Editor’s Note: This article includes several collections of verses about Jesus Christ and his current activity. While great effort was made to make these lists as comprehensive as possible, please contact us in the comments below or at email@example.com if you have additional ideas that fit any of the categories listed in the article.
To this point in this series, we have talked much about who Jesus is, what he has been called, and how Christians have fellowship with Jesus. Now we turn to the question that I probably get the most when discussing this topic: what is the Lord Jesus doing now? The short answer to this question is, “He’s doing a lot!” Much of what Jesus is doing is unknown to the Body of Christ, while some of what he is currently doing is discernable using the Bible. In this article, we will look at what the Bible says about Jesus’ current activities.
Before we begin studying this topic, there are a few pieces of background information that are helpful for us to remember throughout this study.
1. The Bible does not tell us everything that Jesus did while he was on Earth, so we can conclude that it is not a comprehensive record of what he is doing today.
John 21:25 (ESV)
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
What we know about Jesus’ earthly ministry is a fraction of what he did. Likewise, the Bible records only a fraction of what he is currently doing.
2. Everything that Jesus has ever done has been in accordance with the will and desire of God. The words that he spoke, the power that he manifested, the actions that he took: all of them were decreed and enabled by his Father (see below and John 8:25-29; John 10:37-38).
John 4:34 (ESV)
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
John 7:16 (ESV)
So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
John 14:10 (ESV)
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
God gave Jesus the authority to speak on His behalf. God gave Jesus the spirit to enable him to accomplish the works that God laid out for him to accomplish. God and Jesus were always on the same team, always had the same goals, and always had the same heart. What is important to note is that, since Jesus was human, this process was not automatic, but required Jesus intentionally submitting to the Father (see Luke 22:42 for one example where this is poignantly observed).
3. Although Jesus has been exalted, he is still a man, and as such, he does not have all of the capabilities that God has. Specifically, Jesus is not all-knowing (omniscient), all-powerful (omnipotent), or everywhere-present (omnipresent).
Jesus is not omniscient.
Matthew 24:36 (ESV)
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Simply, Jesus did not know when he was going to return. Only the Father is omniscient.
Revelation 1:1-2 (ESV)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
Notice that even in his exalted form, Jesus still receives revelation from God the Father. In the case of the book of Revelation, God gave the information to Jesus, who sent an angel to John in order to have John record the information for followers of Christ, like us. The hierarchy is clear, and so is the fact that Jesus does not know everything.
Jesus is not omnipotent.
Revelation 15:3-4 (ESV)
And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Throughout the Bible, the Father is given the title “Almighty.” This title is never applied to Jesus. Therefore, Jesus is still dependent on the power and authority of God (see also Acts 1:7, where Jesus talked about his Father’s authority as superior to his). He is not omnipotent.
Jesus is not omnipresent.
Matthew 18:20 (ESV)
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
Matthew 28:20b (ESV)
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:6 (ESV)
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Acts 1:11 (ESV)
and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
I Peter 1:8 (ESV)
Though you have not seen him [Jesus], you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
I Thessalonians 4:17 (ESV)
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
In considering omnipresence, the Bible is slightly more nuanced. In some sense, Jesus is always with us (as seen in Matthew 18:20 and 28:20; compare with verses like II Corinthians 12:8-10 and I Timothy 1:12). Jesus can be with Christians through appearing to them, which is a relatively rare occurrence, according to the Biblical record. Jesus can be with Christians through the power of the spirit, which is the typical Christian experience, as we saw in the fourth article on “Christ in” us. As we will see in the list of verses in the study that follows, Jesus can send strength, encouragement, and specific messages to Christians. Revelation chapters two and three show Jesus’ involvement and interest in seven local churches from the first century. However, in another sense, Jesus is almost always absent, making his return of ultimate interest and importance. For example, Matthew 28:6 indicates that Jesus can only be in one place at a time (“he is not here”). Acts 1:11 describes Jesus as entering heaven. Our Lord did appear to several people as recorded in the New Testament (see Acts 9:3-17; I Corinthians 15:5-8) and could still appear to people today at any time, but the Christians Peter wrote to had not seen him. Typical Christian experience is to see Jesus when he returns in glory—then, and not before, we will always be with him in a more complete, full sense. Unlike God the Father, Jesus is never portrayed as being omnipresent.
