Truth, Understanding, Insight

Messiah Christ

12th March 2010, hej


1) The title of 'Christ'

Many people have heard of Jesus Christ. Many use 'Christ' as a surname. But it is not a surname, it is a title. If he had a surname it would have been Son of Joseph or ben-Yosef, or more commonly he was surnamed as Son of David or ben-David. He also surnamed himself many times as 'Son of Man' or ben-Adam.

Christ is a transliterated Greek word Χριστός Christos, from χρίω chriō  to rub with oil or consecrate to an office or religious service, or anoint;

Therefore Χριστός Christos means 'anointed'. The word 'Christ' is untranslated from Greek and if translated in English would be 'Anointed'.

In the ancient Greek culture there would be no reason to capitalise the word 'anointed' as it was not a title given to Greek and Roman rulers or priests. However, all, except one, of the authors of the New Testament were Jews. For a Jewish person the word 'anointed' was used as a title, as all High Priests and Kings were ritually anointed with oil, and could not take office until anointed.

The King and the High Priest were in Hebrew mâshach, to become mâshı̂yach. This transliterated into English is ‘Messiah’. Jews may use Moshiach or Mashiach.


Hebrew Mâshı̂yach =English Messiah = ‘Anointed’= English Christ = Greek Christos

This is actually explained in the Bible itself

He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, We have found the Messiah (Gk:Messias) (which is, being translated, the Christ). (John 1:41)

English has three words that mean exactly the same thing, with 2 borrowed from other languages. However, only the term ‘Anointed’ is easily understood in English by those who have not been educated in Hebrew and Greek.

The title of 'Messiah'

The title of Messiah or Ma ̂shı̂ yach (Moshiach or Mashiach) applied first to the ancient Israelites’ High Priest,

And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons' after him, to be anointed in them and consecrated in them. (Exodus 29:29)

But the term Mâshı̂yach became very important after a prophecy of a king, made approximately 1100BCE who was called Mâshı̂yach,

The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of Mâshı̂yach (his anointed)." (1Samuel 2:10) and
And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before Mâshı̂yach (mine anointed) for ever. (1Samuel 2:35)

Israel’s first king, Saul, was called Mâshı̂yach by David,

He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD's Mâshı̂yach anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD's Mâshı̂yach anointed." (1Samuel 24:6)

From this time the title Mâshı̂yach only applied to kings of Israel, until the nation’s split approx. 975BCE into 2 kingdoms, then it only applied to the kings of Judah. After the last king is deposed by the Babylonians (586BCE), Habakkuk the prophet wrote of a new future king,

You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Mâshı̂yach (Your Anointed). You struck the head from the house of the wicked, to bare the foundation to the neck. Selah. (Habakkuk 3:13)

Later (approx. 530BCE) Daniel, a Hebrew prophet, who became a great ruler in Babylon, wrote a prophecy of when the future king would come (but said he would be 'cut off' or die).

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.(Daniel 9:25-26)

This is the only place in an English Bible that Mâ shı̂yach is translated Messiah, though it appears in 38 places, some of which are prophecies valued by the Israelites, so the importance of the term to Jews is somewhat lost in English.

Christ is a king

In the New Testament the theme of the prophesied king is very strong. John calls Jesus ‘Messiah’ twice, but he is also given the hereditary name of the kings of Israel, the ‘son of David’ 16 times, as he was through his mother in the line of the royal family. In addition Jesus spoke often of his “kingdom” and Jesus himself claims to be a king,

Pilate then said to him, ‘Are you a king then?’
Jesus answered, ‘You say it that I am a king. To this end I was born..’ (John 18:37)

Jesus followers likened him to a ‘lamb’ as traditionally Israelites sacrificed a lamb for sin and looked for him to one day, in the future, be the king of the whole world.

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

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