Understanding Greek Texts
By Ronald J. Gordon
There are over 5,300 Greek manuscripts in various forms: papyrus, uncial, cursive - and no two are exactly the same. After the demise of the western half of the Roman Empire in the Fifth Century and the subsequent destruction of their Latin documents, the eastern half of the Empire and their Greek documents flourished for another thousand years. In fact, most of what we know of the ancient world is derived from Eastern manuscripts. In later centuries, with the threat of invasion to Eastern capitals, merchants and scholars moved to the Latin West, bringing along their Eastern Greek culture, and a profusion of documents (in some cases, the only surviving documents) of many Old World classics, including biblical manuscripts in the original Greek language of the New Testament. This produced a storm, a veritable explosion of interest in learning. With this new influx of culture into the West, in the space of little more than one century, history spawned these great events -- the Renaissance, the Bible in Greek, an explosion of learning, the printing press, the Reformation, an explosion in art (Michelangelo, Raphael), resurgence of astronomy (Copernicus), scientific experimentation (Galileo), world exploration, and the discovery of the American continent. Western Europe was punctually awakened from a thousand years of cultural slumber. It was a seminal moment for Christianity as well, for great men of intellect and theology such as Tyndale, Luther, and Beza were driven, as Wycliffe before them, to place Holy Writ in the hands of the common populace for them to read and appreciate for themselves. Jerome's Latin Vulgate was firmly entrenched in the West but it was notably different from the manuscripts of Byzantium. As interest in these new Eastern manuscripts greatly increased, men of learning - Textual Critics - attempted to reconstruct what they believed to be the original text of God.
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By Anthony Barbera
"You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men." 2 Cor 3:2
I was reminded the other day of how important it is to fellowship with other Christians within the body of Christ, daily if possible. As Paul encouraged the saints at Corinth to remain the living embodiment of Jesus Christ, read of all men, so too are we invited to do likewise.
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Figures of Speech in the Bible
As E.W. Bullinger writes, within his masterful book entitled Figures of Speech Used In the Bible, A FIGURE OF SPEECH is a word or a sentence changed into a different form, changed from its original or simplest meaning or use. Said another way: Figures of speech are legitimate grammatical usages which depart from literal language to call attention to themselves.
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Led by the Spirit
"Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,." Luke 4:1
Have some of us (perhaps because of our deep-seated love and genuine awe of the Bible), been mistakenly lulled into believing that the Word of God is only contained within the Holy Bible? Further yet, are not the words which God speaks directly to us by way of his Spirit any less his Word?
God, who at sundry [many] times and in divers [different] manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things ...(Hbr 1-2)
Let us be clear about this and not make a mistake in our understanding. We love God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. The Bible is our primary source for the truth, our owner’s manual if you will. In this owners manual, we are instructed that we who confess Jesus as our Lord may speak with our Creator now—by way of the spirit of Christ within us. And he may speak with us. Our realm of existence is the supernatural, in his presence. Consequently, we are constantly encouraged to fellowship with God and to walk by the spirit—letting God direct our way.
Hereby we know that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit (1 Jn. 4:13)
So is the Bible any less important or of lesser value now that we may speak directly with our heavenly Father? No! A thousand times no! What God, the Creator speaks to us now is of equal value as what he has had written.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
Our connection to God is the spirit of Christ within us; it is direct. You and I may receive the word(s) of God directly by way of the Spirit from God. There is no veil or separation. Therefore, if God speaks to us, and asks us, by way of his spoken word, to do something (to take an assignment) if you will, then we do so. Many times the revelation comes directly by way of the knowledge of the scriptures. A particular scripture (embedded within our memory) may be the exact answer needed, as God inspires us with his living word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
We Are To Walk By The Spirit
We are to walk by faith, and not by sight; to walk by the spirit and not by our five senses. Because we are a new creation, never before having existed until Christ was formed in us (the day that we were born again), this “new man” is designed to walk and talk with God by the spirit. The Word of God to you, by way of the spirit, is no less valid, important, or timely than the Holy Bible. Simply think back. Was the New Testament available to Jesus during his ministry? No, it was not. Indisputably, he had mastered the Old Testament, walked with God, talked with God—and always did the Father's will.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:49-50)
Jesus spoke the words that God his Father gave him to speak. The words given to Jesus to speak to the world were later written in the gospels. All is the Word of God, and as you and I speak on behalf of our Heavenly Father, we too are speaking the Word of God. God is able to deliver to the utmost, and he does that by providing very specific information (revelation) to us at exactly the right moment, so that we may operate on his behalf and accomplish his desires. The Words of God in the Bible go hand-in hand, with the words of God from his spirit: Christ in you—the hope of glory.
