STOP Disrespecting the Man That Gave His Life For You | delilah5's Blog
The name and title of the Son of God from the time of his anointing while on earth.
The name Jesus (Gr., I·e·sous′) corresponds to the Hebrew name Jeshua (or, in fuller form, Jehoshua), meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation.” The name itself was not unusual, many men being so named in that period. For this reason persons often added further identification, saying, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (Mr 10:47; Ac 2:22) Christ is from the Greek Khri·stos′, the equivalent of the Hebrew Ma·shi′ach (Messiah), and means “Anointed One.” Whereas the ex
Prehuman Existence. The person who became known as Jesus Christ did not begin life here on earth. He himself spoke of his prehuman heavenly life. (Joh 3:13; 6:38, 62; 8:23, 42, 58) John 1:1, 2 gives the heavenly name of the one who became Jesus, saying: “In the beginning the Word [Gr., Lo′gos] was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god [“was divine,” AT; Mo; or “of divine being,” Böhmer; Stage (both German)]. This one was in the beginning with God.” Since Jehovah is eternal and had no beginning (Ps 90:2; Re 15:3), the Word’s being with God from “the beginning” must here refer to the beginning of Jehovah’s creative works. This is confirmed by other texts identifying Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation,” “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Col 1:15; Re 1:1; 3:14) Thus the sc
That Jehovah was truly the Father or Life-Giver to this firstborn Son and, hence, that this Son was actually a creature of God is evident from Jesus’ own statements. He pointed to God as the Source of his life, saying, “I live because of the Father.” According to the context, this meant that his life resulted from or was caused by his Father, even as the gaining of life by dying men would result from their faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Joh 6:56, 57.
If the estimates of modern-day scientists as to the age of the physical universe are anywhere near correct, Jesus’ existence as a spirit creature began thousands of millions of years prior to the creation of the first human. (Compare Mic 5:2.) This firstborn spirit Son was used by his Father in the creation of all other things. (Joh 1:3; Col 1:16, 17) This would include the millions of other spirit sons of Jehovah God’s heavenly family (Da 7:9, 10; Re 5:11), as well as the physical universe and the creatures originally produced within it. Logically, it was to this firstborn Son that Jehovah said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” (Ge 1:26) All these other created things were not only created “through him” but also “for him,” as God’s Firstborn and the “heir of all things.”—Col 1:16; Heb 1:2.
Not a co-Creator. The Son’s share in the creative works, however, did not make him a co-Creator with his Father. The power for creation came from God through his holy spirit, or active force. (Ge 1:2; Ps 33:6) And since Jehovah is the Source of all life, all animate creation, visible and invisible, owes its life to him. (Ps 36:9) Rather than a co-Creator, then, the Son was the agent or instrumentality through whom Jehovah, the Creator, worked. Jesus himself credited God with the creation, as do all the sc
Wisdom personified. What is recorded concerning the Word in the sc
Wisdom is manifest only by being expressed in some way. God’s own wisdom was expressed in creation (Pr 3:19, 20) but through his Son. (Compare 1Co 8:6.) So, too, God’s wise purpose involving mankind is made manifest through, and summed up in, his Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, the apostle could say that Christ represents “the power of God and the wisdom of God” and that Christ Jesus “has become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom.”—1Co 1:24, 30; compare 1Co 2:7, 8; Pr 8:1, 10, 18-21.
How he is the “only-begotten Son.” Jesus’ being called the “only-begotten Son” (Joh 1:14; 3:16, 18; 1Jo 4:9) does not mean that the other spirit creatures produced were not God’s sons, for they are called sons as well. (Ge 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:4-7) However, by virtue of his being the sole direct creation of his Father, the firstborn Son was unique, different from all others of God’s sons, all of whom were created or begotten by Jehovah through that firstborn Son. So “the Word” was Jehovah’s “only-begotten Son” in a particular sense, even as Isaac was Abraham’s “only-begotten son” in a particular sense (his father already having another son but not by his wife Sarah).—Heb 11:17; Ge 16:15.
Why called “the Word.” The name (or, perhaps, title) “the Word” (Joh 1:1) apparently identifies the function that God’s firstborn Son performed after other intelligent creatures were formed. A similar ex
Doubtless on many occasions during his prehuman existence as the Word, Jesus acted as Jehovah’s Spokesman to persons on earth. While certain texts refer to Jehovah as though directly speaking to humans, other texts make clear that he did so through an angelic representative. (Compare Ex 3:2-4 with Ac 7:30, 35; also Ge 16:7-11, 13; 22:1, 11, 12, 15-18.) Reasonably, in the majority of such cases God spoke through the Word. He likely did so in Eden, for on two of the three occasions where mention is made of God’s speaking there, the record specifically shows someone was with Him, undoubtedly his Son. (Ge 1:26-30; 2:16, 17; 3:8-19, 22) The angel who guided Israel through the wilderness and whose voice the Israelites were strictly to obey because ‘Jehovah’s name was within him,’ may therefore have been God’s Son, the Word.—Ex 23:20-23; compare Jos 5:13-15.
This does not mean that the Word is the only angelic representative through whom Jehovah has spoken. The inspired statements at Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19, and Hebrews 2:2, 3 make clear that the Law covenant was transmitted to Moses by angelic sons of God other than his Firstborn.
Jesus continues to bear the name “The Word of God” since his return to heavenly glory.—Re 19:13, 16.
Why do some Bible translations refer to Jesus as “God,” while others say he was “a god”?
