Editor’s note:  In this Q & A, I am interspersing the answers in italics among the four questions.

1) What does it mean to say Jesus is the ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ’? What are some good Bible verses that show the meaning of the word ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ’ when applied to Jesus?
The Hebrew word for Messiah is masah.  It means anointed one.  It is normally a reference to a king, but in the Old Testament it is used in a special sense of what the Jews knew of as God’s Messiah or Savior.  A good passage to explain the nature of God’s Messiah/anointed one is Daniel 9:24.  The anointed one/Messiah will “put an end to sin, finish transgression, atone for wickedness, bring in everlasting righteousness seal up vision and prophecy and be anointed (masah).  Christ is not an Old Testament word.  It is the Greek equivalent of the word Messiah.  It is crestos.  The word Christ is not a name for Jesus, but a description of who he is.  He is the Messiah/Christ/anointed one/Savior.  

2) What does it mean to say Jesus is the ‘Son of God’? What are some good Bible verses that show the meaning of the title ‘the Son of God’ when applied to Jesus?

This is a much harder question. Son of God is a title for Jesus.  He is not literally the son of God in the human sense of being a son genetically, in the flesh.  We do not take “Son” in the literal human sense.  Yet in some sense Jesus is the Son of the Father.  “Son of” in this case means something like sent one.  Jesus the Son submits to the Father. For example we see this in John 14:9-14 in which Jesus tells us that he always does what his Father tells him to do.  In this sense also he is the Son of the Father.  The Sonship is not literal, but it is a useful metaphor to explain the relationship between the two persons in the godhead.  The sonship of Jesus is explained in passages such as Matthew 26:36-46 in which God the Son submits to the will of God the Father.  Another helpful passage is Philippians 2:5-11, which describes the Son humbling himself, and not grasping tightly to his deity in order to take the nature of a servant and to give his life for us.  Another helpful passage is Genesis 22:1-14 in which the relationship between Abraham and his son Isaac is used as a beautiful prefigure of the relationship between the Father and the Son.  As Abraham gave up his son on Moriah, so the Father gave up his Son on Mt. Calvary.

3) What does it mean to say Jesus is the ‘Word of God’? What are some good Bible verses that show the meaning of the title ‘the Word of God’ when applied to Jesus?

Arguably, this is an even harder question, but it is perhaps not as crucial a question, simply because Jesus is only referred to as the Word of God in John chapter 1, whereas he is referred to as Messiah and as Son of God dozens of times in many books of the Bible.  John chose to use the metaphor of Jesus as the logos of God.  Here the Greek word logos is most commonly translated as Word in John 1:1,14, but it can also be translated as reason, logic, essential nature.  We get the word logical from this word logos/Word.  This Greek word has deep philosophical meaning to the Greeks, which is, presumably, why God, through John, chose to use it in John 1 to talk about Jesus.  Jesus is the Word.  It is SO hard to translate this Greek statement (that he is the logos)  It means that Jesus is the explanation of God.  It means that Jesus is the expression of what God has to say.  I could go on for a long time about this.  Some make the connection between the Bible being the Word of God and Jesus being the Word.  This is a bit of a stretch.  There is a sense in which Jesus is the Word of God being a LITTLE like him being the communication from God to mankind, but, again the word logos means so much more than that.  I would like to make a suggestion.  You should do some study on the internet in order to learn how Greek philosophers used the word logos.  This might inform you understanding of John 1:1 and John 1:14.

4) What does the word ‘Gospel’ mean? What are some good Bible verses that show the meaning of the word ‘Gospel’?

This is the easiest of the four questions.  Gospel means good news.  In the Bible the word is given a particular meaning.  We get the word evangelism from the Greek word gospel.  To evangelize someone is to good new them–to gospel them. The Gospel in the New Testament is the good news about salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  A good passage for this is 1 Corinthians 15:1-5.

John Oakes

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