God's Word -The Foundation For Truth!
Yet, unmistakably, the scriptures will never be at cross-purposes with God’s revelation to us by the spirit. The one complements and confirms the other. Some might say: "Well, they were letters to the churches first. There was no New Testament when the apostles began to move with the things of God after Jesus had died." This is true, however, it didn't take God long to have the New Testament compiled by his writers: holy men of God who were moved by the holy spirit. As we hide the Word in our hearts, God is able to bring to mind those very scriptures which we need for a given situation.
Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; (Eph 3:5)
Whose words did Jesus say he spoke in John 12:49-50?
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:49-50)
Jesus spoke the words that God his Father gave him to speak. The words were given to Jesus, and he spoke to the world. These words were soon recorded in the gospels by four of his closest disciples, first-hand eye-witnesses. Without question, authored by God as he inspired his holy men to speak and write. The good news of Jesus was given to the world, that we may know him, and that he came from God the Father. You might say: "Well, that was Jesus—not us!" We would respond: "We have been commissioned to walk in the steps of the risen Christ here on earth. We can do those things through Christ which strengthens us."
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
Teaching, Preaching, and Inspiration
Teaching or preaching are not the same. They share qualities. They both deliver a message but do so in unique ways. For that matter, people share God’s Word in distinct ways. Some love to simply preach the Word, others love to teach. (Plan it. Meditate upon the subject or topic). Some may be adept at both. Neither is better, or more spiritually advanced than the other. (Obviously, both situations require that the person be inspired by God). Either manner may serve a different function depending on the situation, or the needs and spiritual hunger or maturity (or lack thereof) of the listeners!
Now let's digress for just a moment. Some of late, have suggested that it is far better to share God's Word without having thought out what was to be taught. That way, to some peoples’ way of thinking, the message becomes spiritually more vibrant, not tainted, and immediately relevant to the spiritual needs at that moment. Perhaps they would point to Peter's declaration on the day of Pentecost. He just stood up, preached the Word, and about 5,000 believed. Without trying to go into a formal definition of the differences between preaching and teaching, (there are many different Greek words we would wish to consider), common use and practice may suggest that preaching occurs in a less thought-out pre-conceived manner. It may involve any number of people being preached to. One or thousands. It is a now, inspired, walking with God event. But we have to say: only the person knows how much they may have been dwelling upon something and talking to God about it previously.
Whereas teaching is usually thought-out, planned and perhaps meditated upon event where you are delving into the Word of God in a structured manner. Where there is an unfolding of an idea, or qualities of a person's life, or any number of fantastic things. The relevant point is: teaching or preaching may occur in manifold different ways. You may preach to one person or you may teach one person. Then again, you might be inspired (meditating deeply) over the course of days, weeks or even months to write or teach; to bring to light great spiritual understanding.
The point that we would like to stress is this: One is not better than the other. Preaching is not greater than teaching or teaching than preaching—they are simply different. God works with each member of the body individually. Each means requires walking by the spirit to be genuinely purposeful. We should not judge the relevance of how God communicates through us—more importantly that he does.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it. (Isa 55:11 KJV)
Preaching Is Not Greater Than Teaching—They Are Simply Different
God's Word was, is, and always shall be with God. God created all things in the beginning by way of his Word. His Word was spoken to the patriarchs. Moses said that the Word of God was in the hearts and mouths of the people of Israel; this same Word came to the prophets. God sent his Word to earth in the human form of his Son, Jesus Christ, who preached that Word, who lived and died a human being on the cross and was raised again to eternal life. The first born of many brethren.
And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:49-50)
Remarkably, there are many different types of people within the Body of Christ (the Body of Christ is what God calls the church of the body today). Christ is the head! Wondrously, God gave the church five gift ministries; long-suits (special abilities to men and women who serve God’s people) specifically for the perfecting of the saints. (Yes, if in doubt, God refers to you as a saint). I know, it is hard to believe.
The Five Gift Ministries
Apostles: Those who bring new light to their generation.
