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When Did Christ Die For Sin: Before the World or in 33 AD?
By Brother Mike
  (1-16-13, 47 minutes; updated 3-8-13) 


It was in 1988 when the Lord began to open up many truths of the Bible like never before. It was shortly after this time that God's people had learned that the final Great Tribulation began on May 21, 1988 and continued until spiritual Judgment Day on May 21, 2011. It was a period of time in which all of the churches and denominations came under the spiritual judgment of God. The Holy Spirit left all the churches, and Satan, known as the Man of Sin, or Antichrist, or false Christ, was given rule over each congregation and denomination in order to lead them into false gospels and teachings. Almost everyone in the churches were deceived, but, in time, God's elect came to understand what was going on, and in obedience to God's command from scripture, they departed out of all the churches and denominations; never to return. We also learned that on September 7, 1994 the Latter Rain began in which a great multitude were saved outside of the churches through ministries and people which were no longer identified with any church. Yes, in those days we learned a great deal of information. We further learned that hell was not a place of forever conscious suffering, but it was the grave itself; it was a place of annihilation where the sinner no longer exists. And many learned, or so they thought they had learned that Christ actually died for sins before the foundation of the world; His coming to earth to die was merely a demonstration of what He had already accomplished before the world began. But is this doctrine really true? Did Christ really die for sins before the world began, or did He die for sins on Calvary in 33 AD? After some consideration, I have had to conclude that Christ actually died for sin in 33 AD and not before the foundation of the world. In this study I hope to show why that is. I will first give a general overview as to where the belief that Christ died for sins from the foundation of the world originates, and then I will go over a few scriptures out of many which can be used to one degree or another to show that Christ died on Calvary in 33 AD, and, finally, I will come back to the passages which seem to teach that Christ died for sin from the foundation of the world in order to show how these can be better interpreted in a way which does not conflict with the teaching that Christ died for sin in 33 AD.

Okay, where does the doctrine come from that Christ died for sin from the foundation of the world? To answer this, perhaps the best place to start is Revelation 13 were it reads,

Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world

There you have it; it plainly says, the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This seems to suggest that Christ was slain - that is, He died - from (or before) the foundation of the world. Clearly, from this verse alone, we must admit that one might conclude that Christ died from the foundation of the world. 

And there are other reasons as well. For instance, it has been concluded that Christ must have died before the foundation of the world based upon two premises. The two premises are these: First, the second person of the Godhead was only declared to be, or begotten as, the Son by the resurrection from the dead as it states in Romans 1 where we read in verse 1,

Ro 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead . . . 

So the 2nd person of the Godhead, in a sense, did not actually become the Son until He rose from the dead. But, second, scripture also says that the world was created by the Son. We read this in Hebrews 1: 

Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds

What these two premises mean, they say, is that the Son was not actually begotten to be the Son until He was so declared to so be by the resurrection from the dead. So the Son in a sense came into existence as being begotten only after rising from the dead. Now here's the logical conclusion based upon the two premises: Since the Son is said to have created the world, but He was not actually begotten as the Son until He was resurrected from the dead, the resurrection of Him from the dead must have taken place before the world began; otherwise, how could it be said that the Son created the world, for if He did not rise from the dead before the creation of the world, he would not have yet been begotten as the Son, and if there is no Son, then how was the world said to have been created by the Son? Well there are actually problems with this argument, but I won't get into that until later. At this point, I just wanted you to see one of the arguments which seem to place Christ as having died for sins before the world began. 

But now there is another argument used to support that Christ died for sins from the foundation of the world as well. This argument comes from a verse in Hebrews 4 where we read, 

Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world

In this passage it speaks about the rest of salvation that we enter into upon being saved, and it says that these works for salvation were finished from the foundation of the world. This seems to suggest that the works required for our salvation; hence, the dying for our sins took place from (or before) the foundation of the world. Is this what this verse is actually teaching? If it is, then one might even read 1Peter 1:20 in support of it as well. It reads, 

1Pe 1:20 Who [Christ] verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you . . . 