Some translations render John 1:1 as saying: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Literally the Greek text reads: “In beginning was the word, and the word was toward the god, and god was the word.” The translator must supply capitals as needed in the language into which he translates the text. It is clearly proper to capitalize “God” in translating the phrase “the god,” since this must identify the Almighty God with whom the Word was. But the capitalizing of the word “god” in the second case does not have the same justification.
The New World Translation renders this text: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” True, there is no indefinite article (corresponding to “a” or “an”) in the original Greek text. But this does not mean one should not be used in translation, for Koine, or common Greek, had no indefinite article. Hence, throughout the Christian Greek sc
First, it should be noted that the text itself shows that the Word was “with God,” hence could not be God, that is, be the Almighty God. (Note also vs 2, which would be unnecessary if vs 1 actually showed the Word to be God.) Additionally, the word for “god” (Gr., the·os′) in its second occurrence in the verse is significantly without the definite article “the” (Gr., ho). Regarding this fact, Ernst Haenchen, in a commentary on the Gospel of John (chapters 1-6), stated: “[the·os′] and [ho the·os′] (‘god, divine’ and ‘the God’) were not the same thing in this period. . . . In fact, for the . . . Evangelist, only the Father was ‘God’ ([ho the·os′]; cf. 17:3); ‘the Son’ was subordinate to him (cf. 14:28). But that is only hinted at in this passage because here the emphasis is on the proximity of the one to the other . . . . It was quite possible in Jewish and Christian monotheism to speak of divine beings that existed alongside and under God but were not identical with him. Phil 2:6-10 proves that. In that passage Paul depicts just such a divine being, who later became man in Jesus Christ . . . Thus, in both Philippians and John 1:1 it is not a matter of a dialectical relationship between two-in-one, but of a personal union of two entities.”—John 1, translated by R. W. Funk, 1984, pp. 109, 110.
After giving as a translation of John 1:1c “and divine (of the category divinity) was the Word,” Haenchen goes on to state: “In this instance, the verb ‘was’ ([en]) simply expresses predication. And the predicate noun must accordingly be more carefully observed: [the·os′] is not the same thing as [ho the·os′] (‘divine’ is not the same thing as ‘God’).” (pp. 110, 111) Elaborating on this point, Philip B. Harner brought out that the grammatical construction in John 1:1 involves an anarthrous predicate, that is, a predicate noun without the definite article “the,” preceding the verb, which construction is primarily qualitative in meaning and indicates that “the logos has the nature of theos.” He further stated: “In John 1:1 I think that the qualitative force of the predicate is so prominent that the noun [the·os′] cannot be regarded as definite.” (Journal of Biblical Literature, 1973, pp. 85, 87) Other translators, also recognizing that the Greek term has qualitative force and describes the nature of the Word, therefore render the phrase: “the Word was divine.”—AT; Sd; compare Mo; see NW appendix, p. 1579.
The Hebrew sc
These facts give solid support to a translation such as “the Word was a god” at John 1:1. The Word’s preeminent position among God’s creatures as the Firstborn, the one through whom God created all things, and as God’s Spokesman, gives real basis for his being called “a god” or mighty one. The Messianic prophecy at Isaiah 9:6 foretold that he would be called “Mighty God,” though not the Almighty God, and that he would be the “Eternal Father” of all those privileged to live as his subjects. The zeal of his own Father, “Jehovah of armies,” would accomplish this. (Isa 9:7) Certainly if God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil, is called a “god” (2Co 4:4) because of his dominance over men and demons (1Jo 5:19; Lu 11:14-18), then with far greater reason and propriety is God’s firstborn Son called “a god,” “the only-begotten god” as the most reliable manusc
When charged by opposers with ‘making himself a god,’ Jesus’ reply was: “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said: “You are gods”’? If he called ‘gods’ those against whom the word of God came, and yet the sc
This charge of blasphemy arose as a result of Jesus’ having said: “I and the Father are one.” (Joh 10:30) That this did not mean that Jesus claimed to be the Father or to be God is evident from his reply, already partly considered. The oneness to which Jesus referred must be understood in harmony with the context of his statement. He was speaking of his works and his care of the “sheep” who would follow him. His works, as well as his words, demonstrated that there was unity, not disunity and disharmony, between him and his Father, a point his reply went on to emphasize. (Joh 10:25, 26, 37, 38; compare Joh 4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40; 8:16-18.) As regards his “sheep,” he and his Father were likewise at unity in their protecting such sheeplike ones and leading them to everlasting life. (Joh 10:27-29; compare Eze 34:23, 24.) Jesus’ prayer on behalf of the unity of all his disciples, including future ones, shows that the oneness, or union, between Jesus and his Father was not as to identity of person but as to purpose and action. In this way Jesus’ disciples could “all be one,” just as he and his Father are one.—Joh 17:20-23.
In harmony with this, Jesus, responding to a question by Thomas, said: “If you men had known me, you would have known my Father also; from this moment on you know him and have seen him,” and, in answer to a question from Philip, Jesus added: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (Joh 14:5-9) Again, Jesus’ following explanation shows that this was so because he faithfully represented his Father, spoke the Father’s words, and did the Father’s works. (Joh 14:10, 11; compare Joh 12:28, 44-49.) It was on this same occasion, the night of his death, that Jesus said to these very disciples: “The Father is greater than I am.”—Joh 14:28.
The disciples ‘seeing’ the Father in Jesus can also be understood in the light of other sc
What did Thomas mean when he said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God”?
