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our Lord's appearing, and for many years before, the term was understood to denote the great Deliverer and Prince whom God, by his prophets, had promised to send, for the comfort and redemption of his people.
§ 6. Let us now consider a little the use of the term in the New Testament. If we were to judge by the common version, or even by most versions into modern tongues, we should consider the word as rather a proper name than an appellative, or name of office, and should think of it only as a surname given to our Lord. Our translators have contributed greatly to this mistake, by very seldom prefixing the article before Christ, though it is rarely wanting in the original. The word Christ was at first as much an appellative as the word baptist was, and the one was as regularly accompanied with the article as the other. Yet our translators, who always say the baptist, have, one would think, studi. ously avoided saying the Christ. This may appear to superficial readers an inconsiderable difference; but the addition of the article will be found, when attended to, of real consequence for conveying the meaning in English, with the same perspicuity and propriety with which it is conveyed in Greek. So much virtue there is in the article, which, in our idiom, is never prefixed to the name of a man, though it is invariably prefixed to the name of office, un. less where some pronoun, or appropriating expression, renders it unnecessary; that, without it, the
sense is always darkened, and sometimes marred. Thus, in such expressions as these, This Jesus whom I preach unto you is Christ 48 : Paul testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ“: Showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ 50: the unlearned reader forms no distinct apprehension, as the common application of the words leads him uniformly to consider Jesus and Christ, as no other than the name and surname of the same person. It would have conveyed to such a reader precisely the same meaning to have said, Paul testified to the Jews that Christ was Jesus ; and so of the rest. The article alone, therefore, in such cases, adds considerable light to the expression ; yet no more than what the words of the historian manifestly convey to every reader who understands his language. It should be, therefore, Paul testified to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ, or the Messiah, &c. Many other examples might be brought to the same purpose; but these are sufficient.
§ 7. But it may be asked, Is the word Christ then never to be understood in the New Testament as a proper name; but always as having a direct reference to the office or dignity ? I answer that, without question, this word, though originally an appellative, came at length, from the frequency of application to one individual, and only to one, to supply the place of a proper name.
What would contribute
45 Acts, xvii. 3.
49 xviii. 5.
to hasten this effect, was the commonness of the name Jesus among the Jews at that time, which rendered an addition necessary for distinguishing the person. The remark of Grotius is not without foundation, that, in process of time the name Jesus was very much dropped, and Christ, which had never been used before as the proper name of any person, and was, for that very reason, a better distinction, was substituted for it ; insomuch, that, among the heathen, our Lord came to be more known by the latter, than the former. This use seems to have begun soon after his ascension. In his lifetime, it does not appear that the word was ever used in this manner; nay, the contrary is evident from several passages of the Gospels. But the Evangelists wrote some years after the period above mentioned, and therefore, the more perfectly to notify the subject of their history, they adopted the practice common among
Christians at that time, which was to employ the word as a surname for the sake of distinction. This was especially proper in the beginning of their narrative, for ascertaining the person whose history they were to write. Thus Matthew begins, The lineage of Jesus Christ 61; and a little after , Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened thus. Mark, in like manner 53, The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In all the three places it is Inox Xpiga, Jesus Christ, not Inox Ty Xpise, Jesus the Christ, or the Messiah.
1 i. 1.
53 i. 1.
Matthew and Mark, as was just now observed, name him so, in introducing their Gospels; but it deserves to be remarked that they do not afterwards, in their history, either name him so themselves, or mention this name as given him by any of his cotemporaries : nay, the very profession of Peter, , and the doubts raised by his enemies, in regard to his being • Xpisos, the Messiah, or the Christ, and his never being named familiarly, either by them or by others, during that period, Inors Xpisos, but simply Inous or ó Inors, which occurs in the four Gospels upwards of five hundred times, put it beyond doubt, that the word was never applied to him as a proper name, whilst he remained on this earth. It was at that time always understood as the denomination of the dignity or office to which some believed him entitled, others disbelieved, and many doubt. ed. The names used both by Matthew and by Mark, in the beginning of their Gospels, and by John, in the introductory part of his “, for Luke does not adopt this manner ; show only the usage which obtained at the time when they wrote, but not when their Lord was living upon the earth. In the last of the four Gospels, he is, in one place ss, represented, as calling himself Jesus Christ, in an address to God; but this is so singular, that I can. not help suspecting an accidental omission of the article ; and that the clause must have stood ori. ginally oν απεςειλας Ιησεν τον χριςον, Jesus the
54 i. 17.
55 John, xvii. 3.
Messiah whom thou hast sent. But, whatever be in this, we are warranted to conclude, from the uniform tenour of all the Gospels, that xpisos, in this passage, must be understood as the name of his office. Now, for the very same reason for which our translators have rendered 'o Bantins, uniformly the baptist, with the article, they ought to have rendered χριςος, the Christ, or the Messiah, with the article. By not doing it, they have thrown much obscurity on some passages, and weakened others.
8. Though, in the Epistles, it may be sometimes difficult, but is seldom of consequence, to determine whether Xpisos be an appellative or a proper name, there is rarely in the Gospels, with which I am here more immediately concerned, any difficulty that can retard an attentive and judicious critic. Such will be sensible, that whatever was the case afterwards, the word Christ, during the period comprehended in the Gospel history, was employed solely to express the office or dignity wherewith he was invested, as the Apostle of God, for the redemption of the world. Accordingly, when it is used in the Gospels, the stress of the sentence lies commonly on the signification of that word. Peter in his solemn confession, says 56, We believe and are sure that thou art 'o Xpisos the Christ the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Here the substance of his declared belief lies much in the import of this
$6 John, vi. 69.