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The relevant passage:

20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

The interlinear:

ειπεν (5627) δε αυτοις υμεις δε τινα με λεγετε (5719) ειναι (5721) πετρος δε αποκριθεις (5679) ειπεν (5627) τον χριστον του θεου

What does "christon" ("Χριστὸν") mean to the apostles? Did it mean "messiah"? What expectations did the disciples have for the "christon"?

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The Hebrew "Messiah" and Greek "Christ" both mean "anointed". Thus, many versions translate the verse:

  • NIV: "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah."
  • NLT: Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!”
  • CSB: "But you," he asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah."
  • CEV: Jesus then asked, "But who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Messiah sent from God."
  • GNT: "What about you?" he asked them. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are God's Messiah."
  • HCSB: "But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "God's Messiah!"
  • ISV: He asked them, "But who do you say I am?" "God's Messiah," Peter replied.

The meaning and purpose of Messiah's mission was variously misunderstood by most people in the first century. They believed He would be a conquering and political king as evidenced by their question in Acts 1:6

So when they came together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

However, Jesus was constantly telling them that:

  • John 18:36 - Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now My kingdom is not of this realm.”
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The Messiah is prophesied in

Jeremiah 23:5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up for David a a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.

It reminded the disciples of the glorious days of King David and King Solomon. They expected the Messiah to establish an independent sovereign nation with security, justice, and equity.

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