by Brad McCoy
The New Testament term “Christ” is a very significant one. Sadly though, our familiarity with this word has in a sense devalued its impact for many modern Christians. Recently I did a word study on this term in the Gospel of John and the Epistle of 1 John. In this article I will share some of my observations based on that study. Recognizing just how strategic the title “Christ” is in the writings of John the Apostle will help us to better appreciate and apply its significance in our lives today.
First, “Christ” is the exclusive title of Jesus–who is “the Christ.” John the Baptist three times denies the application of this title to himself, or to anyone else but Jesus, in John 1:20, 25; 3:28.
Second, Jesus Himself claims to be “the Christ.” In John 10:24-25 our Lord affirms under direct questioning that He is “the Christ.” See also John 8:58.
Third, the title “Christ” is equivalent to “Messiah” as seen in John 1:41; 4:25, 29; and 7:41-42. The Old Testament had predicted that the Messiah would suffer for sins–see Isa 52:13-53:12 and Ps 22:1-21. Both the Old Testament Prophets (see 1 Pet 1:11) and the New Testament Apostles (see Acts 3:18-20; 18:28; 26:23) affirmed this fact.
Fourth, the truth that Jesus is the Christ is the essential content of saving faith. This is directly taught in John 20:31 and 1 John 5:1 and reflected in John 11:27 and 1 John 2:22. John 20:31 states, “but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” First John 5:1 is even more direct, declaring, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…” The perceptive reader of the New Testament will in fact notice that the Gospel call is in effect simply an exhortation for men and women and boys and girls to believe on Jesus as “the Christ.” This is clearly seen in repeated apostolic Gospel appeals in the Book of Acts. Notice the consistent theme articulated in the following verses:
Acts 5:42 And every day in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 9:22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
Acts 17:2-3 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ has to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
Acts 18:5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
Acts 18:28 And he [Apollos] powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
It is a tragedy that many Christians think of the term “Christ” simply as little more than the last name of Jesus. In fact “Christ” is a highly significant title identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the All-Sufficient Savior of everyone who places faith in Him! To believe on Jesus as “the Christ” involves supernatural enablement from God (Matt 16:16-17) and appropriates the blessed gift of eternal life (John 5:24). May we stand amazed at the glory and the grace of Jesus the Christ and propagate the tremendous truth of who He is and what He has done so that all may hear!
Brad McCoy is pastor of Tanglewood Bible Fellowship in Duncan, Oklahoma.