Two Questions to Consider
Some of the verses that follow in this study are straightforward: they mention Jesus by name. However, in many of the verses, only the title “Lord” is used. This ambiguity makes identifying the current status of Jesus a bit more problematic. As a result, there are two questions that we should ask ourselves when we read the New Testament:
- Is the Lord being mentioned the LORD (God) or the Lord Jesus Christ?
- If the Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ, should we understand his involvement in an active or a passive sense?
When reading Paul’s epistles, the answer to question number one is generally Jesus, unless Paul is quoting an Old Testament passage. In every instance, considering the context is helpful.
I Corinthians 9:14 (ESV)
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
Here is an example of a verse where the choice of Lord is unclear. Since this verse occurs in one of Paul’s epistles, our default understanding should be that the Lord here is Jesus. Do we have a recorded saying or teaching of Jesus that confirms the concept represented here in I Corinthians 9? In fact, we do! In Matthew 10:10, Jesus told his disciples “the laborer deserves his food.” There is some reason to believe that this Lord could be Jesus. However, the context of I Corinthians 9 quotes some Old Testament passages, which is an indication that the Lord here could be the Father. Of course, God commanded for his ministers to be taken care of in the Old Testament (Leviticus 6:16, 26; Leviticus 7:6; Numbers 5:9-10; Numbers 18:8-20; Deuteronomy 18:1). It is important to note here that the sense is the same regardless. The commandment originates with God the Father either way. In one reading, the commandment comes from God directly; in the other reading, the commandment from the Father comes through the teaching of the Son. The story is similar with other ambiguous usages of Lord throughout the New Testament.
What about the second question? What is the difference between active and passive? When I use the term “active,” I mean that the Lord Jesus is present and performing the action directly. When I utilize the term “passive,” I mean that the Lord Jesus sends agents (either angels or human ministers) to complete the task that he wants to be accomplished and enables his agents to complete the task assigned. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Acts 20:24 (ESV)
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Paul attested (as recorded by Luke in Acts 20) that he received his ministry from the Lord Jesus. This is corroborated by what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11. The Lord Jesus is actively calling men and women into service to him and his Father, God. What is also interesting about this aspect of Jesus’ current ministry is that Paul wrote that Jesus acts in accordance with the will of God (see Galatians 1:1, where Paul attributed his calling to both God and Jesus and I Corinthians 1:1, where Paul said his calling was given “by the will of God”).
I Thessalonians 4:2 (ESV)
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
I Thessalonians 4:2 (NASB)
For you know what commandments we gave you by [the authority of] the Lord Jesus.
I Thessalonians 4:2 is a great example of a record where Jesus is involved in a more passive sense. In the Greek, the use of the phrase “through Jesus Christ” could be understood as “by the active working of Jesus Christ” or “by the authority of Jesus Christ.” In the context, Paul disclosed that he and his companions were the ones who gave the commandments. Since Paul and his companions actively gave the commandments, Jesus could not have been actively giving the commandments. (This is why the NASB translators chose to translate this verse that way.) Instead, Jesus’ involvement in this situation was from a position of authority, working to support Paul and his companions. Since Paul and his companions were servants of Jesus, doing the will of Jesus, having been sent by Jesus, they had the authority of Jesus with the commands that they gave.
Acts 9:34 (ESV)
And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose.
The phrase “Jesus Christ heals you” from Acts 9:34 could be read either as an active or a passive work of healing done by Jesus. In this case, the passive sense has greater explanatory power. Jesus gave power and authority to his disciples even during his earthly ministry (Luke 9:1; Matthew 10:1). Matthew 28:18-20 indicates that Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and as such, he has the ability to confer that authority to agents that he choses, like he did with Peter, Paul, and the other apostles. As we saw in previous articles, the idea that Christ is in the believer through the power of the spirit is a remarkable reality. Returning to Acts 9, Peter, utilizing the power of the holy spirit, Christ in him, was able to heal this man Aeneas. In this way, we could understand Acts 9:34 as Jesus acting in a passive sense (through sending an agent, Peter). Jesus Christ is healing Aeneas through the power conferred to Peter by Jesus. Please recall that the anointing of the holy spirit in Peter’s life came when Jesus poured out the spirit on the twelve on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:33). When we examine other healings and preaching in the book of Acts, we see a pattern of using the name of Jesus in a public setting (Acts 3:6; Acts 4:10, 30; Acts 8:12; Acts 9:27; Acts 16:18). Interestingly, in one record where the healing was done in a more private setting in the same context in the book of Acts, Jesus’ name is not recorded as being utilized (see Acts 9:39-40). All of this lends strong support to the passive understanding of this verse.
