JESUS – The Name

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There are many names and titles of Jesus found in the Bible, and each of them contains a description or illustration of his life and work. Let us examine some of those names, and gain the lessons to be found in the deeper meanings in Jesus’ name.

Jesus

First, let us look at the most familiar name, Jesus. Matthew 1:18‑23 tells about the angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph in a dream explaining to him to call the boy who would be born to Mary “JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” These words directly reference the words of Isaiah 7:14.

Bible dictionaries tell us that Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua and both these names are English adaptations of these respective forms of the word just as Elisheba (the wife of Aaron, Exodus 6:23) is a Hebrew form, and Elisabeth (mother of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5) is a grecianized form, but both of these names also are English adaptations. The full form of the name Joshua has two parts—Jeho‑shua, or Jehovah‑shua, meaning Jehovah saves. Later, this name assumed the form Jeshua (sometimes pronounced Yeshua), from which came the Greek form Jesus. But the Hebrew origin of the Greek name Jesus literally means Jehovah saves, or, God saves, and that name was given to our Lord to describe the mission of his life, to save the people from their sins, as we just read in Matthew 1:21.

Why did not Joseph call Jesus’ name Immanuel, like Isaiah prophesied? Here’s where understanding the meaning of names makes everything clear.

The word El means might, strength, power. The Schofield Reference Bible states that God (El) signifies the Strong One. In the Old Testament El refers not only to God, but also to mighty men of earth. The word El was often made part of peoples’ names to include a reference to God. For example, the name Elijah, or El‑i‑Jah, begins with El and means Jehovah is God. The name Daniel, or Dan‑i‑El ends with El and means God is my judge.

Here is a list of text containing the Hebrew word El for your consideration with a link for each from the Strongs Concordance: Genesis 31:29, Deuteronomy 28:32, Psalm 36:6, Proverbs 3:27, Isaiah 45:20, Psalm 89:6, Psalm 82:1, Exodus 15:11, Psalm 29:1, Psalm 50:1.

“Notice the above texts carefully and critically and all will agree that the context in every case shows the meaning of the Hebrew word El to be powerful one. How clearly it is stated in the last three quotations that JEHOVAH is the chief “el” and ruleth over all other el—powerful ones. And it should be known to all, that JEHOVAH is the name applied to none other than the Supreme Being—our Father, and him whom Jesus called Father and God. (John 20:17.) The meaning then of the words ‘Mighty God’ in our text, is,—He shall be called the mighty powerful. And so he is, for to him the Father has given all power in earth and heaven—(Matt. 28:19, and 11:27.) ‘He is Lord of all’next to the Father for “The head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3.) They are one in mind, purpose, etc., because Jesus gave up his own will and took the Father’s (John 5:30) just as we must give up our will, mind, spirit and receive the Father’s if we would be made heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord. Does any one ask further proof of a distinction of persons? If so we request such to read Matt. 22:44—Jesus’ application to himself of Psa. 110:1, remembering that the words used by David, translated Lord [Master] are totally distinct and entirely different words, the first one being Jehovah, and the other adon. We give Young’s translation of this verse—’The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord—sit at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’(Reprint 296, Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence)

Immanuel

In the name Immanuel, the suffix ‑El is at the end, which tells us that the word God is part of that name. Bible dictionaries say that the first part of that name, Immanu, means with us. Thus, the entire name means God is with us. Indeed, God was with mankind in that He turned His favor toward mankind when he gave us his only begotten son to be Jesus—the savior of the world.

Since both names, Jesus and Immanuel, convey the thought of God sending his son Jesus to be the savior of the world, what is the deeper meaning of the name Jesus—which the son of man was to be named by Joseph?

It is salvation! But what does “being saved” mean?

Let us first explain what the Bible says is the punishment for sin.

Is it Hell?

No. It is simply death.

