Christ and Messiah
by David Sielaff, 2005
Read the accompanying Newsletter for October 2005
I was recently asked the question: how did the apostles know that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ? How do we know that Jesus is our Savior and Messiah? What evidence did the apostles use to prove to themselves and others that Jesus was the Messiah? All of us who accept the New Testament to be a true record of events should be clear on what that evidence was for the apostles. This article will explain what that evidence is for us who must accept scriptural accounts on faith.
The word “Christ” simply means “anointed.” Its usage in the Greek Scriptures indicates that the person was anointed by God to fulfill an office or a particular purpose. Anyone who was anointed for a specific purpose was a form of a christos or christ (small “c”) in the biblical sense. In Hebrew the term would be mashiach or “messiah.” In the Old Testament a variety of anointings took place. Each person anointed was a mashiach. The Greek of the New Testament uses the word messias twice, a transliteration of mashiach. The term “Christ” (Christos in Greek) is a translation of the Hebrew word mashiach, both of which mean “anointed.” 1 The word Christ means Messiah and the words can be used interchangeably. This is stated specifically in the Gospel of John where he makes editorial comments for the reader:
“He first finds his own brother Simon, and says unto him, ‘We have found the Messias,’ which is, being interpreted, the Christ [Messiah]. And he brought him to Jesus.”
The Samaritan woman who spoke with Jesus by Jacob’s Well understood the same concept:
“The woman says unto him, ‘I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ [Messiah]: when he is come, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus says unto her, ‘I that speak unto you am he.’”
Note also that Jesus admitted directly to her that He was the “Messias” as she said. Later she ran to the men and said “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ [the Messiah]?” (John 4:29). In both John 1:41 and 4:25 messias is a Greek transliteration of mashiach (which in turn is translated into English). It is perfectly proper, therefore, to substitute the term “Messiah” every time “Christ” occurs in the New Testament with reference to Jesus as Messiah. This was the understanding of the people of Jesus’ time, and it was the understanding and intent of the biblical writers.
This is what I will show you for the rest of this article. The meaning of many verses with the word “Christ” will be revitalized in your mind. It will seem as if you are reading these verses for the first time. No matter whether the books and epistles were written originally in Hebrew or Greek, the full meaning and idea of “Messiah,” and Jesus’ fulfillment of His role as “the Messiah,” is clearly expressed by the term “Christ.”
I am not suggesting you write in “Messiah” every time “Christ” occurs in the New Testament (although you might wish to do so). However, it would be wise for you to think “Messiah” every time you see the word “Christ” in any Bible. You should be particularly aware of thinking “Messiah” when the audience of the biblical writer was Jewish and not Gentile, in New Testament books such as Matthew, Mark, John, the Catholic Epistles, Hebrews, and Revelation. 2
In fact it would be perfectly proper to understand the phrase “Jesus Christ” as “Jesus the Messiah” or “Jesus the Anointed” every time it occurs. And, when you consider that the personal name “Jesus” itself is Greek for Joshua, and Joshua means ”YHWH saves,” you have a powerful statement of fact just in the phrase “Jesus Christ.” It means literally “YHWH saves [through] the Anointed [One].” This fact is certainly true. The converse “Christ Jesus” can be understood as “the Anointed of YHWH saves.” These are simply what the terms and phrases mean. God accomplished this work of saving mankind through His anointed one, Jesus Christ, who performed it through His birth, life, crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
In the following pages I shall cite many verses that use the word “Christ” and I will insert the word “Messiah” next to it to give a full understanding of the verse. You will often see: “*Christ,” with an asterisk before it, when the definite article is not translated by the King James Version as it should be. This indicates that in the Greek text a definite article occurs. The definite article in Greek most often is used in a similar fashion as in English. 3 By this we gain additional insight into the importance of Jesus being the Messiah.
