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What Is the Meaning of AD?

AD stands for the Latin phrase anno domini, which means in the year of our Lord. BC and AD separate the old from the new. BC was before Christ since, in the birth of the Lord, we have in the year of the Lord.

What Is the Meaning of AD?

What does A.D. mean?

A.D. stands for the Latin phrase "Anno Domini" meaning "in the year of our Lord (Jesus Christ)."

Many people think that BC stands for before Christ while AD stands for “after death,” but this is only partly true. AD stands for the Latin phrase anno domini, which means in the year of our Lord and B.C. stands for "Before Christ." The BC and AD dating system are not found in Scripture and wasn’t fully developed and accepted until several centuries after the death of Jesus. 

The Anno Domini dating system was formulated in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus to identify the years in his Easter table. His method was to substitute the Diocletian era that had been used in an old Easter table, as he did not wish to maintain the remembrance of a tyrant who persecuted Christians.

This dating method was created in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor but was not generally used until the 9th century.

BC/AD Divide World History 

The BC/AD dating system is utilized to make the death of Jesus the dividing line of world history. When this particular system was developed, it made a mistake in pinpointing the year of the birth of Jesus. Scholars later discovered that Jesus was born around 6-4 BC, not AD 1. Some people may think that this particular point casts into question the death of Jesus, but it isn’t critical, nor does it defeat what Jesus did. 

Jesus Is the Turning Point of World History

The birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ are the turning points of world history. BC and AD separate the old from the new. BC was before Christ since, in the birth of the Lord, we have in the year of the Lord. Viewing our times as the year of the Lord is appropriate, as Philippians 2:10 highlights. 

There has been a relatively recent push to replace this dating system across all sectors with BCE. and CE, which means before the common era and common era. The change, though, is one of semantics because they mean the same. The advocates of the switch, from the old dating system to the new one, argues that the more modern historical designations avoid religion. These people believe that the older classifications offend cultures that reject the Lordship of Jesus. Even so, what distinguishes both designations are still the life and times of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus and the Atonement

The death of Jesus divides history. Let’s consider now the Incarnation of Jesus, which helps us understand the significance of what AD means.

The atonement is the reason God came as a man. Consider these verses:

  • Hebrews 10:4-7, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”
  • Hebrews 10:10, “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
  • Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus spoke of His coming suffering, thus demonstrating His foreknowledge of the events in the following ways:

  • Mark 8:31, “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
  • Mark 9:31, “For he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

The Crucifixion and the Mission of 

Jesus linked the success of his mission to the crucifixion:

  • John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

In several places in John’s Gospel, the crucifixion is spoken of like that “vital hour” for which Christ came (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1).

The Death of Jesus and the Old Testament

The death of Jesus is also a significant theme throughout the Old Testament. Consider the following ways:

  • The meaning of the sacrifices (the meaning at the heart of the law).
  • The prophecies, which focused increasingly on the promise of a Coming Redeemer (Isaiah 53).
  • In Galatians, the Apostle Paul teaches that even Abraham, who lived before both the law and prophets, was saved by faith in the Lord [Jesus] (Galatians 3:8, 16).
  • Jesus told the downcast disciples on the Emmaus Road that the Old Testament foretold His death and resurrection (Luke 24:25-27).

The Reason for Christ's Incarnation

In light of these texts and many others, the atonement of Christ is the primary reason for the Incarnation. The Incarnation explains Jesus as fully God and fully man as the focal point of the world and biblical history.

The Incarnation shows the depths to which God is interested, not disinterested in humanity. Christ came in the manger under a death sentence. He died under the penalty of death in the place of sinners. The Incarnation also shows that Jesus alone is worthy of the worship of His creation since He is the Creator and redeemer of sinners.

AD signifies a life where Christ died and rose again for the forgiveness of our sins so that we may spend eternity with Him through salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.  

Photo Credit: Mosaic of Jesus Christ found in the old church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/nodostudio