The Bible answers in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death.” God’s punishment upon Adam in the Garden of Eden extends to all of Adam’s progeny, the entire world of mankind, as explained in the following three Scriptures.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17).

“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalms 51:5).

This scripture explains to us that death is unescapable. Right from birth, humans inherited the penalty God imposed upon Adam, and that is why everyone dies.

The good news of salvation is all about being saved from death.

What are we saved to, and how? The Bible answers in the following way.

“(3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (4) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3‑6).

“(21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).

The word ransom means a price of release. As by one man’s (Adam’s) sin of disobedience, death came upon him and all mankind, so too, by one man, Jesus, mankind is saved from the just penalty of death. Jesus’ willing sacrifice of his life on the cross provided a ransom, a price of release for Adam and all mankind. The scales of God’s justice remain balanced, yet mankind is allowed relief from the penalty of death. They can be freed from condemnation because Jesus provided the price of release by accepting the penalty upon himself. Mankind may thus be freed from condemnation, and released from death in a resurrection.

Those who come into Christ presently are released from condemnation now. Romans 8:33,34, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Others will have their condemnation lifted during the Kingdom (Revelation 22:3).

Now the deeper meaning of the name Jesus is clear: we have the whole picture of salvation, and its two main features—the ransom and the resurrection. Jesus is the savior of the world because by his ransom sacrifice he saved mankind from death, to a resurrection to life. We also gain a correct understanding of the nature of man, specifically that he is mortal human flesh, and does not have an immortal soul. For if man had an immortal soul that could not die, then there would be no need for the resurrection of the dead, which is so clearly taught in the Bible.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

What will this resurrection be like, and when? Let us answer that question by considering the five names of Jesus found in Isaiah 9:6,7 (a prophecy of Jesus’ birth, and a scripture we often hear read or even sung in Handel’s Messiah).

“(6) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

(7) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”

The first few words of Verse 6 refer to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The rest of these two verses fast‑forward to a time yet future, as the tense changes from present tense (“unto us a child is born”) to future tense (“and the government shall be”). It is apparent that Jesus’ government, Jesus’ kingdom of peace, is not yet established with judgment and justice. When it is, all mankind will say, this is the government we have always wanted, but never had. This promised government, this kingdom, was the most frequent topic Jesus preached about, during his three and a half year ministry on earth. When Jesus taught his disciples, and us, how to pray in the model prayer, He included these words.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

In Isaiah 11:9 we read, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Mountain is used as another word for kingdom or government. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, just as the Apostle Paul wrote in that scripture we read earlier, “God wills that all men will come into a knowledge of the Truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Jesus will be mankind’s Counselor, or teacher, in that Kingdom.

When will Christ’s kingdom be established “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)? Examining John 18:36 sheds light on the answer to this question. In the context, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate to answer the charge that claimed Jesus had committed treason against Caesar by claiming to be King of the Jews, which if true would be punishable by death, hence why Pilate put the question directly to Jesus in John 18:33. “Art thou the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

At first reading, it might be thought that Jesus is saying, I am indeed a king, but my kingdom is not of this world, this planet, this earth; my kingdom is in heaven. But that is not what Jesus is saying. A closer examination of the names of Jesus helps us gain a deeper understanding of his life and work. The word world in Jesus’ reply is kosmos in Greek and it means order. When Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this kosmos, he was as if saying, I am not establishing my kingdom now; it is not of this present order, but there is a new world order coming. And when it does, that new world order, that new social order, that new kosmos, will be my kingdom, here on earth.

In relation to the resurrection to life in God’s Kingdom on earth, some sincere Christians believe that this world will be destroyed by literal fire (based on Scriptures such as 2 Peter 3:12) and that only the true followers of Jesus who have done their best to live a righteous life will be saved from destruction by being taken up to heaven.

That is not what this means.

In fact, Ecclesiastes 1:4 says the opposite: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”

How do we harmonize these two seemingly contradictory scriptures?

