The Most Important Word in the Bible
The theologian Karl Barth was asked what was the most important
word in the Bible. The great thinker replied, Hyper.
You might have thought he would have said, love, or agape,
but he didnt. He chose a Greek preposition used in the New Testament meaning
on behalf of, or in place of another.
This is the most important word because it signifies that the death
of Jesus was in our place and for us. He died so that we might not have to die spiritually
and be eternally separated from God in hell.
Why is this word so important, and why should we remind ourselves of
Jesus Christ died for me. He died on behalf of or
in place of the believer.
The many passages where this preposition is used declares, You
did not have a problem too great for the power of Christ to conquer. . . You did not have a sin too
deep for the atoning blood of Christ to cleanse.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time
Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). In verse eight the apostle Paul
writes, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us (Romans
Clearly Christs death was a substitutionary death, a
death in place of others as indicated in these verses. Jesus Christ died on behalf
of or in the place of the sinner. He died as our substitute. There is no
doubt that that is the significance in these verses. It occurs four times in vv. 6-8. The
one who acts on behalf of another takes his place. That is exactly what Jesus did for us
when He died on the cross. In fact, the apostle Paul often uses the preposition huper
to express the truth that Christs death was substitutionary (1 Tim. 2:6; 1 Thess.
5:10; Gal. 2:20; 3:13; Titus 2:14; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:3; Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11; 2
Cor. 5:15, 21; Rom. 8:32; Eph. 5:2, 25, and many more).
John 11:50-52; 18:14; 10:11, 15; 15:13 all refers to the saving death
of Jesus as our substitute. John 11:50 reads, nor do you take into account that it
is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not
perish (John 11:50).
The death of someone for someone else can be understood only
against the background of the sacrificial concepts of the Old Testament (TDNT).
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 the apostle Paul develops the atoning
significance of the death and passion of Jesus. He made Him who knew no sin to be
sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2
Corinthians 5:21). In Galatians 3:13 he develops the liberating effect of
salvation as corresponding to the redemption of a slave. The salvation work is equated
with the payment of a ransom consisting of the death as a sacrifice and vicarious
acceptance. The ransom price is substitutionary in character.
The Law thundering from Mt. Sinai was like
a black thunder cloud hanging over sinner's heads. They lived in fear of
divine judgment flashing down upon them any moment. The apostle Paul
tells us God took the initiative to save us from the wrath of God.
Christ came and on the cross took upon Himself all the condemnation for
sin which we deserved. He bore the full penalty which we ought to have
born. The Law declared, "The wages of sin is death." God in grace and
love paid the debt in full and declared, "Yes, but the free gift of God
is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Christ bore what we should have borne; He is our substitute.
Christ paid the price of our redemption. To the extent that the price must be adequate for
the purchase in question indicates a substitution.
The apostle Peter wrote, knowing that you were not
redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited
from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the
blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Click for printer friendly page
CLICK to E-mail SELAH! to a friend.