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What is the key point of the New Testament (or perhaps the whole Bible)?


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#1 Brad D.

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 10:49 PM

This sounds like a silly question, but I am not sure it is so silly.  As I have continued to read and pray, I have become increasingly convinced that the central message of the Bible is, simply put, Jesus Christ is King (substituting King for Lord, intentionally).  It seems to me that the Gospel is the declaration of this Kingship, and in summary a narrative describing his ascent to the throne through His sinless life, and his death, burial, and resurrection.  Can you help me evaluate this from an Orthodox perspective?

 

It all began when I heard Father Hopko expand on the meaning of the word Gospel, teaching that it was specifically a declaration of a new King in a region, often one who had conquered the area militarily...I have been unable to read the Bible the same since!

 

Brad



#2 Lakis Papas

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 11:28 PM

If you feel the need for a King for this world then you can not find him in the N.T.

#3 Brad D.

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 11:32 PM

If you feel the need for a King for this world then you can not find him in the N.T.

 

Hi Lakis, I did not really indicate details of Christ's Kingdom...I am assuming we all agree that Jesus is not on a throne on earth, in a literal sense....



#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 10:15 AM

St Cyril of Alexandria said, "Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature." This kingship is based on Christ's Incarnation. It is the inverse of the kingdom of the devil and of all earthly dominion. It is based on the humility and sacrifice of Christ which flow from His love. In satanic and earthly dominion, the king is at the top of the pyramid. To use a favourite expression of Archimandrite Zacharias's, in Christ's terms, the pyramid is inverted and Christ bears all upon Himself. 



#5 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 02:20 PM

I think, the focal point is about the revelation of the Father through the Son and the Spirit.

Monarch is the Father.

#6 Phoebe K.

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 04:02 PM

Hi,

 

My Parish Priest frequently says that the Sunday gospels are about the kingdom of God and how Christ brought it to existence by his ministry.  It is very difficult to explain it as I have found it is experienced in the Liturgy and other services as much as read in the scriptures which after-all were written by the church.

 

 As I understand it the OT points to the coming of Christ and the NT both Cronicals the incarnation and shows the start of the Kingdom of God coming to earth in the Life and ministry of Christ and of the Church

 

From my own experience I will say that I struggled to understand the scriptures prior to my baptism however many times they were explained.  Many things are hidden from the unilluminated for their own protection.  One stage of revelation occurs when you are received as a caticumin but this is very limited and another when fully received, the Holy Spirit moves in and teaches you things beyoung words.



#7 Brad D.

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 04:12 PM

Many thanks for all of your responses!

 

Do any of the Orthodox clergy here have a thought or two?



#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 05:42 PM

I would add that Christ is King because all authority was given to Him (cf Matt. 28:18; 'God set him as king': Ps. 2:6). This authority is the will of the Father which is that also of the Son and the Holy Spirit. That will is that Christ has dominion as the Mediator that all men should be saved. The Father exalted Him because He humbled Himself. Therefore before Him every knee should bow (cf Phl 2:10). The NT is about the good news that by His Incarnation, salvation is possible from Christ through His Church. Salvation consists in attaining to the Kingdom of which Christ is King.



#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 06:21 PM

And just further to add that the Good Thief was saved by acknowledging Christ's Kingdom and so impliedly His kingship. We say the prayer of the Good Thief at the end of our pre-communion prayers, of course.



#10 Lakis Papas

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 09:05 AM

.

 

 

This ...  It seems to me that the Gospel is the declaration of this Kingship, and in summary a narrative describing his ascent to the throne through His sinless life, and his death, burial, and resurrection.  ...

 

Brad

 

The above phrase needs clarification. 

 

God's reign is uncreated. It is not acquired. Christ never left Ηis throne. In this context the phrase "ascent to the thronecan be misunderstood if it is not fully explained. 


Edited by Lakis Papas, 02 December 2013 - 09:07 AM.


#11 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 12:43 PM

The above phrase needs clarification. 

 

God's reign is uncreated. It is not acquired. Christ never left Ηis throne. In this context the phrase "ascent to the thronecan be misunderstood if it is not fully explained. 

 

Indeed, and this is important. The Incarnation and all God's economy of salvation is Trinitarian and exists outside time and space (as the Rublev Trinity icon shows).



#12 Brad D.

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 05:32 PM

The above phrase needs clarification. 

 

God's reign is uncreated. It is not acquired. Christ never left Ηis throne. In this context the phrase "ascent to the thronecan be misunderstood if it is not fully explained. 

 

Indeed, and this is important. The Incarnation and all God's economy of salvation is Trinitarian and exists outside time and space (as the Rublev Trinity icon shows).

 

Hello!  Wonderful comments, many thanks for the discussion.  

