Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
The article this month is titled “Christ and Messiah.” In this article I show the clear evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. That evidence is obscured today, partially by theologians and scholars who are not interested in and rarely care to explain the biblical evidence. But the evidence is also obscured because of our own natural failings. We diminish our understanding if we do not correct this deficiency.
One reason the evidence that Jesus is the Messiah seems unclear is because we use and understand the phrase “Jesus Christ” as if “Christ” was the last name of Jesus. It is not. It is a title and a most important one. Certain terms lose their full significance by overuse. We become so familiar with those terms that we no longer think about the full meaning behind the terms when we read them or hear them. We are simply too familiar with and all but ignore the term “Christ” when we encounter it in our biblical studies.
The term “Christ” is one of those words whose meaning has been diminished due to unconscious use by Christians everywhere. In one way this familiarity through overuse is not surprising because “Christ” occurs often, some 530 times in the New Testament. “Christ” is often combined with “Jesus” in the New Testament. The phrase “Jesus Christ” is used 187 times, while the phrase “Christ Jesus” is used 58 times. And each of these phrases is used to convey a precise meaning. When we read the term “Christ” in our studies we largely overlook the significant teaching it holds. However, “Christ” is packed with meaning that should be carefully considered every time the biblical writers use the term — and they use it precisely.
“Christ” means “anointed.” It is important to note the various anointings throughout the Old Testament: Every king of Judah was anointed by divine command (see 1 Samuel 24:6, 10 for Saul, 2 Samuel 23:1 for David, and 1 Kings 1:39 for Solomon). Every high priest of Israel was anointed (Numbers 35:25). Levitical priests were anointed. The phrase “anointed priest” occurs in Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16, 6:22, and 16:32. Prophets were anointed (1 Kings 19:16; Isaiah 61:1; Psalm 105:15). A Gentile was anointed by Elijah to be king of Syria (1 Kings 19:15) while the Gentile Persian king Cyrus was anointed by God (Isaiah 45:1).
“Christ” also means “messiah” as is made plain in John 1:41, 4:25 (see the article). The word “messiah” itself also means “anointed.” “Christ” and “Messiah” are interchangeable and we should interchange them to bring out the true understanding and full meaning of “Christ.” For example, when describing conditions at the time before His Second Advent, Jesus’ taught the apostles some important concepts about Messiah:
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I [Jesus] am *Christ 1 [the Messiah]; and shall deceive many.”
Matthew 24:5 (Mark 13:6 & Luke 21:8)
“Then if any man shall say unto you, ‘Lo, here is *Christ [the Messiah], or there’; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs [pseudo-messiahs], and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Matthew 24:23–24 (Mark 13:21–22 & Luke 21:8)
These false Messiahs and false prophets (several of each) will “show great signs and wonders” that will be extremely convincing. At the same time “many” deceivers will mislead “many” by correctly presenting Jesus as Messiah but for evil purposes. As the time of the end grows nearer the deceivers, pseudo-Messiahs, and false prophets will present the proper biblical understanding of Christ and Messiah, but for false purposes. The Bible is clear about those who understood “Christ” to mean “Messiah.” The deception will have truth as a foundation and an emphasis that Jesus is the Messiah, with all its full meanings. From this basic true premise falsehoods and lies will follow.
Remember when Jesus met the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well (John 4:25–26, 29)? The conclusion of that matter was that the Samaritans who heard Jesus teach believed that He was the Messiah:
“And said unto the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ [the Messiah], the Saviour of the world.”
Devils knew exactly who Jesus was (see also Matthew 8:29):
“All they that had any sick with divers [various] diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, ‘You are *Christ [the Messiah] the Son of God.’ And he rebuking them suffered [permitted] them not to speak: for they knew that he was *Christ [the Messiah].”
Pilate called him Christ, Messiah, albeit in a mocking way:
“Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, ‘Whom will you that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ [Messiah]?’ … Pilate says unto them, ‘What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ [Messiah]?’ They all say unto him, ‘Let him be crucified.’”
Matthew 27:17, 22
In the above examples and in every usage of “Christ” the concept of Messiah should be thought of because “Christ” means “Messiah.” Christ as “anointed” means Messiah (which also means “anointed”). Read the article “Christ and Messiah” and you will dramatically increase your understanding of Jesus as Messiah.
All chapters of online books are now available for you to read, study, and search. Dr. Martin’s excellent book, Essentials of New Testament Doctrine is going through its first online presentation with one section added each week. As that proceeds, all earlier chapters will remain available. Remember to read Essentials from the beginning and not merely what you think is important. Tell your friends and acquaintances about these works. Encourage them to purchase the hardcopy books. Gift them a book or print out articles for them to read, consider, and discuss with you. Be prepared to answer questions.
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1 When I put an asterisk before “Christ” in quoted verses it designates that a definite article occurs in the Greek texts. The presence of a definite article is significant to the meaning. It designates “the Christ,” “the Messiah,” relative to other anointed people such as King David of Israel, and even priests in Jesus’ time.
David W. Sielaff
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