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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Names And Titles of Christ

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NAMES AND TITLES OF CHRIST.—That special significance is attached in the Gospels to the names which are applied to our Lord, is clearly suggested by the reason assigned by the angel of the Lord for the name which he directed Joseph and Mary to bestow upon the Babe whose birth he foretold. ‘Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). This explanation of the name Jesus suggests that the other titles that are used to distinguish our Saviour have each its own didactic purpose, and are intended to shed light on some special aspect of Christ’s mission and nature.

1. Jesus.—The name Divinely bestowed upon our Lord, ‘Jesus’ (Ἰησοῦς, the Gr. equivalent of the Heb. Joshua or Jeshua יְהוֹשׁוּעַ, יֵשׁוּעַ), ‘Jehovah is salvation,’ was one of the commonest of male names among the Jews. Its bestowal upon Christ had, as is expressly stated in Matthew 1:21, peculiar and special significance. It meant that the bearer of the name should in this unique instance of its application be in the fullest sense all that the word meant, the Divinely sent Saviour of His people, and in particular that the salvation which He should work out should be a moral and spiritual, not a temporal deliverance. The name Jesus, as being that by which He was commonly known among His countrymen, is used by the Evangelists as a proper name, with or without the addition of other names or titles employed by way of distinction. See separate article and also Salvation.

2. Immanuel.—In connexion with the miraculous birth of Jesus and with the assurance that in Him should be fulfilled the promise of the Messiah, St. Matthew applies the prophecy (Is 7:14), ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). The thought present to the Evangelist, in his use of this prophecy of Isaiah, is that which was embodied in the OT types of the Tabernacle and the Temple, and may be compared with the use in the Fourth Gospel of the expression, ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt (ἐσκήνωσεν, lit. ‘tabernacled’) among us’ (John 1:14). The name Immanuel, as applied to Christ in respect of His Incarnation, thus denotes the union of the Divine and the human natures in the person of the God-man. See also separate article.

3. Christ.—This name (Χριστός, ‘anointed,’ the exact equivalent in Greek of the word ‘Messiah’ מָשִׁיחַ) holds a very important place among the titles of our Lord.

The word is variously applied in the OT. It is used of the high priest, who is called ‘the anointed priest’ (ὁ ἰερεὺς ὁ χριστος [חַכּהֵן הַמָּשִׁיחַ]), or more fully, ὁ ἱερεὺς ὁ χριστὸς ὁ τετελειωμένος, ‘the anointed priest who has been consecrated,’ the participle τετελειωμένος, ‘consecrated,’ being added to the translation apparently in order to call attention to the meaning of the anointing (Leviticus 4:5; cf. Leviticus 6:22). Its use as a designation of kings is familiar, as in the title ‘the Lord’s anointed’ (ὁ χριστὸς τοῦ Κυρίου מְשִׁיחַ יְהֹוָה]) applied to Saul (2 Samuel 1:14 etc.), to David (2 Samuel 19:21, Psalms 89:38; Psalms 89:51; Psalms 132:10-17), to Cyrus, in connexion with his mission as the deliverer of God’s people (Isaiah 45:1). It is applied even to the people of Israel as a nation consecrated to God (Psalms 105:15 || 1 Chronicles 16:22, Habakkuk 3:13). It occurs as a title of the expected Messiah in Psalms 2:2 and Daniel 9:25. In the latter book it occurs with special reference to royal authority, as a result of which it came to be regularly used as the recognized title of Israel’s promised deliverer; cf. its use in the Book of Enoch (48:10, 52:4), an apocalyptic work which strongly influenced the theology of the Hebrews.

