All over the world today, people have first and last names. A person’s first name is often unique to them, with the exception of juniors (e.g. William, Jr.) and the seconds (e.g. William II). Last names commonly identify a person’s family of origin. “Jesus” is clearly the first name of the Messiah, but what is his last name?
Jesus doesn’t have a last name in the normal way that people have them today. “Christ” isn’t a last name like Johnson or Smith; rather, it’s a Greek title that is equivalent to the Hebrew word Messiah. Last names as they are used today didn’t become conventional until the Middle Ages in Europe.
What are the most common names for Jesus in the New Testament? What are names for Jesus that are used infrequently, even just once? What does it mean to use Jesus’ name in vain? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see What Did Jesus Wear? to learn more.
What are Jesus’ most common names in the New Testament?
Jesus’ names identify different facts about him. They point to realities about his person, nature, or character. Some of his followers use certain names more often than others. Likewise, some New Testament authors use certain names more than others.
The name Jesus
Jesus is the most used name in the Gospel for the Messiah. From the Hebrew name “Joshua,” Jesus means “Savior” (Matt. 1:21). Most of the time, “Jesus” is combined with another name or title, such as in “Jesus Christ” (e.g. Heb. 13:8) or “Christ Jesus” (e.g. Rom. 8:34). “Jesus” sometimes appears alone, especially in the book of Hebrews.
- Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
- Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died— more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”
- Hebrews 2:9, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
The name Christ
Christ, which is equivalent to the Hebrew word “Messiah,” means “anointed one (e.g. Luke 24:26). In Greek, it often appears with a definite article (“the Christ”), which enhances the identification of Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures. It became so connected to Jesus of Nazareth, that the early church used the combination of “Jesus Christ” as a personal name.
- Luke 24:26, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
Also see Was Jesus Christ a Refugee? to learn more.
Other names for Jesus
|Immanuel||Immanuel is a Hebrew word meaning “God with us.” It’s used in connection with the birth of Jesus Christ who was the Word (John 1:1) that became flesh (John 1:14).|
|Nazarene||In the first century, it was common to identify a person according to their location of origin, such as the town where they were from. People identified Jesus being from Nazareth, not because he was born there, but because he spent time there (Luke 2:4).|
|Son of Man||Jesus is identified as “the Son of Man” (e.g. Mark 8:38), which is rooted in Daniel 7:13. The title refers to Jesus as being from heaven.|
|Son of God||Jesus uses this title to describe himself multiple times in the Gospel of John (5:25; 10:36; 11:4). The name is used in different ways depending on the context. Sometimes it highlights his heavenly origin; other times it emphasizes his relationship to the Father.|
|Son of David||God promised David that the Messiah would come from his line (2 Sam. 7). The name Son of David (e.g. Matt. 21:9) denotes that Jesus came from David’s ancestral line and that he is the one God promised the third king of Israel.|
|God||Certain New Testament passages clearly and strongly identify Jesus as God, including John 1:1, cf. 1:18; John 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; and Heb. 1:8. There are many other passages that ascribe to Jesus attributes that only God possesses.|
|Lord||Lord was a common way to refer to Jesus in the early church (Acts 2:36; 10:36; Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 8:6; 12:3; Phil. 2:11). It conveys sovereignty and headship. Sometimes it’s used as a title of respect (e.g. John 4:11); other times it means something much more sacred and lofty (e.g. John 20:28; Acts 22:10).|
|Word||John identifies Jesus as the Word (John 1:1; 1:14; 1 John 1:1). Jesus is the sum total of all that God wanted to communicate to people. As the Word, Jesus reveals truth to people.|
|Servant||This name describes one of the roles Jesus had while on earth (Matt. 12:17-21; Phil. 2:7).|
|Lamb of God||John the Baptist gives this title to Jesus (John 1:29, 36; Rev. 5:6). It reflects Jesus’ sinless nature and his sacrifice on the cross for sin.|
|High Priest||The book of Hebrews identifies Jesus as High Priest (9:11-12). It describes the intercession he makes for believers.|
|Mediator||Sin created a rift between God and people. Jesus mends the rift as a mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).|
|Last Adam||Paul describes Jesus as the “Last Adam,” in contrast with the first man God created. The first Adam introduced sin into the world. The last Adam takes it away (John 1:29).|
Also see Did Jesus’ Wash Judas’ Feet? to learn more.
What does it means to take God’s name in vain?
Exodus 20:7 reads, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (ESV).
Taking God’s name in vain means to “misuse the name” of God” (NLT). Sadly, many people misuse the names “Jesus” and “Jesus Christ” when they say them when cursing.
Ligon Duncan explains: “To take up God’s name in vain means any frivolous, or insincere, or thoughtless, or unsubstantial use of His name. It might mean irreverent humor which mocks God in speech, or mocks others with His name.”
He continues: “It might be blasphemy or cursing or a broken oath, but it means more than that. It could mean professing faith in Christ, and claiming to be a Christian, and receiving baptism, and yet walking in worldliness.”
Also see Why Is Jesus Called the Son of David? to learn more.
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