The Person and Work of Christ Part V: The Ministry of Christ in His Life on Earth -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:469 (Jan 1961)
Article: The Person and Work of Christ Part V: The Ministry of Christ in His Life on Earth
Author: John F. Walvoord


The Person and Work of Christ
Part V:
The Ministry of Christ in His Life on Earth

John F. Walvoord

[Editor’s Note: This article is the fifth in a series on “The Person and Work of Christ.”]

The four Gospels provide our principal source of information concerning Christ in His life on earth. Though the narratives are selective, in keeping with the principle governing each Gospel, and though only a fraction of the incidents which might be of interest are related, the picture provided in the inspired Scripture is intriguing to all classes of scholars and is replete with theological significance.

Though the historical character of the Gospels makes them easy to understand, their theological interpretation is by no means uncomplicated. Few sections of Scripture require more careful analysis and precise interpretation. The reason does not lie in the complicated narrative, but rather in the fact that the incidents recorded are more than just history. They constitute a revelation of God and His purposes.

The Major Spheres of the Earthly Life of Christ

One of the reasons why the Gospels are difficult to interpret is that Christ lived in three major spheres and His teaching as well as His life are related to them. The right understanding of this fact is essential not only to a correct interpretation of the Gospels but gives the key to the entire New Testament.

The sphere of Jewish law. The law which was inaugurated for Israel through Moses was still in effect throughout the lifetime of Christ and in one sense is not terminated until His death (Gal 3:23–25; 4:5). In much of His teaching, Christ affirmed the Mosaic law and declared it must be fulfilled (Matt 5:7–19). As related to the life of Christ, it can be said that Christ lived under the law, that His teaching constituted a major interpretation of it, and that He kept it perfectly (2 Cor 5:21). Christ on numerous occasions contradicted the customary teaching of the law. He insisted, moreover, on its practical application to the spiritual issues of His day in contrast with the common evasion of the law by the scribes. As the Son of God, He also was free to interpret authoritatively the law and in some cases contrasted His own teaching with

that of Moses.

Christ insisted that keeping the letter of the Mosaic law was not sufficient. The Mosaic law could be properly fulfilled only by those who attained its highest form of interpretation, centering in the love...

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