The word is used in the Gospels, but very rarely, as a proper name, in the first chapters of St. Matthew and St. Mark, where the subject of the narrative is mentioned in such expressions as ‘Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham’ (Matthew 1:1), ‘Jesus Christ’ (Mark 1:1, where υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ is omitted by the best authorities), or where Jesus of Nazareth is distinguished from others who bore the same name, as in the phrase ‘Jesus who is called Christ’ (Matthew 27:17; Matthew 27:22, cf. Matthew 1:16). It appears as a proper name in the passage in which St. Matthew, commenting ‘upon the genealogy of the family of Abraham, notes that ‘from the carrying away to Babylon unto the Christ’ there were fourteen generations (Matthew 1:17); and probably also in the one passage in which the word occurs without the article (Mark 9:41), where Jesus uses the words ‘because ye belong to Christ.’ With these exceptions the name has in the Gospels some special reference to our Lord’s offices and claims, or to the Messianic expectations of the Jews. Thus it is said of Simeon (Luke 2:26) that it was revealed to him that he should not see death till he had seen ‘the Lord’s Christ’ (τὸν χριστὸν Κυρίου—the familiar LXX Septuagint translation of מְשִׁיחַ יְהוָה ‘the Lord’s anointed,’ the title of all Hebrew kings), and the angel announced to the shepherds the birth of a Saviour ‘who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11). “We learn from St. Matthew (Matthew 2:2) that the Magi inquired in Jerusalem, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’ Herod, who took this as referring to the current form of the Messianic hope, and regarded the Messiah concerning whom the inquiry was made as a possible rival to himself, called the chief priests and scribes, and put the question of the Magi in another form, demanding ‘where the Christ should be born.’ Herod and the Jewish rulers evidently considered the title ‘Christ’ as synonymous with that of ‘King of the Jews,’ in accordance with the general expectation current at the time. To them the Messiah was a king who should derive his royal authority from his Davidic descent and reign as a temporal prince. The Jews, in fact, influenced largely by their apocalyptic literature, had so narrowed their conceptions of the meaning of the title ‘Messiah’ as to make it signify little more than a king by Divine right, and, leaving out of account all other elements of the Messianic promise, to associate it with thoughts of a kingdom which was of this world. Our Lord, probably for this reason, refrained from claiming the title for Himself, and discouraged its use by others. He forbade the demons whom He cast out of those possessed to confess that He was Christ (Luke 4:41, cf. Mark 1:25; Mark 1:34 etc.). When Peter, in reply to the direct question, ‘Who say ye that I am? confessed His Messiahship, Jesus strictly commanded the disciples to tell no man that He was the Christ (Matthew 16:20). On the other hand, He revealed Himself as the Christ to the woman of Samaria (John 4:25-26). He answered the doubting message of John, ‘Art thou lie that should come, or do we look for another?’ by pointing in proof of His Messianic claims to His teaching and His works of beneficence (Matthew 11:2-6 || Luke 7:19-23). Even at the beginning of His ministry He accepted the confession of the first disciples when they acknowledged Him to be the Messiah (John 1:41 ff.), as He afterwards accepted the confession of Peter (Matthew 16:16); and when the high priest adjured Him to declare whether He was the Christ, He answered in the affirmative (Matthew 26:63 || Mark 14:61 || Luke 22:67); and before His final rejection, when the Jews challenged Him, ‘How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly,’ He replied that He had already told them, and that His claim was confirmed by the works which He did in the Father’s name (John 10:24-25). The murmuring of the people when He spoke of the lifting up of the Son of Man, showed that by that time the impression produced by His ministry was that He did claim to be the Christ. Jesus had just said, ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me,’ to which the people replied, ‘We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of Man shall be lifted up?’ (John 12:32 ff.); and again St. John tells us, in connexion with the incident of the cure of the man who had been born blind, that the Jews had agreed that if any man should confess that Jesus was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue (John 9:22).

From these various instances the conclusion appears to be, that Jesus discouraged the application to Himself of the title ‘Christ’ in every case in which it was likely to be misunderstood or to lead the people, with their narrow views as to what the Messiah should be, to form inadequate conceptions of the nature and scope of His actual claims and His actual mission.

His aim throughout His ministry was to correct the current conceptions of the expected Messiah by calling attention to the spiritual significance of the national hope, and to the true meaning of that word which was so often upon their lips, thus gradually preparing them to accept Himself as the Deliverer who had been promised and whom they required. This explains, on the one hand, His reticence on most occasions as to His personal claim to be the Christ; and, on the other hand, His frankness at other times, as when He revealed Himself as the Christ to the woman of Samaria, who had learned to look upon the promised Messiah as One who should reveal the Father and the Father’s will.

Jesus sought to effect His purpose in various ways. To adduce one conspicuous example, He called the attention of the Pharisees to a well-known Messianic prophecy, evidently in order to correct that popular belief which they shared. He asked them, ‘What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?’ (Matthew 22:42 f., cf. Mark 12:35 f. || Luke 20:41), clearly treating the matter as a question in Biblical theology or Scripture interpretation: They answered His question in terms of the belief then current, ‘The son of David.’ Then Jesus, by quoting from the Psalms a passage which they understood to be not only distinctly Messianic, but an utterance of David himself (Psalms 110:1), showed some of the practical difficulties involved in the belief that the Messiah of prophecy owed his authority to his Davidic descent. ‘How is David’s son David’s Lord?’ Thus our Lord suggested the need there was of carefully revising the whole question of Messianic prophecy, that the people should ask themselves whether they had taken into account not one element or aspect of the problem only, but all that the prophets had spoken concerning the Christ. Until they had done this and were in a position to judge the Person, mission, work, and claims of Jesus by the light shed upon the subject by such a careful study of the whole question, they must necessarily find not merely the teaching and work of Jesus, but the OT revelation itself, a dark problem full of insoluble enigmas.