If you would do a survey of all occurrences of “Christ” and insert “Messiah,” you would gain a complete education as to what the New Testament writers understood the concept of Messiah to be as they were taught by Jesus before and particularly after His resurrection. It is also informative, how the Jewish people, the Jewish religious leaders, the Samaritans, the Romans, the devils, John the Baptist, Martha (sister of Lazarus), and the apostles expected the Messiah to be. Remember that the apostles held many of the same views as the Jewish people and leaders until after the resurrection.
Many people wondered if John the Baptist was the Messiah. The priests and Levites asked him:
“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ [the Messiah].”
Luke explains what John said when the people asked him directly whether he was the Messiah:
“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ [the Messiah], or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I comes, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost [Spirit] and with fire.”
Let me give a few examples where people wondered whether Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ. During His ministry Jesus did not want the people to be told who He was — yet.
“Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ [the Messiah].”
The people spoke among themselves about Messiah just after Jesus taught in the Temple:
“Then said some of them of Jerusalem, ‘Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaks boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ [Messiah]? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ [Messiah] comes, no man knows whence he is. ...
And many of the people believed on him, and said, When *Christ [the Messiah] comes, will he do more miracles than these which this man has done? …
Others said, ‘This is the Christ [the Messiah].’ But some said, ‘Shall *Christ [the Messiah] come out of Galilee? Has not the scripture said, That *Christ [the Messiah] comes of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?’”
John 7:25–27, 31, 41–42
Later Jesus responded to a direct question of the people in Jerusalem during the feast of the dedication:
“Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, ‘How long do you make us to doubt? If you be the Christ [the Messiah], tell us plainly.’
Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me [as Messiah]. But you believe not, because you are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.’”
Jesus did indeed make it clear to them the He was the Messiah. He did this by the works, the signs and miracles, that He performed. After Jesus resurrected Lazarus, Jesus was teaching about the impending death of the Son of Man and was questioned by Jews and some Gentiles (Greeks). A voice from heaven spoke and Jesus spoke about being “lifted up” and said:
“‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ This he said, signifying what death he [Jesus] should die. The people answered him, ‘We have heard out of the law that *Christ [the Messiah] abides for ever [for the age]: and how say you, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?’
[after replying to them] These things spoke Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
John 12:32–34, 36–37
The people identified the Messiah with the Son of Man. Jesus did not disagree with them. Neither did He encourage them. Again, however, whenever they began to associate Him directly with the Messiah, He withdrew because it was not yet time for that to be proclaimed. That time came after the resurrection.
After feeding the 5,000 (according to Luke’s chronology) and before the transfiguration, Jesus asked His disciples who the people thought He was. I will cite the passage from Matthew, but it can also be found in Mark 8:27–31 and Luke 9:18–22.
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, ‘Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?’ And they said, ‘Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.’
He says unto them, ‘But whom say you that I am?’ And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the living God.’
And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven.’ ... Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ [the Messiah].
From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Matthew 16:13–17, 20–21
The apostles knew from that time that Jesus was the Christ, even though they could not yet prove it or fully believe it. They did not understand that the Messiah needed to suffer, die, and be raised. That proof of Jesus’ teachings about those events came after the resurrection.
The leaders of the Jews knew somewhat about the Messiah from the Scriptures, but they were unclear about His birth and many other things:
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’ When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where *Christ [the Messiah] should be born.”
All Jerusalem was troubled about the report of the star of the King, not just Herod. Herod himself correctly identified the “King of the Jews” as the Messiah. The Pharisees also had some basic understanding about the Messiah:
“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, ‘What think you of *Christ [the Messiah]? whose son is he?’ They say unto him, ‘The Son of David.’”
The entire discussion from Matthew 22:41 to 23:10 deals with information about the Messiah and how He supersedes the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes also knew the Messiah was to be the Son of David.
“And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that *Christ [the Messiah] is the Son of David? [then referencing the Messianic Psalm 110:] For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.’ David therefore himself calls him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.”
“And he said unto them [to the Sadducees and scribes], ‘How say they that *Christ [the Messiah] is David's son?’”
