FOR WHOM DID JESUS REALLY DIE?
(1 John 2:2 Examined Closely)Referring to Jesus' all-important sacrificial death, John wrote,
"And he [Jesus] is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s."
Many people today, believe the above verse shows that Jesus actually came to this "world," to die a sacrificial death for the entire "world" of mankind. Is that what you believe, personally? More importantly, could we say this is a proper viewpoint of the inspired words of John, as shown above? Let's consider the following information to answer such thought-provoking questions.
WHY JESUS HAD TO BE BORN AN "ISRAELITE"
It is a well-accepted fact that Jesus as an Israelite was under the Mosaic Law Covenant. As he himself said at Matthew 5:17:
“Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill.”
This Law was an agreement or covenant between Jehovah and the nation of Israel. Why was a ‘fulfillment’ necessary? God concluded a covenant with Abraham that stated that someone from his lineage would become the means by which the nations of mankind could bless themselves. That seed or offspring would then be produced through Abraham’s sons. We all know how this lineage developed. The nation of Israel was now in a position to become a royal nation after having produced the royal "seed." (Exodus 19:5,6) But this was all contingent upon their strictly obeying Jehovah’s word, keeping his covenant with them.
But they were not obedient and so came under guilt. They became lawbreakers. Although the provision of cleansing under the Law Covenant (that is, the blood of bulls and goats) was not intended to cleanse them permanently of sin as it was only a temporary arrangement. Hebrews 9:9 reads:
“This very tent is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here, and in keeping with it both gifts and sacrifices are offered. However, these are not able to make the man doing sacred service perfect as respects his conscience.”
Hebrews 10:11 adds:
“Also, every priest takes his station from day to day to render public service and to offer the same sacrifices often, as these are at no time able to take sins away completely.”
Yet their continual adherence to these requirements would enable them to take advantage of the benefits that would be offered to them under a more permanent arrangement, the blood of a perfect man. It was as Paul said at Galatians 3:19,
“Why then, the Law? It was added (to the Abrahamic Covenant) to make transgressions manifest until the seed should arrive to whom the promise had been made; and it was transmitted through angels by the hand of a mediator.”
Verse 24 continues:
“Consequently the Law has become our (Israel’s) tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith.”
A PRESSING NEED FOR A SAVIOR
Israel is now under a curse because they are not able to keep all the things written in the Law. Galatians 3:10 says:
“For all those who depend upon works of law are under a curse; for it is written: “Cursed is every one that does not continue in all the things written in the scroll of the Law in order to do them.””
There is now a need for someone to release them from this curse and enable them to gain the freedom to become this royal nation spoken of at Exodus 19:5, 6. The one who would provide this release by ransom would also have to be the one who could fulfill or keep the Law perfectly. He must take the place of the Law Covenant, become the mediator of a new and better covenant. The nation then, upon accepting this new covenant, could now become a royal nation that would assist the royal seed in administering the Abrahamic Covenant to all other nations.
Release from this curse would come at the cost of a perfect human life, as Paul’s says at Hebrews 9:14:
“How much more would the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our (Israel’s) consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?”
Paul further states in verse 15, this:
“So that is why he is a mediator of a new covenant, in order that, because a death has occurred for their (Israel’s) release by ransom from transgressions under the former covenant, the ones who have been called might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance.”
"GENTILE" NATIONS NOT UNDER A CURSE
In chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews, Paul repeatedly makes references to the duties of the priest in the temple and compares this to what Jesus did. The priests were acting on behalf of Israel, not the entire inhabited earth of mankind. Consequently, Jesus in a parallel work would also be acting in behalf of Israel, otherwise, why the comparisons. The entire world of mankind was not under the Law Covenant, only Israel was. There is nothing in these verses that indicate that Jesus would die for sins based on Adams’ transgressions. They specifically state that Jesus’ sacrifice was for sins committed by those under the Law Covenant, the nation of Israel's sins, uniquely. Hebrews 9:15 as rendered in the New International Version Bible says:
“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
Consequently, the nations of the world were not under the condemnation or curse of being, specifically Mosaic Law-breakers, as was the nation of Israel. Thus, these "nations" or "Gentiles" did not need to have their ‘consciences cleansed from acts that lead to death’ the way the nation of Israel had to be "cleansed." (Hebrews 9:14, New Internation Version Bible)
Therefore, because of this situation Paul could say at Romans 5:13 says:
“For until the Law sin was in the world but sin is not charged against anyone when there is no law.”