Thus Jesus sought gradually to lead His countrymen to rise above their narrow views, and, instead of making an unintelligent use of words and names, mere signs of spiritual truths, to apprehend the thing signified by them. Thus He taught them that ‘the Christ,’ ‘the Messiah,’ ‘the Lord’s Anointed,’ simply meant ‘him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world’ (John 10:36) that He might ‘do the’ Father’s ‘will and finish his work’ (John 4:34; cf. John 17:4). The anointing which the name denoted, and of which under the old economy priests and kings, as types of the coming Deliverer, were the subjects, was only a symbol of the Holy Spirit by whose effectual working God’s will was done. The Christ of God, the Anointed One by way of eminence, the Antitype to which those types more or less clearly pointed, was He upon whom the Spirit of God rested and abode according to the prophecy (Isaiah 11:2-3), and who was thus equipped for the fulfilment of the Father’s will. We may compare with this what we learn from the Fourth Gospel of the manner in which the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Christ. The appointed sign was the descent upon Him of the Spirit in the form of a dove. ‘Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost’ (John 1:33). That was the anointing which constituted Him the Christ, and by which He was publicly set apart for the perfect accomplishment of the Father’s purpose of redemption. This truth was not fully learned, and therefore the name in which the truth was enshrined could not be used, with a correct understanding of its meaning, even by the most intimate disciples of Jesus, until after the Resurrection, when they knew that the doing of the Father’s will, for which He had been anointed with the Spirit, involved the sufferings, death, and resurrection of the Christ (Luke 24:46), after which, and as a result of which, Christ should impart to His followers the gift of the Holy Ghost, and so communicate to them all the benefits of His redemptive work. See also art. Messiah.

4. Son of David; King of Israel; King of the Jews.—These titles, closely connected with that of ‘Christ,’ and, like it, associated in the minds of the people with inadequate conceptions of Messianic prophecy, were little favoured by our Lord. They had, however, their own significance for the Evangelists in respect of their bearing upon the fulfilment of prophecy. Thus St. Matthew in the beginning of his Gospel calls Jesus ‘son of David,’ and prefaces his narrative with a genealogical table in which he notes Christ’s place in history as a descendant of the royal house of David (Matthew 1:1 ff.), while in ch. 2 he calls attention to the general expectation prevalent among the nations that the Messiah should appear as a Prince of the house of Judah (Matthew 2:2). St. Luke also traces the genealogy of Jesus, and calls attention to His descent from David, in connexion with which he explains how it happened that He was born in Bethlehem, though the home of Mary and Joseph was in Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:1 ff; Luke 3:23-38). The Evangelist further emphasizes the point of our Lord’s Davidic descent by recording the words of Gabriel at the Annunciation: ‘The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David’ (Luke 1:32). The aim of these Evangelists in noting these points is to show that in Jesus of Nazareth, OT prophecy, and, in particular, the promise that the Christ should come of the house of David, find their fulfilment. The connexion between the Old Covenant and the New having been thus established, and Jesus proved to be the subject of OT prophecies of the coming Deliverer, the title ‘Son of David’ ceases to be used or referred to until the Gospel narrative reaches the closing scenes of the life of Christ. Then we learn that Jesus was addressed as ‘Son of David’ by the two blind men (Matthew 9:27), by the Syrophœnician woman (Matthew 15:22), by the blind men at Jericho (Matthew 20:30 || Mark 10:47-48 || Luke 18:38-39); and that He was saluted as such by the multitude at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9 || Mark 11:10). That the popular belief made the Davidic descent of the Messiah an essential element, is illustrated by the exclamation of the multitude on the occasion on which He healed one ‘possessed with a devil, blind and dumb,’ ‘Is not this the son of David?’ (Matthew 12:23); by the objection raised at another time by those who maintained that Christ should come not from Galilee, but ‘of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was’ (John 7:42); and by the answer of the Pharisees to our Lord’s question, ‘What think ye of Christ?’ (Matthew 22:42, cf. Mark 12:35 || Luke 20:41).

