Hey everyone, Josh Hawkins here, this is an
extended supplemental video to episode 21 of my series called Opening Up the Gospels. If you’re interested, check those out at www.joshuahawkins.com/gospels,
I’m narrating chronologically through the life of Jesus and release a new video every
Tuesday. Well I want to talk a little bit today about
what “the Christ” or “the Messiah” is. In our modern culture, “Christ” has almost
no concrete meaning for us. In the church, it’s either just a synonym
for “Jesus”, or sometimes it’s talked about like it’s his last name, Jesus Christ, JC,
you know. And then when we hear the word “Messiah”,
we most often think “my Savior” or “the one who forgives my sins”, or “the one who died
on the cross”, or again, maybe just another synonym for “Jesus”. And subsequently, with this common cultural
understanding, we come to the Bible and we read verses like Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while
we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)
And we basically just say: “but God shows his love for us in that while
we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.” or 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV)
And we basically just say: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus and
the cross.” The only reason we do that because we have
a preconceived idea of what “Christ” actually means, and we assume we understand what the
Bible’s actually saying. Again, we just think, “last name” or “synonym
for Jesus” or something. Then we kind of don’t even know what to do
with the word “Messiah”, because that’s only in two verses in the New Testament, John 1:41
and John 4:25, and in both places it’s coupled with the word “Christ”. So we just think, “yeah, Jesus, the Christ,
the Messiah, yeah…” or something. But I want you to see a few things here. The Gospels all begin with an existing framework
of meaning already in place for “Christ” or “Messiah”. And this is based on the Old Testament. Now before I explain this, I want to say that
I am not talking about “messianic expectation” here. I believe the New Testament gives us a lot
of evidence regarding what Messiah the Jewish people did expect, like what he was expected
to do, how things would be after he came, and things like that, but that is NOT what
I’m talking about today. I want to get at the root of what the word
“messiah” or “Christ” actually means. So many different characters in the New Testament,
whether it be the Pharisees, Jesus’ disciples, the crowds, Pilate, or Paul can all seemingly
refer to “the Messiah” or “the Christ” without any significant clarification about what they
meant. So what I want to address is this source of
common understanding. That source is simply based on what the word
“Messiah” or “Christ” actually means. Before I even get to the meaning, here’s an
example that might help you understand where I’m going. Imagine if I gave you a list of things that
a candidate wanted to accomplish after he was elected President. Some people would argue if those things were
actually plausible, if they were a good idea or not, or if he would actually be able to
accomplish them, but the only reason why that conversation would actually be intelligible
would be because everyone has a very firm understanding of what “President of the United
States” actually means. Apart from a fixed definition of “President”,
the conversation wouldn’t have any anchor and could mean various things to different
people, depending upon how they understand the word. Now I think this is exactly what has happened
with “Messiah” or “Christ” in Christianity today. The meaning is so vague and is connected to
so many different biblical themes – some of which are legitimate, many of which are not. But all of that is still entirely different
than understanding what the word “Messiah” or “Christ” actually means in its biblical
context. Alright, so let’s get into this. First, we need to understand the issue of
language and translation. Of course the Old Testament was written in
Hebrew. The Hebrew word we’re looking at first is
the word “mashiyach”. Now a transliteration is just writing words
or letters from one language in words or letters from another language. Transliteration does not interpret the word
– so here, to transliterate “mashiyach” into English means to just map the sounds and characters
from Hebrew to English. So that’s how we get the word “messiah”. Now if we were to translate the meaning of
mashiyach into English, it would be translated as “anointed”. That’s what the word means. You can look it up in Strongs lexicon – it’s
just Hebrew word number 4899. Let’s look at this in the Scriptures. First we turn to 1 Samuel 2, the place where
it’s widely recognized that the tradition of “maschiyach” or “messiah” in Israel formally
began: “The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken
to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”” (1 Samuel 2:10 ESV) This is a verse from Hannah’s song. The Hebrew word here that is translated as
“anointed” is the word we looked at: “maschiyach”, or “messiah”. Now if you remember the story, Hannah would
become the mother of Samuel, who was the prophet used by God to directly establish the age