On the occasion of Jesus’ appearance to Thomas and the other apostles, which had removed Thomas’ doubts of Jesus’ resurrection, the now-convinced Thomas exclaimed to Jesus: “My Lord and my God! [literally, “The Lord of me and the God (ho The·os′) of me!”].” (Joh 20:24-29) Some scholars have viewed this ex
So, Thomas may have addressed Jesus as “my God” in the sense of Jesus’ being “a god” though not the Almighty God, not “the only true God,” to whom Thomas had often heard Jesus pray. (Joh 17:1-3) Or he may have addressed Jesus as “my God” in a way similar to ex
His Birth on Earth. Prior to Jesus’ birth on earth, angels had appeared on this planet in human form, apparently materializing suitable bodies for the occasion, then dematerializing them after completing such assignments. (Ge 19:1-3; Jg 6:20-22; 13:15-20) They thus remained spirit creatures, merely employing a physical body temporarily. This, however, was not the case with the coming of God’s Son to earth to become the man Jesus. John 1:14 says that “the Word became flesh and resided among us.” For that reason he could call himself “the Son of man.” (Joh 1:51; 3:14, 15) Some draw attention to the ex
The inspired Record says: “But the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way. During the time his mother Mary was promised in marriage to Joseph, she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit before they were united.” (Mt 1:18) Prior to this, Jehovah’s angelic messenger had informed the virgin girl Mary that she would ‘conceive in her womb’ as the result of God’s holy spirit coming upon her and His power overshadowing her. (Lu 1:30, 31, 34, 35) Since actual conception took place, it appears that Jehovah God caused an ovum, or egg cell, in Mary’s womb to become fertile, accomplishing this by the transferal of the life of his firstborn Son from the spirit realm to earth. (Ga 4:4) Only in this way could the child eventually born have retained identity as the same person who had resided in heaven as the Word, and only in this way could he have been an actual son of Mary and hence a genuine descendant of her forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and King David and legitimate heir of the divine promises made to them. (Ge 22:15-18; 26:24; 28:10-14; 49:10; 2Sa 7:8, 11-16; Lu 3:23-34; see GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST.) It is likely, therefore, that the child born resembled its Jewish mother in certain physical characteristics.
Mary was a descendant of the sinner Adam, hence herself imperfect and sinful. The question therefore is raised as to how Jesus, Mary’s “firstborn” (Lu 2:7), could be perfect and free from sin in his physical organism. While modern geneticists have learned much about laws of heredity and about dominant and recessive characteristics, they have had no experience in learning the results of uniting perfection with imperfection, as was the case with Jesus’ conception. From the results revealed in the Bible, it would appear that the perfect male life-force (causing the conception) canceled out any imperfection existent in Mary’s ovum, thereby producing a genetic pattern (and embryonic development) that was perfect from its start. Whatever the case, the operation of God’s holy spirit at the time guaranteed the success of God’s purpose. As the angel Gabriel explained to Mary, “power of the Most High” overshadowed her so that what was born was holy, God’s Son. God’s holy spirit formed, as it were, a protective wall so that no imperfection or hurtful force could damage, or blemish, the developing embryo, from conception on.—Lu 1:35.
Since it was God’s holy spirit that made the birth possible, Jesus owed his human life to his heavenly Father, not to any man, such as his adoptive father Joseph. (Mt 2:13-15; Lu 3:23) As Hebrews 10:5 states, Jehovah God ‘prepared a body for him,’ and Jesus, from conception onward, was truly “undefiled, separated from the sinners.”—Heb 7:26; compare Joh 8:46; 1Pe 2:21, 22.
The Messianic prophecy at Isaiah 52:14, which speaks of “the disfigurement as respects his appearance,” therefore must apply to Jesus the Messiah only in a figurative way. (Compare vs 7 of the same chapter.) Though he was perfect in physical form, the message of truth and righteousness that Jesus Christ boldly proclaimed made him repulsive in the eyes of hypocritical opposers, who claimed to see in him an agent of Beelzebub, a man possessed of a demon, a blasphemous fraud. (Mt 12:24; 27:39-43; Joh 8:48; 15:17-25) In a similar way the message proclaimed by Jesus’ disciples later caused them to be “a sweet odor” of life to receptive persons, but an odor of death to those rejecting their message.—2Co 2:14-16.
Time of Birth, Length of Ministry. Jesus evidently was born in the month of Ethanim (September-October) of the year 2 B.C.E., was baptized about the same time of the year in 29 C.E., and died about 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the 14th day of the spring month of Nisan (March-April), 33 C.E. The basis for these dates is as follows:
Jesus was born approximately six months after the birth of his relative John (the Baptizer), during the rule of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus (31 B.C.E.–14 C.E.) and the Syrian governorship of Quirinius (see REGISTRATION for the probable dates of Quirinius’ administration), and toward the close of the reign of Herod the Great over Judea.—Mt 2:1, 13, 20-22; Lu 1:24-31, 36; 2:1, 2, 7.
