Is Jesus God? – A study of the letter to the Colossians

ColossiansThis article analyses how the letter to the Colossians explains Jesus; is Jesus God?  Is He equal to the Father?  Or is He a created being?  Did He exist before He became a human being?

Colossians has been selected for this purpose because it contains perhaps the most elevated view of Christ of all of the New Testament letters.  Colossians 1:15-19, in particular, is Paul’s most comprehensive explanation of the Person of Christ.  This is the second article in this series.  The first is Jesus in Colossians; Introduction.

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

He is King over the whole Universe

The Father's Right HandHe is “seated at the right hand of God” (3:1).  As discussed in the previous article, this statement makes Him distinct from God, but also means that He has the highest position in all the universe; subject only to God.  Similar statements include:

1:16God created the whole universe … for him.” (Good News Translation).
1:18He Himself will come to have first place in everything”.
2:10He is the head over all rule and authority”.

He existed before all things

1:17He is before all things”.

The International Standard Version explains this verse as follows

He himself existed before anything else did”.

Therefore, there never was a time that He did not exist.  Since all things were created through Him, even time commenced through Him.

He is the visible likeness of the invisible God. 

He is the image of the invisible God” (1:15).

Other translations clarify the meaning:

Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen” (Contemporary English Version).
Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God” (Good News Translation).

This statement draws a distinction between God and Christ: While God is invisible, Jesus can be seen.  Nevertheless, in Him we can see what God is like.  When Philip asked, “Lord, show us the Father”, He responded, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

In Him the Fullness of Deity dwells.

The Essence of Jesus ChristThere are two verses in the letter that refers to “the fullness” that dwells in His Son:

It was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (1:19; NASB).
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (2:9; NASB).

According to 1:19 it is “all the fullness” but in 2:9 it is “the fullness of Deity”.  It is therefore assumed that “all the fullness” (1:9) can also be understood as “the fullness of Deity”.

God’s fullness

Some translations therefore interpret “the fullness of Deity” as God’s fullness, for instance:

God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (NIV; 1:19).
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body” (New Living Translation; 2:9).

God Himself

Other translations take it one step further to interpret this fullness as God Himself, for instance:

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ” (New Living Translation; 1:19).
God himself was pleased to live fully in his Son” (Contemporary English Version; 1:19).
God lives fully in Christ” (Contemporary English Version; 2:9).

This seems to go beyond the literal reading of the text.  To say that God lives in Christ might give the impression that the Son is the Father, as some propose.  The text says that God gave “all the fullness to dwell in Him”.  This maintains a distinction between God and His Son and it implies that His Son is subordinate to the Father.  This subordination is also seen in the following:

(1) He is “seated at the right hand of God” (3:1).
(2) The very description of Him as “Son” (1:13) indicates that He is subordinate to the Father.
(3)   Jesus in Colossians; Introduction identified the Father as the Active Force both in creation and salvation, with His Son as the Means through which he works.

In Christianity we often hear that the Son is co-equal to the Father.  This is not what the Bible teaches.

Divine essence

ColossiansSome translations interpret the “fullness” as divinity:

It was by God’s own decision that the Son has in himself the full nature of God” (Good News Translation; 1:19).
God was pleased to have all of his divine essence inhabit him” (International Standard Version; 1:19).
For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ, in his humanity” (Good News Translation; 2:9).

This also seems to go beyond the meaning of 1:19, but such translations are consistent with 2:9.

Conclusion

In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form”.  We should be careful not to make too much or too little of this statement:

To say that He is the Father or that He is co-equal to the Father would be making too much of this statement, for he received “all the fullness of Deityfrom the Father.  This means that He is distinct from God, the Father, and also that He is subordinate to the Father.  God is the Power behind everything.

But it will be an even worse error to make too little of this statement.  Since “all the fullness of Deity” dwells in Him, He is God.  He is not God, but for us, for all practical purposes, He is God.

Holds all things together

In Him all things hold together” (1:17 NASB).

The Good News Translation seems to reflect the idea well:

In union with him all things have their proper place

Another translation of the same phrase:

He holds all creation together” (New Living Translation).

This is a profound concept.  Hebrews 1:3 similarly says, “He … upholds all things by the word of His power”.  Given this, how could there be any questions about His divinity?  He is not God, but for us, for all practical purposes, He is God.  Even though He is not God, “all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23).