of the kings in Israel, beginning with Saul, and then eventually the Davidic dynasty. In this verse, commentators recognize that
there’s a parallelism going on here between “king” and “anointed”. He will give strength to His king – He will
exalt the power of His anointed. I want you to see the simplicity of this point. The reason that this passage in Samuel is
the beginning of the messianic tradition is because it was the beginning of the era of
the kings of Israel. Don’t over think this – it’s so simple and
obvious. All I’m saying is that the idea of a “messiah”
in the history of Israel began at the same time Israel got their first king. Now this Hebrew word “maschiyach” or as it’s
translated to English in the passage, “anointed”, is used later in 1 Samuel and only makes this
link between “messiah” and “king” even clearer. Look at this in 1 Samuel 12: “Here I am; testify against me before the
LORD and before his anointed (here it is again, the same word used in 1 Samuel 2 – the Hebrew
word “maschiyach”). Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to
blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to
you.”” (1 Samuel 12:3 ESV) This is Samuel talking here. Now – this is going to blow your mind – do
you know who Samuel was talking about? He was talking about Saul! Here Saul is is the one referred to as “the
anointed” or “the maschiyach”, “the messiah” of the LORD. I’m not making that up – that’s just what
the verse says, you can go read the context on your own. And who was Saul? Saul was the first king of Israel. So this phrase “the LORD and His anointed”
is exactly the same language as one of the most dramatic messianic passages in the Old
Testament that we may already be familiar with, Psalm 2:2: “The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed,”
(Psalms 2:2 ESV) See that? 1 Samuel 12, talking about Saul, Psalm 2,
which we commonly just assume is talking about Jesus – same exact language – the LORD and
his anointed. My point is not to say if Psalm 2 is actually
Jesus or not, I just want you to see that the language is exactly the same between Saul
in 1 Samuel 12 and then here in Psalm 2, whoever this ruler is that the nations are raging
against. Let’s look at a few more passages in 1 Samuel: “He said to his men, “The LORD forbid
that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against
him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.”” (1 Samuel 24:6 ESV) Now, this is David talking, and Saul’s trying
to hunt him down and he comes into a cave where David is to take a bathroom break, and
David doesn’t kill him but just cuts off a corner of his robe. And this is what he tells his men. “the LORD forbid that I should kill him. He is the LORD’s anointed. He is the maschiyach, he is the messiah.” Again, this is what the verse is saying. The Hebrew word is maschiyach, the same one
we’ve been looking at. What is David saying? “Saul is the king of Israel, he is the messiah,
the one the Lord set in place – I can’t kill him.” Now this may sound very strange to our western
Evangelical ears. How is King Saul, the bad guy in Israel, the
Messiah? There are so many other examples in the scriptures
where this word “anointed” or “maschiyach” or “messiah” is used. In 1 Samuel, it always refers to the prince,
king, or ruler of Israel. You can see those passages in 1 Samuel 9,
10, 15, and 16. (9:16, 10:1, 15:1, 15:17, 16:3, 16:12, 16:13). So, what’s my point? The phrase “the maschiyach of the Lord”, “the
messiah of the LORD”, the “anointed of the Lord” was so inextricably linked to the concept
of the king of Israel. And as we saw, it doesn’t always mean the
good guy – it even applied to a wicked and rebellious king, king Saul. Before we move on to the New Testament and
the word “Christ”, here’s some takeaway points from this brief look at “messiah”: 1) Messianic tradition in Israel began when
the age of Israel’s kings began (1 Samuel 2:10). 2) The word translated as “anointed” in our
English Bibles is the Hebrew word “maschiyach” (Common English word: “messiah”)
3) The “anointed” or the messiah of the Lord was the way that these passages we looked
at in 1 Samuel described the king or ruler of Israel. Ok. Now that we’ve seen how “messiah” was understood
biblically, what about the word “Christ”? Well, remember that the Old Testament was
written in Hebrew, and the New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek word we’re looking at now is the
word “Christos”, which, if we transliterate it into English, is the word “Christ”. Again, transliteration is just writing letters
from one language in letters from another language. We haven’t actually interpreted the meaning
of the word yet. But what is the meaning of the word “Christos”? This is Strongs Greek number 5547 and literally
means “the one who has been anointed”. Ok, I hope now you are starting to see a bit
of a connection here. Here is where translators of the Bible have
really gone wrong, in my opinion. In the Old Testament, our modern English translations
have chosen to translate the Hebrew word “mashiyach” – they write it as “anointed”. But in the New Testament, the Greek word is
