
circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict
that the resurrection story is true.”
So now that we have established that Jesus was dead when they laid His body in
the tomb, let us now note 5 important aspects directly related to the resurrection of
Jesus: (1) The Tomb (2) The Burial (3) The Stone (4) The Seal (5) The Roman
Guard
Tomb: Matt 27:57-60, “When it was evening, there came a rich man from
Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.
This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered
it to be given {to him.} And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean
linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the
rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went
away.” Mark 15:42-45, “When evening had already come, because it was the
preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea
came, a prominent member of the Council, who himself was waiting for the
kingdom of God; and he gathered up courage and went in before Pilate, and
asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and
summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already
dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion, he granted the body to
Joseph.” Luke 23:50-52, “And a man named Joseph, who was a member of
the Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and
action), {a man} from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the
kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”
John 19:38, “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus,
but a secret {one} for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away
the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away
His body.”
The word for “tomb” in the Greek New Testament is mnemeion. It appears only
in the Gospels except for instance in the book of Acts. This tomb that Jesus was
laid in was a cave hewn or cut out of the rock of a hill near the crucifixion site. The
body of Jesus was the first dead body to be ever placed in this tomb. It was newly
created and owned by a rich man, named Joseph of Arimethea. The tomb was
located in the place where they crucified Jesus. It was located in a garden. The
reason for putting the body of Jesus into Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb was that it
was nearby and the preparation demanded haste in burying the body. So this was
not a natural cave but one excavated in the rock. It was cut horizontally and not
downwards.
Burial of Christ: Matt 27:59, “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in
a clean linen cloth.” Mark 15:46, “Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Him
down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb which had been
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 175
hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.”
Mark 16:1, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the
{mother} of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and
anoint Him.” Luke 23:55-56, “Now the women who had come with Him out of
Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they
returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested
according to the commandment.” John 19:38-40, “After these things Joseph of
Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret {one} for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted
permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus, who had first
come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes,
about a hundred pounds {weight} So they took the body of Jesus and bound it
in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.”
We know more about the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ than we know of the
burial of any single character in all of ancient history. Not only the rich, but also
even the upper middle class had tombs of their own in the 1st century. They were
acquired and prepared long before they were needed. They were treated as private
and personal property. The Jews would anoint the dead body with many spices: (1)
Myrtle (2) Aloes (3) Later on they used hyssop, rose-oil and rosewater.
The body was dressed and at a later period wrapped, if possible, in the worn
cloths in which originally a Roll of the Law had been held. We must remember
that the Sabbath was drawing near so they wanted to bury the body of Jesus as
soon as possible. Deuteronomy 21:23 stipulates that a dead body was not to be
allowed to hang all night, but that the body was to be buried that same day. So the
cross was lowered and laid on the ground. The drew the nails out and unloosed the
ropes. Joseph, with those who attended the Lord, “wrapped” the Lord’s body in a
“clean linen cloth.” They then rapidly carried the Body to the tomb, which was
located in the garden close by the crucifixion site. They hastily embalmed the body
in front of the entrance to the tomb and within the rock; there was a court, 9 feet
square. Nicodemus brought a roll of myrrh and aloes. It was customary in Christ’s
time to use great quantities of spices for embalming the dead, especially those who
held high offices. The body of Jesus was placed on a stone ledge. The body was
washed and straightened and then bandaged tightly from the armpits to the ankles
in strips o linen about a foot wide. Aromatic spices often a gummy consistency,
were placed between the wrappings or folds. They served partially as a cement to
glue the cloth wrappings into a solid covering. John tells us that some 70 pounds of
spices were used. The myrrh was a drug, which adheres so closely to the body that
the grave clothes would not easily be removed. In fact, it cemented it the grave
clothes to the body.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 176
The next fact that we need to verify or establish in regards to the resurrection of
Jesus Christ was that He was dead when they laid Him in the tomb. Why is that
important? Because there are some individuals who say He didn’t really die…but
that He passed out from loss of blood but recovered from the cool air in the tomb.
This is called the Swoon Theory. This is absolutely impossible, as we will note.
This theory does not stand up to investigation and totally disregards the evidence
pertaining to Christ’s crucifixion, death and burial. The Swoon Theory contends
that Christ was indeed nailed to a cross but that He suffered terribly from shock,
loss of blood, and pain and He swooned away, but didn’t actually die. Proponents
of this theory also contend that medical knowledge was not very great in the 1st
century and thus the apostles erroneously thought he was dead. They also point out
that Pilate’s surprise that Christ had died so soon also indicates that Jesus merely
had passed out. The cool air of sepulchre revived Him so that He could depart the
tomb. So they contend that Jesus really didn’t rise from the dead but merely was
resuscitated so to speak. This totally disregards the facts of the case. This theory
totally disregards the evidence surrounding the case of Christ’s execution and
subsequent burial.
So we need to establish the details and the evidence surrounding our Lord’s
death before we deal with the fact of His resurrection. There is no way any human
being could have recovered from the tremendous physical trauma of crucifixion
and walked out of the tomb. Those who say Christ wasn’t really dead but simply
was revived in the tomb and then walked out under His own power are not taking
into account the tremendous physical pain and suffering that is inflicted upon a
victim of crucifixion. The only way that Christ could have walked out of the tomb
was divine power transforming the physical body into a resurrection body. He
could not have walked out of that tomb without a resurrection body.
So what was the crucifixion procedure in the time of Jesus during the 1st
century? First, there was a legal conviction and only in extraordinary cases, such as
in times of war, did this occur at the place of execution itself. After sentencing, the
criminal was stripped and scourged, itself a punishment so painful and horribly
debilitating that some died from it. This took place either immediately after the
sentence was pronounced or en route to the execution site. In Jesus’ case the
scourging probably took place before He was sentenced, perhaps in the hope that
the crowds might have compassion on the exhausted bleeding Man from Galilee
ask Pilate to release Him (Luke 23:16; John 19:1). That His punishment was so
severe may explain why Jesus did not have to bear the cross the last steps to
Golgotha (Matt. 27:32).
The brutal instrument used to scourge the victim was called a flagrum having
long, lashing pieces of bone and metal that would greatly lacerate human flesh. In
fact, the victim’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, ligaments, bones and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 177
nerve endings were open to exposure. This accounts for Christ’s words on the
cross:
Ps 22:14-17, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a
potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you lay me in the dust of
death. For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed
me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look,
they stare at me.”
It must be noted that the Roman soldiers administered this extreme punishment
and not lictors who would normally perform this torture. Pilate did not have lictors
at his disposal evidently since none are mentioned, but rather he employed his own
soldiers who were cold blooded and brutal so Christ’s scourging exceeded that of
what would normally have been inflicted upon any other person. Furthermore, if
the execution took place at somewhere other than the place of sentencing, the
condemned man carried the patibulum to the spot, which was usually outside the
town.
The expression “to bear the cross (stauros)” which is a typical description of
the punishment of slaves has its origin here. Ordinarily the criminal was forced to
carry the crossbeam all the way to the execution site. The upright stake was usually
left in place at the crucifixion site. Then on the ground he was bound with
outstretched arms to the beam by ropes, or else fixed to it by spikes. Jesus was
nailed to the crosspiece (John 20:25). The beam was then raised with the body and
fastened to the upright post. About the middle of the post was a wooden block,
which supported the suspended body. There was no foot-rest in ancient accounts.
The height of the cross varied. It was either rather more than a man’s height or
even higher when the offender was to be held up for public display at a distance.
On the way to the execution a tablet was hung around the offender stating the
reason for his crucifixion, and this was affixed to the cross after execution so that
all could see (Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). The charge was
displayed above the criminal on a board or a tablet in black or red letters. In Jesus’
case the charge was written in 3 languages: (1) The language of Judea: Hebrew (2)
The language of the occupying force from Rome: Latin (3) The common language
of the day: Greek.
It cannot be overemphasized that the suffering endured on a cross was
extremely intense and severe. In fact, it was considered so hideous to the Romans,
that one of their greatest citizens of all time, Marcus Tullius Cicero states: “Even
the mere word, cross, must remain far not only from the lips of the citizens of
Rome, but also from their thoughts, their eyes, their ears.” To die upon a cross
meant excruciating pain. Death came slowly after extraordinary agony, probably
through exhaustion or suffocation. The terrible open wounds from scourging and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 178
spikes in the hands and feet, the agonizing thirst and hunger, the hemorrhaging of
the blood vessels in the head and heart, the scorching heat of the sun by day or the
cold of the nights gradually robbed the victim of all strength. The unnatural
position made every movement painful, the lacerated veins, exposed nerve endings
and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish, the wounds inflamed by
exposure, gradually gangrened. All these physical complications caused an internal
excitement and anxiety, which made the prospect of death a welcomed release
from the suffering. The victims soon became insane from the pain. Medical studies
show that death itself was caused by asphyxiation. Ordinarily the crucified person
lived for some time, frequently lasting more than 24 hours and sometimes as long
as 48 hours. Some records exist of crucifixions lasting from 3 to 6 days. At times
the legs of the victim were broken to put an end to the suffering of the victim (John
19:32). Thus Pilate was surprised when he was told that Jesus died within 6 hours
(Mark 15:44f). The condemned person was exposed to mockery. Sometimes he
was stripped and his clothes were divided among the executioners, thought this
was not the common rule.
Crucifixion took place publicly on streets or elevated places. Usually the body
was left to rot on the cross to provide food for predatory animals and carrion
crows. There is evidence that the body was occasionally given to relatives or
acquaintances.
The physical and mental sufferings, which this slow death on the cross
involved, are unimaginable. Crucifixion as a capital penalty was ended only by
Constantine the Great. The fact that Christ had died on the cross is supported by
evidence. Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that
Jesus was dead before the wound to His side was inflicted. This supports the
traditional view that the spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated
not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured His
death (Jn. 19:31-35). John solemnly declares in John 19 to the reader that he was
an eyewitness to the fact that Christ was already dead on the cross when the
Romans came to break the victim’s legs. Had Jesus been alive when the spear
pierced His heart, strong spouts of blood would have emerged with every
heartbeat. Instead, John noticed 2 distinct separate things proceeding out of the
side of Jesus: Blood and water. This is evidence of massive clotting of the blood in
the main arteries and is exceptionally strong medical evidence of death.
Furthermore, the Roman soldiers knew a dead man when they saw him and they
knew Jesus was dead! The wound to Jesus side was incontrovertible evidence that
He was dead! So our Lord did not pass out from crucifixion.
Let me say this as well…Jesus did not die from a broken heart as some say.
Remember what our Lord said: John 10:18, “No one has taken it away from Me,
but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 179
have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My
Father.”
Jesus died like no other human being died…of His own volition. Death is the
sovereign decision of God based upon the integrity of God and omniscient
knowledge of all the facts. Yet, the physical death of Jesus was unique in human
history. He died of His own volition. The Lord Jesus Christ did not die from
suffocation or exhaustion.
The Lord Jesus Christ died triumphantly, in control of His senses and of His
own volition!
Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded
up His spirit.”
“Cried out” is kraxas, which is an aorist active participle from krazo, “to cry
out aloud, scream, shriek.” Kraxas is a constative aorist which takes the action of
the verb in its entirety and takes us from its beginning to its conclusion. Kraxas
describes the actual sound of the Lord Jesus Christ’s dying. The Lord Jesus Christ
screamed or shouted with a loud voice! “Yielded up” is apheken which is an aorist
active indicative from aphiemi, “to dismiss, to release, to let go.” Apheken is a
culminative aorist, which views an event from its existing results, the Lord Jesus
Christ’s physical death.
Mark 15:37, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.”
“Uttered” is apheis, which is also a constative aorist and describes the breath
control of the Lord Jesus Christ at His physical death. The constative describes the
last breath of our Lord. The constative aorist describes states that the Lord Jesus
Christ died of His own volition!
John 10:18a, “No one has taken it (His life) away from Me, but I lay it
down on My own initiative.”
The Lord Jesus Christ did not bleed to death, die of a broken heart, or die from
exhaustion! If He had bleed to death, He would have fainted! The Lord Jesus
Christ was in total control of His faculties and was totally and completely alert
throughout all His suffering on the cross!
Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into
Thy hands I commit My spirit.’ And having said this, He breathed His last.”
“Crying” is phonesas is constative aorist active participle and is from phoneo,
“to speak clearly, to enunciate.” Phonesas emphasizes the content of The Lord
Jesus Christ’s last words on the cross. Ekpneo is used by both Mark and Luke to
indicate that at the close of the Lord’s words, He did not breath again. Matthew
uses aphiemi to state that the sound of His words were discontinued at the point of
His last exhale. The Lord Jesus Christ of His own volition and in total control of
His faculties dismissed His spirit by clearly enunciated the words, “Father into
Thy hands I commit (“deposit”) My Spirit,” and then did not breath again.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 180
Next, we will deal with the stone that covered the entrance to the tomb, which
was designed to prevent the disciples of Jesus from stealing the body. The Jews
called the stone golel. Matthew 27:60 states that it was a “large stone.” The phrase
“large stone” in the Greek of Matthew 27:60 is composed 2 words: (1) Megas
(adjective), “great.” (2) Lithos (noun), “stone.”
This was a bolder that covered the entrance to the tomb of Jesus. It was a large
heavy disc of rock, which could roll along a groove slightly depressed at the
centre, in front of the tomb. It served as protection against both men and beasts.
The Talmud indicates that it was so enormous in size that it required several men
to remove it. The massive stone that sealed the entrance to the tomb of Jesus was
probably larger than what was normally used since the Jews wanted to prevent any
possibility of a theft of the body. There is a fascinating parenthesis written by a
copyist in a 4th century manuscript of Mark 16:4. This manuscript is called Codex
Bezae and is located in the Cambridge Library. What is significant is this 4th
century manuscript was more than likely copied from a 1st century manuscript.
That is significant because that is closer to the actual date of the events recorded.
The phrase in the parenthesis states that 20 men could roll away this massive stone.
So therefore when the women came to the tomb on Sunday morning…there was no
way they were going to move the massive stone and where were they going to find
more than 20 men to move it.
Next, we have the matter of the seal to address.
Matt 27:66, “And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the
guard they set a seal on the stone.”
The seal was an additional precaution, sealing the stone, with a thread over it
and sealed to the tomb at either end. The worthy men did their best to prevent theft,
and the resurrection. This Roman seal was actually considered as a mode of
authentication. The Roman seal affixed to the tomb was meant to prevent any
attempted vandalizing of the sepulchre. Anyone trying to move the stone from the
tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman
law. The idea is that they sealed the stone in the presence of the Roman guard and
then left them to keep watch. The sealing was performed by stretching a cord
across the stone and fastening it to the rock at either end by means of sealing clay.
Or, if the stone at the door happened to be fastened with a crossbeam, this latter
was sealed to the rock. The door could not be opened without breaking the seal. If
you broke that seal, that was a crime against the Roman state who was the
proprietor of the seal. The guard was to prevent the duplicity of the disciples. The
seal was to secure against the collusion of the guard.
The final very important fact pertaining to the resurrection of Jesus Christ was
that of the Roman guard.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 181
Matt 27:62-66, “Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the
chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir,
we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, “After three
days I {am to} rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made
secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him
away and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead,’ and the last
deception will be worse than the first. Pilate said to them, “You have a guard;
go, make it {as} secure as you know how. And they went and made the grave
secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.”
The Jewish leaders led by Annas and Caiaphas sought a guard for the tomb of
Jesus along with the seal to the tomb. Pilate complied.
The Greek word for “guard” is the noun koustodia. This word is a Greek
transliteration of the Latin custodia. This was a guard to Roman soldiers and not
the Temple police. They sealed the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea with Imperial
Seals of Rome. They affixed in wax the official stamp of the Roman procurator
Pilate himself. Commanding the guard was a centurion designated by Pilate.
Presumably one who had his full confidence. Tradition has it that the centurion’s
name was Petronius. It is reasonable to assume that these representatives of the
Emperor could have been trusted to perform their duty to guard the tomb quite as
strictly and as faithfully as they had executed a crucifixion. Their sole purpose and
obligation was to rigidly perform their duty as soldiers of the Roman Empire. The
Roman seal affixed to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea that they were to protect
was far more important to them than the traditions of the Jews. Soldiers coldblooded
enough to gamble over a dying victim’s cloak are not the kind of men to
be outwitted by timid Galileans or to jeopardize their Roman necks by sleeping on
their post. The punishment for quitting your post as a Roman soldier was death.
Vegetius speaks of daily attention to strictness of discipline by the prefect of the
legion. Punishment was much more severe in the Roman Army of the 1st century
than it is in our modern armies. The maniple or sub-division of the Roman legion
consisted of either 120 or 60 men. They consisted of 2 guards of 4 men each who
kept watch.
So a watch consisted of 4 men. This was the number that watched the
crucifixion. Each of whom watched in turn, while the others rested beside him so
as to be roused by the least alarm, but in this case the guards may have been more
numerous. In closing, we need to address one more vital fact. There is absolutely
no chance that the disciples had any ability whatsoever to overcome this guard of
Roman soldiers, roll the stone away and escape with the body of Jesus. In fact,
they had all forsook Him at the cross except for John. They were cowards. Peter
denied Him three times. The only thing the disciples of Jesus were concerned with
was their own safety. They had gone into hiding. They had just witness their
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 182
Teacher ruthlessly crucified by the authorities. They were a discouraged, dejected
and depressed group of individuals. The last scenes of their Teacher was of Him
dying as a criminal. For them all was lost but the Lord had other plans!
Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the women, the disciples all believed Jesus
dead and they did not expect Him to rise again as witnessed by their actions after
the crucifixion. The preparation of the body for burial was evidence that they did
not expect Jesus to rise from the dead.
John 20:9, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must
rise again from the dead.”
But they were about to see the power of God demonstrated in a way that they
never dreamed of. Never had a criminal given so much worry to authorities after
his crucifixion as Jesus did. Above all never had a crucified man had the honor of
being guarded by a squadron of soldiers.
Everything humanly possible was done to prevent the resurrection of Christ.
But they underestimated the power of God. The life of Christ began with a great
miracle and will end with a great miracle. If Jesus rose from the dead, then He
must have been virgin born as the Gospels state. If the story of His birth be true,
we can believe that of His resurrection. If His resurrection be true, we can believe
that of His birth. If ever a fact of ancient history may count as indisputable, it
should be the empty of Jesus. Everyone in Jerusalem and the surrounding area
knew that Jesus was crucified. He was famous for His miracles and teaching. It
was common knowledge that He was crucified, died and was placed in a tomb near
the crucifixion site. The Romans had sealed the tomb and placed a guard to prevent
the theft of the body…everyone knew about it…it was front page news! It also
common knowledge in Jerusalem that the tomb was empty on that Sunday
morning. The massive stone was moved and the seal broken and the Roman guard
nowhere to be found. Everyone could go look for themselves and see that the tomb
was empty. Anyone could investigate the site…no one was protected it now.
Everyone knew the location of the tomb of the famous Jesus of Nazareth. It could
not be disputed by the authorities. This is why they helplessly stood by as the
disciples of Jesus authoritatively proclaimed His resurrection. Peter’s message on
the Day of Pentecost, 2 months after the resurrection, was compelling and
persuasive because everyone knew the tomb was empty. It was a simple case of
putting 2 and 2 together. This Man, Jesus of Nazareth not only fulfilled the
prophecies of the predicted Messiah of Israel but He also demonstrated beyond a
shadow of a doubt that He was the Son of God since He backed it up by walking
out of the tomb as He predicted He would many times! There was simply no other
explanation for the empty tomb. It was a simple case of weighing the evidence and
making rational, logical decision.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 183
Please note that the Jewish authorities despised Jesus. They strongly opposed
His teaching and were prepared to go to any lengths in order to suppress it. Their
job would have been easy if they could have invited potential converts for a quick
stroll to the tomb and there produced the body of Jesus. That would have been the
end of the Christian message! The fact that a church centering around the risen
Christ could come about demonstrates that there must have been an empty tomb.
The empty tomb of the disciples by itself did not cause the disciples to believe.
John said He believed because He remembered that Christ had foretold His
resurrection. Neither Mary Magdalene, nor the women, nor even Peter were
brought to believe by the testimony of the empty tomb. It was Christ’s postresurrection
appearances that assured His disciples that He had actually risen from
the dead. They too thought that someone has taken the Lord’s body as witnessed
by Mary’s weeping at the tomb and her response to the angels and our Lord.
Another point: Have you noticed that the references to the empty tomb all come
in the Gospels, which were written to give the Christian community the facts they
wanted and needed to know concerning the resurrection? In the public preaching to
those who were not believers, as recorded in Acts there is an enormous emphasis
on the fact of the resurrection but not a single reference to the empty tomb. Now,
why? There is simply only 1 plausible explanation and answer.
There was no point in arguing about the empty tomb. Everyone, friend and foe
alike, knew that it was empty! The only questions worth arguing about were why it
was empty and what were the implications of it being empty! There is no reason
whatsoever to debate on whether or not the tomb of Jesus was empty on that
Sunday morning 2000 years ago…it is a historical fact that is verified by witnesses
who were both disciples of Christ and His enemies! The empty tomb stands, a
veritable rock as an essential element in the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
It is a matter of history that the apostles from the very beginning made many
converts in Jerusalem, hostile as it was, by proclaiming the good news that Christ
had risen from the grave. And they did it within a short walk from the tomb.
Anyone who heard the apostles preach Christ risen could verify this fact by going
to see the empty tomb of Jesus.
Remember the enemies of Christ went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the
fact that the body of Jesus would not leave the tomb on the 3rd day. The fact that
the body of Jesus was not in the tomb despite the extreme security measures by our
Lord’s enemies was indisputable evidence that He had risen. The last thing that
enemies of Christ wanted was to have His body leave that tomb! And yet it did!
The proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus could have not been maintained in
Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not
been established as a fact for all concerned. In all the fragments and echoes of this
far-off controversy, which have come down to us, we are nowhere told that any
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 184
responsible person asserted that the body of Jesus was still in the tomb. We are
only given reasons why it was not there. Running all through these ancient
documents is the persistent assumption that the tomb of Christ was empty! How
can anyone deny this evidence? You cannot!
There is a secular source of early origin that bears testimony to Jesus’ empty
tomb. This piece of evidence is called the “Nazareth inscription,” after the town
where it was found. It is an imperial edict, belonging to either the reign of Tiberius
(A.D. 14-37) or of Claudius (A.D. 41-54). It sternly warns against meddling
around with tombs and graves! The news of Christ’s resurrection had gotten
quickly back to Rome. Pilate no doubt reported the news to Rome. This edict is an
imperial reaction to the empty tomb of Jesus.
We also must bring up the fact that the Roman soldiers who were responsible
for protection of the tomb were bribed by the Jewish Sanhedrin to keep quiet about
what they saw (Mt. 28:11-15). The fact that the Roman Guard who witnessed the
resurrection was bribed by the Jewish Sanhedrin to say that the body of Jesus was
stolen by His disciples is an admission by the enemies of Jesus that the grave was
empty…an admission which is enough to show that the evidence for the empty
grave was too obvious to be denied. The fact that all the evangelistic messages of
the early church by the apostles never mentioned the empty is evidence that the
empty tomb was not in dispute and thus was not an issue. The main debate was
over why it was empty and not whether it was empty. The fact that the tomb was
empty is acknowledged by the opponents of Jesus as well as verified by the
disciples of Jesus. The Jewish Sanhedrin’s accusation that the disciples of Jesus
stole His body from the grave, out from the noses of the vaunted Roman military
takes for granted that the tomb was empty. What was needed was an explanation.
Matt 28:2-4, “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel
of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and
sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as
snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.”
We need to understand the character of the Roman guard in order to really
appreciate Matthew’s account. These were rugged, well-trained, well-disciplined
soldiers that were petrified. They had been dangerous, life-threatening situations
many times as Roman soldiers…they had been living in a hostile environment in
Jerusalem…for these soldiers to act like they did is impressive. They were human
fighting machines and yet they were petrified at the sight of the angels.
Matt 28:11-15, “Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came
into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when
they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large
sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, “His disciples came
by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 185
the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble. And
they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was
widely spread among the Jews, {and is} to this day.”
