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Jesus Christ

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

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‘Jesus’ was a common Jewish name and appears in the Greek language of the New Testament as the equivalent of the Hebrew ‘Joshua’ in the Old Testament. The name meant ‘Yahweh (Jehovah) is our Saviour’, and therefore was a fitting name to give to the one who would save his people, Yahweh’s people, from their sins (Matthew 1:21). ‘Christ’ was a Greek word equivalent to the Hebrew ‘Messiah’ (Matthew 22:42). (For the significance of this name see MESSIAH.)

Life of Jesus

The writers of the four Gospels provide most of the information concerning Jesus’ life and teaching, but they make no attempt to give a detailed biography of Jesus. They wrote at different times, for different people, in different places, for different purposes, and they selected their material accordingly (Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31). Yet there is no disagreement in the picture of Jesus they present: he is God in human flesh, the Lord and Saviour of the world. (See also GOSPELS.)

For convenience we can divide the Gospels’ record of Jesus’ life into three main sections. The first has to do with his birth and early childhood, the second concerns his public ministry (i.e. his teachings, healings, miracles and other recorded activities) and the third centres on the events of his death and resurrection.

Stories that describe events surrounding Jesus’ birth are recorded at some length. Nothing more is recorded of Jesus’ childhood till he was twelve years old. Even at that early age Jesus knew that he existed in a special relation with God; for he was God’s Son (Luke 2:42; Luke 2:49).

There is no record of the next eighteen years or so of Jesus’ life. Then, when about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23), he was baptized and began his public ministry. His baptism showed on the one hand his complete willingness to carry out all God’s purposes, and on the other his complete identification with the people whose sins he would bear. God then showed, through the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove upon Jesus, that he had equipped him for this task (Matthew 3:13-17; Acts 10:38; see BAPTISM; HOLY SPIRIT). Jesus had the Spirit’s power in unlimited measure (John 3:34), but he had to exercise it in keeping with his position of willing submission to the Father.

Almost immediately after Jesus received this special power from the Father, Satan tempted him to use it according to his own will, independently of the Father; but Jesus overcame the temptation (Matthew 4:1-11; see TEMPTATION). He then began to move about doing the work that his Father had entrusted to him.

This public ministry of Jesus seems to have lasted about three and a half years. He did much of his work in the northern part of Palestine known as Galilee (Matthew 4:12; Matthew 4:23), though he met his fiercest opposition in Judea in the south, particularly in Jerusalem, which was the centre of Jewish religious power.

The Jewish leaders considered that Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God was blasphemy (Mark 2:7; Mark 3:22; Mark 14:61-64; John 7:25; John 7:40-44; John 8:56-59; John 11:55-57). Jesus knew that he eventually would be killed by the Jews in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 20:18-19; Luke 9:51), but he knew also that first he had to complete the work his Father had sent him to do (John 4:34; John 9:4). Only when he had finished that work and the time appointed by his Father had come would he allow the Jews to take him and crucify him (John 7:30; John 10:18; John 13:1; John 17:4-11).

Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem was full of tension and activity and is recorded in greater detail than any other part of his life. He entered Jerusalem as Israel’s Messiah-King, cleansed the temple, debated with the Jews and gave teaching to his disciples on many subjects. He then allowed his enemies to arrest him, treat him cruelly, condemn him falsely and finally crucify him. Three days later he rose from the dead and during the next six weeks appeared to his disciples and others on a number of occasions in various places (Acts 1:3). His final appearance concluded with his ascension to heaven, though heavenly messengers reassured his disciples that one day he would come again (Acts 1:9-11; cf. John 14:3).

God in human form (the Incarnation)

In Jesus Christ, God became incarnate; that is, he took upon himself human form. Jesus Christ was the embodiment of God and, by coming into the world, made God known to the world. This shows that Jesus must have existed as God before he was born into this world; for only one who was previously with God could make God known (John 1:1; John 1:18; John 3:13; John 12:41; John 17:5; 1 Corinthians 10:4). When he came into the world, Jesus added humanity to the deity that he always had (John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3).

