The Preeminence of Christ
For the Christian, the first and primary rule of Biblical interpretation (“hermeneutics”) centers on the relationship of the “Word of God” (the Bible), to Jesus Christ, referred to as the preeminence (meaning: “above and beyond everything else in importance” – pre ["before"], eminent ["importance"]) of Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:10), in both the Old and New Testaments, as Creator (Col. 1:16) and Lord (Phil. 2:9-11); that He far and above fulfills the Will of the Father (Joh. 8:28); and deserves to be preeminent in our lives.
The preeminence of Jesus Christ is the purpose of the Gospel Books, as well as all of God’s Word.
What Jesus Said of Himself
Found in John 5:39,
“you search the Scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and
they are they that speak of me.”
Hebrews 10:7, which quotes Psalms 40:7, which is a Messianic passage, states:
“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.”
It is these, among many other Scriptures that instruct us that the Scripture centers on the person of Jesus Christ, as the only begotten Son of the Father (2 Pet. 1:17). It is in understanding His preeminence (Rom. 11:36) in fulfilling the Will of the Father, that allows the salvation of all of mankind (Acts 5:31), yet concerning salvation man is not the focus of attention, God is (1 Pet. 4:11; man is created for God’s glory ~ Isa. 43:7); and it is Jesus Christ in which God reveals Himself to man (Joh. 14:9), and Christ Jesus by whom God the Father is glorified (Col. 3:17).
Specifically Concerning Christ’s Preeminence
Colossians 1:16, states:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him“
Ephesians 1:20-23, states:
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
Concerning Christ and the Law
Matthew 5:18, states:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Concerning Jesus’ Place in the Old Testament Scriptures
Luke 24:27, Jesus states concerning Himself:
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
And Again, Luke 24:44-47, when it states:
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem“
Another example of this is seen in John 1:45, which states:
“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
As well as John 12:16, states:
“His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.”
And John 15:25, states:
“But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, `They hated Me without a cause.”
Acts 1:16, states:
“Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”
Acts 8:35, states:
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture [which was Isa. 53:7], and preached unto him Jesus.”
Acts 10:43, states:
“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
Acts 13:27-37, states:
“For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death. Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people. And we declare to you glad tidings that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: `You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, He has spoken thus: `I will give you the sure mercies of David.’ Therefore He also says in another Psalm: `You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.’ For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.”
Acts 26:22-23, states:
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”
Acts 28:23, states:
“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening“
Romans 1:1-3, states:
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. “
Hebrews 1:1-3, states:
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
Other notable scriptures concerning Christ’s preeminence are: John 1:1, 14, 29; 5:46, 47; Acts 2:16-36; 3:18; John 14:6 with 17:7; and Hebrews 4:13.
Place Jesus in the Middle of It
It has been wisely said that if any passage appears to be mysterious or difficult to comprehend, simply place Jesus in the middle of the passage; and according to the blessing of the Holy Spirit, relevance will be unearthed leading to the understanding of the passage. God uses many different forms of object lessons to convey meaning, Such as: types (“the lamb of God,” ”the lion of the tribe of Judah“), shadows (the Tabernacle, Feast Days), numbers (6 the number of man, 7 the number of completeness), and symbolism as seen in colors (blue, purple, red), raw building material (gold, bronze, wood, hay and stubble); “Figures of Speech,” which are readily employed, which are normal words used in an abnormal manner in order to render meaning and emphasis.
Therefore, there are passages in God’s Word that use these different forms of object lessons, yet always in some manner pointing to Jesus Christ as He is the center of all creation. Hence, God uses literally everything in His Word to display Jesus Christ (Joh. 5:39); even such as things as Jesus’ two appearances on Earth which are pictorials which display His role of Redeemer (Job 19:25), of Israel, who has two main functions:
2) The Goal, the “Revenger in Blood,” (Num. 35:2; Deut. 19:6) who would revenge when a kinsmen was murdered (such as when man was murdered by the scheme of the Devil, which is continued by his followers, which Christ referred to as his children ~ Joh. 8:44), seeking justice in delivering punishment (Jud. 1:15; Joh. 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31), as typified by Jesus’ second coming. It is in understanding that everything in the Bible is meant to symbolize and identify the Messiah, His mission, and destiny; which is seen in everything that God has communicated to man. From all the articles of the Tabernacle, to the 7 Feasts of Israel, to even the place names, and personal name of individuals who played out God’s message in the drama of their own lives.
NOTE: It should be noted that the Pharisees always drew attention to when Christ claimed to be divine, because they would pick up stones to stone Jesus for blasphemy, which was according to the law (Lev. 24:16); which included the blasphemy of claiming to be divine.
Jesus was symbolized as THE brazen serpent held up in the desert (Joh. 3:14), THE rock not made with hands (Dan. 2:45 ~ Rom. 9:33), THE rock that gave forth water (1 Cor. 10:4), THE Lamb of God to die for the sins of the world (Joh. 1:29, 36), and many more symbols and typologies (both addressed later). It is in understanding that Jesus Christ is the center of God’s creation (Rom. 11:36; Eph. 1:20-22; Col. 1:16); everything in God’s Word points to Him, holding Him preeminent in all things.