Interpreted in the context of Christ having died from before the foundation of the world, this verse might be interpreted to say that Christ was foreordained before the world in the sense that He had died for sin before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you; that is, Christ paid for our sins before the world began, but then he was revealed on earth to demonstrate what He had already done for us. 

Well now, this has all given you a general idea as to where the notion of Christ dying for sins before the world began comes from. There are other verses used to support it as well, but I just wanted to give some idea as to where this teaching originated. But what I would like to do now is show how this view does not harmonize with the rest of scripture, and then come back and show how these scriptures already mentioned can be better interpreted to maintain the complete harmony of scripture.

Let's look at some of the scriptures which to one degree or another reveal Christ to have died on the cross for sins in 33 AD, and so refute the notion of Christ having died for sins from (or before) the foundation of the world. The first passage we'll look at is Hebrews 9 verse 26: 

For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world [that is, in 33 AD] hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself

How clear can you get! This verse is declaring in a very direct way that Christ came to this earth to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. It does not say he appeared in the end of the world to demonstrate how He had put away sin before the world began, but it says in no uncertain terms that he appeared in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Now to put away sin means to abolish or disannul sin. This is what Christ did when He died for the sins of His people on the cross; He paid for all their sins, and so He abolished sin as it can no longer hold God's people to account. So when did Christ die for sins? Obviously, He died for sins when He came to this earth according to the scripture. And since he died unto sin once (Romans 6:10), He couldn't have also died for sin before the foundation of the world. Yes, it is plain and clear by this verse that Christ died for sins in 33 AD. 

Now another verse in support of Christ having died for sins in 33 AD is Matthew 20:28 (parallel passage is Mark 10:45) which states, 

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many

Why did the Son of man come to this earth? To give His life a ransom for many. Nowhere in the context are we forced to interpret this verse to say that He came to earth but to demonstrate His life was a ransom for many. No, a ransom is a payment, and the payment Christ gave for the many was the payment for sin when He came to this earth and died on the cross in 33 AD. Once again, this is clear support for Christ having died for sins when He was on this earth in 33 AD and not before the foundation of the world.

It is of interest to note that the word for life in this verse is the same word for soul. So this verse could actually be translated, Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his [soul] a ransom for many . This emphasizes all the more that Christ did not come to earth to just demonstrate how He had suffered, but He came to this earth to ransom or pay for sin by the death of His very own soul on Calvary. This took place in 33 AD and not before the world began!

Yet another verse in support of Christ having died for sins in 33 AD is 1John 3:5 which states,  

And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin

This verse does not say that he was manifested (revealed) to demonstrate that He took away our sins from the foundation of the world, but it says he was manifested to take away our sins. This means that the reason He was revealed when He came to this earth was for the purpose of taking away our sins. Obviously, by strong inference, this must mean that He died for our sins in 33 AD when He came to earth and not at some unknown time before the world began.

Another verse in support of Christ having died for sins in 33 AD is Hebrews 9:28. There we read, 

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation

In this verse we first learn that Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. But did this offering take place before the foundation of the world, or in 33 AD? The second half of this verse helps answer this question. It states, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Now that He will appear the second time without sin infers that when He came the first time, He appeared with sin in the sense that He came to bear the sins of many. And when did He appear to us the first time? Why it was when He came to this earth and then died in 33 AD. So by inference, when was Christ once offered to bear the sins of many? It had to have been when He appeared in 33 AD and not before the foundation of the world because Christ could not be said to have appeared before the foundation of the world since at that time no one had yet even been created for Him to have appeared to. Yes, without question, Christ did not demonstrate that He died for sins in 33 AD, but He actually died for sins in 33 AD.

Now let me mention just a few more verses of the many other verses that could be used to one degree or another in support of Christ having died for sins in 33 AD. One such verse is Matthew 1:21 which states,

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Now it doesn't say that thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall demonstrate how He saved His people from before the foundation of the world, but it says, He shall save his people from their sins. This means that Christ came to this earth to save His people by dying for them at the cross in 33 AD. No, Christ did not die for the sins of His people before the world began, but He did die for them in 33 AD. This harmonizes with all the other passages.    

