Monthly Archives: February 2021

How could Jesus eat the Passover meal if He were already dead?

HOW COULD JESUS EAT THE PASSOVER MEAL IF HE WERE ALREADY DEAD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

According to Scripture, Christ Jesus ate a Passover meal with His Little Flock in Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-38, and John 13:1-30. Yet, some verses indicate Passover was not actually observed until a day later, when Jesus was already dead. How could this be? Is there any way to reconcile these seemingly incongruous timelines?

Here is what the Bible says about Jesus’ trial in John 18:28: “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.” According to this verse, Israel’s religious leaders have not eaten the Passover meal yet. Verse 39 quotes Pontius Pilate’s words during Jesus’ trial: “But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” Again, it seems Passover is future. Finally, verse 14 of John chapter 19: “And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” No doubt they are preparing for the Passover. It is approaching.

Let us establish a few time markers. Christ was crucified at “the third hour,” three hours after 6 a.m., or 9 a.m. (Mark 15:25). He died near “the ninth hour,” or 3 p.m. (Mark 15:33-34,37). At this time, the priests were slaughtering the Passover lambs for the nation Israel to eat at roughly 6 p.m. (Abib 14th at even or sunset; Exodus 12:6). In order to fulfill the type, Christ had to expire exactly when the lambs did: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Since Jesus is the true Passover lamb, He had to die on Passover, thus necessitating He hold an early Passover with His saints. This is precisely what He did!

Recall Leviticus 23:5: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.” Although Passover was the most important religious celebration in Judaism, and was usually observed on the 14th of the first month (Abib, roughly April) at even, the date of the feast could be moved if for a valid reason. Jesus moved Passover for His disciples in a similar manner. He was God, so He had the authority to move it. Also, there was an Old Testament precedent that we need not forget.

Seven hundred years prior to Christ, King Hezekiah and Judah observed Passover on the 14th of the second month, since they were not ready for the first month. “For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the passover in the second month” (2 Chronicles 30:2). Verse 15: “Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the LORD.” As Hezekiah and Judah held a late Passover, so Jesus and His disciples held an early one.

Passover was actually the evening immediately following Christ’s afternoon death, meaning He died at the very time the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. Therefore, in order for Him to eat the Passover with His disciples, He had to hold an early Passover just hours before His trial and crucifixion. The rest of Israel would not eat Passover until the following evening, which, by that time, He was already dead and buried.

Also see:
» Was Jesus crucified on Friday?
» Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?
» What is a “propitiation?”
» Should we observe the Lord’s Supper?
» Are Christians obligated to observe the Passover?

Why was the Lord crucified between two thieves?

WHY WAS THE LORD CRUCIFIED BETWEEN TWO THIEVES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

All Four Gospel Records are clear the Lord Jesus was crucified between two men:

  • Matthew 27:38: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.”
  • Mark 15:27: “And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.”
  • Luke 23:33: “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.”
  • John 19:18: “Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”

What is the importance of Him placed amidst two individuals, one on His right side and the other on His left? Roman officials likely did this so as to heap additional scorn upon Him. After all, in the Middle East, the left- and right-hand sides of the king’s throne were the most powerful positions under him. Thus, they were intensely coveted in any and every kingdom. As an illustration, remember Apostles James and John—with their mother’s insistence—begged to sit on Jesus’ left and right hands in His kingdom.

Matthew chapter 20: “[20] Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. [21] And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom…. [23] And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”


Mark chapter 10: “[35] And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. [36] And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? [37] They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory…. [40] But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”

A criminal on each of the two sides of Christ’s cross was probably just another act of ridicule. “You are a ‘king,’ huh? We will place someone on your right hand and someone on your left, and they can ‘reign’ with you!” This is not at all far-fetched, since the Romans had mocked Him during His trial hours prior.

“And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:28-31).

“And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him” (Mark 15:16-20).

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands” (John 19:1-3).

They found an old tattered and faded Roman soldier’s outer cloak—a scarlet garment now resembling purple—and had Christ wear it! They gave Him a “scepter” to hold—a flimsy reed to represent His “power!” They made Him a “crown” of thorns and forced it onto His head! So as to make fun of “King” Jesus, they even knelt and saluted Him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (The Roman Emperor was greeted with, “Hail, Caesar!”) Considering these demented minds at work here, it is not inconceivable they took full advantage of His crucifixion to dishonor Him. Remember, a sign was placed above His head: “THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:19). Placing men to the left-hand and right-hand sides of His cross—with Him in the middle—provided a crude resemblance of a king reigning with his two highest-ranking officials. These “officials,” of course, were criminals… a final insult to Him since He too was considered an evildoer.