As the eternally existent Son of God, Jesus had no beginning (John 8:58; Colossians 1:17; Revelation 1:8), but as a human being he had a beginning when he was born as a baby in Bethlehem. God became flesh (John 1:14; Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 1:1-4; see SON OF GOD; WORD). This came about through the miraculous work of God’s Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary, so that the child who was born, though having no human father, was nevertheless fully human. He was not an ordinary person whom God adopted as his Son, but a unique person who was actually God’s Son (Luke 1:27; Luke 1:31; Luke 1:35).

In becoming a human being, Jesus did not cease to be God. His deity was not lessened in any way. When Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus, in being born into the world, ‘emptied himself’, it does not mean that he lost, voluntarily or otherwise, any of his divine attributes or qualities. Its meaning is well explained in the verses before and after, where it is clear that to empty oneself means to deny oneself totally, to sacrifice all self-interest.

Jesus from all eternity had existed as God, yet he willingly sacrificed the supreme glory of heaven and took instead the place of a servant. What he sacrificed was not his deity, but the heavenly glories that were his by right. The limitation that he accepted in being born a human being was not a lessening of his divine powers or being, but the limitation of living like other human beings in a world of imperfection and suffering (Philippians 2:5-8; cf. John 17:5; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Hebrews 2:9).

Not only Jesus’ physical form but also his human nature was like that of human beings in general; except that, whereas the human nature common to all other people is infected by sin from birth, Jesus’ human nature was not. Because his oneness with humankind was complete, he was able to die for his fellow human beings and so free them from the evil results of sin (Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Fully divine yet fully human

Though human, Jesus retained his divine being and powers (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13). His human and divine natures existed together – complete, united and inseparable – without either one lessening the other.

Jesus was still the creator and controller of the universe (Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2-3), the Lord of life (Luke 7:22; John 5:21; John 5:26; John 8:51; John 10:10; John 10:28), the forgiver of sins (Mark 2:5; Mark 2:7; Mark 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19), and the judge of the world (Matthew 13:41-43; Matthew 25:31-32; John 5:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:10). He was still the originator of divine truth (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:28; Matthew 5:32; Matthew 5:34; Matthew 5:39; Matthew 5:44; Matthew 12:5-8; Mark 13:31; John 14:6; John 14:10), the possessor of superhuman knowledge (John 6:64; John 11:14; John 18:4), the satisfier of people’s deepest needs (Matthew 11:28-30; John 4:14; John 6:35; John 11:25) and the object of people’s worship (Matthew 2:11; John 5:23; John 9:38).

Being the Son of God, Jesus was equal in deity with the Father (John 10:30). So completely were they united that Jesus could say that whoever saw him saw the Father (John 14:9; cf. Matthew 1:23; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, whoever received him received the Father and whoever rejected him rejected the Father (Matthew 10:40; Luke 10:16; John 12:44; John 15:23; 1 John 2:23). Because he was God, Jesus demanded that total allegiance which only God could demand (Matthew 10:37-39; Mark 8:34-35; John 3:36).

At the same time Jesus was fully human (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 1:1). He knew how it felt to be hungry, thirsty and tired (Matthew 21:18; John 4:6; John 19:28). He experienced poverty and sorrow as well as joy (Luke 9:58; Luke 10:21; John 11:33-36; John 15:11; Hebrews 5:7). He showed some of the emotional reactions common to human nature such as astonishment, disappointment, pity and anger (Mark 3:5; Mark 6:6; Mark 8:2; Mark 10:14; Luke 7:9). He was inwardly troubled as he saw his crucifixion drawing near, and he desired the sympathetic company of his closest friends during his time of spiritual conflict in Gethsemane the night before his death (Mark 14:32-41; Luke 12:50; John 12:27).

A person who can help

Jesus exercised self-control in all aspects of his life and behaviour, and had the same sorts of temptations that other people have (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:23). Yet through it all he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Those who lived closest to him, and who saw more of him than anyone else, asserted that he never sinned (1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Even his enemies, when challenged to accuse him of sin, were unable to do so (John 8:46; cf. Matthew 27:3-4).

