Vol. 18, No. 9 – March 3, 2019
Vs. 11 – Luke 2:11, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
This announcement is one of the most packed verses in the Bible. In these few words, we have volumes of information, and a complete Christology. This information, though heavy in doctrine, was spoken in simple and easy to understand terms, so that the shepherds, and us today, would understand their meaning. This is no better shown than in the 1965 Christmas cartoon, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and the speech Charlie Brown’s friend, Linus van Pelt, gives so that Charlie Brown could understand the true meaning of Christmas. As the famous saying goes, “oh from the mouths of babes.” Play video: https://youtu.be/c1odLOHFX7o
This narrative follows a standard form that we have seen in the announcements to Zachariah and Mary: 1) appearance, vs. 9a, 2) fear, vs. 9b, 3) a “do not be afraid” remark, vs. 10-11, and 4) the announcement of a verifying sign, vs. 12.
Here, we have the cause for the shepherd’s joy, as the angel tells them the Messiah has been born and gives the location where His birth occurred. As we noted above, Christianity is a religion of present joys, and leads onward to eternal joy.
Notice that the birth of the Lord and the announcement to the shepherds happened on the same day, as the angel used the Adverb, “today,” SEMERON, σήμερον. This is unlike the Magi, who witnessed the babe up to two years after His birth. Luke is saying the time has come, “today,” for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of Messiah’s coming.
The location of the babe is given, “city of David,” which doubled as the name for the town of Bethlehem, cf. vs. 4. “Bethlehem was not formally called this. In fact, most people would have considered Jerusalem the city of David. But the shepherds would have recognized the angel’s reference in connection with their hometown hero. Furthermore, the announcement deliberately connects the birth of Christ with the bloodline of David in fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy (Mic. 5:2) and God’s promise (2 Sam. 7:12-13). The Lord’s covenant promise to David was immediately fulfilled in the reign of Solomon, but ultimately in the Messiah.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary.)
Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Note, that this babe was “born,” using the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of TIKTO, “to bring forth, bear children, or generate,” that we noted in Luke 1:31, 57; 2:6-7. This speaks to the humanity of Jesus Christ, as God is not born or generated. He has always existed. It also indicates the fulfillment of prophecy, Isa 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2.
Isa 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Isa 9:6, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
“For you,” is the Dative of Advantage of the Personal Pronoun HUMEIS in the 2nd Person, Plural. It tells us that the Messiah was specifically born for you “shepherds,” the one’s being addressed. This emphasizes that Jesus is the personal Messiah for every member of the human race. That He is the Messiah for the entire human race is emphasized in vs. 10, with the phrase, “for all the people,” using the Dative of Advantage, 3rd Person, Plural. Therefore, Jesus came for every individual in the world, so that He could redeem all of humanity. Whereas, Matthew presents Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, establishing a worldwide monarchy in which individuals may take refuge, Luke emphasizes His role as the “personal” Savior of the world: He is our Savior both individually and collectively.
Now, we have three important titles that the angel told the shepherds belonged to this babe. The angel omits the name of Jesus, but gives the meaning of His name, “Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.” This is the only time in the Gospels this phrase is used. It is the only time in the Gospels that we see all the titles of Jesus brought together. The combination of the terms continues to affirm the Deity of Jesus in His role as Messiah-Lord. He is deliverer, Messiah, and the One who has authority over salvation and the earth. These three titles also appear together in Phil 3:20.
Phil 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Savior,” speaks to Jesus as the redeemer or deliverer from our sins.
“Christ,” speaks to Him being God’s anointed Messiah.
“Lord,” speaks to Him as being the sovereign God.
1. ) The first title given is “Savior,” which is the anarthrous Noun SOTER, σωτήρ that means, “savior, redeemer, deliverer, or preserver.” It occurs 24 (8×3) times in the NT. It is used 8 times in relation to God, and 16 (8×2) times for who Jesus Christ is; as in our verse. The number 8 speaks of new beginnings, regeneration, and resurrection. All of which Jesus brought to mankind as our Savior.
This title is applied to God in Luke 1:47, but its use here of Jesus was prepared for by Luke 1:69. In relation to the Godhead, the Father designed the plan for our salvation and Jesus Christ carried out that plan as The Savior, cf. Acts 5:31; 13:23.
Acts 13:23, “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.”
Acts 5:31, “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
This is one of only two places in the gospels where Christ is referred to as “Savior,” the other being John 4:42, where Samaritan men confessed Him as “Savior of the world.” Cf. Mat 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 13:23; 1 Tim 4:10; 1 John 4:14.
John 4:42, “And they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world’.”
“Savior,” reflects the call of Jesus to deliver His people, as Mary’s and Zechariah’s hymns had declared, Luke 1:46-55, 67-79. This term is rich in OT roots, especially as a figure for Divine deliverance, Deut 20:4; Joshua 22:22; Psa 24:5; 25:5; Isa 25:9. In Greek culture, all types of figures were called saviors, from doctors and rulers to philosophers.
