“Anointed” in the Old Testament Might Refer to King or Prophet – But in Jesus They Mean the Same Thing: The Holy Spirit

When ancient Jews read of “the Anointed” in Psalm 2:2 they thought of their king.  This is because “The Anointed” was another name in their vocabulary for their “King” ever since the priest Samuel anointed Saul with oil to show he’d been chosen by God as Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1).  Later, when Saul disobeyed the Lord, David was anointed to be king in his place (1 Samuel 16:13).  From then on, “the anointed” referred to “the king” in Israel.

Yet we also see in the Old Testament a prophetic “anointing” – that is, an anointing not to rule, but to preach.  Thus Isaiah writes:

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;

Jesus read this verse in his hometown synagogue (Luke 4:14-30), claiming that very prophetic anointing as his own.  The hometown crowd rejected this idea (as is usually the case with prophets in their hometowns – a point Jesus memorably made in verse 24).

Peter confirms in Acts 10:38 that the anointing in question was in fact the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did minister under the anointing as a prophet.  He demonstrated that he was the prophet prophesied by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), and he walked in the path of the prophets as indicated in passages Acts 8:26-35 and the one from Luke mentioned above.

Therefore, when we read prophecies of an “anointing” with the Spirit in a prophetic context (e.g. Isaiah 61:1; 42:1; 11:2), and then read prophecies of an “anointed” in a royal context (e.g. Psalm 2:2; 18:50; 45:7) we should recognize that they come together in Jesus Christ and refer to the Holy Spirit’s involvement in his life.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Divergent Old Testament Prophecies Converge in Jesus of Nazareth

John 7:40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.”
John 7:41 Others were saying, “This is the Christ.”…

Some of Jesus’ contemporaries argued about whether he was the great prophet prophesied by Moses or the great king prophesied by David.  In Jesus’ resurrection, however, it became clear that He was fulfilling both lines of prophecy.

Jesus was the great prophet Moses hailed in Deuteronomy 18:15.  Indeed, Jesus was widely recognized as a prophet in Israel even before he was crucified.  And while he was crucified on the claim that he was falsely pretending to be the promised kingly descendant of David, his resurrection from the dead to eternal life made clear that he would rule his kingdom from heaven, not earth.

These two aspects of suffering and glory made it hard for Jews to see in advance just how all the prophecies would come together.  Therefore, they tended to see different figures prophesied – such as you see evidenced in John 7:40-41 where they thought of Jesus as either “the Prophet” or “the Messiah,” and did not immediately see how he might be both.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Equivalent Expressions for “the Law of the Lord”

We know that “the law of the Lord” as originally written (in passages like Psalm 1 and 119, as well as many other places in the Scripture) referred to the Law of Moses.  When Messiah came, however, this law became His law, as interpreted by Him (most notably in the Sermon on the Mount).  Of course, this is just as Moses prophesied it would be in Deuteronomy 18:15.  Thus, the law of the Lord in the kingdom of God is the law of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is that we love (Mark 12:28-34 and elsewhere).  Here then are some various equivalent expressions for this law found in the New Testament, starting with the common biblical expression:

“the law of the Lord”  (Psalm 1 and 20 other places in the NASB.)

“the law of Christ”  (1 Corinthians 9:21 and Galatians 6:2)

“the perfect law”  (James 1:25; note also that Psalm 19:7 says “the law of the Lord is perfect”)

“the law of liberty”  (James 1:25 and 2:12)

“the royal law”  (James 2:8)

“the law of our King”  (James 2:8 alternative from NASB marginal note)

“the Lord’s commandment”  (1 Corinthians 14:37)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

The Law of Liberty

James writes in his letter of “the law of liberty,” mentioning it once in the first chapter, and again in the second:

James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

If you read each of these verses in context, you see that James is referring to the law that was summarized from the Old Testament and given to us by Jesus:  the law of love, you could say.

That it can be characterized as a law of liberty can be perhaps best understood by considering these verses from elsewhere in the New Testament:

Acts 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

Acts 15:10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

(The “yoke” Peter is here referring to is the Law of Moses.)

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

(In verse 29, the capital letters indicate that Jesus is quoting the Old Testament, specifically Jeremiah 6:16.)