only transliterated – they still write the word “Christos” as “Christ” and not as “anointed”. The only reason I believe translators do this
is a preconceived idea of what “Christ” is. When they don’t translate it as “anointed”,
it severs any possibility of continuity of meaning between the Old Testament and the
New Testament. Do you see that? Someone today could look at 1 Samuel 2 or
Psalm 2 where it says “anointed” and then go to Luke 2 and see “Christ” there and completely
miss the connection. Both words mean “anointed”, but one is translated
and the other is transliterated. This isn’t cool. Let’s go back to that passage we looked at
in 1 Samuel 24 for a second. If I were to use this simple principle of
transliteration of the Hebrew word “mashiyach”, we could read: “He said to his men, “The LORD forbid
that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s messiah, to put out my hand against
him, seeing he is the LORD’s messiah.”” What if this was actually the way it was printed
in our Bibles? Think about how dramatically your understanding
of the word “messiah” would be changed if this was the case. Now what if I went a step further and substituted
the transliteration of the Greek word for “anointed” here: “He said to his men, “The LORD forbid
that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s christ, to put out my hand against
him, seeing he is the LORD’s christ.”” This passage would then be understood that
David would not stretch out his hand against Saul because he was the christ. What a bombshell this would be in the modern
church related to how we see that word! It’s totally biblical, this isn’t a hefty
theological argument. Does this seem a little crazy to you? It is only because the practice of modern
translation has driven a wedge between the Christ of the New Testament and the background
in the Old Testament. Before you think I’m a total fool for doing
this, luckily we have the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament
that was written long before our English translators looked at the Greek manuscripts for the New
Testament. The Septuagint was compiled 200 to 300 years
BEFORE the time of Jesus. So let’s look at this passage in 1 Samuel
24 in the Septuagint. This is going to blow your mind. καὶ εἶπεν Δαυιδ πρὸς τοὺς
ἄνδρας αὐτοῦ Μηδαμῶς μοι παρὰ κυρίου, εἰ ποιήσω
τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο τῷ κυρίῳ μου τῷ χριστῷ κυρίου ἐπενέγκαι
χεῖρά μου ἐπʼ αὐτόν, ὅτι χριστὸς κυρίου ἐστὶν
οὗτος, (1 Kingdoms 24:7 LXX) What is the word that’s in this passage in
the Septuagint? Christos. The same thing is found in Psalm 2:2: παρέστησαν οἱ βασιλεῖς
τῆς γῆς, καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες συνήχθησαν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ
κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ διάψαλμα
(Psalm 2:2 LXX) So, what is this saying? The translators of the Hebrew Old Testament
into Greek about 250 years before the time of Jesus used the word “Christ” for “Messiah”,
because the meaning of both of those words was “anointed”. Nothing has changed – the term “anointed”
was applied to the leader or the king of Israel. Now that we’ve established the background
of these two words, why are they significant and important to rightly understand? If you’ve stuck with me this long, awesome
– here’s where it will all come together, and here’s the simple idea I want you to see. Messiah is just the name taken by someone
when they became king over Israel. Messiah is not a name like “John” or “Jack”
and it was not a title like “sir”. To be “the Anointed” or “the Messiah” or “the
Christ” meant you held an office, like we call President or Prime Minister or King today. The Messiah was the throne name of the kings
of Israel. This was a common thing in the cultures of
the day. Israel’s neighbors had throne names for their
kings. Agag was the throne name of the kings of the
Amalekites. Abimelech was the throne name of the kings
of the Philistines. Pharaoh was the the throne name of the kings
of Egypt. That one we’re probably the most familiar
with, so let’s develop it for a second. The word Pharaoh just means “big house”. But to be the Pharaoh in Egypt meant that
you held an office, much like we would say “the President” or “The Prime Minister”. Pharaoh was the name that the Egyptian kings
took for themselves to tell everyone “hey, I’m the guy that lives in the big house, I’m
number one”, and so when one died, the next one came up and was also called Pharaoh. So this is the same thing that Israel did
with their kings – they were called the “messiah or anointed of the Lord”. Like we saw, Saul bore that title, David did,
then Solomon, and so on. And now of course in Jesus’ time, everyone
was looking for yet another messiah from the house of David, according to the covenant
that God made with David in 2 Samuel 7. There God had said to David: “When your days are fulfilled and you lie
down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your
body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I
will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be
to me a son.” (2 Samuel 7:12-14 ESV) This promise is so critical to understand. God said that He would raise up one of David’s