His birth in relation to Herod’s death. While the date of Herod’s death is a debated one, there is considerable evidence pointing to 1 B.C.E. (See HEROD No. 1 [Date of His Death]; CHRONOLOGY [Lunar eclipses].) A number of events intervened between the time of Jesus’ birth and Herod’s death. These included Jesus’ circumcision on the eighth day (Lu 2:21); his being brought to the temple in Jerusalem 40 days after birth (Lu 2:22, 23; Le 12:1-4, 8); the journey of the astrologers “from eastern parts” to Bethlehem (where Jesus was no longer in a manger but in a house—Mt 2:1-11; compare Lu 2:7, 15, 16); Joseph and Mary’s flight to Egypt with the young child (Mt 2:13-15); followed by Herod’s realization that the astrologers had not followed his instructions, and the subsequent slaughter of all boys in Bethlehem and its districts under the age of two years (indicating that Jesus was not then a newborn infant). (Mt 2:16-18) Jesus’ birth taking place in the fall of 2 B.C.E. would allow for the time required by these events intervening between his birth and the death of Herod, likely in 1 B.C.E. There is, however, added reason for placing Jesus’ birth in 2 B.C.E.
Relationship to John’s ministry. Further basis for the dates given at the start of this section is found at Luke 3:1-3, which shows that John the Baptizer began his preaching and baptizing in “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.” That 15th year ran from the latter half of 28 C.E. to August or September of 29 C.E. (See TIBERIUS.) At some point in John’s ministry, Jesus went to him and was baptized. When Jesus thereafter commenced his own ministry he was “about thirty years old.” (Lu 3:21-23) At the age of 30, the age at which David became king, Jesus would no longer be subject to human parents.—2Sa 5:4, 5; compare Lu 2:51.
According to Numbers 4:1-3, 22, 23, 29, 30, those going into sanctuary service under the Law covenant were “from thirty years old upward.” It is reasonable that John the Baptizer, who was a Levite and son of a priest, began his ministry at the same age, not at the temple, of course, but in the special assignment Jehovah had outlined for him. (Lu 1:1-17, 67, 76-79) The specific mention (twice) of the age difference between John and Jesus and the correlation between the appearances and messages of Jehovah’s angel in announcing the births of the two sons (Lu 1) give ample basis for believing that their ministries followed a similar timetable, that is, the start of John’s ministry (as the forerunner of Jesus) being followed about six months later by the commencement of Jesus’ ministry.
On this basis, John’s birth occurred 30 years before he began his ministry in Tiberius’ 15th year, hence somewhere between the latter half of 3 B.C.E. and August or September of 2 B.C.E., with Jesus’ birth following about six months later.
Evidence for three-and-a-half-year ministry. Through the remaining chronological evidence an even more definite conclusion can be reached. This evidence deals with the length of Jesus’ ministry and time of death. The prophecy at Daniel 9:24-27 (discussed fully in the article SEVENTY WEEKS) points to the appearance of the Messiah at the start of the 70th “week” of years (Da 9:25) and his sacrificial death in the middle or “at the half” of the final week, thereby ending the validity of the sacrifices and gift offerings under the Law covenant. (Da 9:26, 27; compare Heb 9:9-14; 10:1-10.) This would mean a ministry of three and a half years’ duration (half of a “week” of seven years) for Jesus Christ.
For Jesus’ ministry to have lasted three and a half years, ending with his death at Passover time, would require that that period include four Passovers in all. Evidence for these four Passovers is found at John 2:13; 5:1; 6:4; and 13:1. John 5:1 does not specifically mention the Passover, referring only to “a [“the,” according to certain ancient manusc
Earlier, at John 4:35, Jesus is mentioned as saying that there were “yet four months before the harvest.” The harvest season, particularly the barley harvest, got under way about Passover time (Nisan 14). Hence Jesus’ statement was made four months before that or about the month of Chislev (November-December). The postexilic Festival of Dedication came during Chislev but it was not one of the great festivals requiring attendance at Jerusalem. (Ex 23:14-17; Le 23:4-44) Celebration was held throughout the land in the many synagogues, according to Jewish tradition. (See FESTIVAL OF DEDICATION.) Later, at John 10:22, Jesus is specifically mentioned as attending one such Festival of Dedication in Jerusalem; however, it appears that he had already been in that area since the earlier Festival of Booths, hence had not gone there especially for that purpose. Different from this, John 5:1 clearly implies that it was the particular “festival of the Jews” that caused Jesus to go from Galilee (Joh 4:54) to Jerusalem.
The only other festival between Chislev and Passover time was that of Purim, held in Adar (February-March), about one month before Passover. But the postexilic Feast of Purim was likewise celebrated throughout the land in homes and synagogues. (See PURIM.) So, the Passover seems to be the most likely “festival of the Jews” referred to at John 5:1, Jesus’ attendance at Jerusalem then being in conformity to God’s law to Israel. It is true that John thereafter records only a few events before the next mention of the Passover (Joh 6:4), but a consideration of the chart of the Main Events of Jesus’ Earthly Life will show that John’s coverage of Jesus’ early ministry was very abbreviated, many events already discussed by the other three evangelists being passed over. In fact, the great amount of activity of Jesus as recorded by these other evangelists (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) lends weight to the conclusion that an annual Passover did indeed intervene between those recorded at John 2:13 and 6:4.
Time of his death. The death of Jesus Christ took place in the spring, on the Passover Day, Nisan (or Abib) 14, according to the Jewish calendar. (Mt 26:2; Joh 13:1-3; Ex 12:1-6; 13:4) That year the Passover occurred on the sixth day of the week (counted by the Jews as from sundown on Thursday to sundown on Friday). This is evident from John 19:31, which shows that the following day was “a great” sabbath. The day after Passover was always a sabbath, no matter on what day of the week it came. (Le 23:5-7) But when this special Sabbath coincided with the regular Sabbath (the seventh day of the week), it became “a great one.” So Jesus’ death took place on Friday, Nisan 14, by about 3:00 p.m.—Lu 23:44-46.