Thus the Law of Moses was a “heavy yoke” which became “light” in Jesus Christ – and thus a yoke of liberty.

This, of course, does not mean at all that Christ requires nothing from us.  To say this, as Jude suggests, it to divest grace of its true meaning:

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let us embrace the law of liberty – freely loving, as we have been freely loved.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Psalm 19:7 and the Letter of James

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

It is hard to believe that the apostle James wasn’t thinking about this verse when he wrote his letter.  After all, he writes this in his first chapter:

James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

You see that he references “the perfect law.”  Moreover, this came as a conclusion to his comments on asking the Lord for “wisdom” (verse 5), including the benefits this brings to the “soul” (verse 21).

Looking again at verse 25 it is also hard to imagine that James is not also mindful of Psalm 1 when writing this letter.  Psalm 1, of course, speaks of the righteous man who meditates on “the law of the Lord,” doing so “day and night” and thus not becoming “a forgetful hearer” as James would have it.  As a result, this man is “blessed” in what he “does.”

Of course, James reads these psalms in a different way than did his Israelite ancestors.  He knows that Messiah has come and is now Lord.  Thus Christ is the Lord and the law is His law of love – which James here calls “the law of liberty.”  James returns to this term in 2:25 and, in doing so, demonstrates its aptness for the mercy Jesus preached that we should show one another.  And, as James points out in the verses leading up to 2:12, all the individual commandments can be summed up as “love.”  As Jesus Himself said:

Mark 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
Mark 12:31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

(In the capital letters Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.)

In James 2:8 he calls this law of liberty, “the royal law.”  The marginal note says an alternate translation would be “the law of our King.”  This is “the perfect law” which James says we are to “do.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

The Law of the Lord Versus Lawlessness

If we practice the law of the Lord, we cannot be practicing lawlessness.

The Lord does not abide with us if we practice lawlessness:

Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

(This is a statement of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, and the capital letters are His quotation of Psalm 6:8.)

The apostle John’s words apply as well:

1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

Let us not live without law.  Let us meditate and practice the law of the Lord:

Mark 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
Mark 12:31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

(In these capital letters, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:4,5 and Leviticus 19:18.)

If your days are taken up with thinking about how to practice these words, you are doing well.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Just Because You Enjoy Reading the Bible Doesn’t Mean You Are Doing What It says

Herod “enjoyed listening” to John the Baptist:

Mark 6:20 for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him.

The crowds who shouted “Crucify him!” of Jesus were enjoying listening to Him just a few days before:

Mark 12:37 …And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

Therefore, beware of reading the Bible without acting on what it says.  In this regard, consider also Ezekiel 33:30-33.  Or Luke 6:46-49.

There is a blessing in hearing the word of God, but it becomes a curse if we don’t do the word we’ve heard.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Isaiah 52:7 – Announcing Peace

Isaiah 52:7 How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

What could be a greater announcement of peace in our age than that “Everyone is going to heaven!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God’s Promises Were Renewals and Expansions of His Prior Promises

The New Testament made clear that all the promises of God were directed to Christ.  Thus every promise God made was a renewal of His prior promises and an expansion upon them.

For example, God had promised that Abraham’s seed would be a blessing to all the nations (Genesis 22:18).  When it comes to the time of David, since he is a descendant of Abraham, David is already heir to God’s promises to Abraham.  Then God further promises David that his descendant will have a kingdom that endures forever.  Thus David’s heir would inherit the promises to David on top of the promises he would already have inherited as a descendant of Abraham.

More specifically, the promise to Abraham was that the heir would be a blessing to all the nations.  The promise to David gave more insight as to how that blessing would be bestowed and received:  that is, through kingship.

And we have only considered here a sliver of the promises that we find in the Old Testament.  These promises start with the one to defeat the serpent through “the seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) who, we later learned, would also be the seed of Abraham and of David, and continue through to the promise of a “sun of righteousness” through the prophet Malachi (Malachi 4:2) – with all sorts of different promises through and to different individuals in between.

