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The full significance of his “name.” It can be seen that, while Jesus’ death on a torture stake plays a vital part in human salvation, acceptance of this is by no means all that is involved in ‘putting faith in the name of Jesus.’ (Ac 10:43) Following his resurrection, Jesus informed his disciples, “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth,” thereby showing that he heads a government of universal domain. (Mt 28:18) The apostle Paul made clear that Jesus’ Father has “left nothing that is not subject to him [Jesus],” with the evident exception of “the one who subjected all things to him,” that is, Jehovah, the Sovereign God. (1Co 15:27; Heb 1:1-14; 2:8) Jesus Christ’s “name,” therefore, is more excellent than that of God’s angels, in that his name embraces or stands for the vast executive authority that Jehovah has placed in him. (Heb 1:3, 4) Only those who willingly recognize that “name” and bow to it, subjecting themselves to the authority it represents, will gain life eternal. (Ac 4:12; Eph 1:19-23; Php 2:9-11) They must, sincerely and without hypocrisy, line up with the standards Jesus exemplified and, in faith, obey the commands he gave.—Mt 7:21-23; Ro 1:5; 1Jo 3:23. PASSOVER Passover (Heb., pe'sach; Gr., pa'skha) was instituted the evening preceding the Exodus from Egypt. The first Passover was observed about the time of full moon, on the 14th day of Abib (later called Nisan) in the year 1513 B.C.E. This was thereafter to be celebrated annually. (Ex 12:17-20, 24-27) Abib (Nisan) falls within the months March-April of the Gregorian calendar. Passover was followed by seven days of the Festival of Unfermented Cakes, Nisan 15-21. Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and the ‘passing over’ of their firstborn when Jehovah destroyed the firstborn of Egypt. Seasonally, it fell at the beginning of the barley harvest.—Ex 12:14, 24-47; Le 23:10. Passover was a memorial celebration; therefore the Scriptural command was: “And it must occur that when your sons say to you, ‘What does this service mean to you?’ then you must say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the passover to Jehovah, who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when he plagued the Egyptians, but he delivered our houses.’”—Ex 12:26, 27. Since the Jews reckoned the day as starting after sundown and ending the next day at sundown, Nisan 14 would begin after sundown. It would be in the evening after Nisan 13 concluded that the Passover would be observed. Since the Bible definitely states that Christ is the Passover sacrifice (1Co 5:7) and that he observed the Passover meal the evening before he was put to death, the date of his death would be Nisan 14, not Nisan 15, in order to fulfill accurately the time feature of the type, or shadow, provided in the Law.—Heb 10:1. Lord’s Evening Meal Instituted: Over 15 centuries after the Exodus, on Nisan 14 of the year 33 C.E., Jesus gathered with his 12 apostles in Jerusalem to celebrate the last valid Passover, and then, having dismissed the traitorous Judas, he proceeded to institute the memorial of his death by means of the Lord’s Supper, or Evening Meal. (Mt 26:17-30; 1Co 11:23-25) Before Nisan 14 passed, he died as the Lamb of God. On Nisan 16, the day the priest at the temple waved the firstfruits of the barley harvest, Jesus, as the firstfruits of the resurrection, was raised up to life again.—Lu 23:54–24:7; 1Co 15:20. In obedience to Christ’s instructions, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me,” the 14th day of Nisan continues to be observed by his followers till this day as the time for memorializing Christ’s death.—Lu 22:19, 20; see LORD’S EVENING MEAL.
BEFORE ascending to heaven in 33 C.E., Jesus Christ gave his followers this parting commission: “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Ac 1:8) They proved true to their commission. Ten days later, at Pentecost, holy spirit came upon about 120 disciples waiting in Jerusalem, and they proceeded to speak “about the magnificent things of God.” (Ac 2:1-4, 11) On that same day, about 3,000 were baptized. (Ac 2:37-41) Within a short time, the disciples ‘filled Jerusalem with their teaching.’ (Ac 5:27, 28, 40-42) With what result? “The number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much.”—Ac 6:7. From Jerusalem, the witnessing work spread out. As a result of opposition to their witnessing in Jerusalem, the disciples were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Again, the result was increase.