Closely connected with the title ‘Son of David’ are those of ‘King of Israel’ and ‘King of the Jews.’ Jesus is spoken of as ‘King of the Jews’ by the Magi (Matthew 2:2, cf. Luke 1:32-33), and the first recorded instance of His being addressed as ‘King of Israel’ is the confession of Nathanael, ‘Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel’ (John 1:49). All other instances of the use of these titles belong to the narrative of the last week of Christ’s ministry. He was hailed as ‘King of Israel’ (John 12:13, cf. Luke 19:38) at His triumphal entry, when He seemed to be on the point of acceding to the popular desire, and when He so far countenanced it by literally and in the most public manner fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), riding into Jerusalem upon a young ass, the use of which He had claimed on the ground that ‘the Lord hath need of him’ (Matthew 21:3 || Mark 11:3 || Luke 19:31). The title appears after this in direct connexion with the sufferings and death of Jesus, whose claim to be ‘Christ, a King,’ was the pretext used by the chief priests for delivering Him over to Pilate (Luke 23:2). Pilate, hearing this charge brought against his prisoner, asked Jesus, ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ (Mark 15:2 || Luke 23:3). Jesus replied in the affirmative, but explained that the Kingdom which He claimed was spiritual, not temporal (John 18:33-37). After this the titles ‘King of Israel’ and ‘King of the Jews’ are ‘applied to Jesus by Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and the Jews, with associations of mockery and abuse (Matthew 27:29; Matthew 27:42 || Mark 15:18; Mark 15:32 || Luke 23:37 || John 19:3; John 19:14-15); and with the same associations the title ‘King of the Jews’ was affixed to the cross (Matthew 27:37 || Mark 15:26 || Luke 23:38 || John 19:19). The explanation already suggested of our Lord’s avoidance of the name Christ has special force here. Misunderstood as those titles were, Jesus systematically discouraged their use as being calculated to create a false impression of His actual claims. The trial before Pilate and Herod and the scene at the Crucifixion themselves illustrate the reason for Christ’s refusal to accept the royal honours which the people would have pressed upon Him. In the opinion of Jew and Gentile the royalty of Jesus and His crucifixion as an impostor and malefactor involved a grotesque contradiction. The cry of derision, ‘He is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross’ (Matthew 27:42 || Mark 15:30), was but another form of the popular belief that a suffering Saviour was a contradiction in terms, that the Christ could not be subject to death (John 12:34). See also art. King.

5. Son of God.—This title, as it was known among the Jews, had in it a very considerable element of ambiguity. We can understand why this was so when we reflect upon the fact that in OT Scripture the expression is more than once used of others besides a Divine Being. It is used of angels (Genesis 6:2; Genesis 6:4, Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7), of kings, and even of the nation of Israel (2 Samuel 7:14, Psalms 82:6, Exodus 4:22). In the New Test., again, it is applied to Adam (Luke 3:38), where the reference is to the relationship in which by his creation he stands to God; and Jesus Himself uses the expression ‘sons of God’ with reference to believers, where He says that in heaven ‘they are equal unto the angels; and are the ‘children (Gr. υἱοί, “sons”) of God’ (Luke 20:36).

The use of the name as a title of the Messiah is traceable to OT prophecies like that of Psalms 2:7 ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.’ Thus ‘Son of God’ came to be synonymous with ‘Christ.’ It is possible that it was so used even by Peter in his confession at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:16, cf. Mark 8:29 ‘Thou art the Christ,’ and Luke 9:20 ‘the Christ of God,’ with John 6:69 ‘the Holy One of God,’ ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ), and it was certainly understood in that sense, i.e. as strictly Messianic, by the Jews generally in the time of our Lord. To them the Messiah as such was Son of God. Thus in Nathanael’s confession the latter name occurs in conjunction with the Messianic title ‘King of Israel’; and John the Baptist, after relating the incident by which the Spirit of God showed him that Jesus was the Christ, concludes with the words, ‘I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God’ (John 1:49, cf. John 1:34). It is of rare occurrence in the Synoptic Gospels. We find it in the Annunciation: ‘That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). In the Synoptic accounts of the Baptism and the Transfiguration we learn that on both occasions Jesus was hailed as God’s Son by a voice from heaven (Matthew 3:17 || Mark 1:11 || Luke 3:22, cf. Matthew 17:5 || Mark 9:7 || Luke 9:35). Again, the Synoptists give various instances in which Jesus was called ‘Son of God’ by others, as by Satan (Matthew 4:3; Matthew 4:6 || Luke 4:3; Luke 4:9), by the demons whom He cast out of those who were possessed (Mark 3:11, Luke 4:41), and by the occupants of Peter’s boat after the second stilling of the storm on the lake (Matthew 14:33). Again, as already noted, Peter confessed ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ To these may be added the testimony at the cross by the centurion and others (Matthew 27:54), ‘Truly this was the (a) son of God.’ Of its use by Jesus Himself the Synoptists record no direct instance, though they record allusions in His parabolic teaching which clearly point to Himself as the Son of the King (Matthew 22:2 ff.) or of the Lord of the vineyard. (Matthew 21:37-39 || Mark 12:6-8 || Luke 20:13-15), and take note of His acceptance of the title as involved in His answer to the direct questions of the chief priests and scribes, ‘Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ (Mark 14:61); ‘Art thou then the Son of God?’ (Matthew 26:63, cf. Luke 22:67; Luke 22:70). Further, in the baptismal formula Jesus instructs the disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