By the way, it is most significant that prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Although lacking or bracketed off in modern English versions as doubtful, Mark 15:28 is in our King James Bible: “And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.” The Romans did not know it, but their crucifying Him between two criminals was actually a fulfillment of prophecy, Isaiah 53:12: “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Being “made sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), suffering the punishment of sinners when He Himself was sinless, Christ died among sinners. The Holy Spirit made it a point to note it in His Book forever.

Also see:
» Were there five crosses on Calvary’s hill?
» Who, crucified on Calvary, mocked Jesus?
» What made the crucified thief repent?

Why does Matthew 24:26 highlight the “desert” and the “secret chambers?”

WHY DOES MATTHEW 24:26 HIGHLIGHT THE “DESERT” AND THE “SECRET CHAMBERS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

As part of the Olivet Discourse, His famous end-times sermon, the Lord Jesus warned in Matthew 24:26: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” What is the significance of the “desert?” Exactly what are these “secret chambers?”

So as to shed light on the subject, we appeal to prior verses: “[4] And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. [5] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…. [23] Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. [24] For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [25] Behold, I have told you before.”

The context, then, is false Messiahs, false Christs, false prophets—counterfeit preachers, fake “representatives of God.” Jesus warns His audience not to let these liars trick them. Verse 26 again: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” If someone tells them to go and see “Messiah” in the desert, they are to refuse. Also, they should not believe anyone who says “Messiah” is in the secret chambers. Both are counterfeit Messiahs, false Christs (verse 24). When Israel’s Messiah does arrive, it will be Jesus at His Second Coming. The Lord Jesus will not arise in some private or secluded way. Rather, He will be seen entering Jerusalem from the east. See Ezekiel 43:1-5. Signs in the heavens will precede that Second Coming (Matthew 24:27,29-30). It will be a public, noticeable, stunning return in power and great glory!

“Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth….” What is so special about “the desert” and Messiah? Isaiah 40:1-3 said this 700 years before Christ: “[1] Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. [2] Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins. [3] The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Matthew 3:1-4, Mark 1:1-4, Luke 3:1-6, and John 1:23 apply this to John the Baptist conducting his ministry in the wilderness of Judaea in order to introduce Messiah Jesus to Israel. “And the child [John the Baptist] grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel” (Luke 1:80). As Jesus went out to John in the desert, so false Messiahs and false prophets will, evidently, abide in the desert to appear to be fulfilling Bible prophecy. It is deception!

“Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Exactly what are these “secret chambers?” When Herod’s Temple was operating in Jerusalem 20 centuries ago, it had special rooms (lodgings) where traveling prophets could spend the night. According to the Lord Jesus, during the end times, false Messiahs would be introduced after first entering one of these rooms. While Herod’s Temple is no longer present, we can think of the future as involving false Messiahs claiming the rights and privileges of a prophet. Again, it is deception!

Moses, speaking in Deuteronomy chapter 18, says of Messiah: “[15] The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;… [18] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. [19] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” According to Acts 3:22-23, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy (cf. John the Baptist’s refusal to be called “that prophet” in John 1:21,25). Beyond our day, false Messiahs—especially the Antichrist—will surely attempt to apply this passage to themselves. They will claim to be genuine prophets. As with those in the desert (see earlier comments), those in the secret chambers will appear legitimate. Jesus told His audience not to believe either individual because they are all part of that massive deception surrounding the Antichrist’s ascension to power (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

We can move on to Matthew 24:27 for further light: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The coming of the Son of Man—His Second Coming—will not occur in the desert or secret chambers (verse 26). No, the Lord Jesus will return as lightning comes out of the east, and shines to the west. There will be spectacular astronomical phenomena at the Second Coming of Christ (see Matthew 24:29-30)—lights and sounds (thunder). His return will be unmistakable. They will know it when Jesus comes! “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus is the true Messiah, and the unique nature of His coming will prove Him to be quite different from the false Christs and false prophets of verses 5, 23, 24, and 26.

Also see:
» Is the Antichrist alive right now?
» Will the Antichrist be a Jew or a Gentile?
» Who or what are the 10 “toes” or “horns” or “crowns” associated with the Antichrist?

Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?