Firstborn of all creation

FirstbornSome argue that, since “He is … the firstborn of all creation,” that He is part of creation, and therefore a created being.  Consider the context of this statement:

15 He is … the firstborn of all creation, 16 for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things.” (1:15-17 NASB)

Note the important word “for”.  This word links the statement that “He is … the firstborn of all creation” to the statement in verse 16 that God created everything through Him.

There are at least two ways to understand “the firstborn of all creation”.

The First to exist – “Firstborn of all creation” may mean that He was the first to exist.  This would then have a similar meaning to verse 17, which says, “He is before all things”.  Verse 16 talks about God creating all things through His Son.  Immediately before verse 16 we find the statement that “He is … the firstborn of all creation” and just after verse 16 we read “He is before all things.”  It is therefore proposed that “He is … the firstborn of all creation” is the same as, “He is before all things”.

Firstborn over all creationThe Supreme One – Alternatively “firstborn of all creation” may mean that He is the most important of all creation because He created all things.  The word “firstborn” (prōtotokos) initially meant literally the one born first, but in the Jewish culture over time became a designation of preeminence (Gen. 49:3–4; Ex. 4:22).  For example, David, the youngest of Jesse, was named “firstborn” (Psalm 89:20–27).  Manasseh was born to Joseph first, but Ephraim, his younger brother, was “firstborn” due to his position as given by their father Jacob (Gen. 48:13–20, Jer. 31:9).

Jesus is both “the firstborn of all creation” (Col 1:15) and the “firstborn from the dead” (v18; cf. Rev. 1:5). But He was not literally the first to be raised from death.  Lazarus, for example, was raised from death before Him.  “Firstborn from the dead” therefore means to be the most important person ever to be raised from death.

If this principle is applied to “Firstborn of all creation”, then it means He was the most important One ever to be born.  Most non-literal translations render the phrase with this meaning:

The firstborn over all creation” (NIV);
He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things” (Good News Translation).
Preeminent over all creation” (New Heart English Bible).

But the first alternative seems to fit the context better.  Consider the role of the word “for” in the full statement, and the two alternative ways of understanding the statement:

(1) He was the first to exist for God created all things through Him.
(2) He is superior to all creation for God created all things through Him.

Both statements may be true, but the cause-result relationship in the first statement seems more logical, and is therefore preferred here.

Did God create His Son?

As shown above, the typical response to this challenge is that “firstborn of all creation” does not mean that He was first, but that He is supreme over all.  However, it was also proposed above that, in this instance, “firstborn of all creation” should be literally interpreted as that He was first to exist.

Another argument against the view that His Son is a created being is that He created all things (1:16), and therefore could not have been created Himself.

The argument proposed here is that He was not created, but that He was born—“He is … the firstborn”.  This is justified as follows:

(1) Some translations add the word “Son” to the phrase.  The Contemporary English Version, for instance, translates the “firstborn of all creation” as the “first-born Son, superior to all creation”.  The title “Son” carries over from verse 13, where Jesus is the Father’s “beloved Son”.

(2) Colossians emphasizes the Father-Son relationship, for instance: “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3).

(3) Created beings are also sometimes called sons of God, but Jesus is His Unique Son.  John often refers to Jesus as “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Like a human father brings forth a human son, God brought forth His Son.  If He was born, He was not created.  What this means is difficult to imagine, for it is hidden in the infiniteness of God.

But perhaps all of these arguments are irrelevant.  Contrary to the general understanding in Christianity, it was already shown that the Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son.  However, it also says that:

In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.
He always existed, for even time was created through Him.
He upholds all things by the word of His power.

If these things are true, why would it matter whether He was created or born?  We cannot even understand the difference.

Is Jesus God?

Jesus ChristColossians teaches that God created all things through the One who become Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ holds all creation together.  He is distinct from God, but King over all the Universe, subject only to God.  He existed before all things and there never was a time that He did not exist.  In Him we can see what God is like, for He is the visible likeness of the invisible God.  God gave all the fullness of Deity to dwell in Him.  This means that, for all practical purposes, He is God.  Since He upholds all things by the word of His power, there cannot be questions about His divinity.  All will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.  He was not created, but He was born; the only begotten Son of God.  A human father brings forth a human son, but God brought forth God’s Son.