In addition to the instances already cited in which He was called ‘Son of God’ by others, there are those in which Jesus was challenged to prove Himself Son of God by coming down from the cross, though in the latter case the title is used in its purely Messianic sense as that was currently understood among the Jews (Matthew 27:40).

In the Fourth Gospel, on the other hand, considerable prominence is given to our Lord’s claim to be the Son of God. In the discourses of our Lord as recorded by St. John, Jesus clearly conveys the impression that the Divine Sonship there spoken of means very much more than was involved in the popular Messianic use of the name. But even in that Gospel the actual use of the title is confined to a very few passages. Jesus applies it to Himself in the narrative of the man who was born blind (John 9:35-37); again (John 10:36) where He says, ‘I said, I am the Son of God’; justifying His claim to the title in that passage in which He says ‘The Father loveth the Son,’ etc. (John 5:20); in His remarks on the illness of Lazarus: ‘This sickness is … for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby’ (John 11:4); and in the Intercessory Prayer (John 17:1). Elsewhere He is acknowledged as the Son of God by Nathanael (John 1:49) and by Martha (John 11:27). Among the charges brought against Him by His enemies this is specially emphasized, that ‘He made himself the Son of God’ (John 19:7).

The conclusion to which we are led by a careful consideration of such instances as we find in the Gospels of the use of the name ‘Son of God’ is, that, as it had come to be employed by the Jews, it was at best a vague and indefinite term. It did not necessarily involve the conception of essential Deity, eternal participation in the attributes of Godhead. The object of the Gospels was to show how Jesus appeared as the Revcaler of the Father, and that salvation could come only through One who was Himself equal with God assuming the nature of humanity, dwelling among men, and suffering in their place. Such a revelation so far transcended the current expectations of the people as to the nature and work of the promised Messiah, that the full realization of the significance of Christ’s mission could not be attained until His work was completely accomplished and Jesus was revealed as the Son of God with power. This view of the history of the title ‘Son of God’ is well illustrated by Wendt (The Teaching of Jesus, ii. p. 133): ‘According to the Jewish idea, the Messianic King was also Son of God; according to Jesus’ idea, the Son of God as such was the Messianic King.’ Here as elsewhere Jesus sought to enlarge and elevate the current conception of the Messianic hope, and to show that the Redeemer of Israel and the world was none else than the Son of God, by nature and essence equal with God, and not in that secondary sense in which that name had hitherto been understood. Such a revelation could be made only gradually, hence the sparing use by Christ of the title ‘Son of God.’

