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)

For more The Son of God"

2) The real Messiah

The following lists every occurence of the word Messiah in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament (also called in Hebrew the Tanakh). It won't take long to read as there are only 38 occurences.

1. If the priest the mashiyach shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin-offering. (Leviticus 4:3)

2. And the priest the mashiyach shall take of the blood of the bullock, and bring it to the tent of meeting. (Lev. 4:5)

3. And the priest the mashiyach shall bring of the blood of the bullock to the tent of meeting. (Lev. 4:16)

4. (6:15) And the priest the mashiyach that shall be in his stead from among his sons shall offer it, it is a due for ever; it shall be wholly made to smoke unto the LORD. (Lev. 6:22)

All refer to the priest who made the sacrifices made to God. The last refers to an everlasting priesthood, from among the sons, who, generation, after generation, are 'the messiah'. But now there is no Jewish Temple and the lineage is lost.

5. They that strive with the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them will He thunder in heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength unto His king, and exalt the horn of His mashiyach. (1Samuel 2:10)

This is what Hannah prayed at the temple before Eli the High Priest (or the mashiyach) on being given Samuel who she gave to serve as a priest before God (note: there was no king but God then in Israel, so Hannah was making a prophecy). Then Eli, the High Priest, is told by God,

6. And I will raise Me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in My heart and in My mind; and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before Mine mashiyach for ever. (1Samuel 2:35)

This was one like Samuel. Samuel was of the tribe of Ephraim and could not be a priest as he was not of the tribe decreed which was Levi!

Samuel, who even though not of the priestly family, acted all his life as a faithful priest as prophesied. He is next to speak of messiah.

7.Here I am; witness against me before the LORD, and before His mashiyach: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? or whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I taken a ransom to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.' (1Samuel 12:3)

8. And he said unto them: 'The LORD is witness against you, and His mashiyach is witness this day, that ye have not found aught in my hand.' And they said: 'He is witness.' (1Samuel 12:5)

The messiah Samuel was speaking of was the then new King Saul, who in front of the nation had been anointed by Samuel. The Israelites didn't want Samuel the 'faithful priest' they didn't want the high priest as a ruler, they wanted a king like the nations. But Saul failed. Samuel was asked to anoint another king.

9. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he beheld Eliab, and said: 'Surely the LORD'S anointed (mashiyach) is before Him.' (1Samuel 16:6)

But Samuel was wrong; it was the despised youngest, David, who was to be anointed  "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren; and the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. (1Samuel 16:13). David might have been anointed, but so too was the failed Saul. 

10. (24:7) And he (David) said unto his men: 'The LORD forbid it me, that I should do this thing unto my lord, the LORD'S anointed (mashiyach), to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD'S mashiyach.' (1Samuel 24:6)

11. (24:11) Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to-day into my hand in the cave; and some bade me kill thee; but mine eye spared thee; and I said: I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD'S mashiyach. (1Samuel 24:10)

12. And David said to Abishai: 'Destroy him not; for who can put forth his hand against the LORD'S mashiyach, and be guiltless?' (1Samuel 26:9)

13.The LORD forbid it me, that I should put forth my hand against the LORD'S mashiyach; but now take, I pray thee, the spear that is at his head, and the cruse of water and let us go.' (1Samuel 26:11)

14. This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD lives, ye deserve to die, because ye have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD'S mashiyach. And now, see, where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his head.'
(1Samuel 26:16)

15. And the LORD will render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness; forasmuch as the LORD delivered thee into my hand to-day, and I would not put forth my hand against the LORD'S mashiyach. (1Samuel 26:23)

16. And David said unto him: 'How were you not afraid to put forth your hand to destroy the LORD'S mashiyach?' (2Samuel 1:14)

17. And David called one of the young men, and said: 'Go near, and fall upon him.' And he smote him that he died. And David said unto him: 'Thy blood be upon thy head; for your mouth hath testified against you, saying: I have slain the LORD'S mashiyach.' (2Samuel 1:15-16)

18. Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew nor rain upon you, neither fields of choice fruits; for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, not anointed (mashiyach) with oil. (2Samuel 1:21)

Exactly the same word is used for what is done to the shield and the king, the word 'messiah' which means 'anointed'. With oil. David was the next messiah. Abishai calls him that.