Summary of evidence. Summing up, then, since Jesus’ death took place in the spring month of Nisan, his ministry, which began three and a half years earlier according to Daniel 9:24-27, must have begun in the fall, about the month of Ethanim (September-October). John’s ministry (initiated in Tiberius’ 15th year), then, must have begun in the spring of the year 29 C.E. John’s birth therefore would be placed in the spring of the year 2 B.C.E., Jesus’ birth would come about six months later in the fall of 2 B.C.E., his ministry would start about 30 years later in the fall of 29 C.E., and his death would come in the year 33 C.E. (on Nisan 14 in the spring, as stated).
No basis for winter date of birth. The popular date of December 25 as the day of Jesus’ birth therefore has no basis in sc
“Today it is commonly admitted that the occasion for the celebration of the day December 25 was the festival that the pagans were celebrating on this day. Petavius [French Jesuit scholar, 1583-1652] already has rightly observed that on December 25 was celebrated ‘the birthday of the unconquered sun.’
“Witnesses for this festival are: (a) The Calendar of Furius Dionysius Filocalus, composed in the year 354 [C.E.], in which it is noted: ‘December 25, the B(irthday) of the unconquered (Sun).’ (b) The calendar of astrologer Antiochus (composed about 200 [C.E.]): ‘Month of December . . . 25 . . . The birthday of the Sun; daylight increases.’ (c) Caesar Julian [Julian the Apostate, emperor 361-363 C.E.] recommended the games that were celebrated at the end of the year in honor of the sun, which was called ‘the unconquered sun.’”—Chronologia vitae Christi (Chronology of the Life of Christ), Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, Rome, 1933, p. 46.
Perhaps the most obvious evidence of the incorrectness of the December 25 date is the sc
Also weighing against a December date is that it would be most unlikely for the Roman emperor to choose such a wintry, rainy month as the time for his Jewish subjects (often rebellious) to travel “each one to his own city” to be registered.—Lu 2:1-3; compare Mt 24:20; see TEBETH.
Early Life. The record of Jesus’ early life is very brief. Born in Bethlehem of Judea, King David’s native city, he was taken to Nazareth in Galilee after the family returned from Egypt—all of this in fulfillment of divine prophecy. (Mt 2:4-6, 14, 15, 19-23; Mic 5:2; Ho 11:1; Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5) Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, was a carpenter (Mt 13:55) and evidently of little means. (Compare Lu 2:22-24 with Le 12:8.) Thus Jesus, who on his first day of human life had slept in a stable, evidently spent his childhood in quite humble circumstances. Nazareth was not historically prominent, though near to two principal trade routes. It may have been looked down upon by many Jews.—Compare Joh 1:46; see PICTURES, Vol. 2, p. 539; NAZARETH.
Of the first years of Jesus’ life nothing is known except that “the young child continued growing and getting strong, being filled with wisdom, and God’s favor continued upon him.” (Lu 2:40) In course of time the family grew as four sons and some daughters were born to Joseph and Mary. (Mt 13:54-56) So, Mary’s “firstborn” son (Lu 2:7) did not grow up as an only child. This doubtless explains why his parents could begin a return journey from Jerusalem without realizing for a while that Jesus, their oldest child, was missing from the group. This occasion, with Jesus’ visit (as a 12-year-old) to the temple, where he engaged in a discussion with the Jewish teachers that left them amazed, is the only incident of his early life recounted in some detail. (PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 538) Jesus’ reply to his worried parents when they located him there shows that Jesus knew the miraculous nature of his birth and realized his Messianic future. (Lu 2:41-52) Reasonably, his mother and his adoptive father had passed on to him the information obtained through the angelic visitations as well as through the prophecies of Simeon and Anna, spoken when the first trip was made to Jerusalem 40 days after Jesus’ birth.—Mt 1:20-25; 2:13, 14, 19-21; Lu 1:26-38; 2:8-38.
There is nothing to indicate that Jesus had or exercised any miraculous powers during his childhood years, as the fanciful stories recorded in certain apocryphal works, such as the so-called Gospel of Thomas, pretend. The changing of water to wine at Cana, performed during his ministry, was “the beginning of his signs.” (Joh 2:1-11) Likewise, while among the family in Nazareth, Jesus evidently did not make a showy display of his wisdom and superiority as a perfect human, as is perhaps indicated by the fact that his half brothers did not exercise faith in him during his ministry as a human, as well as by the disbelief most of the population of Nazareth showed toward him.—Joh 7:1-5; Mr 6:1, 4-6.
Yet Jesus was evidently well known by the people of Nazareth (Mt 13:54-56; Lu 4:22); his splendid qualities and personality must certainly have been noted, at least by those appreciative of righteousness and goodness. (Compare Mt 3:13, 14.) He regularly attended the synagogue services each Sabbath. He was educated, as is shown by his ability to find and read sections from the Sacred Writings, but he did not attend the rabbinic schools of “higher learning.”—Lu 4:16; Joh 7:14-16.
The brevity of the record concerning these early years is because Jesus had not yet been anointed by Jehovah as “the Christ” (Mt 16:16) and had not commenced carrying out the divine assignment awaiting him. His childhood and the growing-up process, like his birth, were necessary, though incidental, means to an end. As Jesus later stated to Roman Governor Pilate: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.”—Joh 18:37.
