God Himself: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God” (Jn 1:1). The Word became flesh when He came to the world as the
“Son of Man” (Mt 16:13) and the Saviour of mankind (Lk
2:11). In Jesus, we see God’s divine authority (Mt 28:18; Jn 5:27), glory (Jn
17:5), honour (Jn 5:23), righteousness (2 Pet 1:1)
and holiness (Lk 1:35; Rev 15:4).
Q2 What does the name “Jesus Christ” mean?
“Jesus” is from the Greek Iesous,
a transliteration of the Hebrew Joshua,
meaning “Jehovah is salvation”. The title “Christ” comes from the Greek Christos,
meaning “anointed”, the equivalent of the Hebrew Masiah
(Eng., “Messiah”). In ancient Israel, kings, prophets and priests were anointed
for service. In the same way, Jesus Christ came to the world as God’s anointed
one, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Jn 18:37; Rev 19:16). Jesus is the
name of God (Jn 17:6, 11; Isa 9:6)—the only name by which we can be saved (Acts
did He come to the world?
became separated from God because of sin. Therefore, God had to come in person
to the world to bring salvation and to show His love. He did this by manifesting
in the flesh as Jesus Christ, the Son of God (1 Tim 3:16). The Bible states,
“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of
the Father, He has declared Him” (Jn 1:18). Jesus became our Mediator (1 Tim
2:5; 1 Jn 2:1), reconciling us to God (Rom 5:10; 1 Pet 3:18) and enabling us to
become His children (Gal 4:4–7; Eph 1:5). Today, everyone can be saved when
they believe in Jesus Christ and obey His gospel (Mk 16:15–16; Acts 2:38).
Q4 How did He come to the world?
conceived by the Holy Spirit and born through the virgin
Mary (Mt 1:18–25; Lk 1:26–35; 2:6–7). This event was prophesied by Isaiah some
700 years earlier. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the prophet proclaimed,
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall
conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14; cf. 9:6).
The meaning of Immanuel is “God with
Q5 When was He born?
Gregorian calendar, which uses the designations ad (Lat., anno domini, meaning “In the year
of our Lord”) and bc (“Before
Christ”), is based on an estimated calculation of the year of Jesus’ birth.
However, we are unable to pinpoint the exact date—even though people have long
attempted to do so—simply because there is no record in the Bible.
Q6 How did December 25 come to be associated with
25 came to be associated with the birth of Jesus through the writings of Sextus Julius Africanus as early
as ad 221. However, a popular
theory is that it originated from the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the
birth of the unconquered sun”), a festival celebrated in the Roman Empire. It was when pagans honoured the sun and celebrated the end of winter. Early
writers such as Cyprian made a connection between the birth of the sun and the
birth of Jesus Christ.
Q7 Is it acceptable to appoint a day on which to
celebrate His birth?
absence of any biblical record of Jesus’ date of birth leads us to understand
that God never wished us to celebrate this event. Moreover, we need to be
mindful that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (Jn 1:1; 1 Tim 3:16): He has
no beginning and no end. Indeed, Jesus Himself declares, “Most assuredly, I say
to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn 8:58). In light of this, it is inappropriate
for us to take it upon ourselves to designate a day on which to commemorate His
Q8 Where was Jesus born and raised?
born in Bethlehem, Judea, the city of David and the native home of Joseph the
carpenter (Lk 2:4). Later, Joseph and Mary took Him to Nazareth, their place of
residence, where they raised Him (Mt 2:23). The village was situated in a high
valley among the southern hills of the Lebanon range. To the south was the
great plain of Esdraelon, and to the east was the Sea
of Galilee. It had a mild climate and a beautiful landscape.
Q9 What was Palestine like?
the time of Jesus, Palestine was under the control of the Romans. However, they
adopted a largely tolerant approach towards the Jews. In some territories, they
permitted autonomous rule, as well as the continuation of the Jewish way of
life. The Romans maintained control by stationing armies and requiring the
people to pay taxes to the emperor (Lk 20:25).
Great was King of Judea from 37 bc
until he died in 4 bc. He
bequeathed the kingdom to his three sons: Judea and Samaria to Archelaus (Mt 2:22); Galilee and Perea
to Antipas; and the north-eastern lands to Philip (Lk 3:1).
The Jews had their own council, the Sanhedrin, which had extensive jurisdiction.