—Ac 8:1, 4, 14-17. In 36 C.E. the apostle Peter brought the good news to Caesarea, where Cornelius and his household, the first uncircumcised Gentile converts, were baptized. (Ac 10) Following that, systematic witnessing among non-Jews apparently began in Syrian Antioch. As a result, “a great number that became believers turned to the Lord.” (Ac 11:20, 21) Since then, the witnessing work has expanded to other nations and has literally reached “to the most distant part of the earth.” Time of his death: The death of Jesus Christ took place in the spring, on the Passover Day, Nisan (or Abib) 14, according to the Jewish calendar. (Mt 26:2; Joh 13:1-3; Ex 12:1-6; 13:4) That year the Passover occurred on the sixth day of the week (counted by the Jews as from sundown on Thursday to sundown on Friday). This is evident from John 19:31, which shows that the following day was “a great” sabbath. The day after Passover was always a sabbath, no matter on what day of the week it came. (Le 23:5-7) But when this special Sabbath coincided with the regular Sabbath (the seventh day of the week), it became “a great one.” So Jesus’ death took place on Friday, Nisan 14, by about 3:00 p.m.—Lu 23:44-46. Summary of evidence: Summing up, then, since Jesus’ death took place in the spring month of Nisan, his ministry, which began three and a half years earlier according to Daniel 9:24-27, must have begun in the fall, about the month of Ethanim (September-October). John’s ministry (initiated in Tiberius’ 15th year), then, must have begun in the spring of the year 29 C.E. John’s birth therefore would be placed in the spring of the year 2 B.C.E., Jesus’ birth would come about six months later in the fall of 2 B.C.E., his ministry would start about 30 years later in the fall of 29 C.E., and his death would come in the year 33 C.E. (on Nisan 14 in the spring, as stated). Jesus Christ Role as Ransomer: Though available to all, Christ’s ransom sacrifice is not accepted by all, and “the wrath of God remains” upon those not accepting it, as it also comes upon those who first accept and then turn away from that provision. (Joh 3:36; Heb 10:26-29; contrast Ro 5:9, 10.) They gain no deliverance from the enslavement to Kings Sin and Death. (Ro 5:21) Under the Law the deliberate murderer could not be ransomed. Adam, by his willful course, brought death on all mankind, hence was a murderer. (Ro 5:12) However, God is pleased to approve the application of the ransom to redeem those of Adam’s offspring who avail themselves of such a release. As Paul states, “as through the disobedience of the one man many were constituted sinners, likewise also through the obedience of the one person many will be constituted righteous.” (Ro 5:18, 19) At the time of Adam’s sin and his being sentenced to death, his offspring or race were all unborn in his loins and so all died with him. (Compare Heb 7:4-10.) Jesus as a perfect man, “the last Adam” (1Co 15:45), had a race or offspring unborn in his loins, and when he died innocently as a perfect human sacrifice this potential human race died with him. He had willingly abstained from producing a family of his own by natural procreation. Instead, Jesus uses the authority granted by Jehovah on the basis of his ransom to give life to all those who accept this provision.—1Co 15:45; compare Ro 5:15-17. Thus, Jesus was indeed “a corresponding ransom,” not for the redemption of the one sinner, Adam, but for the redemption of all mankind descended from Adam. He repurchased them so that they could become his family, doing this by presenting the full value of his ransom sacrifice to the God of absolute justice in heaven. (Heb 9:24) He thereby gains a Bride, a heavenly congregation formed of his followers. (Compare Eph 5:23-27; Re 1:5, 6; 5:9, 10; 14:3, 4.) Messianic prophecies also show he will have “offspring” as an “Eternal Father.” (Isa 53:10-12; 9:6, 7) To be such, his ransom must embrace more than those of his “Bride.” In addition to those “bought from among mankind as firstfruits” to form that heavenly congregation, therefore, others are to benefit from his ransom sacrifice and gain everlasting life through the removal of their sins and accompanying imperfection. (Re 14:4; 1Jo 2:1, 2) Since those of the heavenly congregation serve with Christ as priests and “kings over the earth,” such other recipients of the ransom benefits must be earthly subjects of Christ’s Kingdom, and as children of an “Eternal Father” they attain everlasting life. (Re 5:10; 20:6; 21:2-4, 9, 10; 22:17; compare Ps 103:2-5.) The entire arrangement manifests Jehovah’s wisdom and his righteousness in perfectly balancing the scales of justice while showing undeserved kindness and forgiving sins.—Ro 3:21-26.