God and Christ Jesus in the letter to the Colossians, and their respective roles

What view does Colossians have of Christ Jesus?  Is He called God?  Are we saved by Christ Jesus, or by God?  Who created all things and who reconciled all things; God or Christ Jesus?

Purpose

This article is a study of the letter to the Colossians.  The purpose is to understand who Christ Jesus is.  That question is addressed more specifically by the next article.  This article lays the foundation for that article.

The letter to the Colossians has been selected for this study because it contains perhaps the most elevated view of Christ Jesus of all of the New Testament letters, apparently because Christ’s supremacy was challenged (2:4) by the “deception” (2:8) in ancient Colossae.

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

God

The title “God” appears 21 times in the letter, but never refers to Jesus.  To the contrary, Christ Jesus is contrasted with God, for instance:

Image of the invisible GodHe (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God” (1:15).  This is explained by less literal translations as follows:

Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen” (Contemporary English Version).
Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God” (Good News Translation).

God” raised Jesus from the dead (2:12).

Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (3:1).

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1:1).

The letter therefore maintains a clear distinction between God and Christ.

Father and Son

The letter refers five times to the “Father”:

Our Father who is in heavenThe first reference is to “God our Father” (1:2).  Believers are counted as sons of God (e.g. Rom. 8:14).  Christ Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 6:9).  He is our Father because He loves us and cares for us.

Next we find two references to God as “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3; cf. 1:12-13).  The word “son” in Colossians is only found in 1:13, where Jesus is described as “His beloved Son”.  This is not discussed in Colossians, but Jesus is the Son of God in a different way; He is “the only begotten from the Father” (John 1:14).  This mystery is discussed further in the next article.

Next we find “Father” in 1:19: “it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.”  As already stated, Colossians maintains a clear distinction between God and Christ Jesus.  “Father” is another name for God.  What 1:19 therefore says is that it was God’s will for “all the fullness” to dwells in Jesus.  This amazing statement is also discussed in more detail in the next article, when we ask who Jesus is.

Lastly we find a reference to “God the Father” in 3:17.

Christ Jesus

The title Christ is used 26 times.  The name Jesus is used 6 times, but never alone, always as Jesus Christ or as Christ Jesus.  Jesus was a common name at the time.  The addition of “Christ” was therefore necessary to Identify Him.  Paul, in this letter, actually mentions somebody else by that same name (4:11).

This title “the Lord” appears 11 times; most often simply as “the Lord”, but also as “Christ Jesus the Lord” (1:6), “the Lord Jesus” (1:17) and “the Lord Christ” (4:24).  This title is therefore not used for God; only for Jesus.

God the Father is the Active Force. 

In Salvation

We often hear people say that we are saved by Jesus, but this letter presents God the Father as the Active Force in salvation:

Grace is from “God (1:6).

God selects His messengers.  Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God (1:1).  He was made a minister of the church according to the stewardship from God bestowed on him (1:15).

God saves us.  The Father rescued us from the domain of darkness (1:13) and qualified us to share in the inheritance (1:12).  God canceled out the Certificate of Debt, having nailed it to the cross. (2:14; cf. 2:12-13).  God raised up the believers from death when He raised up Jesus from death (2:12-13; 3:1).  We must thank “God the Father” through Christ (3:16-17; cf. 1:3, 12).

God gives growth to the church (2:19).  He chose the believers (3:12) and will open up a door for the word (4:2).  It was God’s will to make known to His saints what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles (1:27-28).

Through the Cross God brought peace to the universe.  Not only did God reconcile us to Himself through Christ’s death, He also reconciled the things in heaven to Himself through Christ’s death (1:19-20).  He made peace with all things through the blood of His cross, whether things on earth or things in heaven (1:20, 22).  God, through the cross, “disarmed the rulers and authorities … having triumphed over them through Him” (2:15).   Hebrews 2:14 contains a similar statement: “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). “The rulers and authorities” therefore refer to “the devil” and his supporters.  See Rulers and Authorities or Disarmed the rulers and authorities.  As Revelation 12 explains, His death made an end to the war in heaven.  See the discussion of Colossians 1:20-22 or the article War in Heaven.

In Wrath

God is also the Source of wrath:

the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (3:6).

In Creation

By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (1:16 NASB).

The NASB says that “by Him all things were created”, but later adds “all things have been created through Him”.  This means that God is the Creator, but God created through His Son.  This is made clear by various translations:

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (NIV).

Through him God created everything in heaven and on earth” (Good News Translation).