The Roman guard was now in dire straits because the seal had been broken and
the massive bolder moved away. They were going to be court-martialed for
allowing this to happen. The soldiers cannot have alleged they were asleep, for
they all knew that the penalty for sleeping on watch was the death penalty. The
soldiers had no other choice but to turn to the priests. They were shrewd. They did
not report to Pilate but to the Jewish chief priests and together they concocted the
story that the body was stolen. They knew that these men were anxious to cover up
the miracle as were the soldiers themselves! By examining the story, we see that it
actually proves the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus body was stolen, then it
was taken either by His friends or His enemies. His friends could not have done it
since they had left the scene and were convinced that Jesus was dead. His enemies
would not steal His body because belief in His resurrection was what they were
trying to prevent. They would have defeated their own purposes if they had
removed His body. Furthermore, if they had taken it, why did they not produce it
and silence the witness of the early church. Anyone who stole the body would have
taken the body in the grave clothes. Yet, the empty grave clothes were left in the
tomb in an orderly manner. This was hardly a scene of a robbery. The body of
Jesus was gone and they would be put to death if Pilate heard that they failed. Even
if the story got to Pilate, he was not likely to do much about it. He was sure that
Jesus was dead (Mk. 15:43-45). That was what mattered to him. The disappearance
of Jesus’ body created no problems for Pilate.
The next piece of evidence that one must weigh when dealing with the
resurrection of Jesus Christ is the grave clothes (John 20:3-9). This passage is an
eyewitness of account of what someone saw when they viewed the tomb. Though
the younger John arrives at the tomb before Peter, John does not go in but simply
takes a peek in to see. Then John went in after Peter and saw and says that He
believed that Jesus had in fact risen from the dead. Why upon seeing the grave
clothes did he believe that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead? First of all, because
the grave clothes not strewn about the tomb, as they would be if the Roman
soldiers or thieves took the body. Secondly, the grave clothes were in the exact
position they were in when Jesus was in the grave clothes. The Greek indicates that
the linen burial clothes that were cemented upon the body of Jesus with the myrrh
and aloes, the 100 pounds of spices, were not strewn about the tomb but where the
body had been. There was a gap where the neck of Jesus had lain and that the
napkin which had been about His head was not with the linen clothes but apart and
wrapped in its own place meaning that they were still done up. The body had
simply withdrawn itself from the grave clothes. John needed no further information
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 186
to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. There is no way possible for any one
to take the body of Jesus away in a manner where they simple withdraw His body
from the grave clothes!
Disorder of the tomb and its contents would have been sure signs of Roman
soldiers or thieves, yet in the tomb of Jesus there was no evidence of this. There
are 3 different Greek words in this passage for the English word “saw”: (1) Verse
5: 3rd person singular present active indicative form of the verb blepo, which is
blepei. (2) Verse 6: 3rd person singular present active indicative form of the verb
theoreo, which is theorei. (3) Verse 8: 3rd person singular aorist active indicative
form of the verb eidon, which is eiden.
The apostle who arrived at the tomb first says in John 20:5 that he to note of the
linen wrappings lying in the tomb. In this verse John employs the verb blepo,
which means that John took note of the linen wrappings lying in the tomb. He
simply took note. If the body was stolen, John knew that the wrappings would have
went with the body. John 20:6 states that Peter “saw” the linen wrappings in the
tomb. The Greek word for “saw” in this verse is the 3rd person singular present
active indicative form of the verb theoreo, which is theorei. The cognate noun of
the verb theoreo is theoros, “a spectator.” The verb theoreo is used of one who
looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose, usually indicating the careful
observation of details. It means to observe something with continuity and attention,
often with the implication that what is observed is something unusual. What Peter
thought was unusual was that if Jesus was body was stolen which was more than
likely what he thought, then why weren’t the grave clothes disturbed? You see, the
resurrection of Jesus was the last thing on his mind!
Both verbs, blepo and theoreo are historical presents, which are employed when
the writer wants to describe a past event with the vividness of a present occurrence.
Then in verse 8 John uses the word eidon, which means that John had come to an
understanding as the result of perception. He understood what he saw and put 2
and 2 together and concluded that Jesus had in fact been raised from the dead. This
is a culminative aorist which views an event in its entirety but regards it from the
standpoint of its exiting results. The result of John’s perception of the scene in the
tomb was that he came to an understanding or a conclusion that Jesus rose from the
dead. Peter and John had faith based on evidence. They could see the grave
clothes. They knew the body wasn’t there. As good as the evidence was it didn’t
change their lives at this particular time. Those of us who live centuries later
cannot examine the evidence for it is no longer there for us to inspect. We have to
depend upon the Word of God and that record is true. In fact, it is faith in the Word
of God that the Lord really wanted to cultivate in His disciples. It was the Word of
God and not personal experiences should be the basis for our faith.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 187
John 20:24-29, “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not
with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, “We
have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the
imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my
hand into His side, I will not believe. After eight days His disciples were again
inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and
stood in their midst and said, “Peace {be} with you. Then He said to Thomas,
“Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand
and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing. Thomas
answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him,
“Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did
not see, and {yet} believed.”
John’s description of the position of the linen clothes and the napkin around the
head is described in minute detail. This is something he and Peter would never
forget! The description states that none of the grave clothes were hastily thrown
aside as would be the case in a robbery. The napkin, which had been twisted
around the head of Jesus, remained on the elevated slab…this is why John said that
the napkin was not lying with the linen wrappings. This description tells us that the
body simply again was withdrawn from the grave clothes without disturbing them
one iota! What is also fascinating to John was that no grain of spice is displaced.
Doesn’t mention it…they had put 100 pounds of spice on the wrappings to cement
them to the body of Jesus. So there lie the grave clothes. They are fallen a little
together, but are still wrapped fold over fold, and no grain of spice is displaced.
The napkin too, is lying on the low step, which serves as a pillow for the head of
the corpse. It is twisted into a sort of wig, and is all by itself. The grave clothes
resembled a cocoon whose former occupant is now a butterfly. Or it looked like the
empty shell that a locust leaves behind when it sheds its skin. This scene spoke to
all who saw it.
The sealing of the tomb was done in the presence of the Roman guard who were
left in charge to protect this stamp of Roman authority and power. The door could
not be opened, therefore, without breaking the seal, which was a crime against the
Roman authority who was the proprietor of the seal. The seal was broken when the
seal was rolled away. The person or persons who were responsible for breaking the
seal would have the provincial governor and his agencies to answer to. Indeed, at
the time of Christ’s resurrection everyone feared the breaking of the Roman seal.
The Roman soldiers dare not break the seal and the disciples of our Lord were in
hiding and were not capable of overpowering the guard and thus removing the seal.
They feared the wrath of Rome just as much as any other Jew.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 188
The enemies of Christ did not want the seal broken because they wanted to
prevent theft of the body by the Roman soldiers. So this leaves only one plausible
explanation for the broken seal: Jesus rose from the dead.
We must note that there were over 500 witnesses to the resurrection. Could all
of these people be delusional? Very unlikely.
1 Cor 15:1-8, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I
preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which
also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless
you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also
received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He
was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the
Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He
appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom
remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James,
then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared
to me also.”
Then we have the matter of the silence of our Lord’s enemies. They failed to
refute the resurrection of Christ. The Jewish Sanhedrin was not refute Peter’s
proclamation on the Day of Pentecost that Jesus rose from the dead. Why is that?
Simply, because the evidence of the empty tomb was there for anyone to examine
if they wanted to disclaim it. However, everyone knew that the body was gone.
The Jews could not explain the empty tomb! The silence of the Jews speaks
volumes….it speaks louder than the voice of the apostles of Christ. The silence of
Christ’s enemies proclaims the resurrection of Christ just as loud as the witness of
the apostles of Christ. So the empty tomb, the silent testimony to the resurrection
of Christ has never been refuted. The Romans and the Jews could not produce the
body of Christ or explain where it went. Nevertheless they refused to trust in Him
as their Savior. They rejected the resurrection of Christ in the face of
incontrovertible evidence. The burden of proof rests not upon who proclaim the
resurrection as a historical fact but rather the burden of proof rests upon those who
either deny that the tomb was found empty or explain the absence of the Lord’s
body by some other rationale.
Another fact to consider in the resurrection of Christ is the shocking
transformation of the disciples of Jesus. There is no other way to explain the
transformation of the disciples than that they had actually seen the risen Christ.
They had all forsaken Christ at His arrest. Only John was at the cross. They were
hiding behind locked doors because they were afraid that they too would be
arrested and sentenced to death for being disciples of Jesus. They had no
expectation of ever seeing their murdered Master! How else can one account for
their transformation? They must have seen the risen Christ…why would they go to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 189
being afraid to die for Jesus to not being afraid to die for Him in just a matter of a 3
days!!! Considering the previous state of mind of the disciples and their total lack
of motive, how are we to account for the change of mind on the part of the
disciples in regard to the resurrection? There is no question that they came to
believe and were totally convinced that the resurrection of Jesus was a historical
fact. It formed the entire basis for their teaching of the kingdom of God. They
preached first and foremost the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! Also, what
about the transformed lives of perhaps billions of individuals throughout the past
2000 years who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Only a risen
Christ could make such an impact on human history and human lives.
The church is a fact of history. The explanation for the existence of the church
is its faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The church did not happen by
accident. It was caused by a historical event, the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
It is absolutely ridiculous to think that the church would come into existence and
have the impact on the world that it has for the past 2000 years if their Leader was
a dead Jew. Scared, cowardly, frightened, timid ordinary men turned the world
upside for one reason and one reason only, they were witnesses to the greatest
event in all of human history…the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ!
Ascension
The 2nd great event in the process of promoting the Lord Jesus Christ to
sovereign ruler of history was His ascension. The ascension of Christ is the visible
manifestation that God the Father promoted the humanity of Christ in hypostatic
union to the highest position of power, rank and authority in all of creation. The
ascension of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union declares His enthronement
as cosmic ruler with authority over all creation. Our Lord’s Ascension was a
visible manifestation before the angels and mankind that the humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union was granted authority by God the Father over the following: (1)
Creation (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:15-17; 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:22). (2) Church as
the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). (3) Israel as
the Son of David (Matt. 1:1; 20:30; Mark 10:47-48; Luke 1:32; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev.
3:7; 5:5; 22:16).
The Ascension of Christ also denotes that the humanity of Christ in hypostatic
union has been promoted to the position of authority in order to conduct the
following 5 judgments: (1) Bema Seat: This takes place at the Rapture and is
actually an evaluation rather than a judgment of the Church Age believer’s
“works” in order to determine if they were done by means of divine omnipotence
from the use of the 2 power options (Filling of the Spirit and Doctrine) resulting in
divine good and rewards or whether they were accomplished in the power of the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 190
old sin nature resulting in loss of rewards and shame and embarrassment (Rom.
14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). The believer sins will not be
brought since they were already judged at the Cross. (2) Israel: This will take on
earth at the 2nd Advent of Christ taking place at the end of the Tribulation and its
for the purpose of removing unregenerate Israel from the earth leaving only
regenerate Israel to enter the Millennial Kingdom of Christ (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech.
13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-30). (3) Gentiles: This judgment will also take
place at the end of the Tribulation at the 2nd Advent of Christ following the
judgment of Israel and preceding the Millennial reign of Christ and is for the
purpose of removing unregenerate, anti-Semitic Gentiles from the earth who lived
during the Tribulation from those who were regenerate and pro-Israel (Matt. 25:31-
46). (4) Fallen Angels: This is the judgment of all fallen angels at the end of
human history by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church for their rebellion against
God in eternity past and will result in them being cast into the Lake of Fire (1 Cor.
6:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; Rev. 20:10). (5) Great White Throne: This is the judgment
of all unregenerate humanity at the end of human history for their rejection of
Jesus Christ as Savior resulting in them also being cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev.
20:11-15). Their sins will not be brought up since they were judged at the Cross.
These individuals trusted in the themselves and their own good works done in the
flesh rather than on the perfect Person and Work of our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ.
Our Lord received His third royal title as “King of kings and Lord of lords,
the bright morning star” which is a direct result of His execution of the Father’s
Incarnation Plan. The Ascension of Christ demonstrates the vertical travel
capability of the resurrection body through the earth’s atmosphere, the galaxies of
the stellar universe, and billions of light years in an instant, and then entering the
third heaven where the throne of God is.
The original languages of Scripture teach that there are 3 levels of heaven: (1)
1st heaven: Earth’s atmosphere. (2) 2nd heaven: Stellar universe. (3) 3rd heaven:
Abode of God, the angels and the dead believers. This multiplicity of heavens is
indicated in Hebrews 4:14 where our Lord at His Ascension is said to have
“passed through the heavens” (accusative masculine plural noun ouranos). Our
Lord at His Ascension passed through the earth’s atmosphere, i.e., the 1st heaven
(Acts 1:9-11). An invisible war is taking place in the Church Age between the
kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness throughout the 7 layers of the
earth’s atmosphere as part of the angelic conflict (Dan. 10:20; Eph. 2:2; 6:11-17)
and will visibly manifest itself during the Tribulation period (Rev. 6-19). Satan is
called in the Greek, “ton archonta tes exousias tou aeros, “the ruler of the power
of the air” (Eph. 2:2). He has tes exousias, “the authority or the power” over the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 191
earth’s atmosphere. He is archon tou kosmou toutou, “the ruler of this world”
(John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Angelic beings populate the stellar universe. The 3rd heaven was also created
by the Lord Jesus Christ (Psa. 102:25; 115:15; 124:8; 134:3; Isa. 45:12; 51:13; Jer.
32:17; Zech. 12:1; John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:10). The Scriptures teach that the
3rd heaven is the abode of the Trinity (Gen. 14:19, 22; 23:3, 7; 1 Kings 8:30, 49; 2
Chron. 6:21, 30; Neh. 1:4-5; 2:4, 20; Psa. 11:4; 20:6; 33:14; 103:19; Isa. 63:5;
66:1; Matt. 5:34; Luke 16:9; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 7:56; 2 Cor. 12:2; Heb. 2:10;
Rev. 19:14).
The humanity of Christ in hypostatic union traveled billions and billions of light
years passing through the 1st, 2nd and 3rd heavens by means of divine
omnipotence in order to arrive at the right hand of God the Father in order to
receive power, rank and authority over all creation and its intelligences.
1st Triumphal Procession
The 3rd event in the process of promoting the Lord Jesus Christ to sovereign
ruler of history was His 1st Triumphal Procession. There are 2 Triumphal
Processions taught in the Scriptures: (1) 1st Ascension of Christ after the
resurrection. (2) 2nd Advent of Christ. The 1st Triumphal Procession took place on
the day of our Lord’s resurrection when He ascended into the 3rd heaven and
arrived as Victor in the angelic conflict as a result of His strategic victory over
Satan at the cross, which was accomplished, through His voluntary substitutionary
spiritual death.
Ephesians 4:8a, “Therefore it says, ‘When He (the humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union) ascended on high (3rd heaven), He (the humanity of Christ
in hypostatic union) led captive an army of captives.” Colossians 2:15, “When
He (God the Father) had disarmed the (angelic) rulers and (angelic)
authorities, He (God the Father) made a public display of them (Satan’s
angelic armies), having triumphed over them through Him (the humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union).”
The 1st Triumphal Procession of our Lord began with His 1st or immediate
ascension and culminated with His session. The 1st Triumphal Procession of our
Lord began in the 1st heaven, passed through the 2nd heaven and terminated in the
3rd heaven at throne of God the Father where the humanity of Christ in hypostatic
union in a glorified resurrected body seated Himself at the right hand of God the
Father as Victor in the angelic conflict. The 1st triumphal procession of our Lord
ended at the throne of God the Father, which is located in the 3rd heaven. The
humanity of Christ in hypostatic union in a glorified resurrected body was seated at
the right hand of God the Father as a result of His strategic victory over Satan and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 192
the kingdom of darkness at the Cross where our Lord voluntarily died a
substitutionary spiritual death.
The 2nd Triumphal Procession will take place at the 2nd Advent of Christ when
the resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union comes back with His Bride,
the Church and orbits the earth and then descends and lands upon the Mount of
Olives (Zech. 12:7-14; 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19). He will then deliver Israel
from her enemies and institutes His millennial reign on earth.
Session
The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ controls history is directly related to His
present session, which completes the process of promoting Him as sovereign ruler
of history. The Lord Jesus Christ session at the right hand of the Father points to
His kingship (Rev. 4:2). Our Lord acknowledged to Pilate at His 5th trial and 2nd
civil trial that He was indeed a king but that His kingdom was not of this world.
John 18:33-37, “Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium and
summoned Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus
answered, ‘Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you
about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the
chief priests delivered You up to me; what have You done?’ Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My
servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but
as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘So
You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For
this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness
(for the Prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial) to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”
When our Lord arrived in heaven and was seated at the right hand of God the
Father He received a new royal warrant, a 3rd royal title as the “King of kings and
the Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16). This title has been granted to Him
by the Father indicating His rulership over the Church of which He is the Head.
The Tribulation saints in heaven when singing the song of Moses proclaim our
Lord as the “King of the nations” which He will assume at His 2nd Advent. The
session of Christ is a public affirmation that our Lord is the victor in the angelic
conflict (Heb. 1:13; 2:8). Colossians 2:15 states that there was a triumphal
procession by our Lord in heaven declaring Him publicly as Victor in the angelic
conflict. Satan was publicly shown in heaven to be defeated when the humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union sat down at the right hand of God the Father and was
granted the power, rank and authority over the entire universe as ruler of the
cosmos. An impeccable human being defeated the greatest angel ever created by
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 193
the hand of God. The humanity of Christ was able to do so because He depended
upon the divine omnipotence of the prototype spiritual life provided by God the
Father. Satan lost because he chose to remain independent of God thus he was
defeated. Although the humanity of Christ became inferior to Satan for a little
while during the incarnation, our Lord still was able to defeat him and receive
glory and honor as Victor in the angelic conflict (Heb. 2:9).
Jesus Christ Controls History
The 20th century has been called by many historians the “American Century,”
but will this be the case in the 21st century. American influence has been
challenged in the Far East where China is flexing her military might desiring to
impose her increasing power and influence in the world. Africa rocked by the
AIDS epidemic, starvation and cruel military dictatorships continues to spiral out
of control.
Then there is the Middle East where the Arab world continues to promote
terrorism against Israel. Israel the only true ally of America in the Middle East is
surrounded by nations who wish to have her wiped off the face of the earth. Many
are desperately seeking for a peaceful resolution to a conflict, which originates
3000 years ago with Ishmael and the son of promise, Isaac.
In the West, the attacks of 911 on the Great Superpower of the United States
have struck fear in the hearts in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The
rise of irrational Islamic Fundamentalism and its proliferation of terrorism
throughout the world against Israel and the United States and her interests have led
many to wonder if democracy and Western Civilization will survive.
The Cold War has given way to insidious new war. The collapse of the Soviet
Union and the dismantling of much of its military industrial complex have created
an even greater problem for the West and her allies. Weapons of mass destruction
are now no longer in the hands of a certain few nations but rather they are now
available or will soon be available to nations whom President Bush accurately
describes as the Axis of Evil.
We, the Church, members of the body of Christ and the future bride of Christ
must stand firm in the midst of this chaos since we know that our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ sits on the throne seated at the right of the Father waiting for His
enemies to be made a footstool for His feet! The doctrine of Jesus Christ Controls
History should serve as anchor for the soul of the Christian as storms of life come
crashing all around us. The King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus Christ,
the God-Man is sovereign ruler of the cosmos. He is the Master of Circumstances.
The events taking place in human history are the divine outworking of the Divine
Decree, the object being the final manifestation of God’s glory.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 194
The purpose of human history is to provide Satan and his legions of angels an
opportunity to demonstrate their innocence of any wrongdoing when the rebelled
against God in eternity past and sought to live independently of His sovereign will.
War, famine, hunger, murder, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, child abuse, are
all the result of an attitude which originates from the greatest creature ever to come
from the hand of God, Satan. God is not to blame for the state of the world but
rather He in His infinite wisdom which is based on upon His omniscient
knowledge of all the facts has permitted evil which is independence from God to
run rampant in the world in order to demonstrate before all the angels and mankind
that no creature of God can live independently from Him and prosper. Satan
disobediently sought to rule independently of God. Arrogance is independence
from and disobedience to the sovereign will of God. Satan believes his arrogance is
not arrogance but a viable alternative to the sovereign will of God.
The events of human history, past, present and future demonstrate that the
rulership of Satan has failed, is failing and will fail in the future and will ultimately
end in destruction for him and his followers. The Son of God became a human
being in order to demonstrate that humility expressed by dependence upon God
and obedience to His sovereign will is the only path to peace in the world. God
demotes those who promote themselves and are disobedient and live independently
from Him whereas God promotes those who are obedient to Him and are
dependent upon Him. The Son of God became a human being in order to
demonstrate this principle. Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father as
victor over Satan in the angelic conflict as a result of His humble obedience to the
sovereign will of the Father, which was manifested at the Cross of Calvary.
God wants us to have confidence and assurance that history is not a haphazard
set of events but that through His Son Jesus Christ He has everything under control
and is working out His eternal purpose that will ultimately glorify Him.
Ps 103:19-22, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and
His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in
strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the
LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the LORD,
all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my
soul!” Isa 66:1-2, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth
is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a
place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, thus all these things
came into being,” declares the LORD. But to this one I will look, to him who is
humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.’”
The doctrine of Jesus Christ controlling history contends that the humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union has been promoted by God the Father as sovereign ruler
of history as a result of His victory over Satan at the Cross which was
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 195
accomplished when in His humanity, Jesus Christ was obedient to the Father’s will
by voluntarily dying a substitutionary spiritual death on the Cross for the entire
world.
The hypostatic union is a technical theological term, which states that the Lord
Jesus Christ is both undiminished deity and true humanity in 1 Person forever or in
other words He is 100% deity and 100% humanity. The Lord Jesus Christ
combines in His Person 2 natures, deity and true humanity, thus making Him the
unique theanthropic Person of the cosmos. The word theanthropic from 2 Greek
nouns: (1) theos, “God, deity.” (2) anthropos, “man.”
Philippians 2:5-11, “Everyone continue thinking this (according to
humility) within yourselves, which was also in (the mind of) Christ Jesus, Who
although existing from eternity past in the essence of God, He never regarded
existing equally in essence with God an exploitable asset. On the contrary, He
denied Himself of the independent function of His deity by having assumed
the essence of a slave when He was born in the likeness of men. In fact,
although He was discovered in outward appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself by having entered into obedience to the point of spiritual death even
death on a Cross. For this very reason in fact God the Father has promoted
Him to the highest-ranking position and has awarded to Him the rank, which
is superior to every rank. In order that in the sphere of this rank possessed by
Jesus every person must bow, celestials and terrestrials and sub-terrestrials.
Also, every person must publicly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord for
the glory of God the Father.”
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the 3 Persons of the
Trinity desire to rule their creation through humanity and not angels. God the Son,
the 2nd Person of the Trinity became a human being in order that He might fulfill
this desire of the Trinity to have humanity to rule over creation. The Trinity is
inherently sovereign meaning that sovereignty is an attribute of their divine nature,
but they have chosen to rule their creation by means of humanity in time. Jesus
Christ, the God-Man has fulfilled this desire of the Trinity. A human being, namely
Jesus Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father as sovereign ruler of history.
Heb 1:1-2:18, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets
in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His
Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the
world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of
His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had
made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on
high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a
more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say,
“YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”? And again, “I
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 196
WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME”? And
when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL
THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.” And of the angels He says,
“WHO MAKES HIS ANGELS WINDS, AND HIS MINISTERS A FLAME
OF FIRE.” But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS
FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE
SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS
AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS
ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR
COMPANIONS. And, ‘YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE
FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE
WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN;
AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, AND LIKE A
MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL
ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS
WILL NOT COME TO AN END.’ But to which of the angels has He ever
said, ‘SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A
FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET’? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent
out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? For this
reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we
do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved
unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,
how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first
spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also
testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and
by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. For He did not subject to
angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has
testified somewhere, saying, ‘WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER
HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT
HIM? YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN
THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND
HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR
HANDS; YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS
FEET.’ For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject
to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. But we do see
Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus,
because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the
grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him,
for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many
sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 197
both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father;
for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I WILL
PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE
CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.’ And again, ‘I WILL
PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.” And again, “BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN
WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.’ Therefore, since the children share in flesh
and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death
He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all
their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to
the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren
in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in
things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For
since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to
come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
The church age believer has been placed in union with the Lord Jesus Christ at
the moment of salvation through the Baptism of the Spirit, which places the
believer positionally higher than the angels.
