Translating 'Christ' Matthew 16:13-20

Who do you say that He is?

by Edward Langenback

© 03/03/03

Continuing the trek through the New Testament and the usage of the word 'Christ', the next stop is where Jesus asks about who people say that He is:

Matthew 16:13-16, "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

When Simon Peter answers Jesus' question, he doesn't just say 'Thou art Christ'. Rather he says 'Thou art THE Christ'. This is another clue that 'Christ' is not a name, but a word that describes something about Jesus that people in the modern, English-speaking world simply do not know. For some reason the translators chose not to render it in English. Instead, they produced an English word 'Christ' that sounded like the Greek original.

'Christ' as It is used in English language Bibles was translated from the Greek 'Christos' {pronounced khris-tos'} [strongs number 5547] and means anointed, anointing.

Understanding this definition gives us a great insight into Jesus, about who He is and about who we are as His followers.

Knowing the meaning of 'Christ' lets us understand more fully something else that Jesus said:

Luke 4:18-21, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

Note here that Jesus only started to tell them that this scripture was fulfilled in their ears. He didn't get very far because if you read farther in that chapter you will find that they became angry and indignant. They took a self-righteous, religious "Who does he think he is" kind of attitude and proceeded to try to kill Him for having the gall to say what He did.

The word 'anointed' in this verse is translated from the Greek chrio {pronounced khree'-o} [strongs number 5548] and means oil poured over, smeared or rubbed with oil; set apart; consecrated with oil, to smear or rub with oil, i.e. (by implication) to consecrate to an office or religious service:--anoint.

Since to anoint is to pour over, smear on and rub in, then we have to examine closely what He said:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me"

Think about the first part of this statement for a moment. The Spirit of the Living God is ON Jesus, He has literally been covered in God Himself:

"Why is the Spirit of the Lord on you Jesus?"
"Because He has poured over, smeared on, and rubbed into me"
"What did the Lord pour over, smear on, and rub into you Jesus?"
"Himself. His own Spirit"

Looking closely at all this, an awesome understanding begins to form. Start with Simon Peter's statement that Jesus is 'The Christ'. Jesus is not only 'Christ' (read 'Anointed'), but he is THE Anointed. This makes Jesus the primary example or prototype for anyone who can be considered anointed. The Bible makes clear that when we are made new in Christ (in The Anointing), we are considered to be just like Jesus. This is a thought that most people will back off from. They will tell you there is no way we can be "just like" Jesus, but such an attitude is pure unbelief and faithlessness.

1 John 4:17, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world."

People often make the mistake of thinking that we're supposed to be like Jesus "in the great by and by", which is to say "someday when we get to heaven.". While this is correct as far as it goes, the people who say such things like this have not allowed this verse to sink into their spirits.

Examined in the light of this revelation about the true meaning of 'Christ', 1 John 4:17 tells us, without doubt, that we who have accepted Jesus and have been baptized in the Holy Spirit have the very same Anointing that He has! Because of this awesome fact we have right to the same claims that Jesus made. Just like Jesus, we too can say: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, because He has Anointed us to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), He has sent us to heal the brokenhearted, (Mark 16:18), to preach deliverance to the captives (John 8:32), and recovering of sight to the blind (Matthew 15:30), to set at liberty them that are bruised (John 8:36), to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:2).'

The first thing that will happen is that the religiously minded people will bristle at that statement and say things like "Just who does he think he is saying something like that?", "That's too presumptuous for my taste.", etc. They will have all kinds of offended attitudes because I've just dared to say that we can be that much like Jesus. The fact is, I'm not saying that we can be that much like Jesus, I'm saying that we ARE that much like Jesus if only we will receive it! Jesus Himself said so!

John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."

We have more witness than this:

Romans 8:16-17, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

When we make the choice to become children of God, we are adopted into the family of the kingdom of heaven. We are made equal with Jesus in God's eyes. Being joint-heirs with The Anointed One is just like having a joint checking account with Him. Each person has the same privilege to write checks on any and all of the money in the account. We, being joint heirs with The Anointed One, have inherited the same privilege and authority that Jesus did.

Matthew 16:17, "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."

The word Blessed is translated from the Greek makarios {pronounced mak-ar'-ee-os} [strongs number 3107] meaning fortunate, well off:. Simon Peter was not told by anyone that Jesus was 'Christ' (Messiah, Anointed) and he did not simply put the puzzle together and figure it out for himself. This was divine revelation given directly by God.

Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

The first thing to do in this verse is to understand what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of His church. He was not talking about a building or place, be it made of stone, wood, or an old converted house. The word 'church' is translated from the Greek ekklesia {pronounced ek-klay-see'-ah} [strongs number 1577] and means a gathering or assembly of a group of people.

What rock did he build on? Not on Simon Peter. Yes, Jesus did call him a rock. 'Peter' is translated from the Greek Petros {pronounced pet'-ros} [strongs number 4074] and means a rock or a stone. when Jesus said 'upon this rock', the word 'rock' is translated from the Greek petra {pronounced pet'-ra} [strongs number 4073] and means a person who is strong like a rock or a stone by reason of their firm stand. Without doubt, Simon Peter had rock-like strength when he made his declaration that Jesus was The Anointed One. However, in the previous verse, Jesus had just told the reason for that rock-like firmness; the fact that Jesus is Anointed was revealed to the disciple by God, the Father Himself. That revelation is the rock that Jesus said he would build His church on. Given that foundation, everything hell can throw at us is not enough to defeat the assembly or group of people who have put their faith in Jesus because HE is our rock:

Psalms 31:3, "For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me."

The next verse is one in which we see an awesome promise:

Matthew 16:19, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

The word 'keys' translated from the Greek word kleis {pronounced klice} [strongs number 2807] and means a key and the implied authority to use that key to lock or unlock, used metaphorically to denote power and authority of all kinds. This gives the first clue that the keys that Jesus is talking about is authority, the right to do things.

The next clue comes from the word 'kingdom' which is translated from the Greek basileia {pronounced bas-il-i'-ah} [strongs number 932] royal power, kingship, dominion, rule the, right or authority to rule over a kingdom, a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king. Again, it becomes even more clear that Jesus is giving authority. Not just any authority. Not merely the say so of the king's son, but that of the ruler Himself, with full royal authority and backing.

Our third clue is the word 'heaven' rendered from the Greek ouranos {pronounced oo-ran-os'} [strongs number 3772] It refers to three different concepts: The aerial heavens or sky, the sidereal or starry heavens, the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and ultimately perfect where God dwells. Now we know that He is giving authority, that this authority has the nature of royal authority, and finally that the ultimate source is heaven. More precisely from heaven's ruler, God Himself, we are given the right to exercise His authority: This promise is fulfilled some forty days after Jesus rose from the dead:

Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Jesus makes a two part statement here. First He announces that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. Then in the next breath He gives us that authority by telling us to act on that authority to carry out a mission to teach all nations. From there it's a brief step to a realization of what we have really become 'in Christ (The Anointed One and His Anointing)':

Revelation 1:6, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

Once and for all, if you are a born again believer, baptized in the Holy Spirit, then God does NOT see you as a wretched sinner who barely escaped hell thanks to Jesus. He sees you as a king. It is written that Jesus is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." He is not just the king over all rulers on earth, but He is also the Highest King over His followers (that's us) who He has made into Kings.

Matthew 16:20, "Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ."

Given the commission that Jesus has given us to preach the gospel, this statement can make a person stop to wonder why He gave this order. However when you think about it, it wasn't unreasonable or strange at all. It is plain that He had no problem with Simon Peter knowing that Jesus was The Anointed One because of what He said to him about it. At this point, His followers were not educated enough nor were they yet Anointed for service by the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Because of these things, they were not yet qualified to preach The Anointed One and His Anointing ('Christ'). In ordering them not to reveal who He was, Jesus restrained them as any teacher would restrain a student who had not yet completed his study. Simply put, they were not yet ready for that ministry.

Then Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. Approximately ten days after he ascended, the Holy Spirit was poured out beginning with one hundred and twenty faithful in the upper room in Jerusalem. They were the first of Jesus' followers to be baptized (immersed) in the Holy Spirit which enabled them to function in ministry. Many have since followed their footsteps. The ministry of Jesus has grown. Millions have been led to the Lord since then.

If you have not yet decided to follow Jesus then I urge you to do so now. There is hell to escape and heaven to gain. Jesus is the only way you have of avoiding the lake of fire. He is there with you right now, quietly waiting for you to let Him in. He won't force himself on you, the final decision is all yours.

If you have accepted the gift that Jesus has given you, then examine the true meaning of 'Christ'. Realize that it is not a name, but a word that means Anointed, covered with God Himself.. Learn what that Anointing is given to you for. Seek God's will. Do it.

This series of articles will continue in Matthew 22:42, Translating more use of the word 'Christ' .


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