At His trial Jesus was asked by the high priest if He was the Messiah. Note in the various Gospel accounts how it is presented, each with different features and emphasis. Note also how Messiah is identified both as the Son of Man (John 12:34) and as Son of God (Psalm 110):
“But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, ‘I adjure [solemnly command] you by the living God, that you tell us whether you be the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of God.
Jesus said unto him, ‘You have said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall you see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Matthew 26:63–64 (Mark 14:61)
“But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Are you the *Christ [the Messiah], the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and said, What need we any further witnesses?”
“And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Are you the Christ [the Messiah]? tell us.’
And he said unto them, If I tell you, you will not believe: And if I also ask you [if I am Messiah], you will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter [referring to Psalm 110] shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.’
Then said they all, Are you then the Son of God? And he said unto them, You say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
Before Pilate they mocked him again:
“And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ [Messiah] a King.’”
At the crucifixion cite the chief priests mocked him still further:
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let *Christ [the Messiah] the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.”
The idea of a suffering Messiah was shocking to the Jewish people. It was a bitter concept for them to understand and accept. Below are several verses about the suffering of Messiah and how we suffer with Him. Look up all the following verses and note the full context of each, particularly who is speaking or writing. It was Jesus the Messiah who suffered, not some spiritually abstract Christ concept that all too many Christian theologians teach today. Read the context surrounding each of these verses:
“Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ [the Messiah]. From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
“Ought not *Christ [the Messiah] to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? … And said unto them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it behooved *Christ [the Messiah] to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.’”
Luke 24:26, 46
“But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that *Christ [the Messiah] should suffer, he has so fulfilled.”
“That *Christ [the Messiah] should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”
“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ [Messiah] which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ [Messiah], and the glory that should follow.”
1 Peter 1:11
“For even hereunto were you called: because Christ [Messiah] also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps.”
“For Christ [Messiah] also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”
1 Peter 3:18
“Forasmuch then as Christ [Messiah] has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
1 Peter 4:1
“But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of *Christ’s [the Messiah’s] sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. If you be reproached for the name of Christ [Messiah], happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part he [Messiah] is evil spoken of, but on your part he [Messiah] is glorified.”
1 Peter 4:13
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of *Christ [the Messiah], and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:”
1 Peter 5:1
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with *Christ [the Messiah]; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
“For as the sufferings of *Christ [the Messiah] abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by *Christ [the Messiah].”
2 Corinthians 1:5
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ [Messiah], not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
See also Hebrews 2:9 and 13:12 which talk about Jesus needing to suffer to fulfill all of the requirements of the Old Testament for sin with His blood.
Jesus Himself said that the Messiah must suffer. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection He reminded them of His suffering and spoke to them about the future:
“And he said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.’
Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ [the Messiah] to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name [in the name of the Messiah] among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”
Not only did the Jews not think that their Messiah would suffer, neither did they think their Messiah would be crucified and die. This very idea of a crucified Messiah was a major problem to all Jews (as it was to Peter in Matthew 16:22), as the apostle Paul makes clear, referencing Isaiah 8:14–15:
“But we preach Christ [Messiah] crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [Messiah] the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
1 Corinthians 1:23–25
Paul states as a fact that Jesus the crucified Messiah (“Christ crucified”) is both “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” at the same time that He is a stumblingblock to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. The reality of the Messiah’s crucifixion is problematic for them both. 4
The Messiah, according to Paul and Christ both, by God’s requirement had to suffer, be crucified, die, and be raised from the dead. All those events needed to occur so that repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
The beginning of the ekklesia of God took place at Pentecost. Prior to that feast day the apostles were instructed by Christ to stay at Jerusalem (Luke 24:48–49). As the primary witnesses of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the apostles were to expect “the promise” of the Father which would endow them “with power from on high.” After several other periods of instruction the apostles saw Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives. Then they did as instructed and waited in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12–14). The Holy Spirit came upon them as promised (Acts 2:1–4) with a loud blast that sounded like an extremely loud noise (Acts 2:2). 5 A crowd formed and Peter spoke to the assembled Jews:
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, ‘You men of Judaea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel ...”