Eph 2:4-7, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with
which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us
alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up
with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so
that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in
kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Eph 3:8-12, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to
preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light
what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in
God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be
made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the
heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He
carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident
access through faith in Him.”
The Church as the body of Christ and the future bride of Christ has been
sovereignly chosen by the Father to rule with Christ over creation. There will come
a time at the completion of history that Jesus Christ in His humanity will subject
Himself to the Father and will hand over the Kingdom to Him.
1 Corinthians 15:24-28, “Then comes the end, when He (Lord Jesus Christ)
delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He (Lord Jesus Christ)
has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He (Lord Jesus
Christ) must reign until He (God the Father) has put all His (Lord Jesus
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 198
Christ) enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished will be
death (physical). For He (God the Father) has put all things in subjection
under His (Lord Jesus Christ) feet. But when He says, ‘All things are put in
subjection,’ it is evident that He (God the Father) is excepted Who put all
things in subjection to Him (Lord Jesus Christ). And when all things are
subjected to Him (Lord Jesus Christ), then the Son Himself also will be
subjected to the One (God the Father) Who subjected all things to Him (Lord
Jesus Christ), that God may be all in all.”
The doctrine of Jesus Christ Controls History is directly related to the angelic
conflict. We must remember, God created man to resolve the angelic conflict.
Human history was designed to resolve the ancient pre-historic conflict between
God and Satan. The 1st Adam was created to rule the earth.
Gen 1:26-28, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according
to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of
the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping
thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the
image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed
them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and
subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and
over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
Adam lost his rulership over creation by disobeying the Lord’s command in the
Garden of Eden to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan
usurped the authority of Adam in the Garden of Eden when he deceived the
Woman to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and who in
turn got her husband Adam to eat it as well. Satan now rules this world as a result
of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. This fact is illustrated in Matthew
4:8-9 when Satan offered the kingdoms of this world to the humanity of Christ if
He would worship him.
Matt 4:8-9, “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and
showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to
Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
The Last Adam, Jesus of Nazareth, regained the rulership of the world from
Satan by means of His obedience at the Cross; therefore, the humanity of Christ
now sits at the right hand of the Father ruling history and not His deity for deity
does not sit. Satan usurped the authority of the restored earth from Adam in the
Garden of Eden but the Last Adam; the Lord Jesus Christ gained the rulership of
the earth back from Satan with His death, resurrection, ascension and session. The
humanity of Christ’s humble dependence upon the Father’s provision of the Word
and the Spirit and His humble obedience to the Father’s will which was
demonstrated by His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the Cross rebuked
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 199
the pride and arrogance of Satan who chose independence from God and
disobedience to the will of God.
Human history is the appeal trial of Satan. A comparison of Scripture with
Scripture leads to the conclusion that God held a trial in eternity past. In the
prehistoric trial God was the judge and the prosecution; Satan was the defense.
God considered all the evidence and pronounced a guilty verdict. He sentenced
Satan and all the fallen angels to “eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41). Further biblical
evidence for the prehistoric trial of fallen angels is found in Satan’s titles. The
words “devil” and “Satan” are not names but titles, both of which mean “accuser”
or “adversary” as an attorney accuses someone in court. He is called the devil and
Satan because he was the defense attorney who represented himself and the fallen
angels at the prehistoric trial and because he continues to act as an attorney now
that the trial has entered its appeal phase during human history (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-5;
Zech. 3:1-2).
“Eternal fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41),
but because the sentence was not immediately executed-and, in fact, will not be
carried out until the end of human history (Rev. 20:10)-we can accurately infer that
Satan appealed the sentence. The elapse of time between the sentence and its
execution indicates that human history is part of this momentous trial, the appeal
trial of Satan.
As a result of His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross which
defeated Satan, the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union has been promoted to
the highest ranking position in the entire cosmos by God the Father. The
resurrection, ascension, triumphal procession and session points to the fact that the
incarnate Son of God has been promoted by God the Father as Sovereign Ruler
over the following: (1) Creation (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:15-17; 2:10; 1 Pet.
3:22). (2) Angels (Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2). (3) Church (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14;
19:16). (4) Israel (Matt. 1:1; 20:30; Mark 10:47-48; Luke 1:32; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev.
3:7; 5:5; 22:16).
Our Lord received His third royal title as “King of kings and Lord of lords,
the bright morning star” which is a direct result of His execution of the Father’s
Incarnation Plan. 3 Royal Titles of Christ: (1) Son of God as related to the Trinity
(2) Son of David as related to His rulership over the nation of Israel (3) King of
kings and Lord of lords as related to His rulership over the Church.
There are 12 major events in relation to the appeal trial of Satan and the
promotion of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union: (1) The humanity of
Christ’s strategic victory over Satan through His substitutionary spiritual death on
the cross (Psa. 22:1-3; Matt. 27:44-46; Mark 15:34; Rom. 5:6-10; 2 Cor. 5:14-15a;
Heb. 2:9). (2) The resurrection of the humanity of Christ 3 days after the
crucifixion (Matt. 27:62-66-28:1-20; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18;
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 200
Acts 1:22; 2:31; Rom. 1:4; Col. 2:12). (3) The ascension of the humanity of Christ
into heaven in order to receive the award from God the Father as Victor in the
angelic conflict (John 20:17 cf. Luke 24:38-40; Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:9-11; Phil.
2:9; 1 Pet. 3:22; Heb. 4:14). (4) The 1st triumphal procession of the humanity of
Christ in heaven as Victor in the angelic conflict (Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:15). (5) The
present session of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union at the right hand of
God the Father possessing the highest ranking position of power and authority as
supreme ruler of the entire cosmos (Psa. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; 14:62;
16:19; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22).
(6) Church Age believers will be evaluated at the Bema Seat Evaluation of Christ
(Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). (7) The Rapture is a
technical theological term for the Resurrection of the Royal Family of God which
terminates the Church Age dispensation and takes place in the earth’s atmosphere
(1 Cor. 15:51-57; 1 Th. 4:13-17; Phlp. 3:21). (8) The 2nd Advent of Christ when
the resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union comes back with His Bride,
the Church and orbits the earth and then descends and lands upon the Mount of
Olives to defeat Israel’s enemies and to imprison Satan and the fallen angels for a
1000 years (Zech. 12:7-14; 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19). (9) Regenerate Israel
who lived during the Age of Israel and Tribulation period will evaluated at the 2nd
Advent (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-30). (10)
Regenerate Gentiles who lived during the Age of the Gentiles and Tribulation
period will be evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Matt. 25:31-46). (11) Millennial reign
beginning with the 2nd Advent ending with the Gog-Magog Revolution (Isa.
11:35, 62, 65; Psalm 72; Zech. 14:4-9; Rev. 20). (12) Great White Throne
Judgment concludes human history and thus the appeal trial of Satan resulting in
the casting of all unregenerate humanity and Satan and the fallen angels into the
lake of fire (Re. 20:11-15).
The cosmic dimensions of the sovereign rulership of Christ are 3-fold: (1)
Celestials (a) Elect angels functioning in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd heavens. (b) Fallen
angels functioning in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd heavens. (c) OT saints located in the 3rd
heaven. (d) The Church (Dead in Christ) located in the 3rd heaven. (2)
Terrestrials (a) The Church (Regenerate human beings) functioning on planet
earth. (b) Unregenerate human beings functioning on planet earth. (3) Sub
terrestrials (a) Fallen angels imprisoned in Tartarus and in the Abyss. (b)
Unregenerate humanity in the 2nd compartment of Hades called Torments.
So we must always be aware of the fact that because Jesus Christ controls
history nothing in life takes place unless the Lord Jesus Christ permits it. The Lord
Jesus Christ as sovereign ruler of the cosmos is in control of circumstances
permitting certain events to take place in our lives in order to either discipline us to
get us back in fellowship with Him, or draw us closer to Him in fellowship and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 201
intimacy by giving us an opportunity to apply His Word resulting in us acquiring
the blessings of confidence and assurance in life that we can handle any situation,
whether adversity or prosperity.
The providence of God is the divine outworking of the Divine Decree, the
object being the final manifestation of God’s glory. The doctrine of providence
expresses the fact that the world and our lives are not ruled by chance or fate but
by God Who reveals the purpose of providence through the work of Christ on the
Cross. Providence is extended to God’s forethought, omniscience, and the
functional care over His creatures, both good and evil, but especially those
creatures who have exercised positive volition toward His Word as revealed and
have believed in Christ. The providence of God must be linked with the Victory of
our Lord Jesus Christ at the Cross. The providence of God states that the Lord
Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union controls human history and therefore all of the
circumstances surrounding our lives.
Kurios belongs to the following word group: (1) Kurios (noun), “Lord, Supreme
Ruler, owner, master.” (2) Kuria (noun), “Lady, mistress.” (3) Kuriakos
(adjective), “belonging to the Lord, imperial.” (4) Kuriotes (noun), “Lordship,
dominion, authority, mastery.” (5) Kurieuo (verb), “to be lord over, rule over, to
have dominion over, to control.” (6) Katakurieuo (verb), “to become master, to
gain power over someone or something, to subdue, to conquer someone or
something.”
Originally kurios was an adjective, which meant, “to have power, authority,
possessing legal power, lawful, valid, authorized, competent, empowered;” also
“important, decisive, principal.” The term first occurs as a noun with a precise
sense in the 1st half of the 4th century B.C. and it began to have 2 fixed meanings:
(1) “lord” as the lawful owner of a slave. (2) The lord of subject peoples, the
master of the house, or in the sense of one who “is there for something,” who “is
put in charge of certain things” and has them “under him.” It is attested from
Pindar on. The word always contains the idea of legality and authority.
Kurios is often used beside despotes, which means especially an owner (with
overtones of high-handedness). Kurios is the one who can dispose of something or
someone, despotes the one who owns something or someone. Later anyone
occupying a superior position was referred to quite generally as kurios and
addressed as kurie (fem. kuria). From here it penetrated as a loan-word into the
Hebrew of the Talmud and Midrash, and also into Aramaic to denote God.
Kurios is used as an adjective from the classical to the NT period but does not
occur as such in the NT or later Jewish literature. This must be connected with the
fact that the Hebrew-Aramaic equivalent for the noun ho kurios has no
corresponding adjective. In classical Greek of the early period of kurios was not
used as a divine title. Although the term was applied to the gods (e.g. Pindar, Isth.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 202
5, 53; Plato, Leg. 12, 13), there was no general belief in a personal creator god.
The gods were not creators and lords of fate, but were like men subject to fate. In
effect, gods and men belonged to the same sphere of reality. The Greek of this
period did not understand his position as that of a doulos, “slave,” dependent on a
god. Nor did he feel himself in any way personally responsible to the gods. Only in
so far the gods ruled over particular individual spheres in the world could they be
called kurioi. In this respect the situation was different in the East.
Werner Foerseter commenting on the Oriental usage of kurios, writes, “For
Orientals the gods are the lords of reality. Destiny is in their hands. The
individual man is personally responsible to the gods who made him. They
intervene in his life with punishments. From both these angles it is necessary that
the gods be called lords. They are the lords of the world and all its component
parts. They are the lords of destiny and the lords of men. That which is essential
to the Greeks, namely, that reality show itself to be divine to man, and that man as
a free agent to take up a position in relation to it, is completely lacking here. As
the gods lay down what is right, the ruler proclaims this to his subjects, and these
have no option but to submit in silence. This is what the Greeks felt to be servile.
In the Orient, however, there was a lively sense that the administration of law
requires personal authorization. This leads to the oriental cult of the ruler. Here
the king is not regarded as a new form of manifestation of the divine. The power,
which he possesses, and the justice, which he administers, set him above men and
in the proximity of the gods to whom he owes his position. As king, as
administrator of law, the ruler stands above men, and since the administration of
law is committed to him by the gods he may issue unconditional commands to men
and these owe to him the same unconditional obedience as they do to the gods.
Everything is here based on the personal confrontation of God and man”
(Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume 3, pages 1048-1049).
Kurios is never used of gods or rulers prior to the 1st century B.C. It is 1st used
of Isis in Egypt and was used for gods, rulers and high government officials. The
phrase kurios basileus, Lord and King, is found frequently between 64 and 50 B.C.
In 12 B.C. the emperor Augustus was called theos kai kurios, God and Lord, in
Egypt.
The title was also used of: (1) Upper Egypt Queen Candace, he kuria basilissa,
Mistress and Queen. (2) Herod the Great (73-74 B.C.). (3) Agrippa (10 B.C.-A.D.
44). (4) Agrippa II (A.D. 27-100).
Foerster commenting on the word’s application to the Roman emperors, writes,
“The peculiar feature of the situation in Roman Empire, however, is that under a
constitutional cover there triumphed in fact the type of absolute monarchy
constantly associated in the Orient with the term ‘lord.’ The scene under Augustus
reported by Suetonius shows us already that the relevant word was also very much
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 203
in the air at Rome. The above depiction of the introduction of kurios as a brief
expression for the emperor show how, in spite of its official rejection by the
majority of emperors, the word slowly but surely established itself. It also shows,
however, that it received no specific emphasis. Neither kurios nor kuriakos has in
the first instance any connection with the imperial cult. There is no passage in
which kurios, when used of a Roman emperor, is sufficient of itself to describe the
emperor as god” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume 3, page
1056).
The Roman emperors Augustus (31B.C.-A.D. 14) and Tiberius (A.D. 14-37)
generally rejected the eastern form of monarchy and with it all that was bound up
in the title kurios. But Caligula (A.D. 37-41) found the title of kurios attractive.
From Nero (A.D. 54-68) on, who was described in an inscription as ho tou pantos
kosmou kurios, Lord of all the world, the title kurios occurs more and more
frequently. The title kurios was brought into disrepute again by Domitian (A.D. 81-
96), who had himself called in official letters dominus et deus noster, Our Lord
and God. After Domitian’s death this title was detested along with his memory but
nevertheless it prevailed again later. In and of itself the title kurios does not call the
emperor god; but when he is worshipped as divine, the title Lord also counts as a
divine predicate.
Kurios appears over 9,000 times in the LXX. The word kurios, ‘lord,’ as a name
for God in the LXX is a strict translation only in cases where it is used for adhon.
As a rule, however, it is used as an expository equivalent for the divine name
Yahweh. It is thus meant to express what the name, or the use of the name,
signifies in the original. That it does not altogether succeed in this may be seen at
once from the switching of the name to the general concept and also from the fact
that in the Bible, as in common usage, kurios cannot be restricted to the one
function of being a term for God.
Gottfried Quell commenting on the word’s usage in the LXX as a designation
for Yahweh, writes, “The fact should not be overlooked, of course, that in the
history of the Bible and the effect of its message the rendering ‘lord’ has been no
less significant than the use of the name in the original. If the function of the two
terms is not wholly identical, it overlaps to such a degree that the content of the
statements, being equally oriented to the basic motif of the acknowledgment of the
power of the divine will, can have a vital effect” (Theological Dictionary of the
New Testament, volume 3, page 1060).
The term is also employed for the following Hebrew and Aramaic terms: (1)
adhon, “Lord, master (Gn. 33:13 ff., 1 Chr. 21:23, Mal. 1:6). (2) `el, “God” (Jb.
8:3, 27:11, Is. 40:18). (3) `Eloahh, “God” (Dn. 2:18ff. 23, 3:28-Aramaic). (4)
`Elohim, “God” (Gn. 21:6, 2 Chr. 36:19, Is. 61:10). (5) `Eloahh, “God” (Jb. 5:17,
19:21, 31:6). (6) Banal, “Be a husband” (Is. 54:5); “owner” (Ex. 21:28, 22:11f.);
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 204
“archer” (Gn. 49:23). (7) Giver, “Lord” (Gn. 27:29, 37). (8) Yadhah, “the Lord”
(Ps. 68:4 [67:4], 77:11 [76:11], 118:14 [117:14]). (8) Yahweh, “the Lord” (Ex.
12:27 ff., 1 Sm. 3:18 ff., Zep. 2:3). (9) mare, “Lord” (Dn. 2:47-Aramaic). (10) tsur,
“Rock” (Is. 17:10). (11) Shadday, “Almighty” (Jb. 6:14, 22:3, 31:35). (12) shallit,
“the Most High” (Dn. 4:17 [4:14]-Aramaic).
First and foremost kurios denotes God’s name as is depicted in the sacred
Tetragrammaton YHWH. Yahweh is the personal name of God and His most
frequent designation in Scripture occurring 5321 times in the OT. In the postbiblical
period, reverence for the ineffable name ‘Yahweh’ caused it to be
supplanted in synagogue reading (but not in writing) with the noun `adonay, ‘my
master,’ or Lord.
Next, when medieval Jewish scholars (Masorites) began to insert vowels to
accompany the consonantal OT text, they added to YHWH the Masoretic vowel
points for `adonay; and the actual writing became impossible YaHoWaH,
“Jehovah.” God’s name identifies His nature, so that a request for His ‘name’ is
equivalent to asking about His character or reputation or integrity (Ex. 3:13; Hos.
12:5). Critical speculation about the origin and meaning of “Yahweh” seems
endless but the Bible’s own explanation in Ex. 3:14 is that it represents the simple
Qal imperfect of hawa, “to be,’ I am what I am. The precise name Yahweh results
when others speak of Him in the 3rd person (jussive), Yahweh “He is.” Bietenhard
commenting on the LXX usage of kurios, writes, “It is used to translate `adon,
lord, and such refers 190 times to men. While ba`al, in marriage and property law,
denotes the owner of a wife or piece of land (Hos. 2:18; Judges 19:22-23), `adon is
determined by social factors and means the one who commands, the responsible
head of a group (1 Sam. 25). Yahweh is rarely called owner (Hos. 2:16 [MT [18]),
but more frequently Lord of the community belonging to him (Psa. 123:22). In
addition kurios can stand also for gebir, commander, or the Aramaic mara, lord, or
sallit, ruler. In the overwhelming majority of cases (some 6156), however, kurios
replaces the Hebrew proper name of God, the Tetragrammaton YHWH. The LXX
thus strengthened the tendency to avoid the utterance of the name of God, and
finally avoid its use altogether. The substitution of the title adonay for the proper
name Yahweh was a result of Israel’s development from a national religion in the
pre-exilic period to an international one in the period of Alexander (356-323 B.C.).
Where originally the exodus was the theological focal point, after the exile the
emphasis fell on the creation of the world. Where kurios stands for `adon or
adonay there has been genuine translation, but where, on the other hand, it stands
for Yahweh it is an interpretative circumlocution for all that the Hebrew text
implied by the use of the divine name: Yahweh is Creator and Lord of the whole
universe, of men, Lord of life and death. Above all He is the God of Israel, His
covenant people. By choosing kurios for Yahweh the LXX Greek text also
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 205
emphasized the idea of legal authority. Because Yahweh saved His people from
Egypt and chose them as His possession, He is the legitimate Lord of Israel. As
Creator of the world He is also its legitimate Lord with unlimited control over it”
(The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, volume 2, pages
511-512).
Kurios appears 717 times in the NT. The majority of the passages are found in
the writings of Luke (210) and the apostle Paul (275). The reason for this is that
Luke wrote for, and Paul to, people who lived in areas dominated by Greek culture
and language. On the other hand, the Gospel of Mark, more firmly based in Jewish
Christian tradition, uses the kurios-title only 18 times, and these mostly in
quotations. The remaining occurrences of kurios are spread over the other NT
books: (1) Matthew: 80 (2) John: 52 (3) Hebrews: 16 (4) James: 14 (5) 1 Peter: 8
(6) 2 Peter: 14 (7) Jude: 7 (8) Revelation: 2-3.
The fact that kurios is one of the most frequently used words in the NT is in
accordance with its varied use in the LXX. The word has a secular usage where it
means an owner of possessions (Mark 12:9; Luke 19:33; Matt. 15:27; Gal. 4:1). It
was used to designate an employer (Luke 16:3, 5). The husband in marriage was
identified as kurios (1 Pet. 3:6; cf. Gen. 18:12 LXX).
Kurios was used as a form of address emphasizing the power of a superior over
an inferior, but it can also be simply politeness (Matt. 18:21 f.; 25:20 ff.; 27:63;
Luke 13:8; John 12:21; 20:15; Acts 16:30). It is also used to address angels (Acts
10:4; Rev. 7:14). Paul used the word to address the risen Christ at his conversion
on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5; 22:8, 10; 26:15). A twice repeated kurios
corresponds to Palestinian usage (Matt. 7:12; 25:11; Luke 6:46). The use of the
nominative with the article instead of the vocative (John 20:28; Rev. 4:11) is also
Semitic as is the addition of a noun in the genitive in place of an adjective (1 Cor.
2:8; 2 Thess. 3:16).
In accordance with the usage of the Hellenistic synagogues God is frequently
called kurios, especially in the numerous quotations from the OT in which kurios
stands for Yahweh, corresponding to the custom of pronouncing the title kurios
instead of the Tetragrammaton in public reading. (1) “Angel of the Lord” (Matt.
1:20, 24; 2:13, 19; 28:2; Luke 1:11; 2:9; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 12:7, 23). (2) “The way
of the Lord” (Acts 18:25; cf. 13:10). (3) “The word of the Lord” (Acts 8:25;
12:24; 13:48-49; 15:35-36; 19:10, 20; 1 Thess. 4:15; 2 Thess. 3:1). (4) “The day of
the Lord” (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). (5) “The name of
the Lord” (James 5:10). (6) “The hand of the Lord” (Acts 11:21).
Kurios is used in expressions, which refer to the communion table, (1) “table of
the kurios” (1 Cor. 10:21). (2) “The death of the kurios” (1 Cor. 11:26). (3) “The
cup of the kurios” (1 Cor. 10:21; 11:27). (4) “Provoke the kurios to jealousy” (1
Cor. 10:22). (5) “Not to love the kurios” (1 Cor. 16:22). (6) “The Lord’s supper”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 206
(1 Cor. 11:20). (7) “To be judged by the kurios” (1 Cor. 11:27). (8) “To be guilty
of the body and blood of the kurios” (1 Cor. 11:27).
The word is found in epistolary greetings. Kurios is used to describe Jesus
Christ’s relationship to the Church, which He purchased at the cross with His
voluntary substitutionary spiritual death, (1) He exercises authority (1 Cor. 4:19;
14:36; 16:7). (2) He causes the Church to grow (1 Thess. 3:12). (3) He bestows
authority to the apostles (2 Cor. 10:8; 13:10). (4) He bestows different spiritual
gifts to members of His body (1 Cor. 3:5; 7:17; 12:5). (5) He gave visions and
revelations during the pre-canon period of the church age (2 Cor. 12:1). (6) The
spiritual life of the church depends on Him (Rom. 14:8). (7) He gives a measure of
doctrine to each believer (1 Cor. 3:5; 7:17; Eph. 4:7). (8) He is prosperity and gives
prosperity to the believer’s soul (2 Thess. 3:16). (9) He gives mercy (2 Tim. 1:16).
(10) He gives spiritual insight (2 Tim. 2:7). It appears in the following formulas:
(1) dia kurios (2) en kurios.
Kurios is used in statements about the Rapture (1 Cor. 4:5; Phil. 4:5; 1 Thess.
4:17; 6:16; James 5:7). It is found in the following expressions regarding the exitresurrection,
i.e., the Rapture: (1) “the day of the kurios” (1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor.
1:14; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2). (2) “The revealing (apokalupsis) of the
kurios” (1 Cor. 1:7). (3) “The coming (parousia) of our kurios” (2 Thess. 2:1).
(4) “Appearing (epiphaneia) of the kurios” (1 Tim. 6:14).
