Christ is a Greek translation of the Hebrew/Aramaic title Messiah.1 In English we have the translation "the Anointed One".2 That is, Christ (Greek) = Messiah (Hebrew/Aramaic) = the Anointed One.
It is the man Jesus of Nazareth, born 2000 years ago3 in Israel, this title4 is applied to in the New Testament. This title used of Jesus in the New Testament implies that Jesus is anointed king. According to the New Testament, also Jesus confessed himself king. However, he confessed furthermore that his kingdom was not of this world.5 It is also in accordance with historical facts that he had no earthly kingdom, neither in Israel nor in any other country in the Middle East.
Therefore, if the title Christ rightly applies to Jesus, he has a kingdom that is not of this world, that means, proceeds from an invisible world.
That Jesus from Nazareth is king with a kingdom not of this world, is in the New Testament connected with the claim that he is the Son of God. In the words of two of his apostles —
Simon Peter6:"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."Nathanael7:"Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
Is it a historical reality that the Son of God8 entered our world about 2000 years ago, or is the confession of Jesus of Nazareth as Christ and the Son of God based on legends and myths constructed around a great teacher of religion?
The New Testament treats it as a historical reality that God by his Son entered directly into our world. Among other things are told:
- The testimony of Simon Peter given above6, was affirmed by Jesus himself immediately9:
"Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'"
- Jesus was sentenced to death by the highest authority of the Jews (the Sanhedrin) for pretending being the Christ and the Son of God.10
- The death sentence was after interrogation (and pressure from Jews) confirmed by the Roman procurator Pilate. Jesus was then executed by being nailed to a cross.11, 12 The accusation fixed to the cross was:13
"THE KING OF THE JEWS"
- Jesus was cleared of the charges of falsely having set himself forth as the Christ and the Son of God by being raised from the dead. That is, God himself overruled the death sentence and its execution by giving Jesus back his life, and thereby declared him to be his Son.14,15,16
Then, before Jesus was taken up to heaven (that is, left the visible and reentered the invisible world), he revealed himself several times for different people, once for more than five hundred at a time.16,17 Most of the five hundred are told to be alive at the time this17 was written (making it possible to search them out and question them).
If the above, that the Son of God has become man and visited this world, and that in the relatively near past, is a historical reality, we ought to:
- Expect that God has richly provided the world with evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is his Son, so that every sincere inquirer may be convinced without committing intellectual suicide or in any way giving up his sound judgement. According to the gospel of John18, that is what God has done:
"Many other signs Jesus also did before the disciples, which are not recorded in this book; but these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
- Not celebrate the year 2000 or do any other thing without due regard to the Son of God and his authority. According to the Gospel of Matthew19, he said after he was raised from the dead:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
I want to ask you reading this, to note how unique are the claims of the New Testament concerning Jesus of Nazareth:
- Is both God's only Son and true man.20
- Has come from the invisible world into our visible one to atone for the sins of the world by being executed on a cross.21
- Died a real death and was buried.22
Also, I ask you to give one of the gospels, for example the Gospel of John, a chance to present for you Jesus of Nazareth. Read and see for yourself whether the person emerging is a glorified man of myths or one who can rightly say:29"I am the way and the truth and the life.Note that the signs set forth by the Gospel of John as evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ and the Son of God, do not presuppose:
No one comes to the Father except through me."
- That you believe the Gospel of John before starting to read.
- That you believe the gospel is written by John, the apostle of Jesus.30
- That you believe there is an almighty, personal God of whom Jesus can be the Son. — However, if you by reading the Gospel of John come to be convinced about the truth in the person of Jesus and in his testimony, he will reveal the Father, the Almighty God who has created heaven and earth.
The signs in the Gospel of John are not written only for those already sufficiently convinced, but so that:18"you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that believing you may have life in his name."
Knut Arne Strand
The author strongly recommends readers who have a New Testament to read the scripture references given in the footnotes, especially the scripture references in footnotes 9 to 17.
Challenges to read the above tract:
This tract is an English version (November 1999) of a tract originally in Norwegian. The translation is by the author with assistance of Bård J. A. Bjørkvik.
Up to 50 copies of a printed version (11x17cm) of the tract can (until out of stock) be obtained free of charge (also free of postal charge) from:
P.O. Box 6818
W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed., revised and augmented by F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979, p. 508.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great. Herod the Great died, according to historical sources, in year 4 BC (see, for example, B. Reicke, The New Testament Era, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1968, pp. 90-107). It therefore seems to be an error of at least 4 years in our system of reckoning time. This error is not important for the topic of this tract. Neither is it important for our topic whether the reckoning of time ought to begin with the birth of Jesus or his conception.
Christ (used of Jesus of Nazareth) is originally a title and is clearly used in that sense some places in the New Testament (for example, when used with the definite article). Gradually Christ came to be understood also as a name (as in modern usage), and is perhaps used more or less in that meaning also in the New Testament. A discussion of this is given by W. Grundmann, The Christ-Statements of the New Testament in G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1979, vol. IX, pp. 527-573 (see especially p. 542).
That Jesus as a man was sentenced to death under the Roman procurator Pilate, is also reported by a non-Christian source, the Roman historian Tacitus (Annales 15:44), who lived from about AD 55 to AD 120.
Neither are there few in our time that maintain such a confession of Jesus of Nazareth. For example, it is estimated that there are in the world today approximately 670 million "Great Commission Christians" (see D. B. Barrett and T. M. Johnson, Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1999, in International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 24-25, 1999).
However, the oldest known fragment of a copy of the Gospel of John is dated to not much later than AD 125. It is thus reasonably established that the Gospel of John is written in or near the lifetime of the apostles of Jesus. (See B. M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1968, pp. 38-39; and K. Aland and B. Aland, The Text of the New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1987, pp. 84-87.)
Copyright © Knut Arne Strand 1999
Scripture quotations are, excepting the Gospel of John 20:30-31, from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
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