Words Not Found in Scripture – Christ-mas Edition

Since tomorrow is the popular Christian celebrated holiday called Christmas I decided that it would be a good time to talk about the word “Christ” and perhaps take “Christ” out of Christmas. The word “Christ” is similar to “Baptize,” in the sense that the word is found in our English translations because it is a transliteration of a Greek word. In this case, Christ is a transliteration of “Χριστος.” In my opinion this is not as damaging as transliterating a word like Baptize because there is no real debate as to what “Christ” means. But still, I have the same complaint, how does anyone know what “Christ” means?

I wonder how many untrained newcomers to follow Jesus believe that Christ was his last name. Before I was a follower, I always treated it as his last name and did not think about it. For those of you who do not know, “Christ” or “Χριστος” translates to “the Anointed One or the Messiah.” Some translations switch between Messiah and Christ as translations, most of them stick with Christ.

The Facts

  1. The NASB translates Χριστος as “the Messiah” 4 times. (Matthew 1:1,16,17; 2:4)
  2. The NASB translates Χριστος as “Christ” 528 times in the New Testament.
  3. Χριστιανος occurs 3 times in the New Testament and the NASB translates  as “Christian” each time.
  4. Χριστος occurs 529 times in the New Testament (an additional 11 times in the Septuagint — Greek translation of the Old Testament).
  5. There is a discrepancy 3 times where the word Christ appears in the NASB but Χριστος is not found in the Greek manuscripts for those verses (Acts 8:37, 20:21; Romans 16:24). NOTE: In Romans 16:24 Χριστος appears in the Byzantine manuscripts, which are not generally used by the NASB.
  6. There is also a Greek word Μεσσιας which is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word for Messiah. It occurs twice in the New Testament. (John 1:41, 4:25)


As I already said, this transliteration really does not lead to any major conflicts. Although some people probably do not know what “Christ” means, it is fairly easy to find out. Generally when someone is talking about Jesus Christ we know who they are referring to and what people believe he is. However, I would still like to see the word translated properly, to something like “the Messiah” or “the anointed One”. But even those translations could be confusing. Also, in the spirit of Christmas, we should take Christ out and replace it with Messiah.

So, Happy Messiahmas everyone!

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  1. Thanks for the Greek lesson. Appreciate it. I think your right especially about Christmas, I never thought of it that way. However we should probably go with Jesusmas just to be clear who this celebration is about. Who knows, someone may make a story about Santa being anointed with fairy dust, and the kids will really be confused. :)

  2. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Are you saying that Santa wasn’t anointed with fairy dust? :)

    God Speed,

  3. Okay, late response. First of all, everyone (except Jon apparently) knows that Santa was anointed with fairy dust.

    Second, I find it interesting that the term Christian is used 3 times in the NT…and two of those times it appears to be a derogatory term. I prefer Jesus follower…But that’s just my opinion. :-)

    Happy New Year Lew!


  4. Hey Brandon,

    I don’t see the derogatory thing… but I agree, I prefer Jesus follower :).

    God Speed,

    P.S. We need to make 2010 a year that we spend more time with each other :).

  5. I agree, let’s start planning that now! :)

    I’ll get back to you on the derogatory deal.


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