The Fourth Gospel gives special prominence to the doctrine of the essential Divine Sonship of Jesus. That indications of it are found in the Synoptists themselves is evident not only from the cases already cited, the testimony of the voice from heaven at the Baptism and at the Transfiguration, and our Lord’s argument from Psalms 110:1 that Christ must be more than Son of David since David himself calls Him Lord, but from such an utterance as this of our Lord Himself recorded by St. Matthew and St. Luke: ‘All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom-soever the Son will reveal him’ (Matthew 11:27 || Luke 10:22). But our Lord’s claim to be Son of God κατʼ ἐξοχήν is one of the central features of the Johan-nine discourses no less than of the teaching of St. John himself. St. John identifies Christ with the Eternal Logos, and calls Him ‘the only-begotten of the Father’ (John 1:14); and Jesus applies to Himself the same expression (John 3:16; John 3:18) in terms which distinctly assert His essential Sonship and His pre-existence, and declares that the unbelieving are ‘condemned already’ because they have ‘not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God’ (John 3:18). Jesus associates His work with that of the Father (John 5:17), and that in such a way as at once to expose Himself to the charge of blasphemy. So the Evangelist tells us that the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because ‘He said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God’ (John 5:18), their interpretation of His words being justified by His language on other occasions, as when He said, ‘Before Abraham was, I am’ (John 8:58), an expression at once suggestive of the Tetragrammaton, the sacred name Jehovah itself. And notwithstanding the fact that the Jews put such a construction upon His words, Jesus enlarged upon the theme, and claimed for Himself power and authority to give life to the dead and to execute judgment (John 5:19-30). In the same connexion He declares it to be the Father’s will ‘that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father’ (John 5:23); and in other places asserts His essential oneness with the Father (John 10:30), and claims to have shared His glory ‘before the world was’ (John 17:5). He claims, moreover, to have received from the Father ‘power over all flesh,’ to ‘give eternal life to as many as’ the Father has ‘given him’ (John 17:2); while in more than one passage emphasis is laid upon the fact that He came from God and should return to Him (John 13:3, John 6:38; John 6:46; John 6:62, John 7:28; John 7:33; John 7:36, John 8:14; John 8:16; John 8:18; John 8:26; John 8:42, John 16:28; John 16:30). Again, while He teaches His disciples to regard God as their Father (so John 20:17, where He says ‘My Father and your Father’), and to pray to Him as such (as He does also in the Synoptic Gospels), ‘He never places His filial relationship on a level with theirs (Weiss). On the contrary, He speaks at times of the Fatherhood of God with exclusive reference to Himself, as, e.g., where He says (John 6:46), ‘Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father,’ a passage which, as Holtzmann points out, ‘shows clearly that there the historical appearance of the Son is connected with the supra-historical being of the pre-existent Logos.’

From all this it is evident that while the title ‘Son of God,’ which had come to be associated with essentially theocratic ideas, as of the election of Israel by the adoption of grace as sons of God, and of the Messiah as King of Israel, and was therefore open to misunderstanding and misconstruction, was seldom used by Jesus or His disciples as a title of our Lord; the testimony of all the Gospels, and especially of the Fourth, distinctly shows that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God in the strictest sense of the term, as essentially and eternally One with God the Father (cf. St. John’s summary of the aim of his Gospel in John 20:31 ‘These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name’). See also sep. article.

6. The Word or The Logos. This name is peculiar to the Fourth Gospel, and there it occurs only in the Prologue (John 1:1; John 1:14). Much controversy has arisen as to the probable sources from which the Apostle derived his conception of Christ as the Logos—a controversy the more natural that the term ‘the Word’ as used by St. John represents the meeting point of Hebrew theology, Hellenic philosophy, and the religion of Jesus Christ. To that controversy little reference need here be made. See art. Logos.

The Logos doctrine of St. John may be summarized thus. God’s revelation of Himself in the history of mankind is a complete unity. Creation, Providence, and Redemption are parts of the same grand purpose, whose object is the highest well-being of God’s creatures, and especially of man, the head and crown of the creation. In each we have God revealing Himself, and that through a Mediator. This Mediator, more or less darkly imagined by mankind from the beginning until these last times, and more or less clearly revealed to God’s chosen people in the days of the fathers as the Angel of the Covenant or the Angel of the Presence, is the same in whom He has now manifested Himself, the Christ by whom God has now spoken to those to whom the promise was given, and who had long been expecting their Messiah, and to all the sons of men, as many as will receive Him. Thus is the Christ, the Redeemer of Israel, the very Word of God, the last, the perfect revelation of the Most High, and the Redeemer of the world.

The Prologue of the Gospel is St. John’s appeal to the nations, and speaks thus: ‘In Christ Jesus, whom we knew, who as a man among men companied with us, God has spoken, has manifested Himself to us who beheld His glory, and to all that have welcomed that Word of the Father. In Christ the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ This conception of Christ as the Logos, the same that was in the beginning with God, necessarily involves the doctrine of the essential Deity and eternal pre-existence of Christ. But the point which St. John specially brings out by his use of the term is that in Christ God perfectly reveals Himself to man, and gives to all that receive Christ that adoption by which they may become ‘children of God’ (τέκνα θεοῦ, not υἱοί, John 1:12; cf. 1 John 3:1). Having in the Prologue established this point, St. John makes no further use of the term Logos in his Gospel, where ‘Son’ or ‘Son of God’ takes its place.

