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Messiah (Christ)


Christ is the English representation of the Greek word Χριστός (Christos). It means "The Anointed One" and is the title given to Jesus. The equivalent Hebrew word is "Messiah".

The word is often misunderstood to be the surname of Jesus due to the numerous mentions of Jesus Christ in the Bible. The word is in fact a title, hence its common reciprocal use Christ Jesus, meaning The Anointed One, Jesus. Followers of Jesus became known as Christians because they believed that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, prophesied in the Old Testament.

The area of Christian theology focusing on the identity, life, teachings and works of Jesus, is known as Christology.

In the Old Testament, priests, kings and prophets were anointed with oil. This would be performed to indicate appointment by God to a particular task. In the later Old Testament and during the inter-Testamental period, a common expectation developed of an anointed king, simply called the Messiah or Christ, who would establish God's kingdom. The Gospels clearly show that the people were expecting this Messiah, or Christ. For example, in John 1 the people asked John the Baptist, "Are you the Christ?"

The Gospels reveal that Jesus was the Christ. In Luke 23:2 Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. Furthermore, the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Matthew, linked Jesus with the Son of David, David being the great king about 1,000 years earlier.

The Gospels also show however that Jesus understood the Messiah in very different terms from the common people. Jesus actively discouraged political and revolutionary ideas of an earthly kingdom. He never denied that he was Messiah, but he certainly discouraged people's idea of Messiah, discouraging expectation of political deliverance. Before his execution he said to his judge, Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:35). During his ministry Jesus had shown this. He had made a strong link between Christ and Son of God (see for example Mark 1:1, Matthew 16:16 and Luke 4:41) and had made known to his disciples that his purpose was to suffer, die and rise to new life (see for example Luke 24:46). It was through this death and resurrection that Jesus taught that the Messiah would bring eternal life (see for example John 12:34 and John 20:31).



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