By Juan Baixeras
In order to understand Jesus we must understand what it means to be anointed. After all, this is what "Christ" means. Christos is Greek for the Jewish word "Messiah" which means "The anointed."
Messiah - Most of us are more familiar with the Greek translation of this word, which is "Christos" or "Christ" in English. People have made this title of Jesus into Jesus surname. But it is not his name, it is his title. Jesus Christ means Jesus the Christ (Messiah). When we say that we are Christians, we are saying that we are Messiahnist, or followers of the Messiah. The definition of Messiah has been practically lost.
Let us see what the The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible has to say about the word "Messiah".
Messiah - Hebrew word signifying "one who has been anointed." The anointed agent of Yahweh. The kings of Israel were anointed with oil in the name of God, which symbolized his investiture with the Spirit of God. The term Messiah was later used to designate a "future king," an expected royal leader from the line of David who would restore the kingdom to Israel. A king who would make all things new, consecrated as Yahwehs vicegerent in Israel. This son of David, who was expected by the Jewish nation, was the Messiah par excellence, a term that has been rendered in Greek by Christos (New American Bible & The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (ZEB), vol.2, pg. 344).
That the Messiah is supposed to be a king is a well-known fact by anyone who has studied the Bible in depth. Because it was customary to anoint kings, the phrase "The LORDs anointed" became a synonym for "king"(ZEB, vol.1, pg. 171). This fact can be verified by many verses. Even on the cross the inscription read, "The king of the Jews"(Mark 15:26). I will cover a few verses and then list some more for your own study:
Mark 15:32: "Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross."
John 1:40 & 49: "We have found the Messiah Rabbi, you are the Son of God; the king of Israel."
Luke 19:38: "Blessed is the king (Jesus) who comes in the name of the Lord (YHWH).
Other verses: Jeremiah 23:5, Daniel 7:13, Psalms 2:6, Zechariah 9:9, Acts 17:7, 2 Timothy 4:1. There are many more. The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible vol. 4 pg.200 says:
"If God’s purpose is not to be defeated, the true Messiah = King as God’s authentic Servant is the only answer. In Heb. Categories the remedy is centered upon a person and not upon an abstract doctrine or an ideal system. There can be no Messianic kingdom without Gods anointed King."
As we can see, the Messiah is an actual king of Israel, the ideal king of Israel. He is a man who is anointed by God’s spirit. The Messiah is able to perform mighty signs because God has anointed him with His Spirit, not because he is God. It is God working through Jesus. These three verses explain this point better than I ever could:
Acts 10:38: "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."
Acts 2:22: "Jesus of Nazareth was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know."
Acts 17:31:"Because He has established a day on which He will judge the world with justice through a man he has appointed, and He has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead."
All the Old Testament Messianic prophecies speak of a man anointed by Gods Spirit. None of them mention that the Messiah is supposed to be God. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible vol.4 pg.201 states of the Messiah:
"But at all times he is the one who acts in the power and under the guidance of the God of Israel."
The Jews today (because they failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah) are still waiting for the Messiah to come. But if you ask a rabbi who the Messiah is supposed to be (as I did), he will tell you what all these sources have said, that he will be a man anointed by Gods Spirit. We must always remember that the Messiah is the ideal anointed king of Israel who will reign in Gods kingdom to come, the Messianic kingdom. The confusion lies in that God did not come AS Jesus, He came IN Jesus.
As you can see, this concept of messiah will conflict with the idea of the Doctrine of the Trinity. This paper will not deal with the verses that people have used to try and prove the trinity, there is a paper listed at the end of this paper which will deal with that topic as well another paper that deals with the development of the trinity.
There is a Jewish concept called "Agency" which is crucial in the understanding of Jesus. A good understanding of this concept will help any student of the Bible not only in the understanding of who Jesus is, but in many other verses as well.
Agency - The concept of agency will sound strange to us mostly because we are not familiar with the idea. To a Jew it was nothing uncommon. Many of our customs in the U.S., such as referring to something good as "bad" would completely confuse a scholar of the future who is trying to understand our culture unless he was aware of this custom.
Agency is best understood when we think of a type of ambassador. God has never been seen. His word (will) has come to many people, but he has never appeared personally. To many of us the verses of Abraham speaking with God who had appeared as a man will come to mind, but once you understand this concept you will see that it was not God, but his representative. Angels often fill this role, specifically the Angel of the LORD (YHWH). The Jews believed that it was normal to address the person who is sent on behalf of someone else as that person himself. This is why sometimes the angel of the LORD is seen as a completely separate being from God as in Zecharia 1:2 where the angel of the LORD is having an actual conversation with God, and at other times it seems as if they are the same being. You will always notice that these verses start with "the angel of the LORD," this is who is talking, the angel of the LORD, not God himself. The angel is speaking for God, and in that sense it is God speaking. The representative speaks many times in the first person, and it is common to address the representative as the person who sent him. An excellent example is in Esdras 5:43-56 where Ezra questions Gods spokesman, the angel Uriel, as though he were both creator and judge. Ezra uses the same style of address to Uriel ("my lord, my master) as he uses in direct petition to God (The Doctrine of the Trinity by Anthony Buzzard & Charles Hunting).