Again, at Romans 4:15 Paul could say:
“In reality the Law produces wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there any transgression.”
Thus, we are reminded then of this most important fact, relative to the non-Israelite community of nations, namely this: the "Gentile" nations originally, were NOT given the Mosaic Law Covenant, as we all know. Therefore in God's eyes, they were NOT to be considered "guilty of transgression" before Him, as Paul showed above. So then based upon that fact, we must ask the all-important question:
So why would these Gentile nations be in need of a sacrifice for sins they have not committed?
That would be the key question to ask ourselves.
Let's all remember, when Jesus preached ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near;’ wasn't that message specifically directed to the nation of Israel? Why yes, it was!
For example, at Matthew 15:24, Jesus, confronted by a Phoenician woman asking for help, pointedly said to her:
“In answer he said: I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Yes, Jesus was only sent to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," only them. Also, we remember, just before Jesus sent his disciples on a prescribed preaching assignment, he gave them specific instructions relative to where and to whom they were to preach to. Jesus said to them:
“Do not go off into the road of the nations [Gentiles], and do not enter into a Samaritan city, but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” – Matthew 10:5, 6
Yes, Jesus' disciples were only, only to preach to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," the true beneficiaries of all the Sacred "Promises," Mosaic Law Covenant, and all the "glory" and "covenants" accompanied with it. -- See Romans 9:4.
THE GREEK WORD FOR "WORLD" [KOSMOS] – HOW USED BY JESUS & APOSTLES
As mentioned above, 1 John 2:2 says:
"And he [Jesus] is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s."
Commenting on the Greek word "world" as translated in the New World Translation, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines this word as being,
"an orderly arrangement."
Yes, the Greek word we translate as "world," simply means, an "orderly arrangement." It can mean any systematic arrangement of things, like for instance, the jewish system of things itself or the nation of Israel itself. In other words, it could picture the "orderly arrangement" or "world" that pictured the nation of Israel.
To prove this point, let's consider a few verses to make this point clear. First, let's consider Romans 4:13 which says:
"For it was not through law that Abraham or his seed had the promise that he should be HEIR OF A WORLD [Greek: kosmos], but it was through the righteousness by faith."
In the above instance, Paul shows that Jesus, the "seed" of God's Promise, was to become "heir of a world." Surely, Paul did not mean Jesus was to become "heir" of this wicked world of mankind, did he? Surely, it was not Jehovah's original intention to make Jesus, the "heir" of this wicked "world" of mankind, the same "world" that Satan the Devil controls completely, was it? (Luke 4:5, 6) Surely, Paul did not mean that in his words above, did he?
No but instead, we see in the above instance, Paul referred to Jesus becoming the "heir" of a spiritual "world," or spiritual arrangement, the "world" [Greek: kosmos] or systematic arrangement of Israel, that particular nation, as his reward. Think about it.
And so we can see from Romans 4:13, Paul in this instance, actually used the word ‘world’ [Greek: kosmos] in reference to nation of Israel, in connection with the promised, coming "heir" of Israel.
Again, we notice that Jesus himself, also used the word we translate today as "world," in this particular sense. For instance, at John 9:5 he stated:
“As long as I am in the world, I am the world’s light.”
Again, as we remember, Jesus' ministry was largely confined and primarily directed to the natural nation of Israel, is that not so? -- Matthew 15:24
Also, we notice at John 8:12 Jesus said:
“Therefore Jesus spoke again to them, saying: I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.”
Again at John 3:17 Jesus says:
“For God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him.”
