What Does Christ Mean?

Previously I wrote extensively about the name Jesus.  This is a continuation on the thoughts about Jesus’ name but now focusing on Christ.

It’s quite possible that you see the name Jesus Christ and you think those two names together as Jesus’ first and last names.  Well, that would be incorrect because the people of that day didn’t use last names like we do today.  Jesus would have been identified as Jesus, the son of Joseph, or more technically “Jesus bar Joseph” as “bar” means “son of.”  (You’ll see “bar” in several names in the Bible.  Barnabas means “son of encouragement.”  The murdered who was released to the people instead of Jesus on the Passover was Barabbas which very ironically means “son of the father.”)

So, if not a last name, where does Christ fit with the name Jesus?  Quite simply, Christ is a title.  It is no different in usage than how you would refer to someone as Dr. or sir.  Given the meaning of this title, it might be more technically correct to say Jesus the Christ.  Or one might argue that the word “the” is implied in the meaning of Christ and therefore unnecessary.

So, getting to the point, what does Christ mean?  It means “anointed one” or “the anointed one.”  This doesn’t sound like too big of a deal unless you realize that the term Messiah also means anointed one.  When people referred to Jesus as Christ, they were recognizing Him as the Messiah.

In Peter’s confession of the Christ, Jesus asked the question “who do you say I am?”  Peter answered by saying “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Peter did not respond just by repeating back a title that he had heard.  Instead, he was recognizing that Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied about and whom the Jews were waiting for for hundreds of years.

Some translations of the Bible are now choosing to translate Christ as Messiah in certain situations.  This is neither good nor bad in my view.  In some cases it makes it clear that the title is understood as the Messiah.  However, if you were familiar with Christ in the particular passage, it could lead to confusion if you don’t understand why the change occurred.  They mean the same.

The final question concerning Christ is whether we should use it alone, in place of Jesus, or only in combination – Jesus Christ.  To me, it makes no difference.  I use Jesus or Christ or Jesus Christ interchangeably in my writing and speaking.  The same person is recognized no matter how it is said.

In the New Testament you’ll also find Jesus, Christ, and Jesus Christ used interchangeably.  I haven’t studied closely enough but there may be a pattern to the usage by each author.  Paul might use Jesus more often in certain instances and Christ more often depending on the context.  I simply can’t say without more research.  But I can say that all three are used independently of themselves and therefore I have no problem using any of them myself.

So refer to Jesus as you like.  Just remember that Christ is not His last name.  Instead it is a title that is an acknowledgement of Him being the Messiah.

What was Jesus’ Real Name?

It may sound like a silly question to ask “what was Jesus’ real name” unless you’ve spent some time on Christian message boards or reading certain Christian blogs.  If you have, you’ll probably notice certain people adamantly insist on referring to Jesus as Yeshua.  These people will often argue with you why you are wrong for calling Jesus, well, Jesus.

What this all comes down to is languages and the translations of those languages.  Some people don’t really that the Bible was not written in English.  Instead it was translated into English from the original languages.  More knowledgeable people know that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek.  But technically part of the Old Testament was written in Aramaic as well and that does have a bearing on this whole thing.

The Jews spoke and wrote Hebrew up until King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and carried the people away into exile.  In Babylon they were surrounded by a new culture and a new language – Aramaic.  Part of the book of Daniel and the book of Esther were written in the language of the Babylonians – Aramaic.  When the exiles returned in Ezra and Nehemiah’s day, they were unable to understand their own scriptures because they were written in Hebrew.  Only the educated scribes and scholars were still able to read the scriptures which is why the people reacted as though they had never heard them read before – they hadn’t.

Things get even more complicated by Jesus’ day.  In Jerusalem there would have been three languages spoken.  The common language of the Jewish people would have been Aramaic still.  The scribes and scholars would have been able to read Hebrew but it wouldn’t have been used commonly.  Then there was the Greek language.  This was known as the “trade language” because it was the common language of the rest of the Roman world.  If you had to deal with anyone who was a Gentile, you probably had to deal with them in Greek.

