Translating Christ

Matthew chapters 1 through 11

by Edward Langenback

© 01/11/03

This series of Articles will examine the meanings and implications of each use of the word "Christ" in the New Testament. The word 'Christ' is used over 571 times in 532 verses of the King James New Testament. For a word that is so closely associated with Jesus to be used that much implies a much greater meaning and impact than being part of His name.

That said, the first thing that must be realized is that Christ is not Jesus' last name. It is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word 'messiah', meaning 'The Anointed One and His Anointing.' It is translated from the Greek 'Christos' {pronounced khris-tos'} [strongs number 5547] and means anointed, anointing. It is used to refer both to The Anointed One and to His Anointing. Best rendered as 'The Anointed One", "The Anointing", "The Anointed One and His Anointing" depending on the context in which it is used.

Matthew 1:1, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

This book starts off by showing the chain of decent of Jesus as the main person discussed. It is the first time that 'Christ' is used, and is the first step in confirming that He is The Anointed One. The line of decent is established from Abraham to Joseph, the man who was to wed Mary, the mother of Jesus. This connection is important in order to show that Jesus is the 'seed of Abraham' that was spoken of in prophecy.

The two uses of the word son in this verse are translated from the Greek huios {pronounced hwee-os'} [strongs number 5207]generally used concerning the offspring of men, in a restricted sense, the male offspring (by a father and mother), in a wider sense, a descendant, one of the posterity of a person.

Applying the translations of 'Christ' and 'son' to this verse it becomes:

"The book of the generation of Jesus The Anointed One, the descendant of David, the descendant of Abraham."

Matthew 1:16, "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

This is the first time that any English speaking reader begins to get the idea that 'Christ' is a more than a last name. This is because if 'Christ' were simply a last name then to say "Jesus, who is called Christ" doesn't make sense. If however 'Christ' is a word with meaning instead of a name, it takes on sense. When you translate the word 'Christ', this verse shows more of the importance of who Jesus really is: "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called The Anointed One."

Matthew 1:17, "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations."

Once again, if we translate the word "Christ", we see that the text is talking about The Anointed One, The promised Holy One from God.

Matthew 2:4, "And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born."

The next time we see the word 'Christ' the first thing that must be noticed is that Herod is not asking about Jesus, he doesn't even know the child's name. Herod doesn't even know if the child is a boy or girl At this time, he has no idea who the person is that he is asking about or that the wise men had come seeking, he only knows to ask 'Where The Anointed One should be born'. If he knew the name, then it would have been easier to locate the exact child instead of killing every child in Bethlehem born within two years. And while it would have been just as evil of him, it certainly would have cost him less political trouble and a LOT less social unrest if he had been able to deal with the matter quietly.

Matthew 11:2-3, "Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?"

"Translate and meditate" These are two things that this examination of 'Christ' will require a lot of. To meditate by the way, does not imply hokey religions or eastern mysticysm. When used like this, it means to think about, reflect upon, ponder, examine and consider.

The works that John heard about while in prison were the "works of Christ". So we translate the word 'Christ' and think about the result: "works of The Anointed One" Right away two things are clear; first, John sent two of his disciples to Jesus because he knew that Jesus was Anointed. (remember, John was there when Jesus was baptized and received The Anointing.) Second, that they asked Jesus if He was The One that they were expecting to come, or if they should look for another.

Who were they expecting to come? We can see the answer in Jesus' reply to them:

Matthew 11:4-6, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

Jesus lets them know that the answer is before them in the things that they see and hear going on and lists some specific examples. These things can be used to answer their question because one who is knowledgeable in scripture will be able to recognize the examples that Jesus pointed out.

Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;"

This verse is part of a prophecy of God's Anointed One who would one day come and who's kingdom would never end. In effect, Jesus is saying "go tell John what's going on. Prophecy is being fulfilled in all these ways and the good news of God's kingdom is being preached like God said through the prophets of old." . . .And since Jesus is the one who was doing all these things that no one other than the very one that God promised to send would do, then He must be that Anointed One.

Future articles in this series will continue the trek through the New Testament exploring each use of the word "Christ". The next will begin with Matthew 16:16 and continue from there.


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