It could order arrests, judge civil cases according to Jewish law, and also
judge some criminal cases that did not involve capital punishment (Jn 18:31);
the latter required the consent of a Roman procurator (Mt 27:1–2).
When was the Roman Empire founded, and how did it become so powerful?
to power in the third century bc,
taking control of the whole of Italy and the Mediterranean. Pompey then
proceeded to conquer Asia Minor and Syria, while Caesar conquered Gaul. During
the middle republic (264–133 bc),
Rome subdued Carthage, Macedonia, Greece and Spain. Under Emperor Trajan (ad 98–117), the Roman Empire reached
its greatest extent, taking control of Dacia, Armenia, Assyria and Mesopotamia.
In the time of Emperor Augustus (27–14 bc),
the population of the empire was an estimated 85 million.
Empire was a vast melting pot of languages, cultures and knowledge. While Latin
was the official language, Greek was the lingua franca of the east—a legacy
from the time of Alexander the Great. Greek was used for commerce, as well as
for literature and philosophy. For Christianity, the diverse environment had
both positive and negative outcomes: on the one hand, it meant that the New
Testament Bible came to be written in Greek to reach a wide readership; on the
other hand, the church had to struggle against the infiltration of secular
philosophies. The latter accounts for Paul’s words to the Corinthian church:
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ
crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to
those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the
wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22–24).
Q11 What was the religious and social situation like?
In the time
of Jesus, the Jewish nation was under Roman rule, having previously endured
years of wars and turmoil. The more radical Jews longed for revolution and the
restoration of Israel (Acts 1:6), while others were happy to accept the status
quo. The outcome was inevitable tension between the different groups.
Jesus found evidence of a more insidious problem—religious hypocrisy and
superficiality. He once lamented, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8). He also
castigated the people for their hardness of heart, lack of moral standards and
unrighteousness, making His point with parables, such as that of the Good
Samaritan (Lk 10:25–37). Furthermore, Jesus witnessed profound indifference,
where people responded neither to John’s sombre
message of repentance, nor to His good news of the kingdom. It prompted Him to
remark, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you,
and you did not lament” (Mt 11:17).
Q12 What religious groups were there?
were four main religious groups:
A. THE PHARISEES
group comprised teachers of the law and scribes. In terms of beliefs, they
upheld the Torah (the five books of Moses),
the Prophets and the Writings. Alongside the written law—the Law of Moses—they
also had a continually expanding set of oral laws and traditions that they
enforced rigidly. It was against this background
that Jesus accused many of the Pharisees of legalism, self-righteousness and
hypocrisy (Mt 23; Lk 11:37–54). The outcome was that they opposed Jesus
vehemently and looked for reasons to accuse Him and to kill Him (e.g. Mt
21:45–46; 22:15; Mk 3:6; 12:13; Lk 11:53–54; Jn 11:47, 53).
B. THE SADDUCEES
group comprised the high priest and his associates (Acts 5:17). They were
aristocrats and were therefore people of wealth and rank.
Like the Pharisees, they acknowledged the supremacy of the Torah, but unlike
them, they rejected all the additional interpretations of the law. Moreover, they did not
believe in the resurrection of the dead, eternal life, angels, or spirits (Mt
22:23; Mk 12:18; Acts 23:8). They conspired with the Pharisees to oppose Jesus
C. THE HERODIANS
likely that the Herodian party was formed out of
allegiance to Herod the Great when he became King of Judea in 37 bc.
It was active during the time of Jesus, when Herod Antipas was tetrarch over
Galilee (Lk 23:6–7). There is little to glean, either from the Bible or from
other historical sources, concerning the views of its adherents, other than the
fact that they opposed Jesus and joined forces with the other parties to do so
(Mt 22:16; Mk 3:6).
D. THE ZEALOTS
radical party was active from about ad
6, when Judah the Galilean called for Jewish resistance against the Romans
after they had ordered a census in Judah. The Zealots advocated non-payment of
taxes, opposition to the emperor and sole allegiance to God. For many of its
members, violence was a justifiable means of securing the release of the nation
from foreign domination. Simon, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, belonged to
this party (Acts 1:13). In ad 66,
the Zealots took control of Jerusalem, leading to a fierce struggle with the
Romans and the eventual downfall of Judah and Jerusalem in ad 70.
