12 And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;
13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.
(2 Nephi 26:12-13)
The title page of the Book of Mormon, which was written in about 400 A.D., lists three purposes of the book. The third of those is: “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” This sounds like a paraphrase of the passage above, which was written by the prophet Nephi nearly 1,000 years earlier.
What does it mean to say that “Jesus is the Christ?”
- The name “Christ” is a transliteration of the Greek word Christós (Χριστός), which means “the Anointed One.”
- The equivalent Hebrew word is Mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ), which is rendered in English as “Messiah.”
So: Christ = Messiah = the Anointed One.
Nephi’s father, Lehi, used the term “Messiah” extensively (See 1 Nephi 1:19, 1 Nephi 10:4-14.) His brother, Jacob, introduced the term “Christ,” saying that an angel had revealed it to him (2 Nephi 10:3). Nephi uses both terms.
To be “anointed” is to receive a position of power and authority through a ceremony which includes having oil smeared or rubbed on you (Oxford Dictionary, “anoint“).
The term “Messiah” only appears twice in the King James Version of the Bible (in Daniel 9:25-26), but the concept of an “anointed one” is pervasive. Ancient Israelites looked forward to a king who would be a descendant of David, and who would rule over Israel during a period of peace and happiness. Some of the passages which were most closely associated with this prophecy are in the very chapters from Isaiah which Nephi quoted in order to prove “the truth of the coming of Christ” (2 Nephi 11:4). For example:
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4, 2 Nephi 12:4).
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, 2 Nephi 19:6).
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins (Isaiah 11:1-5, 2 Nephi 21:1-5)
After quoting these and other passages from Isaiah, Nephi explains that the scriptures would declare to the Jews that their Messiah has already come: “For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (2 Nephi 25:19).
In the passage above, he expands his audience. If the Jews need to know that Jesus is the Anointed One, the King who will preside over a time of peace and happiness, then the Gentiles need to know the same. Thus, Isaiah’s prophecies set up Nephi’s testimony. This Messiah which Isaiah testified would come was in fact the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today, I will be grateful for the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, who was chosen by our Father in Heaven to be the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I will be grateful for my knowledge that Jesus is the very Christ.