It has been mistakenly said that God’s Word is a book about salvation (Concerning man’s perspective as compared to God’ perspective, see Endnote #1), which implies that man is the main focus as the recipient of that salvation. And whereas salvation is an underlying theme, it is not what is to be preeminent, Jesus Christ is. It has also been taught that man’s purpose is to be fulfilled in his life, which is synonymous with man living to satisfy himself (Concerning man and him living for God or living for self, see Endnote #2), or even have a good life, or even to provide fellowship for God (which is a side benefit to both).
However, man’s purpose is to glorify God as recorded in Isaiah 43:7, which states:”Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”It is the preeminence of Jesus.
Christ is the theme and reason for God’s Word, as well as all of creation.
1. God’s Perspective ~ Man is so limited by the sin nature that even the born-again believer is plagued with a sinful perception, wherein reality is beyond his comprehension. The following are a few examples of the difference between our perception and God’s perception.
1) When one reads the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show to His servants (Revelation 1:1), beyond being amazed that Jesus truly did write (dictated to John, the same as most of the New Testament books were dictated by their writers) part of the New Testament; is that these seven letters to seven churches draw on the fact, that even within the church our perspectives are warped.
What you will find is that those churches that thought they were doing quite well, were actually doing miserably, and those churches that perceive themselves so negatively, Christ commands them as having done better than they expected. This displays the fact that we humans, even when filled with the Holy Spirit and submissive to God’s leading, are still so tainted by the sin in our flesh, that we can’t see clear enough to perceive reality many times.
2) Another example of warped perspective can be seen in the blessing of God’s provision for the Israelites as they crossed the desert to the Promised Land. Whenever God refers to the bread like material that He left for them day after day, God first calls it “bread from heaven,” (Exo. 16:4; Joh. 6:31) yet the Hebrews referred to it as “manna.” What we miss in our English translations is that the Hebrew word for manna actually means: “what is it,” in Hebrew (Exo. 16:15), and is a derogatory term. From God’s perspective this was a blessing that daily He provided for them, yet in the arrogance of their sinful perspective they saw it as something derogatory.
3) Yet another example can be seen in Daniel 2:1-45, where God gives Nebuchadnezzar a dream about four world empires. When God gives Nebuchadnezzar this dream according to his own perception, in an idiom that he would understand according to earthly values and a carnal perspective.
The dream centered on a man made out of precious metals descending in value from his head to his toe. Yet, in chapter 7 of Daniel, God gives Daniel, the man of God, a dream of the same world empires. However, now God features them as wild animals. God will speak to us in a language that we understand, and what we see in the first vision is an ungodly King seeing man in his greatness, yet in the second vision we see a godly man shown that these kingdoms are actually wild beast. The point is it’s the same God, the same future kingdoms; yet God displays the imagery differently according to who he gives the dream too. There’s a lesson in this for us, God’s perspective is always different than our own.
4) One last example which displays the diversity between our human perspective and God’s perspective can be seen in the last hour of a man’s life. According to our perspective, what you do in your life, those 60 or 70 years; will tell the most about who you are, and what your priorities were.
Yet Jesus gave a parable (Matt. 20:1-16) about workers that started work at different times in the day, with them all receiving the same pay. Many misunderstand the point of the story. The point was no matter how many years you serve the Lord, or even if you’ve only known Him a short time before your death, we all get the same reward of eternal salvation. With God there are no greater or lesser amounts of salvation. God in His Word displays time and time again that His priorities are different than our own. That if a man pushes a broom diligently for God, according to God’s Will for that man, he will not receive a smaller reward than Billy Graham received if Billy followed God’s Will as well.
It is we humans that live with inflated egos and perceptions clouded by pride; that Judge un-righteously and ungodly, according to our sensual pleasures, and carnal perceptions.
Perhaps one of the individuals that will be most shocked by their contribution to God’s kingdom is the thief on the cross. (Luk. 23:39-43) In the last hour of his life he gained salvation. His act of faith was calling Jesus Lord and verbally defending Jesus, and for this Jesus told him that he would be with Him that day. Yet, how many untold thousands of people in their last drawing breaths, having lived a life of debauchery and sin, yet in the last few moments of their life surrendered all to Jesus, having understood that they could follow the example of the thief on the cross. What we see when we look upon the thief is the 30 or so years of criminality, what God see’ is one hour of submission, surrender and faith.
2. Concerning commitment in our Christian walk as compared to our words. The following is an inscription on a cathedral in Lubeck (15th century), Germany, which states:
Thus speaketh Christ our Lord to us:
Ye call Me Master and obey Me not.
Ye call Me Light and see Me not.
Ye call Me Way and walk Me not.
Ye call Me Life and choose Me not.
Ye call Me Wise and follow Me not.
Ye call Me Fair and love Me not.
Ye call Me Rich and ask Me not.
Ye call Me Eternal and seek Me not.
Ye call Me Noble and serve Me not.
Ye call Me Gracious and trust Me not.
Ye call Me Might and honor Me not.
Ye call Me Just and fear Me not.
If I condemn you, blame Me not.
Taken from http://www.faithbibleministries.com/; “Something to Think About.”
“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”