Prophets: Those who speak for God, foretelling what will occur if God’s people listen, or don’t listen to him; or, forth-telling; Words of God, communicated to his people for a specific purpose at any given time.
Evangelists: Those who win people to Christ, heralding the good news by preaching and giving testimonies of the goodness of God and what is available to them.
Pastors: Those who continually nurture and care for God’s people.
Teachers: Those who aptly teach the accuracy and integrity of God’s Word to God’s people, to bring deeper understanding of his Word and Will in their lives.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edivying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4: 11-15)
Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet and a Light Unto My Path
God gave us his written Word, which when clearly and accurately taught and believed, is our standard for truth—so that we will not be deceived by false teachers. He gave us his spirit to walk with him on a moment by moment basis. It behooves us, as his children, to take the time in our lives to sew and hide his Word in our hearts, which will benefit us for our entire lives, as God’s spirit in us can bring to our remembrance just the right scripture, or Godly concept, at the right time. We are no longer to be tossed about or carried away.
We allow God to teach and guide us as we read and study his Word and are led by the spirit. Studying is not only reading the boor study materials but then meditating upon it, digesting it until it becomes a permanent part of the very fabric of our being. It’s God that enlightens the eyes of our understanding. God wants us to know and not question or doubt what he is showing us.
Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet and a Light Unto My Path (Psalm 119:105)
This comes with just beginning to walk with him in the steps of our brother Jesus Christ, moment by moment—day by day—being led by the spirit. We then develop confidence in God working within us: to will and to do of his good pleasure. It becomes our very nature without any stress or strain! The words of God’s Word begin to replace the old thoughts and ideas which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. Being led by the spirit and allowing the Word of God, written and spoken, to guide us, will light our way, shining as bright lights in this dark world.
With pleasure, lovingly serving with you in the Body of Christ,
Antony and Cindy Barbera
The phrase "life-changing" is certainly bantered about with an abandon of late. Particularly in reference to movies, books, and now - even in the applauding of teachings or sharings.
Take just a moment to step back in time. Say to the time of the Knights of Old England. Imagine that you have been commissioned to be the king’s ambassador, representing his majestic reign to the entire world. Adding a brilliant sheen to this exuberant plot you are also the son of the king, which gives you, even more, prestige among the citizens of the kingdom. Adding even more, thrills — your elder brother is the prince and has traveled extensively before you, bringing peace, comfort, and life enriching hope to the people of the land. The people have been without hope for generations, and now, the king and his son the prince, as well as yourself, offer a new chance for life.
By way of this simple illustration, we see that what is meant to be "life-changing"…is you! You, as son and ambassador, bring the life changes to the people of the kingdom. Everywhere you step life can be victorious, and it can change, because you are there. You represent the king and his power. You represent the creator of all creation. With your travels deliverance and truth. With your travels not judgment and condemnation, but love and hope for a better life.
Whether at work or at play, surrounded by darkness or light, you represent the life-changing Father of Light.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Tim 4:2)
Except A Man Be Born Again
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:23)
Worthy. Every evil deed that has been thrust against your innocence has been both forgiven and forgotten. Everything lost—recovered.
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Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.
At times I am inspired and excited to share the things that God is revealing to me in his Word or by prayer. Other times it is simply a joy to read what other men in other times have written. How they grew in faith with God. This is one small excerpt from the book
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I don't know who wrote this, but it sure is true of many of the women I know.
By the time the Lord made woman,
He was into his sixth day of working overtime.
An angel appeared and said,
'Why are you spending so much time on this one?'
And the Lord answered,
'Have you seen my spec sheet on her?
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Our Wondrous Bible-Part I
The Bible is the most wondrous, exhilarating and majestic book of all time. The God of the heavens and the earth is its author. Unparalleled, its wisdom has been guiding the inhabited earth ever since the very first scriptures were written, those, of course, being the Ten Commandments. Some of the many questions asked about the Bible by those who are seeking the truth concerning life are:
- Did the Bible really come from God?
- Does the Bible have relevance to me in my life—today?
- Can God assist me to get out of a difficult situation?
- Does the Bible show me how to reach out to God?
- Is it God's heart and desire for all mankind?
- Is it the only true reality?
- If the Bible is reliable, and if I both understand it and live by the precepts, will my life become better?
- Is it where I find the truth?
- Will it help me become a better person?