The term is applied to the Father (Matt. 11:25; Luke 2:26; 10:21; 20:42) and the
Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17). Kurios is most frequently applied to Jesus of Nazareth Who
is the Christ, the God-Man. The title is often applied to the victorious resurrected
incarnate Son of God. This title was awarded to Him by God the Father as a result
of His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross, which provided
salvation, and defeated Satan in the angelic conflict.
The term denotes the absolute sovereign authority that the resurrected humanity
of Christ in hypostatic union now possesses and exercises over all of creation and
every creature whether angelic or human (Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20). The entire cosmos
and every creature are now in subjection to the victorious resurrected incarnate Son
of God as a result of His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross.
The OT witness to God as YHWH is consistently applied to the humanity of
Christ in the NT. The NT uses the term kurios to denote the fact that the historical
figure of Jesus of Nazareth is the 2nd Member of the Trinity and thus possesses the
divine essence. All judgment and evaluation belongs to the victorious resurrected
incarnate Son of God because of His work on the cross. His present session in
heaven identifies Him as the authoritative arm of God and is Lord in the ultimate
sense of the word. The term is used to express the resurrected incarnate Son of
God’s equality with God and His absolute authority as Sovereign Ruler of the
cosmos. It expresses His superiority over every creature in the cosmos whether
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 207
angelic or human. The word also expresses His victory over Satan and the
kingdom of darkness at the cross.
J.A. Fitzmyer commenting on the usage of kurios in the NT, writes, “In a
religious sense is also used of Jesus of Nazareth. It occurs as a title for Him in all
books except Titus and 1-3 John. Normally it is used of the risen Christ. It may
have been applied to Him originally as a title most apt for His coming at the
parousia, as the Greek form of Aramaic marana ta (1 Cor. 16:22) suggests (see
also 11:26, where the title is retrojected from the parousia to His death). Used
absolutely, it forms the climax to the pre-Pauline (probably Jewish) Christian
hymn to Christ in Phil. 2:6-11, where it is ‘the name that is above every name,’ is
applied to the exalted Jesus, and gives the reason that He is entitled to the same
adoration that Isa. 45:23 accords to Yahweh Himself” (Exegetical Dictionary of
the New Testament volume 2, page 330).
Paul uses kurios of Jesus in 3 basic ways: (1) absolutely, of the risen “Lord”
(Rom. 10:9; 14:8a, b; 1 Cor. 2:8 [followed by tes doxes]; 4:4-5; 6:13a, b, 14,
17; 7:10, 12, 22, 25a, b, 32a, b, 34, 35; 9:1b, 5, 14; 10:9, 21a, b, 22;
11:23a, 26, 27a, b, 29, 32; 12:3, 5; 14:37; 15:58; 16:7; 2 Cor. 3:16, 17a, b,
18a, b; 4:14; 5:6, 8, 11; 8:5; 10:8; 11:17; 12:1, 8; 13:10; Gal. 1:19; 6:17;
Eph. 4:5; 5:10, 17, 19, 22, 29; 6:4, 7, 8, 9; Phil. 2:11; 4:5; Col. 1:10; 3:13,
16, 22b, 23, 24; 4:1b; 1 Thess. 1:6; 3:12; 4:6, 15b, 16, 17a, b; 5:27; 2
Thess. 1:9; 2:13; 3:3, 5, 16a [tes eirenes]. (2) In the prepositional phrase en
kurio (Rom. 16:2, 8, 11, 12a, b, 13, 22; 1 Cor. 4:17; 7:22, 39; 9:2; 11:11; 16:19; 2
Cor. 2:12; Gal. 5:10; Eph. 2:21; 4:1, 17; 5:8; 6:1, 10, 21; Phil. 1:14; 2:19, 24, 29;
3:1; 4:1, 2, 4, 10; Col. 3:18, 20; 4:7, 17; 1 Thess. 3:8; 4:1; 5:12; 2 Thess. 3:4; Phlm.
16:20a, often in exhortations and greetings or to express the union of the Christian
with Christ. (3) Paul often joins to the title the names Jesus and/or Christ: Kurios
Iesous/Christos (Rom. 1:4, 7; 4:24; 5:1, 11, 21; 6:11, 23; 7:25; 8:39; 12:11;
14:14; 15:6, 30; 16:18, 20, 24; 1 Cor. 1:2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10; 5:4a, b, 5; 6:11;
8:6; 9:1a; 11:23b; 15:31, 57; 16:23; 2 Cor. 1:2, 3, 14; 4:5, 10; 8:9; 11:31;
13:13; Gal. 1:3; 6:14, 18; Eph. 1:2, 3, 15, 17; 3:11, 14; 5:20; 6:23, 24; Phil.
1:2; 2:19; 3:8, 20; 4:23; Col. 1:2, 3; 2:6; 3:17, 24; 1 Thess. 1:1a, b, 3; 2:15,
19; 3:11, 13; 4:2; 5:9, 23, 28; 2 Thess. 1:1, 2, 7, 8, 12a, b; 2:1, 8, 14, 16;
3:6, 12; Phlm. 3, 5, 25), especially at the beginnings of letters.
Werner Foerster makes the following comment regarding the word’s usage in
the NT, he writes, “Further light is shed by the well-known and inexhaustible
passage in Phil. 2:6-11 (vv. 9 ff.): dio kai ho theos auton huperupsosen kai
echarisato auto to onoma to huper pan onoma hina en to onomati Iesou pan gonu
kampse epouranion kai epigeion kai katachthonion kai pasa glossa
exhomologesetai hoti kurios Iesous Christos eis doxan theou patros. The name,
which is characterized as a very specific one by the repetition of the article, can
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 208
only be the name kurios. It is thus given to Jesus as the divine answer (dio) to His
suffering of death in obedience. At the name, which Jesus, who took the form of a
servant, has received, i.e., before the historical Jesus who is now exalted, the entire
world bows the knee. Rev. (5:12) says similarly of the arnion hos esphgmenon
that it is worthy to receive the book which contains the denouement of world
history and thus to take dunamis, doxa, and eulogia. The name of kurios implies a
position equal to that of God. Bowing the knee and acclaiming the kurios Iesous
Christos are related actions, while it is true that Phil. does not quote Is. 45:23 f.
expressly, since the kurios Iesous Christos can hardly allude either to the
exhomologesesis of the LXX or to the Mas., nevertheless the en to onomati Iesou
takes the place of the emoi (sc. kampsei pan gonu) on the lips of God. And the fact
that this Jesus is confessed as kurios is to the glory of God. The name kurios thus
designates the position of the Risen Lord. It is hardly possible to decide whether
the huper in huperupsesen refers to the en morphe theou huparchon or simply
means ‘beyond all measure.’ If kurios Iesous here takes the form of an
acclamation, this is no argument against its high material significance. That the
risen Jesus is kurios is stated throughout the NT. In R. 10:9 Paul rightly connects
the confession of Jesus’ lordship with the lips and the faith of the heart that God
has raised Him from the dead. In Acts 2:36, at the close of Peter’s Pentecost
sermon, Lk. quotes him as saying: asphalos oun ginosketo pas oikos Israel hoti
kai kurion auton kai Christosn epoiesen ho theos touton ton Iesoun hon humeis
estaurosate. The greater Lk.’s contribution to the formulation of this passage, the
more clearly it shows that for him the resurrection and the kuriotes of Jesus were
related. Even when the word kurios is particularly prominent, the connection
between the suffering, resurrection and divine position of Jesus finds varied
expression. Thus in Heb. 2:6 ff. the quotation of Psa. 8:4 ff. is followed by proof
in v. 8 that it cannot apply to man generally but refers specifically to Jesus, who
because He suffered death is crowned with doxa and time. Hence, even though the
author does not expressly says that the panta huptaxas hupokato ton podon autou is
also fulfilled in Him, the lordship of Jesus is plainly indicated. The same
relationship between the resurrection and lordship is to be seen at Mat. 28:18 in the
saying of the Risen Lord: edothe moi pasa exousia en ourano kai epi ges: he who
as exousia is kurios. But it is brought especially in the use of Psa. 110:1. There is
no other reference. In this psalm, however, session is linked with lordship, and
specifically with being David’s lord. With an oun ac. 2:36 causes Peter to draw
from this verse the deduction concerning Jesus. Session at the right hand of God
means joint rule. It thus implies divine dignity, as does the very fact of sitting in
God’s presence” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament volume 3, pages
1088-1089).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 209
The great German NT Greek scholar Adolph Deissmann makes the following
comment regarding the word’s usage in the days that Paul wrote his epistles which
was during the reign of Nero, he writes, “For Nero ‘the lord,’ i.e. in the time of the
most important of St. Paul’s letters, the number of examples suddenly rushes up
tremendously. For a long while I was unable to account for this uprush, but now I
think it possible that it is connected with the proclamation of Nero as Agathus
Daemon in Egypt on his accession. At any rate the statistics are quite striking;
everywhere, down to the remotest village, the officials called Nero Kurios.
Wilcken’s book alone contains 27 ostraca dated after Nero ‘the lord,’ among them
one of 4 August 63 which is facsimiled above. My own collection also contains 8
Neronian Kurios-ostraca, among them one with ‘Nero Kurios’ quite in the manner
of a formula (without article, like the ‘Kurios Jesus’ in 1 Cor. 12:3). We find the
title ‘lord’ applied to Nero also in papyrus documents, of which a good example is
the letter of Harmiysis, 24 July 66, of which a picture is given above. The officials
who sign the document use the title three times. It is a very important fact that
under Nero we first find the Kurios-title in an inscription in Greece. The marble
tablet of Acraephiae in Boeotia which has yielded such an extraordinary rich
harvest, and which immortalizes, among other things, a speech made by Nero at
Corinth in November 67, contains a decree of honor in which the Boeotian town
calls him once ‘lord of the whole world,’ and then, what is in my opinion more
important, simply ‘the lord Augustus,’ divine honors being awarded him by the
decree. This important inscription shows how far the East had already penetrated
on its march of conquest into the West. A living illustration of the inscription and
the forebodings it arouses is supplied by the journey undertaken a year before (66
A.D.) by the Persian king Tiridates to do homage to the Emperor. Tiridates came
from the East to Italy and did homage to Nero at Naples as ‘the lord’ and in Rome
as ‘the god.’” (Light from the Ancient East pages 353-354).
The noun kurios appears 15 times in the Philippian epistle (1:2, 14; 2:11, 19,
24, 29; 3:1, 8, 20; 4:1-2, 4-5, 10, 23). The name Jesus is from the Hebrew name
Jehoshua which is taken from two famous Jewish names: (1) Yoshua (Joshua):
Joshua was the successor of Moses. (2) Yeshua (Jeshua): Jeshua was the high
priest of the Jews upon their arrival back from the Babylonian exile.
Iesous is the Greek form of the OT Jewish name Yeshua, arrived at by
transcribing the Hebrew and adding an -$ to the nominative to facilitate declension.
Yeshua (Joshua) seems to have come into general use about the time of the
Babylonian exile in place of the older Yehoshua (Jehoshua).
The LXX rendered both the ancient and more recent forms of the name
uniformly as Iesous. Joshua the son of Nun was Moses’ successor and led the
children into the land of Canaan and appears under this name (cf. Ex. 17:8-16;
24:13; 32:17; 33:11; Num. 11:27 ff.; 13:8; 14:6-9; 30-38; 27:18; 21 ff.; Deut. 31:3,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 210
7-8, 14f. 23; 34:9; and the book of Joshua. It is the oldest name containing the
divine name Yahweh, and means, “Yahweh is help” or “Yahweh is salvation”.
Joshua was originally named Hoshea which means “saving,” but was altered by
Moses (Num. 13:16) into Jehoshua, “Jehovah our salvation,” therefore, we get the
expression, Savior. The name Jesus was fairly widely distributed in the pre-
Christian period and in the early part of the Church Age.
Josephus names no fewer than 19 bearers of the name Jesus in his writings in
Greek. These came both from the ancient and the recent history of his people and
about half were contemporaries of our Lord Whom he also mentions (Antiquities
20, 9, 1). The name also occurs about this time in numerous non-literary Jewish
texts, among them inscriptions on graves (at Leontopolis or Tell el-Yehudieh north
east of Cairo, ZNW 22, 1923, 283) and on ossuaries from the neighborhood of
Jerusalem. Some of these are written in Hebrew or Aramaic, others in Greek. One
Aramaic example bears the name Yeshua bar Yehosep, Joshua son of Joseph (E.L.
Sukenik, Judische Graber Jerusalems um Christi Geburt, 1931, 19f).
The NT shows the name Jesus as widely spread among the Jews at the time of
Jesus of Nazareth and His disciples. The Jesus appears in the NT a total of 919
times, only 6 in reference to persons other than Jesus of Nazareth. The name Iesous
appears often by itself in the Gospels. But because of the frequency of the name
Jesus had to be distinguished from other bearers of the name. Therefore, in the
Gospels “Jesus of Nazareth” and other such distinctions was used. Outside the
Gospels (except in Revelation) the name Jesus is usually associated with
Christological titles, such as: (1) “Jesus Christ” (2) “Christ Jesus.”
Other predicates are also found, sometimes with “Christ”. Corresponding to the
classical use of personal names in general, Iesous in the NT frequently has no
article in front of it. However, it can be used with the article as a result of
anaphora. The name Iesous, “Jesus” appears in the NT in the following phrases:
(1) ho kurios `Iesous Christos, “our Lord Jesus Christ” (38 times). (2) Ho kurios
hemon `Iesous, “our Lord Jesus.” (3) Ho kurios `Iesous, “the Lord Jesus.”
Jesus is also called kurios in related expressions: (1) ho kurios `Iesous Christos,
“the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2) Kurios `Iesous, “Lord Jesus.” (3) Kurios `Iesous
Christos, “Lord Jesus Christ.”
There is another word in the Greek New Testament is part of the vocabulary for
our subject, namely the noun onoma which belongs to the following word group:
(1) Onomazo (verb), “to speak of, call, address persons by name, to name or
specify things, to designate, to tell, express, indicate, assent, promise.” (2)
Eponomazo (verb), “to apply a name to, to surname, to nickname, call by name, to
denominate.” (3) Pseudonumos (adjective), “falsely named, falsely called, bearing
a false name. Falsely, incorrectly, inappropriately named.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 211
The noun onoma is derived from the Indo-Germanic word nomn, or enomn (cf.
the Latin nomen and the Scandinavian name) and means “name.” From the earliest
period of the Greek language, onoma means name, whether of a person, or a thing.
As with the English word “name,” an extended meaning is “fame” or “reputation.”
To “have a name” means to be notable or, in other contexts, to have only a name
without the accompanying reality.
In business dealings the name represents the person, his property, his interests,
or his obligations. In grammar, onoma means “noun.” More significant than mere
definitions were the various views of the relationship between a name and the thing
or person bearing the name. Primitive peoples believed the name provided magical
power over the thing, person, god, or demon named. They believed the name itself
had an intrinsic and revelatory relationship to its owner. This view persisted in
some circles but came to be questioned by the Greek philosophers, beginning in
the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. Parmenides, the Sophists and Plato held views
somewhat similar to those of modern linguistic science: words (including names)
means what a given language group agree to have them mean. A name may reflect
a perception of the thing or person, but a perception may be wrong or partial. Thus
onoma cannot be simply equated with the nature of what is named. In contrast to
Plato, Stoic philosophers held that the name represents the very nature of the thing
named. Consequently the Stoics believed that etymological analysis of names
provides genuine insight into the nature of reality.
The discussions of the names of the gods were important for the relationship
between language and its object. Hesiod had already tried to find the key to the
nature of the gods from the etymology of their names. The names of the gods were
viewed as “verbal cult-pictures” (Democritus, Frag. 142, in Diels-Kranz I, 170, 9).
The aspect of the terrible and unapproachable was thus appropriate for them (Plato,
Philebus 12c; Cratylus 403a). Others, such as Menander and Aristides, represent
the viewpoint that the higher a god stood, the more names he had.
In a move toward monotheism, the Stoics ascribed all the divine names to one
god (Zeus), explaining the various names as descriptions of the multiple aspects of
his nature and deeds or fulness of being. But the many names of the god of the
universe can be transmuted into namelessness, in that no name does justice to the
fullness of the godhead. This line of thought has continued right up to modern
times. The magical phrases and formulae found on the papyri of late antiquity
reveal the belief in the power and effectiveness of the names of gods and demons.
The name is thus a power which is very closely associated with the bearer and
which discloses his nature. Pronouncement or invocation of the name sets in
operation the energy potentially contained in him.
Onoma occurs over 1000 times in the LXX, almost always translating the
Hebrew shem, “name.” In a few places it translates other Hebrew words meaning
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 212
“report” or “fame” (e.g., Numbers 14:15; Joshua 6:27). Hans Bietenhard states, “In
Israel as among other peoples there was awareness of the significance attached to a
name, and of the power which resided in it. The first and later utterance of a name
means more than formal endowment with, and use of, a means of naming
someone. By giving someone a name, one establishes a relation of dominion and
possession towards him” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume
V, page 253). The significance attached to names is easily seen in the many
etymological explanations of the names of individuals, places and nations. The
basis for the choice of name could have been: (1) certain events, which took place
when the child was born (e.g., Gen. 25:26). (2) Particularities in connection with
the complexion of the child (Gen. 25:25). (3) Parents wishes and expectations for
the newborn child (Gen. 35:18).
Giving or changing a name could indicate dominion over that which is named
or a change of status: (1) Abram became Abraham (Gen. 17:5). (2) The Jewish
exiles received new names from their captor Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:7), which
was a way of giving them Babylonian citizenship so they could help in the
government.
Sometimes the name could be personified completely, so that it is mentioned as
if it performed the action itself (cf. Psalm 20:1-2 [LXX 19:2]; Malachi 1:11). To
disregard the name was to disregard the person (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 24:16). To pay
homage to the name was to show honor to the one who was given that name (Neh.
9:5; Psa. 34:3 [LXX 33:3]; 138:2 [137:2]).
The Complete Biblical Library makes the following excellent comment
regarding God’s name in the OT, “God’s name is the most important one in the
Old Testament. Whether called by His distinctive name ‘the Lord’ (Yahweh =
kurios) or by the generic term ‘God’ (Elohim = theos), God’s identity and nature
cannot be known apart from the history of His words and actions in relationship
with His people. For this reason God speaks of Himself as the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob and as ‘the Lord thy God, Who has brought thee out of the land of
Egypt’ (Ex. 3:6; 20:2). True knowledge of God’s name involves knowledge of this
history and participation in this relationship. In contrast to the beliefs of the
primitive pagan world, the Bible makes clear that knowledge and use of God’s
name does not provide power over Him but rather relationship with Him and
responsibility to Him. First of all, His name is known only because He freely
chose to reveal it (Gen. 17:1; Ex. 3:14-15). Furthermore, the invoking of His name
for magical purposes (or other misuses) is forbidden by the third commandment
(Ex. 20:7). Israel was urged ‘to call on the name of the Lord,’ trusting His
faithfulness to the covenant, not because the use of His name could force Him to
act. God promised to care for the people and the temple bearing His name, but
those privileges and blessings could be forfeited by human unfaithfulness to the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 213
relationship (2 Chron. 7:14-22). Likewise the prophets who spoke ‘in the name of
the Lord’ had authority only as faithful proclaimers of what God had spoken to
them. Without such a commission, the prophet was false. In Jewish writings
outside of Scripture, Philo reflected the influence of Greek Stoicism when he said
God’s real name never reaches men. God is being itself, which cannot be named.
Thus kurios, ‘Lord’ is only the name for God’s power to rule and not God’s actual
name (ibid. 5:264-65) (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary
Labda-Omnicron 2948-3664).
Hans Bietenhard commenting on the use of the word in the OT, writes, “Of
primary significance is the name of Yahweh, which He Himself made known in
His revelation (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14; 6:2). One of the most fundamental and
essential features of the biblical revelation is the fact that God is not without a
name: He has a personal name, by which He can, and is to be, invoked. When
appeal is made to Yahweh, He comes near and makes His promise true: ‘in every
place where I cause My name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you’
(Ex. 20:24; cf. Num. 6:24 ff.). Priests and Levites, and even the king, bless in the
name of Yahweh (Num. 6:27; Deut. 10:8; 2 Sam. 6:18). The name of Yahweh,
indeed, is such a powerful expression of His personal rule and activity that it can
be used as an alternative way of speaking of Yahweh Himself (Lev. 18:21; Psa.
7:17; Amos 2:7; Mic. 5:4). It is the side of Yahweh, which is turned towards men,
in which Yahweh reveals Himself. His historical dealings with men in the past
(Exod. 3:6, 13, 15), present (Ex. 20:7) and future (Ezek. 25:17; 34:50 et al.) are
inextricably bound up with His name. Misuse of this name in magic or in false
oaths (for oaths were accompanied by mention of Yahweh’s name) is forbidden
(Ex. 20:7), for the name of Yahweh is a gift of the revelation which is not at man’s
disposal (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 3:14; 6:2). The name of Yahweh is committed in trust
to Israel: the heathen do not know it (Psa. 79:6). Israel has the task of hallowing
it. This takes place in the cult, at sacrifice, in prayer, in blessing and cursing, and
also in the holy war (Psa. 29:8), in other words, in serving Yahweh, and Him
alone, and in obeying His commands. To take part in the cult-worship of another
god therefore invokes profanation of the name of Yahweh (Lev. 19:21). The
invocation of His name over Jerusalem (Jer. 25:29), over the temple (Jer. 7:10) and
over the ark (2 Sam. 6:2), consecrating them and associating them with him, is the
sole basis of that sanctity. Deut. gives the following answer to the question as to
how Israel can have dealings with Yahweh: Yahweh Himself dwells in heaven,
but He chooses on earth a place where He causes His ‘name’ to dwell (Deut.
12:11; 14:23; cf. 2 Sam. 7:13; 1 Kings 3:2; 5:17). In that His name dwells in the
temple, Yahweh’s presence is itself guaranteed; but only in such a way that even if
the temple is profaned, Yahweh’s transcendence remains preserved (cf. 1 Ki. 8:13,
where Yahweh dwells in thick darkness with 1 Ki. 8:14 ff., where Yahweh’s name
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 214
dwells in the temple). Yahweh’s name, like Yahweh Himself, remains sovereign”
(The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, volume 2, pages
649-650).
Onoma occurs 228 times in the NT. Bietenhard list the following usages of the
word in the NT: (1) Names of men and other beings. (2) The name of God. (3) The
name of Jesus. Bietenhard commenting on the phrase “the name of Jesus” in the
NT, writes, “The significance of Jesus’ life and activity is evident in his name
(Matt. 1:21; Jesus art. Iesous; on Emmanuel in Matt. 1:23-God, art. Emmanuel).
He bears the sublime name of Son (Heb. 1:4 f.). His name is ‘the Word of God’
(Rev. 19:13; cf. John 1:1). God’s name of Lord also becomes his name (Phil. 2:9
f.; Rev. 19:16). Above and beyond this, he bears a name, which he alone knows
(Rev. 19:12), ‘and the name by which he is called is The Word of God’ (Rev.
19:13). The name ‘Jesus’ can be replaced simply by ‘the name’ (Acts 5:41; 3 John
7; cf. the Jewish replacement of Yahweh by sem). The whole content of the saving
truth revealed in Jesus is comprised in his name (Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 6:11). Belief in
the name of the Son, i.e. belief in Jesus’ messianic mission (John 3:18), is God’s
command (1 John 3:23; 5:13). Anyone who believes in his name receives
forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; 1 John 2:12), has eternal life (John 20:21; 1 John
5:13) and escapes the judgment (John 3:18). A Christian’s whole life is dominated
by the name of Jesus (Col. 3:17), whose glorification is the goal of faith (2 Thess.
1:12)” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, volume 2,
page 654).
The Complete Biblical Library states, “Jesus came in the name of the Father
(i.e., sent by the Father) to accomplish the Father’s purposes (John 5:43), but the
accomplishment of those purposes brought a revelation of Jesus’ own name.
Ultimately every knee will bow to Jesus’ name, for the name of ‘Lord’ is above
every name (Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9-11). ‘Lord’ (kurios) is the Septuagint’s rendering
of Yahweh. To call Him ‘Lord’ is to acknowledge that He is God (John 20:28),
and to call upon Him as Lord is to find salvation (Rom. 10:9, 13). To use His
name this way, however, does not put His saving power under man’s control, since
‘no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor. 12:3). The
saving use of His name is God’s gift just as the salvation itself is His gift” (The
Complete Biblical Library, Greek-English Dictionary Lambda-Omnicron 2948-
3664).