We do so by recognizing that 2 Peter 3:12 is symbolic. Here the Greek word for elements is stoicheion, which, like that other Greek word, kosmos, means an orderly arrangement. It is describing the end of the old social order of things in this present evil world, not the end of the planet.

In Ecclesiastes 1:4, the Hebrew word for earth, means the dirt, the planet—these will never pass away.

Coming back to the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6,7

Jesus will be the world’s Counselor, instructor, teacher, and guide to give assistance and direction, whereby the billions of resurrected people will return to harmony with Jehovah and to the enjoyment of the blessings provided through the ransom.

His name, The Mighty God, or Mighty, Mighty One, will be recognized then, on earth, as well as in Heaven. As the Heavenly, Divine Being he became after his own resurrection, he will have all the power necessary not only to resurrect mankind, but also to bring to pass justice and righteousness for everyone.

The name, The Everlasting Father, will apply to him as the Life‑Giver of the world, during the thousand years of his reign. In all that time he will be giving “life more abundant” to mankind—everlasting life to all who will obey him—therefore his title, The Everlasting Father, or the Father who will give everlasting life to humanity, is a fitting one. All the world of mankind, resurrected on the human plane, will obtain their right to everlasting life as human beings in an earthly Paradise from their Redeemer, who will then be their King.

His name, The Prince of Peace, will not apply to Him at the beginning of His reign when He will be tearing down the old order of this Present Evil World. However, true peace will speedily be established and he shall be known as The Prince of Peace, whose reign will be undisputed and uncontested. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end,” there will be no rebellion, and his kingdom will not pass away.

Combining all these names and the future works they reveal to us, his name will be Wonderful—the one who will be recognized by all as the embodiment, the expression, of Divine Justice, Love, Wisdom, and Power. That will be the Kingdom on earth for which Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth.”

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Another name or title of Jesus mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:15: “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

The meaning of this title is fairly straightforward, and this scripture also tells us what the other Scriptures have been telling us about Christ’s kingdom, namely, that it is not yet fully established, but will be, in his times, and we believe that time is soon as we will examine a little later.

Christ

A Bible dictionary gives the following definition for the name Christ:

(1) Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), regarded by Christians as fulfilling Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah,
(2) The Messiah or anointed one of God as the subject of Old Testament prophecies.

An ordinary dictionary says that Christ comes from the Latin Christus, which in turn comes from the Greek Khristos, which means anointed. Thus, the name Christ carries the thought of, anointed. We can understand that because we have a few English words derived from Christ which convey the idea of anointing. We speak of babies and even ships being christened, with some ceremonious application of a liquid in the manner of anointing.

So when we say the compound name “Jesus Christ,” we are saying, Jesus Anointed, or Jesus, the Anointed one.

What, then, is the deeper significance of this name of Jesus, Anointed, or the Anointed One?

In Old Testament times, a special anointing oil was prepared according to a formula given by God Himself in Exodus chapter 30. It was to be used only to anoint the persons who were to serve as Israel’s priests, as well as the furniture and utensils used in the sacrifices God commanded the nation of Israel to offer on various occasions. This anointing signified that the ones being anointed were authorized to serve as priests. This holy anointing oil was so restricted in its usage, that if anyone used the holy anointing oil for any other purpose, or if anyone concocted an oil like the holy anointing oil, they were to be put to death (Exodus 30:32‑33).

A different oil was also used to anoint Israel’s kings, in a type of inauguration ceremony, to signify the authority of the one being anointed to legitimately assume the office of King. The one doing the anointing was often a prophet whom the people recognized as God’s spokesperson; authorized by God to anoint a king to his office.

We can think of these words anointing, or anointed, as an Old Testament equivalent of what we commonly see today when a president, or governor, or other high official, is sworn into office by placing his hand on a Bible and taking the oath of office administered by a judge or other official.