 

I would clarify my statement by pointing to Daniel 7:13-14.  Although, that verse's efficacy here does depend on your interpretation  The Orthodox Study Bible says that is the second coming, while apparently the Greek Orthodox Church uses it for his Ascension (http://goannun.org/about/church/)  

 

By all means I am in agreement that in the eternal God-head, Christ has always been King, because Christ is God.  However, Jesus Christ (perhaps with the emphasis being on Christ the Man) is said to have been given this special place recorded in Daniel because of his humility and sacrifice (Philippians 2:5-11).

 

That is at least my present understanding of this complex area.  Again, with absolute clarity and certainty, the Son of God was never anything but King and God.  However, the scriptures seem to show us that Jesus Christ was elevated to magnificent glory by God, all the same.  The "therefore God" in Philippians 2:9 is referring to a cause for Jesus Christ to have been exalted to a place where all will say "Jesus Christ is Lord".

 

I would love a further clarification on issues here by anyone reading.



#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 08:46 AM

Although there are different patristic views on whether the "Son of Man" refers to the incarnation or the second coming, there is agreement, however, that verse Daniel 7:13-14 is complicated, because it shows Father as "Ancient of Days", which according to Orthodox interpretation is symbolic presentation. It also presents Son taking "dominion and glory and a kingdom", also a representation that displays events that occurred outside of time to take place in a given timeframe.
 
Daniel had a vision of things that do not occur in natural time, but at the times of the prophets this was the language of theology: allegory and symbolism.
 
Regarding Philippians 2:5-11, the phrase "therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, ..." relates to the whole sentence : "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.". I see no emphasis here on Christ the Man. Actually what Philippians 2:5-11 says is that Christ "receives" from Father 'special' powers and privileges as a man precisely because He is God-man (and not just a man).
 
We should clarify that, in Philippians 2:5-11, the Son is not presented as inferior of his Father, achieving something through which He is lifted at a condition that He had not before. 
 
St Chrysostom explains:

Whatsoever a man robs, and takes contrary to his right, he dares not lay aside, from fear lest it perish, and fall from his possession, but he keeps hold of it continually. He who possesses some dignity which is natural to him, fears not to descend from that dignity, being assured that nothing of this sort will happen to him....the Son of God feared not to descend from His right, for He thought not Deity a prize seized. He was not afraid that any would strip Him of that nature or that right, Wherefore He laid it aside, being confident that He should take it up again. He hid it, knowing that He was not made inferior by so doing.

 

What is the meaning of the phrase "therefore God has highly exalted Him..."? St Chrysostom explains:

..there had been reason, for God the Word allows that this be said of His flesh. It touches not His divine nature, but has to do altogether with the dispensation. What means "of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth "? It means the whole world, and angels, and men, and demons; or that both the just and the living and sinners, "And every tongue," should "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." That is, that all should say so; and this is glory to the Father. Seest thou how wherever the Son is glorified, the Father is also glorified? Thus too when the Son is dishonored, the Father is dishonored also. If this be so with us, where the difference is great between fathers and sons, much more in respect of God, where there is no difference, doth honor and insult pass on to Him. If the world be subjected to the Son, this is glory to the Father. And so when we say that He is perfect, wanting nothing, and not inferior to the Father, this is glory to the Father, that he begat such a one. 

 

So, what is the state of the Son, is the state of the Holy Trinity.


#14 Richard A. Downing

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 08:48 AM

I don't think you can 'find' an orthodox perspective 'in' the Scriptures.  Rather: if you have an orthodox perspective, then the Scriptures are supportive of your further development as a spiritual being. Why?  Because Christ suffuses the Scriptures, they are a portrait of Him.  It's an 'adaptive portrait' because as you meditate on the various aspects of Christ God so the portrait seems to adapt and provide you with just what is needed.  This is the miracle of the Scriptures.  The same is true of the Fathers and Saints, they provide just what is needed as and when it is necessary for your growth.  By this I mean that there is no simple answer to the question: what are the scriptures?  They are what you need.



#15 Brad D.

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 01:37 PM

Thanks so much for your reply!  I appreciate you taking the time to think this through with me.  I will look over it again later, and will provide a proper response (have to go to work now), but at first glance I see a struggle with what you said (forgive me, the quoting feature is giving me fits):

 

 

 
 

 

"Regarding Philippians 2:5-11 ... I see no emphasis here on Christ the Man. Actually what Philippians 2:5-11 says is that Christ "receives" from Father 'special' powers and privileges as a man precisely because He is God-man (and not just a man)." 

 

What is the meaning of the phrase "therefore God has highly exalted Him..."? St Chrysostom explains:
 
Quote
..there had been reason, for God the Word allows that this be said of His flesh. It touches not His divine nature, but has to do altogether with the dispensation.