7. Son of Man.—This title seems to have been most favoured by our Lord, and occurs with great frequency, especially in the Synoptic Gospels. Two typical instances may be given of our Lord’s preference for this name. One is found in the Gospel of St. John, where the title least frequently occurs—that of Christ’s answer to Nathanael, who had just acknowledged Him as Son of God. Jesus, accepting Nathanael’s confession, replied thus: ‘Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’ (John 1:50-51). The other is His reply to the adjuration of the high priest, who asked Him whether He was the Christ the Son of God, in which again, immediately after acknowledging that such was His claim, He spoke of Himself as Son of Man, and that in connexion with a prophecy of His appearing on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:63-64 || Mark 14:61-62 || Luke 22:67-70). For the origin and history of the title ‘Son of Man,’ see separate article.

With regard to the question as to the sense in which Jesus used the title ‘Son of Man,’ the answer is suggested by the connexion in which at various times He so described Himself. It may be briefly stated in this way: God manifesting Himself to man in a form which man as man can understand. Comparing the passages in which the title is used by Christ, the first thing that strikes us is that He uses it in connexion both with His humiliation and with His exaltation. We find it associated with thoughts of the privations and sufferings of Jesus,—as where He says: ‘Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20 || Luke 9:58). It occurs repeatedly in connexion with His sufferings and death, as where He tells His disciples that as John was slain by Herod, so shall it be done to the Son of Man (Matthew 17:12 || Mark 9:12). Again, that the Son of Man must ‘be delivered into the hands of men’ (Luke 9:44 || Matthew 17:22, cf. Matthew 20:18 || Mark 10:33 || Luke 18:31-33, Matthew 26:45 || Mark 14:41), ‘and suffer many things’ (Mark 8:31 || Luke 9:22). Thus also Jesus states this as the mission of the Son of Man, that He ‘came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28 || Mark 10:45). Again, the title is used where the thought expressed is that of the sympathy of Jesus with human joys as with human sorrows, in the contrast drawn between the asceticism of John and the sociable disposition of our Lord (Matthew 11:18-19 || Luke 7:33-34); while the same thought appears in another form, where Jesus, justifying His acceptance of the hospitality of Zacchaeus, says: ‘The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10). In other passages the use of the name suggests the coexistence of Messianic authority with the lowliness of Christ’s human nature, as in the narrative of the healing of the paralytic, in connexion with which Jesus says that ‘the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ (Matthew 9:6 || Mark 2:10 || Luke 5:24); and St. Matthew notes the impression produced upon the multitude, as that ‘they marvelled, and glorified God which had given such power unto men.’ To this class of passages may be referred also our Lord’s saying concerning blasphemy against the Son of Man and that against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:32). The Son of Man, in His humiliation, veiling His Divine nature, appearing to men like one of themselves, may not be recognized for what He is. Blasphemy against Him, therefore, as resulting only from ignorance and unbelief, admits of forgiveness; whereas blasphemy against the Spirit of God, a presumptuous offence against the Deity, cannot be forgiven. Again, the title is used of Jesus in respect of His representative character, where He asserts His right as Son of Man to interpret the Sabbath law (Matthew 12:8 || Mark 2:27-28). ‘Jesus regarded the institution from a philanthropic point of view, and He claimed lordship over it for the Son of Man on the ground of His sympathy with mankind, which He deemed a far more reliable interpreter of the Divine purpose and guide in observance, than the merciless rigour of the Rabbis’ (Brnce, Kingdom of God, p. 174). A connecting link between these uses of the title and those which specially refer to Christ’s Exaltation is found in those passages in which Jesus so calls Himself with reference to His mission as Founder of the Kingdom of God. So in the parable of the Tares. ‘He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man’ (Matthew 13:37). ‘The Son of Man shall send forth his angels’ (Matthew 13:41). Here Jesus identifies the Founder of the Kingdom of God in the world with the Judge of the world, using the same title in both connexions. He who as Son of Man seeks with all patience and forbearance to establish His Kingdom by manifestation of the grace of God, is He who must judge mankind according as they have accepted or rejected His message of salvation.

But undoubtedly the most remarkable use of the name Son of Man is that which is directly and specially connected with the thought of Jesus in His Exaltation. We see this in all His predictions of His Second Coming. Thus, speaking of the suddenness and unexpectedness of His appearing, He says: ‘At an hour when ye think not the Son of Man cometh’ (Matthew 24:44 || Luke 12:40). The Son of Man is to appear with the suddenness of lightning (Matthew 24:27 || Luke 17:24), and the circumstances of His appearing are compared to those of the world in the days of Noah and of Lot (Matthew 24:37 || Luke 17:26-32). He is to come after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:30 || Mark 13:26 || Luke 21:27). His advent is to be announced by ‘the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens’ (Matthew 24:30). He is to sit as a King upon the throne of His glory (Matthew 25:31), when His Apostles shall be associated with Him, judging the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28, cf. Luke 22:29-30).

