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The Christ In The New Testament

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THE CHRIST IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Many of the New Testament references to Christ must be understood in the context of e Old Testament Messiah. This is the probable meaning when Peter confessed Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), and when Caiaphas asked Jesus whether He was the Christ (Matthew 26:63). On the day of Pentecost, Peter concluded his sermon by declaring Jesus to be “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36), again to be understood in the context of the Old Testament Messiah. But “Christ” was also the favorite title of Paul, who ministered primarily among Gentiles that lacked the understanding of the Jews concerning the Messiah. In Paul's letters the title “Christ” took on a special significance—a new dimension. Jesus did not use the title directly of Himself, although He answered “I am” when people asked Him whether He was the Christ (Mark 14:62), and He approved of others calling Him by that title (John 4:25,26; Matthew 16:16,17). On occasion He also mentioned that His disciples belonged to Christ, although we cannot be conclusive from the context that He was necessarily referring to Himself (Mark 9:41; Matthew 23:10). In his epistles, Paul often used the title “Christ” with the name “Jesus,” and when he did so, the order of the names was significant. The name “Christ Jesus” referred to the exalted One who emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5-9), emphasizing His preexistence and having reference to His grace. The reverse order of “Jesus Christ,” however, referred to the despised and rejected One who was afterward glorified (Philippians 2:11). One of the great themes in Paul's epistles was that of the union and communion of the believer with Christ. In this connection, he uses the expression “in Christ” 172 times and speaks also of Christ's indwelling the believer. Interestingly enough, it is always “Christ,” never “Jesus,” that he uses to teach indwelling. Paul's use of this title of Jesus is foundational to our understanding of the Christian life.

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