An easy way to see that the angel of the LORD is not God himself or Jesus is that he appears in the New Testament such as in Luke 2:9-13 to tell the shepherds that a savior has been born in the city of David. The angel of the LORD and Jesus are in the same place at the same time. People that claim that the angel of the LORD is God or Jesus in the Old Testament will have to explain how God is now really four in one, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and angel of the LORD, a quadrinity.
A.R. Johnson in a monograph entitled The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God, states the following regarding this form of speech:
"In Hebrew thought a patriarch’s personality extended through his entire household to his wives, his sons and their wives, his daughters, servants in his household and even in some sense his property. The "one" personality was present in the "many" who were with him. In a specialized sense when the patriarch’s as lord of his household deputized his trusted servant as his malak (i.e. his messenger or angel) the man was endowed with the authority and resources of his lord to represent him fully and transact business in his name. In Semitic thought this messenger-representative was conceived of as being personally-and in his very words-the presence of the sender" (Christology and The Angel of the LORD by John Cunningham).
Let’s take a look at some examples of this form of speech:
"There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush. When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, But Moses said to God, Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh "(Exodus 3:2-4& 11).
The angel of the LORD appeared in the flaming bush and then proceeds to speak for God. Moses then answers the angel as if he were speaking to God. Notice that it says the angel of the LORD, it is an angel that is speaking for God. This can be confirmed by Stephen in Acts 7:30. He states the following in reference to this event:
"Forty years later, an angel appeared to him in the desert near Mount Sinai in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight."
The angel spoke out of the bush. It was God speaking through the angel. In this same event, God gave Moses the law and specifically the Ten Commandments. It says in Exodus 20:1-17:
"Then God delivered all these commandments: I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me." Etc.
But it is still God speaking through the angel. Stephen again verifies this in Acts 7:53:
"You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it."
The law was given to Moses through the angels. As a matter of fact, the whole episode on Mount Sanai was God speaking through the angels. Act 7:38 states:
"It was he who, in the assembly in the desert, was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sanai and with our ancestors, and he received living utterances to hand on to us."
I have saved one of the clearest examples for last. It is Deuteronomy 29:1-6. In this example Moses is speaking to Israel. Then all of a sudden he is speaking in the first person as God. We all know that Moses is not God, it is God speaking through Moses to Israel.
"Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did in the land of Egypt before your very eyes to Pharaoh and all his servants and to all his land; the great testing’s your own eyes have seen, and those great signs and wonders. But not even at the present day has the LORD yet given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. I led you for forty years in the desert. Your clothes did not fall from you in tatters nor your sandals from your feet; bread was not your food, nor wine or beer your drink. Thus you should know that I, the LORD, am your God."
To someone who is not familiar with this literary device, it would seem that Moses is God. The quote starts off with Moses speaking as himself and ends with Moses speaking as God in the first person. But it is God speaking through Moses to Israel. There are many examples in the Bible of this custom of speech.
The idea is that God gives His authority to His representatives. This idea is pivotal in the understanding of Jesus because Jesus will be God’s representative par excellence, and Jesus will speak on behalf of God. Here are a few verses to illustrate the point of God giving His authority to His representatives:
"See I am sending you an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies" (Exodus 23:20-22).
God sends the Israelites an angel to lead them on their way. God’s authority resides in this angel. Notice that if you heed the angel’s voice you will be carrying out all that God tells you, because the angel speaks for God. The angel is God’s representative and thus has the authority of God, but the angel is not God. If we can understand this concept it will make our understanding of Jesus much easier. Jesus will represent God on earth and will thus speak for God and have His authority to forgive sins and to judge.
"For I do not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it" (John 12:49).
"And He has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man" (John 5:27).
"Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of God and the authority of His Anointed" (Revelation 12:10).
"But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, when the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings"(Matthew 9:6-7).
As you can see, Jesus is representing God to the people. He is speaking on behalf of God. Also notice that he has been given the authority, he did not possess it.
This is not a new concept, Moses said exactly this about the future Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:18:
"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words in his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it."
Let me now read you what The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible says in vol.1 pg.171 about the metaphorical meaning of being anointed. Remember, Jesus Christ means Jesus the Messiah, which means Jesus the Anointed.
"Since persons ritually anointed were believed to have received the holiness and virtue of the deity in whose name they were anointed, it was also believed that they received a special endowment of the Spirit of Yahweh (1 Samuel 10:10; 16:13). There was a transfer of divine powers and authority. By extension "to anoint" became a metaphor for the bestowal of Gods favor (Ps 23:5; 92:10-as parallelism shows), for the designation of someone to a particular place or office in God’s plan (Ps 105:15; Isa 45:1). Anointing indicated preparation for service and the gift of God’s Spirit. In reference to kings, the king became the vassal of Yahweh. Anointing conveyed divine authority"
Carefully notice that whomever God anoints (i.e.Jesus) receives an endowment of His Spirit, and because of that endowment he receives divine powers and God’s authority. Let’s review Acts 10:38 once again:
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."