Christ is ascribed a passive role. 

Gethsemane

The letter refers to “Christ’s afflictions” (1:24), which reminds of Gethsemane, where “His sweat became like drops of blood” (Luke 22:44), indicating His severe internal suffering.  All evil forces focused their attention on Him in an effort to make Him commit even a single sin.  But apart from these “afflictions”, this letter does not mention anything which Jesus do or did.  The Father did everything.  This is consistent with what Jesus said, as recorded in John:

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34).

The Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19).

I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge … I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30).

The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10).

Redemption through unity with His Son

The letter to the Colossians presents God as the Active Force, but He does everything through His Son.  We already saw that He created all things through His Son (1:16).  Now we will also see that He saves through His Son, and that we therefore thank God through His Son (3:17).

Reconciled through Christ

It was the Father’s good pleasure … through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (1:19-20).

God allowed Jesus to be killed to reconcile us back to Him (God).  The Cross did not reconcile God to us: We had to change; not God.

Redeemed by being united with His Son.

Colossians presents believers as redeemed through unity with Christ.  This unity is explained in a number of ways:

A Human Body

 “His beloved Son … is also head of the body, the church” (1:13, 18, cf. v24).

“The head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God” (2:17-19; cf. 3:15).

He is the head; the believers are the other body parts, all are “held together by the joints and ligaments”.

A Kingdom

The Father … transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (1:12-13).

When we are “rescued” (1:12), we become the subjects of a spiritual kingdom of which His Beloved Son is King.

In Him

The redemption of believers through unity with Jesus is also presented with phrases such as “in Him” or “with Him”:

In Whom (His beloved Son) … we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:13, 14).
in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands” (2:11).
in Him you have been made complete” (2:10; cf. 1:28, 2; 2:6-7).

Death and Resurrection

The letter describes believers as united with Christ in His death and resurrection:

You have died with Christ” (2:20).
He made you alive together with Him” (2:13).
You have been raised up with Christ” (3:1).

Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (2:12).

Believers did not literally die with Christ; nor have they been literally made alive with Christ.  But they are rescued through His death and His resurrection.  It is not Christ’s death that was important; it was His life.  His entire life was a test, and the last days and hours of His life was the highest test possible.  He lived a sinless life, even to death, and His resurrection was confirmation there-of.  His “afflictions” (1:24) were also physical, but mostly spiritual.  Jesus said “do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt. 26:53)  But to “disarmed the rulers and authorities” (2:15), He had to combat them on His own.  Even God withdrew His presence from Jesus, leaving the disoriented Jesus to cry, “my God, my God, why have You forsaken me” (Mt. 27:46), but even at that time of utter darkness, He did not sin or used His power for His own benefit.

Conclusion

God reconciled all things—things on earth and things in heaven—to Himself through the death of His Son.  Therefore, Paul presents believers as united with Christ.  They are united with Him in His death, they are united with Him in His resurrection, and “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28 – from Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill).  This seems to be more than a symbol: it is a mysterious reality.

Overview of this article

Jews questioning Jesus
Jews questioning Jesus

Colossians never refers to Jesus Christ as God, but maintains a clear distinction between God and Christ.  It describes God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus as His Beloved Son.  Jesus is never simply called Jesus.  He is called Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus or the Lord.

The letter describes God the Father as the Active Force in salvation and in creation.  God selects His messengers, rescues people and gives growth to the church.  In contrasts Christ is ascribed a passive role.  Apart from His afflictions this letter does not mention anything which Jesus do or did.

Although the letter presents God as the Active Force, He does everything through His Son.  Through His Son He created all things.  Through the Cross the Father reconciled all things to Himself.  In Jesus Christ believers are symbolically circumcised, do they have the forgiveness of sins and have they been made complete.  They have died with Christ and have been made alive together with Him.

Next Article

Is Jesus God? – A study of the letter to the Colossians

The Daniel 9 prophecy was received soon after Babylon fell. Where do we fit the 70 years of Babylonian rule in history?

The Daniel 9 prophecy was received in the year after Babylon was conquered by Cyrus (9:1).  Daniel knew that LORD revealed to Jeremiah that Babylon will rule for 70 years.  These 70 years were from 609 BC to 539 BC.  Daniel also knew that God promised to restore Israel to Jerusalem after those 70 years (Dan 9:2).  These things caused him to pray for His people and for Jerusalem.

