I've occasionally heard of Jesus Christ referred to as "The Christ" and the phrasing has always struck me. What are the differences (if any) between referring to him as Jesus Christ versus "The Christ", and what is the origin of the title?
The word "Christ" is simply the English transliteration of the Greek word "Χριστός" (pronounced "khristós"). It has the same meaning as the word "Messiah" which is simply a loose English transliteration of the Hebrew word "מָשִׁיחַ" (pronounced "mashíach"). Therefore, you'll find the word "Christ" used in translations of the New Testament and the word "Messiah" used in translations of the Old Testament.
Both words essentially mean "the anointed one". In other words, Jesus is the one chosen by God to save His people. He is the Messiah who was promised to the children of Israel. He is the fulfillment of the prophecies.
When people call Jesus, "Jesus Christ," they are simply using the word as his title or epithet. And when Jesus is called "The Christ," it is the same thing as calling him "The Messiah" or "The Anointed One." There is no obvious distinction in meaning between the two. It is simply a matter of grammatical style.
The proper way to refer to him is "Jesus, the Christ," since the Greek text states, «Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστός». Note the definite article ὁ which precedes Χριστός ("Christ").
However, to be even more accurate, it would actually be proper to say, "Jesus, the anointed one" or "the anointed one, Jesus" (for the Greek «ὁ Χριστός Ἰησοῦς»), since the actual English translation of ὁ Χριστός is "the anointed one." "Christ" is actually a transliteration, not a translation.
But, of course, tradition is hard to overcome, so people simply say "Jesus Christ" since that is what they were taught (there's nothing "wrong" about this tradition, mind you).
"Christ" means "anointed" and can be easily shown because Acts 4:26 is basically a quotation of Psalms 2:2, except in Acts they used the word "Christ", whereas in Psalms they use the word "Anointed". Jesus is "the Christ" because He is the only One who is anointed to be the King of the world as described in Psalm 2:2,6 and more extensively in Psalm 45:6-7 (which is quoted again in Hebrews 1:8 confirming that this talking about Jesus). A more detailed explanation can be given in an article that a friend and I have put together: http://biyn.org/gospel/theChrist.html
From an Anglican Catholic:
The Greek word Christos (khris-tos') is used 530 times in the KJV, and only 19 of those times was it translated as "The Christ," and only in the Gospels. But in Young's Literal translation of the NT we find that the phrase "the Christ" appears 155 times, including Acts the Pauline writings, and Peter and John. In the RC DRV it is the Christ 24 times; in Greene's Literal Translation it is the Christ 56 times; In Darby 131 times; in RSV 50 times. So, it depends on which Bible translation you read as to the usage.
Christos is the anglicized Greek word for the Hebrew Messiach, a title given to
- The king of Israel
- The high priest of Israel
- The patriarchs as anointed kings
- Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the Jewish revolt 132-136, was acclaimed as a Messiah also.
It means someone who has been anointed by God for the special purpose of leading Israel. The title is given to the King of Judea. Many people thought Jesus was that King, but He did not accept the title, because His "Kingdom was not of this world."
In the ACC we almost always say the title as "the Christ," which sometimes refers to His Kingship. Usually the name "The Christ" is identified with the divine personality of Jesus. To share in the divine spirit of God is to have "the Christ within you."
To say that Jesus is the Christ or the anointed one is the same as saying that Barak Obama is the President. When we say the President we know that is his TITLE, his calling, his purpose, but we also know who we are talking about. Don't complicate it. Keep it simple. Satan was defeated by Jesus. That name & that name alone is the name Satan hates. That name & the man behind that name is who defeated Satan. Jesus told us to pray in that name. The name of Jesus. Not Christ, Not Messiah, not the anointed one but the name of Jesus.
I pray that this helps.