Christ (Greek christos, "anointed one") is the translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah in the Septuagint version of the Bible. Ancient peoples considered anointing with oil a sign of being set apart for special honor or for an exalted office. In the Old Testament, the anointing of prophets and priests set them apart for their religious functions (1 Kings 19:16; Isaiah 61:1; Exodus 28:41, 29:7); the anointing of kings was a symbol of their power as representatives of God in a theocracy (1 Samuel 10:1, 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Kings 9:6; Psalms 89:20).
The concept became especially associated with King David, and when the Hebrews looked for another "anointed one" to lead their nation, they at first conceived of him as a man from David's line. Later, some writers shifted their hope from a messianic figure to an age of peace inaugurated directly by God. In New Testament times, Christ became the surname of Jesus, reflecting the Christian belief that he is the anointed one of God.
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Jesus, anointed, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word rendered "Messiah" (q.v.), the official title of our Lord, occurring five hundred and fourteen times in the New Testament. It denotes that he was anointed or consecrated to his great redemptive work as Prophet, Priest, and King of his people. He is Jesus the Christ (Acts 17:3; 18:5; Matt. 22:42), the Anointed One. He is thus spoken of by Isaiah (61:1), and by Daniel (9:24-26), who styles him "Messiah the Prince." The Messiah is the same person as "the seed of the woman" (Gen. 3:15), "the seed of Abraham" (Gen. 22:18), the "Prophet like unto Moses" (Deut. 18:15), "the priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4), "the rod out of the stem of Jesse" (Isa. 11:1, 10), the "Immanuel," the virgin's son (Isa. 7:14), "the branch of Jehovah" (Isa. 4:2), and "the messenger of the covenant" (Mal. 3:1). This is he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write."
The Old Testament Scripture is full of prophetic declarations regarding the Great Deliverer and the work he was to accomplish. Jesus the Christ is Jesus the Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Saviour of men. This name denotes that Jesus was divinely appointed, commissioned, and accredited as the Saviour of men (Heb. 5:4; Isa. 11:2-4; 49:6; John 5:37; Acts 2:22). To believe that "Jesus is the Christ" is to believe that he is the Anointed, the Messiah of the prophets, the Saviour sent of God, that he was, in a word, what he claimed to be. This is to believe the gospel, by the faith of which alone men can be brought unto God. That Jesus is the Christ is the testimony of God, and the faith of this constitutes a Christian (1 Cor. 12:3; 1 John 5:1).
(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)
"anointed," translates, in the Sept., the word "Messiah," a term applied to the priests who were anointed with the holy oil, particularly the high priest, e.g., Lev. 4:3, 5, 16. The prophets are called hoi christoi Theou, "the anointed of God," Ps. 105:15. A king of Israel was described upon occassion as christos tou Kuriou, "the anointed of the Lord," 1 Sam. 2:10, 35; 2 Sam. 1:14; Ps. 2:2; 18:50; Hab. 3:13; the term is used even of Cyrus, Isa. 45:1. The title ho Christos, "the Christ," is not used of Christ in the Sept. version of the inspired books of the OT. In the NT the word is frequently used with the article, of the Lord Jesus, as an appellative rather than a title, e.g., Matt. 2:4; Acts 2:31; without the article, Luke 2:11; 23:2; John 1:41. Three times the title was expressly accepted by the Lord Himself, Matt. 16:17; Mark 14:61-62; John 4:26.
It is added as an appellative to the proper name "Jesus," e.g., John 17:3, the only time when the Lord so spoke of Himself; Acts 9:34; 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 John 5:6. It is distinctly a proper name in many passages, whether with the article, e.g., Matt. 1:17; 11:2; Rom. 7:4; 9:5; 15:19; 1 Cor. 1:6, or without the article, Mark 9:41; Rom. 6:4; 8:9, 17; 1 Cor. 1:12; Gal. 2:16. The single title Christos is sometimes used without the article to signify the One who by His Holy Spirit and power indwells believers and molds their character in conformity to His likeness, Rom. 8:10; Gal. 2:20; 4:19; Eph. 3:17. As to the use or absence of the article, the title with the article specifies the Lord Jesus as "the Christ"; the title without the article stresses His character and His relationship with believers. Again, speaking generally, when the title is the subject of a sentence it has the article; when it forms part of the predicate the article is absent. See also JESUS.
"Christian," a word formed after the Roman style, signifying an adherent of Jesus, was first applied to such by the Gentiles and is found in Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16. Though the word rendered "were called" in Acts 11:26 (see under CALL) might be used of a name adopted by oneself or given by others, the "Christians" do not seem to have adopted it for themselves in the times of the apostles. In 1 Pet. 4:16, the apostle is speaking from the point of view of the persecutor; cf. "as a thief," "as a murderer." Nor is it likely that the appellation was given by Jews. As applied by Gentiles there was no doubt an implication of scorn, as in Agrippa's statement in Acts 26:28. Tacitus, writing near the end of the first century, says, "The vulgar call them Christians. The author or origin of this denomination, Christus, had, in the reign of Tiberius, been executed by the procurator, Pontius Pilate" (Annals xv. 44). From the second century onward the term was accepted by believers as a title of honor.
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