Christ: “The Anointed One” — What Does it Mean? What Does “Jesus” Mean?

Published June 13th, 2016 by Dirk Waren


“Christ” is not the last name of Jesus. “Christ” is translated from the Greek word Christos (khris-TOS), which means “anointed one” and comes from the Hebrew mashach (maw-SHAKH), meaning “anointed” or “chosen one.” A good example of this Hebrew word used in reference to Jesus in the Scriptures is Psalm 45:7.

As for “Jesus” (or “Yeshua”), this was simply the name the angel Gabriel gave to Mary, as shown in Luke 1:31. This name was specifically given because ‘Jesus’ is the transliteration of a Hebrew term meaning “Yahweh [God] saves” (or “Yahweh is salvation”). So ‘Jesus’ is the Lord’s God-given proper name while ‘Christ’ is his title, signifying that Jesus was sent from God as humanity’s King and Deliverer — our “salvation” and, hence, our Savior.

While the meaning of mashach—“anointed”—literally refers to the pouring of oil, it can also refer to one’s separation unto God, even if literal oil is not actually used (Hebrews 1:9). You see, when someone was promoted to a position of authority in the Old Testament, oil was smeared on the person’s head to signify being consecrated (separated) for God’s work. See 1 Samuel 10:1 for a good example. Anointing was a ritualistic act indicating God’s choosing (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:6).  Kings, priests, and prophets were all set apart for the LORD’s ministry in this manner.


With this understanding, ‘Jesus Christ’ means “Jesus the Anointed One” and could be translated as “God saves through His Anointed One.” It’s “the name above all names,” as revealed in Scripture:

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

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