Was Jesus’s Body Broken for Us?

There seems to be a longstanding tradition to say, during Holy Communion, that Jesus’ body was broken for us. In Richard Baxter’s writings, we see that “The Words of distribution – “Take yee, Eat yee, This is the Body of Christ which is Broken for you, Do this in remembrance of Him,” … – followed the [1549 Book of Common Prayer and 1637 Scottish Book of Common Prayer].”[1] (emphasis mine).

Vernard Eller, in his book titled Could the Church Have It all Wrong? (1997) says that, “In the Lord’s Supper the bread represents the body of Jesus broken for us.”[2] (emphasis mine). Well known bible teacher, John Piper, also uses similar language: “The Lord’s Supper is precious beyond words as a gift from Jesus to his church not only as a reminder of his death for us, but also as an occasion when he draws near to nourish our intimacy with him and strengthen us by his shed blood and his broken body.”[3] (emphasis mine)

This article will attempt to answer the question whether it is right to say that Jesus’ body was broken for us, in a manner which is most faithful to Scripture. First off, let us look at what the Gospels have to say about the matter. It is of utmost importance since these are from Jesus Himself who instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

  1. The Gospels

Matthew 26:26(NASB)
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

 

Mark 14:22(NASB)
While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”

 

Luke 22:19(NASB)
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

From the above passages, what we can derive is that that which is broken is the bread. We see no mention of Christ’s body being broken. A.T. Robertson shares this point when after referring to John 19:30 he said, “The bread was broken, but not the body of Jesus.”[4] However, could it be argued that the broken bread is representative of Jesus’s broken body? We will evaluate the strength of this interpretation later in the article. Moving on, let us examine Pauline passages which make mention of the Holy Communion.

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The Saviour’s Seder?

By: Kenneth Ho

Introduction

The celebration of Passover (or Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesach) commemorates the account of the liberation of the Jews from slavery under Ancient Egypt. While noting that it has been celebrated for millennia by the Jewish community with the aforementioned reason in mind, much has been said as to whether the Last Supper partaken by Jesus and His disciples was indeed a Seder meal. Many of the proponents (most prominently Christians) of the actuality that the Last Supper was indeed a Seder will then bestow upon it novel connotations and implications. If it is possible, I will to the best of my ability as a layperson present the evidence for and against this notion.

History

The tradition of celebrating the Passover has its roots in the biblical account of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt with the LORD declaring to Moses and Aaron that “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you[1].” It was during this month that the LORD carried out His divine plan to liberate the Hebrews by carrying out the events as can be read in the exodus account in that on the night of the Passover, the Israelites were to eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The lamb’s blood should be swabbed on their doorposts as a sign. God, seeing the sign, will then “pass over” the houses of the Israelites (Exodus 12:13), while smiting the Egyptians with the tenth plague, the killing of the first-born sons. Standard biblical chronology places these events at around 1311 B.C[2].

The Hebrews were enjoined to memorialise the events[3] by the retelling of the slavery and deliverance from Egypt[4] from one generation to the next. The Passover event in particular was to be remembered on the 14th of the first month in the Hebrew calendar called Nisan[5] (initially called Abib[6] but was later changed[7] to Nisan). Initially, the sacrifices of the Hebrews were to be carried out as a private affair among individual families[8] or as a combined household if a neighbour’s household was too small to afford a paschal lamb[9].

However, this private household practice was reformed into a temple cult practice following the construction of the First Temple by King Solomon[10] with descriptions of this practice being found in Talmudic sources[11]. Other biblical references to the practice of the temple cult can be found pertaining to the Second Temple (515 B.C – 70 A.D) in the later books of the Old Testament[12]. Throughout the gospels, it is apparent that this practice developed into a hugely public affair with multitudes of people performing pilgrimages from afar to Jerusalem. Testifying to the numbers of pilgrims during the Feast are diverse non-biblical Jewish sources[13] numbering the totality of pilgrims at approximately 3 million at its zenith.

Despite the development of the public aspect of the Feast, private commemoration was still prevalent among the Jewish families. According to the scholar Abraham Bloch[14], the first step leading to the creation of the home Passover seder service was taken during the period of the great Temples in Jerusalem, when the Jews who had slaughtered the paschal (Passover) offerings joined the Levites in the chanting of the Hallel (psalms of praise). It is currently unclear as to how the development of private commemoration coincided with the dominance of the temple when it existed (if it did happen) but due to space and time constraints, that will not be discussed here. Many works of rabbinic literature, the ancients and contemporary writers[15] document this development and self-research is encouraged.

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Gehenna & The Valley of Hinnom

There are various words used in the New Testament (NT) which are translated into our English bibles as “hell.” First off, there’s Hades which is “properly, unseen, i.e. “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls.” [1] Besides that, there’s also Tartarus which has been taken to mean, “the place of punishment of the fallen angels,” [2] Now we come to the topic of today’s article, that is, Gehenna.