Another verse is 1John 4:10 which reads, 

1Jo 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to this earth] to be the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins

Now does this scripture in any way say that out of God's love for us that He sent His Son but to demonstrate how He had been a propitiation for our sins from (or before) the foundation of the world, or does it say that He sent His Son to this earth to actually be a propitiation - that is, an atoning sacrifice - for our sins? The answer according to the plain reading of the verse is obvious: out of His great love for us, He sent His Son to this earth to be a propitiation, which means an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Next, let's briefly look at Romans 3,

Ro 3:25 Whom God hath set forth [into this world] to be a propitiation [atoning sacrifice] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past [there were no sins in the past before the world began] , through the forbearance of God .

Notice what it says; it says that Christ was set forth to be a propitiation - that is, an atoning sacrifice - through faith in his blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. Now if He was set forth to be a propitiation . . . for the remission of sins that are past, He could not have been set forth from the foundation of the world because there were no sins in the past to be a remission for at that time, for no one had even yet been created, and time did not yet exist. But if this is referring to Christ having been an atoning sacrifice in 33 AD for the remission of sins that are past, it makes perfect sense. It is simply telling us that sins committed before Christ died on the cross were paid for on Calvary in 33 AD. This is how Old Testament believers were saved: by Christ's sacrifice for their sins in 33 AD. 

Now let me mention just a few more verses of the many other verses that could be used to one degree or another in support of Christ having died for sins in 33 AD. One such verse is 1Cor. 15:3-4 which states,

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures . . .

In this passage we are clearly told that Christ died for our sins in the context of His having come to this earth to die and then rise, and there is nothing that would even hint to His having died for these sins before the foundation of the world. It does not say that Christ demonstrated how He died for our sins, but it says He died for our sins. No, based upon the context, God is most certainly referring to Christ having died for sins while He was on this earth at the cross in 33 AD. This is highlighted by including in this verse that He rose again on the third day, for if He had died for sins before the world began when time - and, therefore, days - did not exist, how could it be said that He rose on the third day? Yes, it could only be said if Christ actually did die for sins and then rose three days later in time, in this world, at the cross in 33 AD.

It is also of great significance that we are told that He died for sins and rose on the third day according to the scriptures. Now I know of no scriptures which clearly speak of Christ dying for sins and rising on the third day in the context of before the foundation of the world. No, the vast majority of scriptures speak about the coming of Christ to this earth, His dying on this earth, and His rising on this earth, all of which took place in 33 AD. 

Another verse in support of Christ having died for sins in 33 AD is Hebrews 2:17. It says,

Wherefore in all things it behoved him [Christ] to be made like unto his brethren [that is, Christ was made to be a man] , that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people .

Here we are told that God became a man (that is, Christ, the man); Now why did He become a man? that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. So here we are told outright that Christ, when He came to this earth as a man, did so not to demonstrate how He had made reconciliation for sins of the people from (or before) the world began, but to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. And the only way that He could have made such reconciliation for sins is to have died for sins while He was on this earth in 33 AD. 

Another passage is Romans 5:6 which states,

Ro 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly

Notice that it was in due time and when we were yet without strength that Christ died for the ungodly. This could not have been from (or before) the foundation of the world because back then it could not have been said, in due time, for back then time did not yet exist, and, furthermore, it could not have been said at that time that we were yet without strength because we did not even yet exist in order that it could be said of us that we were yet without strength. No, this must mean that in due time; that is when the time was right for Christ to die, which was in 33 AD, He died for the ungodly. And to have died for the ungodly in 33 AD means, by inference, that He must have also then died for their sins.  

Now one final verse out of many others that could be addressed is Romans 5:8. It says, 

Ro 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us

What is of significance in this verse is that it says Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. Now this could NOT have taken place from (or before) the foundation of the world because back then there were no sinners, for no one had yet even been created. Therefore, when Christ died for us must have been in time after the foundation of the world, and this we know to have taken place on this earth in 33 AD. 

