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Question #426

I disagree with you about the song "Lamb of God" by Twila Paris.

I recently was browsing through your "Problem Songs" section and read your comments about the song LAMB OF GOD BY TWILA PARIS:

"Your gift of love they crucified, They laughed and scorned Him as He died, The humble King they named a fraud And sacrificed the Lamb of God." The angry mob did not sacrifice the son of God; they murdered the son of God. (Acts 5:30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.") Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:26 "but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.") See also John 10:18; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 5:2; Titus 2:14; and 1 Cor. 5:7. Some would say it seems like such a small point, but do you really think Jesus sees it that way?

I have to say that I wholly disagree with you. You cited scripture, and that is wonderful. But there are few that you left untouched, and I wonder if that might have been on purpose. For instance, you quote Hebrews 9:26. But you might wish to reconsider your stance if you finish the chapter (i.e. verse 28, "so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many"). "Having been offered" is a translation of the nominative singular masculine, aorist passive participle form of the Greek prosphero which means “bring, offer, present” (BDAG 886). It is the same word used to describe the duties of the priests in Heb 8:3 (“For every high priest is appointed in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices”). Notice the passive element: “being offered.” Offered as what? Thusia, “sacrifice" for sins. Was this sacrifice intentionally carried out by those who murdered the Lamb of God? Of course not; but it was carried out nonetheless.

Also in 1 Cor 5:7, Paul bluntly says something contrary to your own argument, “For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ.” There, Paul uses the aorist passive indicative form of thuo, which means “to kill ceremonially, slaughter sacrificially” (BDAG 463). Again, notice the passive element: Jesus was sacrificed.

The Answer:

I had hoped that the discussion of “Lamb of God” was over. In fact, I determined to answer no more questions concerning it. However, our writer in this case at least attempted to use the scripture to answer our argument that the song is unscriptural. Most others just state their conclusion that they disagree or they like the song or that we are “bleep” for even suggesting that the song is unscriptural. Such is unworthy of response. On the other hand when someone uses scripture to respond, that response is worthy of an answer demonstrating that it is wrong or, if right, a correction by In this case the writer is wrong.

He begins by complementing our use of scripture in our discussion of “Lamb of God,” but then proceeds to charge that we failed to consider other passages that support the assertion that the Romans “sacrificed the Lamb of God.” He even “wonders” if we did so purposely. The answer is that we did not, indeed could not, ignore any passage that teaches that the Romans “sacrificed” the Lamb of God” because there is no such passage. The passages to which he directs our attention are Heb. 9:28, 8:3, and 1 Cor. 5:7. Let’s take them one by one.

With regard to Hebrews 9:28, he is correct that the Greek word translated “offered” is nominative, singular, masculine, arorist passive participle. It is the “passive” that catches his attention and leads him to conclude that someone other than Christ made the “offering” on the cross of Calvary. He then gets out the glue and adds Heb. 8:3: "For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer." This is a classic case of eisegesis (the interpretation of a text by reading into it one's own ideas). Consider the following.

  1. His argument ignores the context.

    a. In v. 26 the writer identifies the one making the sacrifice as Christ who “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

    b. Even assuming that his partial BDAG definition of prosphero (Greek lemma for prosenechtheis which is the form used in v. 26), the verse does not identify who made the offering, and thus does not override the identification of Christ is v. 26. How then could it be passive? First, it is consistent with the immediate and the greater contexts. See v. 28 for the identification in the immediate context. See such passages as John 10:17-18: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 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.” If the Hebrew writer had said, “So Christ’s life, having been laid down once to bear the sins of many,…,” would our protestor have concluded that Christ was wrong when he claimed to be the only one who had “authority to lay it down”? It is true that they murdered him; it is not true that they “laid down his life.”

    c. Heb. 8:3 is a strange place to go to find support for the assertion that the Romans “offered” a “sacrifice.” It speaks of the duty of “every high priest” and says nothing about sacrifices offered by others. It wasn’t a long reach because it was still in Hebrews, but it was a wrong reach. God doesn’t like for undesignated persons to offer sacrifices. Read what happened to King Uzziah. 2 Chron. 26:16-23.

    d. The context deals with the sufficiency of Christ’s one sacrifice in contrast to the insufficiency of the Jewish High Priests’ sacrifices. The High Priests had to enter into the presence of God year after year and make offerings first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. Christ’s offering was different. He had no sin and thus made no offering for his own sin. He did not enter into the Holy Place but into Heaven to appear in the presence of God on our behalf (v. 24). He did not enter to “offer himself” repeatedly with blood not his own (v. 25; see also 9:14). If that were the case he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world, i.e. he would have had to shed his blood annually. The Hebrew writer then draws an analogy between man and Christ. Man dies once and then comes judgment (v. 27). It was the same with Christ. “[S]o 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” (v. 28).