THE RELIABILITY OF THE BIBLE - AN ESSENTIAL BEGINNING
The Bible is its own best proof of its inspiration. So, we will start there:
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost. (2Pet 1:21 KJV)
That’s God’s viewpoint. Let’s discuss that first and foremost. God inspired men, they spoke, and it was written. Some have suggested that the Bible was written only for the believer, that it was not written for the unbeliever, the critic. We disagree. Faith comes by hearing the words of God. We were all without God and without hope. The Creator had the Bible written for us, his creation. It unfolds in splendor the entire plan of God’s design for his family. His love, the difficulties presented when men and women have free will to follow his suggested path, or, to deviate from it. The Bible reveals God’s enemy, Satan, and how the enemy set out to corrupt humanity, has succeeded partially, but will finally be destroyed. The scriptures reveal God’s unmatched love for his family, into which all are invited to belong, not by adoption, but by a new birth. A spectacular new reality. A whole, new, and beautiful person learning to be filled with all God’s abundance.
In striking contrast to what the Bible claims concerning itself, men, critics, and even some Bible scholars begin all examination into the integrity of the Bible (and for that matter any work of antiquity) by looking solely at the scientific evidence of its origin. Even so, God has assured us that above all, the Scriptures, what we call The Holy Bible, and what The Almighty has named as his Word was authored by him, and written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, as to what to write.
All Scripture [is] (God-Breathed) given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (2Tim 3:16 NKJV)
Is it really that difficult to believe that the Creator of the heavens and the earth could easily find the wherewithal to both inspire and author the writing of a book, and further, watch over his creation so that it could live from generation to generation?
THE WORLD'S ALL-TIME BEST SELLER
The Bible Society of the United Kingdom calculates that the number of Bibles printed between 1816 and 1975 was 2,458,000,000. By 1992 the estimated number rose to nearly six billion. Furthermore, worldwide sales of the Bible number more than a staggering 100 million each year, far outpacing any other book in history. In 2014, 428.2 million Scriptures were distributed by Bible Societies, including full Bibles, Testaments, Gospels and other smaller Scripture items. Without a doubt, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time. This means that as of 2007 approximately 7.5 billion Bibles have been distributed throughout world—with the vast majority still available for use! And these figures do not include the various digital versions of the Bible being used today by millions of computers, e-readers, and iPhones. Currently, the complete Bible has been published in over 450 languages. The New Testament alone has been published in nearly 1,400 languages, with the Gospel of Mark in over 2,370 languages. Although these figures represent less than half of the languages and dialects presently in use in the world, they nonetheless include the primary vehicles of communication for well over 90% of the world’s population.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it. (Isa 55:11)
God has provided us with his Word, so that he may unveil himself to us. The Almighty chose the written word to reveal his innermost thoughts. Could he have created a DVD or a movie, or even made a record and sang his desire, to communicate with us? The answer is superfluous; in God’s wisdom, he chose the written word. With his words, he spoke the universe into creation. The Bible consists of two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the account of a nation: Israel. God’s chosen people at that time. The New Testament is the account of a man: Jesus, God's Son. Israel was brought into existence by God, and nurtured by a long suffering God to bring the man Jesus Christ into the world. That man would be the one to pay the ultimate penalty for the failure of the first man Adam, who gave mankind's dominion over the earth to God's enemy, Satan. The Christ would redeem mankind, pay the death sentence over mankind, and walk in a manner befitting a human being, a true son of God (the way the Creator had intended man to behave and live). The Christ will rule over his father’s kingdom until the fullness of time arrives and he gives back all authority to his God and father. Acting as the loving son.
THE BIBLE HAS INTEGRITY
Integrity is the state of being whole and complete, truthful, upright, and honoring one’s word as one’s self. God’s desire is that we fill our minds with his words, replacing the world’s words with the promises of God from the Bible.
- The Bible provides hope in a hopeless world.
- The Bible answers the question of who you really are.
- The Bible directs our steps in the right way.
- The Bible reveals the heart of God.
- The Bible shows us how to pray and to reflect the gift of the Holy Spirit of God.
- It gives us certainty in an unsure world.
We Don't Worship the Book—We Follow Its Guidance and Worship, the Author “What you believe about the Bible, Gods Word, can alter and enhance your life course, causing the most profound of impacts upon your life both now and throughout eternity.”
© Anthony Barbera 2016
IS IT SOUL OR SPIRIT?