Q13 What was Jesus’ attitude towards these groups?
told His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and
the Sadducees” (Mt 16:6); “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and
the leaven of Herod” (Mk 8:15). From His words, we detect a lack of support for
the parties. Furthermore, His reaction to those people who tried to make Him
king by force—those who wanted Him to lead them to revolution and to restore
the kingdom of Israel—was to distance Himself (Jn 6:15). He pointed out, “My
kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered
to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (Jn 18:36).
Q14 When did He start His ministry? Was anyone doing the work before
not start His work until about the age of thirty (Lk 3:23). God sent John the
Baptist ahead of Him, to prepare the way by preaching a message of repentance
(Mt 3:1–3). John told the people, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance,
but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy
to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt 3:11).
Q15 Why did He have to be baptized?
baptized, not for repentance, because He was without sin (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet
2:22; 1 Jn 3:5), but to “fulfill all
righteousness” (Mt 3:15)—that is, to do what God required of Him, as well as to
set an example for us. The Bible records: “Then Jesus, when He had been
baptized, came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were
opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and
alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ ” (Mt
3:16–17). John the Baptist witnessed this event and testified, saying, “I saw
the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him…And I
have seen and testified that this is the Son of God”
(Jn 1:32, 34). He also proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29).
Q16 What happened after His baptism?
led by the Holy Spirit into the desert where He fasted for forty days and
nights (Mt 4:1–2) and was tempted by the devil (Mt 4:3–11). However, He was
able to emerge victorious. Hence, the Bible offers these words of
encouragement: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb
Q17 What message did Jesus preach?
began His ministry, proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God
is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). His work was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord is
upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel
to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to
the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who
are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18–19; cf. Isa
61:1, 2). Importantly, He told people to find salvation through Him, and Him
alone: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father
except through Me” (Jn 14:6).
Q18 What is the gospel?
gospel is the good news that concerns everyone in the world. It tells the story
of Jesus Christ:
• His birth: “For there is born to you
this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11).
• His death: “For I [i.e. Paul]
delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for
our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried…” (1 Cor 15:3–4;
cf. Rom 5:8).
• His resurrection: “…who was delivered
up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom
• His ascension to heaven: “Now when He
had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud
received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).
• His promise to come again: “So Christ
was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He
will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb 9:28).
the gospel tells us the way of salvation through Jesus. The apostle Peter sums
it up in this way: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the
Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Whoever believes in the gospel and obeys its message
will be saved (Mk 16:16; 1 Cor 15:1–2).
many disciples did Jesus choose, and who were they?
chose twelve disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,
Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas
(Mt 10:2–4). Besides them, He had other disciples, including the seventy whom
He sent out two by two to various cities, where they cast out demons, healed
the sick and preached the gospel of the kingdom (Lk 10:1).
Q20 What was His attitude towards the people, and how did He
mission was to seek out and save lost souls (Lk 19:10). To them, He was gentle,
kind and compassionate. But to the religious leaders who were proud,
self-righteous and legalistic, He was severe (Mt 23; Mk 12:38–40; Lk 11:37–54).
took pity on the people and performed countless miracles to alleviate their
physical and spiritual afflictions: He healed the sick, cast out demons and
brought the dead back to life. Because of these miracles, many believed in Him.
His ministry, Jesus brought countless blessings to the people:
(Mk 5:34; Lk 7:50; Jn 14:27; 16:33)
(Lk 13:16; Jn 8:36)
(Mt 9:29–30; Jn 8:12; 9:5, 11; 12:46)
(Lk 8:49–56; Jn 5:40; 10:10, 28; 11:17–44)
Satisfaction (Mt 5:6; 14:20; Jn 6:27–28, 35)
• Joy (Lk
10:17; 19:37; Jn 20:20)
can take heart for Jesus also cares for us: “Come to Me,
all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
long did His ministry last, and how did He die?
preached for three years. At the end of this period, He was betrayed by one of
His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who delivered Him up to the authorities. He was
subsequently mocked, spat upon, flogged and made to wear a crown of thorns.
Finally, He was nailed to a cross. He suffered in this way, not because He
lacked the power to resist (Mt 26:53–54), but because He was willing to lay down
His life for us. In doing so, He became our sin offering and ransom (Isa 53:10;
Mk 10:45; Jn 18:11; 1 Tim 2:5–6; 1 Jn 4:10).
