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Christ our Passover

Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed!

January begins the New Year, so I am dealing with something new from the Apostle Paul. Pulling out the ole concordance (electronic, of course!), I searched and found that he used two terms to express newness — καινός, and νέος. There is a distinction between these concepts:

  • καινός, ή, όν: pertaining to that which is new or recent and hence superior to that which is old—‘new.’ καινός: καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς καὶ γῆν καινήν ‘new heavens and new earth’ 2 Pe 3:13.[1]

  • νέος, α, ον: pertaining to having been in existence for only a short time—‘new, recent.’ νέος: οὐδεὶς βάλλει οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς παλαιούς ‘no one pours new wine into old wineskins’ Mk 2:22. καινός: ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινούς ‘but new wine must be poured in new wineskins’ Mk 2:22.[2]

Louw and Nida draw a distinction in the use of καινός as contrasted to νέος. The former holds the idea of novel and different, while the latter that which is young and recent. “Though this distinction may be applicable to certain contexts and is more in accordance with classical usage, it is not possible to find in all occurrences of καινός and νέος this type of distinction.”[3] This distinction exists in the following passage from Corinthians where Paul contrasts a newness that is the result of our relationship with Christ.

Of Paul’s 15 uses of the two concepts of time, I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 5:7: “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (New American Standard, 1995 Update). As the old lump (2015) passes, what motivates us to grow our love and obedience to Christ? It is, in fact, that we are without the yeast of sin because of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed. Here, Paul has provided a dynamic motivation for living a holy life in and for Christ.

Ciampa and Rosner link 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and several Old Testament passages, showing a connection between the idea of cleansing and the Temple, esp. as this relates to preparation for the Passover.[4] This is demonstrated by King Hezekiah who gathers the priests and commands them to “Consecrate yourselves now, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry the uncleanness out from the holy place” (New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update, 2 Chronicles 29:5). In the passage we are considering, Paul has had to contend with a grave moral issue (“A man has his father’s wife.” 1 Corinthians 5:1[5]). Paul insists the even the pagans (ἔθνος) do not act like this. The driving question is “How could someone who names the name of Christ do such evil (πορνεία)? Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Jesus, our Passover has been sacrificed.

Sentence structure, as well as the vocabulary used, gives great force to Paul’s statement. “τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν ἐτύθη Χριστός.”[6] Paul builds his momentum with a great crescendo, Our Passover was sacrificed Christ! This seems awkward in English, but for the Greek, this sentences gains momentum, climaxing in the person of Christ Jesus. This is the way the thought process might work for the Greek mind