Now, why is all of this relevant?  Because Mary and Joseph would have spoken Aramaic like the rest of the Jews.  The name given to Jesus would not have been Jesus, nor would it have been the Hebrew Yeshua either, but the Aramaic form of this name.  And guess what, that Aramaic doesn’t look anything like any kind of English – Jesus

And that’s really my point.  No matter how you insist on pronouncing it or what you insist is the “real” name of Jesus, unless you speak and write ancient Aramaic, you’re using a translation of the name.  Several of those Aramaic letters have no equivalent sound in the English language.  One close approximation is Eashoa.  Others have insisted it is still Yeshua.  The fact is that nothing can be 100% correct because we just don’t have letters for those sounds in English.

Having sort of answered the question “what is Jesus’ real name” there is still another question out there.  And that would be, why is Jesus called Jesus?  And that’s a fairly easy one.  That Aramaic name, no matter how you want to pronounce it, is translated in Greek as Jesus.  Technically in Greek it looks like Iesus because there is no letter J in Greek.  Since the New Testament was written in Greek, that’s what the early church would have referred to Jesus as, not His Aramaic name and not His Hebrew name.

In the end, it’s not a matter of what the name is or how we pronounce it.  What is truly important is what the name means.  The Aramaic approximation means “life-giver” which is actually my least favorite meaning.  Both the Greek and Hebrew forms of the name mean Yahweh (the Lord) saves.  There could hardly be a more appropriate meaning for the name of Jesus.

And now, just in case you were wondering, Jesus was hardly a unique name.  We equate it with the one and only Jesus but there were several by that name in the Old Testament, they just happened to be transliterated from the Hebrew rather than translated into Greek.  You know the Hebrew form of Jesus better, not as Yeshua, but as Joshua.  In the end, call it what you want, it all means the same.  And if you speak a language other than English, you’re going to find another translation or transliteration and it’s going to sound even different.

After all of this, you might still be wondering about how “Christ” fits into all of this.  Well, that’s going to be another post, so be sure to click the link above for that information.

Why did people live longer in Genesis?

There are a number of possibilities why people lived longer in Genesis.  Although some people want to dismiss the ages as simply exaggerated I believe these are literal ages and not symbolic in any way. 

To answer the question, first of all note when the ages dropped off dramatically – right after Noah and the flood.  They cut in half for Noah’s sons, then half for their sons, and then finally the next generation – Abraham – lived close to what we’d consider a normal life.  This would seem to indicate that the flood caused some kind of change that shortened lifespans.

The first reason that people may have lived longer in Genesis is that God is supernaturally expanding people’s lifespans.  God keeps people alive longer so that they populate the earth.  If this is case, it is no surprise at all that the person who apparently walks so close to God that God allows him to escape death, Enoch, is the father of the person who lives longer than any other man, Methusaleh.  Even among incredible lifespans, Methusaleh is blessed. 

The flood caused great changes to the earth.  Going back to the second day of creation, we should note what takes place.

Genesis 1:6-8

 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.  God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

We know that the air contains moisture and that clouds are a collection of water in tiny droplets but this appears to be more.  At creation, the earth is more like a tropical rain forest that does not need rain because of the canopy of water overhead.  Genesis 2:4-6 gives more indication as to what all of this looked like.

 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.  When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.

There was no rain and the earth essentially took care of itself because of the streams that sprung up and the moisture in the air.  The thick atmosphere served as protection from the sun and numerous harmful things like radiation which we know about now.  There is no telling what kinds of diseases did not exist because it could not live in such an environment.  All of these things would help people live longer.

Another possibility has to do with atmospheric pressure.  Scientists believe that the atmospheric pressure was about double what it is now.  This makes sense when one considers what all of the extra moisture would do in the air.  I don’t understand all of the science behind it but greater pressure seems to help with healing.  Hyperbaric chambers are designed specifically to increase the pressure around the body which helps with oxygen in the bloodstream.  Football players have started using these in their homes to recover from injuries.  The medical community is using them for everything from treating burns, to carbon monoxide poisoning, to healing crush injuries.  There are also studies being conducting regarding the use of hyperbaric chambers for the treatment of autism and even certain types of hearing loss.  In other words, the world before the flood could have been an environment that allowed the body to heal itself much better than today.

The fourth possibility has to do with genetics.  In short, Noah was the last to have the longevity gene.  His children had it, but only half because they only got it from their father.  The next generation only had one quarter of it.  This would give an explanation as to why the ages cut in half from Noah to the next generation.

In truth, we can’t be certain but any or all of these are possibilities as to why people lived longer in the book of Genesis.