IS THERE AN HISTORICAL MISTAKE IN LUKE 2:1-2?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Bible critics grumble that Luke 2:1-2 allegedly contains an historical mistake: “[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. [2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” Is there an error here?

Mary the virgin gives birth to the Lord Jesus in verse 7. Herod the Great, king of Judaea, died when Jesus was just a few years old (cf. Matthew chapter 2). If Herod died no sooner than 1 B.C., we deduce Luke 2:1-2 (and Jesus’ birth) occurred circa 4 B.C. Difficulty, however, arises when historians claim Cyrenius* did not become governor of Syria until A.D. 6. If they are correct, Luke is mistaken because he has Cyrenius reigning several years earlier. (*The King James Bible calls him “Cyrenius.” Modern English versions name him “Quirinius,” his full title being “Publius Sulpicius Quirinius”).

According to Jewish historian Josephus, a prominent census (“taxing”) was conducted in Palestine in A.D. 6. Acts 5:37 makes reference to that event in which the Jews fiercely rebelled. Cyrenius was in charge of that taxing, as well as punishing the insurgents. Could this have been the census of Luke 2:1-2? No. The A.D. 6 census was roughly a decade after the census coinciding with Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:7. Luke must have another census in mind when opening chapter 2.

One Bible commentator sheds light on the subject from an archaeological standpoint: “A fragment of stone discovered at Tivoli (near Rome) in A.D. 1764 contains an inscription in honor of a Roman official who, it states, was twice governor of Syria and Phoenicia during the reign of Augustus. The name of the official is not on the fragment, but among his accomplishments are listed details that, as far as is known, can fit no one other than Quirinius. Thus, he must have served as governor in Syria twice. He was probably military governor at the same time that history records Varus was civil governor there.”

Apparently, in 8 B.C., Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus sent out the decree for the census to be undertaken, but delays prevented it from being administered until three or four years later. Remember, aged Herod the Great was in his final years, and political disagreement between him and Rome likely complicated the process. This was the census of Luke 2:1-2, when Cyrenius (Quirinius) had been military governor of Syria, and Quinctilius Varus the civil governor. Many years later, Cyrenius became civil governor of Syria, and there was a second census (the one of A.D. 6, alluded to in Acts 5:37 in hindsight).

There is no historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2. Cyrenius (Quirinius) reigned as governor of Syria twice. Luke 2:1-2 refers to a census during his first term (circa 6–4 B.C.). Cyrenius served another term approximately A.D. 6–9, with a second census taken here (mentioned in Acts 5:37). Remember, if the Holy Spirit did not guide Luke to perfectly record the historical facts, then we could not trust the Bible as touching (the more important) spiritual facts! Think about it!

Also see:
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who was “Caesar?”
» Who was High Priest—Annas or Caiaphas?

What is Paul’s “lie” in Romans 3:7?

WHAT IS PAUL’S “LIE” IN ROMANS 3:7?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How are we to understand Romans 3:7? “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” Just what is this “lie?” Did Paul tell a falsehood here?

For the context, start at verse 1 and continue through verse 7: “[1] What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? [2] Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. [3] For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? [4] God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. [5] But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) [6] God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? [7] For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? [8] And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.”

Romans chapters 1–3 is the Holy Spirit skillfully outlining his legal case for the prosecution of sinful mankind. Whether Gentile/heathen (1:18-32) or Jew/religious (2:1-29), Romans 3:9 concludes, “…all [are] under sin.” Beginning at verse 21, the Holy Spirit reveals His solution to man’s sin problem: “[21] But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; [22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Getting back to the opening of chapter 3, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” The Jews of the Old Testament economy (specifically, prior to Paul’s apostleship) understood their sin problem. They had the Hebrew Bible—our “Old Testament Scriptures”—whereas the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1-2, cf. Romans 2:17-24; Romans 9:3-5). In this respect, Israel was aware of the words and will of the one true God. Contrariwise, the non-Jews (Gentiles) had been given over to the pagan idols and spiritual darkness they preferred (Acts 14:15-17; Acts 17:22-31; Ephesians 2:11-12).

“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Even though individual Jews did not believe that aforementioned Divine revelation given to the nation Israel—culminating in the Jews’ crucifixion of Christ—that did not nullify or cancel the covenants JEHOVAH God made with the nation’s patriarchs centuries earlier (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, et cetera). Although man lies, God does not: He always keeps His promises, and man will never be able to justly accuse Him of being untrustworthy. The Lord would be (will) still be faithful in taking care of Israel’s sin problem and making them His earthly people via the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; cf. Hebrews chapters 8 and 10).