This does not exclude, however, the possibility of reading this section using an active sense. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he healed many individuals. God gave Jesus the power and authority to heal and forgive sins (Mark 1:27; Luke 4:36; Matthew 9:6-8). Therefore, it is absolutely possible that Jesus could still be actively healing people. In other words, do we have any reason to believe that he could be doing less than he was during his earthly ministry? Therefore, it is possible that Jesus was there, healing Aeneas. Additionally, in this and other cases, both active and passive senses may be true to one degree or another.
Basics of Greek Verb Tenses
In order to discern what the Bible says about what Jesus is currently doing, I have attempted to find every verb usage in the New Testament related to Jesus. But before we look at the verses about Jesus, let’s learn a little more about the basics of Greek verb tenses. There are five major tenses of verbs in the Greek language: aorist, present, future, perfect, and imperfect. Here is a chart that may help you understand the basic usage of these five major tenses:
|Aorist||One time action, generally used of past actions||Jesus kicked the ball.|
|Imperfect||Continuous action in the past||Jesus kept kicking the ball.|
|Perfect||Completed or past action that has present, or ongoing, implications||Jesus has been kicking the ball every Saturday for years.|
|Present||Current action, just as in English||Jesus kicks the ball.|
|Future||Future action, just as in English||Jesus will kick the ball.|
If the verb usage is in the aorist tense, typically it is correctly translated by the English past tense. Let’s look at a couple of major examples of this:
Romans 5:6-11 (ESV)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died [aorist tense] for the ungodly.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died [aorist tense] for us.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved [future tense] by him from the wrath of God.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled [aorist tense] to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved [future tense] by his life.
More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received [aorist tense] reconciliation.
Christ has already died for us. This is correctly expressed by the aorist tense (a one-time action) and correctly translated into English as a past tense verb. Through the grace extended by God through and in Christ, we have now received (aorist tense/past tense) reconciliation.
Ephesians 2:5-9 (ESV)
Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive [aorist tense] together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–
and raised us [aorist tense] up with him and seated us [aorist tense] with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved [present tense] through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We have already been made alive together with Christ, raised up with him, and seated with him in the heavenly places. Jesus has literally experienced these realities, and we are awaiting the fullness of the resurrection and life in the coming age.
Next, I wanted to show you a cool example of an imperfect tense verb. Recall that the imperfect tense is used of continuous action in the past.
I Corinthians 3:5-7 (ESV)
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
I planted [aorist], Apollos watered [aorist], but God gave the growth [imperfect].
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Paul planted (past tense) and Apollos watered (past tense); all the while, God was continually giving the increase (imperfect).
Next, we turn to the perfect tense, which is a past action with ongoing implications in the present. Here are a couple of interesting occurrences in relation to Jesus Christ:
I Corinthians 15:4, 27 (ESV)
That he was buried, that he was raised [perfect tense] on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” [perfect tense] it is plain that he is excepted who put [aorist tense] all things in subjection under him.
Jesus was raised in the past, but he continues to live, which has tremendous effects for the Christian. That is why the perfect tense is used here. God the Father put all things in subjection to Christ in the past, but the fact that all things are in subjection to Christ still has current implications.
What is the Lord Jesus doing now?
Now, we can turn to the verb tense that most accurately addresses the question: what is the Lord Jesus doing now? That would be the present tense. Since I want to provide the most comprehensive answer to this question that I can, I have provided a list below which is broken down into four major categories.
- The first category is things that relate the current status of Jesus. This is not necessarily what he is doing, but who he is currently.
- The second category is a short one: present tense verbs with a future meaning.
- The third category is a list of things that Jesus did at one point or will do in the future that showcase his involvement with the Church.
- The fourth and final category is a list of possible present tense verbs associated with Jesus Christ.
