It’s hard for people to imagine that Barrie Wilson might be into something when he mentions Paul – and at least the Gentile writers – may have developed a new idea for the messiah called the ‘Christ’. However, if one looks closely at the scripture in the NT it becomes fairly obvious there was a paradigm shift that happened around the word ‘Christ’; which originally was about the ‘messiah’.
I am going to examine a few of those verses from through-out the gospels and letters.
“Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.” (Matthew 16:20)
After Peter confirms who he thinks Jesus is Jesus demands they tell no one he is ‘the Christ’. Here we see this is a title – a type of position – and not a name. It is obviously in direct relation to the messianic ideals from within Judaism – and in Matthew 22:42 they in turn relate it to the Davidic kingdom. From the start of Matthew’s gospel even this seems to be related to that lineage. In Matthew 11:2-5 Jesus advises John the Baptists people to let them know what it is they are seeing – a few things are mentioned (one of them being the ‘good news is preached’) – linking Jesus to Tankah prophets and their sayings. This messiah idea has a link back into history – based on the messianic beliefs held in Judaism and nowhere else.
Luke 23:2 probably pins it the best “And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”” (a title)
This changes over time – from even gospel to gospel – but most noticeably in the letters to the Gentile communities (and John).
Acts 4:10 “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”
This is where we begin to see some of the shift from historical person (Jesus of Nazarene) to meta-physical person (Jesus Christ). It is beginning to seem the name Christ is becoming an almost type of ‘last name’ (or is this a translation problem of people much later – when last names were used – making Christ into a name).
Romans 1:1 “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God”
Romans 1:6 “among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ“
From pretty much this point on in the NT – and amongst almost every letter – Jesus and Christ are linked together as a ‘name’. Now although one can still find the reference that it is linked to historical ideas of the ‘messiah’ it becomes less clear if one just read these letters.
And here is the problem – the correct way to likely translate this everytime is Jesus the Christ (which means messiah – which further means anointed one – which further falls back to a kingship role). With that name change we find a shift in the paradigm of what ‘Christ’ comes to also mean.
The messiah role becomes rather expanded to include a whole hoarde of new ideas under this Christology. Jesus becomes meta-physical in nature (understandable – even the gospels mention this – but the letters only focus is this). Jesus becomes God’s equal (divinity). Jesus takes on new propitiation roles in sacrifice (some in Paul – mainly in Hebrews). Jesus takes on a new title called ‘Lord’ (how we translate that is in question – but most people use it as some divine clause – likely it can also been seen as some king leader). Jesus also has a 2nd coming.
In essence it’s a huge addition to the term ‘messiah’ that started in Judaism. By the time this term finds it’s use in Gentile communities it’s becomes a new terminology – with so much added dimension to it. It makes sense it would lose it’s historical uses from Judaism – since Gentiles needed to find the meaning in it also. Most people in Christendom have no clue about the historical meaning of the messiah.
Most people don’t know this but Rabbi Maimonides (Rambam) in the 12th Century as one of his ’13 principles of faith’. What did he mean by that term ‘messiah’? Anyone interested in learning more about the ‘jewish messiah’ can read the wiki article included and see some of the differences that have evolved in Christendom from this term to the more historical use of this term in Judaism.
Mainly – food for thought.