On account of Jesus’ endurance and obedience through all his temptations and sufferings, his life was one of continuous yet perfect development and maturing. The perfect boy grew into the perfect man, who thus became the perfect Saviour for all people (Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:8). He can sympathize with the human weaknesses that people normally experience, but more than that he can help them triumph over those weaknesses (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). Their Saviour is God, but he is a God who has lived as one of them in their world.

To deny that Jesus was either fully divine or fully human is to deny that which is basic to Christian faith (1 John 2:22-25; 1 John 4:2-3; 1 John 5:6-12). Only because of the divine oneness between Father and Son can Jesus bring God to the people of the world, and only because of the human oneness between Jesus and his fellow humans can he bring people back to God (John 14:6-10; 1 Timothy 2:4-6).

The obedient servant

In becoming human Jesus accepted the limitations that his humanity required. If, for example, he wanted to go from one place to another, he travelled the same as others and put up with the weariness of the journey. He did not use his divine powers to avoid the trials of human existence (John 4:3-6). He had taken upon himself the nature of a servant and he lived in obedience to and dependence on his Father. That was one reason why he prayed constantly (Mark 1:35; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12).

Jesus’ acceptance of the limitations of human life meant also that if he wanted information he asked questions (Luke 2:46; Mark 5:30; Mark 6:38; Mark 9:21). Being God, he must have had all knowledge, but his human consciousness of that knowledge and the way he used it were always in submission to his Father’s will.

Certain areas of Jesus’ knowledge, therefore, may have been deliberately kept below the level of his human consciousness so that he could have no unnatural advantage over his fellows. But if his Father directed, Jesus could draw upon that knowledge (John 12:49; John 14:10; John 14:24). As the obedient Son who took the humble place of a servant, he knew, and desired to know, only what his Father wanted him to know (Mark 13:32; John 8:55).

This may help to explain why on some occasions Jesus’ knowledge was limited but on other occasions it was not. The Father allowed him certain knowledge that was in keeping with the mission for which the Father had sent him into the world. In these cases Jesus’ superhuman knowledge was not to give him a kind of magical solution to a problem, but to enable him to carry out the specific work that his Father required him to carry out at that particular time (Luke 6:8; John 1:47-49; John 2:25; John 4:18; John 4:29; John 11:11-14; John 12:49).

The superhuman knowledge that Jesus showed on such occasions was fully in keeping with the divine knowledge he repeatedly displayed in relation to the work his Father had sent him to do. That is why none of the events surrounding his death took him by surprise. He knew in advance that those events were part of his Father’s will for him (Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 20:18; John 3:14; John 6:64; John 12:7; John 13:38; John 14:29; John 16:32).

In summary, then, Jesus exercised his divine knowledge in the same way as he exercised his divine power – always in complete dependence upon and obedience to his Father. He never exercised it for his personal benefit (John 5:19; John 5:30; John 7:16; John 12:49; cf. Matthew 26:53-54).

If Satan tempted Jesus to use his divine powers for his own benefit, Jesus must have possessed those powers (Matthew 4:3-4; Matthew 26:53-54). Any limitation on Jesus’ physical capacity or knowledge was an indication not of a lessening of his divinity but of his submission to his Father’s will (John 8:28-29). Although Jesus lived a genuinely human life, he did so in the perfection that his deity demanded.

Mission and teaching

All that Jesus did and said was in some way a revelation of who he was. He was not simply a doer of good works or a teacher of religious truths, but the Son of God who came into the world to be its Saviour. His works and words are inseparably tied up with the nature of his person and mission (John 5:19; John 5:24; John 5:30; John 5:36; John 14:7; John 14:10; see SON OF GOD).

A central theme in all the works and teaching of Jesus was that in him the kingdom of God had come visibly into the world. The kingdom of God is the kingly rule of God, and Jesus proclaimed and exercised that rule as he released sick and demonized people from the power of Satan (Matthew 4:23-24; Matthew 12:28). Even among people who were not diseased, Jesus preached the kingdom, urging them to enter the kingdom voluntarily in humble faith and so receive eternal life (Mark 1:15; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 18:3; Matthew 19:16; Matthew 19:19-23; see KINGDOM OF GOD). He assured the repentant and the unrepentant that they would stand before him, for better or for worse, when he returns at the end of the age to bring the kingdom to its triumphant climax (Matthew 13:47-50; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 25:34; Matthew 25:41; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10).