His Baptism. The outpouring of holy spirit at the time of Jesus’ baptism marked the time of his becoming in actual fact the Messiah, or Christ, God’s Anointed One (the use of this title by angels when announcing his birth evidently being in a prophetic sense; Lu 2:9-11, note also vss 25, 26). For six months John had been ‘preparing the way’ for “the saving means of God.” (Lu 3:1-6) Jesus, now “about thirty years old,” was baptized over John’s initial ob
God’s spirit poured out upon Jesus doubtless illuminated his mind on many points. His own ex
Jesus’ anointing with holy spirit appointed and commissioned him to carry out his ministry of preaching and teaching (Lu 4:16-21) and also to serve as God’s Prophet. (Ac 3:22-26) But, over and above this, it appointed and commissioned him as Jehovah’s promised King, the heir to David’s throne (Lu 1:32, 33, 69; Heb 1:8, 9) and to an everlasting Kingdom. For that reason he could later tell Pharisees: “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Lu 17:20, 21) Similarly, Jesus was anointed to act as God’s High Priest, not as a descendant of Aaron, but after the likeness of King-Priest Melchizedek.—Heb 5:1, 4-10; 7:11-17.
Jesus had been God’s Son from the time of his birth, even as the perfect Adam had been the “son of God.” (Lu 3:38; 1:35) The angels had identified Jesus as God’s Son from his birth onward. So, when, after Jesus’ baptism, his Father’s voice was heard saying, “You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you” (Mr 1:11), it seems reasonable that this declaration accompanying the anointing flow of God’s spirit was more than just an acknowledgment of Jesus’ identity. The evidence is that Jesus was then begotten or brought forth by God as his spiritual Son, “born again,” as it were, with the right to receive life once more as a spirit Son of God in the heavens.—Compare Joh 3:3-6; 6:51; 10:17, 18; see BAPTISM; ONLY-BEGOTTEN.
His Vital Place in God’s Purpose. Jehovah God saw fit to make his firstborn Son the central, or key, figure in the outworking of all His purposes (Joh 1:14-18; Col 1:18-20; 2:8, 9), the focal point on which the light of all prophecies would concentrate and from which their light would radiate (1Pe 1:10-12; Re 19:10; Joh 1:3-9), the solution to all the problems that Satan’s rebellion had raised (Heb 2:5-9, 14, 15; 1Jo 3:8), and the foundation upon which God would build all future arrangements for the eternal good of His universal family in heaven and earth. (Eph 1:8-10; 2:20; 1Pe 2:4-8) Because of the vital role he thus plays in God’s purpose, Jesus could say, rightly and without exaggeration: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”—Joh 14:6.
The “sacred secret.” God’s purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ remained a “sacred secret [or, mystery] . . . kept in silence for long-lasting times.” (Ro 16:25-27) For over 4,000 years, since the rebellion in Eden, men of faith had awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise of a “seed” to bruise the head of the serpentlike Adversary and thereby to bring relief to mankind. (Ge 3:15) For nearly 2,000 years they had hoped in Jehovah’s covenant with Abraham for a “seed” who would “take possession of the gate of his enemies” and by means of whom all nations of the earth would bless themselves.—Ge 22:15-18.
Finally, when “the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son” and through him revealed the meaning of the “sacred secret,” gave the definitive answer to the issue raised by God’s Adversary (see JEHOVAH [The supreme issue a moral one]), and provided the means for redeeming obedient mankind from sin and death through the ransom sacrifice of his Son. (Ga 4:4; 1Ti 3:16; Joh 14:30; 16:33; Mt 20:28) Thereby Jehovah God cleared away any uncertainty or ambiguity regarding his purposes in the minds of his servants. For that reason the apostle says that “no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of [Jesus Christ].”—2Co 1:19-22.
The “sacred secret” did not simply involve an identification of God’s Son as such. Rather it involved the role he was assigned in the fr
The “sacred secret” bound up in Christ Jesus has as one of its aspects his heading a new heavenly government; its membership is to be formed of persons (Jews and non-Jews) taken from among earth’s population, and its domain is to embrace both heaven and earth. Thus, in the vision at Daniel 7:13, 14, one “like a son of man” (a title later applied frequently to Christ—Mt 12:40; 24:30; Lu 17:26; compare Re 14:14) appears in Jehovah’s heavenly courts and is given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” The same vision, however, shows that “the holy ones of the Supreme One” are also to share with this “son of man” in his Kingdom, rulership, and grandeur. (Da 7:27) While Jesus was on earth, he selected from among his disciples the first prospective members of his Kingdom government and, after they had ‘stuck with him in his trials,’ covenanted with them for a Kingdom, praying to his Father for their sanctification (or being made “holy ones”) and requesting that “where I am, they also may be with me, in order to behold my glory that you have given me.” (Lu 22:28, 29; Joh 17:5, 17, 24) Because of being thus united with Christ, the Christian congregation also plays a part in the “sacred secret,” as is later expressed by the inspired apostle.—Eph 3:1-11; 5:32; Col 1:26, 27; see SACRED SECRET.