    e. F.F. Bruce writes: “At the conclusion of his teaching about the atoning work of Christ, the author writes that Christ was sacrificed. In the context of this chapter, the writer has made it clear that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for sin. Therefore, the words was sacrificed must be understood within the context in which they are used: Christ offered himself for the purpose of removing the sins of many people. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953-2001). Vol. 15: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Hebrews. New Testament Commentary (266). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.) Note that Bruce accepts the word “sacrifice,” though it is not in the Greek, but he does so with ease because the context demands that the “sacrifice,” though in the passive, demands (“must be understood”) as the offering of Christ himself.

    f. Lenski adds : “The passive participle προσενεχθείς is only a variation for saying, “having offered himself,” and holds fast to the truth that Christ was himself offered in his death.” (Lenski, R. C. H. (1938). The interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (320).)

  2. Our protestor does in fact ignore other passages. By inspiration God himself identified the role of both the Jews and Romans at Calvary. To the Jews he said: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36).” Of the Romans he said: “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:23).”

  3. Our protestor overlooked important exegetical facts.

    a. He overlooked the “divine passive.” “Passives imply agency—often an unexpressed or unidentified agency. One of the specialized uses of the passive voice entails what is called the “divine passive,” “theological passive,” or “semitic passive.” Such constructions avoid direct reference to God or use of the divine name. Greek grammarians have long recognized this usage. (Cf. F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. by Robert W. Funk (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), §§130(1), 313, 342(1).) Hebrew grammarians, however, have not been so quick to mention it. See Stephen K. Sherwood, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Berit Olam (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002), 24–25, 103–5, who lists the divine passives in some passages in the Pentateuch.” (Barrick, W. D. (2011). Comments on Waltke and O'Connor, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (21–22). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.) Another writer defines it: “passive — The grammatical voice that signifies that the subject is being acted upon; i.e., the subject is the receiver of the verbal action. A verb in the passive voice with God as the stated or implied agent is often referred to as the “divine passive.” (Heiser, M. S. (2005; 2005). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology.) God is certainly an implied agent here (see Acts 2:23, above). Christ is a named agent (Heb. 9:26). For our Protestor, the Roman soldiers are at best an imagined agent. How could they even unintentionally have “sacrificed” the Lamb of God when according to the song they had just named him a “fraud!” If the Romans were right Christ was a sinner and not an acceptable sacrifice.

    b. He assumes that the same word always means the same thing. The word translated “offered” in verse 28 is used 46 times in 44 verses in the ESV New Testament. They are: Matt. 2:11; 4:24; 5:23,24; 8:4,16; 9:2,32; 12:22; 14:35; 17:16; 18:24; 19:13; 22:19; 25:20; Mk. 1:44; 10:13; 5:14; 18;15; 23:14, 36; Jn 16:2; 19:29; Acts 7:42; 8:18; 21:26; Heb. 5:1,3,7; 8:3, 4; 9:7,9, 14, 25,28; 10:1, 2, 8, 11, 12; 11:4, 17; 12:7. Rarely does it have anything to do with sacrifices. Most occurrences that do are in Hebrews, but it is also in Hebrews where the writer often affirms that Christ is the offerer and the High Priest.

  4. The last verse that we are charged with having overlooked (or ignored) is 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.” Once again our Protestor has seized on the use of the passive which, he argues, means that someone other than Christ was involved in his sacrifice. It is the same argument that he made based on Heb. 9:28 except this verse does use the word “sacrificed.” While the Greek word here translated does not always mean “sacrifice,” it clearly does here. Having clearly established who was offering the sacrifice on Calvary, it need not be repeated here.

At least our Protestor admits that Christ at least had a hand in the matter. He asks, “Is there a sense in which Christ offered (i.e. sacrificed) himself? Absolutely!” This perhaps demonstrates more than anything else the extent to which some will go to prove a point, even a wrong point that they cannot prove. How can one who is a believer even begin to start to commence to proclaim that there was just “a sense in which Christ offered (i.e. sacrificed himself.” There is absolutely no sense which makes it nonsense to declare that the Romans did anything that day other than abuse orally, torture physically, and then crucify my Savior.

Perhaps it is too much to hope for this discussion to come to an end. However, since it takes two to have a conversation, perhaps it will because this is the last word that will be written on about the subject.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)