It is no secret that many people today are Biblically illiterate. Therefore, it is no surprise that many of the terms that are commonly used in Biblical teaching are no longer used as they were originally intended. The word messiah is a perfect example. In today’s common language, the use of the term messiah has no reference to scripture, but instead, it can be defined in today’s Webster’s Dictionary as anyone who is a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause (1). For this reason, a Bible summary of Who is the Messiah is important to understand.
What is the definition of a Messiah?
As mentioned above, Webster’s dictionary gives a common non-Biblical definition as “a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause.” In addition to the common definition of a messiah, it also gives the definition referring to Judaism as “a king who will be sent by God to save the Jews” and in Christianity  as “Jesus Christ” (1).
However, if you look at Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, you only see one definition of Messiah because it was the only definition that was commonly understood at the time as follows (2):
MESSI’AH, adjective Heb. anointed.] Christ, the anointed; the Savior of the world.
I know that when messiah cometh, who is called Christ, he will tell us all things. Jesus answered her, I that speak to thee am he. John 4:25-26.
It is interesting to note that in 1828 Noah Webster included the Scripture reference from where we get the definition. Today, we see no such reference, which is part of the reason many people today cannot define Who is the Messiah.
Biblically speaking, what is a Messiah?
In Scripture, we find the term Messiah as found in Daniel 9:25-26 as follows:
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
The Hebrew word for Messiah is mashach, which means anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically the Messiah :- anointed, Messiah (3).
The word for Messiah is also translated in Greek as Messias as found in John 1:41 and 4:25 as follows:
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. (John 1:41-42)
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:25-26)
The Greek translation from the Hebrew Messiah is the word Messias is Mashiach, which means the Christ: Messias (4).
Biblically speaking, Who is the Messiah?
We see from the reference in Daniel that the Messiah would play a pivotal role in prophecy. We see from the references in John that the Messiah was Jesus Christ. However, when referring to Jesus Christ, Christ was not His last name, it was His title. Simply stated, Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah. The Biblical definition of Christ is as follows: “Christos (chrio); anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus :- Christ” (5). This association with Jesus Christ  as the Messiah teaches us two things. His name, Jesus, identifies with His humanity. His title, Christ, identifies with his divinity as our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 5:5; Hebrews 9:11).
Finally, recognizing Jesus Christ as our Messiah has eternal consequences when it comes to being born again as a child of God. We are told in 1 John 5:1, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.” Here, we are taught that when we believe that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah, we are born of God.
This is why we are also told that we become children of God by faith in Christ and heirs to the promises that God made to Abraham:
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29) Note: See this passage in context of Galatians 3:6-29.
Likewise, if we do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah, we are not born of God and do not have God as our Father (1 John 2:22-23; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7-9).
Therefore, the Bible gives us the answer to the question of Who is the Messiah – It is Jesus Christ and by no other name can one be saved (Acts 4:10-12; Philippians 2:5-11).
It is no secret that many people today are Biblically illiterate. For this reason, there is much confusion over the meaning of the word Messiah. A common non-Biblical definition of Messiah is “a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause.” In both the Old and New Testaments, the Messiah is referring to Jesus Christ. Jesus, as the Messiah, is the Christ, meaning He was anointed as our High Priest to make atonement for our sins and provide us with everlasting life. Therefore, Jesus Christ is our Messiah.
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Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) “Messiah.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2016. (2) Webster, Noah (1828) “Messiah”. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1828): American Dictionary of the English Language, Retrieved from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Messiah.(3) Strong, James (2014). “Messiah”. Strong’s number H4899. Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. (4) Strong, James (2014). “Messias”. Strong’s number G3323. Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. (5) Strong, James (2014). “Christ”. Strong’s number G5548. Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. Photo rendered from Logos Bible Software 6.0 Visual Copy.