Vol. 8, No. 5
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The terms Messiah and King relative to Jesus Christ are interrelated. Together, they bring to fruition all the Old Testament prophecies about the redemption of fallen humanity. Already we have directed our attention to "Come Meet Jesus as Creator," "Come Meet Jesus as God Incarnate," "Come Meet Jesus as Master Teacher," "Come Meet Jesus at the Cross" and "Come Meet Jesus as the Savior." Now, "Come Meet Jesus as Messiah and King."
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the Messiah? The Word Messiah (OT) or Messias (NT) appears in both testaments. The Hebrew word for Messiah is mashiyach (maw-shee'-akh), which means "anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically, the Messiah" (Biblesoft's). This Hebrew word appears 39 times in Old Testament: 37 times as "anointed" and twice as "Messiah" (Daniel 9:25-26). The "Heb. mashiyach in all the thirty-nine instances of its occurring in the Old Testament, is rendered by the LXX [Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT] 'Christos'" (Easton). The Greek word for Messiah (Messias) is Messias (mes-see'-as), which is "of Hebrew origin" (Biblesoft's). Messiah (Messias) only appears twice in the New Testament (John 1:41; 4:25).
The New Testament more often uses another word as a synonym for Messiah. The Greek word christos (khris-tos') translated "Christ" means "anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus" (Biblesoft's). "Christos means 'smeared on,' 'anointed,' and as a noun (to' christon) 'ointment.' It never relates to persons in the nonbiblical sphere" (Kittel and Friedrich).
The Hebrew word mashiach, transliterated "Messiah," is an adjective made from a verb, and could be translated roughly "anointed one." The New Testament christos, made from the verb meaning "anoint," has an equivalent meaning. Thus Messiah and Christ represent the same concept. (It should be remembered that Christ is not a last name, with Jesus as the first name, as many seem to think.) (Karleen emphasis added)
To us "Christ" has become a proper name, and is therefore written without the definite article; but, in the body of the gospel narratives, since the identity of Jesus with the promised Messiah is still in question with the people, the article is habitually used, and the name should therefore be translated "the Christ." (Vincent's emphasis added)
Messi'ah (anointed). This word (Mashiach) answers to the word Christ (Christos) in the New Testament, and is applicable in its first sense to any one anointed with the holy oil. The kings of Israel were called anointed, from the mode of their consecration. 1 Sam 2:10, 35; 12:3, 5 etc. This word also refers to the expected Prince of the chosen people who was to complete God's purposes for them and to redeem them, and of whose coming the prophets of the old covenant in all time spoke. He was the Messiah, the Anointed, i.e. consecrated as the king and prophet by God's appointment. (Smith)
Christos appears 572 times in the New Testament and is translated as "Christ" in all instances except Acts 10:48 where it is translated as "Lord." "The word Christ is…almost invariably used instead of Messiah in the NT as the official designation of our Lord" (New Unger's).
What does it mean to otherwise lost humanity that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and King? Literally hundreds of Messianic prophecies populate the Old Testament. "The Messianic prophecies are too numerous to be quoted" (Easton). Free and Vos quote another has to having determined "that there are 332 distinct prophecies in the Old Testament that have been literally fulfilled in Christ" (241).
Over 300 prophecies in the Bible speak of Jesus Christ. Specific details given by these prophecies include His tribe (Gen 49:10), His birthplace (Mic 5:2), dates of His birth and death (Dan 9:25-26), His forerunner John the Baptist (Mal 3:1; 4:5; Matt 11:10), His career and ministry (Isa 52:13-53:12), His crucifixion (Ps 22:1-18), His resurrection (Ps 16:8-11; Acts 2:25-28), His ascension (Ps 2; Acts 13:33), and His exaltation as a priest-king (Ps 110; Acts 2:34). (Nelson's)
The number of passages in the OT regarded by the Jews in pre-Christian times as prophetic of the Messiah is much larger than that of the special predictions to which Christians have commonly appealed. It is stated by Edersheim to be more than 456... (New Unger's)
The Christ child was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Luke 2:25-32). Many of the Psalms are Messianic (2; 16:7-11; 67; 68:28-35; 69; 72:1-19; 93; 96; 97; 98; 99; 110; 118:19-29). Philip acknowledged that the Old Testament prophecies declared a Messiah (John 1:45). Jesus Christ chided his apostles for not knowing that the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah foretold his suffering (Luke 24:25-27).
Inspired first century apostles and preachers constantly referred to Old Testament prophecies about the Christ (Acts 3:14-18, 22-26). The apostle Paul "reasoned...out of the Scriptures" through his teaching and preaching that the Old Testament foretold of the suffering, but victorious, Messiah (Acts 9:22; 17:2-3; 26:22-23; Romans 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The apostle Peter, likewise, preached about the prophesied suffering Christ (Messiah) (1 Peter 1:10-11).
