Good Friday. Jesus died on a cross. A long time ago. So what! This is probably how many people regard Good Friday in today’s world. How could someone’s death so long ago have any relevance to the modern man or woman? They might be surprised to know that they were in fact involved in the events of the first Good Friday. They might be even more surprised to know that their eternal destiny depends on how they respond to the news of the events on that day.
In the previous article we looked at how the preposition (huper) meaning “for” or “on behalf of” was used in the Gospels to portray the death of Jesus on a cross “for” sinners. We now look to see how the word (for = huper) was used in the rest of the New Testament in helping ascertain the meaning of Good Friday.
The Use Of The Word (Huper = “For” Or “For The Sake Of”) In The New Testament (Not Including The Gospels which are covered in the previous article No.147)
1). What St Paul Wrote About The Death Of Jesus (Huper) For Us
The preposition (huper) means “for” or “for the sake of” as well as meaning “above” or “beyond”. In this article we will look at who or what the death of Jesus was “for”. (Pardon the bad English). For what purpose did He die on a cross on that first Good Friday? We will identify the word (huper) by bracketing in bold letters the word used to translate it in each passage. My prayer is that as we read through these verses the Holy Spirit who inspired each and every one of them would make them come alive to us. Only then can we see the relevance of Good Friday. Only then can we see that it was our sins that nailed Him to the tree. Only then can we realise that His blood was shed for us. Only then can we really thank Him with real understanding for His amazing love in sending Jesus. May He bless you as you read through these verses showing what Jesus did for you and me on the cross on that first Good Friday.
Romans 5:7. For one will scarcely die (for) a righteous person–though perhaps (for) a good person one would dare even to die– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died (for) us. Here is the gospel message in a nutshell. God in His grace and love sent Jesus to die for us (on our behalf). He didn’t wait until we were better people before He came. It was while we were still sinners He came to die for us. Good Friday brought the demonstration of the love and mercy of God in the death of Jesus towards those who didn’t deserve His love.
Rom 8:32. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up (for) us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Paul is making an important point. If God gave His Son to die for us, (the greatest gift He could ever give) then of course He is motivated to bring us the lesser gifts (by comparison) we need in life. Paul had already in Romans shown that Jesus’ death (described by the same word paradidomi = give up or deliver) was for human sin, Rom 4:25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Rom 14:15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one (for) whom Christ died. Sometimes there are those who are strong in faith who are not affected by the scruples of others. But Paul reminds such people that they have to take into account the weaker brethren. Why? Because Christ loved them enough to die for them. If He was willing to love them unto death, then those strong in the faith had to consider the scruples and feelings of those who were weaker but also loved by Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified (for) you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Paul had to deal with divisions in the church in Corinth. Some were forming parties like the Paul party and the Cephas party. Paul would have none of it. Christ could not be divided. It was Jesus Himself who had been crucified for them, not Paul or Cephas.
1 Cor 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (“[for] us” is added in some variant readings). His sacrifice on the cross on that first Good Friday for Corinthian and other sinners demanded that they respond by living lives characterised by sincerity and truth, 5:8.
1 Cor 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is (for) you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul here recalls the actions and words of Jesus at the Last Supper. He told them that He was giving His body for them. As we saw in the previous article, Peter understood that to mean that Jesus was going to bear the sins of the world in His own body on the cross. Peter expressed it in 1Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. Jesus at the Last Supper told His followers that was about to die for them. He did. Peter reminded his readers what His death for sin should mean for them.
.1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died (for) our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. In unambiguous language Paul declares that the purpose of Jesus’ death was to bear human sin. This was to fulfil Scriptural prophecies. He bore human sin as we have seen, for sinners.
2 Cor 5:15, … he died (for) all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who (for) their sake died and was raised. It is interesting to note that Paul used the preposition “huper” twice in this verse. The first in the phrase he died for all. He saw that a human response was needed, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him. Jesus died for them so that they might live for Him.The second use was in the phrase, “for him who for their sake died and was raised. Paul combined here the death of Jesus for sinners with the victory of His resurrection.
Galatians 1:4. who gave himself (for) our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. A new concept is introduced in this verse. Paul used the usual truth that Jesus died for sinners, but here Paul sees another dimension to His death. Through His death He delivered us from the present evil age. One might say that He delivered sinners from the penalty of their sins by bearing the penalty Himself on the cross. But He also delivered them from the power of sin through His death. He gave the reason for that in stating what happened on the cross in Col 2:14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Forgiveness from sin and freedom from evil powers became available to the people of God through His death on the cross. Sin’s penalty was cancelled and evil powers were disarmed through His death.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself (for) me. Paul explained His new life as a dying to what He once was and allowing Christ within him to express His life through him. He was now living by faith in the One who had given Himself in love for him through His death. We note here that the same word is used (paradidomi) for God the Father “handing over” or “delivering” His Son, and Jesus “handing over” or “giving” Himself.)
Gal 3:13. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse (for) us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— There is some similarity here with the previous verse above from Galatians in that Jesus’ death brought freedom. Jesus in His death bore the curse of the law. What was the curse of the law? Paul tells us in a previous verse in Galatians 3, 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” The law promised life to those who obeyed it. But it pronounced a curse upon those who failed to obey it perfectly. However Jesus bore that curse in His death and so released His people from the curse. He bore the curse for (in the place of) those who deserved to bear it.
Ephesians 5:2. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up (for) us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Again we have the combination of the love of Jesus leading to His willingness to give Himself up for sinners. Love and sacrifice – for us. The human response needed was to live in love in the same way that Jesus had loved us in His sacrificial death.