“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)” The Holy Spirit anticipates man’s objection, so He leads Paul to summarize that sinner’s “defense.” After unsuccessfully attacking God for allegedly being dishonest or unfaithful (Romans 3:4)—thereby failing to discredit God’s accusations against him—the sinner proceeds to want God to be lenient toward him. Unwilling to accept the penalty for his sin problem, he resorts to more excuses: “My unrighteousness, my sinful lifestyle, makes God’s righteousness look all the better. How can God condemn me so harshly if He is more glorious when compared to my sinful activities? Would He not be evil in punishing someone who makes Him look so good?” Paul promptly answered, “God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?” God is not unrighteous or wicked, otherwise He would be in no position to judge sinners. Indeed, the Judge of all the Earth shall do right (Genesis 18:25) at the Great White Throne Judgment when He deals with unsaved sinners bound for the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15)!

“For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?” This amplifies the previous statements (Romans 3:5-6). Sinful man offers another lame justification for how he is not as bad as God’s testimony against him indicates. “When I tell a lie, I make God’s truth look even better. There is nothing like a good contrast to God so as to bring out His very best! How can God then find fault with me?! Without me, He would look worse off!” Paul is being philosophical here. He is not actually telling a lie but rather highlighting a difference that sinful man mentions so as to clear his name and/or make himself look less guilty.

“And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” Paul’s critics had misconstrued his message of “salvation by grace through faith in Christ without our works” as meaning nothing more than “grace is a license to sin.” “Live however you want, for in doing so you emphasize God’s grace!” As the excuse “My lie makes God’s truth look better,” this too was wrong. Whether sinners trying to ease their conscience and save themselves from being labeled a “sinner,” or sinners who believe their evil deeds are their opportunity to display God’s grace, neither will be excused at the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. No matter how “clever” sinful man will be in the Day of Judgment, God is fully prepared to outsmart and answer him! (He already has in Romans!!)

Also see:
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» Is grace “a license to sin?”
» What is Romans 2:24 talking about?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Is “God forbid” a “poor translation?”
» How were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?
» Why are lost people not judged for their works immediately after physical death?

How can the Bible call Herod Antipas a “king?”

HOW CAN THE BIBLE CALL HEROD ANTIPAS A “KING?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible calls Herod Antipas a “tetrarch” on five occasions:

  • Matthew 14:1: “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,….”
  • Luke 3:1: “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,….”
  • Luke 3:19: “But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,….”
  • Luke 9:7: “Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;….”
  • Acts 13:1: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

“Tetrarch” is the transliteration of the Greek word that literally means “ruler of the fourth part [of a kingdom].” Someone may then use this to complain about Bible verses that refer to Herod Antipas as a “king.” Read these passages:

  • Matthew 14:9: “And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.”
  • Mark chapter 6: “[14] And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad: ) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him….. [22] And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. [23] And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom…. [25] And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. [26] And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. [27] And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,….”

Strictly speaking, a king is more powerful than a tetrarch: the tetrarch reigns over a quarter of a kingdom, whereas a king’s territory is more extensive. How could Matthew and Mark then title Herod Antipas a “king?” We do not have to be technical here. “King” can be used in the general sense of anyone ruling over or being superior to another, so Matthew and Mark are certainly not in error in applying it to Herod Antipas. Antipas was a ruler, and in that broad sense he was king. Matthew was aware he was a “tetrarch,” and gave him that specific title (14:10). Yet, there is something important being signaled here, and we need to be receptive to the Bible instead of being critical of it.

When the Holy Spirit sometimes calls Antipas a “king,” He is looking beyond Antipas’ role as a “tetrarch.” He is alerting us to the fact Israel prefers this king as opposed to her true King. Antipas is accepted as king, but Jesus Christ is rejected as King. Remember, the Herodians were a sect of Jews partial to the Herodian dynasty. (There were various “Herods” in Scripture. See our study linked at the end of this article.) Herodians wanted a Herod to reign over them directly, as opposed to Rome appointing and ruling them through a Herod. Their position exemplifies Israel’s national situation: Israel declines to have a son of David (namely, Jesus) rule over them and fulfill the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-17; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).

Recall these verses about the Lord Jesus Christ being heir to the throne of King David:

  • Matthew 2:2: “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”
  • Matthew 21:5: “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”
  • Mark 11:10: “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”
  • Luke 1:31-33: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
  • Luke 19:38: “Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”
  • John 12:13,15: “[13] Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord…. [15] Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.”