We now see that this term, Christ, defined as anointed, has a deeper meaning of authorized by God Himself to serve in the capacity or office given to them.

Messiah

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The word “Messiah” comes from a Hebrew term meaning “to smear or anoint.” When grease or oil was applied to objects by Israelites, the commonly used term was “anoint.” However, the name “Messiah” is used in reference only to persons, rather than to “anointed” objects. As mentioned before while discussing the name Christ, persons who were anointed had been appointed and given authority for specific offices and tasks given to them. So, then, “Messiah” is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name, “Christ.”

Since Old Testament times, Jews have been looking for the Messiah to come and fulfill all the prophecies that foretold his work of delivering Israel from their oppression as a people, and their scattering as a nation. Even today, religious and even non‑religious Jews will say something like, “When Messiah comes, Israel will prosper and the world will be a better place.” So the name Messiah has a connotation of deliverer to the Jews. This matches nicely with the equivalent name Christ, because ever since Jesus died and was resurrected, Christians have been looking forward to his return, or coming again, as mankind’s deliverer. Thus the name Messiah is associated with Jesus’ return. Jews in general do not believe that Jesus Christ is their long awaited Messiah. But when they see the establishment of his kingdom and how it meets and exceeds their grandest expectations, they will.

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The restitution, or restoration, of all things means to restore mankind, and the earth, to the perfection Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.

The spiritual part of the restitution phase has begun since our Lord’s second presence (invisible to the world, but visible by the eyes of understanding to the spirit begotten of the Gospel Age).

The presence of Christ is referred to by the word parousia in the New Testament, in scriptures such as Matthew 24:3 (where the word “coming” is properly translated “presence”).

NOTE: See booklet titled : “I WILL COME AGAIN”

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When mankind is restored to perfection, then they will be tested individually, as Adam was.

If they are obedient they will live—if they are disobedient they will not.

In that future test, mankind will have the enormous advantage of their past experience with sin and its consequences, that will enable them to

choose life through obedience, and pass the test.

This doctrine of Restitution now gives us the third “R” in a trio of precious truths concerning salvation:

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Christ, Revisited

Let us now consider our key scripture, Colossians 1:26,27.

“(26) Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Remembering that the anointing represents authorization to a work or office, like the priests and the kings of Israel, this passage tells us that Jesus’ close, footstep followers, can be, like he was, anointed or authorized to join him in his kingdom work.

Is not this thought incredible!

The following Scriptures support this:

  • “If we suffer (with him), we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).

 

  • “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7).

 

  • “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

 

  • “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

This means that there are actually two resurrections, and therefore, two salvations (See the HOPE & RESURRECTION posts: PART A, PART B, and PART C).

There is a first resurrection, now during the Gospel Age (from Christ’s ascension until the end of the age of the High Calling, ending six millenniums of the permission of evil), to a salvation of glory, honor, and immortality in heaven (Romans 2:7). This is for the very few who share in Christ’s sufferings by living their lives as peculiar people, a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), following in Jesus’ footsteps.

Then there will also be a general resurrection in the future, on a perfect earth, of the rest of mankind, to a salvation in God’s kingdom.

Why is it taking so long for the Kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for, to come?

Why is it taking Jesus so long to establish his kingdom and do all the things his names imply?

Here is the answer:

Before the general resurrection and earthly salvation can begin, the first resurrection to the heavenly salvation must be complete. Romans 8:19 explains:

“The earnest expectation of the creature [all mankind] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God [the completion of the Bride class].”

All this truth is embodied in the name Christ—Jesus, the anointed redeemer, and the anointed class, his footstep followers, who will reign with him as kings and priests in his kingdom.

Summary

By examining the several names and titles of Jesus and their meaning, deeper illustrations of our Savior’s teachings, life, and work can be learned.

  •  In the name Jesus we see his work of salvation, from death to life, which the doctrine of the Ransom teaches us about.