Thus we should see the promises of God to Christ (that is, the messiah) as an ever-expanding tapestry of promises.  That these varied promises (including aspects of both suffering and glory) came together into an integrated mosaic of one great figure was a mystery until New Testament times and the advent of Jesus of Nazareth with his crucifixion and resurrection.  That’s the first time it was revealed how all the various promises fit together to describe one glorious individual (Romans 16:25-27).

Therefore, we should not consider any promise of God in isolation.  They are interrelated…and they all have to do with Christ our Lord.  Through Him, these promises come to us.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

The Holy Oil

God’s promise to David for a glorious descendant (that we call the Messiah) was retold in Psalm 89.  In verse 20, God says:

Psalm 89:20 …with My holy oil I have anointed him.

The word “messiah” means, of course, “anointed.”  And “oil” was the agent of anointing in ancient Israel.  Living on this side of the New Testament, we know that Jesus was not anointed on the head with symbolic oil to be king over all but with the actual Holy Spirit whom the oil had been symbolizing.  Therefore, the Spirit of God is the “true oil.”  Thus God was promising in this verse to anoint Jesus with the Holy Spirit.  And Jesus anoints us with that same Holy Spirit.

Consider now Psalm 45 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:9) in this light:

Psalm 45:7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.

What else can this “oil of joy” be but “the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

Let us therefore seek “the holy oil” that only Christ can give.  That is, only the Anointed can give us “the anointing” (1 John 2:20, 27).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Anointed with Understanding

We know that Jesus was anointed with power through the Holy Spirit who was present in Him and through Him (Acts 10;38).  But the Holy Spirit brought much more than just power.  As the prophet Isaiah said:

Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

In this prophecy of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Messiah, we see a number of blessings brought by the Spirit.  Let us focus on just one of them: understanding.

Jesus had understanding of God’s ways, God’s will, God’s purpose.  Thus the power of the Holy Spirit was channeled through Him properly.  Without godly understanding, the power of God would not have been properly directed.

Give thought now to something that the apostle Paul said to his co-worker Timothy:

2 Timothy 2:7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Paul is saying that the way to get understanding is to consider his words.  Of course, he didn’t mean there was power in his own words.  Rather, he was talking about the word of the Lord through him.  As he says in another of his letters:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

So, what does this have to do with the Spirit of God?

Proverbs 1:23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

The Spirit of God is poured out on us and we receive knowledge and understanding (note that knowledge was listed along with wisdom in Isaiah 11:2 above) of what God has said when we turn to God’s reproof.

Note also that:

Psalm 111:10 …A good understanding have all those who do His commandments… [emphasis added]

He who would receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit though Jesus – that is, he who would be anointed with understanding as Jesus was – must be about doing these things.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Promises of God Are All in the Old Testament; Only the Promises of Christ Are in the New Testament

About all that God says in the New Testament is that people should listen to the Son.  Thus the letter to the Hebrews begins:

Hebrews 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
Hebrews 1:2 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.

Thus, we should do as the book of Hebrews later says:

Hebrews 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking…

The Old Testament is about God making promises.  The New Testament is about God keeping them.

The prophets wrote what God promised.  The apostles wrote how God fulfilled what He promised.

Thus all the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ that, going forward from Christ, we might listen only to Christ.  He is indeed, as it says above in Hebrews 1:2, “the heir of all things.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Recognizing the Promises of God

Most often, a promise of God is recognized when a sentence attributed to Him begins with “I will…”  For example, in making the promise to David about a glorious future descendant (the Messiah), God says to David through Nathan:

2 Samuel 7:14 “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me…

God’s promises, however, take other forms, too.  For example:

Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
Psalm 118:23 This is the LORD’S doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.

Verse 22 promises the resurrection of Christ once the “builders” have “rejected” Him (an allusion to the crucifixion).  Verse 23 makes clear that the resurrection would be “the Lord’s doing.”  Thus the resurrection was a promise that only God could fulfill, and therefore only God could legitimately make.

Yet another form of promise refers to the same messianic resurrection promise:

Acts 13:41 ‘BEHOLD, YOU SCOFFERS, AND MARVEL, AND PERISH;
FOR I AM ACCOMPLISHING A WORK IN YOUR DAYS,
A WORK WHICH YOU WILL NEVER BELIEVE, THOUGH SOMEONE SHOULD DESCRIBE IT TO YOU.'”

