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The Blood of Christ

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Question: 

I am talking to a person who says some troubling things based upon the Greek in a couple of verses that I would ask you to clarify for me. Here is what he says: ...

"2 Peter 2:1 in the KJV merely says Lord, and in all other versions I looked at translate it as Master (including RSV, NASB, NEB, Net-Bible, Interlinear Bible). I found no version other than the NIV that includes the word "sovereign," and that word does not appear in the Greek. Basically, you need to try reading something besides just the NIV. It is blatantly biased toward the Trinity. Regarding Acts 20:28, the manuscript and translation are quite variable. According even to the NIV margin, many manuscripts say "blood of the Lord," which removes your point entirely. "His own blood" is translated as "blood of his own" in several versions. A son is often spoken of in that way as one's "own blood," which would be a much more reasonable translation than to suggest that God has blood that was shed. This is too doubtful a passage on which to hang so much doctrine contradictory to other Scriptures."

Response : 

On 2Pet.2:1, the word in Greek is despotes, for which "Master" is a perfectly good translation. This is the word from which we get "despot", although the negative connotations of the word are entirely modern. Using an upper case "M" or the word "sovereign" are not unjustified methods of translation because 1) clearly this refers to Jesus whom Peter knew was His "Lord and God" (cf. Matt.16:17), and 2) the more commonly used word translated "master" in the NT is kyrios, so translators need to try and make some distinction here in order for readers to understand that this is not the more common word for "Lord/Master". This word, despotes, often does have the significance in the NT of referring to God as opposed to a human lord/master (cf. Lk.2:29; Acts 4:24; Rev.6:10).

But the real key to understanding 2nd Peter 2:1 is the substantive participle of agorazo: "the One who has bought them". For this is a clear reference to the redemptive work of Christ, our Lord's "buying out of sin" of condemned humanity through the "coin" of His blood, that is, His work for us on the cross (there is much in the NT on redemption, but the following passages all use the same root as agorazo "to buy": 1Cor.6:20; 7:23; Gal.3:13; 4:5; Eph.5:16; Col.4:5; Rev.5:9; 14:3-4). Only Christ could "buy" us, because only His "blood" would/could ever be acceptable to the Father, because only He was without sin, and only He was the Son of God, the divine Son who came down from heaven, "sent" ("Messiah/meshiach") to save us. This is Hebrews again: the essential theme of the book, and the main theme of chapters 4:14 - 10:18.

This brings us to the last point regarding Acts 20:28. Few metaphors in the Bible have been as misunderstood as the "blood of Christ" (strange, because the concept is simple and clearly taught throughout both testaments). The "blood of Christ" is a symbol in the Bible - it is never literal blood, any more than Christ is/was a literal "lamb" (cf. Jn.1:29). This is NOT to diminish in any way what our Lord did for us on Golgotha - rather it is to intensify our appreciation of His sacrifice by leading us to understand it correctly. The "blood of Christ" is a reference to Jesus' saving work on the cross, His sacrificial death on our behalf which is foreshadowed by everything in the Mosaic Law, and most clearly in the Tabernacle, its furniture, and the animal sacrifices which attend thereto. The analogy is thus, just as Old Testament believers offered up animals "without spot or blemish" as pictures of Christ, so the blood shed by these animals depicts the precious sacrifice of Christ in giving His life for them/us (animals represent Christ; animal blood represents Christ's giving of His life for us). For we are helpless to provide such a sacrifice for ourselves, but, as in Abraham's case, "God will provide a lamb for Himself" (Gen.22:8; cf. 22:14), and Jesus is "the Lamb of God" (Jn.1:29; Rev.5:6; 13:8). John makes it very, very clear that Jesus did not bleed to death on the cross (Jn.19:33-35; cf. 1Jn.5:6-8), so that it is not through His literal blood but through His suffering and dying for us (represented by the word "blood") that we are saved.

Indeed, our Lord "gave up His spirit" once His work, His mission was accomplished, and this was the way in which He expired (Matt.27:50; Mk.15:37; Lk.23:46; Jn.19:30). The Greek text of Acts 20:28 says that Jesus purchased His Church "through His own blood" (dia tou haimatos tou idiou) - a phrase that means and brings home what we have just said: it was His death on the cross that gave Jesus the "purchasing power" to buy us all out of sin, because by His substitutionary death He expiated that sin and opened the way for eternal life for all who would accept His work (what He did) and His Person (who He is), and follow Him faithfully to the end. One cannot be a true disciple of Jesus Christ if one refuses to accept any of this.

The fact that your correspondent likes to quote scripture is nothing new. In Paul's day, the Judaizers, unsaved Jews and gentiles who preached that salvation came through the Law, also quoted scripture, and every heretical and apostate group since that has wanted to make capital out of the Bible and/or true Christianity have regularly quoted the scripture. I find it a good touch-stone when trying to decide whether or not a group/person is sincere or merely an advocate of some group/cult to examine their technique. If the person is really interested in asking questions or being involved in a dialogue or exhibiting signs of truly seeking, then there may be sincerity present. If, however, the person is acting like a lawyer or one of those political hacks one sees on cable TV, bullying, aggressively debating, belittling, etc., then there is almost no chance that any sincerity is present, only ex parte point-of-view. With such lost souls, there is usually little headway to be made unless and until God intervenes and makes them reevaluate their terrible choices.

Please also see the following links:

The Blood of Christ (in BB 4A)

The Blood of Christ (in Peter #9)

Redemption, the Blood of Christ, Christ our Passover, and The Passion of the Christ.

Communion and the Blood of Christ.

In the Sovereign Lord who bought us with His blood.

Yours,

Bob L.

 


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