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The word messiah comes from the concept of a king from the line of David who will rule the whole world. This idea is of central importance to both Judaism and Christianity.

Hebrew word “Messiah” מָשִׁיחַ

The term ‘Messiah’ is a word that is found throughout the Old Testament (the Jewish scriptures before the birth of Jesus). The word for ‘messiah’ in the Hebrew language is מָשִׁיחַ 1 and it means anointed with oil. This was done when prophets and priests by pouring/wiping/or sprinkling oil on the anointed one (1 Kings 1:39).2 In the Old Testament we see three groups of people who were anointed:

  1. priests (Leviticus 4:6)
  2. prophets (1 Kings 19:16)
  3. kings (1 Samuel 10:1).

The Septuagint (the Old Testament translated into Greek) translates the word ‘messiah’ into Greek as “Christos” Χριστός3. This is the same word that is used in the New Testament, often found accompanying the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

The King Messiah

The word messiah is also a term from Jewish end-times belief, used for a descendant of King David who would one day rule over all nations.4 Jews refer to this concept as melekh mashiach (מלך המשיח, ‘King Messiah’). While the term King Messiah is not explicitly found in the scriptures, it is implied throughout them, especially in the later books in the Old Testament.5

The concept of the Messiah is of key importance to both Judaism and Christianity because without it there is no hope. Looking at the Bible as a whole, we see:

  1. God gave Man authority over the world
  2. Man disobeyed God and gave up that authority
  3. Israel chose to have an earthly king
  4. Kings led Israel further into sin

Result: Man remained enslaved to sin

Now let’s take a look at the story with just some of the messianic prophecies in there:

  1. God gave Man authority in the world
  2. Man disobeyed God and gave up that authority
  3. God says a seed (singular = one man) of woman will crush the snake (satan/death) (Genesis 3:15)
  4. God makes a covenant with Abraham to bless the nations through his family line (Genesis 12:3)
  5. Moses said God will one day raise up a prophet like him (king/prophet/priest) (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)
  6. Israel chose to have an earthly king
  7. Kings led Israel further into sin
  8. The Messiah came and proclaimed that the Kingdom of God had arrived (Mark 1:15)

Result: Man regained authority in the world (Matthew 28:18)

Without the Messiah there is no hope.

Is Jesus the Messiah?

From the above it is clear that the concept of the Messiah is central to both Judaism and Christianity. The question becomes: Who is the Messiah?

While most Jews hold to messianic beliefs, they do not believe that the Messiah has come. “In rabbinic thought, the Messiah is the king who will redeem and rule Israel at the climax of human history and the instrument by which the kingdom of God will be established.”6 The Jews in the 1st century and many Jews today believe that this ‘kingdom’ will be a physical kingdom, not the spiritual kingdom that Jesus referred to. (Luke 17:20-21)

This is the core belief that separates Judaism from Christianity: Judaism teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah while Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Messiah.

Messianic Prophecies

Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah because of the many prophecies from the Old Testament that he fulfilled. Here is a very short list of some of the important prophecies that Jesus fulfilled:

  1. The Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  2. The Messiah would be of the line of David (Isaiah 11:1-3)
  3. The Messiah would offer physical healing (Isaiah 35:5-6; 42:7-18; 53:5)
  4. The Messiah would be rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:3)
  5. The Messiah would have his hand and feet pierced (Psalm 22:14-16)
  6. The Messiah would provide atonement for sin (Isaiah 52:1553:5-12; Malachi 3:3)
  7. The Messiah would not stay dead (Psalm 16:10)

For a more extended list of Old Testament Messianic prophecies, continue to this page.

Christians Rule and Reign with the Messiah

If Jesus is in fact the Messiah…..then this means is that because the Messiah has come and has taken authority we are free from the power that death had over us. All followers of Christ have been called into the kingdom of God (which is a spiritual not physical kingdom) and have been given power and authority over creation and over demons.7 Believers have been adopted into the family of God and now reign as princes and princess in the eternal kingdom of the Messiah!

  1. Hebrew word “Messiah” מָשִׁיחַ
  2. The Concept of Anointing in the Old Testament. Ake Viberg.
  3. Greek word “Christos” Χριστός
  4. Messiah in Rabbinic Thought. Blidstein, Prof. Dr. Gerald J.
  5. Second Temple Period. David Flusser.
  6. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Louis Jacobs,
  7. Reigning with Christ. ligonier.org


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