Okay, there are many more passages of which I have not even listed, but leave it to say that this should be enough to realize that there is much support for Christ having died for sin in 33 AD; so much so, in fact, that I wonder how this could have ever been refuted by just a few verses which seem to say that Christ died for sins from (or before) the foundation of the world. It would be much wiser to realize that the verses which seem to say that Christ died from (or before) the foundation of the world must be saying something else, and this is the conclusion that I have had to come to. Let's now turn to these passages in order to see how they can be interpreted differently than has been done in so far as supporting that Christ died for sins from the foundation of the world. 

First of all, let's look as we had at the beginning of this study to Revelation 13:8 which says,

Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world

As I have said at the beginning of this study, this passage is used to support Christ as having died for sins from the foundation of the world. But this verse can be understood in a way which does not have to mean this. Here's how: when it says that Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, it is not saying that Christ died before the world began, but rather it is saying that because the death of Christ in 33 AD was foreordained in the mind of God before the world began, and, therefore, so absolutely certain to take place, it is being spoken of as if it had taken place from the foundation of the world. The idea is that what God has foreordained is so certain to take place that it can be spoken of as if it had already taken place upon His having foreordained it even though it hasn't yet actually taken place. This is not unheard of in scripture. For instance, we read in Romans 4, 

Ro 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee [Abraham] a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were

In this verse God is speaking about Abraham whom He had made a father of many nations before he actually was. In fact, at the time in which God said to Abraham that He had made him a father of many nations (Gen. 17:5), Abraham was 99 years old and his wife Sarah was 90 years old, and she had not even yet bore a child. Furthermore, she and he were then beyond child bearing age. So how could God say that He had made Abraham a father of many nations when he had bore no children through his wife Sarah? Well, as the story goes, God worked a miracle and brought about a son, Isaac, through Sarah and Abraham in their old age, and it was through Isaac that Abraham eventually became a father of many nations. But the point I want to get back to is this: God made Abraham a father of many nations before he actually was because it was foreordained by God, and, therefore, was so certain to eventually take place that Abraham could be called a father of many nations before he actually was. As Romans 4:17 says, 

. . . God, who . . . calleth those things which be not as though they were .  

Now this is the same reason why God speaks of Christ as the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. This is not said because Christ actually died before the foundation of the world, but this is said because it was so foreordained by God before the foundation of the world that Christ would eventually die that it could be spoken of as if it had already taken place. Yes, "... God, who ... calleth those things which be not as though they were." 

So there you have it. Just because scripture speaks of Christ as the lamb slain from the foundation of the world does not mean that He actually died for sins before the foundation of the world, but it means that He was foreordained to die for our sins from the foundation of the world, and it was, therefore, so certain to take place that it could be spoken of as if it had already taken place from the foundation of the world.

But now what about the argument which states that for the Son to have been the creator of the world as He is so stated as being in Hebrews 1, He had to have been resurrected before the world began because it was only through being resurrected that He became the Son who could then create the world? The problem with this argument is that one of its premises is faulty. Remember what the two premises were? One, the Son created the world, and, two, the second person of the Godhead became declared as the Son by being resurrected from the dead. Well, It is this number two premise which is faulty. Remember, It is based upon Romans 1:4 which states, 

Ro 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead

Please take careful note! It does not say that He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, but it says that He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. This makes all the difference. It does not mean that He first became called the Son of God by the resurrection, but rather it means that He first became the Son of God with Power by the resurrection. This leaves room for the Son to have actually existed as the Son independent of the resurrection. This being the case, the resurrection and so Christ's death for sins did not have to take place before the foundation of the world in order for it to be said that the Son created the world. No, the Son was not declared to be the Son through the resurrection. In fact, we are told that He was declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead. What this means is that at the resurrection of Calvary in 33 AD, Christ did not become the Son, for He was already the Son from eternity past, but He became the Son of God with power because it was then when He had rose from the dead and received all power in heaven and on earth as is stated after Christ rose from the dead such as in Matthew 28, 

Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them [after the resurrection] , saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth

But what about Hebrews 4:3? Let's read this verse once again. It states, 

Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world .

Doesn't this mean that all the work required for salvation - that is, Christ's death for sins - was completed or finished from (or before) the foundation of the world? If we isolate this verse from all the verses which clearly teach that Christ once died for sins in 33 AD, we might think so. But we know this can't be the case based on all the other scriptures, so we must see this as meaning something else. So what can this verse mean? 

First of all, could all the works required for our salvation have been actually finished from (or before) the foundation of the world? Absolutely not! For even if we believe that Christ paid for sins before the world, there is more to fulfilling the works of salvation than just this. Here's what I mean: the works of salvation not only have to do with Christ dying for sins, but it also has to do with the Holy Spirit taking that death and applying it to each of God's elect in time. This whole process could not possibly have been completed before the foundation of the world since God's elect weren't even yet born at that time. So when Hebrews 4:3 says that the works [for salvation] were finished from the foundation of the world, it can't possibly mean that all the works for salvation where finished.

So what does it mean then that the works [for salvation] were finished from the foundation of the world? It means this: the complete works for the salvation of God's elect were so conceived of and ordained by God before the world began - and, thus, guaranteed to take place - that they could be considered as finished even though they had not yet completely worked themselves out in time. Remember what God says in Romans 4:17,

. . . God, who . . . calleth those things which be not as though they were

So, in this sense, the works were finished from the foundation of the world. It is not saying that Christ died for sins before the foundation of the world, and this is why the works for salvation could be spoken of as being finished or completed, but it is saying that the works for salvation were so conceived of and ordained by God from the foundation of the world that they could be spoken of as having already taken place - finished - from before the foundation of the world even though they had not yet actually worked out in time.

Now the same argument can be applied to 1 Peter 1, 

1Pe 1:20 Who [Christ] verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you . .

This verse is not inferring that Christ died before the foundation of the world because He was foreordained at that time, but it is simply stating what was already concluded, namely that Christ was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest (revealed) in these last times for you; that is, Christ was foreordained to come to this earth and die for sins from before the foundation of the world - and in that sense of having been foreordained before the world, it was already finished - but He was not manifested or revealed until He came to this earth to actually die for sins on behalf of His elect people. This is in perfect harmony with everything that was already stated.

But now before completing this study, what do we do with the verse like Hebrews 9:22 which says, 

Heb 9:22 . . . and without shedding of blood is no remission

Doesn't this mean that if Christ shed His blood for sins in 33 AD and not before the foundation of the world that all those who lived before Christ shed His blood could not have been saved because without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin? Of course not! For although the actual shedding of blood by Christ was not accomplished until 33 AD; nevertheless, it was finished or completed (foreordained) in the mind of God before the world even began. So God in the Spirit could already reach out and apply Christ's saving blood to all of the Old Testament elect just as readily as He could all of the New Testament elect. In other words, God who is not constrained in time as we are can take that which occurs in time such as the shedding of Christ's blood in 33 AD and apply its power to any time and any one in history that He wants. This is a great mystery, but praise God for His wonderful mercy toward His elect throughout time. May the Lord be forever lifted up and highly exalted forevermore, amen. 

So in summary, I first revealed where the idea of Christ dying for sin before the foundation of the world originated. I then revealed many scriptures which to one degree or another teach that Christ died for sins in 33 AD and not before the world began. It was in the light of all of these scriptures that I then went back to the scriptures which were said to support the notion of Christ having died for sin from the foundation of the world, and I revealed a biblical interpretation of these verses which is more in harmony with the verses which teach that Christ died for sins in 33 AD and not before the foundation of the world. Yes, there can be no doubt that Christ died for sin on Calvary in 33 AD (see also The phrase, from the doundation of the world, reveals that Christ did NOT die before the world and The Lamb Slain from the Foundation of the World and Christ Died for Sin in 33 AD; NOT before the world).

 

Now may the LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace .

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