Daniel
Daniel reading the prophets

Daniel 9 opens with Daniel noticing that the LORD revealed to Jeremiah that Jerusalem will be desolated for a period of 70 years (Dan 9:2, compare Jer. 25:8-14; 29:10-14).  He then prayed earnestly and interceded with God concerning the tragic condition of His backslidden and disobedient people, and for the desolation of Jerusalem and the sanctuary (verses 3-19).  In this way the 70 years set the stage for Daniel’s prayer.

When did the 70 years start? 

Jeremiah wrote:

when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD” (Jer. 25:11, 12, compare v1)

The prophecy of Daniel 9 was received “in the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans” (Dan. 9:1).  It was, therefore, received soon after the Medo-Persian Empire took over the Chaldean (Babylonian) Empire.  The king of Babylon was already punished.  This means that the 70 years has already come to an end.  But when did it start?

Jerusalem was finally destroyed in BC 586.  However, that was not the start of Jeremiah’s 70 years.  The 70 years were not the period of Jerusalem’s desolation, but the period of Babylonian rule over Judah and the surrounding nations, as indicated by the following:

“I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon … against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them … these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jer. 25:9, 11).

“For thus says the LORD, When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place” (Jer. 29:10).

Judah came under the Babylonian heel in 605 BC (Daniel 1:1), but Babylon’s ruling of nations actually dates from the overthrow of Assyria a few years earlier.  After the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC (to the allied forces of the Medes and Babylonians), the Assyrian king Ashuruballit established his government at Harran. This city fell to the Babylonians in 610 BC, and Assyria was finally obliterated when Ashuruballit failed to recapture it in 609 BC.  Seventy years later—in 539 BC—Babylon herself was conquered by Cyrus.  It is therefore possible to count the seventy years from 609 BC to 539 BC.

NEXT: With which decree does the 490 years begin?
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Historic-Messianic interpretation of Daniel 9 24-27; Concluding thoughts

The essence of the Daniel 9 24-27 prophecy is that, within 500 years from the restoration of Jerusalem, and therefore before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Messiah would arrive.  While both the Liberal-critical and Dispensational interpretations of Daniel 9 24-27 effectively remove Jesus from the prophecy, in the historical-messianic interpretation the prophecy finds its fulfillment in the Christ-events 2000 years ago. Daniel 9 confirms that God knows the future precisely, conclusively proves Jesus Christ to be the true and only Messiah and affirms the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible.

490 years
Seventy Weeks of years

To summarize the messianic-historical interpretation, the decree of Artaxerxes in 478/7 restored Jerusalem to the Jews.  In AD 26 or 27, 483 years later, Jesus was baptized.  Three or four years later, in AD 30 or 31, He was crucified.   Another approximately three or four years later, in AD 33 or 34, the exclusive role which Israel played in the plan of God came to an end.  The period from 26/27 to 33/34 is seven years, with the crucifixion “in the middle of” these seven years.  Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, after the end of the seventy sevens.

This interpretation has been dominant over the centuries, but has, in recent centuries, been replaced by the Liberal Critical and the Dispensational views of Daniel.

Daniel 9:24 Goals

The fulfilment of the goals is discussed in When will the Daniel 9:24 goals, set by for the 490 years, be fulfilled?  In summary:

The first two goals, namely “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins do not mean that a complete and utter end will be made of sin.  In the context of the prophecy these goals given to Israel to fulfill.  They were to show their loyalty to God when the Messiah appears.  But Israel failed.

According to the New Testament the third and fourth goals—“to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness”—were fulfilled by Christ’s death.

The fifth goal—“to seal up the vision and prophecy”—is understood as that the events of the final week, particularly the Cross, would validate the Old Testament promises of the coming Messiah.

The sixth goal— “to anoint the most Holy” —refers to heaven itself.  Christ’s death was a great victory over evil, and as we read in Revelation 5 and 12, Satan was cast out of heaven as a result (Rev. 12:5, 7-9).

A Good Fit

While objections can be raised against all four of the major interpretations of Daniel 9 24-27, the historical-messianic interpretation is not subject to the difficulties encountered by the other systems.  It recommends itself as the most adequate of the major interpretations.  The exact date of the crucifixion and of the end of the 490 years remains uncertain, but compared to the difficulties facing the other interpretations, the relative uncertainty of the chronology of the life of Christ and the events of the early church appears to be insignificant.

