My Thoughts. . .
We are introduced to the birth of Jesus in Matthews 1:1. Mary and Joseph are told that the babe’s name will be “Jesus.” In the Hebrew language his name was “Joshua.” Some Bible students believe “Christ” is Jesus’ last name. Actually, it is a non-translated word which means “anointed.” If those who own an English translation knew what the Hebrew expression for “Jesus Christ” is, they would know it meant “Joshua the Anointed One.”
The son of Mary was named by heaven and means “he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-25). His name told the world he was the anointed one of God. When Peter spoke to the Jewish council, he informed them, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Peter told thousands on Pentecost to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” and Luke informs his readers that “those who gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). In speaking with his disciples, Jesus stated, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). When Jesus said “my” who was he referring to? Was he not promising to build his church?
His name means (1) he will save people from their sins. Peter informs the Jewish clerics that (2) no one else can save but him. Peter informs his audience that (4) “remission of sins” is received “in Jesus’ name.” Jesus promises to build (5) his church (“called out”). Luke informs us that those who responded to Peter’s preaching were added by God to “the saved” (Acts 2:46-47). When Jesus promised to build “my assembly,” who does that word “my” refer to? Was Jesus not promising to save those who belonged to him?
The saved are referred to by the following phrases: (1) my church, (2) the church, (3) the saved, (4) the body of Christ, (5) the church of God, (6) the church of the living God, (7) the church of the firstborn, (8) the church of (location), (9) the churches of the Gentiles, (10) the churches of Christ, (11) the churches of God, (12) the churches of (location), (13) the churches, (14) and the churches of the saints. What is mystifying is that inspiration never refers to it as “the church of Jesus,” “Jesus’ church,” “the body of Jesus,” “the churches of Jesus,” or “Jesus’ churches.” The closest inspiration gets to its ownership is when Jesus made that promise to build “my church.”
The expression “Christian” is found three times in the New Testament. It is never translated. The disciples in Antioch are the first to be called “Christians” (Acts 11:26). Herod used it once in a negative way (Acts 26:28). The apostle Peter indicated that it was a name disciples would glorify God in (1 Peter 4:16). Paul puts the word “Christ” which means “anointed”) with the plural word “churches” in Romans 16:16. If the Greek expression had been translated, that would literally be “assemblies of the Anointed One.” The expression “body of Christ” is used several times (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 2:17). Paul also uses the plural word “churches” with the expression “of the saints.” “Saints” is equivalent to saying “Christians.” In Greek that would be “assemblies of the saved,” since the “saved” are “Christians.” Once Paul used the expression “kingdom of Christ” (Ephesians 5:5). If the anglicized expression “Christian” was translated, it would be “a follower of Christ” or “a follower of the Anointed One.” In Hebrew it would be “a follower of the Messiah.”
God does not use “meaningless” words. Perhaps we’ve missed a wonderful lesson due to man “anglicizing some words rather than translating them. It is mystifying that the church was not identified by inspiration with the personal name of Jesus. The first century church did not erect buildings. There was no need for a street sign to identify them. Identity came from the lives of those who wore Jesus’ title. Also, persecution made public identification dangerous. Identifying public signs do not guarantee that those meeting in that location actually follow Jesus. Millions identify themselves with street or highway signs. Perhaps if those who identify themselves with a sign were actually “followers of Jesus,” those signs would not be needed. So, what have we missed?