sons to rule over all Israel as the king from the city of Jerusalem, just like David did. But we know the story of the kings in Israel
after David – all of their kingdoms fell into ruin and Israel was eventually scattered. In other words, none of these kings, even
Solomon and his kingdom, were the fulfillment of God’s promise to David because none of
their kingdoms endured forever. Now as we come to the New Testament, we see
a very unique verse here in Luke 1. This is where the angel Gabriel appears to
Mary and tells her about the son she will bear: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb
and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son
of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne
of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom
there will be no end.”” (Luke 1:31–33 ESV) Do you see how Gabriel is echoing the exact
wording of the Davidic covenant here? Mary would have understood these promises
from the Old Testament, and there’s no question that she would have heard this phrase as “my
son is going to be the king of Israel”. This also has to inform our understanding
of what the angel says to the shepherds in Luke 2:11: “For unto you is born this day in the city
of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 ESV) This is what the disciples and the Samaritan
woman said about Jesus in John 1 and John 4: “He first found his own brother Simon and
said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).” (John 1:41 ESV) “The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah
is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.”” (John 4:25 ESV) This is what Peter says about Jesus in Acts
2:36: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know
for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”” (Acts 2:36 ESV) This is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I decided to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2 ESV) What are they saying? Again, they’re not saying “God has made Jesus,
Jesus” or “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus and the cross.” Every time they’re saying: “He’s the king
of Israel”, “He’s the king of Israel”, “Jesus is the king of Israel and He’s going to establish
an everlasting kingdom based in Israel”. And where did the king of Israel rule from? Jerusalem. Not in the heavens. God rules from the throne in the heavens. Yes, Jesus is both Lord and Christ, and Jesus
is sitting in the heavens now and his rightful identity as the God of Israel has been vindicated
by His ascension back to the heavens. But according to Peter in Acts 2:34, the king
of Israel, like Saul or David, never ascended to the heavens and never sat on a throne there. So when we preach “Jesus is the Christ”, we
are saying “Jesus is the king of Israel. He’s going to rule from a real throne in Israel,
because that’s what it means for someone to be the Christ, the messiah, the king of Israel. To say otherwise would be as odd as saying
“the President of the United States doesn’t rule from Washington, but actually from a
village in Argentina”. In the Bible, God rules over all creation
from a throne in the heights of the heavens, and the Messiahs of Israel ruled Israel from
the land of Israel. Does that make sense to you? When these two thrones and these two ideas
are conflated, it really makes for a confusing mess. David never ruled Israel from a throne in
the heavens, and the fundamental meaning of the word “Christ” in the New Testament was
never changed to mean anything else besides “the king of Israel”. Of course the thing that the New Testament
does reckon with is the idea that the king of Israel, the Christ, had to first suffer
before establishing His kingdom. That’s what Paul is alluding to when he said
to the Corinthians, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus as the king
of Israel, and how He had to be crucified as an atonement for sin before He establishes
his glorious kingdom in Jerusalem.” He’s not talking about the everlasting kingdom
of the Lord’s that has always ruled over the heavens and the earth as seen in passages
throughout the Old Testament, he’s talking about the kingdom of the king of Israel. And biblically, I hope you see now, that this
is based in Israel, from a real, physical, geographic location called the city of Jersualem. Our hope as believers is that Jesus, the God
of Israel and the king of Israel will return and establish the promised kingdom from Jerusalem
that will rule over all the nations. THIS is what it means to believe Jesus is
“the Christ”, “the Messiah”. He is the king of Israel and will one day
rule in the city of Jerusalem. I hope you see now that the word “Christ”
has so much significance. It’s not just his last name, and it isn’t
just the title of the guy who died on the cross for our sins. What a glorious hope we have. Oh there’s so much more that could be said
and so many other very important overtones to this to explore, but I hope this brings
you some clarity. May Jesus give us grace to be bold witnesses
of who He is as both the God of Israel and the coming king of Israel, and may we, as
Peter says in 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 13, set our hope completely on the day of His
coming. Amen. God bless you.