Peter then relates the prophecy from Joel 2:28–32 which tells of end-time events, some of which were partially fulfilled in the last Passover period and at that moment. (Read the passage in Joel and compare Acts 2:17–21 for yourselves.)
Then Peter continues and shows them that Jesus was the Messiah:
“You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you [you Jews] have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God has raised up, ...”
Many of the miracles, wonders, and signs that Joel predicted were occurring in their midst at that time. Everyone knew that wonderful things had happened and were happening (including resurrections of the dead to physical life: Matthew 27:52–53; Mark 5:35–43; and John 12:17). Peter then talks about a prophecy of King David that he directly applied to Jesus:
“For David speaks concerning him [Jesus (Acts 2:22)],
‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved’:
Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad;
moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Because you will not leave my soul in hell [hades],
neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you shall make me full of joy with your countenance.’”
Who is David speaking about? Peter explains, directly quoting from Psalm 16:8–11 (under inspiration of the Holy Spirit that he and the others just received) that David is not — and could not be — speaking of himself. David is speaking about the Messiah. Everyone, including the apostles before Jesus’ resurrection, believed that David was speaking about himself in the future. However, the correct explanation of this Scripture must have been taught by Jesus when He explained to Peter and the apostles how the Old Testament prophecies applied to Himself (read again Luke 24:44–48 above). How can we know this? We can be certain because Peter explains to the Jews how the Psalm 16:8–11 passage cannot apply to David:
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.
Therefore [David] being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ [Messiah] to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ [Messiah], that his [Messiah’s] soul was not left in hell [hades], neither his [Messiah’s] flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses”
David being dead, buried, and in his grave for nearly 1,000 years (as evidenced by David's closed tomb, visible to everyone) is Peter’s proof that the Psalm 16 passage did not apply to David. Therefore the Psalm 16 passage applies to someone else. It applies to the Messiah, who Peter identifies as Jesus.
Many of those standing before Peter were present at the teaching, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. Peter is bearing witness, along with the other apostles, that Jesus was resurrected, unlike David. Who then does Psalm 16:8–11 apply to? Peter said that passage applied to “the fruit of his [David’s] loins, according to the flesh.” It applied to the Messiah. David as a prophet of God foresaw the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead in this passage of Psalms chapter 16. Peter then gave more proof.
Peter states that the Davidic prophecy applies directly to Jesus. Then Peter cites Psalm 110 as further evidence that Psalm 16 refers to Jesus. The full meaning of Psalm 110 (known to all Jews as applying to the Messiah) and its significance was shown by Jesus who said that this Psalm referred directly to Himself as the Messiah. This was only fully realized by the apostles after His resurrection when He explained the scriptures to the apostles. In Matthew 22:42–46, Mark 12:35–37, and Luke 20:41–44 Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and instructed them from Psalm 110 that the Messiah is both David’s son and God’s Son. (Again, this will be a valuable self-study for you.)
Peter continues immediately from Acts 2:31 where the Messiah is seen to fulfill Psalm 16.
“This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore [Jesus] being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Spirit], he has shed forth [poured out] this [the rushing, trumpeting noise], which you now see and hear.
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he [David] says himself [quoting Psalm 110], ‘The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, Until I make your foes your footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you [Jews] have crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah].”
Did you catch that last declaration of Peter? David is not ascended into heaven, but Jesus did ascend and He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. “God has made that same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Jesus’ resurrection proves Him to be the one about whom David prophesied! Peter uses
all as proof that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. This is why so many in the crowd at Pentecost understood immediately and they were emotionally stricken by what Peter had said and by what they had done. They participated in killing the prophesied Messiah of God!
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked [pierced] in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’
Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [Messiah] for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [Spirit].’”