Once again we will quote Bietenhard, who writes, “The fulness of being and the
work of Jesus Christ may be seen in His name. At God’s command He receives
the name of Jesus (Matt. 1:21 and par.), which expresses His humanity and also
His divine mission: autos gar sosei tou laon autou apo ton hamartion auton. The
significance of this name is more fully elucidated in verse 23. It implies ‘God with
us’ (meth’ hemon ho theos), i.e., that with the presence of Jesus God’s presence is
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 215
given to the community. The exalted name which Jesus receives according to Heb.
1:4 is the name of Son (cf. v.5: huios mou ei su). The name kurios, which in the
LXX is either a translation or a paraphrase of the divine name Yahweh, is also His
name (Phil. 2:9 f.). It denotes His divine equality. Because the essence of the
Most High is in it, because the name of Lord belongs to both God and Jesus Christ,
it is the name above all other names, i.e., beings (cf. Eph. 1:21). In His divine
equality He is KURIOS KURION (Rev. 19:16). The divine dominion is revealed in
Him: BASILEUE BASILEON (Rev. 19:16; cf. Dt. 10:17). The unity of nature and
name may also be seen in Rev. 19:13 when taken with Jn. 1:1: He not only bears
the name, but is ho logos tou theou, i.e., He alone has the communion with God
which is described in Jn. 1:1 and remains a mystery in every revelation. The being
of the Lord who is exalted over all also remains a mystery; He bears a name, which
no one knows apart from Himself, Rev. 19:12. ‘He possesses a relationship with
God which none can perceive’” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
volume V, pages 272-273).
Lars Hartman commenting on the word onoma, states, “Two NT texts speak of
the name of the exalted Christ: Phil. 2:9 and Heb. 1:4 (cf. also Rev. 3:12).
According to Phil. 2:9 God gives to ‘exalted one’ ‘the name that is above every
other name,’ i.e., the name Kurios: The name represents His divine essence. Heb.
1:4 refers to a similar enthronement: Christ has inherited a name that is more
excellent that that of the angels, i.e., God has given Him the name and therefore
also the nature and position of ‘Son’” (Exegetical Dictionary of the New
Testament, volume 2, page 521).
Vine classifies onoma under the usages (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New
Testament Words page 781-782): (1) of the name by which a person or things is
called. (2) For all that a name implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty,
power, excellence, etc., of everything that the name covers. (3) As standing, by
metonymy, for persons.
Bauer lists 5 major usages of the word in the NT (A Greek-English Lexicon of
the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature page 570-572): (1) of
proper names (2) title, category (3) person (4) the (well-known) name, reputation,
fame (5) office.
Louw and Nida list the following categorical usages for the word (Greek-
English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, volume 1):
(1) the proper name of a person or object – ‘name.’ (2) A person, with the possible
implication of existence or relevance as individuals – ‘person, people.’ (3) That
which is said about a person on the basis of an evaluation of the person’s conduct –
‘reputation.’ (4) Category or kind, based upon an implied designation for a class of
entities – ‘category of, being of the type that.’ (5) To employ the name of the Lord
as evidence that one worships the Lord. (6) To spread information extensively
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 216
about a person. (7) To insult or slander, with a possible implication of a kind of
psychological ostracism. (8) To give a name to, with the possible implication of an
additional name. (9) To be acknowledged as belonging to the one whose name is
called upon such an individual.
Adolph Deismann states that the word’s “repeated occurrence in indictments
certainly suggests the conjecture that it must have had a technical meaning…the
name of the King is the essence of what he is as ruler. We see how nearly this idea
of the onoma approaches to that of the Old Testament shem, and how convenient it
was for the Egyptian translators to be able to render quite literally the expressive
word of the sacred text. The special coloring which onoma often has in early
Christian writings was doubtless strongly influenced by the LXX, but the latter did
not borrow that coloring first from the Hebrew; it was rather a portion of what they
took from the adulatory official vocabulary of their environment” (Bible Studies
page 146). He also notes that onoma was “established for the impressive language
of the court and of worship” (Bible Studies page 147).
The Greek New Testament has another word that pertains to the doctrine of
Jesus Christ controlling history, namely the verb hupotasso which is a compound
verb composed of the following: (1) Preposition hupo, “under, subject to.” (2)
Verb tasso, “to arrange.”
There are no pre-Hellenic examples of this compound verb. It is a Greek
military term meaning ‘to arrange under one’s authority,’ as a general arranges his
regiments in orderly array before himself. It can have the following meanings: (1)
Active (a) To place under (b) To affix under (c) To subordinate (2) Passive (a) To
be subject (b) The subordinate (c) Subordinates (d) One without rights (3) Middle
(a) To subject oneself (b) To be subservient (c) To acknowledge as lord. (d) To
submit voluntarily.
The word frequently occurs in the middle voice and often indicates involuntary
submission or obedience. Throughout Hellenistic literature hupotasso (and its
cognates) is found in lists expressing rules on ethical standards and appropriate
levels of subordination. Lists of duties appear in Aristotle 4th century B.C.), Seneca
(1st century A.D.) and Plutarch (2nd century A.D.). In addition, the middle voice is
also used to indicate involuntary submission, “to submit oneself” out of fear. It
may describe voluntary submission or obedience, but this sense occurs less often.
Submission to spiritual laws and to God is also indicated by the middle form. In
references to literary matters the word means, “to attach or append.” The verb
appears often throughout the papyri with the meaning of “to append.”
Liddel and Scott list the following (Greek-English Lexicon, New Edition, page
1897): (1) Place or arrange under, assign (2) Post in the shelter of (3) Draw up
behind (4) Subject (5) Subdue, make subject; to be obedient; will submit;
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 217
subordinates (6) Underlie to be implied in or associated with (7) Put after, subjoin,
append; follows (8) Take as a minor premises (9) Govern the subjunctive.
The verb hupotasso appears only 31 times in the LXX, of which 9 are noncanonical.
It used to translate the following Hebrew words: (1) Davar, “speak”;
hiphil: “subdue” (Ps. 18:47 [17:47]). (2) Dumiyah, “silence” (Ps. 62:1 [61:1]). (3)
Damam, “be still, wait for” (Ps. 37:7 [36:7], 62:5 [61:5]). (4) Kavash, “subjugate”;
niphal: “be subdued”: (1 Ch. 22:18). (5) Pelach, “serve” (Dn. 7:27-Aramaic). (6)
Radhadh, “subdue” (Ps. 144:2 [143:2]). (7) Sim, “set, put; consider” (Hg. 2:18
[2:19]). (8) Shith, “put” (Ps. 8:6).
The word has the same range of meanings in the LXX as it does in classical
writings. It can have the following meanings in the LXX: (1) To place under,
subordinate (2) Subordinate (3) Subjects (4) To subject (5) To overcome (6) To be
subject (7) To become subject (8) mid. To subject oneself (10) To acknowledge
someone’s dominion or power (11) To submit (12) To surrender to God (13) To
humble oneself before him.
The verb hupotasso appears 40 times in the NT and frequently displays the
same meanings found in the classical and LXX literature. It involves both
voluntary and involuntary submission. Louw and Nida define the word, “to bring
something under the firm control of someone” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New
Testament Based on Semantic Domains volume 2, page 476).
The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon lists the following meanings for the
verb (page 645): (1) To arrange under, to subordinate; to subject, put in subjection
(2) mid. To subject one self, to obey; to submit to control; to yield one’s self, to
obey; to submit to one’s control; to yield to one’s admonition or advice.
Bauer, Gingrich and Danker list the following (A Greek-English Lexicon of the
New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, pages 848): (1) Subject,
subordinate (2) Act. To bring someone to subjection (3) Pass. Become subject (4)
Subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey (5) Of literary compositions or
documents: attach or append them to another literary work.
Roland Bergmeier lists the following (Exegetical Dictionary of the New
Testament, volume 3, page 408): (1) Active, subject, subordinate, place under (2)
Passive, be subjected to, be placed under (3) Middle, submit to, subordinate
oneself to, yield to, be subject to, obey.
The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised lists the following (page 419): (1) To
place or arrange under; to subordinate (2) to bring under influence (3) Pass. To be
subordinated (4) to be brought under a state or influence (5) mid. To submit one ’s
self, render obedience, be submissive.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, “hupotasso, primarily a
military term, “to rank under” (hupo, “under,” tasso, “to arrange”), denotes (a) “to
put in subjection, to subject,” (Rom. 8:20) (twice); in the following, the RV, has to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 218
subject for KJV, “to put under,” (1 Cor. 15:27) (thrice), (28) (3rd clause); (Eph.
1:22; Heb. 2:8) (4th clause); in (1 Cor. 15:28) (1st clause), for KJV “be subdued”;
in (Phil. 3:21), for KJV, “subdue”; in (Heb. 2:5), KJV, “hath… put in subjection”;
(b) in the middle or passive voice, to subject oneself, to obey, be subject to, (Luke
2:51; 10:17,20; Rom. 8:7; 10:3), RV, “did (not) subject themselves” [KJV, “have
(not) submitted themselves”]; (13:1,5; 1 Cor. 14:34), RV, “be in subjection” (KJV,
“be under obedience”); (15:28) (2nd clause); (16:16) RV, “be in subjection” (KJV,
“submit, etc.”); so (Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:21), RV, “subjecting yourselves” (KJV,
“submitting, etc.”); (v. 22), RV in italics, according to the best texts; (v. 24), “is
subject”; (Titus 2:5,9), RV, “be in subjection” (KJV, “be obedient”); (3:1), RV, “to
be in subjection” (KJV, “to be subject”); (Heb. 12:9), “be in subjection”; (Jas. 4:7),
RV, “be subject” (KJV, “submit yourselves”); so (1 Pet. 2:13; v. 18), RV, “be in
subjection”; so (3:1), KJV and RV; (v. 5), similarly; (3:22), “being made subject”;
(5:5), RV, “be subject” (KJV, “submit yourselves”); in some texts in the 2nd part,
as KJV.”
The verb’s meaning involves the concept of subordination to legitimate
authority. The verb hupotasso is used in relation to the following concepts: (1)
Christ subjection to Mary and Joseph (Lk. 2:51). (2) Demons subjected to the
disciples (Lk. 10:17, 20). (3) Creation subject to Christ (1 C. 15:27, 28; Eph. 1:22;
Phlp. 3:21; He. 2:8; 1 P. 3:22). (4) Wives submitting to their husbands (Eph. 5:22;
Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 P. 3:1, 5). (5) Christian labor submit to the authority of
management (Tit. 2:9; 1 P. 2:18). (6) Submitting to civil authorities (R. 13:1, 5;
Tit. 3:1; 1 P. 2:13). (7) Believers submitting to Pastoral authority (1 C. 16:16; 1 P.
5:5). (8) Believers submitting to God (H. 12:9; Ja. 4:7). (9) Jews failure to submit
to the righteousness of God in Christ (R. 10:3). (10) Women submissive in local
assembly (1 C. 14:34). (11) Believers deferring to one another (Eph. 5:21; 1 P.
5:5). (12) Creation subject to a fallen state (R. 8:7, 20).
Hupotaxai is used in the active sense here in Philippians 3:21. It means “to
marshal” under one’s authority. Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary lists
the following definitions for the verb marshal, which pertains to the meaning of
hupotasso in Philippians 3:21: (1) To place in proper rank or position (2) To bring
together and order in an appropriate or effective way. If we were to paraphrase this
definition, we would say that the omnipotence of the Lord Jesus Christ as
Sovereign Ruler of all creation will: (1) Place in proper rank or position every one
of His subjects, i.e., angels or mankind. (2) Bring together and order in an
appropriate and effective way all creation at His 2nd Advent and subsequent
millennial reign and throughout all of eternity.
A comparison with Philippians 2:9-11 reveals that there will be a universal
eschatological compulsory subjection to the victorious resurrected incarnate Son of
God. As a result of His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross, which
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 219
defeated Satan and provided salvation for all rational moral creatures, the humanity
of Christ in hypostatic union has been promoted to the highest-ranking position in
the entire cosmos by God the Father. The humanity of Christ’s power and authority
over the entire cosmos is equaled only by that which is possessed and exercised by
God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The resurrection, ascension, triumphal
procession and session points to the fact that the incarnate Son of God has been
promoted by God the Father as Sovereign Ruler over the following: (1) Creation
(Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:15-17; 2:10; 1 Pet. 3:22). (20 Church (1 Tim. 6:15;
Rev. 17:14; 19:16). (3) Israel (Matt. 1:1; 20:30; Mark 10:47-48; Luke 1:32; 2 Tim.
2:8; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16).
Our Lord received His third royal title as “King of kings and Lord of lords, the
bright morning star” which is a direct result of His execution of the Father’s
Incarnation Plan. There are 5 major events in relation to the appeal trial of Satan
and the promotion of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union: (1) The humanity
of Christ’s strategic victory over Satan through His substitutionary spiritual death
on the cross (Psa. 22:1-3; Matt. 27:44-46; Mark 15:34; Rom. 5:6-10; 2 Cor. 5:14-
15a; Heb. 2:9). (2) The resurrection of the humanity of Christ 3 days after the
crucifixion (Matt. 27:62-66-28:1-20; Mark 16:1-14; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18;
Acts 1:22; 2:31; Rom. 1:4; Col. 2:12). (3) The ascension of the humanity of Christ
into heaven in order to receive the award from God the Father as Victor in the
angelic conflict (John 20:17 cf. Luke 24:38-40; Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:9-11; Phil.
2:9; 1 Pet. 3:22; Heb. 4:14). (4) The triumphal procession of the humanity of Christ
in heaven as Victor in the angelic conflict (Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:15). (5) The present
session of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union at the right hand of God the
Father possessing the highest ranking position of power and authority as supreme
ruler of the entire cosmos (Psa. 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19;
Luke 20:42; 22:69; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22).
The cosmic dimensions of the victorious resurrected incarnate Son of God’s
sovereign rulership are 3-fold: (1) Celestials (a) Elect angels functioning in the 1st,
2nd and 3rd heavens. (b) Fallen angels functioning in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd heavens.
(c) OT saints located in the 3rd heaven. (d) The Church (Dead in Christ) located in
the 3rd heaven. (2) Terrestrials (a) The Church (Regenerate human beings)
functioning on planet earth. (b) Unregenerate human beings functioning on planet
earth. (3) Sub terrestrials (a) Fallen angels imprisoned in Tartarus and in the Abyss.
(b) Unregenerate humanity in the 2nd compartment of Hades called Torments.
Every regenerate human being in every dispensation of human history must at
some point in the future submit to an evaluation of their lives after salvation which
will be conducted by the resurrected and sovereign humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union. Regenerate Israel who lived during the Age of Israel and
Tribulation period will evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9;
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 220
Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-30). Regenerate Gentiles who lived during the Age of the
Gentiles and Tribulation period will be evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Matt. 25:31-
46). Church Age believers will be evaluated at the Bema Seat Evaluation of Christ
(Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). Regenerate Jews and
Gentiles who lived during the Millennium will be subjected to a judgment at the
conclusion of human history (Rev. 20:15). Every unregenerate human being in
every dispensation of human history must submit to a judgment, which will also be
conducted by the resurrected and sovereign incarnate Son of God at the Great
White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Every fallen angel has already been
judged and sentenced to the Lake of Fire by the Supreme Court of Heaven before
human history.
Two categories of homo sapiens will come under this universal eschatological
compulsory subjection: (1) Regenerate (2) Unregenerate. Two categories of
angelic creatures: (1) Elect (2) Fallen.
The Great Genuflex in the future encompasses every regenerate and
unregenerate rational creature that has lived throughout angelic and human history.
There will be a Genuflex or Proskunesis that will precede the following
evaluations of regenerate human beings and judgment of unregenerate human
beings: Bema Seat Evaluation of Christ involving the regenerate from the Church
Age. 2nd Advent of Christ evaluation of all the regenerate from the Age of Israel
and the Tribulation. 2nd Advent of Christ evaluation of all the regenerate from the
Age of the Gentiles and the Tribulation. 2nd Advent of Christ evaluation of all the
regenerate of the Millennium. Great White Throne Judgment of all unregenerate
human beings from every dispensation. There will be a Genuflex or Proskunesis
that will precede the execution of Satan and the fallen angel’s sentence to the Lake
of Fire at the conclusion of the appeal trial, which runs co-terminus with human
history.
2 Categories of angelic creatures will take part in this Genuflex or Proskunesis
at the conclusion of the appeal trial and preceding the execution of Satan and the
fallen angel’s sentence to the Lake of Fire: (1) Elect (2) Fallen.
The victorious resurrected humanity of Christ in hypostatic union now
possesses sovereign authority over all of creation and every creature. Proskynesis
is obeisance or the movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential
courtesy or homage before a superior. This ceremonial act was employed by the
Persian Court. Alexander the Great attempted to employ it but soon discarded the
practice in his court. It involved different things ranging from an exchange of
kisses to total prostration before the ruler in the way a Muslim says his prayers.
The Greeks were repulsed by such a ceremony since this meant adoration of a
living human being. Proskynesis will be employed in the presence of the victorious
resurrected and sovereign humanity of Christ in hypostatic union. Kenneth Wuest
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 221
commenting on the verb hupotasso in Philippians 3:21 writes, “The word ‘subdue’
is the translation of a Greek military term meaning ‘to arrange under one’s
authority,’ as a general arranges his regiments in orderly array before himself.
Thus it means here ‘to bring all things within His divine economy, to marshal all
things under Himself’” (Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, volume 2,
page 104).
There are various interpretations of history. Geographical Interpretation: (1)
The theory that topography determines or explains the course of a nation or
humanity. (2) The influence of rivers, valleys, mountains, weather, etc., on a
people; the development of the Greek city-states influenced by the surrounding
mountains. Biological Interpretation: (1) The attempt to explain the direction of
mankind in terms of competition for food, mates or power: man is subject to his
hereditary and culture. (2) Theory expounded by Thomas Malthus in his “Essay on
Population” (1798): if human life is too numerous for food supply, nature has 3
agents to restore the balance-famine, pestilence and war. Racial Interpretation: (1)
The Aryan-Nordic theory: superiority of race (first advanced as a serious concept
in writing by the Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau). (2) The twofold fallacy of
this theory: purity of race no longer exists; theory becomes a satanic device to set
up one person or people over another. Genius Interpretation: (1) The rise of a
super-genius to stabilize a desperate situation in an epoch of history. (2) The
influence of great men, such as Julius Caesar and the apostle Paul on the course
world history. (Liberalism discounts the fact that God raises up men of genius to
stabilize a nation-Moses, Jeremiah, Daniel, Cyrus the Great). Morality
Interpretation: (1) The rise or fall of nations is based on degree of morality. (2) The
rise of the Jewish nation due to its laws of morality (10 Commandments) the fall of
the Canaanites resulting from degeneracy; decline of Greece on basis of
immorality; rise of Rome through establishment principles. Economic
Interpretation: (1) The definition of history in terms of economics in action
(propounded by Marx). (2) Trojan War explained by the Greek’s commercial
control of the Dardanelles; the Crusades, by Western attempts to capture trade
routes to the East; French Revolution, by rise of middle class, which needed
economic and legislative freedom for trade and enterprise. (Fallacy arises when a
correct observation excludes Jesus Christ.) Divine Interpretation: (1) Divine
sovereignty and omnipotence in the affairs of mankind must be recognized. (2)
While the foregoing human interpretations of history contain elements of truth
based on observation, they all fall short because they are improperly applied: they
ignore or reject Jesus Christ, who controls history, and who is center of history; in
fact, who IS history. Only Dispensations, or the divine interpretation of history,
have significance. The Divine Plan moves through history unhindered by satanic
confusion of Cosmic Diabolucus.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 222
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), “History…is indeed little more than the register
of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” Shakespeare, “all the world’s a
stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their
entrances.” Ernest Renan (1823-1892), “The whole of history is incomprehensible
without Jesus Christ.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), “Christ is the great
central fact in the world’s history. To Him everything looks forward or backward.
All the lines of history converge upon Him. All the great purposes of God
culminate in Him. The greatest and most momentous fact, which the history of the
world records is the fact of His birth.” C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), “History is a story
written by the finger of God.” Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), “The nature of
Christ’s existence is mysterious, I admit; but this mystery meets the wants of man.
Reject it and the world is an inexplicable riddle; believe it, and the history of our
race is satisfactorily explained.”
We live in unpredictable times, on the edge of disaster. There is instability
abroad and at home here in America. The news comes to us a breakneck speed, and
is often gloomy or misinterpreted. But we need not despair. Even though the
circumstances of history shift constantly, the One who controls history-the Lord
Jesus Christ-is the “same yesterday, and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). There
is no instability with God according to James 1:17, “Every good thing given and
every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with
whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” His plan is perfect from its
inception to its conclusion. That plan unfolds as a sequence of divine
administrations called dispensations.
Dispensations are the divine outline of history. A dispensation is a period of
human history defined in terms of divine revelation. According to the Bible,
history is a sequence of divine administrations. These consecutive eras reflect the
unfolding of God’s plan for mankind. A dispensation is a period of history where
God has designed a particular plan for man and man is tested as to whether or not
he will be obedient to that particular plan. Since God has revealed to us in His
Word information pertinent to each dispensation, we can determine what the near
and distant future impact will be on world events (Dt. 29:29).
Deut 29:29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things
revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the
words of this law.”
The dispensational interpretation of Scripture is the key to the correct
understanding of current and future conflicts in the world. Jesus Christ warned of
wars and rumors of wars until He returns (Mt. 24:6). In spite of these persistent
conflicts in the world His immutable promise of a future return assures that human
history will complete the full dispensational course. The dispensations constitute
the divine viewpoint of history and the theological interpretation of history. The
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 223
doctrine of dispensations is the vehicle by which believers living at a specific time
can orient to God’s will, plan and purpose for their lives.
Theologians may debate the issue of where precisely to divide the dispensations
on the timeline of human history. Some disagree on how to classify biblical
distinctions, thus arriving at different numbers of dispensations. Some scholars
even reject the doctrine in order to perpetuate tradition or justify a particular
emphasis. The recognition of historical eras in the Bible unlocks the Scriptures,
revealing profound truths with tremendous positive impact on our lives. When
Biblical distinctions are overlooked, particularly those between Israel and the
Church, there are adverse practical and theological repercussions.
Human history may be classified into 6 dispensations. These 6 can be grouped
into 3 categories of 2 dispensations each. (I) Theocentric: Old Testament
Dispensations (from the creation of Adam to the virgin birth of Christ) (A)
Gentiles (from the creation of Adam to the Exodus, Genesis 1-Exodus 11) (1)
Edenic: Adam to the Fall (Gen. 1:26-3:6). (2) Ante-Diluvian: Fall of Adam to the
Flood (Gen. 3-9). (3) Post-Diluvian: Noah Leaving Ark to Call of Abraham (Gen.
9-12). (4) Patriarchal: Call of Abraham to Giving of Law on Sinai (Gen. 12-Ex.
19). (B) Jews (from the Exodus to the birth of Christ 1441-4 B.C.; Exodus 12-
Malachi) (1) Theocratic Kingdom: Exodus to Samuel (B.C. 1441-B.C. 1020) (2)
United Kingdom: Saul to Rehoboam (B.C. 1020-926 B.C.) (3) Northern Kingdom:
Jeroboam to Hosea (B.C. 926-B.C. 721) (4) Southern Kingdom: Rehoboam to
Zedekiah (B.C. 721-B.C. 586) (5) Babylonian Captivity: (B.C. 586-536 B.C.) (6)
Restoration of Israel as a nation: Judah (B.C. 536-B.C. 4).
(II) Christocentric: New Testament Dispensations (from the birth of Christ to
the yet future resurrection, or Rapture of the Church) (A) Hypostatic Union: Birth
of Christ to His death, resurrection, ascension and session (the era of the New
Testament Gospels; B.C. 4-30 A.D.) (B) Church Age: Pentecost to the Rapture (30
A.D.-Rapture) (1) Precanon period (the era commencing with the Book of Acts
and continuing until John wrote Revelation, completing the canon of Scripture;
A.D. 30-96) (2) Postcanon period (the current era governed by Christ’s Upper
Room Discourse [John 14-17], the New Testament epistles, and Revelation 2-3;
from A.D. 96 to the Rapture).