This was the Good News the angel was announcing. Not that God had sent a soldier or a judge or a reformer, but that He had sent a Savior to meet man’s greatest need, i.e., salvation from our sins. It was a message of peace to a world that had known and continues to know much war.
Jesus Christ is the Savior sent from God. He would not become a savior, He was born a Savior. He is the Savior proclaimed by the prophets. That is why the angel of the Lord announced to Mary that the baby she carried was the promised Savior by calling Him Jesus that means, “Savior,” Luke 1:31. The shepherds outside Bethlehem were told of the birth of the Savior. Later, Jesus Himself bore witness to His calling as Savior, Luke 19:10 and His apostles declared Him to be Savior, 1 Tim 1:15; cf. Acts 4:12.
Jesus as Savior delivers those who believe in Him from the guilt of sin, as well as from sin’s power, including death, as He is the Redeemer. Everyone who believes in Him, has been justified by faith, cf. Rom 5:1, and is delivered from the guilt of sin.
Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Being made holy in Christ, believers are freed from sin’s power. The first is an act of God that gives us Positional Sanctification, the second is a process that we enact through the intake of Bible Doctrine, (the mind of Jesus Christ), and the filling of the Holy Spirit throughout our lives, (called the Balance of Residency), that give us Experiential Sanctification, which culminates at Jesus’ return when believers will be transformed into His likeness and their bodies will be redeemed by the Savior that is called Ultimate Sanctification, Phil 3:20-21. The Savior Jesus provides for us Past, Present, and Future Salvation and Sanctification.
Phil 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
“Savior” is the true title and description of who and what Jesus Christ is. This title was falsely used by many of the ancient world in Satan’s counterfeit to the true Savior, as the term ordinarily occurred in the Greek language in connection with men or gods and only rarely in connection with objects. Of the gods, Zeus was especially honored as SOTER. At times a physician or a philosopher was called a SOTER, but normally the title was reserved for politicians and rulers. Philip of Macedon was honored as SOTER, and the Grecian kings of the Orient often adopted the title THEOS SOTER, or “divine savior,” for themselves. This custom was also adopted by the Roman emperors. Caesar was called SOTER TES OIKOUMENES that means, “savior of the inhabited world,” and the Roman Emperor Hadrian, AD 76-139, was termed SOTER TOU KOSMOU or “the savior of the world.” The famous Roman orator and senator Cicero says: “SOTER . . . how much this word contains! So much that it cannot be expressed by just one Latin word.” (In Verrem 188.8.131.52).
In the Septuagint, SOTER is used 35 times for the Hebrew word YESHUAH in its various forms. First and foremost, it was used for the Lord God as Savior; as only He can claim this title in the absolute sense. He revealed Himself as the Savior of His people when He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt and led them into the Promised Land, Isa 63:7-9. During times of natural disaster and catastrophe, the people of Israel trusted in the Lord, the Savior of Israel, Jer 14:1-8. In addition, when David reflected upon his life of victory in battle and personal attacks, He worshiped the God of Israel as his personal Savior, 2 Sam 22:3.
2 Sam 22:3, “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.”
God demonstrated His great wisdom and His power as Savior when He freed the captives in Babylon who were in captivity for 70 years, Isa 43:3, 11.
Isa 43:3, “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place.”
Isa 43:11, “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me.”
Ultimately, in the last days, the Lord will reappear as the Savior of His people, Isa 49:22-26; He will gather Israel from all the nations of the earth to their homeland. He will grant them unbelievable prosperity, abundant life, and happiness, Isa chapter 60.
Isa 49:25-26, “Surely, thus says the LORD, ‘Even the captives of the mighty man will be taken away, and the prey of the tyrant will be rescued; for I will contend with the one who contends with you, and I will save your sons. 26And I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; as all flesh will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’.”
2 Peter 3:2, “That you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
In Israel, there were two prevailing thoughts regarding the Savior.
- That God himself would save and lead His people.
- That He would accomplish this through a human instrument.
These two intersect in Ezek 34, that clearly depicts a union between the Divine and the human. Notice that this is a passage about shepherds and the Great Shepherd. In vs. 23-24, both lines of thought converge: “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them.” In the God-man Jesus Christ, we distinctly note this internal unity and relationship as Savior!
1 John 4:14, “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”
2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Jesus’ role as Savior is qualified by the following titles, “Christ” and “Lord.”
2.) Next, we have the second title, “is Christ,” the Present. Active, Indicative of EIMI, “is” for a dogmatic state of His being and existence at all times, with the Nominative Masculine of CHRISTOS, Χριστός that means, “Christ, anointed, the Anointed One.” It is synonymous with the Hebrew MASHIACH, “Messiah.” “Messiah” is the Hebrew and “Christ” is the Greek for our English word “anointed.” Jesus is confirmed as Messiah in the NT at least 280 times. The double title Jesus Christ is actually a confession: Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Messiah.