His Vital Place in God’s Purpose: Jehovah God saw fit to make his firstborn Son the central, or key, figure in the outworking of all His purposes (Joh 1:14-18; Col 1:18-20; 2:8, 9), the focal point on which the light of all prophecies would concentrate and from which their light would radiate (1Pe 1:10-12; Re 19:10; Joh 1:3-9), the solution to all the problems that Satan’s rebellion had raised (Heb 2:5-9, 14, 15; 1Jo 3:8), and the foundation upon which God would build all future arrangements for the eternal good of His universal family in heaven and earth. (Eph 1:8-10; 2:20; 1Pe 2:4-8) Because of the vital role he thus plays in God’s purpose, Jesus could say, rightly and without exaggeration: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”—Joh 14:6. The “sacred secret.” God’s purpose as revealed in Jesus Christ remained a “sacred secret [or, mystery] . . . kept in silence for long-lasting times.” (Ro 16:25-27) For over 4,000 years, since the rebellion in Eden, men of faith had awaited the fulfillment of God’s promise of a “seed” to bruise the head of the serpentlike Adversary and thereby to bring relief to mankind. (Ge 3:15) For nearly 2,000 years they had hoped in Jehovah’s covenant with Abraham for a “seed” who would “take possession of the gate of his enemies” and by means of whom all nations of the earth would bless themselves.—Ge 22:15-18. Finally, when “the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son” and through him revealed the meaning of the “sacred secret,” gave the definitive answer to the issue raised by God’s Adversary (see JEHOVAH [The supreme issue a moral one]), and provided the means for redeeming obedient mankind from sin and death through the ransom sacrifice of his Son. (Ga 4:4; 1Ti 3:16; Joh 14:30; 16:33; Mt 20:28) Thereby Jehovah God cleared away any uncertainty or ambiguity regarding his purposes in the minds of his servants. For that reason the apostle says that “no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of [Jesus Christ].”—2Co 1:19-22. The “sacred secret” did not simply involve an identification of God’s Son as such. Rather it involved the role he was assigned in the framework of God’s foreordained purpose, and the revelation and execution of that purpose through Jesus Christ. This purpose, so long a secret, was “for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.”—Eph 1:9, 10. The “sacred secret” bound up in Christ Jesus has as one of its aspects his heading a new heavenly government; its membership is to be formed of persons (Jews and non-Jews) taken from among earth’s population, and its domain is to embrace both heaven and earth. Thus, in the vision at Daniel 7:13, 14, one “like a son of man” (a title later applied frequently to Christ—Mt 12:40; 24:30; Lu 17:26; compare Re 14:14) appears in Jehovah’s heavenly courts and is given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” The same vision, however, shows that “the holy ones of the Supreme One” are also to share with this “son of man” in his Kingdom, rulership, and grandeur. (Da 7:27) While Jesus was on earth, he selected from among his disciples the first prospective members of his Kingdom government and, after they had ‘stuck with him in his trials,’ covenanted with them for a Kingdom, praying to his Father for their sanctification (or being made “holy ones”) and requesting that “where I am, they also may be with me, in order to behold my glory that you have given me.” (Lu 22:28, 29; Joh 17:5, 17, 24) Because of being thus united with Christ, the Christian congregation also plays a part in the “sacred secret,” as is later expressed by the inspired apostle.—Eph 3:1-11; 5:32; Col 1:26, 27; see SACRED SECRET. SACRED SECRET Centers Around Christ: Since “the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying,” “the sacred secret of God” must center around Christ. (Re 19:10; Col 2:2) All “the sacred secrets” of God have to do with his Messianic Kingdom. (Mt 13:11) The apostle Paul writes to fellow Christians: “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge,” and “it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.”