(III) Eschatological: Dispensations after the Rapture of the Church (A)
Tribulation: Rapture of the Church to the 2nd Advent of Christ (approximately 7
years from the Rapture of the Church to the 2nd Advent of Christ; prophesied in
the Old Testament, Christ’s Olivet Discourse [Matt. 24-25], and Revelation 6-19)
(1) Satan’s Failed Utopia (from the Rapture until Satan’s expulsion from heaven)
(2) Great Tribulation (from Satan’s expulsion until the 2nd Advent of Christ). (B)
Millennium (the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth from His 2nd Advent of Christ
to the end of human history, prophesied throughout the Old Testament and in
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 224
Revelation 20) (C) Eternal State (following the final dispensation of human
history, Revelation 21-22)
The essence of dispensationalism is the distinction between Israel and the
Church. This arises out of the dispensationalist’s consistent utilization of normal or
plain interpretation.
Distinctions Between Israel and the Church
Israel Church
Shadow Christology Historical Christology
Covenants Baptism of the Spirit
Jewish Client Nation Gentile Client Nations
Old Testament Canon New Testament Canon
Shekinah Glory indwelt the Holy of
Holies
Every Believer indwelt by the
Shekinah Glory
Limited power-1% were endued with
power
100% Availability of divine power
Faith Rest Drill Filling of the Spirit
JHWH-Jehovah Elohim Iesou Christou-Jesus Christ
Limited spiritual gifts Every believer has a spiritual gift
Levitical Priesthood Universal Royal Priesthood
Mosaic Law Mystery Doctrine
Ritual Plan of God Mystery Plan of God
Earthly Promises Heavenly Citizenship
New Racial Species New Spiritual Species
Prophecy No Prophecy-Historical Trends
Visible Heroes Invisible Heroes
Dispensation of Extraordinary believer Dispensation of Ordinary believer
Incomplete Canon of Scripture Completed Canon of Scripture
Visible signs preceding 2nd Advent No visible signs preceding Rapture
Dispensationalism recognizes distinctions in God’s program in history. The
dispensationalist follows the principle of interpreting the Bible literally, and does
not allegorize away the Bible, thus he is consistent in his interpretation. It
recognizes that God’s message to man was not given in one single act but was
unfolded in a long series of successive acts and through the minds and hands of
many men of varying backgrounds. This principle of progressive revelation from
God is seen in the pages of Scriptures: Acts 17:30-31, “Therefore having
overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 225
everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge
the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having
furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Heb 1:1-2, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in
many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His
Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the
world.”
John 1:17, “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were
realized through Jesus Christ.”
Scofield Reference Bible states on page 5, “A dispensation is a period of time
during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of
the will of God.” The English word dispensation is an anglicized form of the Latin
dispensation, which the Vulgate uses to translate the Greek word. According to the
Oxford English Dictionary the English word contains 3 principal ideas: (1) The
action of dealing out or distributing. (2) The action of administering, ordering or
managing; the system by which things are administered. (3) The action of
dispensing with some requirement.
In further defining the same word theologically, the same dictionary says that a
dispensation is “a stage in a progressive revelation, expressly adapted to the needs
of a particular nation or period of time…also, the age or period during which a
system has prevailed.”
There are 4 words in the Greek New Testament that pertain to the subject of
dispensationalism. Oikonomia, “management of a household” (Eph. 1:10; 3:2; Col.
1:25).
Col 1:25, “Of this church I was made a minister according to the
stewardship (oikonomia) from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I
might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.”
Eph 1:1-10, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the
saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you
and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him
before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless
before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus
Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of
the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him
we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us. In all wisdom
and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His
kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 226
suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in
Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”
Eph 3:1-2, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the
sake of you Gentiles — if indeed you have heard of the stewardship
(oikonomia) of God’s grace which was given to me for you.”
In the papyri the officer (oikonomos) who administered a dispensation was
referred to as a steward or manager of an estate or as a treasurer. Thus the central
idea in the word dispensation is that of managing or administering the affairs of a
household. As far as the use of the word in Scripture is concerned, a dispensation
may be defined as a stewardship, administration, oversight or management of
others’ property. A dispensation is primarily a stewardship arrangement and not a
period of time (though obviously the arrangement will exist during a period of
time). A dispensation is basically the arrangement involved, not the time involved.
Ryrie, “A dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s
purpose.” (Dispensationalism Today, page 29).
The dispensations are economies instituted and brought to their purposeful
conclusion by God. To summarize: (1) Dispensationalism views the world as a
household run by God. (2) In this household-world God is dispensing or
administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of
revelation in the process of time. (3) These various stages mark off the
distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and
these economies are dispensations.
Aion: “Age, a divine category of history” (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:26).
Rom 16:25-27, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my
gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the
mystery which has been kept secret for long ages (aion) past, but now is
manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the
commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations,
leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be
the glory forever. Amen.” Col 1:25-27, “Of this church I was made a minister
according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so
that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the
mystery which has been hidden from the past ages (aion) and generations, but
has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known
what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is
Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Eph 3:3-10, “that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery,
as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can
understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations
was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 227
holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are
fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the
promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister,
according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the
working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to
light what is the administration (aion) of the mystery which for ages has been
hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the
authorities in the heavenly places.”
Kairos: “Era, chronological order of history” (Luke 21:24; 1 Thess. 5:1; Eph.
2:11-12). Luke 21:20-24, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
then recognize that her desolation is near. Then those who are in Judea must
flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave,
and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are
days of vengeance, so that all things, which are written, will be fulfilled. Woe
to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days;
for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and
they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the
nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the
times (kairos) of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Chronos: “Time as a succession events” (Rom. 16:25; 1 Pet. 1:20). 1 Thess
5:1-2, “Now as to the times (chronos) and the epochs (kairos), brethren, you
have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full
well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” 1 Peter
1:20, “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has
appeared in these last times (chronos) for the sake of you.”
Also, we must dispensations in relation to Satan’s appeal trial, which is human
history. The Formal Trial began with the opening argument for the Prosecution
(God). This took place during the theocentric dispensation of the Gentiles called
the Age of Positive Volition, which began with the creation of Adam to the Fall
(Gen. 1:26-3:6). The Formal part of the Trial continued with the opening argument
for the defense (Satan) which took place during the theocentric dispensations: (1)
Edenic: Adam to the Fall (Gen. 1:26-3:6). (2) Ante-Diluvian: Fall of Adam to the
Flood (Gen. 3-9). (3) Post-Diluvian: Noah Leaving Ark to Call of Abraham (Gen.
9-12). (4) Patriarchal: Call of Abraham to Giving of Law on Sinai (Gen. 12-Ex.
19). (5) Jews (from the Exodus to the birth of Christ 1441-4 B.C.; Exodus 12-
Malachi).
The Rebuttal phase of the Prosecution (God) includes the Christocentric
dispensations: (1) The First Advent, Hypostatic Union: Virgin Birth of Christ to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 228
His death, resurrection, ascension and session (B.C. 4-30 A.D.), New Testament
Gospels (2) The Church Age, Pentecost to the Rapture (30 A.D.-Rapture): Precanon
period-Book of Acts until John wrote Revelation (A.D. 30-96); Post-Canon
Period-Completion of the canon of Scripture, New Testament epistles, (96 A.D.-
Rapture).
Satan’s Rebuttal takes place during the 1st of the 2 Eschatological dispensations
called the Tribulation period which goes from the Rapture to the 2nd Advent of
Christ, 7 years from the Rapture to the 2nd Advent of Christ, Prophesied in the Old
Testament, Matt. 24-25 and Rev. 6-19. The Closing argument by God as the
Prosecution takes place during the 2nd Eschatological dispensation called the
Millennium which is the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth following Satan’s
imprisonment. God’s closing argument goes from the 2nd Advent of Christ to the
end of human history, prophesied throughout Old Testament and Revelation 20.
Satan’s closing argument is his release from prison after the Millennium and the
Gog revolution (Rev. 20:7-9), resulting in the execution of his sentence and being
cast into the eternal Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10).
The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ controls history is directly related to the
angelic conflict. Heaven is the location of the pre-historic appeal trial of Satan.
When the pre-incarnate Christ created the universe, He formed a race of super
creatures classified in the Bible as angels. Angels are rational beings with the
ability to travel throughout the universe God created for them. He made them
perfect, without sin, totally acceptable to His absolute righteousness. Because
volition is a necessary component of a rational mentality and of capacity for love,
God gave the angels free will so that they might understand His character and
worship Him. In the beginning the most exalted of all the angels was the anointed
cherub, whom the Bible calls Satan or the devil, the son of the morning (Isa.
14:12). He was entrusted with responsibilities and was granted privileges beyond
those of any other angel, but he abused his freedom through arrogance and
rebellion against God (Ezek. 28:12-19).
Arrogance is the worst of all sins. It is the distorter and obscurer of reality, an
enemy of every rational creature. Arrogance was the self-deception that caused the
devil to compete with God rather than love and worship Him. Arrogance is the
reason why he will suffer eternal condemnation in the Lake of Fire (Matt. 25:41).
The devil was the most talented, attractive and personable creature to come from
the hand of God (Ezek. 28:12; 2 Cor. 11:14). His force of persuasion is as
compelling today as when he convinced one third of all the angels to join his
prehistoric revolution against God (Rev. 12:4a).
Satan’s fall and his leadership of myriad angels in revolt started the prehistoric
warfare called the angelic conflict which continues today and will be concluded
only with the final judgment at the end of human history. Human history was
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 229
designed to resolve this conflict between God and Satan. A comparison of
Scripture with Scripture leads to the conclusion that God held a trial in eternity
past. In the prehistoric trial God was the judge and the prosecution; Satan was the
defense. God considered all the evidence and pronounced a guilty verdict. He
sentenced Satan and all the fallen angels to “eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41).
Further biblical evidence for the prehistoric trial of fallen angels is found in
Satan’s titles. The words “devil” and “Satan” are not names but titles, both of
which mean “accuser” or “adversary” as an attorney accuses someone in court. He
is called the devil and Satan because he was the defense attorney who represented
himself and the fallen angels at the prehistoric trial and because he continues to act
as an attorney now that the trial has entered its appeal phase during human history
(Job 1:6-12; 2:1-5; Zech. 3:1-2). “Eternal fire has been prepared for the devil
and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), but because the sentence was not immediately
executed-and, in fact, will not be carried out until the end of human history (Rev.
20:10)-we can accurately infer that Satan appealed the sentence. The elapse of time
between the sentence and its execution indicates that human history is part of this
momentous trial, the appeal trial of Satan.
A trial has 3 phases: (1) Formal presentation of the case: Prosecution presents
its case, followed by the defense. (2) Rebuttal Phase: The rebuttal arguments of
the prosecution followed by the rebuttal arguments of the defense. (3) Closing
argument and summary: By the prosecution and the defense. The Formal trial in
Satan’s appeal trial corresponds to Old Testament history. Human history provides
the same circumstances and options, which belonged to angelic history before
man’s creation. Satan has been created in perfect innocence; and so was Adam.
The angels have free will and man has free will. Adam freely and deliberately
chose to follow the pattern of arrogance, which characterized Satan’s original
revolution. The fall of Adam duplicates the fall of Satan. The rebellion of Satan in
the Garden of God resulted in the fall of angelic creatures (Col. 1:20; Hb. 2:2-4;
Rev. 12:4a), and the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden resulted in the
fall of mankind (Rom. 5:12a).
In angelic history God had provided a decision-making process by which angels
could express nonmeritorious positive volition. Likewise God did the same for all
mankind through nonmeritorious faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16).
Through the exercise of free will, angelic creatures are divided into 2 categories:
(1) Elect (Heb. 2:2). (2) Fallen (Rev. 12:7). Two-thirds of the angels accepted their
Creator as Savior on the basis of the same nonmeritorious system of perception
called faith. One-third of the angels rejected their Creator as Savior (Rv. 12:4a).
The angels had to accept their Savior on the basis of faith. They had to have
looked forward to the Cross of Christ in order to be saved. Through free will
mankind is divided into believers and unbelievers as well (John 3:36).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 230
The greatest of act of humility and obedience in the universe was performed by
the Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union while functioning under kenosis.
Philippians 2:5-11, “Everyone keep on thinking this (according to humility)
within yourselves, which was also in (the mind of) Christ Jesus, Who (Christ
Jesus) although existing from eternity past in the essence of God, He (Christ
Jesus) never regarded existing equally in essence with God an exploitable
asset. On the contrary, He denied Himself of the independent function of His
deity by having assumed the essence of a slave when He was born in the
likeness of men. In fact, although He was discovered in outward appearance
as a man, He humbled Himself by having entered into obedience to the point
of spiritual death even death on a Cross. For this very reason in fact God the
Father has promoted Him to the highest-ranking position and has awarded to
Him the rank, which is superior to every rank. In order that in the sphere of
this rank possessed by Jesus every person must bow, celestials and terrestrials
and sub terrestrials. Also, every person must publicly acknowledge that Jesus
Christ is Lord for the glory of God the Father.”
The Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union as the unique Theanthropic Person
of the universe refused to take advantage or exploit the fact that He was eternal
God possessing the attributes of the divine essence en toto. This attitude of
humility in the mind of Christ was a rebuke to Satan since he ambitiously sought to
be like the Most High God. Our Lord refused to selfishly and ambitiously seek to
exploit His deity. Satan coveted what Christ in Hypostatic Union possessed, the
divine essence. The impeccable humanity of Christ in Hypostatic Union of His
own volition refuse to regard His divine essence as an asset to be exploited to
promote Himself as the ruler over all of creation as Satan has selfishly and
ambitiously sought to do from his own angelic attributes as the greatest creature to
come from the hand of the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. This refusal by the
humanity of Christ in Hypostatic Union to exploit His divine essence to promote
Himself as ruler over all of creation was a rebuke to Satan’s pride and arrogance.
The Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union functioning according to the
Kenosis rebuked the creature arrogance of Satan by refusing to promote Himself as
God through the exploitation of His divine attributes. God the Father’s plan was
for God the Son to promote His dependence as a human being upon the Father’s
provision of the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Satan has a selfish and
ambitious lust for power whereas in contrast the humanity of Christ refuse to think
in those terms choosing instead to adopt an attitude of humility and obedience
towards the Father’s plan rather than to promote Himself by exploiting His divine
omnipotence.
The humility of the deity of Christ was first expressed in eternity past when
God the Son agreed to humiliate Himself by entering the human race and go to the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 231
cross to provide salvation for His creatures. The humility of the deity of Christ was
manifested in time from the Virgin Birth to the Cross. The humility of God the Son
Who was willing to humiliate Him by taking on a lower creation than angels to
provide salvation for His creatures, both angels and mankind was incontrovertible
and condemning evidence against Satan in his appeal trial. The humanity of
Christ’s refusal to exploit His divine attributes to promote Himself from His birth
to His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross was incontrovertible and
condemning evidence that the Supreme Court of Heaven was indeed just in
sentencing Satan and the fallen angels to the Lake of Fire for eternity and that God
in fact does love His creatures beyond a shadow of a doubt. The humanity of
Christ’s humility and obedience to the Father’s plan manifested by His refusal to
exploit His divine attributes to promote Himself from His birth to His
substitutionary spiritual death on the cross was a stern rebuke to the self-justifying
arrogant disobedience of Satan and the fallen angels. The humanity of Christ’s
humility and obedience to the Father’s plan manifested by His refusal to exploit
His divine attributes to promote Himself from His birth to His substitutionary
spiritual death on the cross was condemning and incontrovertible testimony in the
appeal trial of Satan. Humility and obedience will be blessed by the integrity of
God, whereas arrogance and disobedience will be judged.
Not only was the humility and obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic
Union operating according to the kenosis condemning and incontrovertible
testimony in the appeal trial of Satan but it also serves as an example as to how
Church Age believers are to function during their stay on earth in order that they
too may become witnesses for the Prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s
appeal trail. God promotes the humble but He makes war against the arrogant
(Prov. 3:34; 29:23; Matt. 18:1-4; 23:10-12; Luke 9:23; 14:11; James 4:6, 10; 1 Pet.
5:5). Humility is unselfish and self-sacrificial but arrogance is selfish and
inordinately ambitious. Humility thinks of others whereas arrogance thinks only of
self. The Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union functioning according to Kenosis
provided the perfect example of humility for members of the royal family of God
in the Church Age. The Lord Jesus Christ in Hypostatic Union functioning
according to Kenosis manifested an unselfish and self-sacrificial attitude that
members of the royal family of God are to express towards one another. The
spiritually mature Church Age believer who consistently utilizes the Spirit of God
and the Word of God s an imitator of Christ’s humility and obedience and will also
become a witness for the Prosecution in the appeal trial of Satan.
Philippians 2:6 states emphatically that Jesus Christ pre-existed human history
as infinite and eternal God. He was God before becoming a human being. Jesus
Christ was God before the incarnation and during the incarnation He never
regarded possessing the attributes an exploitable asset. Our Lord’s humility of soul
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 232
expressed itself to the extent that He was willing to voluntarily subject Himself to
substitutionary spiritual death as an impeccable human being, receiving the
imputation of the sins of the entire universe and being judged for them by the
justice of God the Father on a Roman cross which was reserved for the worst
criminals in the Roman Empire. Our Lord expressed His humility by voluntarily
obeying the Father’s plan for the incarnation, which was substitutionary spiritual
death on a Roman cross. Humility precedes obedience expressing itself in action.
Our Lord’s obedience to the Father will was to such an extent that He was willing
not only to become a human being but also to suffer substitutionary spiritual death
as an impeccable Person receiving the imputation of the sins of the entire universe
and be judged for them by the justice of God the Father on a Roman cross which
was reserved for criminals and traitors of the Empire. Our Lord’s voluntary act was
a public triumph over Satan and the fallen angels (Col. 2:14). Our Lord’s voluntary
act on the cross was incontrovertible and condemning testimony in the appeal trial
of Satan and the fallen angels that God indeed was just in sentencing them to the
Lake of Fire forever. Our Lord’s voluntary act on the cross demonstrated the
integrity of God composed of His righteousness, justice and virtue-love in that He
was willing to send His Son into the world as a human being and suffer the
humiliation of the cross and substitutionary spiritual death for the sins of His
creatures, both angels and mankind. The greatest illustration of humility that the
apostle Paul as a teacher of the Word of God could give to the Philippians was the
Lord Jesus Christ in hypostatic union functioning under a self-imposed kenosis
voluntarily enduring substitutionary spiritual death for the sins of His creatures on
a Roman cross. The greatest act of humility and obedience in the universe was
displayed at the cross for the entire universe to observe.
The cross was the 7th and final trial that our Lord had to endure. The first 6
trials were before human judges with little or no integrity. The last trial was before
God the Father Who has perfect integrity. The decisive moment in the angelic
conflict took place at the cross when our Lord received the imputation of the sins
of the entire universe as an impeccable human being and was judged by the justice
of God the Father. Our Lord’s voluntary act on the cross on behalf of all His fallen
rational creatures (angels and humanity) proved conclusively and beyond a shadow
of a doubt that the Supreme Court of Heaven was just in its decision to sentence
Satan and the fallen angels to the Lake of Fire and that God does indeed love His
creatures thus destroying Satan’s arguments which were to the contrary. Our
Lord’s voluntary act on the cross on behalf of all His fallen rational creatures
(angels and man) was the decisive, incontrovertible and condemning piece of
testimony that was presented by the Prosecution (God) in the rebuttal phase of
Satan’s appeal trial. Humility defeated arrogance.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 233
2nd Triumphal Procession (Second Advent)
The 2nd Triumphal Procession of Christ will take place at his 2nd Advent which
is the visible return of Christ to planet earth with the elect angels and the Church in
order to save the nation of Israel from her enemies and establish His 1000 year
millennial reign resulting in the fulfillment of the 4 unconditional covenants to
Israel. The 2nd Advent of Christ is well documented in both the Old and New
Testaments (Dan. 2:44-45; Zech. 14; Mt. 24:29-31; Rv. 1:7; 19:11-21). The Lord
and His armies will orbit the earth before landing on the Mount of Olives, which
was the site of His Ascension (Acts. 1:9-11). There will be a great earthquake
when our Lord’s foot touches the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:1-8). It will be a
unique day having neither day nor night (Zech. 14:7)!
The 2nd Advent is distinct from the Rapture of the Church. The Rapture
delivers the Church while the 2nd Advent delivers Israel. The Rapture is seen only
by the Church and is therefore; invisible while the 2nd Advent is the visible
manifestation of Christ on the earth. The Lord meets the Church in the earth’s
atmosphere at the Rapture, whereas the Lord physically lands on the Mount of
Olives in Jerusalem at the 2nd Advent. The Rapture is not preceded by signs
whereas the 2nd Advent is preceded by visible signs. The Lord claims His Bride at
the Rapture but He returns with her at the 2nd Advent. The Rapture completes
God’s program for the Church while the 2nd Advent is related to God’s program
for Israel. The Rapture is a mystery, not known to Old Testament saints whereas
the 2nd Advent is prophesied throughout the Old Testament canon. The Rapture
leaves creation unchanged whereas the 2nd Advent entails a change in creation.
The Rapture does not fulfill God’s covenants to Israel whereas the 2nd Advent
marks the beginning of their fulfillment. The Rapture precedes the Tribulation
whereas the 2nd Advent follows it! The Rapture affects only the Church Age
believer whereas the 2nd Advent will affect all mankind. The Rapture marks the
beginning of the worst period in all of human history whereas the 2nd Advent
marks the beginning of the greatest time of prosperity and peace in human history.
The Rapture removes only believers from the earth whereas the 2nd Advent
removes all unbelievers from the earth. Satan remains on the earth after the
Rapture while he is removed and thrown into prison at the 2nd Advent! The
Rapture precedes the appearance of the anti-Christ on the earth whereas the 2nd
Advent precedes his removal Religion remains active on the earth after the Rapture
whereas after the 2nd Advent it no longer exists! The Rapture precedes the
marriage of the Lamb whereas the 2nd Advent follows it The exact time of the
Rapture cannot be determined because it is imminent whereas the exact time of the
2nd Advent can be determined once the anti-Christ sets himself up in the Jewish
Temple to claim himself to be God at the middle of the 7 years period called the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 234
Tribulation! The Rapture precedes the Bema Seat Judgment of the Church before
Christ whereas the 2nd Advent precedes the judgment of Israel before the Lord.
The Rapture marks the beginning of the rulership of anti-Christ on the earth
whereas the 2nd Advent marks the end of his rule and the beginning of our Lord’s
Millennial reign. Evil flourishes after the removal of the Church at the Rapture
whereas evil no longer exits on the earth after the 2nd Advent. The Rapture marks
the end of God’s Rebuttal in the Appeal Trial of Satan whereas the 2nd Advent
marks the end of Satan’s Rebuttal in the Trial! The Rapture marks the exit of the
Church from the earth while the 2nd Advent marks the entrance of regenerated
Israel into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ!
While Christ takes the church off planet earth, Michael and the elect angels of
God defeat Satan. A great war in heaven will take place between the elect angels of
God, led by Michael and the fallen angels, led by Satan.
Rev 12:7-9, “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging
war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were
not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the
devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the
earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
The Lord Jesus Christ prophesied the defeat of Satan.
Luke 10:18, “And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven
like lightning.”
As this war is taking place, Christ is taking the church off planet earth in order
to deliver them from Satan who will be cast to the earth by Michael and his legions
and to deliver them from the judgments recorded in Revelation chapters 6-19 upon
a Christ rejecting world. After the church receives their resurrection bodies at the
Rapture, each member of the church will be evaluated to determine who will get
rewards. This is called the Bema Seat where Christ evaluates each member of the
body of Christ to see if they shall receive a reward as a result of good works.
1 Cor 3:11-15, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which
is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become
evident; for the day will show it because it is {to be} revealed with fire, and the
fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work, which he
has built on, it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned
up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Members of the church who were overcomers on planet earth and received
rewards from Christ at the Bema Seat Evaluation will be presented to the Father.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 235
Rev 3:5, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I
will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name
before My Father and before His angels.”
