Fear of Christ is a phrase found just once (Ephesians 5:21). It’s the generic word for fear (phobos). Many translations render it as “reverence” or “respect”, but that isn’t strong enough. In a kingdom perspective, fear of Christ displaces every fear.
Continue reading “Fear of Christ? (Ephesians 5:21)”
Making sense of this unique phrase.
Do you read this as a warning that you might not go to heaven?
Ephesians 5 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a person is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (NIV)
It didn’t mention heaven. Readers substitute heaven because that’s how kingdom of God has been understood. But the Bible’s narrative isn’t about us going to heaven; it’s about God’s kingship being restored to earth.
We’ll take it phrase by phrase, but first the backstory: the Bible’s narrative of the kingdom of God. Continue reading “The kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5-7)”
Do the Psalms tell us about Jesus? Are these verses about Christ?
Psalm 22 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? … 16 They have pierced my hands and feet.
Psalms 118 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
The New Testament writers thought so. So did the church fathers. Were they right? Or were they bending texts to fit their beliefs? What did David intend? Does authorial intent define the meaning? Or is meaning in the ear of the hearer, whatever the reader wants it to mean?
When the church fathers used the Psalms this way, the Jewish leaders were mortified. They pointed out that no one read the Psalms like this until after Jesus died, so the Christians were merely imposing their own meaning on Jewish literature.
Should we be seeing the Messiah in the Psalms? Everywhere? Nowhere? In a few cases? What do you think?
Continue reading “Are the Psalms messianic?”
All our fuzziness about the kingdom becomes clear when we ask, “Who is the king?”
Here’s a single question to clarify Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom: Who is the king?
That question has two answers:
- God is king. It’s the kingdom of God.
- Christ is king. God entrusted his kingship on earth to his anointed (Christ).
Our heavenly sovereign doesn’t impose his rule on us; he exercises his reign through us. He designed us to be images of his dominion, for the benefit of all the creatures on earth (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8).
That’s why God promised to restore his reign through humans, through Abraham’s family. When Israel asked for a king, God agreed to have a son of David representing his reign on earth (2 Samuel 7:11-16). God’s reign is through “the Lord and his anointed” (Psalm 2:2).
So Jesus is God’s Anointed (the Christ). But Jesus rarely promoted himself. If we don’t realize that he’s talking about his own kingship, his kingdom teaching can sound cryptic.
Continue reading “Who is the king?”
There was this special day when Jesus discussed his identity with his followers. It must have been important for Jesus to take them 40 kilometres north of Galilee, a two-day journey to the headwaters of the Jordan River at Caesarea Philippi.
According to local legend, the cave there was the entrance to the underworld. There were two temples: one dedicated to the Greek god Pan, and another temple to honour Roman emperor. Surrounded by these competing claims for power — spiritual, religious, and political — Jesus asked them how they understood his identity: “Who do people say I am? … And what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:27, 29).
This was Peter’s great confession. The synoptic Gospels record his answer slightly differently:
Mark 8 29 Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Matt 16 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Luke 9 20 Peter answered, “God’s Messiah.” (NIV)
There’s no problem with the differences. Biographers regularly condense dialogue, and occasionally they expand it for emphasis or to explain the sense. The question is, Did the Gospel writers think Peter had made two significant statements about Jesus, or one? Continue reading “What does ‘Son of God’ mean (Matthew 16:16)?”
Is Jesus “a new Moses”? Would that be a helpful way to describe him?
Should we describe Jesus as “a new Moses” in the Biblical story? In the Old Testament, Moses liberated God’s people and established them as his nation. In the New, Jesus liberated humanity and established us as God’s kingdom.
The similarities are clear, so hundreds of books draw the comparison. Yet the New Testament writers seem reticent to describe Jesus this way. Why?
A kingdom perspective provides the answer. Continue reading “The Moses connection”
Did you know that Jesus claimed to be greater than the greatest king Israel had ever had?
Open Matthew 12:42 and 2 Chronicles 9.
Jesus was the king anointed to restore God’s reign on earth. That message was often so subtle that we miss it, but there was this time when he made an astounding claim to kingship. Continue reading “Jesus’ most overt kingship claim (Matthew 12:42)”