In relation to the kingdom of God, Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of man. This title was taken from the heavenly figure of Daniel 7:13-14, to whom the Almighty gave a kingdom that was worldwide and everlasting (Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Mark 14:62; see SON OF MAN). Jesus rarely referred to himself as the Messiah, probably because of the widespread misunderstanding among Jews concerning the sort of Messiah they wanted.

Jesus preferred the title ‘Son of man’ because it made people think about who he was. He wanted people to see for themselves that he, the Son of man, was both a heavenly figure and the Davidic Messiah (Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 2:10; Mark 2:28; John 6:62; John 9:35-36; John 12:23; John 12:34; see MESSIAH). He wanted people to see also that he was the Lord’s suffering servant. The Messiah had to die before he could reign in the full glory of his kingdom (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 20:28; see SERVANT OF THE LORD).

Likewise Jesus’ miracles were directed towards revealing who he was, though in a way designed to lead people to saving faith (Mark 2:9-12; Luke 4:18; John 9:16-17; John 20:30-31; see MIRACLES). His parables had a similar purpose. They made people think, and those who understood and accepted their message entered the kingdom of their Saviour-Messiah (Matthew 13:10-16; see PARABLES).

Having entered that kingdom, people had to live by its standards. Jesus’ moral teaching, however, was not a code of legal regulations like the law of Moses; nor was it like the burdensome system of the rabbis. He wanted to change people inwardly and so produce a quality of life and character that no law-code could ever produce (Matthew 5:21-22; Matthew 5:27-28; Matthew 7:29; see ETHICS; SERMON ON THE MOUNT).

Jesus’ teaching had authority because he came from God, made known the character of God, brought people into a relationship with the living God, and enabled them to reproduce within themselves something of the character of God (Matthew 5:48; Matthew 11:25-27; John 7:16-18).

Jesus as Lord

The Greek word kurios (i.e. Lord) in the New Testament is the same word that was used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament for the Hebrew word yahweh (i.e. Jehovah) (cf. Psalms 32:2 with Romans 4:8; cf. Isaiah 40:13 with Romans 11:34). In the original Hebrew, Yahweh, the name of God, was a mysterious name that Jews of later times considered so sacred that they refused to speak it. The name was linguistically connected with the words ‘I am’ and referred to the eternal, unchangeable, ever-present God (Exodus 3:13-16; see YAHWEH). Jesus identified himself with Yahweh by calling himself ‘I am’ (John 8:58; see also John 4:26; John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7; John 10:11; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 18:5; Mark 14:62).

The New Testament writers also emphasized this identification of Jesus with the God of the Old Testament. Repeatedly they quoted Old Testament references to Yahweh as applying to Jesus (cf. Psalms 16:8 with Acts 2:24-25; cf. Isaiah 40:3 with Mark 1:1-3; cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24 with 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; cf. Isaiah 8:13 with 1 Peter 3:15; cf. Psalms 110:1 with Matthew 22:41-45).

Both the words of Jesus and the quotations of the New Testament writers reflect the Hebrew background of the New Testament. According to that background, to call Jesus ‘Lord’ is to call him God.

Most of the early Christians, however, did not come from a Hebrew background. They were Gentiles, not Jews, and they had no history of the usage of the name Yahweh to influence their thinking. Yet to them also, to call Jesus ‘Lord’ (kurios) was to call him God. Their understanding of kurios came from its usage in the Greek-speaking Gentile world in which they lived.

In common speech, kurios may sometimes have meant no more than ‘sir’ or ‘master’ (Matthew 21:30; Luke 12:45; John 12:21; Acts 25:26), but it was also the usual word people used when referring to the Greek and Roman gods (1 Corinthians 8:5). The Greek-speaking Christians’ use of this word for Jesus showed that they considered him to be God; not just one of many gods, but the one true God who was the creator and ruler of the universe, the controller of life and death (Acts 1:24; Acts 13:10-12; Acts 17:24; Romans 14:9; Romans 14:11; 1 Timothy 6:15-16).