About 3,000 souls accepted Peter’s declaration that Jesus was their Messiah and their Lord. They repented (particularly for crucifying their Messiah), were baptized, and received the Holy Spirit that day.
Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate proof that Jesus is the Messiah. David, a messiah himself, an anointed, gave the prophecies of Psalms 16 and 110. But King David was not the Messiah (the prophet, the priest, and the king) prophesied by God. David was a type of that Messiah. Because David was still dead and still in the tomb available for all to see, Peter stated boldly that the prophecy of David must apply to Jesus as the Messiah who was NOT in the grave. The Messiah had been killed. The Messiah had been resurrected by God.
“You will not leave my soul in hell [hades], neither will you suffer [allow] your Holy One to see corruption.”
The apostles and all the disciples were witnesses to the Messiah’s resurrection:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that
Christ [Messiah] died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he [Messiah] was buried,
and that he [Messiah] rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
And that he [Messiah] was seen of Cephas,
then of the twelve:
After that, he [Messiah] was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
After that, he [Messiah] was seen of James;
then of all the apostles.
And last of all he [Messiah] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”
1 Corinthians 15:3–8
The apostles’ eyewitness experience with the resurrected Jesus was the final proof — the final evidence — that Jesus was the true Messiah of God, the Son of God, and Savior of all mankind.
Acts 3:14 makes clear that all of Jerusalem knew about the “miracles and wonders and signs” that Jesus performed in their midst (and by the apostles after Pentecost). Remember that these acts by Jesus were so powerful that they caused the people themselves to suspect that He was the Messiah (John 7:25–27, 31, 41–42, 10:22–26). Peter later mentioned this to the Jews at the Temple, just before he and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin:
“And [you Jews] killed the Prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. ...
And now, brethren, I wot [know] that through ignorance you did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ [Messiah] should suffer, he has so fulfilled. ...
And he shall send Jesus Christ [Messiah], which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. ...
Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
Acts 3:15, 17–18, 20–21, 26
Later the apostle Paul preached in Damascus immediately after his conversion and removal of blindness:
“And straightway he preached
Christ[“Jesus” is in the Greek, not Christ] in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. ... But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this [Jesus] is very Christ [Messiah].”
Acts 9:20, 22
Still later in Acts Peter again restated the fact of the apostles being witnesses of the resurrected Christ and how they interacted physically with Him. Note the message Peter gave to the Gentile Roman centurion Cornelius and his family about Jesus (verse 36). Peter specifically mentions Jesus’ anointing by God:
“We [the apostles] are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they [the Jews] slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.”
Peter goes on to tell of the apostles’ commission to preach and certify that Jesus is the one testified to by the prophets (Acts 10:42–43). Cornelius and “all those hearing,” believing Peter’s message, immediately received the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul later went to Thessalonica where he taught the Jews in the synagogue:
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ [Messiah] must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ [Messiah].”
The evangelist Apollos taught this same teaching in Greece:
“For he [Apollos] mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ [Messiah].”
Before King Agrippa the apostle Paul told of his conversion and his preaching:
“Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:  That *Christ [the Messiah] should suffer, and  that he [the Messiah] should be the first that should rise from the dead, and  [the Messiah] should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”
The apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews regarding the Messiah, the Christ (2 verses among several):
“But Christ [Messiah] being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle …
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of *Christ [the Messiah], who through the eternal [aionian] Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he [the Messiah] is the mediator of the new testament ...
So *Christ [the Messiah] was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he [the Messiah] appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Hebrews 9:11, 13–14, 28
The proof of the Messiah in Acts chapter 2 was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The apostles knew this to be so because Jesus told them it would happen before the crucifixion, even though they did not believe Him. Then after His resurrection He took care to explain all of the prophecies from the Old Testament that He fulfilled. He finished this teaching just before His ascension into heaven.
Days after the ascension, Peter and the apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit in a very public way which attracted a great crowd. Peter’s choice of Old Testament passages must have been those that Jesus explained fully. They became the basis of the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of the Messiah.