 

  • In the names Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting father, the Prince of Peace, we see when that due time when that Ransom will have its fullest effect. It will be in the coming Kingdom on earth for which Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” In that Kingdom the resurrection will take place. Everyone who has ever lived since Adam and Eve were created will be raised from death to life by the Everlasting father or life‑giver and taught by that Counselor in the peaceful kingdom where none will hurt anyone else.

 

  • In the name Messiah we see the return of Jesus when the spiritual phase of the restitution period begins, after which time shall commence the process of resurrecting, teaching, and guiding mankind back to the perfection enjoyed by Adam and Eve before sin entered the world. Since restitution means to restore to a previous state or condition, here mankind shall be restored to perfect bodies, perfect minds, and perfect characters. After that restitution work is complete, everyone in that kingdom will be equipped and ready to pass the test that Adam failed: obey and live, disobey and die. But this time mankind will have the enormous advantage of experience with sin and its consequences, which will enable them to choose life through obedience, and live.

 

  • In the name Christ, which means anointed and is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word Messiah, we see Jesus, authorized by God to be our Savior and to accomplish all things required for the salvation of mankind. More than this, the scriptures tell us that there is also an anointed class of Jesus’ true footstep followers who are also called to be assistants in Jesus’ work for mankind in the kingdom. These footstep followers will have a first resurrection in heaven, following which will come a resurrection for the remainder of mankind on earth. This is the key doctrine of the two salvations.

 

In learning about Jesus’ life and work, we have gained some key insights into commonly held misconceptions that are not supported by the scriptures. We have seen that there is no Hell of torment, and that man does not have an immortal soul.

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[NOTE: The word “many” in the above Matthew 20:28 verse reaffirms that many are involved in being freed from the sentence of death. Thus similarly, in Romans 5:19—many were constitutes sinners but really, ALL of us were (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:8).]

Hymns of Millennial Dawn No. 96

AUDIO [Hymn 96] – The Name of Jesus

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It makes the wounded spirit whole
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear name! the rock on which we build,
Our shield and hiding place;
Our neverfailing treasure, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus, our Shepherd, Saviour, Friend,
Our Prophet, Priest, and King,
Our hearts in gratitude ascend;
Accept the praise we bring.

We would thy boundless love proclaim
With ev’ry fleeting breath;
And sound the music of thy name
Abroad through all the earth.

References:

“In Jesus Name”—Public Lecture by Br. Joe Megacz December 2016.
URL: https://chicagobible.org/public‑lecture‑in‑jesus‑name/

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Reprint 296-297 from The Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of  Christ’s Presence. The Everlasting Father.
URL: http://www.htdbv8.com/1881/r296.htm

Hymns of Millennial Dawn—URL: http://www.htdbv8.com/indexhd.html

Further Suggested Bible Study Material:

“The Ransom” video power point presentation discourse by Br. David Rice
URL: http://bibleresources.info/ransom‑david‑rice/

Soul and Spirit. Faithbuilders Fellowship. January 2006.
URL: http://2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

Free Booklet titled: “I Will Come Again – John 14:3”
URL: https://chicagobible.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/I-WILL-COME-AGAIN.pdf

Immortality and the Human Soul. The Dawn Magazine. 1959
URL: http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

The Doctrine of Christ—Booklet.
URL: http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

How Does “the Son of Man” Title, Speak Volumes About Jesus?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/10/how-does-the-son-of-man-title-speak-volumes-about-jesus/

Acts 23:6—HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART A: What Is Jesus All About?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

Acts 23:6—HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART B: Will Mankind Resurrection With The Same Mind?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

Acts 23:6—HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART C: The Order Of The Resurrection Process.
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

God’s Name—What Is The Heavenly Father’s Name That We Are To Hallow And Why?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Acknowledgment:

  • Br Joe Megacz—content of this post.
  • Br David Rice—editing assistance.

The URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

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Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

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The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

In John 3:16 we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

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