Immediately after the Bema Seat Evaluation, the church will be taken into
heaven after Satan is kicked out and cast to planet earth. As the church enters
heaven, there will be no trace of Satan and the fallen angels because they have
been thrown out of heaven and have landed on planet earth. The marriage of the
Lamb of God will then take place in heaven.
Rev 19:6-9, “Then I heard {something} like the voice of a great multitude
and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of
thunder, saying, “Hallelujah. For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let
us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb
has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe
herself in fine linen, bright {and} clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts
of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, “Blessed are those who are invited
to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”‘ And he said to me, “These are true
words of God.”
Simultaneously, while the church is married to Christ in heaven, the Great
Tribulation period is taking place on planet earth. Tribulation period is also
described as: (1) Jacob’s trouble (2) Great Tribulation (3) Daniel’s 70th Week (4)
Satan’s desperation.
The Tribulation is characterized by: (1) Wrath (Zeph. 1:15, 18; 1 Thess. 1:9-10;
Rev. 6:16-17; 14:10, 19; 15:7; 16:1, 15, 19). (2) Judgment (Rev. 14:7; 15:4; 16:5-
7; 19:2). (3) Indignation (Isa. 26:20-21; 34:1-3). (4) Hour of trial (Rev. 3:10). (5)
Punishment (Isa. 24:20-21). (6) Hour of trouble (Jer. 30:7). (7) Destruction (Joel
1:15). (8) Darkness (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:14-18; Amos 5:18).
The Tribulation period is also called the 70th prophetic week of Daniel. A
Biblical week is 7 years. God owes Israel one more 7-year period. The first 69
weeks of Daniel’s prophecy have been literally fulfilled, but because of the nation
of Israel’s rejection of Christ as their Messiah, God has postponed the fulfillment
of the 70th week. During this postponement, God has inserted the church age
where He is forming the future Bride of Christ. Once the church is raptured, then
the fulfillment of this 70th week will take place. The Tribulation period or Daniel’s
70th week as it is sometimes called in theology is divided into 2 3 ½ year sections.
The first 3 ½ years there will be great peace and prosperity but there will be rumors
of war.
Matt 24:6, “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you
are not frightened, for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the
end.” Dan 11:44, “But rumors from the East and from the North will disturb
him, and he will go forth with great wrath to destroy and annihilate many.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 236
Once anti-Christ displays himself in the rebuilt Jewish temple, the war of
Armageddon will commence and will culminate with the 2nd Advent of Christ. In
the middle of this 7-year period, antichrist will stop the sacrifices in the rebuilt
Jewish temple and will declare himself to be God.
Dan 9:24-27, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your
holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement
for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and
prophecy and to anoint the most holy {place.} So you are to know and discern
{that} from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until
Messiah the Prince {there will be} seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be
built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the
sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people
of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its
end {will come} with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are
determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week,
but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering;
and on the wing of abominations {will come} one who makes desolate, even
until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who
makes desolate.”
Compare this with what Paul writes.
II Th 2:3-4, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come}
unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son
of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or
object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying
himself as being God.”
These last 3 ½ years will be the most terrible time in human history because
God will be pouring out judgment upon a Christ rejecting world. Israel will be
caught in the midst of this onslaught. Many in Israel will become believers in
Jesus Christ during this time. This is the greatest period of crisis evangelism in the
history of the world. Many Jews in Israel will turn to Christ at this time and accept
Him as Savior.
Revelation 12:1-8 says that 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe will become
believers in Jesus Christ. There will be 2 Jewish witnesses proclaiming the Gospel
for the first 3 ½ period.
Rev 11:1-12, “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and
someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and
those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and
do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread
under foot the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant {authority} to
my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days,
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 237
clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that
stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire
flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to
harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the
sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they
have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth
with every plague, as often as they desire. When they have finished their
testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them,
and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies {will lie} in the street
of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their
Lord was crucified. Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and
nations {will} look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not
permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the
earth {will} rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one
another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into
them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were
watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them,
“Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their
enemies watched them.”
Revelation, chapters 6-19 describe this awful period in human history. Fallen
angels will become visible on planet earth and kill a third of mankind (Rev. 9).
Antichrist will persecute Israel and will put to death anyone who does not have the
mark of the beast.
Rev 13:16-17, “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and
the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right
hand or on their forehead and {he provides} that no one will be able to buy or
to sell, except the one who has the mark, {either} the name of the beast or the
number of his name.”
The Lord Jesus Christ describes the Tribulation period in detail and His 2nd
Advent.
Matt 24:3-39, “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came
to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what
{will be} the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus
answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.” For many
will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” You
will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened,
for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the end. “For nation
will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places
there will be famines and earthquakes.” But all these things are {merely} the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 238
beginning of birth pangs. “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will
kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” At that
time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” Because lawlessness
is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to
the end, he will be saved.” This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the
whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was
spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the
reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.”
Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in
his house. “Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.” But
woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those
days. “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.”
For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the
beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. “Unless those days had been
cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those
days will be cut short.” Then if anyone says to you, “Behold, here is the
Christ,’ or “There {He is} ‘do not believe {him.} “For false Christ’s and false
prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if
possible, even the elect. “Behold, I have told you in advance.” So if they say to
you, “Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, {or} “Behold, He is in the
inner rooms,’ do not believe {them.} For just as the lightning comes from the
east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.
“Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” But immediately
after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND
THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL
FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then
the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the
earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE
CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth
His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER
TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the
other. “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already
become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; So,
you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, {right} at the
door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these
things take place. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not
pass away.” But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of
heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 239
will be just like the days of Noah.” For as in those days before the flood they
were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that
Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and
took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
The 2nd Advent of Christ is further described in Zechariah and Revelation.
Zech 14:1, “Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken
from you will be divided among you.”
This summary verse announces the last future siege of Jerusalem in the “day of
the Lord,’ which is during the Great Tribulation period that is also known as
Daniel’s 70th week.
Zechariah 14:2-4, “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to
battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women
ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut
off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations,
as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the
Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of
Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so
that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half
toward the south.”
The Mount of Olives will be split in half by the return of our Lord to the Mount
of Olives. If you recall in Acts 1:9-11 upon our Lord’s ascension the angels told
the disciples of our Lord that He would return in the same manner to the Mount of
Olives in the future.
The statement that the Lord will stand “on the Mount of Olives, which is in
front of Jerusalem on the east” is a significant statement. This is not a casual
statement.
You will notice throughout Scripture that help for Israel is coming from the
east. This is the reason the Jews pay great attention to that eastern gate, which
some call the golden gate. The Lord will come through the eastern gate at His 2nd
Advent in the rebuilt Jewish temple.
Zechariah 14:5, “You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley
of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before
the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God,
will come, and all the holy ones with Him!”
When the Lord lands upon the Mount of Olives at His 2nd Advent to personally
and bodily deal with His enemies and those of His people, the Jews, the Mount of
Olives, dislodged by a severe and terrible earthquake, will dissolve into “an
exceedingly great valley.”
Therefore, there will be a vast alteration of the geography in Jerusalem in order
that it might be the center of blessing to the world during the millennial reign of
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 240
Christ. According to Isaiah 2:2-3, Jerusalem will be the capital of the entire earth
during the Millennium.
Zechariah 14:6-7, “In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will
dwindle. For it will be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day
nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.”
The 2nd Advent of Christ will be unique because Jesus Christ is unique since He
is undiminished deity and true humanity in 1 Person forever, the God-Man.
Zechariah 14:8, “And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem,
half of them toward the eastern sea (Dead Sea) and the other half toward the
western sea (Mediterranean); it will be in summer as well as in winter.”
Jerusalem, who throughout her history has been an inland city, will become a
seagoing city, or port town at the 2nd Advent of Christ.
Zechariah 14:9-10, “And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that
day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. All the land
will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but
Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin’s Gate (North wall)
as far as the place of the First Gate (Northeastern corner of the city) to the
Corner Gate (northwestern extremity), and from the Tower of Hananel (at
the opposite extremity of the “corner gate,” in the northeastern part of the
city, Jer. 31:38) to the king’s wine presses.”
The 2nd Advent of Christ will cause a severe earthquake that will change the
entire central highland ridge from Geba of Benjamin (Josh. 18:24; 2 K. 23:8),
located some 6 miles northeast of Jerusalem, to Rimmon south of Jerusalem,
located 33 miles southwest of Jerusalem, an inhabited site in Zechariah’s day. All
the land of Palestine specified here in verse 10 shall be transformed so as to
become, like the Arabah.
The Arabah is the deep depression that extends from the Sea of Galilee, 652
feet below sea level to the Gulf of ‘Aqaba, and only 300 feet above sea level just
west of Petra in Edom, making the Arabah the deepest depression on the surface of
the earth. But the depth of the terrain was only one element that prompted the
comparison by Zechariah to the Arabah.
Another was its level character. Josephus twice mentions “the Great Plain” in
describing the Ghor or Rift, from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea (Wars 8.2;
Antiquities 6.1). Hence, Zechariah used the simile “like the Arabah” to stress the
exaltation of Jerusalem in emphasizing the depression of the surrounding hills and
their being made as level as a plain.
Jerusalem shall be elevated and exalted instead of being imbedded in the midst
of mountainous rough terrain that it is presently surrounded by.
Zechariah 14:11-16, “People will live in it, and there will no longer be a
curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security. Now this will be the plague with
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 241
which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against
Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes
will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. It will come
about in that day that a great panic from the LORD will fall on them; and
they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against
the hand of another. Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all
the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in
great abundance. So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the
mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps.
Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went
against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the
LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Feast of Tabernacles).”
The Feast of Tabernacles contains an interesting feature that makes it prophetic
from the standpoint of the Millennium. The solemn 8th day, “the last and great day
of the feast” when Israel no longer dwelt in booths but returned to their homes,
looks beyond the millennial kingdom to the eternal state, when time will merge
into eternity and the millennial kingdom will merge into the eternal kingdom (1
Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 21:1, 3).
Zechariah 14:17-21, “And it will be that whichever of the families of the
earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts,
there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter,
then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD
smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will
be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not
go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. In that day there will be inscribed on
the bells of the horses, ‘HOLY TO THE LORD.’ And the cooking pots in the
LORD’S house will be like the bowls before the altar. Every cooking pot in
Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who
sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer
be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts in that day.”
Rev 19:11-21, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and
He who sat on it {is} called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges
and wages war. His eyes {are} a flame of fire, and on His head {are} many
diadems; and He has a name written {on Him} which no one knows except
Himself. {He is} clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called
The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen,
white {and} clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth
comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He
will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce
wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 242
written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Then I saw an angel
standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds
which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that
you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of
mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh
of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” And I saw the
beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war
against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was
seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his
presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast
and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake
of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword
which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds
were filled with their flesh.”
Millennial Reign
The Lord Jesus Christ will rule on planet earth for a 1000 when He returns at
His 2nd Advent. The 2nd Eschatological Dispensation is that of the Millennium.
The Millennial reign of Christ will be the greatest period of Israel’s history. Israel
will be head of the nations and the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ will rule in
Jerusalem with David as His co-regent. The Millennium is the visible 1000-year
reign of Christ on the earth. The Millennium begins with the 2nd Advent of Christ
and ends with the destruction of planet earth (Isa. 11:35, 62, 65; Psalm 72; Zech.
14:4-9; Rev. 20).
General Outline of the Millennium: (1) Begins with 2nd Advent of Christ (2)
Christ delivers Israel from its enemies (3) Baptism of Fire: Unbelievers removed
from the earth (Note: Civilization always begins with Believers.) (4) Coronation
of Jesus Christ as King (5) 1000 year rule of Christ (6) Release of Satan after the
1000 years and his conspiracy (7) Judgment of Fallen Angels (8) Great White
Throne Judgment of Unbelievers (9) Destruction of the present universe (10)
Creation of a New Universe (11) Eternal State.
General Characteristics of the Millennium: (1) Perfect environment (2) Greatest
period of evangelism the world has ever seen (3) Salvation: faith alone in Christ
alone. (4) Spirituality in the Millennium will be the filling of the Spirit but also
emotion because Christ is visible on the earth during this period of history (Isa.
65:24; Joel 2:28-29; Zech. 14:16-17). (5) In the Church Age, the Filling of the
Spirit is non-emotional. (6) In the Millennium, the Filling of the Spirit is emotional
because Christ is on the earth.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 243
Millennium begins with Judgments that are designed to produce perfect
environment on the earth: (1) Satan is put in prison. (2) Unbelievers are removed
from the earth. (3) Religion has been abolished from the earth. (4) The demons
have all been removed from the earth. (5) A new civilization will begin with
believers only. (6) Every home in the Millennium will start off with believers. (7)
The Baptism of Fire removes all unbelievers from the earth and begins a new
civilization and a new Dispensation. (8) Judgment of Jewish Unbelievers (Ezek.
20:34-38) (9) Judgment of Gentile Unbelievers (Matt. 25:31-46) (10) There will be
no war for 1000 years during the Millennium.
During the Millennium: (1) Israel will be regathered (2) The Covenants will all
be fulfilled literally (3) All of creation will be at peace (Rom. 8:19-20) (4) There
will be no deserts on the earth (Isa. 35:1-3) (5) The animal kingdom will be
changed (Isa. 11) (6) There will be International prosperity: (a) No starvation (b)
No socialism (c) No charity (d) There will be a universal knowledge of God.
The life of a man being during the Millennium will be greatly increased. Capital
punishment will be used for punishment of any criminals during the Millennium.
There will be a perfect world government under the rule of Christ (Isa. 11:1-2;
Zech. 14:9).
The Millennium is God’s closing argument in the appeal trial of Satan and the
fallen angels. The trial has 3 phases: (1) Opening Arguments (2) Rebuttals (3)
Closing Arguments. The Formal Trial began with the opening argument for the
Prosecution (God). This took place during the theocentric dispensation of the
Gentiles called the Age of Positive Volition, which began with the creation of
Adam to the Fall (Gen. 1:26-3:6). The Formal part of the Trial continued with the
opening argument for the defense (Satan) which took place during the theocentric
dispensations: (1) The Age of Negative Volition: From the Fall of Adam to
Abraham (Gen. 3:7-11:32). (2) The Age of the Patriarchs: From Abraham to the
Exodus under Moses (Gen. 12-Ex. 11). (3) The Age of Israel: From the Exodus to
the Virgin Birth of Christ (1441 B.C.-4 B.C), Exodus to Malachi. The Rebuttal
phase of the Prosecution (God) includes the Christocentric dispensations: (1) The
First Advent, Hypostatic Union: Virgin Birth of Christ to His death, resurrection,
ascension and session (B.C. 4-30 A.D.), New Testament Gospels (2) The Church
Age, Pentecost to the Rapture (30 A.D.-Rapture): Pre-canon period-Book of Acts
until John wrote Revelation (A.D. 30-96); Post-Canon Period-Completion of the
canon of Scripture, New Testament epistles, (96 A.D.-Rapture).
Satan’s Rebuttal takes place during the 1st of the 2 Eschatological dispensations
called the Tribulation period which goes from the Rapture to the 2nd Advent of
Christ, 7 years from the Rapture to the 2nd Advent of Christ, Prophesied in the Old
Testament, Matt. 24-25 and Rev. 6-19. The Closing argument by God as the
Prosecution takes place during the 2nd Eschatological dispensation called the
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 244
Millennium which is the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth following Satan’s
imprisonment. God’s closing argument goes from the 2nd Advent of Christ to the
end of human history, prophesied throughout Old Testament and Revelation 20.
Satan’s closing argument is his release from prison after the Millennium and the
Gog revolution (Rev. 20:7-9), resulting in the execution of his sentence and being
cast into the eternal Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10).
Satan became the ruler of the world with the fall of Adam. Satan presented his
case in his many attempts to establish control over his kingdom so that he might
create perfect environment on earth. Just as in the prehistoric angelic conflict, his
purpose in the historical extension of the angelic conflict is to prove himself equal
with God, to be “like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). Satan wishes to demonstrate
that arrogance is not arrogance but a viable alternative to God’s plan. However,
Satan lacks the ability to produce the utopia he wishes to establish. The formal
phase of the appeal trial includes: (1) Angelic observation. (2) Angelic
participation. (3) Angelic interference in the affairs of mankind (Gen. 6:1-4; Job
1:1-3). These angelic activities continue throughout all phases of the trial.
The closing argument for the defense will take place when Satan is released
from prison after the Millennial reign of Christ (Rev. 20:7-9). He will discover
many unbelievers on earth when he is released and will start another rebellion, thus
proving that Satan has learned nothing from his imprisonment. Satan has no
argument but violence and God will put down this rebellion (Rev. 20:10). Then,
the sentence of the original pre-historic trial will be carried out (Matt. 25:41). Satan
and the fallen angels will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10-15), and the
Lord Jesus Christ will convene the Great White Throne Judgment of unbelievers
(Rev. 20:11-14). This is where all unbelievers will be resurrected, tried, and judged
(Rev. 20:12a).
The millennium of Christ is described in Joel 3:17-21.
Joel 3:17-21, “Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling
in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will pass
through it no more. And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine,
and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with
water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD to water the
valley of Shittim. Egypt will become a waste; And Edom will become a
desolate wilderness, because of the violence done to the sons of Judah, in
whose land they have shed innocent blood. But Judah will be inhabited
forever And Jerusalem for all generations. And I will avenge their blood,
which I have not avenged, for the LORD dwells in Zion.”
The Millennial reign of Christ will be the greatest period of Israel’s history
since she will be head of the nations and the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ will
rule in Jerusalem.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 245
During the Millennium: (1) Israel will be regathered (2) The Covenants will all
be fulfilled literally (3) All of creation will be at peace (Rom. 8:19-20) (4) There
will be no deserts on the earth (Isa. 35:1-3) (5) The animal kingdom will be
changed (Isa. 11) (6) There will be International prosperity.
The life of a man being during the Millennium will be greatly increased.
Capital punishment will be used for punishment of any criminals during the
Millennium. There will be a perfect world government under the rule of Christ
(Isa. 11:1-2; Zech. 14:9).
The word “millennium” is derived from the Latin words mille, “thousand” plus
annus, “year.” The corresponding Greek expression in Revelation 20:4-7, chilia
ete, gives rise to the term “chiliasm,” properly a synonym for “millennialism.” The
word “millennium” denotes a biblical doctrine taught in Revelation 20:1-6. It
describes the penultimate triumph by the Lord Jesus Christ over Satan and the
kingdom of darkness and the establishment of the kingdom of God on planet earth.
The distinctive feature of this doctrine is that Christ will return “before” the
thousand years and therefore will characterize those years by His personal presence
and exercise of His rightful authority, securing and sustaining all the blessings on
the earth which are ascribed to that period.
The term “chiliasm” has been superseded by the designation
“premillennialism.” More is implied in the term than the mere reference to a
thousand years. This thousand years take place between the resurrection of the
church, Israel, born-again Gentiles and the resurrection of unsaved at the end of
history.
During this thousand-year period the four great unconditional covenants to
Israel will be fulfilled: (1) Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:16; 22:15-18; 26:4; 28:14;
35:11; Ex. 6:2-8). (2) Palestinian (Gn. 13:15; Ex. 6:4, 8; Num. 34:1-12; Dt. 30:1-9;
Jer. 32:36-44; Ezek. 36:21-38). (3) Davidic (2 Sam. 7:8-17; Psa. 89:20-37) (4)
New (Jer. 31:31-34; cf. Heb. 8:8-12; 10:15-17).
The entire expectation of Old Testament Israel is involved with its earthly
kingdom, the glory of Israel and the promised Messiah seated in Jerusalem as ruler
of the nations.
Now, we must understand that historically, there have been four major views
describing the relationship between the 2nd Advent of Christ and the millennium:
(1) Post-millennial (2) Amillennial (3) Pre-millennial.
Non-literal or spiritualized view denies that there will be a literal, bodily,
personal, return of Christ to earth and which view sees the 2nd Advent as being
fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem or the day of Pentecost or the death of a
believer or the conversion of the individual or any crisis in history or an
individual’s experience.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 246
The “post-millennial view,” which is popular among covenant theologians of
the post-Reformation period, contends, that through the preaching of the Gospel
the entire world will be Christianized and brought to submission to the Gospel
before the return of Christ. So post-millennialism contends that Christ will return
after the millennium.
The “amillennial” view holds that there will be no literal millennium on the
earth following the 2nd Advent of Christ and the church is fulfilling all the
prophecies concerning Israel and the kingdom.
The “premillennial” view contends that Christ will return to earth, literally and
bodily, before the millennial age begins and that, by His presence, He will
establish His kingdom over and over which, He will reign.
The kingdom will continue for a thousand years, after which the Son will give
the kingdom to the Father when it will merge with His eternal kingdom.
The central issue in this position is whether the Scriptures are to be literally
fulfilled or symbolically. In fact, this is the most essential aspect of the question.
The “premillennial” view is the biblical and therefore, correct view since it is
consistent with the prophecies that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled literally during
His 1st Advent.
Since the Lord Jesus Christ literally fulfilled prophecy during His 1st Advent,
then He will certainly literally fulfill the prophecies related to the millennium at
His 2nd Advent.
The millennial reign of Christ cannot begin until the beast (antichrist) and the
false prophet being thrown alive into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20-21).
Furthermore, Satan must be thrown into prison at the 2nd Advent of Christ
according to Revelation 20:1-3 before the millennial reign begins (Rev. 20:1-3).
All unbelievers will be removed from planet earth at the 2nd Advent of Christ
and will be throne into the Lake of Fire with the beast and the false prophet (Jews:
Ezek. 20-33-38; Gentiles: Matt. 25:31-46). These judgments are designed to
produce perfect government and environment on planet earth.
During the millennial reign of Christ religion will be abolished from the earth
because Satan, who is the author of religion will be imprisoned. The demons have
all been removed from the earth and a new civilization will begin with believers
only.
Every home in the millennium will start off with believers. The “overcomers”
of the church age dispensation will reign with Christ during the millennium.
Rev 3:21, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on
My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Christ will literally reign in Jerusalem and Israel will be the head of the nations.
Capital punishment will be used for punishment of any criminals during the
millennium as denoted by the phrase in Revelation 2:27 that Christ will rule “with
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 247
a rod of iron.” There will be a perfect world government under the rule of Christ
(Isa. 11:1-2; Zech. 14:9).
All of creation will be at peace during the Millennium (Rom. 8:19-20) and there
will be no war for 1000 years during the Millennium.
Isa 2:1-4, “The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah
and Jerusalem Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of
the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and
will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many
peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways
and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the
nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer
their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will
not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.”
There will be international prosperity. The life of a man being during the
millennium will be greatly increased.
Isa 65:17-66:1, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And
the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and
rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing
And her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My
people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the
sound of crying. No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few
days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at
the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one
hundred will be thought accursed. They will build houses and inhabit them;
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They will not build and
another inhabit, They will not plant and another eat; For as the lifetime of a
tree, so will be the days of My people, And My chosen ones will wear out the
work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, Or bear children for
calamity; For they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, And their
descendants with them. It will also come to pass that before they call, I will
answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb
will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the
serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says
the LORD.”
Regenerate Old Testament Israel will be resurrected and will enjoy the
millennial blessings that were promised to them (Ezek. 37:1-14).
There will be no deserts on the earth (Isa. 35:1-3) and the animal kingdom will
be changed (Isa. 11).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 248
The feast of Tabernacles typifies the millennial reign of Christ. The 23rd
chapter of the book of Leviticus gives us an account of the 7 Great Feasts of the
Lord. They were a prophecy and foreshadowing of future events, part of which
have been fulfilled, and part are yet to be. They are the “shadow of things to
come,” of which Christ is the “body” or substance (Col. 2:16-17).
The “feasts of the Lord” are 7 in number. The 7 Feasts may be divided into 2
sections of 4 and 3.
The 1st section includes the following feasts: (1) Passover (2) Unleavened
Bread (3) First-Fruits (4) Pentecost.
Then there was an interval of 4 months followed by the 2nd section includes the
following feasts: (1) Trumpets (2) Atonement (3) Tabernacles.