In Matthew through John, Israel refuses to have Christ as their King. For Scripture to always call Herod Antipas a “tetrarch”—and never “king”—would cause us to lose the connection. King Herod is reigning, not King Jesus Christ, and that is the way Israel wants it! So as to underscore that fact, Herod Antipas is sometimes referred to as “king.” By the way, if you study those special verses (Matthew chapter 14 and Mark chapter 6, John the Baptist’s imprisonment and ultimate beheading), you can see Christ’s rejection as King. John was Christ’s forerunner. Therefore, John’s rejection is yet another indication of (1) Israel’s unbelief and refusal of King Christ, and (2) her willingness to let an evil king (Herod Antipas) slaughter God’s prophets in her midst.

Also see:
» Who were the “Herodians?”
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who was “Caesar?”

How could there be two “evenings” in Matthew 14:15-23?

HOW COULD THERE BE TWO “EVENINGS” IN MATTHEW 14:15-23?

by Shawn Brasseaux

As touching Christ’s miraculous feeding of the 5,000, we encounter two seemingly disparate verses in Matthew.

  • Matthew 14:15: “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.”
  • Matthew 14:22-23: “[22] And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. [23] And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”

We have an “evening” in verse 15 and an “evening” in verse 23. How could that be? Was it not already stated that it was evening? Or, did 24 hours actually elapse between these two verses? No, that does not seem to be the case. The Jews reckoned two “evenings” in a day—one began at 3 p.m. and the other started at 6 p.m. Verse 15 is the first evening; verse 23 is the second. They occurred on the same day, the first opening in mid-afternoon and the second commencing near dusk.

Also see:
» Do Mark 15:25 and John 19:14 contradict?
» Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?
» Do Matthew 17:1, Mark 9:2, and Luke 9:28 contradict?

Can you explain, “We are in the world but not of the world?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN, “WE ARE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

While often quoted in Christian circles as though it were a Bible verse quoted verbatim, “We are in the world but not of the world” is actually an amalgamation of several passages of Scripture. In this study, we will carefully consider that exhortation, tracking down its pertinent verses and summarizing them for application to life.

“WE ARE IN THE WORLD…”

We are “in the world.” The preposition “in” here signifies physical location, position, or status. Not yet in Heaven, we members of the Body of Christ are confined to this material and earthly existence. We must encounter lost (non-Christian) people on a daily basis. Until we enter the heavenly places, we will always be surrounded by people who do not believe or follow the Bible. They are not our enemies, though; as they are, so were we. Hence, we should attempt to reach them with the Gospel of the Grace of God. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The Lord Jesus Christ had a special reason for not taking us to Heaven the moment we trusted Him as our personal Saviour. He has entrusted us—not angels!—with the ministry of reconciliation and the word of reconciliation. We have been left here (temporarily) to share His words with others, that they may join us when we join Him in Heaven in the ages to come.

Second Corinthians chapter 5, verses 14-21, is our “Great Commission” in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God: “[14] For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: [15] And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. [16] Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [18] And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

According to this passage, we are to tell lost people that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. That is, He has offered to take of care of their sin debt by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die in their place. If they are to pass from eternal death to eternal life, they must receive by faith—neither by works nor by faith and works—the merits of that finished crosswork (as we have). Once they trust Jesus Christ’s shed blood as sufficient payment for their sins, God cancels (forgives) their sin debt and imparts righteousness to them. Unless we are here to preach that glorious Message of Grace, they will know nothing about it.

The Apostle Paul talks about us Christians being “in the world” in 1 Corinthians chapter 5: “[9] I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: [10] Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.” We must go out of the world to avoid associating with idolaters, fornicators, covetous individuals, et cetera. There are no such sins in Heaven. We cannot exit this world until God calls us home to the heavenly places. In the meantime, we must come into daily contact with people who are not part of God’s family. While they are not God’s children, they can be if they choose to accept by faith His free gift of soul salvation in Jesus Christ. In order to become members of the Body of Christ, they must first realize they are lost (needing salvation). It is difficult for them to understand this, as Satan uses works-religion to cause them to believe they are “okay.” Our duty and privilege are to tell them they are in dire need of justification in Christ.