This is a quotation of Habakkuk 1:5.  Note carefully the word of God coming through the prophet.  The words are:  “I am accomplishing a work…”  Again, only God could accomplishing the resurrection of Messiah.

Thus the promises of God take many forms (most often, “I will”), but they all find their ultimate meaning in Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Psalm 1 – The Law of the Lord

Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Psalm 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
Psalm 1:6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

The meaning of this psalm pivots on “the law of the Lord” and what a man does with it.  Thus we need to be clear about the meaning of that phrase.

Who is the Lord to us but Jesus?  And what is His law but to love?

Those who meditate to do it prosper as Jesus did.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Romans 2:28-29 – Being a True Jew

Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

A true Jew does not receive praise from men.  The truest Jew of all – Jesus of Nazareth – did not.  Instead, He sought the glory that comes from God.  We should do likewise.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Receiving Glory from Humans Impedes Faith in God

Jesus knew He was to receive glory.  See Luke 24:25-27.  That is, He knew that after the suffering of His rejection and crucifixion would come the glory given by God – beginning with His resurrection from the dead and His seating at the right hand of God, which were both works of God and not man.  All His glory therefore would be coming from God.  Thus Jesus was not willing to receive glory from men.  He says:

John 5:41 “I do not receive glory from men;

He went on to say explain why seeking glory from men instead of from God was so undesirable:

John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

Receiving glory from men instead of God produces an impediment to our faith.  Faith is cultivated not with men, but with God:

Romans 14:22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God…

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 John 3:23 – The Bible Summarized in One Sentence

Can the Bible be summarized in one sentence?  Yes.

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

Here’s how to gradually accumulate context for this profound sentence.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Psalm 89:20 – The Holy Oil

Psalm 89:20 “I have found David My servant;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,

This verse foreshadows Jesus, who received “the holy oil” which is “the Holy Spirit” Himself.

If you want the Holy Spirit, ask Jesus (Luke 11:13).  However, be sure that you love righteousness and hate wickedness.  Compare Acts 8:18-23 with Hebrews 1:9.  Loving righteousness and hating lawlessness is the behavioral way to say that you want more of God’s Spirit in your life.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Anointing of Jesus Was Unlike the Anointing of His Father David

The anointing of David was of oil by the hand of a priest.  The anointing of his descendant Jesus was of the Holy Spirit by the hand of God.

With Saul and David, the oil symbolized the Spirit of God.  With Jesus, however, the oil was the Spirit of God Himself.

Saul and David received a foreshadowing (through the oil) and a foretaste (through the Spirit) of that which Jesus received in full reality and for all eternity.

When that which is symbolized appears, forsake the symbol and pursue the reality.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Acts 5:40-42

What a remarkable change had come over Peter.  Not too many weeks before this, he had been afraid to admit that he was an associate of Jesus (Mark 14:28-31; 66-72).  Now he and the other apostles are considering it an honor that they have been flogged and humiliated and thus considered “worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Can anything other than the actual resurrection of Christ account for such a dramatic change?

For the importance of the resurrection of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Securing a More Accurate Understanding of Scripture

In the opening verses of the gospel of Luke, he acknowledged that others had written gospels of Jesus before him but that his goal was to help his readers “know the exact truth about the things” they had been taught [emphasis added throughout].

In Acts 18:25 Luke says that Apollos was  “teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus.”  In the next verse, however, Luke says that Priscilla and Aquila took Apollos aside to “explain to him the way of God more accurately.”

In 2 Timothy 2:15 the apostle with whom Luke was associated, Paul, wrote to another co-worker, Timothy and exhorted, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Thus, in the mind of God, there is a premium on improving the accuracy of our understanding of the things of God.  We need to keep growing in our understanding of Jesus the Scripture – and, through that, of Jesus and His Kingdom.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Language of Scripture

Scripture has a language all its own.  I’m not talking about Greek and Hebrew.  I’m talking about the words, concepts, and images that it employs.

Consider as a notable example the book of Revelation.  There’s hardly a word or phrase in it that can’t be found somewhere else in the Bible.  In dramatic fashion, the prophets are always borrowing and building on one another’s concepts.  A literal English Bible which highlights Old Testament quotations and has a good cross reference system in the margins (like the New American Standard Bible) will help you identify prior occurrences of words, concepts, and images you are reading.