Through the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ, God declared dramatically the absolute lordship of Christ (Acts 2:36; Romans 1:4; Philippians 2:9-11). Believers in Christ gladly acknowledge him as Lord. They submit to him as to one who has complete authority over their lives, yet they love him as one who has saved them and given them new joy, peace and hope (John 20:28; Acts 10:36; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 1:2-3; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Revelation 22:20).

One day Jesus Christ will return in power and glory. In that great day there will be universal acknowledgment that he is indeed Lord (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Philippians 2:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 19:16; see DAY OF THE LORD).

The death of Jesus

Great though the incarnation and unique life of Jesus may be, they are not in themselves enough to meet the needs of a sinful human race. The incarnate Son of God had also to die. Salvation is not through the birth of Christ, nor through his life, but through his death (Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 15:2-3; Hebrews 9:12-14; Revelation 5:9-10).

Jesus knew that the chief purpose for which he had been given a human life was that he might offer that life back to God as a sacrifice for people’s sins. But the offering of that life could be an acceptable sacrifice only because Jesus lived it in full obedience to his Father, without sin (John 4:34; John 6:38; John 6:51; John 8:29; John 12:27; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 10:5-10).

This devotion to his Father’s will drove Jesus on, even though he knew it was leading to crucifixion (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 14:36; Luke 9:51; Luke 12:50; John 12:23-24; see CRUCIFIXION). He saw the whole of his life, including his suffering and crucifixion, as a fulfilment of the Old Testament Scriptures (Matthew 26:53-54; Mark 14:21; Mark 14:27; Luke 4:18-21; Luke 18:31-34; Luke 22:37; Luke 24:25-27; Luke 24:44-46). This did not mean that he felt no distress or temptation in the face of death. More likely it increased his suffering, but he resisted all attempts to turn him away from the cross. He gave his life willingly (Matthew 16:21-23; Matthew 26:53; John 10:18; John 12:27).

Jesus’ death, then, was not an unfortunate accident, nor was it the heroic deed of a martyr. It was the great act, the only act, by which God could deal with sin and release the guilty from sin’s punishment. Jesus gave his life as a ransom. He paid the price to deliver guilty sinners from the power of sin and death (Matthew 20:28; Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 9:12-14; 1 Peter 1:18-20; see FORGIVENESS; REDEMPTION).

Although Jesus was crucified by wicked men, his death was according to God’s plan (Acts 2:23). He was under the curse of God as he hung on the cross, but it was the curse he bore on behalf of sinners (Galatians 3:13). He who was sinless bore the sins of those who were sinful (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; see JUSTIFICATION). He who was not under God’s judgment bore that judgment in place of those who were. He bore the wrath of God so that he might bring guilty sinners back to God (Romans 3:23-25; Colossians 1:20; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; see BLOOD; PROPITIATION; RECONCILIATION).

Christ’s one sacrifice is sufficient to bring complete salvation. It needs nothing to be added to it. It does not need to be repeated. It is a finished work – complete, final, perfect (Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:25-26; Hebrews 10:12-14; cf. John 17:4; John 19:30; Romans 8:31-39; Colossians 2:13-15).

Resurrection and exaltation

Jesus’ death was not for his own sins (for he had none) but for the sins of others. Therefore, death could have no power over him. He rose from death as proof to all that the Father was pleased with the Son’s entire work. Jesus had made full atonement for sin and was the triumphant Lord, Messiah and Saviour (Acts 2:24; Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13; Romans 1:4; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:8-11; Hebrews 2:14-15).

The resurrection body of Jesus, however, was not simply a corpse brought back to life. It was a glorified ‘spiritual’ body, belonging to an entirely new order of existence that he brought into being and that all believers will one day share in (1 Corinthians 15:20-23; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49). God raised him up and gave him glory, exalting him to heaven’s highest place (Acts 2:32-33; Acts 5:30-31; Ephesians 1:20-22; Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 1:21).

Although he now existed in a glorified and exalted state, Jesus graciously made a number of appearances to his disciples over a period of forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3). Besides giving them further teaching, he proved to them that although his resurrection was a literal bodily resurrection, his resurrection state was uniquely different from his previous state. He could make himself visible to human eyes, or invisible, as he wished (Luke 24:31; Luke 24:39; Luke 24:43; John 20:19; John 20:26-27; see RESURRECTION).