Second Corinthians chapter 4: “[3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Focus on that expression “the god [ruler] of this world.” Now, go over to Galatians 1:4: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:….” All the systems of this world—political, economic, religious, educational, et cetera—are the expression not of God’s thoughts but rather Satan’s policy of evil. We need not wonder why corruption, deception, and injustice run rampant even now. Unless they believe on Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, they will be on the receiving end of the wrath of a righteous, holy God! Yet, in the midst of this fallen creation, Almighty God is performing a mighty work. He does this through His people, believers in Jesus Christ, as His words work in them who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Sin is the method whereby Satan works to counter all that God wishes and does. Read 1 John 2:15-16: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The evil world system operating today does so on the basis of creatures—whether angels or people—conducting themselves according to “the lust of the flesh” (“I want it!”), “the lust of the eye” (“It looks good!”), and “the pride of life” (“I deserve it!”). Adam and Eve failed in all three points (Genesis 3:6), but Jesus Christ triumphed in all three points (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). When we rely on Christ, we partake of His victory over sin! That leads us to the rest of the phrase under consideration.

“…BUT NOT OF THE WORLD”

We are not “of the world.” The preposition “of” here indicates spiritual origin, source, or derivation. Recalling 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul referenced “the fornicators of this world.” They belong to this evil world system, just as the covetous, extortioners, and idolaters mentioned in verse 10. Nothing they do reflects the Creator’s mentality or glory.

If we go over to 1 John chapter 4, we can see another example of “of the world:” “[1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. [2] Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: [3] And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. [4] Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. [5] They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. [6] We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” “Of the world” (verse 5) indicates false prophets or unbelievers (false religion), while “of God” (verse 6) refers to believers in Christ.

On the night of His death, Christ Jesus prayed to Father God about His apostles: “[14] I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [15] I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:14-16). The Lord Jesus did not want His Heavenly Father to remove His disciples from the world, but rather guard them from “the evil.” As Israel’s Apostles were in the world, functioning on planet Earth in “enemy territory” (Satan’s domain), so we the Body of Christ find ourselves “trapped” here fighting against the flesh and the evil world system (as opposed to reigning in outer space, or the third heaven, for God’s glory).

First Corinthians 2:11-13 reminds us to be sure to keep our thoughts straight: “[11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

We who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour possess the indwelling Holy Ghost who teaches us, that the lies of the evil world system not deceive us. As we take the King James Bible and study it dispensationally on a daily basis, we are submitting to the teaching ministry of God’s Spirit. We are constantly reminded to remain separate from the world’s thinking and activities because we are to exhibit God’s thinking and activities. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). We are “of God,” are we not? Then, we need to think and act like it!

No matter the age or dispensation, every person is either in Adam (default) or in Christ (believer). The words “in Christ” in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are a redemptive term: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” People in Adam (unrighteous) go to Hell, whereas people in Christ (righteous) go to Heaven. Consider the two federal heads in Romans chapter 5—Christ (God’s people share His identity) and Adam (everyone else). Whatever God has told mankind to believe in a particular dispensation, individual people have been expected to believe it so God can credit him or her for righteousness and put him or her in Christ. Our Gospel Message is 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Christ dying for our sins, being buried, and being raised again the third day. If faith in this Good News justifies us, should we not then behave as justified people? Of course!

Go now to John 15:19, Jesus’ words to His followers: If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” By birth and from birth, every human is a sinner, a rebel against God’s purpose and plan; the sin nature is passed down from father to child, going all the way back to Adam. As King David wrote in Psalm 51, “Behold, I was shapen in inquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (verse 5). However, believers—those who trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour—God spiritually circumcises them. He cuts them off from that Adamic identity (Colossians 2:11-13; see Israel’s spiritual circumcision in Romans 2:28-29). As Jesus said, His believers were not “of the world;” they were now separated from the evil world system, sin’s dominion, Satan’s captivity. Christ then chose His believers “out of the world” to serve Him—neither their identity nor their function brought Satan glory anymore. They were no longer sinners bound for the torments of Hell, no longer enemies of God, and no longer contrary to God’s will for them. What is true of them is now true of us Christians.

Remember Jesus said in John chapter 15 that He had taken His disciples out of the world; therefore, they were no longer of the world. Their origin or association was not the sinful world system but now God’s kingdom and purpose. Again, while not spoken to us the Church the Body of Christ, but rather Israel’s believing remnant, we can still see the parallel with us. Our behavior should not match the course of this world because we are no longer in Adam. If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we are members of the Church the Body of Christ. We are part of God’s family now (Galatians 3:26). We are no longer children of the Devil (John 8:44). Our identity in Christ no longer matches the identity of lost people of the world. Thus, our behavior should reflect our new position in Christ. If ever we find ourselves blending in with the world with our words and/or our activities, we are living inconsistently with our Christian identity.

