What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
It should immediately be apparent from the context that God's use of "His anointed" is not as restricted as commonly assumed. The Hebrew word is mashiah, which has come down to us as "messiah" and translated as christos in Greek. Because we now use this term exclusively for Jesus Christ, the Messiah, many have failed to realize the breadth of its meaning.
Mashiah simply means "anointed" or "anointed one." The Old Testament writers use it and its verb form, mashah, to describe kings (David, Saul, even Gentile kings like Hazael—II Samuel 1:14; 12:7; I Kings 19:15); priests, including the high priest (Leviticus 4:3, 5); and prophets (I Kings 19:16; Isaiah 61:1). Normally, these people were anointed with oil in a ritual as a sign of being set apart for the office that they were about to fulfill. Thus, at its most basic, mashiah indicates a person God authorizes and sets apart for His service.
The type of service he renders can vary. Obviously, kings, priests, and prophets fill very different roles, though some "anointed ones" have fulfilled more than one. David, for example, was both king and prophet, while Samuel and Jeremiah were priests and prophets. Jesus Christ is the only Anointed One to fulfill all three roles, as well as that of Apostle.
One aspect of these roles begins to stand out as God's revelation unfolds throughout the Bible: deliverance. We can see this most clearly in the text Jesus recites to inaugurate His ministry (Isaiah 61:1-3; see Luke 4:16-21). Jesus explicitly confirms in Luke 4:21 that He fulfilled these verses, at least up to the first part of verse 2, for indeed He is the ultimate Messiah. He will fulfill the remainder of these deliverances upon His return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Even His name, Joshua or Jesus, means "savior" or "deliverer," and God frequently calls things and people what they are and/or do.
In short, then, mashiah has three primary facets:
1. It describes a person whom God sets apart for His service.
2. Such a person may fill one or more roles in His service.
3. His primary function is to cause deliverance.
Strange as it may seem, Cyrus, King of Persia, qualifies as a messiah!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Cyrus: God's Anointed
What does the apostle John mean by saying that Jesus “declared” Him?
The Amplified Bible suggests two alternate translations, and both are much longer statements because the translators thought the Greek word underlying “declared” needed fleshing out, as it says a great deal about a critical purpose that Jesus' ministry accomplished. The first alternate translation is, “He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen”; and the second is, “He has interpreted Him, and He has made Him known.” Both suggest that the Father is in some way an unknown element in this unfolding story, as if He is a mysterious, surprise package.
James Moffatt translates the same phrase as “God has been unfolded by the divine one.” “Unfolded” is about as mysterious as “declared.” How does a person “unfold” another? Commentator William Barclay translates it with a long sentence: “The unique One, the Divine One, He who is nearest the heart of the Father, who has disclosed to us the mystery of God.”
The issue in the apostle John's mind was not that nobody even knew the Father existed. His existence is revealed in the Old Testament, though not frequently expanded by its writers. Genesis 1:26 clearly states, “Let Us make man in Our image.” The plural pronouns strongly suggest co-Creators working together during creation. But the relationship between the two is not defined. Only God creates as These were creating. God's Word shows no other beings creating as These did. Angels do not create.
There are a few passages in the Old Testament regarding another God-Being whom Jesus refers to as “the Father.” We will begin with Psalm 2:2, 7-9:
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed . . .. “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'”
First, the psalmist mentions the Messiah (“His Anointed”), and second, he brings out the idea of sonship, suggesting that some sort of family relationship already existed between the two creative God-beings in Genesis 1.
So, what did the apostle John intend in John 1:18? Jesus needed to reveal Their close, cooperative, and creative working-relationship. Also, John 1 shows that They are virtually mirror images of each other in character and purpose, as Jesus states in John 10:30: “I and My Father are one.” They are not one Person but united in purpose. They have been working harmoniously together for a long, long time on the same project. Finally, Jesus revealed in His ministry, in part, that the Father and Son were together accomplishing a glorious purpose.
In the real Lord's Prayer, Jesus says:
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:20-21)
His statement summarizes what the divine Father and Son are accomplishing together. They are expanding Their kind and degree of Family unity to others as finished products in the image of the Father and Son.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Nine)
During the first century, a number of very vocal Jews were hesitant about accepting Jesus Christ as High Priest under the New Covenant. The conference recorded in Acts 15, held to resolve their doubts, provides evidence of this group's existence. However, through the human author, God led, as it were, with a knockout punch in Hebrews' first chapter. Reading the powerful and true statements about Christ from God's own Word, laid out with devastating logic, a convert could find nothing to contradict.
Is there any other person besides Jesus, be he angel or human, whom God names as His only begotten Son? Is there anyone else whom God names as His Son who will inherit all things? Through whom the entire creation came into being? Who has given life itself to all creatures including humans?
God does not stop there. He continues His direct attack. Did God appoint any other person besides the One who became Jesus of Nazareth as “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person”? Does anyone else also uphold all things in creation by the very word of His power?
Did anyone but His only begotten Son purge us of our sins by sacrificing His perfectly lived life in an extremely painful death? Did anyone else rise from the dead and ascend to heaven to be seated at the Father's right hand, filling the second-highest position of power and authority in the entire universe?