Eph 5:25. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up (for) her. As an example of the love that husbands should have for their wives, Paul paints a big picture. They are to love their wives in the same way Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Here is sacrificial love in the extreme. (Incidentally another use of “paradidomi” for Jesus handing over Himself.)
1Thessalonians 5:9. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died (for) us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Here is another gospel in a nutshell similar to John 3:16. People were perishing but God in His love gave His Son to die for them so that they wouldn’t perish but have eternal life in His presence.
1Timothy 2:5. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom (for) all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. Paul introduces another concept to explain the necessity of Jesus’ death. He gave Himself as a ransom to set people free. Ransom involves freedom coming from the payment of a price. The price that was paid was the blood of Jesus in His death. We are not told to whom any ransom was paid and it is fruitless to speculate. Paul was simply stating that people needed to be set free and Jesus did it for them by His death.
Titus 2:14. (Jesus)gave himself (for) us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. In this passage Jesus is said to have given Himself (again didomi is used for “given”) to redeem people from lawlessness. His self-giving was obviously, as in other places, through His death for sinners. But the new word in this context is the word to “redeem”. Surprisingly this word is only found three times in the New Testament, here and in Luke 24:21 But we had hoped that he was the one to (redeem) Israel and in Gal 4:5, to (redeem) those who were under the law. Common to all these references is the thought of liberation, being set free by Jesus’ death, to be able to live as one should.
2). What the writer to the Hebrews said about Jesus’ death (hyper) for us
Hebrews 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death (for) everyone. Jesus was born, to die. He became incarnate so that He might fulfil the role of the Messiah, to die for the people. To die for His fellow humans. His death was an exhibition of the grace and love of God.
Heb 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner (on our behalf), having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Thayer,defines the word “forerunner” as “one who comes in advance to a place where the rest are to follow”. Jesus has opened the way for His people to enter into the presence of God through His death. The writer to Hebrews put it like this, Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. … 9:26… he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. But why did He sacrifice Himself? For whose benefit? The answer comes in verse 28, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. As He sacrificed Himself He was bearing the sins of humankind and not His own sins, for He had none. He died for us to enable us to enter into God’s presence.
Heb 7:27. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first (for his own sins) and then for those of the people, since he did this once (for) all when he offered up himself. The first Good Friday marked the day when Jesus offered Himself as the sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. It was a once for all offering. It meant that His death was sufficient to take away the sins of the world. Sin had been died for. Humans had been died for. No other sacrifice for sin would ever be necessary. As the writer added later, His one sacrifice secured an eternal redemption, Heb 9:12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Heb 10:12. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice (for) sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. As in the previous reference, the emphasis is on the once for all (single) sacrifice for sins. But again this question arises. For whom did He die? The writer gives the answer just two verses later, Heb 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. His death on Good Friday brought God’s plan of redemption to a close. The sacrifice to take away all sins forever had now been made. As the commentator in the Bible Knowledge Commentary put it so concisely, “The sanctified” have a status in God’s presence that is “perfect” (cf. Heb_11:40; Heb_12:23) in the sense that they approach Him with the full acceptance gained through the death of Christ (cf. Heb_10:19-22).
3). What St Peter wrote about the death of Jesus (huper) for us
1Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered (for) you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. In this passage Peter has been encouraging his readers to “hang on” as they endured persecution. He gave as an example of how to behave, the way Jesus faced persecution and suffering. But he reminded them that the suffering Jesus endured, was for his readers. He suffered for them, for their sake. The crucifixion on that first Good Friday was the climax of His suffering, as He bore the sin of the world and endured the mocking and spite of His enemies.
1Pet 3:18 For Christ also suffered once (for) sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. The observers of the crucifixion may not have realised the import of what was taking place on that first Good Friday. Many had seen crucifixions before. But perhaps few had any idea of the significance of Jesus crying out on the cross, John 19:30, “It is finished!” By this single offering of Himself He had fulfilled God’s plan of salvation. His work was finished. Sin had been died for. He, the righteous one, had died for the salvation of the unrighteous.
1Pet 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered (“[for] us” added in some variants) in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. Though “for us” is not found in some of the best manuscripts, such a reading would fit into this Epistle and indeed into the whole New Testament teaching that Jesus died for sinners.
4). What St John wrote about the death of Christ (for =huper) us
1John 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life (for) us, and we ought to lay down our lives (for) the brothers. John as the apostle of love recognised the love of God in action in the death of Jesus. He describes Jesus’ death as the voluntary laying down of His life. As Jesus said in the Gospels about His life, John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John issued a challenge to his readers. Such self-giving love on the part of Jesus should be the motivation for His followers to live self-giving lives towards one another.
When you put together all the scriptural references to the death of Jesus as being “for (huper) us”, we can see that there is an immense body of material that clearly shows us why Good Friday is significant in the church Calendar. It is significant in the church year because it was significant in the mind and purpose of God. He had a plan for bringing guilty sinners back into fellowship with Himself. Jesus fulfilled it by His death on that first Good Friday. Jesus, the agent of God in creation, came into the creation He had made, and died for the sins of His creatures.
We might consider that the verses we have looked at in the last two articles show that Jesus died as our substitute and suffered the death we should have died. Or we might see His death as being representative in that He died for humankind. But none of us can ignore what He did. We were involved in His death. In answer to the words of the hymn “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” we may not have been there physically on that first Good Friday but our sins were! Our sins did nail Him to the cross. However the good news of the Gospel message is that we can receive freely His gift of forgiveness and eternal life. How? By accepting Him and all He has done for us in His death and resurrection. Amazing love! Or in the words of Amazing Grace, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.” Praise God for the Good News about Good Friday! Praise God even more for a wonderful Saviour Who died so that we might live!
Blog No.148. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 16th April 2014
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