What does "Christ" mean?

by Matt Slick

The word "Christ" means anointed.  It comes from the Greek Χριστός, cristos, and is a translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah, מָשִׁיחַ, meshiyach, which means anointed.  "He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which translated means Christ)," (John 1:41).

  • Christ (Gr. Christos, translation of Heb. mashiaḥ, “anointed one”) OT Israel anticipated a coming deliverer “anointed” by God to initiate God’s rule of righteousness and peace. Early Christians saw Jesus as fulfilling this hope and designated him as “Christ” (Mark 8: 29; Acts 5: 42; Rom. 5: 6).1
  • Official title given to Jesus in the NT. It signifies his office as anointed Savior and alludes to his spiritual qualifications for the task of saving his people. The word derives from Greek Christos, which translates Hebrew Messiah (Jn 1:41). Both terms come from verbs meaning “to anoint with sacred oil”; hence as titles they mean “the anointed one.” Applied to Jesus, they express the conviction that he had divine appointment for his office and function.2

Jesus is the Christ as is claimed in the New Testament.

  • "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 1:18).
  •  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven," (Matthew 16:16-17).
  • "But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN," (Mark 14:61-62). Quoted from Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:3.
  • "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ," (Acts 9:22).

The Christ had certain requirements and prophecies concerning him.

  • Son of David, "What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David," (Matthew 22:42). See also John 7:42.
  • Preceded by a messenger, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; 3 THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’ ” 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins," (Mark 1:1-4). Quoted from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3.
  • People would be against him, "THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST,' (Acts 4:26). Quoted from Psalm 2:2.
  • He would suffer, "“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled," (Acts 3:18).
  • Would be resurrected, "he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY," (Acts 2:31). Quoted from Psalm 16:10

Christology

Christology is the study of the person, work, and teachings of Jesus who is the Christ as is revealed in the Old and New Testaments. Christ was revealed in the Old Testament often in typology and various manifestations. Jesus said that no one has seen the Father (John 6:46), and Paul the apostle in 1 Timothy 6:16, when speaking of the Father, says that he "dwells in unapproachable light no man has seen or can see." Therefore, when there are Old Testament accounts of God being seen, they are not God the Father. And, since the Holy Spirit appears in flame, wind, fire, etc., it is logical to conclude that all physical appearances of God in the Old Testament are the pre-incarnate Christ.

Therefore, we see Jesus in the Garden of Eden as he walked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8).  We see him manifested in the burning bush of Exodus 3:14 with John 8:58. We see him as God Almighty in Exodus 6:2-3. In Genesis 22:1-18 we can see him represented in typology in Abraham and Isaac where Isaac represents Christ. For more information on this please see Type, Typology.

To study the Bible is to study about Jesus, because Jesus said in John 5:39, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me."

  • 1. McKim, Donald K. (2014-04-21). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded (Kindle Locations 2332-2334). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
  • 2. Elwell, Walter A., and Barry J. Beitzel. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.