Why Is He Called “Christ”? (Olevianus)

Question:  What does the additional name “Christ” or “Anointed” mean?

Heidelberg ChurchAnswer:  This name indicates that this person was sent with the express command of God the Father and ordained by Him to establish a royal priesthood in this life and bring it to completion in the life to come. The anointing with which God commanded Israelite kings, priests, and teachers to be ordained was a public testimony that through them God wanted, respectively, to govern and protect His people, conduct worship services, and teach. By the visible anointing with sweet-smelling oil the people could also know that these individuals had been commanded by God to do this, so that they, the people, could be governed, could practice true worship with their sacrifices, and could be instructed.

The same is true of the Son of God, when He was sent into the world, anointed in His humanity with the fulness of the Holy Spirit (an anointing that was the very gift of God signified by the external anointing), and was thus ordained by the Father and given to His people to be our eternal King, High Priest, and Teacher.

Thus, the additional name “Christ” or “Messiah,” i.e., “Anointed” serves especially to strengthen our trust in Him. For we understand from the anointing that Christ the Lord was commanded (from the very fact that He was called “Christ,” i.e., “Anointed”) to guard and keep us with His kingly power, to reconcile us to the Father with His eternal sacrifice, and to reveal to us faint-hearted sinners the inner mind and unchangeable will of the Father.

In sum, this anointing means that He was supposed to obey this command, so that He might adorn His people — i.e., believers, His church entrusted to Him as His bride — with eternal glory in eternal life. Since, then, the Son of God, God’s anointed, received this splendid, exalted command from the Father, it is certain that, already in this life, He has most faithfully fulfilled it in you and me and all believers and their seed and that He will continue to do so forever.

Caspar Olevianus, A Firm Foundation, pp. 36, 37

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