Behold the Lamb, Slain From The Foundation

Featuring Toby Baxley Posted on February 3, 2014

I received a question recently regarding "Behold the Lamb".

"Can anyone explain the first verse of 'Behold the Lamb' to me? How was He slain from the start?"

I'll try to answer this as thoroughly and succinctly as I can. The basis of "slain from the foundation of the world" comes from Revelation 13 verse 8. 

"All who dwell on the earth will worship [the beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (NKJV)

From my research, this is one possible interpretation of the Greek text. The other is this:

"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain." (NASB)

That leaves us with a question: Which one is correct?

The answer is: "Both translations are correct."

Revelation 17:8 suggests that the names of those who are saved are written in the Lamb's Book of Life from before the foundation of the world.

However, 1 Peter 1:20 suggests that the Lamb was foreordained to be slain from before the foundation of the world and was manifest 2000 years ago.

Obviously, for lyrical reasons, I chose the translation that suggests that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Here are three implications of that interpretation:

  1. God's plan to send His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins was not Plan B. The death of the Lamb was foreordained from before creation.
  2. Because the Lamb was slain from before creation, its sufficiency spans time. That is how the Old Testament saints were saved. They were washed in Christ's blood the same as you and me. That is how the Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Whose righteousness? Christ's righteousness, imputed to him through His death, burial and resurrection that would not occur on earth until thousands of years later. 
  3. The promises of God are as good as done. Even when we do not yet see evidence of God's promises being fulfilled, we can trust that they are already fulfilled in Christ. Consider in Luke 1 when Zechariah learns that he and his wife are to have a son who will be the forerunner to the Messiah. Once John the Baptist is born, Zechariah prophesies, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David..." The Messiah had not even been born yet and Zechariah speaks of the promised salvation in the past tense.

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