This was the oldest Christological confession of a Jewish background. From a Gentile perspective, the title was so unfamiliar that “Christ” was soon regarded as more of a proper name. Even though many came before, and many have and will come after, Mat 24:5, 23-24, Jesus of Nazareth is the one and only Christ, John 20:31, cf. Acts 18:5, 28.
John 20:31, “But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
In ancient Greek, CHRISTOS was used literally for the application of ointment or those anointed with oil. But, as Bauer notes, “in the NT it is used only as a noun, either as an appellative, i.e., “the Anointed One, the Christ,” or as a personal name, i.e., “Jesus Christ” or “Christ.” CHRISTOS is used over 500 times in the NT, in every book except 3 John, to refer to the anticipated Messiah, and as a reference to Jesus, either as Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, or Christ the Lord. Therefore, it is actually a title for Jesus with meaning, Acts 5:42; Acts 17:3.
Acts 5:42, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Acts 17:3, “Explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’.”
“Christ” as the “Anointed One,” is indicative of His role as the promised Messiah. Psa 2:2 is the main technical regal use, cf. John 1:41, and Luke’s usage here looks back to Luke 1:27, 31-35, 68-72, 79; 2:4.
Psa 2:2,”The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed (MASHIACH).”
John 1:41, “He (Andrew) found first his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ).”
Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed in ancient times. Jesus held and holds all three of these offices for the entire human race and for all eternity.
“Christos,” occurs mainly in the Gospels to mean the Messiah, as the Messiah/Christ title occurs about 60 times in the Gospels. So, we see that the Messiah came to be both the Good Shepherd, John 10, and the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of the world, John 1:29, as presented to the Shepherds in the fields while tending their flocks. What wonderful imagery God gave them and us today.
John 1:29, “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
Every other name associated with Messiah is subordinate to this title. As such, we speak of “Christology” as the study of the doctrine and person of Christ. And, this verse reveals that the title “Christ” was so closely identified with Jesus of Nazareth that it soon became part of his name: Jesus Christ.
The overall “religion” of the followers of Jesus is also characterized by this title, for we are first of all “Christians” because we confess Jesus is Messiah, Acts 11:26. In our passage, Luke 2:11, He is noted as the ultimate Deliverer, the Savior from sin.
The baptism of Jesus was His historical anointing, Luke 3:22; 4:1, 14, 18, 21; Acts 10:38, matching on earth what God had already ordained in heaven.
Interestingly, the translators of the Septuagint (LXX), chose the cognate CHRIŌ as the replacement of the verb MĀSHACH, “to rub, anoint, or spread a liquid,” and the Adjective CHRISTOS for MASHIACH, that means “anointed or Messiah.” Like the NT that transliterates the Greek CHRISTOS to the English “Christ,” in the OT, MASHIAH is transliterated “Messiah,” and all mean, “anointed or Anointed One.”
Consequently, the designation CHRISTOS for the Messiah was not originally a Christian understanding. Rather, it was adopted from the OT. As such, this term would not have been offensive to Jewish ears, as it was to Greek ears, as they used it for a word used of derision. Peter, who wrote to Jewish Christians in the Diaspora, told them not to be ashamed of being called Christians; instead, they should praise God, 1 Peter 4:16.
As far as the understanding of “anointing” is concerned, it meant the identification of someone selected or ordained by God to perform His will and plan. It meant the setting apart of someone for God’s special purpose, and it consecrated someone or something for God’s purpose, and as being acceptable to Him. As such, it had a fourfold significance:
- Separation unto God.
- Authorization by God.
- Divine enablement.
- The coming Deliverer.
Psalm 72, provides an almost total summary of all of the messianic prophecies of the OT.
- It is a prayer for God to send Israel a king from the lineage of David who will mirror God’s own merciful intentions.
- It is a request for a righteous descendant of David, such as the one prophesied by Isaiah, Isa 11:2f.; cf. 2 Sam 23:3f.
- It says that the Messiah-King will gain followers because of His mercy and love, vs. 8-14.
- It says He is a “prince of peace” who cares for the poor and destitute, vs. 4, 12-14.
- It also notes the effect of Messiah upon all of existence, vs. 16, in that all peoples are blessed through Messiah, vs. 17, just as the blessing of Abraham foretold, Gen 22:18.
Unfortunately, the two centuries leading up to the appearance of Christ were marked by strong messianic expectation. In virtually every level of society, it was thought that Messiah would be a national-political king who, like His forefather David, would wield great power. This messiah was expected to redeem Israel from the yoke of the Gentiles, i.e., Rome, and reestablish the throne of David’s kingdom in the Holy City of Jerusalem. There would not be any question as to when He appeared; His external glory would legitimize Him. This “popular” and earthly figure was completely foreign to Jesus’, as it should be to our understanding of His role as Messiah, especially in His First Advent.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#19-019 & 19-020 & 19-021
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!