(The following is from our upcoming book.)
Guide #1: Two terms used to describe Yeshua have been completely misunderstood by Gentiles from the beginning of Christianity – Christ and Son of God. In Gentile minds, these terms are exclusive titles that apply to no other person than Yeshua (Jesus). He, they believed and taught, was the only “Christ” and “Son of God.” As time passed, the titles also became linked to deity – Christ and Son of God were titles of God.
Dr. Tennison: A common assumption among people is that “Christ” was the last name of
Jesus. There is good reason for this assumption, since he was called “Jesus Christ” in the New Testament itself. The more accurate phrase, however, is “Yeshua the Christ”, because “Christ” is a title and not a name. Christ is the English transliteration of the Greek word christos, a form of the Greek verb chrio that means "to pour." In Yeshua’s world he would have been called the mashiach, a Hebrew word instead of the Greek word. Both words -- christos and mashiach –are translated “anointed.” As a title, the translation would be “anointed one.” Therefore, the correct translation is “Yeshua the Anointed One.”
Guide #2: Something that most people do not know is that there have been many “Christs” in the history of the Jewish people. The first Christ of the Hebrew Scriptures was Aaron, the brother of Moses, who was anointed as a priest (Exodus 29:7). Another Christ, a priest, appears in Leviticus 4:5. The first king to be a Christ was Saul (I Samuel 9:16). There was even a Persian Gentile that is one of the most interesting of the Christs: In Isaiah 45:1 we read -- Cyrus the King of the Persians!
Guide #1: The anointing of persons and objects with oil was widespread in ancient Israel and its environment for both practical and symbolic reasons. Anointing was used to inaugurate kings, consecrate priests, and for the rehabilitation of lepers. The Hebrew root word for anointing is MShCh, and throughout the Bible it implies that the anointment came from God. The attribute MAShIACh ("anointed") came to designate the king and high priest and, by extension, other divinely appointed functionaries who were not anointed at all (e.g., prophets, the patriarchs, and even foreign kings).
Guide #2: In Israel, anointment conferred upon the king the "RU'ACH of YHVH" ("the spirit of Yahweh"), i.e., his support, strength, and wisdom. The king absorbed divine attributes through unction, a phenomenon attested nowhere else. On the other hand, the anointment of the high priest served an entirely different function. It conferred neither RU'ACH nor any other divine attribute.
Guide #1: Now let’s read the following verse from Mark 1 – “It came to pass in those days that Yeshua came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, `You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:9-11)
Guide #2: Notice that when Yeshua was baptized two things happened: (1) the RU’ACH (Spirit) descended upon him; and (2) God called Yeshua “My Son.” In the Jewish culture, those two things would have been understood to mean that Yeshua became the Anointed One and the adopted Son of God at the moment he was baptized.
Guide #1: In Israel, a king was the adopted “Son of God” – a human who absorbed divine attributes through unction, a phenomenon attested nowhere else. It didn’t mean the king was another God, a “little” God and neither did the title “Anointed One.” The question this would have raised in the mind of the Jewish people of the first century is this – What was Yeshua anointed to do?
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