By Anthony Barbera
Is it Soul or is it Spirit? What is the difference? Or, are they the same. Following is a short explanation of two commonly misunderstood concepts. Let’s clarify. What is the difference between soul and spirit?
1 Corinthians 15:45(KJV) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Every human being has a soul, or, as it is referred to in the Bible, soul life. As a matter of fact, your dog and cat each have soul life. Seriously, we’re not talking about jive dancing and soulful singing. Most assuredly, we were not all born soulful singers and dancers; myself in particular. Just as surely, we all have a soul. Most particularly, that’s soul life, the life that is ebbing through your body and the body of every living man or beast. According to the Bible (that’s where I ascertain truth), the genesis of life is in the blood. Once the being takes its last breath, the soul life of that human being or animal is gone, and, the being is dead. D-E-A-D! Just take a gander at a skeleton a few short months after death. It’s obvious—nobody’s home.
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"How to Enjoy the Bible" E.W. Bullinger
First and Foremost, ask God to help bring understanding to your heart and mind. The Holy Spirit will guide you.
All Scripture Interprets Itself.
- In the Verse:
- Right where it is written.
- A word or words must be interpreted (understood) in light of their biblical Usage.
- The words must be in harmony with the verse as well as with all the scripture relating to the subject.
- Narrative build up; narrative development.
- In the context
- Used before
Biblical Truths We Must Follow:
- Get “to whom” correct-administrations.
- Must understand the difficult verse in light of the clear verses.
- Interpretation and application are always with respect to whom it is addressed.
Seven Steps to Biblical Accuracy:
- The individual word must be understood.
- The words must fit in the verse.
- The verse must fit with the immediate context
- The immediate context must flow with the remote context.
- The words must be understood in light of to whom written.
- The words must be understood in light of orientalisms, customs, and manners.
- The words must be understood in light of figures of speech.
(Used by permission of Goodnews Christian Ministry Chronological Table, E.C.S.Leavenworth III
- God created this world. Adam and Eve were His finishing touch. Gen.1
- The seven-day weekly cycle was established. Gen. 2:2
- The seventh-day Sabbath (rest) was instated. Gen. 2:1-3
- Evil entered this world. Gen. 3
- A deliverer was promised. Gen. 3:15
- Adam and Eve's first two children, Cain and Abel, were born. Gen. 4:1-2
- The first murder was committed. Cain killed Abel and then moved to the eastern land of Nod. Gen. 4:3-16
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The Pivotal Moment of History; He Is Risen!
As the women arrived at the sepulcher early Resurrection Sunday morning to anoint the body of the buried Jesus, among the first words spoken to them was “he has risen.” Those words confirmed that life on earth would never be the same. It was the pivotal moment of all human history.
Untrackable, God kept His plan a secret from generations of His people as well as from the princes of darkness of this world. So supreme was the resurrection of His son—in contrast to the horrific and brutal death of Jesus—that it would unveil a new creation, a “new man”, a unique type of human being: one endued with the Spirit of God within, able to display the light of the eternal God and His son Jesus Christ, dwelling within a new spiritual being.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
If the princes of the darkness of this world, and their henchman Satan, had known that when they crucified the Lord of Glory, soon many millions, enabled as Christ, would exert power against the rulers of the darkness of this world (just as Jesus had)—they never would have crucified the Lord of Glory. That, my brothers and sisters, is the exact point. As he has now risen, he has enabled you and I to take his place and his position on the earth until his return for his church.
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col 1:26-27 )
Again, if Satan had known that God would bring into existence, as his “sons and daughters,” men and women infused with the power of God, filled with His Spirit, a Spirit incorruptible—they would never have crucified the Messiah.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1Cr 2:7-8)
It is vitally important for all believers to know the truth. The truth sets us free—not the traditions of men. Resurrection Sunday, stands in dark contrast to the horrific beating and execution, only days previous, of our Lord and savior.
|Our God is the loving Father of mercies.
Fortunately, for us, our God is the loving Father of mercies. Although mankind had taken a step of immense distance from its Creator, God promised a future reconciliation and brought it to pass by making what is most precious to any father: a son or daughter.
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. (Hebrews 2:10 NIV)
Jesus Christ, our brother, walked as all men were made to walk, and took unto himself the punishment that we deserved, and yet, we received the reward of his glorious life.
He is Risen! And thank God for that.