First-century Jews believed that the Messiah (which is translated “Christ”) was to rule the entire world and save them from their enemies. First-century Gentiles knew that Caesar was Lord (or Emperor) of world. He was also regarded as the Savior of the people who brought peace to the empire. Whenever a new Emperor took the throne, the Emperor’s emissaries heralded the news of the new Caesar. The word they used for this news was “gospel.” When the early Christians preached to the Jews, they announced the “gospel” that Jesus was the Messiah – meaning, He was the Ruler and Savior of the world. When the early Christians preached to the Gentiles, they proclaimed the “gospel” that Jesus was the new Lord of the world who was also the Savior who would bring peace. So saying that Jesus is Christ and Lord in the first century were high-octane political statements that resulted in riots and persecution to those who claimed such.
These and other surprising facts about Jesus can be found in Jesus: A Theography. “Leonard Sweet and I take 424 pages to show that both the Old and New Testaments tell the story of Jesus in great detail,” says Viola. “Throughout the book, we draw on the best scholarship available to throw light on who Jesus is and was.”
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