If you have read any of my blogs, much of my writing centers around words. I have felt that there has been much lost in either translation or in the understanding of words and their true meaning. I have talked about having the right perspective of God; reading within context; and understanding who the author is speaking to, when the author is speaking and understand the historical background at the time of the writing. I have written about 1 John 1:5-10 here: Enter Into His Rest. These were some of the harder verses for me because at first it would throw me back into the law. I would literally have fear creep up in me and I would think….oh no….this is all wrong. But it isn’t and much like the Mercy Me lyrics go, “If this is wrong I don’t wanna be right”, (Wishful Thinking), which means this is such an amazing place to live from, Grace, and in that you don’t want to go back to the way you lived before, law.
This time I want to head into 1 John 2:1 and one particular word that I found there as I was doing a word study on Helper. It is interesting because this is the ONLY time in the New Testament (NT) scripture you will find this word describing Jesus. The other times this word is used in scripture is when Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit. This is when my little antenna went off (discernment along with my God given ability to not let things just….go). I heard a whisper….”Go look at the scripture in the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) version”. Here it is:
My children, I am writing you these things so that you won’t sin. But if anyone does sin, we have Yeshua the Messiah, the Tzaddik, who pleads our cause with the Father.
In all other versions the word TZADDIK is translated as Helper or parakletos. Like I said above, parakletos is only used five times in the NT. Four times Jesus is speaking to His disciples talking about how He will need to leave to send the Helper, He will not leave us alone and how the Helper will be with us forever. The fifth and last time this word is used was by John in his first letter to combat Gnosticism (which I have written about here; A Pirate’s Telescope, The Realization, and Spirit of ???. I became curious as to why the CJB version had the Hebrew word Tzaddik in this text. It meant there was a Hebrew understanding that I needed to understand to fully appreciate this verse. The Greek word parkletos means in part “pleads our cause” but why did the CJB version include the word Tzaddik? I wanted to understand the Hebrew history because Jesus was a Hebrew on earth. Now I want to make a couple of things clear. First, John is stating he is writing these things so you won’t miss the mark (he is talking about the prior verses in Chapter 1 and there John speaks of remaining united to Christ which means “faith-trust belief” if you have more questions you can read the ‘Enter Into His Rest’–link above). Second, John said, if anyone does sin we have Jesus the Messiah who pleads our cause with the Father. I know many us have been taught two differing things in church. One, that Jesus washed us clean with His blood and so the Father looks through His Son at us. The other is that this ability for Father God to look at us through His Son is determined by our continuation of repentance. Saying sorry for every wrong we may think, act or say; and what if we miss something…oh no we are in trouble. If I do miss something this means Jesus will not be able to stand between me and Father God and then the proverbial poop hits the fan: I am not in favor, I am not forgiven so I won’t go to heaven, I am going to have bad things happen to me, God isn’t for me anymore He is against me. This was a reality for me and a real place of fear for me. I believe others also live in this place. This is wrong teaching, wrong understanding and something that has been going on historically in the church for hundreds of years. Here is the correct view according to scripture throughout the NT. Jesus does stand between you and the Father. It is His blood on the Cross that does that. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and He is our advocate. Let’s look at that word Advocate. According to biblehub.com it means: “from close-beside” and 2564/kaléō, “make a call”) – properly, a legal advocate who makes the right judgment-call because close enough to the situation. 3875/paráklētos (“advocate, advisor-helper”) is the regular term in NT times of an attorney (lawyer) – i.e. someone giving evidence that stands up in court. What you need to understand is that Jesus’ blood or what He did on the Cross does not leave you when you miss the mark (sin-in word, thought or deed). It is there covering you when you believe Who Jesus is and remains there as you believe Who Jesus is. It is based on FAITH not our ability to do things right or our ability to say you are sorry for every misdeed, wrong thought, or bad word. Remember John talks at the end of Chapter 1 that we are to remain united with Christ. It is that simple. Jesus first loved us and our belief seals us with Him for all time. It is finished and complete. In this letter John isn’t trying to describe what we have to do to gain God’s favor and love, He is describing Who Jesus is and what He has done for us. This is why I believe the CJB uses the word Tzaddik here. It is because Hebrews would know exactly who John would be talking about.
So, what does the Hebrew word Tzaddik mean? Here is the definition found in Merriam-Webster dictionary: a righteous and saintly person by Jewish religious standards. Tzaddik is formed from the masculine verb; tzeddik which means what is right, just, righteous, righting wrongs, and setting things in balance. Tzaddik (noun) is a person that encompasses these descriptions. For Hebrews they see this as a spiritual “superman”. According to the Hasidic Tanya, a person can not attain this ‘level’ but it is granted from on High. The level of Tzaddik is considered someone who never sins in thought, speech or action. The descriptions of a Tzaddik is fully human yet completely righteous. The Tzaddik is Jesus. Jesus is the superhero we all need. He is the only one fully human and yet fully Divine; who could never sin in thought, speech or action. This describes the Passover Lamb perfectly. It describes Who Jesus is and why He was the only one that could be the propitiation (gain or regain the favor or goodwill) for the whole world for all time with God the Father. We can not provide this for ourselves. All we have to do is look at the history of the Israelites. Jesus is the One and Only Tzaddik Who when seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven is the very promise and reminder to our Father in Heaven of what He has already done for us. He reminds us and He is the constant reminder to God our Father that It is finished. This is how Jesus pleads our cause. It is not Him up there asking God to forgive, His very presence says you are already forgiven. Live from that starting point and it will change your life.
Side note: Because people ask me: What do you do when you have sinned (otherwise known correctly as transgressed, or missed the mark)??????? Here is my answer from Conviction vs. Condemnation: “Jesus took my condemnation, cleansed me of my sin, yes I am sin free…do I still transgress..yes..but Jesus died for all my sin…so I walk first knowing who I am in Christ and when condemnation rises, because I transgressed, I proclaim who I am in Christ because my sin free (righteousness) does not come from me but from my Savior. He does not condemn me so He says go and sin no more. And He will say that each time. He loves me and loves this world. It is time for the world to see the real Jesus through His Holy Spirit which dwells in His people, His Beloved.