Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection for Christians?

In 1 Corinthians 15:16-20, Paul comments, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” Scripture makes it quite clear that the resurrection of Christ from the dead is absolutely significant to the faith of believers. Without it, as Paul stresses, not only is our faith worthless, but the expression of this faith should be greatly pitied. Paul goes on further in verse 21 to explain why resurrection is necessary to the Christian’s faith. Death came through Adam, a man, and so resurrection from death came through Christ, a man (and yet also God). This expression demonstrates God’s love and justice. Because God must punish sin, which had its origin in Adam, the Cross is necessary. Because God loves those whom He has predestined to faith, He takes the punishment upon Himself in His Son Jesus Christ.
The Greek verb used in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians is “egeiro.” This term means “to waken, to raise up.” So then, it is not merely that God requires justice by punishing sin, or that God demonstrates His love by providing the propitiation for that sin, but that in the resurrection, Christ demonstrates His conquering of both sin and death and provides a future hope of life for those who believe in Him.
What are your thoughts on who Theophilus was? Was he a real person?
In consideration of the identity of Theophilus, Bock comments that he “is unknown but that he appears to be a person of high social standing and could well be a Christian Gentile wavering in his faith because of the pressure placed on the church…He could be a patron or simply the most important intended reader. Barrett (1994: 65) notes that the name is common and that Luke 1:3 with ‘most excellent’ in its address speaks to a person, not an ‘ideal’ figure.” There seems to be an argument that “Theophilus” is not a real person, but rather a symbolic representation of believers in Christ. As the name means “friend of God,” it is argued that this refers to those who by faith are indeed friends of God. However, as Bock notes, it seems more likely that Theophilus is a real person, an individual to whom can be attributed the title “most excellent” from Luke 1:3.
Coffman has more to say on this issue as he states, “The use of ‘excellent’ denominates Theophilus as a man of equestrian rank, that is a knight, the term being used of such officials as the governor of the province…there is no reason to suppose that Luke used this name otherwise than as the personal cognomen of his friend, who might also have been his patron.” With the use of an official title and the study of Acts 23:26, it would appear that the words “most excellent” can only refer to a real individual. It is therefore my conclusion that Theophilus was a real person, likely a governor or some other government official. Coffman further adds that “The omission of the title ‘excellent’ in Acts 1:1 supports the speculation that Theophilus was governor of an unnamed province when Luke was written, but that he was no longer governor when Acts was penned.”4 This comment further supports my conclusion as the giving of an honorific title as well as a later reference to this same recipient without said title indicates, as Coffman points out, an individual who perhaps held a high office for a term and later did not. This could also indicate an individual of importance who later became a closer friend of Luke, allowing for the comfort in communication with him (Theophilus).

MacArthur, John F. The MacArthur Study Bible. Thomas Nelson: La Habra, 2006.
Thomas, Robert L., ed. The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan, 2004.
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007.
Coffman, James Burton. Commentary on Luke 1. Coffman Commentaries on the Old and
New Testament. hapter=001>. Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 1983-1999.

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