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I heard "Christ" isn't the last name He got from His parents. Is that true? Does He have a last name?

If He does not have a last name, then how does that work? If that wasn't His last name, and there were other people named Jesus, then how could people even know which Jesus people were talking about?

Please explain this to me in an easy to understand way, like if I am young.

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Incidentally, God's last name is not ****it, either. –  Narnian Feb 25 '13 at 17:12

3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Surnames didn't exist in Jesus' day.

People typically referred to somebody by referring to their parentage. So Jesus would have most likely been referred to as "Jesus son of Joseph" or "Jesus son of Mary", much in the same way as Peter was referred to as "Simon, son of Jonah" in Matthew 16:17 and "James son of Zebedee" in Mark 3:17.

While nobody is entirely sure when the concept of the proper surname began, one guess, at least for English speakers, is around the 13th or 14th century.


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Just to add that 'Christ' is a title, not part of the name. It means 'Messiah' (loosely 'annointed one'). So "Jesus Christ" is the equivalent of saying "Jesus the Messiah". –  DJClayworth Feb 25 '13 at 17:01
Good point. I failed to mention that in my original post, but very worth noting. –  David Morton Feb 25 '13 at 17:03
In Hebrew, this may have come out as Jesus Ben Joseph. –  Narnian Jan 14 at 18:46

Jesus had no last name. Christ is a title that was given to Him. As noted in other questions, "Christ" comes from the Greek word "Christos", which is the translation of the Hebrew word "Meshiach", from which we derive the word "Messiah". So, "Messiah" and "Christ" are transliterated words for the same thing. These words mean "anointed one" in their original languages.

Last names or family names likely had their origin England about 800 years ago, but this was not common in Jewish cultures in the days of Jesus.

However, there were sometimes distinctions made for individuals based on their city of origin or residence. Jesus was sometimes referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth". He was not born there, of course, but that is the place Mary and Joseph lived after their return from Egypt. (Jesus was born in Bethlehem.)

Incidentally, this was the cause of some confusion about whether or not Jesus could be the Messiah, since the people knew that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and not Nazareth, although another prophecy indicated that He would be called a Nazarene.

As David Morton noted, people were also distinguished by their parentage. This is seen in Simon Peter, in particular, whom Jesus referred to as 'Simon, son of John".

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). John 1:42 ESV

In John 1:45, we find both of these distinctions in Philip's reference to Jesus:

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45 ESV

Finally, Jesus was also distinguished by his trade. He was known as a rabbi or teacher.

So, there was little need to distinguish between other people with similar names when referring to the "rabbi named Jesus", to "Jesus of Nazareth", or to "Jesus, the son of Joseph".

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And if you were a notable person you might be distinguished by something you have done or who you are. The Romans called him "Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews." Although that was sort of an insult at the time. Kind of like saying Barack the President. –  fredsbend Feb 25 '13 at 17:04
Jesus was also distinguished as the carpenter (Mark 6:3) or carpenter's son (Matt. 13:55). –  Paul A. Clayton Feb 25 '13 at 23:05

He had no last name. In the Middle East, it was (and still is) custom to name someone after from where they come. Like Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. (Saddam was from Tikrit, Iraq). Hence the name "Jesus of Nazareth."

Sorry for mentioning the Savior of mankind and such an evil man in the same sentence, but I had to make a point.

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