—Col 2:2, 3, 9. Paul spoke of himself as having a stewardship of “sacred secrets of God.” (1Co 4:1) He speaks of the comprehension he has “in the sacred secret of the Christ.” (Eph 3:1-4) He explains that this sacred secret is hidden wisdom foreordained by God before the systems of things. (1Co 2:7) The declaration of the mystery, or “the sacred secret of God,” began with Jehovah’s own prophecy at Genesis 3:15. For centuries men of faith looked forward to the “seed” of promise to deliver mankind from sin and death, but it was not clearly understood just who the “seed” would be and just how this “seed” would come and bring deliverance. It was not until Christ came and “shed light upon life and incorruption through the good news” that this was made clear. (2Ti 1:10) Then the knowledge of the mystery of the ‘seed of the woman’ began to be understood. The Messianic Kingdom: In Paul’s writings he gives a full view of the revelation of the sacred secret of the Christ. At Ephesians 1:9-11 he speaks of God’s making known “the sacred secret” of his will, and says: “It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. Yes, in him, in union with whom we were also assigned as heirs, in that we were foreordained according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels.” This “sacred secret” involves a government, the Messianic Kingdom of God. “The things in the heavens,” to which Paul refers, are the prospective heirs of that heavenly Kingdom with Christ. “The things on the earth” will be its earthly subjects. Jesus pointed out to his disciples that the sacred secret had to do with the Kingdom when he said to them: “To you the sacred secret of the kingdom of God has been given.”—Mr 4:11. Includes the Congregation: There are many features in the knowledge of the sacred secret. The apostle gave further details when he explained that the sacred secret includes the congregation, of which Christ is Head. (Eph 5:32; Col 1:18; Re 1:20) These are his joint heirs, with whom he shares the Kingdom. (Lu 22:29, 30) They are taken from among both Jews and Gentiles. (Ro 11:25; Eph 3:3-6; Col 1:26, 27) This feature of “the sacred secret” could not be made clearly known until Peter was directed to visit the Gentile Cornelius and saw this Gentile household receive the gifts of the holy spirit, in 36 C.E. (Ac 10:34, 44-48) In writing to Gentile Christians, Paul told them: “You were . . . without Christ, . . . strangers to the covenants of the promise, and you had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ.” (Eph 2:11-13) Through God’s dealings with the congregation, “the governments and the authorities in the heavenly places” would come to know “the greatly diversified wisdom of God.”—Eph 3:10. This congregation is shown in vision in the Revelation to John to be composed of 144,000 persons “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” They are standing with the Lamb, Jesus Christ, on Mount Zion, the place where the “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem,” is located. In ancient earthly Jerusalem was situated “Jehovah’s throne,” with kings of the line of David seated on it; also the temple of Jehovah was there. In heavenly Jerusalem Jesus Christ is enthroned, and his loyal spirit-anointed followers share his Kingdom rule. (Re 14:1, 4; Heb 12:22; 1Ch 29:23; 1Pe 2:4-6) The resurrection of such ones to immortality and incorruption during the time of Christ’s presence is one of the features of God’s dealings with the congregation, “a sacred secret” in itself.—1Co 15:51-54. The Sacred Secret of Godly Devotion: Paul wrote to Timothy: “I am writing you these things, . . . that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in God’s household, which is the congregation of the living God, a pillar and support of the truth. Indeed, the sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He [Jesus Christ] was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory.’”