What is the meaning of Agnus Dei?

The term Agnus Dei is Latin and translates to "Lamb of God" in English. Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus referred to as the Lamb of God both before His ministry began and again after His death and resurrection.

In John 1:29, John the Baptist alludes to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God, the one who will be slain: John "saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" This is exactly what Jesus did when He paid the price for our sins once and for all by sacrificing His own life that we might be saved (1 John 2:2). The Old Testament sacrificial system pre-figured Jesus' sacrifice. The Israelites were to sacrifice lambs and other animals for their sins, but Jesus was the perfect Lamb whose blood made atonement for sins once and for all. Hebrews 9:12 explains, "He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption."

After His death and resurrection, Jesus is worshipped as the Lamb who was slain. Revelation 5:9–14 describes this scene: "And they [the four living creatures and twenty-four elders] sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.' Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped." Throughout the book of Revelation, Jesus is consistently referred to as the Lamb.

Jesus is both the sacrificial Agnus Dei who was slain and the triumphant Agnus Dei who conquered sin and death. He is the Lamb who will return again, at the second coming, for His Bride, the Church (Revelation 19:6–9).

Within Christianity Agnus Dei can take on some technical and liturgical meanings. Agnus Dei is sometimes used to refer to a figure of a lamb with a halo and a cross or banner. This is used as a symbol of Christ in various artwork and stained glass. Agnus Dei is also the name of a prayer in Roman Catholic liturgy. The prayer is: "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace." Evangelical Christians know that Jesus, as the Lamb of God, has already had mercy on us and by His sacrifice has brought about peace (Ephesians 2:1–22). So those who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior might, instead, pray "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, thank you for your mercy. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, thank you for your peace."

Related Truth:

How is Jesus the Lamb of God?

What is the Passover Lamb? How is Jesus our Passover Lamb?

How is Jesus our mediator?

What does it mean that Jesus is prophet, priest, and king?

Who is Jesus Christ?

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