by Tim KimberleyOctober 1st, 2012 27 Comments
Did Jesus have a middle name? This is one of the five most frequently asked questions online regarding Jesus. Although we get into some deep theological issues on Parchment & Pen, it’s good to step back once-in-a-while and listen to the questions being asked by our society. Here’s a quick answer to this frequently asked question:
Jesus lived in first century Israel. People during that time were mainly given only a first name. Any additional names would be connected with their village and/or their immediate family. For instance, the apostle Paul (before his life change and subsequent name change) was named, “Saul of Tarsus”. Saul was his first name and Tarsus is the city he was from. The theory is there was probably only one well-known Saul from Tarsus. This naming convention works in a small city. It would not work calling someone “Bill of Chicago.” That wouldn’t be specific enough.
For other people their name came from their family lineage. The successor of Moses, Joshua, his official name in the Bible is “Joshua son of Nun.” Yes, his dad was actually named Nun. Be thankful, unless of course your name is Nun, if so I’m very sorry.
So, let’s get back to the question, “Did Jesus have a middle name?” For a majority of his life Jesus was usually referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth.” That was his name. It wasn’t Jesus Smith. If you walked into Jerusalem and you were looking for Jesus you would say, “Have you seen Jesus of Nazareth?” In Matthew 21:11 people even specify the location of Nazareth for out-of-towners by saying, “The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.’”
The New Testament, additionally, refers to Jesus as “Jesus the Christ” or just “Jesus Christ.” The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Christ is not his last name. When you say the name “Jesus Christ” you are affirming Jesus as the Savior of the world. If an atheist says, “I do not believe Jesus Christ is the Savior” they are being silly. It would be like me saying, “I do not believe Alexander the Great is great.”
Did Jesus have a middle name: No. Is Christ his last name: No. Is Jesus the Christ: Yes.
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