Jesus die only for the Jews?
died not only for the Jews, but for everyone in the world (1 Jn 2:2), bearing
our sins on the cross (1 Pet 2:24) and becoming a curse for our sake (Gal
3:13–14). The prophet Isaiah says, “Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and
afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our
iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we
are healed” (Isa 53:4–5). From these words, we understand that Jesus’ death is
relevant to the whole of mankind, and we must acknowledge Him as our Saviour.
Q23 What did His death accomplish?
His death on the cross, Jesus removed our sins: “...To Him who loved us and
washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev 1:5). This was the righteous
requirement of God (Heb 9:22). The outcome is that we have been brought near to
God (Eph 2:13): we have entered the Holy of Holies to have a direct
relationship with Him (Heb 10:19). Moreover, we have been justified and
delivered from His wrath (Rom 5:9).
Q24 What impact did His death have on the devil?
impact of Jesus’ death on the devil is highlighted by the prophetic words
spoken by God to the serpent in the garden of Eden:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her
Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen 3:15).
These words indicated the future struggle between the devil and Jesus: Jesus
would be captured and handed over to the power of darkness (Lk 22:47–53), but
He would strike a fatal blow at Satan through His death. Hence, the writer of
Hebrews says, “...Through death He might destroy him who had the power of
death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all
their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14–15). By submitting to the cross,
Jesus triumphed over the devil and redeemed mankind.
Q25 What do we know of Jesus’ final moments?
of John records, “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is
finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (Jn 19:30). A soldier
then pierced His side with a spear, causing a flow of blood and water (Jn
Q26 What happened after He died?
days after Jesus died and was buried, He resurrected
and emerged from the tomb (Mt 28). This happened in fulfilment
of His own words: “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by
the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the
third day” (Lk 9:22; cf. Mt 16:21; 17:22–23; Mk 8:31; Lk 18:31–33).
resurrection, Jesus took on a spiritual body, meaning He was no longer
constrained by time and space. However, He could still be touched and was able
to eat and converse with the disciples (Lk 24:39–43). The Gospels record:
the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were
shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and
stood in the midst, and said to them ‘Peace be with you’ ” (Jn
after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came,
the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ ”
their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight” (Lk
Q27 How did He resurrect?
resurrected because God raised Him up (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 1 Cor 6:14). Jesus had
earlier said, “No one takes it [i.e. His life] from Me,
but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to
take it again...” (Jn 10:18). He also said, “I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall
live” (Jn 11:25). So, we see that even death could not keep its grip on
Jesus (Acts 2:24); rather, He abolished it and revealed eternal life (2 Tim
Q28 What significance does His resurrection have?
resurrection was a crucial part of God’s salvation plan and is a key element of
the gospel. It is therefore a truth that all Christians should uphold (1 Cor
15:1–4). If He had not resurrected, our faith would be in vain, and we would be
destined to perish without hope (1 Cor 15:17–19). As it is, we have been
blessed with a double hope: the confidence of our spiritual resurrection
through water baptism (Rom 6:4) and the anticipation of the resurrection of our
bodies when Jesus comes again (Jn 6:40).
On account of Jesus’ resurrection,
God has “begotten us again to a living hope” (1 Pet 1:3); we are justified (Rom
4:25); we are raised with Jesus and given spiritual life (Rom 8:10–11; Col
2:12–13); we “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6);
God “will also raise us up by His power” (1 Cor 6:14).
Q29 Where did Jesus go after His resurrection?
resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and many other believers (1 Cor
15:4–8). He used the Scriptures to explain the things concerning Himself and
the kingdom of God (Lk 24:27, 45; Acts 1:3). After forty days, He was taken up
to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God (Acts 1:9; Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24).
The Book of Hebrews says, “But He, because He continues forever, has an
unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost
those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for
them” (Heb 7:24–25). Jesus is now our High Priest in heaven (Heb 4:14).
Will He come again?
promises, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (Rev 22:7; cf. 22:12, 20). When He
arrives in the clouds, every eye will see Him (Rev 1:7). The writer of Hebrews
says, “...To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart
from sin, for salvation” (Heb 9:28). This is the wonderful hope of every
believer (1 Pet 1:13).
True Jesus Church.