In Matthew 1:1 (and everywhere else), wouldn't it make more sense to render Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ with a comma after Ἰησοῦ, and to translate Χριστοῦ as "Anointed [One]"?

[Proposed Matthew 1:1] (1) This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus, Anointed One, the son of David, the son of Abraham.


[Matthew 1:1 NET] (1) This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Ideally I would like a single word, like "Anointee," but in English, at this point, that form isn't in the vernacular, though it should be (in my always humbler than thine opinion), just like "appointee."

Alternatively, of course, one might opt for "Jesus, Messiah," since that term, while less literal and far less accurate, is well known to English speakers.

What say ye, oh sage ones?

3 Answers 3


Matt 1:1 is not even a sentence because it consists only of eight nouns, all in the genitive case, except the first which in the nominative case. Thus, the first verse is only a title (as is obvious) and thus might be literally translated:

Book (of) genealogy (of) Jesus (of) Christ (of) son (of) David (of) son (of) Abraham.

This phrase even lack any articles. The last six fall into three pairs of nouns and each pair apposite to the first pair.

The first pair consists of a name and a title, a bit like a modern name and title, "Captain Joshua", or, "Doctor Caleb", or, "Admiral Nelson". Thus, if we were to be a bit more modern we might prefer something like, "Messiah Jesus", rather than, "Jesus Christ".

The order of the nouns is not uniform in the NT. For example, we have:

  • Jesus Christ in Matt 1:1, 18, Mark 1:1, John 1:17, etc about 136 times
  • Christ Jesus in Acts 24:24, Rom 1:1, 2, 3:24, etc, about 91 times
  • Lord Jesus Christ in Acts 10:36, 11:17, 15:26, about 69 times
  • Lord Christ in Luke 2:11, Rom 16:18, Col 3:24, 1 Peter 3:15.
  • Christ Lord, Luke 2:26
  • Apostle Christ in 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, 11:13, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, etc, about 11 times.
  • Savior Jesus Christ in Titus 2:13, 2 Peter 1:1

Thus, for modern use, generally, I might prefer "Messiah Jesus" but there is arguably some significance to the order of the words in some instances (not all). Therefore, whatever translation policy we adopt for "Jesus Christ" must also deal with all the others listed above.

For example, should we translate, "Lord Jesus Christ" as, "Lord, Jesus, Christ", or, "Lord, Christ, Jesus", or, "Jesus, Lord Messiah", etc? I suspect this might create confusion.

  • Confusion is an understatement. Great answer. :)
    – Rajesh
    Dec 25, 2021 at 22:21
  • 2
    I chose Matthew 1:1 because it was the first instance of "Jesus Christ" in the NT. My concern is primarily that it sounds more like a family name/surname than a title. I see that the NIV and NLT opt for "Jesus the Messiah" which is a step in the right direction. But, as in many cases, translation involves tradeoffs. Thank you for your thoughts.
    – Ruminator
    Dec 27, 2021 at 1:04

My insight is less than a 2c contribution but at any rate: I think it does make sense to place a comma after Iesous as you suggest, for the simple reason that when He was addressed, it was always as either "Jesus", or "Lord". As such, the comma would then allow "Christou" to function more as a title.

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    – agarza
    May 20, 2022 at 18:14
  • Hello MZ and thank you for your comment. You will need to remove your second paragraph above, but please feel free to put it in the comments. Since your question relates to a post of mine on James 2:23, you'll want to put your question in a comment on that post. You may have to wait until you have 50 points, though. I can be found on Quora at quora.com/profile/Bill-Ross-22
    – Ruminator
    May 21, 2022 at 18:09
  • On another note, Ruminator/Bill, how can I get in touch with you? I have enjoyed many of your posts and would be great to connect. Have a question for you on your post on James 2:23 which I found most insightful. Best, MZ May 23, 2022 at 14:38

The punctuation is used to denote a non-restrictive relative clause, that shows non-essential information about the antecedent. If you use Jesus, Christ or "Jesus, the Christ", it can also imply there are other Christs than Jesus as well. It would imply Christ is not a restrictive and essential title for Jesus. It is like a second name to him, an essential quality, unlike slave, which is a non-essential title for Paul, so Paul, a slave or Paul, an apostle.

See the comparison of translations- Spanish versions have Jesuchristo and Jesús, el Cristo. For some reason when versions use Messiah, instead of Christ, they render Jesus the Messiah, not Jesus Messiah (ISV and Murdock). I suppose it doesn't sound as natural and smooth as Jesus Christ does in English.

The construct of two or more nominative substantives attached together, are is called apposition, see various examples. They can also be a list: greedy, unrighteous, adulterers. The second title or noun describes or further explains the first. Surnames are without punctuation because they are essential to the first name. Christ acts as a second name for Jesus. It should be translated according to the grammar rules. However, we can see the old Spanish bible and the Spanish Jubilee Bible with Jesús, el Cristo shows they are not portraying Christ as the essential title for Jesus. Christ seems an additional non-essential title with the comma.

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