When you meditate on Scripture, you become steeped in its language.  The Jewish prophets and apostles who wrote the documents we call the Bible meditated extensively on what was written before them.  As a result, important ideas continue to be reinforced throughout the Scriptures.

If you want to understand the Bible, learn its language.

See also:

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

 

Everyone Who Names the Name of the Lord Is to Attend Church?

Paul wrote:

2 Timothy 2:19 …”Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

From Paul’s perspective, the idea is that we who claim to follow Christ should abstain from wickedness.  Why then do church leaders today say, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to attend church?”

How is this not adding to the word of God – and thus exalting the traditions of men over the word of God?  (Mark 7:9)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

John Wrote a Gospel that Strengthened Peter’s Confession

Recall Peter’s confession of Jesus:

Matthew 16:15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Then consider the rationale John gives for his gospel:

John 20:30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

You could almost say that John wrote his gospel to deepen understanding and strengthen conviction of Peter’s confession, which, by this time, many people had adopted.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

“For Thine Is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever, Amen”

Although the ending clause of the Lord’s Prayer – “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen” – is not found in all early manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew, there is an Old Testament verse which bears a resemblance to it:

Psalm 145:11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;

Indeed, the Lord Jesus has a kingdom, it is glorious, and it lives in power.  It is to this kingdom we must be dedicated if we would be dedicated to Jesus.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

“Christ” Was a Jewish Term; “King” Is a Term Gentiles Would Understand

The coming of Israel’s Messiah had an utterly polarizing effect on the Jewish nation and all its Diaspora (as prophesied by Simeon in Luke 2:34-35).  The Jews who believed Him accepted Him as the Christ even though they had not expected Him to be crucified.  The Jews who rejected Him often sought help from secular authorities to thwart Him and His movement.

While Jews knew that “the Christ” meant “Israel’s King,” Roman and other civil and military authorities were not familiar with such Jewish vocabulary.  Moreover, they were reluctant to get involved in the internecine battles of the Jews.  Thus, the Jews against Christ would make sure the civil authorities knew that Christ meant king, as in this episode that took place in Thessalonica:

Acts 17:6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also;
Acts 17:7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

There was no point mentioning “Christ” even though the preceding verses (17:2-3) indicated that who was “the Christ” was very much the bone of contention between the Jews.  Instead, the emphasis was on “another king.”

This is just how the Sanhedrin had prevailed upon Roman governor Pontius Pilate to order the crucifixion of Christ – by portraying Him as a political threat to the existing secular authorities.  Thus the sign above Jesus’ head on the cross did not say “The Christ of the Jews,” but rather “The King of the Jews.”

Your reading of the New Testament should be enriched with an appreciation of nuances such as these.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who  read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Genesis Contains Seeds that Grew into the Law of Moses

So much that we read in the Law of Moses (articulated in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) can be found in seed-form in Genesis.  For example:

Clean and unclean animals in Genesis 7:2

Circumcision in Genesis 17:10

Covenant in Genesis 6:18

Exodus in Genesis 12:1-3

Feast of Booths in Genesis 33:17

Feast of Unleavened Bread in Genesis 19:3

Offerings to the Lord in Genesis 4:3-4

Plagues on Pharaoh and his house in Genesis 12:17

Priests in Genesis 14:18

Sabbath in Genesis 2:2

Sacrificial lamb in Genesis 22:8

Tithing in Genesis 14:20

There are more.  How many can you find?

The Bible develops themes over time.  Important ideas are repeated and expanded upon.  Let us be open to finding them.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Allusion to Psalm 2 in Matthew 27:40-44

As Jesus is hanging on the cross, He is surrounded by critics who are taunting Him for claiming to be the Messiah.  Their point was that if He was indeed “the Son of God,” “the King of Israel,” He should have enough power to deliver Himself.  Little did they know.

Here they were, fulfilling the opening verses of Psalm 2, and yet not even recognizing that they were doing so.  Thus Paul could say:

Acts 13:27 “For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Allusion to Psalm 2 in Luke 23:2

Luke 23:2 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.”