“Gehenna is a transliteration from the Aramaic form of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, “valley of Hinnom.” [3] To transliterate is to “write or print (a letter or word) using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language.” [4] The development can be summarised as: Ge-Hinnom (Hebrew) –> Ge-hinnam (Aramaic) -> Ge’enna (Greek); Gehenna (transliteration)

The phrase “valley of Hinnom” is found in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; Nehemiah 11:30. It is also known as the valley of Ben-Hinnom (Joshua 15:8; 18:16), the valley of the son of Hinnom (2 Kings 23:10), and Topheth [5] (Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10).

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Capital Punishment: Justification for Death Penalties in the Old Testament

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT:

JUSTIFICATION FOR DEATH PENALTIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Joshua Wu[1]

            In his popular book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins boldly claims that, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”[2] Not surprisingly, many people share Dawkins’ views as a result of their deformed view of the Bible and what it states.

The purpose of this paper is to provide two, non-exhaustive, justifications for Old Testament laws which prescribe the death penalty for certain offences. The paper will begin by addressing some preliminary issues before introducing a two prong justification. Moving on from there, we will consider how it all ties in with Christ, before concluding on what our relationship to the Old Testament law is.

 

  1. A) Preliminaries

It is pertinent to be aware of some of the offences for which the death penalty is prescribed. In his Dictionary of the Bible, John McKenzie maintains: “The laws of the Pnt prescribe stoning for the following crimes: idolatry (Dt 13:10; 17:5); blasphemy (Lv 24:14; cf 1 K 21:10; Jn 10:33); child sacrifice (Lv 20:2); divination (Lv 20:27); Sabbath violation (Nm 15:32 ff); adultery (Dt 22:22 f; cf Ezk 16:40; 23:47;  Jn 8:4 f); fornication by an unmarried woman (Dt 22:21); rebellion of children (Dt 21:20 f); and the ox that gores (Ex 21:28).”[3]

There are also other offences, wherein stoning isn’t mentioned but where it is commanded that the perpetrators be “put to death”. These are, being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), murder (Exodus 21:12), as well as prostitution and rape (Deuteronomy 22:24). John McKenzie argues that “It may be assumed that stoning is the penalty for other crimes in which the manner of execution is not specified.”[4]

What else do we know about stoning? Craig Keener comments that, “Death by stoning was a common mob action throughout the ancient world, but it was a legal form of execution in the Torah …”[5]. Stoning is also the “… most commonly mentioned form of execution in the Bible … it requires all those persons who have been offended to participate. Because it cannot be determined whose individual stone caused the death of the condemned, no one person needed to bear the guilt for the death.”[6]

Interestingly, “Stoning is not mentioned as a form of capital punishment outside the Bible. Ancient Near Eastern law codes list only drowning, burning, impalement, and beheading, and in each case it is an official body, not the community at large, that is charged with carrying out the punishment.”[7] Lastly, Matthew George Easton remarks: “The official Pentateuchal methods of capital punishment were stoning, burning and decapitation by the sword, these being enumerated in their descending order of severity. The Rabbis added a fourth and milder alternative, strangling.”[8]

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A Biblical View of the Antichrist

A BIBLICAL VIEW OF THE ANTICHRIST

Joshua Wu [1]

Craig Koester notes that “identifying the antichrist with figures of one’s own time became especially common from the twelfth century onward. Examples included Pope Gregory IX (1241) and Innocent IV (d. 1254) as well as the Emperor Frederick II (d. 1250). During the sixteenth century, many Protestants came to identify the papal office itself with the antichrist. Later candidates have ranged from the emperor Napoleon to modern American presidents.”[2] Speculation as to the identity of the antichrist will not be undertaken in this paper, but instead, the parameters of what will be discussed are determined by what Scripture has to say.

In our endeavour, we must be careful not to over focus on the antichrist, as the central theme of the Scriptures is not him/it, but our Lord Jesus Christ. Herman Hoyt rightly points out that “there are … [those] who want to major on this area of prophetic truth to the exclusion of other precious truth, and thus become lopsided.”[3] Despite this, we must not retreat to the other extreme whereby we do not care to know about what the Bible has to say regarding the antichrist.

What this paper intends to do is to provide a succinct introduction to what the Bible says about the matter, first off, by addressing some preliminaries, before delving into an examination of key passages which make explicit and implicit reference to the antichrist. Subsequently, this will be followed up with positive takeaways.

 

A) Preliminaries

The most crucial starting point would be to define “antichrist” since it will be used throughout this paper. The word “antichrist” comes from the Greek word “antichristos” (αντίχριστος) which is “made up of two words: the prefix anti- [G473], “acting in the place of” and “opposed to” + christos [G5547], “Christ.””[4] Simply put, the antichrist is “the adversary of the messiah”[5] or “an opponent of the Messiah.”[6]

According to Louw and Nida, “the term . . . appears to have become increasingly equivalent to a proper name as the personification of all that was opposed to and contrary to the role and ministry of Christ.”[7]

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