In the Fourth Gospel the name ‘Son of Man’ is used in connexion with the pre-existence of Christ: ‘No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven’ (John 3:13; cf. John 6:62). As Son of Man He is Mediator between Heaven and Earth (John 1:51). Judgment is committed to the Son of Man as such (John 5:27). Special emphasis is laid upon associations of this title with the coming judgment (cf. besides the passages just noted, Matthew 26:64 || Mark 14:62 || Luke 22:69). Again, Jesus concludes one of His discourses on ‘The Last Things’ with an emphatic warning to His own disciples to watch and pray that they ‘may be accounted worthy … to stand before the Son of Man’ (Luke 21:36). The meaning of all this is plain. The Son of Man as such is the Judge of man. Man is, as it were, to be ‘tried by his peers.’ The Son of Man, as bearing the nature of man, capable of understanding and sympathizing with him, is to appear at last as the Judge of the human race.

It is clear that the meaning of the title cannot be limited to any of those conceptions which have been suggested of Christ as the ideal of humanity, still less to the thought of the humanity as distinguished from the Divinity of our Lord. It was rather used, as Wendt puts it, very much ‘to raise problems and to incite,’ among Christ’s hearers, ‘reflexion and the use of their own judgment.’ ‘It contained, in nuce, through reference to the testimony of OT Scripture,’ ‘a solution of the paradox of the coexistence’ in Jesus ‘of lowly humanity with lofty Messianic dignity’ (Wendt, Teaching of Jesus, ii. p. 148).

8. To these characteristic titles of our Lord may be added those of Lord, Master (κύριος, ἐπιστάτης, διδάσκαλος), Rabbi, which are variously used. The title ‘Lord’ appears most frequently as the equivalent of ‘Master’ (ἐπιστάτης), ‘Teacher’ (διδάσκαλος) simply. So Martha addressed Jesus as ‘Lord’ (Κύριε) when complaining of Mary’s conduct in the household of Bethany (Luke 10:40). The same word is used by the disciples in peril on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:25), in which case the parallels ‘Teacher’ in St. Mark’s account (διδάσκαλε) and ‘Master’ (ἑπιστάτα) in St. Luke’s, illustrate the sense in which it occurs (Mark 4:38, cf. Luke 8:24). So again, in the narrative of the Transfiguration, where Peter says, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here,’ the word κύριε in St. Matthew corresponds to ‘Master’ (ἐπιστάτα) in St. Luke and ‘Rabbi’ (Ῥαββεί) in St. Mark. Peter addressed Jesus as ‘Lord’ (Κύριε) when he remonstrated with Him at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:22); and the same title is used by the disciples when they ask Jesus to teach them to pray ‘as John also taught his disciples’ (Luke 11:1); again, when they say of Lazarus, ‘Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well’ (John 11:12), and by Martha and Mary in the same narrative (John 11:3; John 11:21; John 11:27); and Jesus Himself uses the title ‘Lord’ in connexion with that of ‘Teacher’ (John 13:13): ‘Ye call me Master (teacher) and Lord.’

The title ‘Lord’ (κύριος) is also applied to Christ, especially by St. Luke, as an alternative for Jesus or Christ, apparently by anticipation, speaking of Jesus in the manner which became current after the Crucifixion. Thus we read that ‘the Lord said’ to the widow of Nain: ‘Weep not’ (Luke 7:13); that ‘the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward?’ etc. (Luke 12:42); ‘the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith’ (Luke 18:6); and again, that ‘the Lord appointed’ the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1). Again, in St. John we read, ‘When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard,’ etc. (John 4:1); that ‘the Lord gave thanks’ (John 6:23); and that Mary of Bethany was she ‘who anointed the Lord with ointment’ (John 11:2). Occasionally also the title ‘Lord’ (κύριος) is applied to Christ where text and context plainly demand that it should be interpreted in the highest sense of the word, as where Elisabeth calls Mary ‘the mother of my Lord’ (Luke 1:43); where the angel says, ‘a Saviour which is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:11); where Thomas addresses Christ, ‘my Lord, and my God’ (John 20:28); and by Jesus speaking of Himself in connexion with the Last Judgment (Matthew 7:21-22; cf. Matthew 25:11 etc.). See also separate articles.

9. The various figurative or parabolic names of Christ do not call for any special remark, as their use by Christ in the passages where they occur sufficiently explains their meaning. Such is that of the Good Shepherd (John 10:2; John 10:11 etc.,


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Names And Titles of Christ'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/n/names-and-titles-of-christ.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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