Even if there were no Psalm 2, this statement could still be understood, since “Christ” (meaning Anointed) had been a synonym for Israel’s king since the days of its first king Saul.  In 1 Samuel 10:1 the priest Samuel anoints Saul with oil to indicate God’s choice of him as king for God’s people.

Even so, we may think of this statement as an allusion to Psalm 2 since it stands at the beginning of the Psalter and so emphatically describes Israel’s great king as “Christ” (“Anointed”), “King,” and “Son of God.”  Anyone laying claim to the title of Messiah would have to make a case for being worthy of this rhetoric.

Of course, Jesus of Nazareth, by His crucifixion and resurrection, stripped all prior understanding of this psalm and fulfilled it an eternally dramatic fashion.  How ironic that His accusers in this passage did not realize how well they were fulfilling the second verse of this psalm (as confirmed by the apostles in Acts 4:25-28).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)

Allusion to Psalm 2 in Mark 15:32

Mark 15:32 “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

The “Christ” is mentioned in Psalm 2:2 (though your Bible may say “Anointed” in its place),  and “king” is mentioned in verse 6.  You could say, technically speaking, that this expression “Christ, the King of Israel” is redundant, since “the Christ” was a term referring to “the King of Israel”  However, the expected figure was often described with such a “double” title, whether it be “Christ and King” (as in this verse), or “King and Son of God” (in John 1:49 – “son of God showing up in verse 7 of Psalm 2), or “Christ and Son of God” (as in Matthew 16:16).

Note also that these references to Jesus as the Messiah could be spoken in hope (as Nathanael did in John 1:49), faith (as Peter did in Matthew 16:16), or even mockery (as the chief priests and scribes did in Mark 15:32 when they were observing Jesus being crucified).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Allusion to Psalm 2 in John 1:49

Early in Jesus’ ministry (John 1:49), Nathanael (who was later to become one of the twelve apostles) is introduced to Jesus in a remarkable way and consequently says to Him, “You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.”  Such a statement would be recognized in that time and place as an allusion to Psalm 2, which was what Bible scholars call a “royal psalm.”  Specifically, its recitation evoked memories of David and of God’s promises to David for a great successor who would rule over an ascendant and triumphant Israel.

I mention this because some people reading the gospel of John might think that Nathanael was calling Jesus divine.  Jesus is divine, but it is not likely that Nathanael had recognized it at this time.  Nathanael was simply using the biblical phraseology that would mean Jesus was the promised king.  Nathanael was saying, “You deserve to be in charge of this place!”

This sort of thing happens throughout the Bible.  That is, people see Jesus, saying something true about Him, but only later realize in a deeper and more profound way just how right they were.

This is another reason why it’s so important in studying for Jesus in the Bible to study both testaments.  People who read only the New Testament fail to appreciate just how much of its language is borrowed from the prophets who wrote the Old Testament.  They see the expression “son of God” and think of it in terms of something they heard in catechism class or read in a theology book, and this causes them to misinterpret what they’re reading in the text.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Who Is the Father of the Righteous?

Matthew 13:43 “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father…

Who has fathered the righteous?  Is it not Jesus Christ?

Has He not authored our faith (Hebrews 12:2)?  Has He not authored our salvation (Hebrews 2:10)?  Has He not authored our life (Acts 3:15 – the underlying Greek word for “prince” in this verse is the same as that translated as “author” in the other two verses).

Do not the righteous live by faith?  And who was the seminal “righteous one” – prophesied to live by faith as an example for us all?  Isaiah 53:11 and Habakkuk 2:4 point to Jesus of Nazareth.  He indeed is the progenitor, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), the father of a resurrected human race.

Indeed, didn’t God promise through Isaiah that Jesus would be a father?  (See Isaiah 9:6.)

Who do the righteous resemble if not Jesus?  Can He deny paternity when the resemblance is so strong?  I am not talking about those who merely profess righteousness, but rather those who demonstrate it.

The kingdom of God was present in Jesus (Luke 17:20-21), and through His resurrection from the dead He has made the kingdom present in us who believe.  Our Father is in heaven.  That is, through His resurrection and coming Jesus became our heavenly Father.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB, New Testament quotations of Old Testament verses are rendered in all capital letters.)