Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the New Testament, sometimes the authors use Χριστός Ἰησοῦς ("Christ Jesus"), where Χριστός precedes Ἰησοῦς, yet other times they use Ἰησοῦς Χριστός ("Jesus Christ"). What is the difference in meaning?

share|improve this question

migrated from Feb 25 '13 at 17:44

This question came from our site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

Nothing? Emphasis, at best. Also, I'm sure it depends on the context. – swasheck Feb 25 '13 at 18:26
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There is no difference in meaning. The language allows both. It's just different emphasis, like if I talk about King Bob or Bob the King it is same guy but different ways of saying same thing.

share|improve this answer
Can you expand on this? What meaning is intended to be conveyed by choosing one emphasis over another? – Ray May 12 '13 at 2:32
That is subjective, authors intent. I can't tell you what each author intended any more than you can tell me. – user1985 May 31 '13 at 22:46

I would say that swasheck's comment regarding emphasis is most likely. It probably should not need to be said, but many people are unaware that "Christ" is not a name, and they tend to treat it almost as a surname for Jesus. (I believe Wright gets around this misunderstanding by rendering Χριστός as "King," but I'm not fully satisfied with that expedient, as it loses its Hebrew roots.) The term is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew meshiach (messiah), and while it has a special eschatological referent in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is used more generally to refer to anointed ones. The NT references to Jesus as Χριστός of course are intended to refer to the special eschatological messiah.

Given the above considerations, I would suggest that Χριστός Ἰησοῦς ("Christ Jesus") has the messiahship to the forefront: "the Messiah, Jesus," whereas Ἰησοῦς Χριστός ("Jesus Christ") would be more along the lines of "Jesus, who is the Messiah."

share|improve this answer

As said: the emphasis tends to be on the first: his humanity (Jesus), authority (Lord), messianity (Christ)

We would perhaps render the texts even more accurately (giving additional respect and emphasis) in our languages if we employed comma and article:

Iesous, the Christ, …

The Christ, Iesous, …

Our Lord Iesous, the Christ, …

Somewhat unfamiliar but nonetheless beneficial in some respect would be transliterating the Greek Name to remind of His disconnectedness with any images and paintings that exist supposedly (and assumed) to illustrate or even show Him, of whom there is no image.

share|improve this answer
I'm troubled by the final paragraph, which is just bad theology. But more importantly to this site, I'm curious if you have a source to back up the claim in the first paragraph. – Jon Ericson May 13 '13 at 7:05
Why would be bad theology, what Law and Prophets convincingly (to me) and repeatedly (to all) tell us? For the first paragraph I remember a discussion in the Greek class I once attended. I may be wrong and it is difficult to make rules, when it comes to questions of emphasis and style and context. (There is probably worse theology around than my little statement, which is - even if wrong - at least true for me.) – hannes May 13 '13 at 12:49
I would like to add on my upper criticized statement: The image of the living God is the live human. So there is an image of Christ. (I was, however, referring to images, painted or carved, which are not images in the likeness-sense of the word.) – hannes May 19 '13 at 8:31

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.