—1Ti 3:14-16. “The congregation of the living God” had the truth, and it knew accurately the mystery, or “the sacred secret,” of true godly devotion, and the congregation had not only the form but also the power of such godly devotion. (Contrast 2Ti 3:5.) Hence, it could be the “pillar and support of the truth” in the midst of a world of error and false religion, the ‘mysteries’ sacred to Satan and those he has blinded. (2Co 4:4) Jesus Christ himself is the One whose godly devotion was foretold and described in the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. For centuries, ever since the challenge was launched against God’s sovereignty, with the integrity of man being brought into question, it was a mystery, or “sacred secret,” whether complete, unswerving, unblemished godly devotion could be fully maintained by anyone upon whom the Devil would bring pressure. Who, if anyone, would be able to hold up under the test and come through wholly clean, without sin, and untarnished in exclusive devotion to Jehovah? Related to this was the question concerning who would be the ‘seed of the woman’ that would bruise the Serpent’s head. This would be fully revealed when Christ “was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory.” (1Ti 3:16; 6:16) This was admittedly a great thing. The great question of godly devotion centered around the one person, Jesus Christ. What greatness there was to Christ’s course of godly devotion! How it benefits mankind and vindicates and exalts Jehovah’s name!—See GODLY DEVOTION. Comes to a Finish: In the apostle John’s vision, he was told: “In the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to blow his trumpet, the sacred secret of God according to the good news which he declared to his own slaves the prophets is indeed brought to a finish.” (Re 10:7) This finishing of the sacred secret is closely connected with the seventh angel’s blowing of his trumpet, upon the blowing of which the announcement is made in heaven: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” (Re 11:15) Accordingly, the sacred secret of God is finished at the time that Jehovah begins his Kingdom by means of his Messiah, or Christ. Jesus Christ spoke much to his disciples, God’s “slaves,” about the Kingdom of God and said that the “good news of the kingdom” would continue to be preached right up to the end (Gr., te'los) of “the system of things.” After ‘the sacred secret of God is brought to a finish,’ the “good news” to be preached would therefore include what the voices in heaven announced: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”—Mt 24:3, 14. For the ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (2Th 2:7), see MAN OF LAWLESSNESS. For “Mystery: ‘Babylon the Great’” (Re 17:5), see BABYLON THE GREAT. CHRIST This title from the Greek Khri?stos' is equivalent to the Hebrew Ma?shi'ach, “Messiah; Anointed One.” (Compare Mt 2:4, ftn.) “Christ” is not a mere appellative added to distinguish the Lord Jesus from others of the same name; it is an official title.—See JESUS CHRIST; MESSIAH. The coming of the Christ, the one whom Jehovah would anoint with his spirit to be the Messianic King, had been foretold centuries before Jesus’ birth. (Da 9:25, 26) However, at his birth, Jesus was not yet the Anointed One or Christ. In foretelling his birth, the angel instructed Joseph: “You must call his name Jesus.” (Mt 1:21) But when the shepherds near Bethlehem were given the angelic announcement, in anticipation of Jesus’ future role they were told: “There was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” that is, “who is to be Christ the Lord.”—Lu 2:11, ftn. The personal name of Jesus followed by the title Christ may call attention to the person himself and that he is the one who became the Anointed One of Jehovah. This occurred when he reached about 30 years of age, was baptized in water, and was anointed with Jehovah’s spirit visibly observed in the form of a dove descending upon him. (Mt 3:13-17) This is the point Peter made at Pentecost: “God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus,” evidently recalling the expression he had heard from the lips of Jesus, who first used the term “Jesus Christ.” (Ac 2:36-38; Joh 17:3) This expression “Jesus Christ” is also used in the opening and closing words of the Christian Greek Scriptures.—Mt 1:1; Re 22:21. On the other hand, putting the title ahead of the name and saying “Christ Jesus” instead of “Jesus Christ” places greater emphasis on the office or position held by Jesus. It focuses attention primarily on the office, secondarily on the office holder, as in saying King David or Governor Zerubbabel. It would remind one of the singular official position Jesus holds as the Anointed One of Jehovah, an honored position not shared by others of his followers who are also anointed. Only Jehovah’s beloved Son is entitled “Christ Jesus.” Paul used this expression in his first inspired letter. (1Th 2:14) Luke also used it, once, at Acts 24:24 (NW; RS), when speaking about Paul’s bearing witness.
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