Was Jesus’ last name “Christ?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

No. “Christ” was not Jesus’ last name but rather an office He holds (see #6 in the ensuing list). He is Father God’s “Anointed” (Hebrew, “Mashiyach;” Aramaic, “Messiah;” Greek, “Christos;” English, “Christ”)—see Psalm 2:2, Acts 4:26, and John 1:41. The idea here is being ordained to serve in a specific capacity. Jewish kings, priests, and prophets were “anointed” (smeared, dabbed) with olive oil before they were allowed to discharge the duties of their respective offices (Exodus 29:7; 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Kings 19:16; et cetera). Likewise, Father God poured out the Holy Spirit on the Lord Jesus at His water baptism, “anointing” Him to serve as Prophet, Priest, and King (see Matthew 3:16-17; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 1:8-9; Psalm 45:6-7; Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27).

Considering the cultures and times of Bible characters, they do not have “last names” as we do. So as to distinguish individuals who had a common first name, various qualifiers were affixed (although there are some exceptions, and these make it impossible to separate people). This too makes a fascinating study, as we will see now.

  1. The father’s name or mother’s name was attached to their own name. We can think of “James and John the sons of Zebedee” (Luke 5:10), “Gomer the daughter of Diblaim” (Hosea 1:3), “Joshua the son of Nun” (Joshua 1:1), “Hosea the son of Beeri” (Hosea 1:1), “Adonijah the son of Haggith” (1 Kings 1:11), “Anna… the daughter of Phanuel” (Luke 2:36), “James the son of Alphaeus” (Mark 3:18), and so on. This was especially useful if a man had several wives; his children could be differentiated by their mother’s name. Also, if you noticed, there were two Apostles named James—one was the son of Zebedee and the other was the son of Alphaeus.
  2. Their wife’s name or husband’s name was added to their own name. “Mary the wife of Cleophas” (John 19:25), “Joseph the husband of Mary” (Matthew 1:16), “Deborah… the wife of Lapidoth” (Judges 4:17), “Abigail the wife of Nabal” (1 Samuel 30:5), and so on, fall in this nomenclature group.
  3. Their child’s name was incorporated into their own name. Examples include: “Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14), “Mary the mother of John” (Acts 12:12), “Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses” (Mark 15:40), “Bathsheba the mother of Solomon” (1 Kings 1:11), “Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor” (Joshua 24:2), “Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah” (2 Kings 11:1), “Machir the father of Gilead” (1 Chronicles 2:21), and so on. For example, this is helpful in distinguishing the various women in the New Testament that are known by the name Mary.
  4. Their birthplace, hometown, or current city was part of their name. Think of “Saul of Tarsus” (Acts 9:11), “Mary Magdalene” (from Magdala, northern Israel; Matthew 27:56), and “Jesus of Nazareth” (Mark 16:6). The Apostle “Simon the Canaanite” (from Cana, northern Israel; Matthew 10:4) is not to be confused with Simon Peter the Apostle, or Simon the sorcerer of Acts chapter 8. Note there were two Apostles named “Simon.” Furthermore, the Apostle “Judas Iscariot” (“Iscariot” meaning “man from Kerioth,” southern Israel; Mark 3:19) is not the same as the Apostle “Judas the brother of James” (Acts 1:13).
  5. Their brother’s name or sister’s name was part of their own name. “Nahor, Abraham’s brother” (Genesis 24:15), “Laban… the brother of Rebekah” (Genesis 28:5), “James the brother of John” (Acts 12:2), “Shem… the brother of Japheth” (Genesis 10:21), “James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19), “Miriam… the sister of Aaron” (Exodus 15:20), and so on, are examples of this title.
  6. Their occupation or function was part of their name. “Simon a tanner” (Acts 10:32), “Chuza Herod’s steward” (Luke 8:3), “Cyrus king of Persia” (Ezra 1:3), “Matthew the publican [tax collector]” (Matthew 10:3), “Alexander the coppersmith” (2 Timothy 4:14), and “Erastus the chamberlain [treasurer] of the city” (Romans 16:23) are just a few instances.
  7. Their tribe or nationality was part of their name. “Ehu the son of Gera, a Benjamite” (Judges 3:15), “Hagar the Egyptian” (Genesis 21:9), “Anna… of the tribe of Aser” (Luke 2:36), “Ephron the Hittite” (Genesis 49:29), and “Laban the Syrian” (Genesis 31:20), and “Goliath the Gittite” (1 Chronicles 20:5) are some examples of this category.
  8. They occasionally had a second name or “nickname.” For example, “John Mark” (Acts 12:12) is to be distinguished from “John Baptist” (Matthew 14:8) and John the Apostle (Matthew 10:2). We cannot forget the Apostles “Simon Peter” and “Lebbaeus Thaddaeus” (Matthew 10:2-3). The man “Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus” (Acts 1:23) is not to be confused with other men named Joseph or Justus.

Also see:
» Who was the father of the Prophet Zechariah?
» Does Matthew 1:11 contain errors?
» Does Matthew 1:12 contain an error?
» Is the Bible wrong to call Nebuchadnezzar the “father” of Belshazzar?