A common assumption among people is that Christ was the last name of Jesus. There are two good reasons for this assumption.
(1) In our culture people are normally identified by two names, i.e., John Smith.
(2) In the English New Testaments most people read, he was called Jesus Christ.
Now let’s turn to the word “Christ” which we read in our Bibles. The first thing we must understand is that every English Bible is called a translation. The translators worked from ancient Greek manuscripts to make their translations. In those ancient manuscripts, when they saw the Greek word below they wrote “Christ” in their translation.
When you compare ancient manuscripts of books of the Bible to translations of those books, you will discover that translators have four options for working with the ancient words.
(1) translate – write the meaning of the ancient Greek word.
(2) transliterate – write the equivalent English letters of the Greek letters of the ancient Greek word.
(3) ignore – ignore the ancient Greek word and write nothing.
(4) substitute – write something unrelated to the ancient Greek words.
So, which option did the English translators choose when they read the ancient Greek word above? They chose #2 – transliterate.
The literal transliteration of the Greek word is CHRISTOS. The “-OS” is a case ending that translators drop, which leaves us with “Christ.” Make sure you understand the impact of making the decision to transliterate the Greek word, instead of translating it. The translators did not record the meaning of the word in their translation, therefore readers of their work are not told what the word CHRISTOS means. The translation of CHRISTOS is means “to pour” or “anoint,” therefore if they had chosen option #1 above, instead of having “Jesus Christ” in your New Testament you would see “Jesus anointed.” What does that mean to you?
Translating an ancient text requires much more than simply looking up Greek or Hebrew in a lexicon and deciding which of the four above options they will do. The first thing is to have an understanding of the culture of the people in the text, beginning with their language, customs, religions, etc. The culture of Jesus and his followers was Second Temple Judaism and the language he spoke when he taught was Hebrew. In his world, the Hebrew equivalent of CHRISTOS is this:
The transliteration of this word is MASHIYACH. In addition to the literal meaning of “anointed,” it was also a well-known title. A person was anointed by God to carry out a specific task, as we will see below. Therefore, an accurate translation is “Jesus the Anointed One.” Of course, we should note that if the translators had used this process of his name, this is what you would read in your English translation – “Yeshua the Anointed One.” No one in his world ever called him “Jesus.”
In the history of the Jewish people, those who were anointed included priests and kings. And, this brings us to the question of this article, “Who was the first Christ of the Bible?”
(1) The first “Anointed One” of the Bible was Aaron, the brother of Moses – he was anointed as a priest (Exodus 29:7).
(2) Another Anointed One Christ (a priest) appears in Leviticus 4:5.
(3) The first king to be anointed was Saul (I Samuel 9:16).
(4) Perhaps the most interesting of the Christs is the one mentioned in Isaiah 45:1 -- Cyrus the Christ, King of the Persians! Interesting. Check it out.
During the Second Temple a new concept related to the title “Anointed One” appeared. Like the earlier “Anointed Ones,” he will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as "mashiach ben David" (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15). The new belief about the “Anointed One” is that he will be “anointed” in the End of Days. (http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm)
What did Jesus believe he was “anointed” to do? Luke provides the answer and it was given by Jesus himself at his home synagogue. He read it from the scroll of Isaiah:
The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because He has “anointed” me to proclaim the good news to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh. (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Let’s take another look at what Jesus said “the Christ” will do:
● proclaim the good news to the poor
● heal the brokenhearted
● proclaim liberty to the captives
● proclaim recovery of sight to the blind
● set at liberty those who are oppressed
● proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh
Now let’s consider the meaning of the word “Christian.” It comes from the Greek word Χριστιανός (CHRISTIANOS) which means "follower of the Anointed One." As followers of the Anointed One they were committed to do the things above that Jesus had been anointed to do.
(1) Are you a Christian?
(2) Did your church tell you being a Christian means that you do the things above?
Think about it!
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