“Chief Agent of life.” As an ex
Hence, as the “chief leader” or “pioneer of Life” (Mo), Jesus Christ introduced a new and essential element for gaining eternal life in the sense of being an intermediary or go-between, but he is such in an administrative sense as well. He is God’s High Priest who can effect full cleansing from sin and liberation from sin’s death-dealing effects (Heb 3:1, 2; 4:14; 7:23-25; 8:1-3); he is the appointed Judge into whose hands all judgment is committed, so that he judiciously administers his ransom benefits to individuals among mankind according to their worthiness to live under his kingship (Joh 5:22-27; Ac 10:42, 43); through him the resurrection of the dead also comes. (Joh 5:28, 29; 6:39, 40) Because Jehovah God so ordained to use his Son, “there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”—Ac 4:12; compare 1Jo 5:11-13.
Since this aspect of Jesus’ authority is also embraced in his “name,” his disciples, as representatives of the Chief Agent of life, by that name could heal persons of their infirmities resulting from inherited sin and they could even raise the dead.—Ac 3:6, 15, 16; 4:7-11; 9:36-41; 20:7-12.
The full significance of his “name.” It can be seen that, while Jesus’ death on a torture stake plays a vital part in human salvation, acceptance of this is by no means all that is involved in ‘putting faith in the name of Jesus.’ (Ac 10:43) Following his resurrection, Jesus informed his disciples, “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth,” thereby showing that he heads a government of universal domain. (Mt 28:18) The apostle Paul made clear that Jesus’ Father has “left nothing that is not subject to him [Jesus],” with the evident exception of “the one who subjected all things to him,” that is, Jehovah, the Sovereign God. (1Co 15:27; Heb 1:1-14; 2:8) Jesus Christ’s “name,” therefore, is more excellent than that of God’s angels, in that his name embraces or stands for the vast executive authority that Jehovah has placed in him. (Heb 1:3, 4) Only those who willingly recognize that “name” and bow to it, subjecting themselves to the authority it represents, will gain life eternal. (Ac 4:12; Eph 1:19-23; Php 2:9-11) They must, sincerely and without hypocrisy, line up with the standards Jesus exemplified and, in faith, obey the commands he gave.—Mt 7:21-23; Ro 1:5; 1Jo 3:23.
What is the “name” of Jesus on account of which Christians are hated by all nations?
Illustrating this other aspect of Jesus’ “name” is his prophetic warning that his followers would be “ob
So, too, it is certain that when demons gave in to Jesus’ command to get out of persons they possessed, they did so, not on the basis of Jesus’ being a sacrificial Lamb of God, but on account of the authority for which his name stood as the anointed representative of the Kingdom, the one with authority to call for, not merely one legion, but a dozen legions of angels, capable of expelling any demons who might stubbornly resist the order to leave. (Mr 5:1-13; 9:25-29; Mt 12:28, 29; 26:53; compare Da 10:5, 6, 12, 13.) Jesus’ faithful apostles were authorized to use his name to expel demons, both before and after his death. (Lu 9:1; 10:17; Ac 16:16-18) But when the sons of Jewish priest Sceva tried to use Jesus’ name in this way, the wicked spirit challenged their right to appeal to the authority the name represented and caused the possessed man to attack and maul them.—Ac 19:13-17.
When Jesus’ followers referred to his “name” they frequently employed the ex
‘Bearing Witness to the Truth.’ To Pilate’s question, “Well, then, are you a king?”, Jesus replied: “You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (Joh 18:37; see LEGAL CASE [Jesus’ Trial].) As the sc
The accomplishment of his ministry in bearing witness to the truth required more of Jesus than merely talking, preaching, and teaching. Besides shedding his heavenly glory to be born as a human, he had to fulfill all the things prophesied about him, including the shadows, or patterns, contained in the Law covenant. (Col 2:16, 17; Heb 10:1) To uphold the truth of his Father’s prophetic word and promises, Jesus had to live in such a way as to make that truth become reality, fulfilling it by what he said and did, how he lived, and how he died. Thus, he had to be the truth, in effect, the embodiment of the truth, as he himself said he was.—Joh 14:6.
For this reason the apostle John could write that Jesus was “full of undeserved kindness and truth” and that, though “the Law was given through Moses, the undeserved kindness and the truth came to be through Jesus Christ.” (Joh 1:14, 17) By means of his human birth, his presenting himself to God by baptism in water, his three and a half years of public service in behalf of God’s Kingdom, his death in faithfulness to God, his resurrection to heaven—by all these historical events—God’s truth arrived, or “came to be,” that is, came to realization. (Compare Joh 1:18; Col 2:17.) The whole career of Jesus Christ was therefore a ‘bearing witness to the truth,’ to the things to which God had sworn. Jesus was thus no shadow Messiah or Christ. He was the real one promised. He was no shadow King-Priest. He was, in substance and fact, the true one that had been prefigured.—Ro 15:8-12; compare Ps 18:49; 117:1; De 32:43; Isa 11:10.
This truth was the truth that would ‘set men free’ if they showed themselves to be “on the side of the truth” by accepting Jesus’ role in God’s purpose. (Joh 8:32-36; 18:37) To ignore God’s purpose concerning his Son, to build hopes on any other foundation, to form conclusions regarding one’s life course on any other basis would be to believe a lie, to be deceived, to follow the leading of the father of lies, God’s Adversary. (Mt 7:24-27; Joh 8:42-47) It would mean ‘to die in one’s sins.’ (Joh 8:23, 24) For this reason Jesus did not hold back from declaring his place in God’s purpose.
True, he instructed his disciples, even with sternness, not to broadcast his Messiahship to the public (Mt 16:20; Mr 8:29, 30) and rarely referred to himself directly as the Christ except when in privacy with them. (Mr 9:33, 38, 41; Lu 9:20, 21; Joh 17:3) But he boldly and regularly drew attention to the evidence in the prophecies and in his works that proved he was the Christ. (Mt 22:41-46; Joh 5:31-39, 45-47; 7:25-31) On the occasion of talking to a Samaritan woman at a well, Jesus, “tired out from the journey,” identified himself to her, perhaps to excite curiosity among the townsfolk and draw them out from the town to him, which was the result. (Joh 4:6, 25-30) The mere claim of Messiahship would mean nothing if not accompanied by the evidence, and in the end, faith was required on the part of those seeing and hearing if they were to accept the conclusion to which that evidence unerringly pointed.—Lu 22:66-71; Joh 4:39-42; 10:24-27; 12:34-36.
Tested and Perfected. Jehovah God demonstrated supreme confidence in his Son in charging him with the mission of going to earth and serving as the promised Messiah. God’s purpose that there be a “seed” (Ge 3:15), the Messiah, who would serve as the sacrificial Lamb of God, was foreknown to Him “before the founding of the world” (1Pe 1:19, 20), an ex
God’s Son willingly accepted the assignment. This is evident from Philippians 2:5-8; he “emptied himself” of his heavenly glory and spirit nature and “took a slave’s form” in submitting to the transferal of his life to the earthly, material, human plane. The assignment before him represented a tremendous responsibility; so very much was involved. By remaining faithful he would prove false Satan’s claim, recorded in the case of Job, that under privation, suffering, and test, God’s servants would deny Him. (Job 1:6-12; 2:2-6) As the firstborn Son, Jesus, of all God’s creatures, could give the most conclusive answer to that charge and the finest evidence in favor of his Father’s side in the larger issue of the rightfulness of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. Thereby he would prove to be “the Amen . . . , the faithful and true witness.” (Re 3:14) If he failed, he would reproach his Father’s name as none other could.
In selecting his only-begotten Son, Jehovah, of course, was not ‘laying his hands hastily upon him,’ with the risk of being ‘a sharer in possible sins,’ for Jesus was no novice likely to get “puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment passed upon the Devil.” (Compare 1Ti 5:22; 3:6.) Jehovah ‘fully knew’ his Son from his intimate association with him during countless ages past (Mt 11:27; compare Ge 22:12; Ne 9:7, 8) and could therefore assign him to fulfill the unerring prophecies of His Word. (Isa 46:10, 11) Thus God was not arbitrarily or automatically guaranteeing “certain success” for his Son simply by placing him in the role of the prophesied Messiah (Isa 55:11), in the manner that the theory of predestinarianism claims.
While the Son had never undergone a test like that now before him, he had demonstrated his faithfulness and devotion in other ways. He had already had great responsibility as God’s Spokesman, the Word. Yet he never misused his position and authority, as did God’s earthly spokesman Moses on one occasion. (Nu 20:9-13; De 32:48-51; Jude 9) Being the One through whom all things were made, the Son was a god, “the only-begotten god” (Joh 1:18), hence held a position of glory and preeminence in relation to all others of God’s spirit sons. Yet he did not become haughty. (Contrast Eze 28:14-17.) So, it could not be said that the Son had not already proved his loyalty, humility, and devotion in many respects.
To illustrate, consider the test placed upon God’s first human son, Adam. That test did not involve enduring persecution or suffering, but only maintaining obedient respect for God’s will in regard to the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Ge 2:16, 17; see TREES.) Satan’s rebellion and temptation were not part of the test as originally given by God but came as an added feature, from a source foreign to God. Nor did the test, when given, call for any human temptation, as resulted to Adam from Eve’s deflection. (Ge 3:6, 12) This being so, Adam’s test could have been effected without any outside temptation or influence toward wrongdoing, the whole matter resting with Adam’s heart—his love for God and his freedom from selfishness. (Pr 4:23) Proving faithful, Adam would have been privileged to take fruit of “the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite” as a tested, approved human son of God (Ge 3:22), all of this without having been subjected to vile influence and temptation, persecution, or suffering.
It may also be noted that the spirit son who became Satan by defecting from God’s service did not do so because anyone had persecuted him or tempted him to do wrong. Certainly not God, for ‘He does not try anyone with evil things.’ Yet that spirit son failed to maintain loyalty, allowed himself to be “drawn out and enticed by his own desire,” and sinned, becoming a rebel. (Jas 1:13-15) He failed the test of love.
The issue raised by God’s Adversary, however, required that the Son, as the promised Messiah and future King of God’s Kingdom, now undergo a test of integrity under new circumstances. This test and the sufferings it entailed were also necessary for his being “made perfect” for his position as God’s High Priest over mankind. (Heb 5:9, 10) To meet the requirements for full installation as the Chief Agent of salvation, God’s Son was “obliged to become like his ‘brothers’ [those who became his anointed followers] in all respects, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” He must endure hardships and sufferings, so that he might be “able to come to the aid of those who are being put to the test,” able to sympathize with their weaknesses as one who had “been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.” Though perfect and sinless, he would still be “able to deal moderately with the ignorant and erring ones.” Only through such a High Priest could imperfect humans “approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, [to] obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”—Heb 2:10-18; 4:15–5:2; compare Lu 9:22.
Still a free moral agent. Jesus himself said that all the prophecies concerning the Messiah were certain of realization, “must be fulfilled.” (Lu 24:44-47; Mt 16:21; compare Mt 5:17.) Yet this certainly did not relieve Go
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