Understanding the true meaning of words in the Bible unlocks the meaning of this ancient and sacred text. Before we go any further, we need to look at the central character in the New Testament, Jesus Christ. Is this one being or two different beings?
A survey of the New Testament reveals that we rarely find the names Jesus and Christ expressed together. This is an important observation because not only are they two different beings, they are not interchangeable. We can only understand this if we understand who these beings are. To begin with, one is a human being; the other is a spiritual being.
In the Gospel of John for instance the name Jesus is always used alone except in two places:
Jn 1:17 "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ," and,
Jn 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
In fact, St Paul reverses the names to Christ Jesus. This could suggest that Christ is a title; like saying President Obama or Queen Elizabeth.
If we read the New Testament with this in mind, a new story unfolds. Here is a man called Jesus Iesous meaning saviour, who becomes Christ Christos meaning anointed, or we could say Jesus becomes Christ-ened. This is our task too, but it is not plain sailing as Matthew points out in his discussion of the pseudochristos or false Christ:
"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray." Mt 24:24
If we take the Bible as a manual for evolving consciousness then we could have a goal to become like Jesus striving to achieve Christ-ened perfection. The New Testament is full of descriptions of the nature of Jesus and how this nature might be attained, or followed. The word follow is akoloutheo that literally means 'alike-way' and gives the sense of becoming like Jesus, copying the way he is. The way he is has been greatly misunderstood.
When considering human consciousness it isn't enough to say human beings are conscious and have consciousness. This state of being awake and aware clearly differs from person to person and changes within each of us throughout the day. Nor is it sufficient to say things like; I am health conscious, I have a national consciousness of shared beliefs and feelings, or I lose consciousness if I faint, or the way I think represents the kind of consciousness that I have. This is generalizing, skimming the surface of what it means to be conscious.
To be fully aware of our consciousness means to consider it in detail. Human consciousness has three core activities: feeling, thinking, and willing. We each use these activities differently, and in different combinations.
These three activities actually take place in the human soul, psuche. We form our feelings, thoughts and actions in our soul and express them in our body. The more aware of this we are, the more conscious we are.
In the biblical Greek there are more than thirty different words for these three activities. If we look up "An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words with their precise meanings for English readers" by W.E. Vine, M.A. we find fifteen words for think, five for feel, and seven or more for act, commit, do (will). Each particular word reveals a specific quality of human consciousness, and a particular aspect of our soul, and it is in the specific use of these words that the real wisdom of the Bible unfolds.
Aristotle (384BC-322BC) was among the first to write about the human soul. Prior to this, it wasn't necessary to write anything about the soul because the soul wasn't differentiated into different activities as it is today - pointing to the fact that human consciousness changes.
Aristotle was aware that a differentiation was taking place which led him to described the soul as having three qualities that he called: Orektikon, Kinetikon, and Dianoetikon.
- 1. Orektikon refers to desires, appetites, sensations, impulses which is the soul activity of feeling.
- 2. Kinetikon means to set in motion, to try every way, reasoning, which is the soul activity of thinking.
- 3. Dianoetikon is about intention that is the soul activity of will.
If we take these things into account, the difference between Christ and Jesus, representing the evolution of consciousness, makes a lot of sense. Jesus had to prepare himself by becoming more aware of his consciousness, giving him the ability to be as objective as possible when he was treated the way he was.
Understanding this, we can follow Jesus on his journey to Golgotha and see how the human being makes way for the spiritual being to arise. Jesus was able to bear all things through his ability to be fully aware of his feeling, thinking and will, just as we are able to bear life's difficulties when we control our feeling, think clearly and act consciously.
Image: The Lamb is a painting by Andrew King