Therefore, when considering the Greek word, "kosmos", and how it can be used sometimes in the Greek Text, then we can better appreciate and note that this is the exact same word (translated "world") that John writes about at 1 John 2:2. This is the exact same word that John uses to show Jesus' life became a "propitiatory" [covering] sacrifice for "ours," namely a "covering" for the "sins" of first century christians. Also, Jesus' sacrifice became a [propitiatory] "covering" for the "sins" of the "world" or Jewish system of things or nation of Israel.
Again, that verse says:
“And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours [first century christians] only but also for the whole world’s [or the nation of Israel].”
We note in Hebrews 9:28 something interesting. This verse speaks of Jesus’ dying once to take away the sins of many people’ (please note the word ‘many’ people, not all people). This verse is thus, referring to God’s method for releasing Israel from the ‘curse’ of not keeping the Law Covenant as a "world" or "orderly arrangement." By his shed blood, Jesus mediated a new covenant for which Israel was invited to accept and thus have a good relationship with Jehovah. In other words, it would not be necessary for Jesus to give his life again for anyone who broke the laws of the New Covenant, as punishment for this would be complete destruction. Hebrews 10:28, 29 reads:
“Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do you think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt?”
All violators of the Christian Covenant face, the entire nation or "world" of Israel who was given such a covenant, face such a "judgment" spoken of above. A sober thought, indeed! Yes, this is the unenviable position Jehovah's Witnesses find themselves today, as violators of God's New Covenant, instituted in our modern day times, since the year of 1931. Think about it. -- Jeremiah 50:4, 5; Daniel 11:30; Ezekiel 16:59-63
ISRAEL, A FAVORED NATION
David’s words are powerful in regard to Israel’s standing with Jehovah. At 2 Samuel 7:23 we read:
“And what one nation in the earth is like your people Israel, whom God went to redeem to himself as a people and to assign himself a name and to do for them great and fear-inspiring things - to drive out because of your people, whom you have redeemed to yourself from Egypt, the nations and their gods?”
Therefore, the nation of Israel was in an unique, enviable position before ALL OTHER NATIONS of this earth. They would produce the royal "seed" for God. (Galatians 3:15) They could become a ‘royal nation’ administering the Abrahamic Covenant for the nations. (Genesis 22:16-18) They were “entrusted with the sacred pronouncements of God.” (Romans 3:2) The apostle Paul enumerated their Grand Inheritance from God at Romans 9:3-5 where he said:
“For I could wish that I myself were separated as the cursed one from the Christ in behalf of my brothers, my relatives according to the flesh, who, as such, are Israelites, to whom belong the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the sacred service and the promises; to whom the forefathers belong and from whom the Christ sprang according to the flesh…”
A "REMNANT" FROM ISRAEL RESPONDS
Yes, as Paul said above, Israel was given the "glory," the "covenants," and the magnificent Mosaic "Law" of God, was it not? But, what was the response of the nation as a whole to these wonderful privileges offered to them as the natural descendants of Abraham? It is well known that this nation showed such a lack of appreciation that it was said of them as recorded at John 12:37-40, this:
“But although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled which he said: “Jehovah who has put faith in the thing heard by us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?” The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: “He has blinded their eyes and he has made their hearts hard, that they should not see with their eyes and get the thought with their hearts and turn around and I should heal them.””
It had come to the point where Jehovah stated that he had ‘stopped caring for them.’ (Hebrews 8:9b) Consequently, only a remnant was saved. Romans 9:27 says of this:
“Moreover, Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Although the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved.”
THE "FULL NUMBER" OF GENTILES BROUGHT IN TO COMPLETE "ISRAEL" -- Romans 11:25, 26
Jesus once uttered some very powerful words to the most-privileged nation of Israel, in saying:
“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit.” (Matthew 21:43)
Yes, the "kingdom of God" was to be taken away from the natural nation of Israel, for their gross lack of appreciation for all that God had done for them. And as Jesus said, that "kingdom" would be given to another "nation," that would obediently produce the "fruits" that would be pleasing to our Heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Indeed, at Acts 15:14, this newly privileged group is described in this way:
“Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name.”