All these questions challenge the skeptics to justify their reasons for rejecting Him as High Priest. Is there any room for even an angel, a creation of Jesus and thus on a lower plane than He, to be considered? And that is only the beginning of the questions that surely arose.
What God establishes at the very beginning of this magnificent epistle did not directly answer a few of the Jews' central doubts. What really perturbed the doubters was that Jesus of Nazareth appeared to be just another human, and He obviously died as all humans die. These facts, based on sight, not faith, did not meet their expectations.
The Jews' expectations about the appearance of the Messiah were built—and twisted from time to time—over a 1,400-year, on-and-off knowledge of God. Frankly, in terms of time, it was far more often “off” than “on.” God did not praise even one king of the ten northern Israelite tribes for leading a period of righteous rule over them. The tribes in the southern kingdom, Judah, occasionally had a David, Hezekiah, or Josiah rise to the point of God giving such praise. However, this kingdom eventually fell, and God judged that its conduct had been worse than that of the Kingdom of Israel!
Jesus was born among these people of Judah, and to them, He preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Jews had had an especially long period of free access to the prophets God sent through the centuries, so they had had access to the Scriptures as they came into existence through the prophets. Hebrews 1:1 declares that God ensured that this witness occurred: “God . . . at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets.” The Israelites were never totally without access to God's guidance. Their problem was they did not believe deeply enough what He said to allow them to use it to bring Him glory. Like many modern Americans, they mostly did their own thing.
They were not totally wrong on everything, but they were in error enough that they could not come to correct conclusions to give them an accurate picture. For example, some Jews understood enough of the Promised Seed prophecy (Genesis 3:14-15) to know that it would be fulfilled by a great leader among the Israelites. They also knew He would be “the Anointed” and the “Messiah” and lead Israel to material greatness among the nations.
That scenario does not even begin to scratch the fullness of the Promised Seed's accomplishments, let alone that all nations will benefit both spiritually and materially from His greatness. They had only the slightest inkling that His appearance and subsequent accomplishments would bring salvation to the Gentile world too.
So, they had difficulty with the concept that Jesus of Nazareth was both God and man at the same time—even with the idea that He could be divine while in the flesh. They had trouble connecting their understanding of the Promised Messiah with Jesus' public ministry of both words and healings of mind and body, with His sacrificial death, and with the spiritual gifts He gives to heal the elects' minds and spirits, even though a spiritual mind can see that the prophecy in Genesis 3 contains hints of them. To some Jews, influenced by Judaism, these elements were a leap beyond their abilities to grasp.
When Christ's three-and-a-half years of ministry concluded and the church began, virtually everyone called and converted was a Jew. It was not that Jesus did not preach to Gentiles. He preached to the Gentile Samaritans as early as John 4, and His message attracted them, but none were converted during His ministry. Gentiles grasped some level of the truth, but not until God sent Peter to the home of Cornelius, a Roman soldier, and he and his family were converted and baptized into the Family of God, did the middle wall of division separating the Israelites—most specifically the Jews—and the Gentiles began to dissolve, little by little, within the church, the Israel of God.
The biblical record does not suggest in any way that the Gentiles called into God's church had any more difficulty being converted to Jesus Christ than Jews. The Jerusalem Conference resolved much of the “Gentile problem” challenging the Jews, and the church began moving to correct any remaining issues tied to this dispute.
Three things assisted the Jews through this issue:
The apostles' and others' consistent, truthful teaching from the Old Testament in Sabbath services and Bible studies.
The called Gentiles quick understanding of the truth, at least partly a result of their not having to overcome false, Jewish teachings.
The gradual writing of gospels, letters, and other material by the apostles, especially those that became part of what is now the New Testament.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1
The statement in verse 7 puzzles us because it is a figurative expression capable of a couple of interpretations. It is a near-quotation of Psalm 104:4, “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire,” which does nothing to help our understanding. It may help to recall that angels can rightly be understood as messengers. The verse can thus be translated into a more understandable statement, that God “makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants.” The New International Version and other modern Bibles render it similarly.
Most expositors resolve the issue in this manner. They believe that, since the chapter's purpose is to expound and glorify Jesus as immeasurably superior to angels, the “messengers” and “servants” should both be identified as angels, not different kinds of created things. Therefore, they are both angelic creations though pictured as little more than elemental spirits that do their Creator's bidding. The Son, however, remains exceedingly higher and greater than they, for He is the One who created them and sends them on their errands.
This solution to verse 7 fits hand-in-glove with verse 8, which presents Jesus as possessing a throne and a kingdom: “But to the Son, He says: ‛Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.'” Compared to the Son's throne, kingdom, and status as Creator, the angels are doing relatively minor work, being sent by the Son to do various chores. Jesus continues to be exalted, and the angels, though honored for faithfulness, are shown in subservient positions.
Verse 9 carries the exultant praise yet further: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Not only is righteousness the norm where He reigns, but He loves it, while at the same time hating sin. In terms of character, Christ is undivided. The Father then addresses His Son directly as God, stating that, because He has done this, He receives a superior anointing, marking Him as worthy of higher praise than others.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Eight): Hebrews 1
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