19. (19:22) But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said: 'Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD'S mashiyach?' (2Samuel 19:21)

20. A tower of salvation is He to His king; and shows mercy to His mashiyach, to David and to his seed, for evermore. (2Samuel 22:51)

21. Now these are the last words of David: The saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the mashiyach of the God of Jacob, and the sweet singer of Israel: (2Samuel 23:1)

At the coming of the ark to Jerusalem, anointed King David makes a song of praise:

22. The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; And He established it unto Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant; Saying: 'Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.' When ye were but a few men in number, yea, very few, and sojourners in it, And when they went about from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people, He suffered no man to do them wrong, yea, for their sake He reproved kings: 'Touch not Mine anointed (mashiyachy) ones, and do My prophets no harm.' (1Chronicles 16:16-22)

Solomon at the dedication of the temple prays,

23. Now therefore arise, O LORD God, into Thy resting-place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength; let Thy priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in good. O LORD God, turn not away the face of Thine mashiyach ; remember the good deeds of David Thy servant.' (2Ch 6:41-42)

24. Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His mashiyach: 'Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.' He that sits in heaven laughs, the Lord has them in derision. Then will He speak unto them in His wrath, and affright them in His sore displeasure: 'Truly it is I that have established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain.' I will tell of the decree: the LORD said unto me: 'You are My son, this day have I begotten thee. (Psalm 2:1-7)

25. (18:51) Great salvation gives He to His king; and shows mercy to His mashiyach, to David and to his seed, for evermore. (Psalm 18:50)

26. (20:7) Now know I that the LORD saves His mashiyach; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the mighty acts of His saving right hand. (20:8) Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:6-7)

27. The LORD is a strength unto them; and He is a stronghold of salvation to His mashiyach. Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; and tend them, and carry them for ever. (Psalm 28:8-9)

28. (84:6) Happy is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the highways. (84:7) Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; yea, the early rain clotheth it with blessings. (84:8) They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion. (84:9) O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah (84:10) Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine mashiyach (84:11) For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand; I had rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:5-10)

29.(89:36) Once have I sworn by My holiness: Surely I will not be false unto David; (89:37) His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before Me. (89:38) It shall be established for ever as the moon; and be stedfast as the witness in sky.' Selah (89:39) But Thou hast cast off and rejected, Thou hast been wroth with Thine mashiyach. (89:40) Thou hast abhorred the covenant of Thy servant; Thou hast profaned his crown even to the ground. (89:41) Thou hast broken down all his fences; Thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. (Psalm 89:35-40)

30. (89:50) Where are Thy former mercies, O Lord, which Thou didst swear unto David in Thy faithfulness? (89:51) Remember, Lord, the taunt of Thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the taunt of so many peoples; (89:52) Wherewith Thine enemies have taunted, O LORD, wherewith they have taunted the footsteps of Thine mashiyach. (Psalm 89:49-51)

31. The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac; And He established it unto Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant; Saying: 'Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.' When they were but a few men in number. Yea, very few, and sojourners in it, And when they went about from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, He suffered no man to do them wrong, yea, for their sake He reproved kings: 'Touch not Mine mashiyach ones, and do My prophets no harm.' (Psalm 105:9-15)  see above (22) 2 Chron 16

32. Arise, O LORD, unto Thy resting-place; Thou, and the ark of Thy strength. Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy saints shout for joy. For Thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of Thine mashiyach The LORD swore unto David in truth; He will not turn back from it: 'Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children keep My covenant and My testimony that I shall teach them, their children also for ever shall sit upon thy throne.' For the LORD hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation: 'This is My resting-place for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will give her needy bread in plenty. Her priests also will I clothe with salvation; and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. (Psalm 132:8-16)

33. There will I make a horn to shoot up unto David, there have I ordered a lamp for Mine mashiyach. His enemies will I clothe with shame; but upon himself shall his crown shine.' (Psalm 132:17-18)

The following speaks of a non-Jewish messiah.... who never knew the Mighty One of Israel, but who ordered that His temple be re-built.