When Scripture says we are not of the world, it means we are not in the default position. We have moved from Adam (sin) to Christ (righteousness). The people of the world are still in Adam, cooperating with the evil world system or arrangement that Satan guides today. Remember, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 talks about Satan being “the god of this world” and Galatians 1:4 says this “present evil world.” While we live in this world, we do not have to act like this world. If we are willing, God’s Holy Spirit will bring to life the life of Christ in us. We simply believe in our heart Pauline verses such as the following, and the Holy Spirit will work in us to make them a reality in our own life.

Ephesians 4:17-24: “[17] This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, [18] Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: [19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. [20] But ye have not so learned Christ; [21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: [22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; [24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Philippians 1:9-11: “[9] And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; [10] That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. [11] Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 2:14-16: “[14] Do all things without murmurings and disputings: [15] That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; [16] Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

Philippians 3:20-21: “[20] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: [21] Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

Colossians 1:9-13: “[9] For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; [10] That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11] Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; [12] Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:….”

Colossians 3:1-4: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Titus 2:11-14: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

CONCLUSION

The verse that reads closest to the phrase in question, is John 15:19: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jesus Christ was speaking to His disciples in the upper room on the night of His arrest, just hours before His crucifixion. As you can see, the Lord Jesus was comforting His followers, telling them of their future troubles and how He would see them through them. They were “in enemy territory,” and they would suffer for it at the hands of sinful men cooperating with Satan! While not spoken to us (the Church the Body of Christ), but rather Israel’s believing remnant (the Little Flock), we can still see the parallel with us.

While we are physically alive, we are bound to Earth. We cannot go to Heaven until Father God is ready for us. Indeed, we are “in the world”—part of human society, physical citizens of planet Earth. However, we are notof the world” because God took us spiritually from the evil world system. We are no longer under Satan’s control or destined for Hell and the Lake of Fire. Our position in Adam is gone forever, since our position in Christ replaced it the moment we believed the Gospel of the Grace of God. If we are saints positionally, then we should be saints practically. Let lost people think and act like lost people—people acting like they are headed for Hell (after all, that is who they are and where they are going!). Christians should think and act like Christians—people acting like they are headed for Heaven (after all, that is who we are and where we are going!).

Also see:
» Is grace a “license to sin?”
» How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh?
» Is “excellent” a King James mistranslation in Philippians 1:10?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?

» What are “evil communications” in 1 Corinthians 15:33?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?

What is a “propitiation?”

WHAT IS A “PROPITIATION?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Readers are usually intimidated when they see the lengthy term “propitiation” thrice appearing in the King James Bible. What does it mean?

  • “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).
  • “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
  • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

“Hilasmos” is the Greek word rendered in 1 John. In Romans, it is “hilasterion,” also translated “mercyseat” in Hebrews 9:5: “And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.” This reference in Hebrews allows us to better understand the matter. Let us refer to the Old Testament Scriptures for some background.

THE MERCY SEAT: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

In the Mosaic system, one piece of furniture in the Tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. This “ark” was simply a box made of shittim or acacia wood covered with gold. Its lid was called “the Mercy Seat,” where the Jewish high priest annually applied animals’ blood to JEHOVAH God. This Day of Atonement—also known as Yom Kippur—is described in great detail in Leviticus chapter 16. You may refer to that, if necessary.

Read chapter 25 of Exodus to learn about the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat, and their connection to the Tabernacle: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering…. [8] And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. [9] According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

[10] And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half [3.75 feet / 1.14 meters] shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half [2.25 feet / 0.69 meter] the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. [11] And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. [12] And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. [13] And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. [14] And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. [15] The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. [16] And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. [17] And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

“[18] And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. [19] And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. [20] And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. [21] And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. [22] And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

“And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof” (Exodus 37:6). Leviticus 16:2 is most important: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” It was above the Mercy Seat that God’s presence—called the Shekinah glory—appeared. The high priest, once a year, went behind the veil in the Tabernacle—thus entering the Most Holy Place—and applied animals’ blood on the Mercy Seat for his sins, the sins of his household, and the sins of the Jewish nation as a whole. As we learn from Hebrews, this was a temporary arrangement until Christ came to take away sin. The animal sacrifices were pictures or symbols of Calvary’s sacrifice.