- Current Status of Jesus Christ
Many of the present tense verbs associated with Jesus Christ in the New Testament describe his present status. Here is a list of the ones that I have found to this point:
|Dies no more||Romans 6:9|
|Lives unto God/lives in us||Romans 6:10; II Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 2:20|
|He is the firstborn||Romans 8:29|
|He is at the right hand of God||Romans 8:34; I Peter 3:22|
|He is the head of every man||I Corinthians 11:3|
|He reigns||I Corinthians 15:25|
|He has strength to draw upon||II Corinthians 12:8-10; Ephesians 6:10|
|He is a messenger of God||Galatians 4:14|
|He is worthy to be sung to||Ephesians 5:19|
|He is the Head of the Body||Ephesians 5:23-24; Colossians 2:10|
|He is the chief corner stone||Ephesians 2:20; I Peter 2:6|
|He is exalted||Philippians 2:9-11|
|He is the image of God||Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3|
|He is above all things||Colossians 1:17|
|He is the preeminent one||Colossians 1:18|
|In him dwells all the fullness of the deity||Colossians 2:9|
|He abides faithful||II Timothy 2:13|
|He is with our spirit||II Timothy 4:22|
|He has an abiding priesthood||Hebrews 7:24|
|He is the mediator||Hebrews 7:24-25; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15|
|He is unseen||I Peter 1:8|
|He is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls||I Peter 2:25|
|He is worthy to be honored||I Peter 3:15|
|He is our advocate||I John 2:1|
|He is our payment||I John 2:2|
|He is pure/righteous||I John 3:3,5,7|
|He is Christ||I John 5:1|
|He is the Son of God||Hebrews 1:5; I John 4:15; I John 5:5|
|He is worthy to be worshipped||Revelation 5:11-14|
- Future meaning with present tense
There is a figure of speech used fairly commonly in the New Testament where verb tenses are utilized in atypical ways (past exchanged for future, future exchanged for past, etc.). In this case, present tense verbs are used to relate a future reality. Here are the examples that relate to Jesus Christ that I have found to fit this category:
I Corinthians 4:4 (ESV)
For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
II Corinthians 10:18 (ESV)
For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
I Thessalonians 1:10 (ESV)
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Jesus will judge all at his return. At that time, Jesus will commend some and not others. Many will feel wrath, and others (Christians) will be delivered from the wrath to come. The present tense verbs in these verses point to future realities.
- Has done/will do
Before we get into the specific verses in this category, I think it appropriate to mention that there is a general principle behind this grouping. We know a fraction of what Jesus did during his earthly ministry. But from what we know, would we think that Jesus is capable of doing less that what he did before? If he healed before, could he not heal now? If he taught before, could he not teach now? At the same time, we must be careful to base our theology on what is revealed in the Bible, not our speculation about what the text might mean. With this in mind, let’s consider the next set of verses:
|Has done/will do||Verse(s)|
|Has acted/continues to act||Acts 1:1|
|Poured out the holy spirit||Acts 2:33 (compare Acts 5:32; Romans 5:5)|
|Going to change our bodies||Philippians 3:21; I Thessalonians 4:14|
|Has forgiven and will forgive||Colossians 3:13|
|Rescued Paul from danger||II Timothy 3:11; II Timothy 4:17-18|
I wanted to take the time to look at one of these sections in greater detail.
Acts 1:1-2 (ESV)
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
The opening verse of the book of Acts suggests that what Luke wrote in his gospel is merely the beginning of what Jesus began to do and teach, up to the time of his ascension. This is an important point for us to consider. Simply speaking, Luke is saying that Jesus is still doing and teaching things in the book of Acts. As we have seen already, there are active and passive components to this. When we consider the subject of teaching, for example, there are layers of understanding. First, all Christians have the ability to read their Bibles and learn some of what Jesus taught his disciples during his earthly ministry as recorded in the four gospels. This, in a major sense, is Jesus teaching us. Second, in the book of Acts, Jesus appeared to Paul and taught him on the road to Damascus (and on subsequent occasions, the details of which we hardly know). Similarly, Jesus can still appear to people today to call them into service or teach them specific things or whatever else he needs to do. Third, what Jesus taught his apostles was carried out in the book of Acts, providing another example for the modern Christian to learn from and apply. Fourth, the power of holy spirit, Christ within the Christian, can lead us, guide us, and teach us. In some sense, this is God and Jesus Christ teaching us and helping us to do the things that they have called us to do.Similarly, when Christians act in accordance with the wishes of God and the Lord Jesus, in some sense this is God and the Lord Jesus acting and interacting with the world.
Acts 2:33 (ESV)
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
Before we close out this section, I had some brief comments on Acts 2:33 and similar verses. From the context of the passage, it is absolutely clear that Jesus is the one who poured out the holy spirit on Pentecost. Based on this, some have taught that every time someone new gets born again, Jesus pours out the holy spirit for him or her. While this is possible, it does not follow from Acts 2:33 alone. Acts 2:33 is an account of what Jesus did on Pentecost, not a promise that he pours out the spirit whenever someone new gets born again. A better line of reasoning for someone who wanted to prove this would be to combine the following verses together:
Matthew 3:11 (ESV)
“I [John the Baptist] baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John 1:33-34 (ESV)
I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Acts 2:33, 38, 41 (ESV)
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
My main point is that we have to be careful to understand what the verse or verses in question are clearly saying as opposed to what they could or might be saying.