Jesus place or office in God’s plan is as our Messiah. As we have shown earlier, God has given Jesus His authority on earth to do anything that He would do. This is why Jesus can forgive sins. In reality it is God forgiving sins through Jesus. Jesus is God’s representative par excellence. When you examine the Scriptures thoroughly you will notice that everything comes to us through Christ, such as grace, forgiveness of sins, etc. This is why Jesus is also called our mediator.
With an understanding of this concept, one can finally start to understand who Jesus really is. Also many passages of the Bible will come to life with a whole new meaning, a meaning that does not contradict other Scriptures. The Jewish meaning that was intended.
So why do few people know about this information that we have covered? Because in the 3rd and 4th centuries the people that were interpreting the Bible were educated in Greek philosophies. This influenced the meanings of many verses. I will list a few of these philosophies along with some quotes from authors who have written on this topic.
Dualism - The view that reality may be divided into two essential forces. There are two forms of this understanding. From a cosmic perspective, the world struggles between two opposing forces typically, one of evil and one of good. From a philosophical approach, the essence of a person is divided between two incompatible natures -- that of the body and that of the soul. Early Christianity incorporated both views from those religions and philosophies with which it came in contact. (From Reading the Apostolic Fathers)
This is the exact definition that Trinitarians have used for Jesus: He has two natures. He is fully God and fully man. This is stated in the Chalcedon Creed of 451 AD.
Neo-Platonism - This philosophy incorporates all the Platonist framework and then adds a few twists of its own. It has a different view of God. This is probably the most important difference between them, and the most damaging to Christianity.
The Neo-Platonist view of God is as follows: there is the highest principle, which is called the One. The One produces the Intelligence, and from it comes the Soul. This process is called emanation. It would benefit us to get a visual picture of this thought.
One / Intelligence / Soul
God / Word / Holy Spirit
This concept of God, that realities derive from higher essentialities, was devastating to Christianity and essential to the development of the Trinity. They also believe that the goal of the human soul is to escape from the body and return to the One. (Reading the Apostolic Fathers & Encyclopedia Britannica)
Stoicism - One of the most influential traditions in the philosophy of the Hellenistic world, Stoicism claimed the following of a large portion of the educated persons in the Greco-Roman world. It had considerable influence on the development of early Christianity (The Ecole Initiative Encyclopedia.
Stoic philosophy insisted that the DIVINE principle of life "logos" gave order to the world and could be found in all creatures and substances (Reading The Apostolic Fathers, pg. 183). You can imagine what happens when someone who has been educated in this philosophy, who believes that the logos is the divine principle of life (which is basically a definition of God) reads John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the word (logos) etc. He is off to the races in the wrong direction. The worst part is that it would make all the sense in the world to Stoic Christians. They would inevitably end up with divine pre-existent logos, which, of course, must be Jesus.
Stoic thought was extremely popular among Christian theologians of Alexandria in Egypt. Egypt is where logos Christology developed. And wouldn’t you know it, all the major theologians who wrote about the logos being God were from Egypt. What a coincidence!
The Encyclopedia Americana: "Fourth century Trinitarianism did not reflect accurately early Christian teaching regarding the nature of God; it was, on the contrary, a deviation from this teaching."
A Dictionary of Religious Knowledge: "Many say that the trinity is a corruption borrowed from the heathen religions, and engrafted on the Christian faith."
The Paganism in Our Christianity: "The origin of the trinity is entirely pagan."
The New chaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: "The doctrines of the Logos and the trinity received their shape from Greek Fathers, who were much influenced, directly or indirectly, by the Platonic philosophy. That errors and corruptions crept into the church from this source cannot be denied."
The Church of the First Few Centuries: "The Doctrine of the Trinity was of gradual and comparatively late formation. It had its origin in a source entirely foreign from that of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It grew up, and was engrafted on Christianity, through the hands of the Platonizing Fathers."
Outlines of the History of Dogma: "Church doctrine became rooted in the soil of Hellenism (pagan Greek thought). Thereby it became a mystery to the great majority of Christians."
Here is John 10:30 as an example of what I am talking about. This is a Trinitarian favorite. You judge for yourself.
John 10: 30
I and the Father are one.
Jesus and the Father are one, but not one in substance as Trinitarians will have you believe. They are one in mind or purpose. If you look at John 17: 11 it states:
"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be one as we are one."
Either this verse is saying that all the Apostles are of the same substance (which is obviously ridiculous), or that they are one in mind, or purpose, just as Jesus and God are.
Scripture states that Jesus is the Messiah not God. Man's tradition says that Jesus is God. Which one will you follow?
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2: 8).