By Michael I. Shukrani
In the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus bears various titles, which reveals His identity and therefore His capacities. One of the best ways to deeply apprehend the identity of Jesus is to carry out a careful study on the titles ascribed to Him in the Bible.
I would like, through this publication, to take a more attentive look at one of the titles ascribed to Jesus: the Testator. Hebrews 9.16-18 reads, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: Otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.”
To gain significant insight on this subject, I deem it necessary to take into deep consideration two important aspects, namely the implications of the definite article “the” and the meaning of the word “testator”.
Definite Article “the”
Grammar teaches that the definite article “the” bears special meanings in the English language. One of the well-known uses of the definite article is to express uniqueness. In this regard, “the” means “the unique” or “the only”. For instance, we say “the sun” because there is only one sun. And it is our habit to say “the President of the USA” because he is unique on the post.
Similarly, the fact that the definite article “the” is used before the title “testator” in the passage quoted above must bring to the understanding that there is only one testator. In other words, the unique Testator we must recognize is Jesus. This means anyone else who ventures to hold this title at the same level as Jesus must simply called a liar or a pretender.
Definitely, the article “the” indicates that Jesus is the unique Testator we must recognize.
Meaning of the word “Testator”
The Chambers Concise Dictionary provides with a simple and clear definition for the word “Testator”: “Someone who leaves a will at death.” In other words, a testator is the one who writes some instructions which come into force from their death onward.
Applying this truth to the Bible, the instructions (the will) left at death correspond to the commandments Jesus – the Testator – has given to His disciples. Those instructions are, in effect, immutable conditions to fill for one to inherit Eternal Life (John 8.51).
For Jesus’ commandments to come into force, He, as the Testator, had to die first. Indeed, His death on the cross was an great act which authorized the New Testament to come into force.
About ten days before the Day of Pentecost, the Testator instructed the interpreters of His will – the Apostles – to tarry a little while in Jerusalem until they received the empowering “force” to proclaim the clauses of the testament (Acts 1.8).
On the Day of Pentecost, as Apostle Peter preached a powerful sermon, the hearers were so touched they enquired what the Testator’s will was. In response, Peter summed up the Testator’s into three sections: (1) Repentance (2) Water Baptism in Jesus’ Name (3) The gift of the Holy Ghost. Unquestionably, these are the bottom lines of Testator’s will, without which it is useless to hope salvation.
Now a pertinent question arises: If Jesus is the Testator for the New Covenant, is there another Testator for the Old Covenant?
To answer this relevant question, it is appropriate to resort to the books of Hebrews. On the one hand, Hebrews 10.4 clearly states that the blood of animals cannot expiate sin. On the other hand, Hebrews 10.1 makes it plain that the ceremonial events under the law were not the very image of things, but were shadows of good things to come. This means even the oxen that was killed to validate the Old Testament (Exodus 24.5-8) was not the very image of things, but a foreshadow of the true image, which undoubtedly had to be manifest later on.
In Matthew 5.17 Jesus declared that He came to fulfill the Law. This means Jesus was actually the true image of the oxen which was slaughtered so that the Old Testament could, apparently, come into force. So the death of the Testator, Jesus Christ, foreshadowed by the oxen’s death, was indispensable for the Old Testament to come into force.
Standing on what has been said above, it becomes easy to understand that through His death at Calvary, Jesus Christ, as the only Testator, not only confirmed the Old testament, but also inaugurated the New Testament. That is why he really is worthy to be called THE Testator.
Undoubtedly, if Jesus Christ is the Testator of both the Old testament and the New Testament, it follow that the Old Testament precepts count as foreshadows of Jesus’ will. That is why the Testator, dressed in a “flesh-Jacket”, had to come so as to teach, explain, defend and live His Testament, before accepting death to bring it into force.
Thus, the title “The Testator, applied to Jesus, reveals His true identity: the only true God who is the Author of the Old and the New Covenant. Reason we cannot but ascribe Him all the Honor, all the Glory, all the Worship, forevermore.