Yes, "people from the nations," Gentiles could for the first time, (by God's permission) become a "people for his name," a Grand Privilege indeed for these ones. (For more information on how God used new gentile converts to fill-out or complete the nation of Israel to the appropriate size, please see the article entitled: Let's Observe The Divine "Paradigm" Of Truth which is found on this discussion board.)
Actually, this grand event was clearly foretold by Isaiah the prophet as recorded at Isaiah 65:1, which says:
“I have let myself by searched for by those who had not asked for me. I have let myself be found by those who had not looked for me. I have said, ‘Here I am, here I am! to a nation that was not calling upon my name.” (See also Romans 10:20.)
Although never in a covenant with Jehovah, these Gentiles were shown undeserved kindness and invited to complete Israel. This would mean that they would have to accept the "good news" message that Jesus said would be preached to them, get baptized, and accept the terms of the New Covenant, which had been legally validated by Jesus’ precious blood, and always remain obedient to the things written therein. (Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19, 20) If these "Gentiles" were willing to meet these "terms" of the New Covenant, then they could thus be grafted into the symbolic ‘olive tree’ of Israel by God Almighty Himself. Thus, because of such an arrangement, they could now become a part of this ‘royal nation.’ However, we must keep in mind one important fact. No, they did not need, first, to repent of any previous transgression against the Mosaic Law, as they had no guilt before Jehovah, never having been brought into a covenant with him before. In other words, this was a NEW experience for these Gentile Converts. Think about it.
Jesus, upon his death, had fulfilled the Law Covenant thereby releasing Israel from the curse of condemnation to death. He had opened the way for a renewed relationship with Jehovah for them by mediating a ‘new covenant.’ He had “saved that which was lost,” Israel. (Luke 19:10) The words that the angel spoke to Joseph after his learning of Mary’s pregnancy are appropriate here. He said:
“She will give birth to a son and he will save his people (Israel) from their sin.” – Matthew 1:21
Indeed, Galatians 4:4, 5 sums it up very well for us. Paul writes:
“But when the full limit of the time arrived, God sent forth his Son, who came to be out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we, in turn, might receive the adoption as sons.”
Yes, Jesus came to "release" those that were "under law," those of the nation of Israel who were under the Mosaic Law Covenant and the ones who had singularly violated it. Jesus came to give a "release," to that particular "world," yes, the "world" or system of things, this "orderly arrangement" of the nation of Israel...the "world" that Jesus came and died for.
Review Questions For The Article: 1 John 2:2 Discussed – For Whom Did Jesus Die?
1. What is the common belief of most people about John’s statement recorded at 1 John 2:2?
2. According to Matthew 5:17, Jesus’ birth as an Israelite enabled him to do what?
3. What opportunity was presented to Abraham’s descendants, the nation of Israel, due to the covenant that Jehovah made with Abraham?
4. What do we learn concerning this Law Covenant and its sacrifices from reading Hebrews 9:9 and 10:11?
5. According to Galatians 3:19, 24, what was the purpose of the Law Covenant, and what would their adherence to its requirements enable them to do?
6. As the nation was not faithful to Jehovah, how does Galatians 3:10 describe their condition?
7. This nation was now in need of what kind of help and how would they be benefited if they accepted this help?
8. How did Jehovah provide the necessary release for the nation of Israel, according to Hebrews 9:14, 15?
9. How does Romans 4:15 and 5:13 help us understand why Jesus’ sacrifice was basically on behalf of the nation of Israel only and not on behalf of all other nations?
10. The Greek word, Kosmos, as used by John in 1 John 2:2 carries what meaning?
11. What are some scriptures that show that when Jesus used this Greek word, kosmos, that he had reference to the Jewish system of things and not the world, in general?
12. Because Israel as a nation failed to respond to the "royal seed," Gentiles were invited to complete their number. What did these Gentiles not have to do before being accepted into the Christian congregation that Israel first had to do?
13. How does Galatians 4:4, 5 reiterate the point of this lesson?
To get the answers for the review questions CLICK HERE.