Chapter 9 of Hebrews summarizes the Mosaic order, and how it perfectly foreshadowed what Jesus would accomplish on the cross: “[1] Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. [2] For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. [3] And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; [4] Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; [5] And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

“[6] Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. [7] But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: [8] The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: [9] Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; [10] Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

“[11] But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; [12] Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. [13] For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: [14] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? [15] And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. [16] For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. [17] For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

“[18] Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. [19] For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, [20] Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. [21] Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. [22] And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. [23] It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

“[24] For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: [25] Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; [26] For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. [27] And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: [28] So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

You may also read chapter 10 of Hebrews in its entirety as well. For sake of time and space, we will neither quote nor comment on it here.

The point is, as touching the nation Israel, no longer is needed the annual work of the high priest behind the veil on the Day of Atonement. Jesus was not only the high priest who offered the sacrifice, He was the sacrifice itself. Moreover, not only was He the sacrifice, He was the “mercyseat” on which the sacrifice was made. How could that be? One way of looking at it is seeing His blood shed onto His body on Calvary, and His soul and life being lost in the process. In His Mediatorship, the nation Israel finds access to Father God. (While this is true of us too [see Romans 3:25], Hebrews underscores Christ’s blood forming the basis for the New Covenant of which Israel will partake at His return. See Acts 3:19-21 and Romans 11:26-27.)

PROPITIATION: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

We return to our opening verses:

  • “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).
  • “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
  • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Obviously, these three passages speak of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. “Propitiation” is a title of the Lord Jesus Christ because it describes His role with respect to our sins. Our nature (our sin nature, the root of our problems) and our deeds (the fruit of our nature) are offensive to the God of the Bible. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…” (Habakkuk 1:13). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s justice will enforce His righteousness. To wit, there must be a penalty for anything and everything that fails to meet His righteous standard. According to Scripture, wrath and judgment will be meted out—ultimately, Hell and the Lake of Fire.

Romans chapter 2: “[3] And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? [4] Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? [5] But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; [6] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: [7] To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: [8] But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, [9] Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; [10] But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: [11] For there is no respect of persons with God.”

Thankfully, the Bible also teaches something called “substitutionary atonement.” In His immeasurable mercy and grace, the God of creation took upon human flesh (Jesus Christ) in order to take our place. As our substitute, the Son of God endured the Father’s wrath against our sin: “For he [the Father] hath made him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Simply put, a “propitiation” is “a fully-satisfying payment” or “a fully-adequate sacrifice.” What Christ did on the cross—the merits He achieved through His sinless sacrifice of Himself—serves as the means whereby we can escape the penalty of our sin problem. By faith, we appropriate that righteousness of Christ so that it becomes our righteousness. We take on His identity. This is the Gospel—or Good News—of the Gospel of Grace!

While you can read all of Romans chapter 3, we will look at the conclusion given in Romans chapter 4: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

The Apostle John learned from the Apostle Paul that Jesus had not only shed His blood and died for “many”—that is, for Israel (cf. Isaiah 53:8; Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:28; Mark 10:45; Mark 14:24)—but also for “all” Jews and Gentiles (cf. 1 Timothy 2:5-7). Reflecting Pauline influence, John wrote those two verses in 1 John. We quoted them already, but we will reiterate them. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (2:2). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Christ Himself is the “propitiation” or “mercyseat” (Hebrews 9:5).

We would continue, but that is enough.

CONCLUSION

The ancient Greeks used the verb “hilaskomai” in the sense of “man appeasing or pleasing the gods” (through religious works). However, in the Bible, it is not man pleasing the one true God but rather Father God being pleased because of His Son’s sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross. The cross of Calvary functioned as an altar, where the ultimate sacrifice for sin was given. We can think of “propitiation” in Scripture as either “a fully-satisfying payment for sin” or “a fully-satisfying sacrifice for sin.” God’s wrath against man’s sin was satisfied at Calvary because Jesus’ soul was made an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10).

Provision has been made—the merits are available to us—but God appropriates (imputes, applies) them to our account only once we place our faith in Christ as our fully-satisfying payment or sacrifice for sin. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Through Christ functioning as our Mercy Seat, we receive God’s mercy (avoiding Divine wrath, what we deserve). Otherwise, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, and lacking the righteousness of Christ, we must pay forever for our sins in Hell and the Lake of Fire. One way or another, God’s justice will see to it that sin is addressed.

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Also see:
» Are lost people already forgiven?
» Is God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?