 

Can you see how what you are saying, and what Chrysostom is saying, are in conflict?  According to this quote, the entire passage (if I read him right) is about Jesus Christ the man, and his elevation as a human. I would say it does for sure speak of his humanity alone, as well, because it talks specifically about his death.  Yes, this was done while truly God, to be sure, but it was the humiliation of God becoming man being referred to here. 



#16 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 06:02 PM

The passage is really about the kenosis of the Son (Who, let us be clear, did not become a human).



#17 Brad D.

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 01:45 AM

The passage is really about the kenosis of the Son (Who, let us be clear, did not become a human).

 

Please explain (the parenthetical statement)


Edited by Brad D., 04 December 2013 - 01:46 AM.


#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 09:32 AM

It is a mistake, sometimes seen, to say Christ was 'a human being' or 'a man'. It is equally wrong to say that Christ was and is 'a divine person'. We had a thorough debate about this some time ago. Christ was and is Theanthropos, one Person with two natures. If he was 'a human being', 'a man', that implies a human person which Christ was and is not since He was and is one Person. Christ assumed the entirety of human nature made one. This is what He assumed, united to His own hypostasis and renewed. He had and has a rational soul and a real body but not a human hypostasis.



#19 Lakis Papas

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Posted 04 December 2013 - 11:49 AM

T

Can you see how what you are saying, and what Chrysostom is saying, are in conflict?  According to this quote, the entire passage (if I read him right) is about Jesus Christ the man, and his elevation as a human. I would say it does for sure speak of his humanity alone, as well, because it talks specifically about his death.  Yes, this was done while truly God, to be sure, but it was the humiliation of God becoming man being referred to here. 

 

I think we read Chrysostom differently. But then I may not understand you fully. What do you mean by the phrase  "his elevation as a human"? 

 

The full paragraph from St John's homily is as follows:

 

Ver. 9-11. "Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave Him the Name which is above every name: that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
 
Let us say against the heretics, If this is spoken of one who was not incarnate, if of God the Word, how did He highly exalt Him? Was it as if He gave Him something more than He had before? He would then have been imperfect in this point, and would have been made perfect for our sakes. For if He had not done good deeds to us, He would not have obtained that honor!  "And gave Him the Name." See, He had not even a name, as you say! But how, if He received it as His due, is He found here to have received it by grace, and as a gift? And that "the Name which is above every name": and of what kind, let us see, is the Name? "That at the Name of Jesus," saith He, "every knee should bow." They (the heretics) explain name by glory. This glory then is above all glory, and this glory is in short that all worship Him! But ye hold yourselves far off from the greatness of God, who think that ye know God, as He knoweth Himself, and from this it is plain, how far off ye are from right thoughts of God. And this is plain from hence. Is this, tell me, glory? Therefore before men were created before the angels or the archangels, He was not in glory. If this be the glory which is above every glory, for this is the name that is "above every name,") though He were in glory before, yet was He in glory inferior to this. It was for this then that He made the things that are, that He might be raised to glory, not from His own goodness, but because He required glory from us! See ye not their folly? see ye not their impiety?
 
Now if they had said this of Him that was incarnate, there had been reason, for God the Word allows that this be said of His flesh. It touches not His divine nature, but has to do altogether with the dispensation. What means "of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth "? It means the whole world, and angels, and men, and demons; or that both the just and the living and sinners, "And every tongue," should "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." That is, that all should say so; and this is glory to the Father. Seest thou how wherever the Son is glorified, the Father is also glorified? Thus too when the Son is dishonored, the Father is dishonored also. If this be so with us, where the difference is great between fathers and sons, much more in respect of God, where there is no difference, doth honor and insult pass on to Him. If the world be subjected to the Son, this is glory to the Father. And so when we say that He is perfect, wanting nothing, and not inferior to the Father, this is glory to the Father, that he begat such a one.

 

My understanding of st. John's homily is that: Son was and is as the Father is. Therefore He remains essentially Divine as a God-man. When we talk about Him as man and say that "he is being exalted" this is not a result of His actions (humility, sacrifice) but a result from the divine affinity with His Father. In other words Christ received a "Name which is above every name" for who He was and not for what He did - Ηis actions are salvific because they were performed by Him, not just because they were by themselves able to offer salvation.


Edited by Lakis Papas, 04 December 2013 - 11:56 AM.


#20 Brad D.

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 05:37 PM

I admit, this is tricky.  I think this may clarify my proposition, although there may be, and likely are, intricacies I am not considering.  

 

Ultimately I suppose what I am saying is that as the pre-incarnate Son of God was King of Kings prior to the incarnation, so now is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, incarnate Son of God, King of Kings in the same way.  Prior to the incarnation, certainly no flesh was King of Kings, subsequent to the incarnation, Jesus Christ is this King of Kings, having experienced a bodily resurrection and a subsequent ascension into Heaven.






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