Reliability of Daniel

The essence of Daniel 9 24-27 is that, within 500 years from the restoration of Jerusalem (after the Babylonian captivity), and therefore before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the Messiah would arrive.  It is understandable that the Talmud places a curse on those who attempt to compute the seventy weeks of Daniel (Sanhedrin 97b (Soncino ed.), p. 659).

Liberal scholars suppose that Daniel was compiled in the second century BC, as history written in the form of prophecy, but the events predicted by Daniel 9 24-27 were fulfilled more than 100 years later.  Copies of Daniel have been available to the Qumran sect (Dead Sea Scrolls) more than 100 years before the crucifixion.  The accurate fulfill­ment of the prophecy is therefore compelling support for the argument that Daniel is real prophecy written in the 6th century BC.

It is an irrefutable fact that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, began his public ministry 483 years (69 weeks) after Artaxerxes’ first decree.  Furthermore, the specifications of the prophecy find exact and complete fulfillment in the Christ-events of 2000 years ago.  This prophecy particularly points to His death:

(1) The nature of that death—murdered (cut off)
(2) His experience in that death—abandoned and rejected (not for himself), and
(3) The results of His death—atonement and everlasting righteousness

Supports our faith

A person who accepts Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of this prophecy is astounded by the mathematical exactness of the prophecy, received five hundred years prior to those tremendous events that changed the entire course of human history.  Daniel 9 24-27 confirms that God knows the future precisely.  It conclusively proves Jesus Christ to be the true and only Messiah.

It affirms the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible when predicting future events.  This gives confidence that we will one day see God with our own eyes.  The things that we read about in the Bible are really true.  There is a wonderful future ahead of us.

Means to and end

Daniel did not pray for a messiah of for the goals in verse 24.  He prayed for Jerusalem and the temple.  But the prophecy includes a Messiah and the goals because that was Jerusalem’s purpose.  Jerusalem was to be rebuilt to receive the Messiah.  490 years were awarded to Israel to fulfill  the goals in 9:24 through the Messiah,.  Israel would be restored, but as a means to an end.  The Messiah was the means and the goals were the end.  To remove these goals from Israel and Jerusalem is to remove the reason for Israel’s election.

Israel failed

Daniel must have been very sad to hear that the Messiah would be killed and the city would again be destroyed.  In his prayer he confessed that the destruction of Jerusalem in his time was the result of disobedience.  He must have realized that the prophesied destruction would also be the result of more disobedience.  And there is no mention of another restoration or reconstruction in the prophecy.  The prophecy ends in the accumulation of desolation and destruction.

If the Jews did not confirm their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah by the persecution of His Spirit-filled representatives, but rather accepted Jesus after His death, history would have been very different.

Isaiah 53

The emphasis upon the Messiah and His experience ranks this passage alongside the other great Messianic prophecies of the OT that point to Him as the suffering servant of God (Ps 22. Isa. 53).  Daniel 9 24-27 complements Isaiah 53 by specifying when the Man of sorrow will arrive.  The following is an extract from Isaiah 53:

2 … He has no appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  3 He was despised and forsaken A man of sorrows … 5 He was pierced through for our transgressions … 6 … the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.  7 He was … afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth … 8 By oppression … He was taken away; … He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 … He was with a rich man in His death … He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 11  … the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. … He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Consider some parallels between Daniel 9 24-27 and Isaiah 53:

In both the main character is “cut off”.  In Isaiah He is the man of sorrows (v3, 8).

Both refer to the atonement.  One of the goals of the seventy weeks is “to make atonement for iniquity” (v24) while “the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Is. 53:6).  He Himself bore the sin of many (Is. 53:11).

In both this Person has a relationship with “the many”.  In Isaiah “the many” are justified (v11) and in Daniel He confirms a strong covenant with “the many” (v27).

Conclusion

There is no greater unfolding of the gospel provisions in all the prophetic Word than is revealed in Daniel 9 and in Isaiah 53.  The prophecy of Daniel 9 is precious because it sets forth Jesus Christ as our atoning sacrifice, made on Calvary 2000 years ago.   We are all sinners and do not deserve to live.  Through Him, through faith, we are justified from our sin.

TO: General Table of Contents
TO:  Daniel 9 Interpretations Overview
TO:  Daniel 9: List of available articles