The 3 Great Festivals were the following: (1) Passover (2) Pentecost (3)
Tabernacles.
They extended from the 14th day of the 1st month (Nisan) to the 22nd day of
the 7th month Tishri or Ethanim.
These 7 Feasts were given to only given to Israel to be observed and not the
Church. They do however dispensational implications since they mark God’s
timetable with reference to human history. Each of these 7 Feasts was designed in
eternity past to be literally fulfilled by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They
speak of Lord Jesus Christ’s intervention into human history.
The following Feasts were literally fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ during the
dispensation of the hypostatic union: (1) Passover: His voluntary substitutionary
spiritual death on the cross in April of 32 A.D. (2) Unleavened Bread: His
impeccability as a Person. Pentecost was literally fulfilled when the Baptism of the
Spirit took place in June of 32 A.D., which marked the beginning of the Church
Age. (3) Firstfruits: Resurrection of Christ.
The following Feasts are eschatological in nature and thus have yet to be
literally fulfilled: (1) Trumpets: Rapture or exit-resurrection of the Church
terminating the Church Age. (2) Atonement: 2nd Advent of Christ ending the
Tribulation dispensation. (3) Tabernacles: Millennial Reign of Christ on planet
earth.
The Feast of Tabernacles is also called in the Scriptures the festival of Tents
(Hebrew: hag hassukkot, “Feast of Booths,” 2 Chron. 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Zech. 14:16,
18-19; Greek: skenopegia, John 7:2, “Feast of Booths”) was so called because the
Israelites were commanded to live in booths during its continuance (Lev. 23:43). It
was also called the feast of Ingathering (Hebrew: hag ha’asip, Ex. 23:16, “Feast
of the Harvest”; 34:22), because it was held after the ingathering of the harvest and
fruits.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 249
The Feast of Tabernacles was also called the festival of Jehovah (Hebrew: hag
YHWH, Lev. 23:39, “feast of the Lord”) or simply the festival (1 Kings 8:2; 2
Chron. 5:3, “the feast”), because it was the most important or well known.
The principal documentation for this feast are as follows: (1) Exodus 23:16 (2)
Leviticus 23:34-36 (3) Leviticus 39:43 (4) Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (5)
Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (6) Nehemiah 8.
The Feast of Tabernacles was a celebration to be observed at the end of the
harvest and was continued 7 days (Deut. 16:13).
The people during the feast were to dwell in booths made of the branches of
palm trees and willows from the brook, which would remind them of the palm
trees of Elim, and the Willows of Babylon (Psa. 137:1-9).
What the Sabbath is to the week, a day of rest; so the 7th month to the other 6
months of the 7th month cycle, typifies a period of rest-the Sabbath rest of the
Millennial dispensation in relation to the other 6 thousand years of the world’s
work day history.
Like the Lord’s Supper is to us here in the Church Age, a memorial looking
back to the Person and Work of Christ on the cross and forward to the 2nd Advent
so the Feast of Tabernacles will be a memorial to Israel looking back to Egypt and
forward to the Millennium.
While the Feast of Tabernacles began on the Sabbath and continued 7 days, it
was to be followed by a Sabbath (Lev. 23:39). This Sabbath on the 8th day points
to the Eternal State that follows the Millennium and the termination of human
history when the Lord will create a New Heavens and a New Earth.
As we have noted the Scriptures promise that Israel will be restored to the land
(Jer. 32:37; 33:11; Ezek. 11:17; 36:28-35; 37:21-22, 25). The prophets speak of the
rebuilding of Jerusalem (Jer. 31:38-40). The temple will be rebuilt (Ezek. 37:27-
28). The blessings the nation of Israel will receive are based on the New Covenant
(Isa. 61:8-9; Hos. 2:18-20). The greatest blessing in this covenant is that of being
brought in close relationship with God (Jer. 30:22; 31:33; 32:38-41; Ezek. 11:20;
34:25-27; 37:27).
Israel will become the subjects of the King’s reign (Isaiah 9:6-7; 33:17, 22;
44:6; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 2:13; 4:7; Daniel 4:3; 7:14, 22, 27).
In order to be the subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign,
Israel will have been converted and restored to the land (Ezek. 37).
In order to be the subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign,
Israel will be reunited as a nation (Jeremiah 3:18; 33:14; Ezekiel 20:40; 37:15-22;
39:25; Hosea 1:11).
In order to be the subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign,
Israel will be exalted above the Gentiles (Isaiah 14:1-2; 49:22-23; 60:14-17; 61:6-
7).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 250
In order to be the subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign,
Israel will be made righteous (Isaiah 1:25; 2:4; 44:22-24; 45:17-25; 48:17; 55:7;
57:18-19; 63:16; Jeremiah 31:11; 33:8 50:20; 34; Ezekiel 36:25-26 Hosea 14:4;
Joel 3:21; Micah 7:18-19; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2-3).
In order to be the subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign,
the nation will become God’s witnesses during the millennium (Isaiah 44:8, 21;
61:6; 66:21; Jeremiah 16:19-21; Micah 5:7; Zephaniah 3:20; Zechariah 4:1-7;
4:11-14; 8:23).
In order to be the subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign,
Israel will be beautified to bring glory to Jehovah (Isaiah 62:3; Jeremiah 32:41;
Hosea 14:5-6; Zephaniah 3:16-17; Zechariah 9:16-17).
The millennial reign of Christ will be the literal fulfillment of the Davidic
covenant. This Davidic covenant was of course given to David through the prophet
Nathan. The Davidic Covenant was an unconditional covenant, which was based
upon the faithfulness of God rather than the faithfulness of Israel. The Davidic
covenant deals with the dynasty that will rule the client nation (2 Sa. 7:4-17). God
promised David that a descendant of his would sit on his throne forever. The Lord
Jesus Christ, the Son of David, will literally fulfill this covenant during His
millennial reign.
The Davidic Covenant contains 4 promises: (1) A Davidic House: Posterity of
David will never be destroyed. (2) A Davidic Throne: Kingdom of David shall
never be destroyed. (3) A Davidic Kingdom: David’s Son (Christ) will have an
earthly sphere of rule. (4) It Shall Be Unending. The “sign” of the Davidic
Covenant is a Son (Lord Jesus Christ).
Provisions of the Davidic Covenant: (1) David is to have a child, yet to be born,
who will succeed him and establish his kingdom (2) This son (Solomon), instead
of David, will build the temple. (3) The throne of his kingdom will be established
forever. (4) The throne will not be taken away from him (Solomon) even though
his sins justify God’s discipline. (5) David’s house, throne and kingdom will be
established forever.
The essential features of the Davidic Covenant are found in 3 words in 2
Samuel 7:16: (1) House (physical descendants): A line stemming from David
would continue indefinitely and would be the divinely recognized royal line. (2)
Kingdom (political body): the political body that David would rule and over which
David’s descendants would successively reign. (3) Throne (right to rule): refers to
the authority as king vested in him.
Just as important as these 3 terms is the word forever. The word “forever” refers
to any time during which the descendants of Abraham would exist. Even though
there might be temporary interruptions in the exercise of royal authority because of
divine discipline, the authority would never transfer to another line.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 251
As in the case of the Abrahamic covenant, this covenant with David is restated
and reconfirmed elsewhere in Scripture.
Ps 89:34-37, “My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance
of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His
descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before me. It shall
be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.
Selah.”
The Davidic covenant is also confirmed in the following passages: Isa. 9:6-7;
Jer. 23:5-6; 30:8-9; 33:14-17, 20-21; Ezek. 37:24-25; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 3:4-5;
Amos 9:11; Zech. 14:4, 9.
One of the royal titles that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses is that of the “Son of
David,” which denotes His rulership over the nation of Israel (Matt. 1:1; 20:30;
Mark 10:47-48; Luke 1:32; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16).
The Bible anticipates a future literal fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
The prophetic implications of the Davidic Covenant: (1) Israel must be
preserved as a nation. (2) Israel must have a national existence and be brought back
into the land of her inheritance. (3) David’s descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ,
must return to the earth, bodily and literally, in order to reign over David’s
covenanted kingdom. (4) A literal earthly kingdom must exist over which the
returned Messiah will reign. (5) This kingdom must become an eternal kingdom.
During the millennial reign of Christ, regenerate (born-again) Old Testament
Israel will be resurrected and will enjoy the millennial blessings that were
promised to them (Ezek. 37:1-14).
This will be in fulfillment of the New Covenant to Israel made in Jeremiah
31:31-34. The New Covenant is unconditional meaning that it is based upon the
faithfulness of God rather than the faithfulness of Israel (Jer. 31:31-37). The New
covenant is related to the restoration of the nation during the 2nd Advent and
subsequent millennial reign of Christ. There were additional blessings added to the
unconditional Abrahamic covenant. Before the covenant nation could enjoy the
covenanted blessings it must walk in obedience to the laws of God. The obedience
required was outlined for the nation in the Mosaic Law, which was given alongside
the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 17:19) to define what God expected as a
prerequisite for blessing.
The nation of Israel was unable to fulfill the obedience the Law required. The
Mosaic Law cannot justify an individual before God (Rom. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16).
The Mosaic Law could not provide eternal salvation for men (Gal. 3:21-26). The
Mosaic Law could not provide the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:3). The Mosaic Law could
not solve the problems of the old sin nature (Rom. 8:2-3). The nation of Israel was
characterized by God as being stiff-necked (Jer. 17:23). They were hardened and
obstinate (Ezek. 3:7).
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 252
If the nation was to experience the blessings of the covenant they would need
forgiveness for their sins, they would need to be regenerated (born-again), a new
heart characterized by obedience, and empowerment from the Holy Spirit.
A covenant that guarantees Israel these divine provisions is given in
Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Jer 31:31-34, “Behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will
make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them
by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they
broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. But this is the
covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares
the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it;
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach
again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the
LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of
them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I
will remember no more.”
Within the original Abrahamic Covenant were promises concerning the
following: (1) Land: Palestinian Covenant developed the land promises to Israel.
(2) Seed: Davidic Covenant developed the seed promises to Israel. (3) Blessings:
New Covenant developed the blessing promises of the original Abrahamic
Covenant.
The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel have a great deal to say about these
blessings that will flow from the New Covenant, which they speak of often. In
spite of the disobedience of the nation in the past, this covenant necessitates the
continuation of the nation. Even continued disobedience cannot remove Israel from
her covenanted position (Jer. 31:34-35).
For the 1st time in Israel’s history during the millennial reign of Christ, the
Jews will possess and settle all of the Promised Land (Ezek. 47:13-48:29). Ezekiel
states that the division of the entire Promised Land will be the final fulfillment of
God’s covenant promises and in particular the Palestinian covenant that was made
to Abraham by the Lord (Ezek. 47:13-14).
The Palestinian Covenant was given to Israel through Abraham and was
unconditional. The Palestinian covenant will be literally fulfilled during the
millennial reign of Christ as stated by the prophets of Israel (Isa. 11:11-12; 14:1-3;
27:12-13; 49:8-16; 66:20-22; Jer. 16:14-16; 23:3-8; 30:10-11; 31:8, 31-37; Ezek.
11:17-21; 20:33-38; 34:11-16; 39:25-29; Hos. 1:10-11; Joel 3:17-21; Amos 9:11-
15; Micah 4:6-7; Zeph. 3:14-20; Zech. 8:4-8).
The Land Grant under the Palestinian Covenant: (1) Most of the land in Turkey
(2) Most of East Africa (3) Saudi Arabia (4) Yemen (5) Oman and Red Sea (6)
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 253
Syria (7) Iraq (8) Jordan. The land grant has boundaries on the Mediterranean, on
Aegean Sea, on Euphrates River and the Nile River.
Judgments
Because the Lord Jesus Christ controls history as sovereign ruler of history, He
has the authority to conduct the following judgments and evaluations in the future.
The humanity of Christ in hypostatic union has been awarded the sovereign
rulership over the entire cosmos for His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on
the cross and as a result has been awarded by God the Father the power and
authority to preside over and conduct the following judgments: (1) Bema Seat
Evaluation: Takes place at the Rapture of the Church and is the evaluation of the
Church Age believer’s life after salvation (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor.
5:10; 1 John 2:24). (2) Israel: Takes place at the 2nd Advent and is the removing
unregenerate Israel from the earth leaving only regenerate Israel to enter into the
Millennial reign of Christ (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt. 25:1-
30). (3) Gentiles: Takes place at the 2nd Advent and is for the purpose of
removing unregenerate, anti-Semitic Gentiles from the earth (Matt. 25:31-46). (4)
Fallen Angels: Takes place at the end of the appeal trial of Satan which runs coterminus
with human history and is execution of Satan and the fallen angels
sentence for the pre-historic rebellion against God (1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6;
Rev. 20:10). (5) Great White Throne: Takes place at the end of human history and
is the judgment of all unregenerate humanity in human history for the rejection of
Christ as Savior (Rev. 20:11-15).
The following groups of regenerate human beings throughout human history
will be subjected to a eschatological compulsory evaluation that the victorious,
resurrected incarnate Son of God as Sovereign Ruler of the entire cosmos will
conduct: (1) OT saints in heaven who lived during the dispensation of the Gentiles
(Adam to the Exodus). (2) OT saints in heaven that lived during the dispensation of
Israel (Exodus to 1st Advent). (3) All Church Age believers (Day of Pentecost to
the Rapture). (4) Regenerate Jews who will live during the Tribulation (Post-
Rapture to the 2nd Advent). (5) Regenerate Gentiles who will live during the
Tribulation (Post-Rapture to the 2nd Advent). (6) Regenerate Jews and Gentiles
who will live during the Millennial reign of Christ (2nd Advent to Gog and Magog
Rebellion).
The following groups of unregenerate human beings throughout human history
will be subjected to a eschatological compulsory judgment that the resurrected
incarnate Son of God as Sovereign Ruler of the entire cosmos will conduct: (1)
Unbelievers who lived during the dispensation of the Gentiles (Adam to the
Exodus). (2) Unbelievers who lived during the dispensation of the Jews (Exodus to
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 254
the 1st Advent). (3) Unbelievers who lived during the Church Age (Day of
Pentecost to Rapture). (4) Unbelievers who lived during the Tribulation (Post-
Rapture to 2nd Advent). (5) Unbelievers who lived during the Millennium (2nd
Advent to Gog Rebellion).
All fallen angels including Satan himself have already been subjected to a
judgment before human history but the execution of that sentence has been delayed
because the Supreme Court of Heaven granted Satan and the fallen angels an
appeal trial, which runs co-terminus with human history. The elect angels do not
come under judgment for the very same reason that regenerate human beings don’t
come under judgment because they have exercised personal faith in the Lord Jesus
Christ for salvation.
Every regenerate human being in every dispensation of human history must at
some point in the future submit to an evaluation of their lives after salvation which
will be conducted by the resurrected and sovereign humanity of Christ in
hypostatic union.
Regenerate Israel who lived during the Age of Israel and Tribulation period will
evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Ezek. 20:37-38; Zech. 13:8-9; Mal. 3:2-3, 5; Matt.
25:1-30). Regenerate Gentiles who lived during the Age of the Gentiles and
Tribulation period will be evaluated at the 2nd Advent (Matt. 25:31-46). Church
Age believers will be evaluated at the Bema Seat Evaluation of Christ (Rom.
14:10; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 2:24). Regenerate Jews and Gentiles
who lived during the Millennium will be subjected to a judgment at the conclusion
of human history (Rev. 20:15). Every unregenerate human being in every
dispensation of human history must submit to a judgment, which will also be
conducted by the resurrected and sovereign incarnate Son of God at the Great
White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Every fallen angel has already been
judged and sentenced to the Lake of Fire by the Supreme Court of Heaven before
human history. The execution of that sentence will not be carried out until the
conclusion of the appeal trial of Satan and the fallen angels (Rev. 20:10).
Great High Priesthood
The Lord Jesus Christ is presently functioning as the believer’s great high priest
at the right hand of the Father.
1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that
you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins;
and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 255
In this passage, the word “advocate” describes the Lord Jesus Christ as the
believer’s advocate or defense attorney to defend the believer from the accusations
of Satan against the believer. It has a legal connotation here in 1 John 2:1.
A comparison of Scripture with Scripture further substantiates this
interpretation.
Revelation 12:10, Job 1 and Zechariah 3:1-2 teaches that Satan accuses
believers day and night before the Supreme Court of Heaven.
Rev 12:10, “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the
salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of
His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down,
he who accuses them before our God day and night.’”
Job 1, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that
man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. Seven
sons and three daughters were born to him. His possessions also were 7,000
sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many
servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east. His sons
used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would
send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When the days
of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them,
rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the
number of them all; for Job said, ‘Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed
God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually. Now there was a day when the
sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also
came among them. The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth
and walking around on it.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered
My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and
upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.’ Then Satan answered
the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge
about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed
the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put
forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to
Your face.’ Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your
power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the
presence of the LORD. Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were
eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to
Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,
and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the
edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was still
speaking, another also came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 256
burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have
escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another also came and said,
‘The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took
them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have
escaped to tell you.’ While he was still speaking, another also came and said,
‘Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest
brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness
and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and
they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ Then Job arose and tore his
robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The
LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the
LORD.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”
Zech 3:1-5, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the
angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The
LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who
has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.
He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, ‘Remove
the filthy garments from him.’ Again he said to him, ‘See, I have taken your
iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.’ Then I said,
‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his
head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the LORD was
standing by.”
The Greek New Testament terms Satanas, “Satan” and diabolos, “devil” are
legal terms. The term Satanas means “adversary,” and diabolos means “slanderer,
false accuser.” Therefore, the believer needs an advocate or defense attorney to
defend him against the charges of Satan.
These charges are true because Satan wouldn’t waste his time bringing a lie to
God about a believer. In fact, he doesn’t need to lie about the believer since
believers will and do sin all the time. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ defends the
believer by stating to the Father that He paid for the sins committed by the believer
that Satan is bringing up before the Supreme Court of heaven.
This ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as the defense attorney for church age
believers at the right hand of the Father on behalf is directly related to the Lord
Jesus Christ present session and Great High Priesthood.
The Session of Christ pertains to the glorification of our Lord’s humanity at the
right hand of God the Father when our Lord received His third royal title from God
the Father as “King of kings and Lord of lords… the bright morning star.”
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 257
The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ controls history is directly related to His
present session, which completes the process of promoting Him as sovereign ruler
of history. The Lord Jesus Christ session at the right hand of the Father points to
His kingship (Rev. 4:2). Our Lord acknowledged to Pilate at His 5th trial and 2nd
civil trial that He was indeed a king but that His kingdom was not of this world.
John 18:33-37, “Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium and
summoned Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus
answered, ‘Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you
about Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the
chief priests delivered You up to me; what have You done?’ Jesus answered,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My
servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but
as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘So
You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For
this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness
(for the Prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial) to the truth.
Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’”
When our Lord arrived in heaven and was seated at the right hand of God the
Father He received a new royal warrant, a 3rd royal title as the “King of kings and
the Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16). This title has been granted to Him
by the Father indicating His rulership over the Church of which, He is the Head.
The Tribulation saints in heaven when singing the song of Moses proclaim our
Lord as the “King of the nations” which He will assume at His 2nd Advent.
The session of Christ is a public affirmation that our Lord is the victor in the
angelic conflict (Heb. 1:13; 2:8). Colossians 2:15 states that there was a triumphal
procession by our Lord in heaven declaring Him publicly as Victor in the angelic
conflict. Satan was publicly shown in heaven to be defeated when the humanity of
Christ in hypostatic union sat down at the right hand of God the Father and was
granted the power, rank and authority over the entire universe as ruler of the
cosmos. An impeccable human being defeated the greatest angel ever created by
the hand of God. The humanity of Christ was able to do so because He depended
upon the divine omnipotence of the prototype spiritual life provided by God the
Father. Satan lost because he chose to remain independent of God thus he was
defeated. Although the humanity of Christ became inferior to Satan for a little
while during the incarnation, our Lord still was able to defeat him and receive
glory and honor as Victor in the angelic conflict (Heb. 2:9).
Our Lord’s Great High Priesthood is directly related to both His finished work
on the cross and His present mediatorial work in heaven at the right hand of the
Father. Romans 8:34 states that our Lord intercesses for the believer as a part of
His session at the right hand of God the Father. He intercedes for the believer in
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 258
prayer and when Satan accuses the believer of sin (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). The
intercessory ministry of Christ is a part of His Priesthood (Heb. 2:17; 8:1). He is
our faithful High Priest (Heb. 2:17). He is the believer’s High Priest who
intercedes for them at the right hand of the Father. This could not be possible if it
were not for the fact that our Lord has now been seated at the right hand of God the
Father. Our Lord’s High Priesthood is permanent (Heb. 7:24). Every Church Age
believer has been made a royal priest because of their union with their High Priest,
the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is a kingdom of priests (1 Pet. 2:6, 9) of which
Christ is the High Priest.
The chief source of the priestly conception of Our Lord is the Epistle to the
Hebrews where Christ is declared to have by Himself purged our sins (Heb 1:3); to
taste of death for every man (Heb 2:9); that He might be a merciful and faithful
High Priest to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Heb 2:17); compare
(He 3:1); the community of sacrifice (Heb 3:14); our great High Priest has passed
into the heavens (He 4:14); His compassion (4:15); the authority and power of
Christ’s priesthood fully set forth (Heb 5).
Christ was made a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:6). The
priesthood of Christ being of the order of Melchizedek is more excellent than the
Aaronic priesthood (Heb 7). Christ’s priesthood being eternal that of the Aaronic is
abolished (Heb 8). Christ’s high priesthood is made effectual by His own blood;
and He entered once for all into the holy place, and has become the Mediator of a
New Covenant (He 9:11-15).
Christ is forever the representative of man in heaven (Heb 9:24-28). Christ by
the sacrifice of Himself forever takes away sin, and has consecrated the new and
living way to God (Heb 10). He is the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb 12:24).
The entire Epistle is steeped in the conception of Christ’s priesthood.
Our Lord holds 3 offices: (1) Prophet (2) Priest (3) King. His priesthood is
superior to the Levitical priesthood in that He does not have to offer a sacrifice for
Himself since He is impeccable. Instead He offered Himself as a substitute and
became the Mediator of a New Covenant, which was based upon His spiritual
death on the cross.
Peter and the apostles proclaimed to the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:30-31, “The God
of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom you had put to death by hanging Him
on a cross. He is the One Whom God the Father has exalted to His right hand
as a Prince and a Savior, to grant a change of mind concerning Christ to
Israel (salvation) and forgiveness of sins.”
The session of Christ makes possible for Christ to provide salvation and the
forgiveness sins.
2008 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 259
Peter again proclaims of Jesus to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12, “There is
salvation in no one else (Jesus); for there is no other title under heaven that
has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
God the Father forgives us sin because of the merits of His Son Jesus Christ and
His finished work on the cross and who now sits at His right hand intercessing for
every believer (1 John 1:9). Confession of sin is possible because of our Lord’s
session with the Father. Our sins are forgiven because of the merits of the Lord
Jesus Who sits at the right hand of God the Father intercessing for us. He is our
Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).
The Lord Jesus performs His intercessory ministry for the believer in the Holy
of Holies in heaven (Heb. 8:2). Our Lord’s high priesthood is after the order of
Melchizedek (Heb. 5:9-10; 6:20). Our Lord is a high priest forever. He entered into
the veil in heaven as High Priest (Heb. 6:20). His ministry is superior to the
Levitical high priests on earth during the dispensation of Israel since He did not
have to offer sacrifices for Himself since He was impeccable (Heb. 7:26).
In fact, He offered Himself up as a substitute for the entire human race as our
High Priest (Heb. 7:28). As our High Priest He is a mediator of a superior covenant
for the 1st covenant with Israel under the Law has been abolished and He has
replaced it with a new and superior one. The Levitical conducted their ministry
under the Law whereas our Lord’s High Priesthood is conducted under the policy
of grace, which is superior to the Law in every respect. Our Lord as High Priest
fulfilled the Mosaic Law in every detail during His incarnation. Our Lord put away
sin with His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross thus laying the foundation
for the dispensation of grace called the Church Age (Heb. 9:26).