- Possible present tense verbs associated with Jesus Christ
Finally, we get to the list of possible present tense verbs associated with Jesus Christ. Here is the list (italics indicate instances where Lord is more ambiguous and could either be Jesus or God the Father):
|Adding to the church||Acts 2:47|
|Implicated in healing||Acts 4:30, Acts 9:34; James 5:14-15|
|Appears to apostles||Acts 9:1-16; Acts 10:9-16; Acts 18:9; Acts 26:26; II Corinthians 12:8-10|
|Gives ministries/authority||Acts 20:24, Romans 12:4-8; I Corinthians 3:5; II Corinthians 10:8; II Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 4:17|
|Sends grace, peace, and mercy||Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:3; I Corinthians 16:23; II Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; I Thessalonians 5:28; II Thessalonians 1:2; I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3|
|Makes intercession for us/able to save us||Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25|
|Establishes and sustains his servants/followers||Romans 14:4, I Corinthians 1:8; II Thessalonians 3:1-5, Jude 1:1|
|Persuaded Paul that nothing was unclean||Romans 14:14|
|Gives specific commandments (through his teachings)||I Corinthians 7:10, 12, 25; I Corinthians 9:14; I Corinthians 14:37|
|Gives specific revelation||Acts 16:7; I Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:12; Philippians 2:19, 24; I Thessalonians 4:15-16|
|Assigns/distributes responsibilities (context of married/not, etc.)||I Corinthians 7:17|
|Rejoices when we rejoice, suffers when we suffer||I Corinthians 12:26|
|Gives specific direction||I Corinthians 16:7|
|Nurtures the church||Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 5:29; Colossians 2:19|
|Makes Christians increase and abound in love; encourages us||I Thessalonians 3:11-13; II Thessalonians 2:16-17|
|Loves us||II Thessalonians 2:13|
|Gives us peace||II Thessalonians 3:16|
|Gives strength/ability||Philippians 4:13; I Timothy 1:12|
|Gives grace and mercy||I Timothy 1:13-14; II Timothy 1:16-18|
|Gives understanding (“wisdom” in Aramaic)||II Timothy 2:7|
|Upholds all things||Hebrews 1:3|
|Sympathizes with our weaknesses and sufferings||Hebrews 4:15|
|Rescues the godly from trials||II Peter 2:9|
The Bible does not give us much detail about what Jesus is doing currently. I do not believe that what the Bible lists is a comprehensive day-to-day schedule of what Jesus is doing now. There simply is not a lot of information given to us about what Jesus is currently doing. Having said that, let’s take a closer look at some of these verses with present tense verbs associated with Jesus.
Romans 8:34 (ESV)
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Hebrews 7:25-27 (ESV)
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
It is unclear exactly how this mediation works. Our first impression might be that Christ actively intercedes for us. For example, the Accuser may come to God and say, “Will messed up the other day. Did you see that?” And then Christ may step in and say, “Yes, he messed up, Father, but my blood paid for that. Dismiss this charge.” Then, God acquits me for this sin. I have heard teachers say that this is what Jesus’ mediation means for us, but I’m not entirely sure that is what the context (especially of Hebrews 7) indicates. In the Old Testament, sacrifices to cover sin were made daily, both by the priests so they could intercede for the people, and then for the people so that their sin would be covered. But Hebrews 7 says that Christ made the sacrifice once and for all. So perhaps the present tense of “mediation” indicates that his payment is still a present reality, just as the wording of I John 2:2 (”he is the propitiation for our sins”).
I Corinthians 7:10-11 (ESV)
To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband
(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
Paul said that the Lord Jesus had taught specific things about marriage that should be followed by Christians. These are commands of the Lord that should be followed. Paul was referring to what we now have in the Sermon on the Mount (specifically Matthew 5:27-32) and other gospel accounts where Jesus discussed marriage and divorce (such as Mark 10:2-12 and Matthew 19:3-9). Jesus actually gave those commandments during his earthly ministry, and yet Paul spoke of them as if they were present tense commands. Christians should take the commands of Jesus as recorded in the gospels similarly.
