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Round the Sphere Again: Scripture

On the Canon
Michael J. Kruger (Canon Fodder) teases out the implications of this fact about the New Testament: “Some NT writers quote other NT writers as scripture.” From 2 Peter 3:15-16 and 1 Tim 5:18 we can conclude that:

  • There were already collections of Paul’s letters that both Peter and his audience knew about.
  • Peter would probably have expected his own letters to be received as Scripture.
  • Apostolic letters had a scriptural status in early Christianity.
  • The New Testament canon “was not a later ecclesiastical development, but something early and innate to the early Christian faith.”

On Application
John Piper says our goal in reading the Bible is to be amazed by God, not to come away with a list of things to do (Ask Pastor John).


Purposes of Christ's Death: John 3:16-17

Last week’s post examining the purpose statements for the death of Christ given in scripture was supposed to be the last, the one with the purpose statement that summed up all the other purpose statements. But I discovered that in my reposting of the old posts, I’d skipped three that I wanted to include. Here is one of them, late and out of order.

What might be the most familiar verse in the Bible contains a purpose statement for the death of Christ. So does the verse that follows it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)

The purpose statement in the verse 16 is obvious: “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God sent his son into the world so that all who believe on him will have eternal life instead of the condemnation due them because of of their sin. This is the way God loved the world: He provided a way, through the death of His own son, for anyone who believes to be given eternal life instead of the eternal judgment to which they are already sentenced. (see verse 18).

Verse 17 gives us two statements about the purpose of Christ’s death. First it tells us something that was not God’s purpose in sending his son. Christ didn’t come to condemn the world, at least not in this first advent, when he came to die. 

He came, rather, for the purpose of saving the world. He accomplished this by providing the means for all believers—not only Jews, but Gentiles, too—to have eternal life rather than condemnation. 

God intended for Christ’s death to provide a way for everyone who believes in Him to have eternal life instead of eternal judgment, and this way, for him to save the world.


Theological Term of the Week

A festival of Old Testament Israel commemorating the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians, when God instructed them to spread the blood of a lamb over the doorposts of their homes, and he would spare their firstborn sons, while every other firstborn son in Egypt died. This event and it’s commemoration prefigured Christ’s sacrificial death, so Christ can be called “our passover” in the New Testament.

  • From scripture:
  • Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. [22] Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. [23] For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. [24] You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. [25] And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. [26] And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ [27] you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

    [28] Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. (Exodus 12:21-28 ESV) 

    Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? [7] Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:6-7 ESV)

  • From The Atonement: It’s Meaning and Significance by Leon Morris:
  • Passover may not be the leading New Testament category by which to interpret the atonement, but it is certainly one of the subordinate strands in New Testament thinking. What the Passover sacrifice signified for the Jews, that and more Christ’s sacrifice has done for the Christians. It emphasizes the thought of deliverance, deliverance from a powerful enemy. Because Jesus died as a Passover sacrifice those who trust in Him are no longer subject to the forces of evil. They have been delivered. They are free. 

    And Passover reminds us that we are members one of another. Passover was a corporate observance, a feast to be celebrated in the company of others. Both in the Old Testament and in contemporary Judaism the Passover was to be observed in companies. The observance stressed the truth that God’s salvation is not a purely individual experience. The deliverance from Egypt marked the birth of a nation, the emergence of the people of God. The deliverance on the cross marked the emergence of the true Israel, the people of God in more than a merely national sense. Now the people of God are plainly seen as all those who have been delivered by Christ, from whatever nation they may come. They belong to God and to one another in the fellowhip of the redeemed people of God, for “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor. 5:7, AV).

Learn more:

  1. The Bible: Exodus 12
  2. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: What is Passover?
  3. What are the different Jewish festivals?
  4. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Feasts and Festivals of Israel
  5. John Stott: The Meaning of Passover (audio)
  6. R. C. Sproul: The Passover (audio)

Related term:

Filed under Salvation

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.