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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

13 September 2005

The Origin of “Christ”

Q: I guess this shows how little I know, but where does the name Christ come from? I see in the Bible where Mary was instructed to name her son Jesus but I can’t seem to find the basis of name Christ on which of course Christian comes from?

A: Christ as name came later, after its use as a title. Jesus is the Christ, that is, the Anointed One. Christ (χριστὸς) is a Greek word. Its Hebrew parallel is Messiah (משיח). Christians belong to God’s Anointed, known as Jesus, the Christ.

Sometimes Scripture speaks of Him as “the Christ,” such as in Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matt 16:16)” At other times, the Bible uses Christ with Jesus as a name, both “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus” are common throughout the New Testament.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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