Ephesians 4:15-16 (ESV)
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 5:29 (ESV)
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
Colossians 2:19 (ESV)
and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
These three sections indicate that Christ is intimately involved in the growth of the Church. The Bible is not clear, however, on what exact mechanism Jesus utilizes to nourish, cherish, and knit together the Church. It is likely that this is referring to the Christians generally (and ministries specifically) to strengthen the Church, just like Paul did (Colossians 1:27-29; see also the context of Ephesians 4:15-16). It is possible that Jesus can send encouragement through the spirit (II Timothy 4:22 says in the Aramaic “our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” according to Lamsa). It is possible that the nourishment comes from the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels (see John 15:1-11 for some support of this perspective). Or all of these could be possible at the same time. The point is: even if we know what Jesus is doing for some of his time, we don’t get a clear picture of how he is doing it. We see through a mirror dimly (I Corinthians 13:12); we are spiritual children who do not have a complete picture of the spiritual realm yet.
Before we close this article, I wanted to return to the subject of prayer, which has been a touchstone for this series. In the second article, we saw that the Biblical case for prayer to Jesus is limited at best. Interestingly, Jesus is still involved with prayers.
Revelation 5:6-8 (ESV)
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
This is obviously a section of the Bible that is full of imagery.In this section, John saw golden bowls of incense being presented to the Lamb. Thankfully, John told us what the golden bowls of incense represented: the prayers of the saints. This verse does not indicate that every prayer of every saint is presented to the Lamb; however, we can discern that at least some of the prayers of the saints are presented to the Lamb. Jesus can hear at least some prayers. Can he answer prayers?
John 14:13-14 (ESV)
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask me [some texts omit “me”] anything in my name, I will do it.
Jesus is involved in answering prayers. This makes great sense, since angels have answered prayers throughout the Bible (see Daniel 9:20-23 for one example of many). And Jesus is much more powerful than any angel—he is the highest created being in the Universe, subject only to God the Father (I Corinthians 15:27).
As we have seen in this article, Jesus is incredibly active today—and this is even recognizing that what we know is only a fraction of what he is really doing! As we read through the New Testament, we see our Lord Jesus Christ working alongside his Father to bring the miraculous into this life. We can do the same. We can walk with God our Father and see the miraculous in our lives. We can obey God and our Lord Jesus Christ and see the fruit of that obedience. As we walk and obey, we can experience fellowship with the Father and the Son.
For another perspective on these questions, I recommend this article: https://trinities.org/blog/the-functional-polytheism-accusation/
I understand that we should be careful with terms like “all-powerful.” Even God cannot do everything, for God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18). The point here is that God intrinsically has power and authority, some of which has been conferred to the Son, but Jesus does not have the same quality or quantity of power and authority as the Father does (see also I Corinthians 15:27-28).
For more information on these verb tenses, I would consult a Greek grammar book. For beginning Greek students, I highly recommend Mounce’s grammar book (https://www.amazon.com/Basics-Biblical-Grammar-William-Mounce/dp/0310287685/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531665738&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=bounce+basics+of+biblical+greek).
For more intermediate students of Greek, I recommend the Wallace grammar (https://www.amazon.com/Greek-Grammar-Beyond-Basics-Exegetical/dp/0310218950/ref=pd_sim_14_8?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0310218950&pd_rd_r=49415192-883d-11e8-9f1d-6db4f4e7a1f7&pd_rd_w=wvZiS&pd_rd_wg=27MA7&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=7967298517161621930&pf_rd_r=NPB8Y8K358Y9SSSPKBH8&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=NPB8Y8K358Y9SSSPKBH8).
Some readers may notice that I did not mention the verb “justified” in verse 9. This is an aorist participle, whose time aspect is handled differently than an aorist indicative verb (the examples used in the rest of the section). Generally, the aorist participle occurs in time before the main verb in the sentence. In this case, the main verb in verse 9 is “shall be saved,” which is a future indicative verb. So, the justification occurs before the “saving.” We can understand this in terms of the final salvation, which will come when Jesus returns. Christians are justified now, awaiting the final salvation of their lives at the return of Christ.
John 16:13-14 (ESV)
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
You can see that the spirit is distinct from Jesus, and yet connected to Jesus at the same time. Both active and passive senses are possible when we discuss the spirit, the connection between the Christian, God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some will ask about the timing of this verse, since it appears in the book of Revelation. Some scholars read Revelation as futurists, which means that they believe that the majority of the book of Revelation pertains to only future events. Other scholars hold interpretations that allow for a more current interpretation to the book of Revelation. I tend to agree with the latter view, especially for this section. To be clear, the events listed in Revelation 20 and following are still to come in the future.