When he disappeared from his disciples for the last time, Jesus showed by the means of his departure that he would appear to them no more. He would, however, send the Holy Spirit to be with them, as he himself had been with them. Jesus meanwhile would remain in the heavenly world, exalted in his Father’s presence, till the time came for him to return (Luke 24:50-51; John 16:7; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 2:33; 1 Peter 3:22; see HOLY SPIRIT).

Even in his exalted place in heaven, Jesus continues his work on behalf of his people. He claims the blessings of God for them, defends them against the accusations of Satan, and guarantees the continued forgiveness of their sins, all on the basis of his sacrificial death (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 1:7-9; 1 John 2:1; see ADVOCATE; PRIEST, sub-heading ‘The high priesthood of Jesus’).

Christ’s return and final triumph

In considering the second coming of Jesus, we should not think of it independently of his first coming. His return and the events connected with it form the climax of what he did through his life, death and resurrection. All that he achieved at his first coming will find its full and final expression in the events of his second coming: the conquest of sin, death and Satan (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; Revelation 20:10; cf. Hebrews 2:14); the salvation of sinners (Hebrews 9:28; cf. Ephesians 2:8); the gift of eternal life (Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 5:4; cf. John 5:24); the healing of the physical world (Romans 8:18-23; cf. Mark 1:31; Mark 1:42; Mark 4:39); and the establishment of God’s kingdom (Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; cf. Luke 17:21).

Jesus’ second coming is that great and final ‘day of the Lord’ that people of both Old and New Testament eras saw as the climax of the world’s history. God will intervene in human affairs and bring his purposes to fulfilment (Zechariah 14:9; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; 2 Peter 3:11-13; see DAY OF THE LORD).

Preceding and accompanying this day of the Lord there will be great wonders in the heavens and great distress upon earth. In an event as sudden, as open and as startling as a flash of lightning, Jesus will return in power and glory to save his people and judge his enemies (Matthew 24:27-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:11-16). Believers of former generations will be raised from death and, along with believers still alive, will enter a new order of existence in imperishable, spiritual bodies. They will then be with Christ for ever (1 Corinthians 15:20-23; 1 Corinthians 15:42-57; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; see RESURRECTION).

The above characteristics of Christ’s return are expressed in the three Greek words that the New Testament most commonly uses of it. Christ’s return is an apokalupsis, indicating a revealing of himself in majesty and power (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13). It is an epiphaneia, indicating his appearing visibly before people’s eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13). It is a parousia, indicating his coming, arrival and presence (Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 John 2:28).

Judgment is an inevitable consequence of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 24:40-42; Matthew 25:31-32; Matthew 25:46). While unbelievers will have no way of escaping condemnation and punishment, believers can face the coming judgment with confidence. They know that Christ has already delivered them from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Yet, though saved from eternal condemnation, believers are not saved from all judgment. They are answerable to God for the way they have lived on earth, and on that day they will face God and their lives will be examined (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; see JUDGMENT).

The second coming of Jesus, therefore, though it is something Christians look forward to (Titus 2:13; see HOPE), is also something that urges them to be holy, diligent and sincere in the way they live now (Philippians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:11-13; Revelation 22:12). In addition it makes them more earnest in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world (Matthew 24:14; 2 Peter 3:9-10; Revelation 22:12-14). Since Jesus will return when least expected, Christians must be ready always (Matthew 24:42-44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6).

Not only believers, but the physical creation also will be redeemed at Christ’s return. The world of nature, which has suffered because of human sin, will receive its full glory. The triumph of Christ’s kingdom is seen in a triumphant Christ reigning with his redeemed people over a redeemed earth ( Romans 8:19-23; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 20:4).

Finally, having destroyed all enemies and removed all wickedness, Jesus Christ will have the satisfaction of seeing that the victory he achieved at the cross is effectual throughout the universe (Philippians 2:10-11; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 20:10). The Father had entrusted to him the work of overcoming all rebellion and bringing all things into perfect submission to the sovereign God. That work will now have reached its triumphant climax (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Jesus Christ'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​bbd/​j/jesus-christ.html. 2004.
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