Deliverance From Death By The True Passover Lamb: A Significant Aspect Of The Fulfillment Of The Passover In The Gospel Of John -- By: Paul M. Hoskins

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 52:2 (Jun 2009)
Article: Deliverance From Death By The True Passover Lamb: A Significant Aspect Of The Fulfillment Of The Passover In The Gospel Of John
Author: Paul M. Hoskins


Deliverance From Death By The True Passover Lamb:
A Significant Aspect Of The Fulfillment Of The Passover In The Gospel Of John

Paul M. Hoskins*

* Paul M. Hoskins is assistant professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, P.O. Box 22567, Fort Worth, TX 76122.

While the presence of the Passover in the Gospel of John is beyond dispute, interpreters vary quite a bit as to what significance it has for the Gospel’s theology. Thomas Knöppler and Rainer Metzner are among those who provide evidence that the Passover lamb contributes to the Gospel’s portrayal of Jesus as an atoning sacrifice. They look to the OT and extra-biblical Jewish works in order to see whether the Gospel of John is unique in seeing the Passover sacrifice in terms of atonement. In light of their investigations, John is probably not unique in this respect.1 Yet, if atonement alone were John’s focus, the Passover lamb would pale in comparison to other OT sacrifices whose relationship to atonement is more evident. So, then, what accounts for John’s apparent references to the Passover lamb as a type for the sacrificial death of Jesus? The Passover lamb’s associations with deliverance from death due to a plague from God may contribute something to John’s interest in it. As Ulrich Wilckens points out, the blood of the true Passover lamb, Jesus, saves people from eternal death due to sin rather than providing temporary protection from death on the night of the Passover.2 Wilckens’s observation points to the potential fruitfulness of examining the Gospel of John for evidence that it contains a Passover typology that is just as concerned with deliverance from death as it is with atonement for sin. This article undertakes such an examination in order to show that deliverance from death and sin is a significant element of the Passover typology of the Gospel of John.

I. The True Passover Lamb Who Delivers From Sin According To John 1:29

John 1:29 and 19:36 are the two most commonly cited verses in relation to John’s Passover theme.3 John 1:29 has puzzled interpreters due to its unique combination of “lamb of God” and taking away the sin of the world.4 If part of the background for the Lamb of God here is the Passover lamb, does that fit with the notion of taking away sin? Does anoth...

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