34. Thus saith the LORD to His mashiyach, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him, and to loose the loins of kings; to open the doors before him, and that the gates may not be shut: I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the doors of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I am the LORD, who call thee by thy name, even the God of Israel. For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel Mine elect, I have called thee by thy name, I have surnamed thee, though you have not known Me. (Isaiah 45:1-4)

35. The anger of the LORD has divided them; He will no more regard them; they respected not the persons of the priests, they were not gracious unto the elders. As for us, our eyes do yet fail for our vain help; in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save. They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our broad places; our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come. Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the heaven; they chased us upon the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness. The breath of our nostrils, the mashiyach of the LORD, was taken in their pits; of whom we said: 'Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.' (Lamentations 4:16-20)

36. Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem unto anointed (mashiyach), a prince, shall be seven weeks; and for threescore and two weeks, it shall be built again, with broad place and moat, but in troublous times. (Daniel 9:25)

37. And after the threescore and two weeks shall an anointed (mashiyach) be cut off, and be no more; and the people of a prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; but his end shall be with a flood; and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26)

38. Is it, O LORD, that against the rivers, is it that Your anger is kindled against the rivers, or Thy wrath against the sea? that You do ride upon Your horses, upon Your chariots of victory? ... You march through the earth in indignation, You thresh the nations in anger. You are come forth for the deliverance of Thy people, for the deliverance of Thine mashiyach; You wound the head out of the house of the wicked, uncovering the foundation even unto the neck. Selah (Habakkuk 3:8-13)

And that is all there is. All else must be built on this. Each of the 38 instances have a context, and there is more in the context, but this is the core.

The word mashiyach is from mashach 'to rub with oil' and is the term used for a person such as Aaron after they are appointed by God 'to be anointed' mishchah (Exodus 29:29).

Messiah means firstly the Jewish priests, then also the kings, and then the descendant of David. But does it say Messiah is a saviour? What does it say? 'The Messiah was taken in their pits", so laments Jeremiah. The Messiah of the lamentation is the king, appointed from the time of Samuel (approx 1000BCE), but lost from the time of Jeremiah and Nebuchadnezzar(586 BCE). Then Messiah was Cyrus, the Persian king (539 BCE), but he was not the king the Jewish people desired. Then after Cyrus, Jerusalem is rebuilt and then, from the rebuilding they were to count 7 Shmita years (weeks) and then 62 Shmita years and then Messiah is 'cut off', and then the Sanctuary (Temple) would be destroyed (for more see the link below). But last of all, we learn from the Psalms and from Habakkuk there is deliverance and no less than God fights on earth for, firstly his people and their king, the Messiah a descendant of David. Nowhere is it said Messiah means a saviour, it is clear God is the saviour.

I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:11)

The only other occurrences of the word Messiah in the Bible occur in the book of John, making 40 in total.

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Yeshua was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). (John 1:40-41)
The woman said unto him, "I know that Messiah comes, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things." Yeshua says unto her, "I that speak unto you am he." (John 4:25-26)

Whereas Messiah means Christ, it is rather pointless to determine a right understanding of Christ by listing the occurrences of Christ, as it occurs 581 times in the New Testament. It is not hard to read the whole New Testament. In the New Testament after the resurrection of Christ, then, through him, there is salvation. But Messiah does not mean 'saviour', rather it refers to a Jewish priest or king.

It has been so designed that the definition of Messiah is contained in just 38 occurrences, in the Old Testament which is the Jewish Tanakh, so we can't fail to understand what is meant by Messiah.

For more on times to the Messiah see Daniel 9: Times to Messiah

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