There was an air of expectancy in the first century for the coming of the long promised Messiah. "To the prevalence of the Messianic hope among the Jews in the time of Christ the Gospel records bear ample testimony. We see from the question of the Baptist that 'the coming one' was expected (Matt 11:3 and parallel), while the people wondered whether John himself were the Christ (Luke 3:15)" (ISBE). Andrew found his brother Peter to inform him that the long awaited Messiah had come (John 1:40-41). The woman at the well who conversed with Jesus admitted that the world waited for the coming Messiah (John 4:25-26, 29). The Samaritans acknowledged that Jesus "is the Christ [Messiah] and Savior of the world" (John 4:42). Peter strongly affirmed that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) (Matthew 16:15-16; Acts 4:26-27).
Further, Jesus unmistakably declared himself to be the Messiah. Jesus told the woman at the well that he is the Messiah (John 4:25-26). Jesus affirmed to the high priest and other religious leaders that he was the Christ (Messiah) (Matthew 26:63-64), which they considered sufficient evidence of blasphemy to have him killed.
God the Father anointed Jesus at the Christ (Messiah) (Acts 4:26-27). The word translated "Messiah" means "anointed" and "is used in the Old Testament of kings and priests, who were consecrated to office by the ceremony of anointing" (ISBE). "…[P]riests (Ex. 28:41; 40:15; Num. 3:3), prophets (1 Kings 19:16), and kings (1 Sam. 9:16; 16:3; 2 Sam. 12:7) were anointed with oil, and so consecrated to their respective offices" (Easton). Jesus of Nazareth is Prophet, Priest and King, anointed of God for each of these roles, which rolled into one Jesus is the Christ, our Messiah.
However, the Jews popularly held a skewed or incorrect view of what that Messiah would be like.
In Jewish thought, the Messiah would be the king of the Jews, a political leader who would defeat their enemies and bring in a golden era of peace and prosperity. In Christian thought, the term Messiah refers to Jesus' role as a spiritual deliverer, setting His people free from sin and death. The word Messiah comes from a Hebrew term that means "anointed one." Its Greek counterpart is Christos, from which the word Christ comes. Messiah was one of the titles used by early Christians to describe who Jesus was. …Most expected the Messiah to be a political leader, a king who would defeat the Romans and provide for the physical needs of the Israelites. (Nelson's emphasis added)
To think "Messiah" in the first century was to think "king," and properly so. Merriam Webster in its first definition defines "Messiah" as "1a: the expected king and deliverer of the Jews." The typical first century Jewish mistake was to expect the Messiah-King to establish a physical kingdom rather than a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36).
Jesus of Nazareth (God incarnate through the virgin birth) is the Messiah-King. The Great King was prophesied to make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding the lowly donkey (Zechariah 9:9), which Jesus Christ did (Matthew 21:5). Jesus was "born King of the Jews" (Matthew 2:2), according to the Wisemen's interpretation of the Old Testament Scriptures and direct revelation from God. Jesus acknowledged that he was "the King of the Jews" (Matthew 27:11, 29, 37). The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus "the King" is "eternal, immortal, invisible" (1 Timothy 1:17). Jesus Christ is the "only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Jesus Christ is "King of saints" (Revelation 15:3).
In conclusion, the need for a Messiah first grew out of the tragedy of sin introduced in the Garden of Eden, because of the maliciousness of the devil, through duping humanity represented in the first pair. Immediately, God began preparing mankind for redemption through a Messiah-King (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 3:10-11; 1 Peter 1:18-21).
The prophecies concerning Christ were a part of the plan that Deity made before the creation. When God accomplished his eternal plan through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ it demonstrated the wisdom of God, (1 Corinthians 1:20) the power, the majesty and the glory of God...Paul concluded the letter to the Romans pretty much as he began it. With a beautiful doxology that is as follows: (25)"Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began (26) but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith (27) to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen." (Romans 16:25-27) (West 10).
God the Father provided fallen humanity a Messiah-King, but it is up to humanity to avail itself of the salvation from sin our Messiah makes possible.
Indeed, Jesus Christ is "King of [spiritual] Israel" (Luke 27:42), but is King Jesus the King of your life today? Jesus is not the Messiah-King of your life if you have neglected or refused to be baptized for the remission of your sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Jesus is not the Messiah-King of your life if you are a Christian whose life is tarnished with sin (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9). If Jesus is not the Messiah-King of your life right now, please obey the Gospel this very moment (Hebrews 5:9).
Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.
Easton, M.G. Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor: Logos, 1996.
Karleen, Paul S. The Handbook to Bible Study. CD-ROM. New York: Oxford UP., 1987.
Kittel, Gerhard, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume. CD-ROM. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. CD-ROM. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1993.
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Nashville: Nelson, 1986.
New Unger's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1988.
Smith, William. Smith's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2003.
Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
West. D. Gene. Messianic Prophecies Outlined. Cameron: Rushmore, 2000.