|Volume 22 Number 7 July 2020||
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43 NKJV)
We have heard and read the Scriptures concerning the three crosses on calvary the day that Jesus was crucified. Each cross has its own meaning and significance for all of us.
Cross Number One: The Cross
of Rashness, Rebellion and Rejection
The criminal hanging there in agony took no thought for the reason that he should suffer this awful fate. He rashly taunted Christ. He, in anger and rejection, mockingly called out “are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” He not only rejected Christ, but in total rebellion, he refused to acknowledge his own responsibility for his sinful ways.
Cross Number Two: The Cross
of Repentance, Reception and Request
This man showed repentance in his rebuke of the man who had railed on the Lord Jesus. He, in asking, “Do you not fear God?” accepted the fact that he himself was responsible for his own plight. He, then, expressed his acknowledgment of who Christ was, recognizing the pure innocence and sinlessness of the Son of God. Next, he asked only that Jesus remember him once He had come into His kingdom. This was truly a humble request from a penitent sinner.
Cross Number Three: The Cross
of Righteousness, Redemption and Relief
Jesus Christ the righteous Son of God felt this repentant sinner’s anguish of heart, soul and spirit. Jesus extended redemption to that poor, dying soul and granted relief and the promise of paradise in the life hereafter with God, Christ and the holy angels.
The lessons we should take from the three crosses of Calvary are these. Avoid a life that leads to the cross of rashness, rebellion and rejection. Live a life that leads to repentance, acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus and the right to make your humble request for the righteousness, redemption and relief that can only be found in the loving arms of our Lord Jesus. It was He who died on that third cross. He did it for you, for me and for all mankind.
Koine Greek Old Testament
David R. Kenney
The conquests of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) not only spread the Greek culture but also the Greek language throughout the known world. The common Greek language of his day was Koine Greek. Due to the spread of Greek influence, the world had greater access to the Word of God than ever before because God’s Word was in words.
Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 11:317-335) wrote about Alexander’s visit to Judaea on his route to Egypt; however, scholars question the validity of this account. Keep in mind that Josephus wrote about this 400 years later. Josephus’ record certainly contains some embellishments, and some scholars question whether or not Alexander ever came to Jerusalem. Alexander’s campaign eventually brought him to Egypt in 331 B.C. The city Alexandria in Egypt was named in his honor. There was a great library in Alexandria begun by Ptolemy I (305-285 B.C.) and completed by Ptolemy II (285-246 B.C.). Writings from across the world were sought to be included in this famous library, including the Old Testament but translated into Greek. Supposedly, Ptolemy II instructed the librarian, Demetrius, to obtain a Greek translation.
Septuagint is the name for the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The name is from the Latin word septuaginta, meaning seventy. Readers will sometimes come across the designation for the Septuagint as LXX, seventy in Roman numerals. One of the sources regarding the creation of the translation is the Letter of Aristeas, which is a supposed correspondence between Aristeas and his brother, Philocrates, about the creation of this translation. While there is uncertainty about the authenticity of the Letter of Aristeas, this is the only source of information that we have on the creation of the Septuagint. Some scholars consider the Letter of Aristeas as propaganda or promotional material to increase the translation’s acceptance. The record states that 70 (or 72) Hebrew scholars, six from each of the 12 tribes, were sent to Alexandria to complete the translation, which was done on the island of Pharos. Supposedly the work was completed in 72 days. Later writers would embellish the story even further with claims of miraculous feats demonstrating inspiration of the work, but these are exaggerated assertions to probably bolster the Septuagint’s acceptance. The original scope of the work was the Pentateuch. Translations of other books of the Old Testament were completed much later, and we are less certain about the identity or circumstances of these translators. The Pentateuch was completed around the 3rd century B.C., and scholars estimate the balance of the Old Testament was completed around the 2nd century B.C.
Why is the Septuagint important? One teacher stated to his class that if they did not have a copy of the Septuagint, then they should sell all they have and secure a good copy of it. Why? Part of the reason is ascertaining the definition of a word. When we read a novel or some other book, if we do not know a definition of a word, we may be able to pass it over and get the gist of the sentence without having to use a dictionary. Yet, what if there was no dictionary? We would have to determine a word’s meaning by reading its usage in various contexts. One of the values of the Septuagint is that it provides context for Koine Greek terms found in the New Testament that enrich our understanding of the Word. Today, we have the benefit of scholars who study documents in Koine Greek and assemble their research into lexicons so we can profit from their diligent study. While we may not need to have a copy of the Septuagint, we should be aware of the value of this ancient translation of the Old Testament.
Bell, Albert A. Exploring the New Testament World. Nashville: Nelson P., 1998.
Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.
Overton, Basil. Gems From Greek. Abilene: Quality P., 1991.
The Letter of Aristeas. Translated by H. St. J. Thackeray. New York: MacMillan, 1917.
[Editor’s Note: The Septuagint is a translation among many translations of the Bible, in part or in whole. All translations have some weaknesses and most of them have their strengths, too. That a translation can adequately convey the inspired Word of God from one language to another is evident from the fact that Jesus Christ and other Spirit-guided New Testament writers quoted from the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Hebrew (and Aramaic) Old Testament. For more on the Septuagint, see the following web addresses.
~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]