There is one more important point I want to emphasize before I close, and I will have you look up the verses for yourself. There is a direct and intimate connection of the phrase “Son of God” with Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, as is abundantly shown in Matthew 16:16, 26:63; Mark 1:1; Luke 4:41; John 6:69, 11:27, 20:31; Acts 8:37, 9:20, 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:13; 1 John 5:20; 2 John 1:3, 9. Read them for yourself.
Titles designated by God are important. Almost all the titles of Jesus are connected with His role as Messiah, directly or indirectly. Throughout the New Testament several terms are used for the titles of Jesus, all of which apply to Him at this moment (only a few references are cited for each):
Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1–2, 14–15).
Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1; John 20:31).
Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah (John 1:41 and 4:25).
Jesus is the Anointed of God. (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27, 10:38; Hebrews 1:9)
Jesus is the Son of Man (Matthew 17:9).
Jesus is the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2–4).
Jesus is the priest according to the order of Melchizadek (Hebrews 6:20).
Jesus is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:23–25).
Jesus is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23–25).
Jesus is your Savior (Luke 2:11; 2 Timothy 1:10).
He is your elder brother (Romans 8:29).
He is now like you and I shall be (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2).
He is all those things and more, at this moment, with multiple titles and offices (common for ancient rulers) that together complete the various manifold roles that God the Father has given to Him to accomplish. He has filled full every role and every title, all to the glory of God the Father.
The primary evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus was the fact that, in conjunction with His preaching and the signs and miracles He performed, Jesus was resurrected from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb. The chain of proof leading to your faith is as follows:
“Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah] is born of God: and every one that loves him that begat [meaning the Father] loves him also that is begotten of him.”
1 John 5:1
On the negative side of things, those who do not believe Jesus is the Messiah have a label placed upon them by the apostle John, who plainly declares who is antichrist (antiMessiah). The apostle John explains simply who is an antichrist:
“Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah]? He is [the] antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son. Whosoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father”
1 John 2:22
This means that anyone and everyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah can be identified as antichrist. These are highly inflammatory words, yet later in the same epistle John returns to the subject of the antichrist and false prophets:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know you the Spirit of God:
Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ [Messiah] is come in the flesh is of God: And
every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ [Messiah] is come in the flesh is not of God:
and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. …
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.”
1 John 4:1–3, 15
Please understand exactly what the apostle John is saying. These are not labels I put on anyone. While you or I might hesitate to do any such thing, the apostle John has no such hesitation. In fact John commands it! The verb “try” or “test” is in the imperative mood. The apostle John says to do this! It is a command to test the spirits of those who would teach you. It is not just a suggestion. It is something you should do so that you can know and understand whether that person “is of God” or “is not of God.” It is by no means an attack on that person or on their integrity. It is done so you can know whether this person is a brother or sister in Christ, or whether you can help and assist this person with his or her understanding about Jesus as Messiah
The antichrist and false prophet labels are what the apostle John applies to anyone who (1) denies that Jesus is the Messiah and (2) denies that Jesus as the true Messiah came in the flesh. We (not just the 1st century ekklesia or the apostles) are to test the confessions of people.
Using love and wisdom, John empowers you to ask anyone (and challenge that person directly, how else can you test them?) — particularly if they claim some authority or knowledge as a minister, priest, rabbi, imam, teacher, professor, or scholar, or even a friend, or relative — whether if he or she believes that Jesus was the Messiah resurrected from the dead and that Jesus came in the flesh (or if Jesus even existed). By their answer you can judge the spirit of their belief and understanding. 6 You may be surprised! This may offer an opportunity for you to teach them (for which we should always be ready, 1 Peter 3:15).
The purpose of the New Testament is not to “prove” that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. The purpose of the New Testament is to proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God who brings the salvation of Israel, the world, and all things into a reconciled state with God the Father, the Creator of all things through Christ. We who believe without seeing Him are blessed of God. Toward the end of the Gospel of John,
“Jesus says unto him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.”
