CHRISTOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION
CHRISTOLOGY is the study of Christ, a study of all that pertains to
Jesus Christ our Lord.
I would like to introduce our thoughts with some of the thoughts from
Dr. Walvoord's preface in his book on Christ:
"Eight hundred years ago Bernard of Clairvaux penned the beautiful hymn:
'Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy prescience rest.'
"Ever since the holy Babe was laid in the manger in Bethlehem of Judea,
devout souls have found in Jesus Christ One who is the worthy object of
their worship, whose ineffable person compels their love and obedience.
As the Word of God expressed in human form, Jesus Christ has drawn all
believing souls to Himself. Although no other person is the object of more
scriptural revelation, human pens falter when attempting to describe Him.
"The poet, biographer, theologian and orator alike confess their inability
to delineate the glories and perfections of our blessed Savior. Charles
Wesley expressed the aspiration of those conscious of their limitations
when he composed this great hymn:
'O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The tripumphs of His grace.'
"The impossible task of circumscribing the glories of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ stems from the infinity of His person and the omnipotence
and omniscience of all His works. From Genesis to Revelation Jesus Christ
is the most important theme of the Bible and almost every page is related
in some way to either His person or work. Christianity is Jesus Christ.
No other subject is given more complete revelation and yet the half has
not been told." 1
There are many reasons for making a study of Christ even if we were
not vitally interested in knowing more about our Lord and Savior. Let's
examine some of the reasons.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STUDYING CHRIST
1. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF HISTORY. Our calendars reflect his presence
on earth. The entire dating system of the western world centers on the
appearance of the Lord in man's history. Most countries celebrate His birth.
Even though it is tied up with Santa Claus and commercialism, it is the
birth of Jesus that is celebrated.
Even if we were to reject His claims to deity, if the man was this important
we ought to at least study Him from a natural curiosity as to his power
Bancroft mentions in his ELEMENTAL THEOLOGY:
"Jesus Christ is the central figure of the World's history. The world
cannot forget Him while it remembers history, for history is His story.
To leave Him out would be like astronomy without stars, or like botany
with the flowers forgotten. Horace Bushnell said, 'It would be easier to
untwist all the beams of light in the sky and to separate and erase one
of the primary colors, than to get the character of Jesus out of the world.'
"The history of the race since its inception has been the history of
the preparation for His coming. The Old Testament foretells His coming
in type, symbol, and direct prophecy. The history of His people Israel
is a story of expectation, of yearning, of preparation.
"The fact of Jesus Christ is not only firmly imbedded in human history
and written upon the open page of Scripture, but it is also experientially
embodied in the lives of millions of believers and interwoven in the fabric
of all civilization worthy of the name." 2
2. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF OUR LIFE. If we are to follow His example
we must know why He is a proper example, and then know His life so we can
imitate Him. (I Jn. 2:6; I Pet. 2:21ff) Man naturally seeks a model to
pattern himself after. Even in small children it can be observed that a
child often takes a parent as a model. The model changes over time, and
it is the believer's responsibility to teach and preach the idea that Christ
is the only person after whom believer should pattern his life after.
3. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF THE BIBLE. All of Scripture deals with Him,
His work on the cross and His future coming. He is seen from Genesis to
Revelation. The Bible is called "christocentric" because of this fact.
The book of Genesis in 3:15 prophecies for the first time, the coming One
that will take care of Satan. The book of Revelation ends with the Lord
bringing to a close all that God had planned for mankind.
Some references that relate to this thought: Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:27;
Luke 27:44; John 5:39.
4. CHRIST IS TO BE THE CENTER OF OUR STUDIES. We are told to grow in
our knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and that this will bring glory to Him.
The study will automatically, as we apply our learning, bring us into conformity
with Him, and this will also bring glory to Him, for people will see Him
in us rather than ourselves. II Pet. 3:18
5. CHRIST SHOULD BE THE CENTER OF OUR REVELATION OF GOD. If we desire to know of God then we need to know of Christ. The Lord told the disciples that if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. We can know much of the character of God the Father if we study God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jn. 14:9b; Jn. 1:14.
6. CHRIST SHOULD BE THE CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY. Christ is Christianity
and Christianity is Christ. You can have all the religions of the world
and their leaders, however if you remove their leaders, their religion
can go on, indeed some have done so. Confusiousism, Islam etc. Without
Christ Christianity cannot exist.
There seems to be many in our land that are trying to usurp Christ and
His position in Christianity. It seems that many are trying to see how
little of Christ they can present and still call themselves a part of Christianity.
The liberal spectrum relegate Him to a mere man that some of them hope
existed, yet they still call themselves Christians. The term Christian
comes from the thought of Christ being the leader of the follower. If they
hope that he existed then shouldn't their religion be Hopechristianity?
7. CHRIST SHOULD BE THE CENTER OF OUR MESSAGE. If we are to refute the
isms and cults of our day we must know the Christ of the Bible for there
are many other Christs being presented today.
There have been "Christs" that have come to complete the work that Jesus
Christ our Lord supposedly failed to finish. Sun Myung Moon is one of these
latter day LUNARtics that claims to be completing the work that the Lord
had failed to accomplish.
THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST
Is the pre-existence of Christ of concern to us? Is it really important
to our study of Christ? Most Certainly, for if He be not pre-existent then
He be not God! If He be not God then we waste our time in this endeavor
called Christianity! It should also be very clear that if Christ was not
pre-existent then He was not God, and that He WAS a liar.
An associated question is this, "Is pre-existence the same as eternality?"
No. He could have existed before His birth but only have existed since
say, creation. Thus, he would not be an eternal being. This is not an acceptable
line of thinking. He is eternal as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit
are eternal. All three members of the Godhead have always existed in eternity
past and will always exist eternity future. Eternality is not pre-existence,
however a denial of pre-existence almost always leads to the denial of
The following verses show both pre-existence and eternality.
1. John revealed this in the first chapter of his gospel. John 1:1.
2. Christ revealed this Himself. Jn. 10:30; Jn. 8:58; Jn. 17:5, 24.
3. Paul revealed this. I Cor. 10:4,9; Phil. 2:5-7; Col. 1:17; (See also
Matt. 23:37; Jn. 3:13, 31; 8:42; 16:28-30; II Cor. 8:9.)
CHRIST MINISTERED BEFORE HIS BIRTH
1. HE PARTICIPATED IN THE DECREES: He undoubtedly participated in the
decrees and the planning of the ages since He is God. It would be ludicrous
to suggest that the Lord Jesus was not consulted in the plan of the ages
since that plan hinged upon His obedience to the plan. The Father did not
require the Son to manifest Himself to man, the Father did not require
the Son to become flesh and blood, and the Father did not require that
the Son should submit Himself to the death of the cross! Christ did it
voluntarily in response to His own personal love for His creatures that
were lost and damned to everlasting torment with the Devil.
2. HE CREATED ALL THINGS: Col. 1:16 says all that needs to be said on
this subject so we will just quote it. "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;" (See also Jn. 1:3; Heb. 1:2)
3. HE SUSTAINS ALL THINGS: Not only did the Lord Jesus create all things
but He maintains all things. He is in the position of guaranteeing that
all of creation will continue on until the time of the consummation. Col.
CHRIST SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT IN RETROSPECT
The Old Testament has much information relating to the Messiah to come,
as well as general information about Christ. We might take note of something
that Christ did as He was walking with two on the road to Emmaus. "And
beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all
the scriptures the things concerning himself." Luke 24:27
Moses, being the writer of Genesis recorded two accounts relating to
Christ. One was a look forward to the fact of His coming work in the spiritual
realm, Gen. 3:15 and the second was on the occasion of three men appearing
to Abraham just prior to the destruction of Sodom, Gen. 18:1-33. Moses
goes on in Ex. 40:38 to mention the cloud of smoke and fire that was over
the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and mentions that this was God. (See
also Ex. 13:21; Ex. 33:9-23; Num. 9:15.) We will see in a future study
that these appearances of God were the Angel of the Lord and that the Angel
of the Lord is none other than Christ Himself in pre-incarnate appearances.
THE NAMES OF GOD THE SON
1. Jesus: The term Jesus is found in the Gospels around six hundred
times, while in the rest of the New Testament about seventy times. It might
be an interesting side light to mention that outside the Gospels the name
Jesus is normally, in fact usually linked to other names of the Lord, such
as Christ and Lord.
It should be noted in Acts that there is an elevation or uplifting of
the term Jesus, to a higher plain, if you will, by the linking of his earthly
name with the titles that honor him.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath
made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts
We might want to, in response to this text, limit our usage of the name
Jesus and concentrate of the Title that God Himself has given Him, Jesus
Christ the Lord. I once had a college professor that regarded the Lord
so highly that he never used the term Jesus without linking it with Christ
Jesus is the primary name before the death, burial and resurrection.
Cambron mentions of the name Jesus,
"Jesus is the personal name of the Lord. It is His earthly name, the
name under which He was born, lived, and died. It is the name of His humiliation,
of suffering, of sorrow. It is the name of the One who humbled Himself.
The name Jesus, at the time of our Lord, was not uncommon, there were many
who were named Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form for the Hebrew word Joshua,
and both mean "Jehovah our Saviour." This name, Jesus, was the one which
was nailed over Him on the cross." 3
2. Christ: We see an interesting contrast in the number of times that
Christ appears in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The ratio
seems to be about the opposite of the name Jesus. Christ is found in the
Gospels about fifty times while it is found about two hundred and fifty
times in the rest of the New Testament.
Christ is an official name which points to the fact that He was, and
is, the anointed one of Israel. Indeed the name Christ means the anointed
The main distinction in the names is that Jesus was used before the
cross and Christ was used after. Jesus is the name that much of the world
believes in while it is the Christ that the believer places his trust in.
Jesus is the name of the humanity of God while Christ is the name of God
the Son's exultation.
Is it incorrect to use the term Jesus? No, definitely not, however the
overuse or overemphasis of the humanity of Christ will ultimately detract
from the overall teaching about the Son of God.
3. Messiah: The Hebrew term for anointed one is Messiah. The Old Testament
always looked forward to the anointed one and now the New Testament reflects
back upon the anointed one that came and completed the work that His first
appearing required, yet still looks forward to the second appearing which
will tie all plans for mankind together.
4. Lord: This is the New Testament equivalent of the Hebrew term Adonai
or master. This is the term for Christ's Deity. As we progress through
the study of the Lord Jesus we will see that He truly was almighty God
come in the flesh and that this term is quite appropriate for Him.
5. Jesus Christ: Cambron mentions that this combination of terms sets
forth His humanity but that He now is exulted, while the combination "Christ
Jesus" depicts His present position contrasted with the fact that He was
once humiliated. 4 This is a good distinction in the terms.
The fact that Jesus is his earthly name should lead us to desire to
be like Jesus in our everyday life, for He certainly set forth the prime
example for man to follow in his own humility.
6. Christ Jesus: This arrangement of the terms should lead the believer
to realize that He is now exulted and that He once was humiliated, but
that He now is fully and eternally exulted to His rightful place in Heaven.
To constantly use His earthly name Jesus and to constantly dwell on His
humiliation seems to be a great disgrace to who He really and truly is
today. He is the very Son of God, and always has been, but for thirty some
years of His life He walked as we walk in the world that He might provide
for the likes of us the salvation that His love brought down to us. He
had no intention of remaining in that humiliation for the rest of time!
7. The Lord Jesus Christ: This is the fullest title given to the Lord
and should be considered for our usage in this day in which many are concentrating
only on His earthly "Jesus" ministry.
Eph. 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."
What a declaration we make when we use the term. We realize and admit
to the humiliation, the deity and the Lordship of the One that gave His
life for our sin!
8. I Am: Ex. 3:13,14 mentions this term in the Old Testament. "...I
AM THAT I AM...." Jesus mentions that He is the I AM in Jn. 18:4,5.
What a bold declaration, and should we wonder why the Jews were out
to kill Him? He was laying clear claim to being the God of Abraham and
Moses - Him, the carpenter from Galilee! Absurd!
The term "I AM THAT I AM" depicts one of the attributes of God in that
He is conscious of Who and What He is. This is called the self-consciousness
of God. Christ was most certainly conscious of the fact that He was God
in the flesh!
9. The Son of God: Lu. 1:35, "The angel answered and said unto her,
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall
overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of
thee shall be called the Son of God."
Christ is no mere man as many of the isms and cults of our day suggest,
but He is God in God's complete form. He is the Son of God as well as the
Son of Man which we will see next. He was as much God as if he had never
been man, and He was as much man as if He had never been God. I do not
know with whom that quote originated, for I heard it from a college professor
many years ago and he has long since gone to be with the Lord, so I cannot
ask. I have never run across it in any of my research so assume that it
might have been his own statement. At any rate it is a good description
of the total deity and the total humanity of Christ in the flesh.
10. The Son of Man: This was a title that the Lord used of Himself.
It is of interest to note how people like to be identified. I once had
an employer that was known as "Dick" by most people, yet those who knew
him well, knew that he preferred his given name "Richard." Richard was
the preferred name, yet he allowed others to call him by the less formal
In my first years of teaching one of the students felt a little overburdened
with calling me Mr. Derickson and began a long standing tradition of calling
me Mr. D. It was not a name of derision, but one of great respect. They
felt that they wanted to be close to me with a familiar name while still
giving the respect that they desired to convey by using the Mr.
Son of Man seems to be the preferred name of the Lord for Himself. Knowing
the Lord and how He lived and how much He loved us, I suspect He liked
the term because it identified Him very closely with those that He came
to save. "Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have
nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Lu. 9:58
Cambron observes that this is a title for the Kingdom which He was offering
to the Jewish people.
"The title, the Son of man, is found eighty-eight times in the New Testament:
once in Acts; once in Hebrews; twice in Revelation; and eighty-four times
in the Gospels; not once in the Epistles. The Epistles concern the Church,
not the coming kingdom of the Millennium." 5
(He goes on to mention that Ezekiel's use of the title is in conjunction
with Second coming information.)
11. Son of Abraham: Matt. 1:1 shows a direct link between the father
of the Jews, Abraham, and the Lord Jesus via the king of
The genealogy of Christ in Matthew was very important to the Jewish mind.
It was a bold declaration that this Jesus was the descendant for whom all
of Israel had been waiting.
12. Son of David: Mk. 10:47, "When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me"
13. Son of the Highest: Lu. 1:32, "He shall be great, and shall be called
the son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne
of his father David:" Still another bold declaration to the Sonship of
Christ and the Fatherhood of God.
14. Second Man: Paul uses this term in I Cor. 15:47 to tell the believer
of what we will one day be when God is finished with His work in him.
15. Last Adam: Adam was the being by which sin entered into the human
race, and Paul relates this thought to the idea that Christ is the last
Adam in that Christ was the being by which sin exited mankind, that is
as we, mortal man, respond properly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (I Cor.
16. The Word: Jn. 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word...." In that great
passage of John one we see all of the glory and pre-existance of the Lord
Jesus Christ. He has always been here, He has always been with the Father,
and He always has been God.
17. Emmanuel: Matt. 1:23, "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and
shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being
interpreted is, God with us."
18. Savior: Probably one of the most meaningful of names is this. The Savior. A very simple term that has so many ramifications for the lost as well as the saved. It is Christ that came to save man, it is Christ that provided access to God, and it is Christ that allows our entrance into God's presence.
Yes, a very important term! It is of interest that in Lu. 2:11 the Savior
is used in relation to the terms Christ and Lord. The message was concerning
a Savior, the Christ and soon to be Lord. The earthly name of Jesus seems
to be of little importance even at the announcement of His birth.
19. Rabbi: Jn. 1:38 relates this term to the realization of some of
his followers that Jesus was their Rabbi or Master. The thought of master
or teacher in later Jewish writings is that of one that is to be highly
respected. In many cases the teacher is to have preferred treatment over
all others including parents. The respect seems to be evident even in Christ's
own time. Vine mentions that the term translated Rabbi stands in contrast
to servant. This shows the relationship between student and Rabbi.
20. Master: Matt. 9:11 uses this term of Christ's relationship to His
followers. It is the same Greek term that is translated Rabbi in the above
reference. It is the term "didaskalos" which means master or teacher. This
is the term that is used of teachers in the Ephesians 4:11 text which speaks
of the men that God has gifted for the equipping of the saints.
1. We are about to enter into a study of the One that has given most
to save us from our miserable selves. I trust that we will not only see
the Jesus of Nazareth, but also the Christ of our salvation in a new and
2. The information already given should bring the sinner to their knees
before the savior for salvation, and the believer to their knees in regret
for their feeble view of the Savior and their service to Him!
1. Taken from: "JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD"; Walvoord, John F.; Copyright
1969, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.
2. Taken from the book, ELEMENTAL THEOLOGY by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright
1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing
House. p 121.
3. Mark G. Cambron, D.D., "BIBLE DOCTRINES", Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1954, pp 60,61.
4. Cambron; p 66.
5. Cambron; p 68.
CHRISTOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION
REASONS FOR STUDYING CHRIST:
1. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF HISTORY.
2. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF OUR LIFE.
3. CHRIST IS THE CENTER OF THE BIBLE.
Matt. 5:17 Luke 24:27
Luke 27:44 John 5:39
4. CHRIST IS TO BE THE CENTER OF OUR STUDIES.
II Pet. 3:18
5. CHRIST SHOULD BE THE CENTER OF OUR REVELATION OF GOD.
Jn. 14:9b Jn. 1:14
6. CHRIST SHOULD BE THE CENTER OF CHRISTIANITY.
7. CHRIST SHOULD BE THE CENTER OF OUR MESSAGE.
THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF CHRIST
1. John 1:1
2. Christ revealed this Himself.
Jn. 10:30 Jn. 8:58
Jn. 17:5 Jn. 17:24
3. Paul revealed this.
I Cor. 10:4,9
(See also Matt. 23:37; Jn. 3:13, 31; 8:42; 16:28-30; II Cor. 8:9)
CHRIST MINISTERED BEFORE HIS BIRTH
1. HE PARTICIPATED IN THE DECREES
2. HE CREATED ALL THINGS Jn. 1:3; Heb. 1:2
3. HE SUSTAINS ALL THINGS Col. 1:17
CHRIST SEEN IN THE OLD TESTAMENT IN RETROSPECT
1. Gen. 3:15
2. Gen. 18:1-33
3. Ex. 40:38
4. The Angel of the Lord
IV. PROPER NAMES
1. Jesus Acts 2:36
5. Jesus Christ
6. Christ Jesus
7. The Lord Jesus Christ Eph. 1:3
8. I Am Ex. 3:13,14; Jn. 18:4,5
9. The Son of God Lu. 1:35
10. The Son of Man Lu. 9:58
11. Son of Abraham Matt. 1:1
12. Son of David Mk. 10:47
13. Son of the Highest Lu. 1:32
14. Second Man I Cor. 15:47
15. Last Adam I Cor. 15:45
16. The Word Jn. 1:1
17. Emmanuel Matt. 1:23
18. Savior Lu. 2:11
19. Rabbi Jn. 1:38
20. Master Matt. 9:11
1. Why is a proper understanding of Christ important:
To the believer?
To the lost?
2. Why is Christ's pre-existence important to:
3. Just how do you relate personally to the Lord in the area of each
of these names?
1. Jesus 2. Christ 3. Messiah
4. Lord 5. Jesus Christ 6. Christ Jesus
7. Lord Jesus Christ 8. I Am 9. The Son
10. The Son of Man 11. Son of Abraham 12. Son of David
13. Son of the Highest 14. Second Man 15. Last Adam
16. The Word 17. Emmanuel 18. Savior
19. Rabbi 20. Master
4. Attempt to describe Who Jesus is in twenty-five words or less with
the thought in mind of trying to communicate that description to a lost
5. What changes in your life are needed to bring you into a proper life
that would be honoring to Christ? Jot them down and make some commitments
to work on those areas of your life.