It has not been my intention to teach you anything you did not already know. I have little doubt that you knew everything I presented in this article. Perhaps you misplaced this understanding in the corners of your mind. It has been my intention to bring your attention back to the significance of the term and title “Christ.” It is a title filled with meaning and importance which is used with precise care and intent by every New Testament writer. Jews throughout history, and even today, have had difficulty accepting that evidence. It is a stumblingblock to them. 7 To Gentiles it is foolishness.
It is my hope that when you read or think about the term “Christ” you will think “Messiah” because this is good and proper to do. Jesus is not just the Jewish Messiah of the Old Covenant, but He is the Messiah of the Jews and Gentiles of the New Covenant as well. 8 He is also the Messiah of we who understand the Mystery of God in its full glory. Read what the apostle Paul wrote about the Messiah in the epistle disclosing the Mystery:
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in *Christ [the Messiah], both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in *Christ [the Messiah].”
The role of Jesus Christ in coming to earth as Paul expressed it was for Him to gather and exalt mankind so that each and every human being can (and will) become members of the very Family of God — become Elohim themselves. As the apostle Paul says, we who are in Christ and who first trusted in the Messiah have this as our inheritance, our legacy, our gift from God through His Son Jesus the Messiah.
I intend to revisit this topic of Christ and Messiah in a future article by focusing on “The Gospel and the Messiah.” Keep reading, keep studying, so that you may continue to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
David Sielaff, October 2005
1 A transliteration of a word uses corresponding letters of a different alphabet with the result sounding similar to the word in the original language. A translation of a word from one language to another uses a different word with the same meaning. The Greek Old Testament (LXX) uses christos 6 times. In 1 Samuel 2:10, 2:35; Psalm 2:2, and 20:6 the English translation of christos in the LXX is “anointed.” In Amos 4:13 it is translated “thought” and in Daniel 9:25 it is translated “Messiah.”
2 The English translations are not wrong in using “Christ” for the Greek word Christos. Indeed, that is how the Greek texts read. However, your mind should get into the habit of thinking “Messiah” every time you read “Christ.”
3 See the Greek Orthodox educational webpage (http://www.monachos.net/greek/8_definite_articles.shtml), “Lesson 8, The Definite Article” where it is pointed out that “The definite article is generally used to indicate a specific thing or set of things (e.g. "the book" as opposed to "a book," etc).” The presence of a definite article in Greek is important. There is a reflexive sense of the Greek definite article which does not concern us here. There is no indefinite article in biblical Greek.
4 The word “stumblingblock” that Paul used can also be translated “snare” and is most often translated “offense” in the King James Version. The Greek root noun is skandalon from which we get our English word “scandal.” It is one of several words Paul uses to describe the blindness of Israel in Romans 11:7–11 (see particularly verse 9). A crucified Messiah was both a scandal and an embarrassment to the Jews.
5 Acts 2:2: “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house.” The word “sound” in Greek is echos.
6 If the person you ask is honest you should get a straightforward answer. Remember that a crucified Messiah is a stumblingblock to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. No one wants to be scandalized or thought foolish, so they will likely tell you the truth! Those who would lie to you (they will likely be religious persons), “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ [Messiah]” (2 Corinthians 11:13), whose ends will be according to their works (verse 15) and whose fruits will identify them (Matthew 7:15–21, 12:33; Luke 6:43–45). See Dr. Martin’s article “How to Identify False Prophets” at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p970401.htm.
7 The Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. clearly understood that Jesus was a significant person who appeared to have a relation to Suffering Servant of Isaiah chapters 52 and 53. See the article by Dr. Martin, “The Strange Ending to Sotah” at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p950801.htm.
8 As a short exercise insert “Messiah” every place “Christ” occurs in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 3, 12–20, and 23. It occurs 12 times. It occurs 34 times in the epistle of 2 Corinthians alone, apart from combined as Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus.
© 1976-2021 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions