Titles of Jesus

This article is about the names of Jesus. For other uses, see Name of Christ (disambiguation).

Two names and a variety of titles are used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament.[1]

In Christianity, the two names Jesus and Emmanuel that refer to Jesus in the New Testament have salvific attributes.[2][3][4] After the Crucifixion of Jesus the early Church did not simply repeat his messages, but began to focus on him, proclaim him, and try to understand and explain his message: the proclaimer became the proclaimed.[5]

One element of the process of understanding and proclaiming Jesus was the attribution of titles to him.[5] Some of the titles that were gradually used in the early Church and then appeared in the New Testament were adopted from the Jewish context of the age, while others were selected to refer to, and underscore the message, mission and teachings of Jesus.[5] In time, some of these titles gathered significant Christological significance.[6]

Christians have attached theological significance to the



In the New Testament the name Jesus is given both in the

Although the precise difference between a 'name' and a 'title' may be open to interpretation, 198 different names and titles of Jesus in the Bible are listed in Cruden's Concordance, first published in 1737, and continuously in print ever since. The first index of the book (following the royal dedications and author's preface) is entitled "A collection of the Names and Titles given to Jesus Christ", with 198 names listed, each accompanied by a biblical reference.[14]


There have been a number of proposals as to the origin and etymological origin of the name Jesus (cf.

  • YHWH saves
  • YHWH (is) salvation
  • YHWH (is) a saving-cry
  • YHWH (is) a cry-for-saving
  • YHWH (is) a cry-for-help
  • YHWH (is) my help

This early Biblical Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ [Yehoshua`] underwent a shortening into later Biblical יֵשׁוּעַ [Yeshua`], as found in the Hebrew text of verses Ezra 2:2, 2:6, 2:36, 2:40, 3:2, 3:8, 3:9, 3:10, 3:18, 4:3, 8:33; Nehemiah 3:19, 7:7, 7:11, 7:39, 7:43, 8:7, 8:17, 9:4, 9:5, 11:26, 12:1, 12:7, 12:8, 12:10, 12:24, 12:26; 1 Chronicles 24:11; and 2 Chronicles 31:15 — as well as in Biblical Aramaic at verse Ezra 5:2. These Bible verses refer to ten individuals (in Nehemiah 8:17, the name refers to Joshua son of Nun). This historical change may have been due to a phonological shift whereby guttural phonemes weakened, including [h].[20] Usually, the traditional theophoric element [Yahu] יהו was shortened at the beginning of a name to יו [Yo-], and at the end to יה [-yah]. In the contraction of [Yehoshua`] to [Yeshua`], the vowel is instead fronted (perhaps due to the influence of the y in triliteral root y-š-ʕ). During the post-Biblical period, the name was also adopted by Aramaic and Greek-speaking Jews.

By the time the New Testament was written, the Septuagint had already transliterated ישוע [Yeshua`] into Koine Greek as closely as possible in the 3rd-century BCE, the result being Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous]. Since Greek had no equivalent to the semitic letter ש shin [sh], it was replaced with a σ sigma [s], and a masculine singular ending [-s] was added in the nominative case, in order to allow the name to be inflected for case (nominative, accusative, etc.) in the grammar of the Greek language. The diphthongal [a] vowel of Masoretic [Yehoshua`] or [Yeshua`] would not have been present in Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation during this period, and some scholars believe some dialects dropped the pharyngeal sound of the final letter ע `ayin [`], which in any case had no counterpart in ancient Greek. The Greek writings of Philo of Alexandria[21] and Josephus frequently mention this name. It also occurs in the Greek New Testament at Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, referring to Joshua son of Nun.

From Greek, Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous] moved into Latin at least by the time of the Vetus Latina. The morphological jump this time was not as large as previous changes between language families. Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous] was transliterated to Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries. The Latin name has an irregular declension, with a genitive, dative, ablative, and vocative of Jesu, accusative of Jesum, and nominative of Jesus. Minuscule (lower case) letters were developed around 800 and some time later the U was invented to distinguish the vowel sound from the consonantal sound and the J to distinguish the consonant from I. Similarly, Greek minuscules were invented about the same time, prior to that the name was written in Capital letters: ΙΗCΟΥC or abbreviated as: ΙΗC with a line over the top, see also Christogram.

Modern English "Jesus" /ˈzəs/ derives from Early Middle English Iesu (attested from the 12th century). The name participated in the Great Vowel Shift in late Middle English (15th century). The letter J was first distinguished from 'I' by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus in the 16th century, but did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century, so that early 17th century works such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) continued to print the name with an I.[22]

Significance of the name

Christians have attached theological significance to the name of Jesus from the earliest days of Christianity.[7] Devotions to and feasts for the Holy Name of Jesus exist both in Eastern and Western Christianity.[8] The devotions and venerations to the name Jesus also extend to the IHS monogram, derived from the Greek word for Jesus ΙΗΣΟΥΣ.[9][23][24]

The significance of the name of Jesus in the New Testament is underscored by the fact that in his Nativity account Matthew pays more attention to the name of the child and its theological implications than the actual birth event itself.[12][13]

Reverence for the name of Jesus is emphasized by

The use of the name of Jesus in petitions is stressed in


Matthew 1:23 ("they shall call his name Emmanuel") provides the name Emmanuel (meaning God is with us).[25] Emmanuel, which may refer to

The name Emmanuel (also Immanuel or Imanu'el) of the Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל "God [is] with us" consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (’El, meaning 'God') and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning 'with us'); Standard Hebrew ʻImmanuʼel, Tiberian Hebrew ʻImmānûʼēl. It is a theophoric name used in the Bible in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 8:8.



Main article: Christ

The title Christ used in the English language is from the Greek Χριστός (Khristos), via the Latin Christus. It means "anointed one".[30] The Greek is a loan translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (מָשִׁיחַ) or Aramaic mshikha (מְשִׁיחָא), from which we derive the English word Messiah. Christ has now become a name, one part of the name "Jesus Christ", but originally it was a title (the Messiah) and not a name; however its use in "Christ Jesus" is a title.[31][32][33]

In the

In the Pauline Epistles the word Christ is so closely associated with Jesus that it is apparent that for the early Christians there is no need to claim that Jesus is Christ, for that is considered widely accepted among them. Hence Paul can use the term Christos with no confusion as to whom it refers to, and as in

Symbols for representing Christ (i.e. Christograms) were developed by early Christians, e.g. the Chi Rho symbol formed by superimposing the first two Greek letters in Christ ( Greek : "Χριστός" ), chi = ch and rho = r, to produce .[41]


Early Christians viewed Jesus as "the Lord" and the Greek word Kyrios (κύριος) which may mean God, lord or master appears over 700 times in the New Testament, referring to him.[42][43] In everyday Aramaic, Mari was a very respectful form of polite address, well above "Teacher" and similar to Rabbi. In Greek this has at times been translated as Kyrios. While the term Mari expressed the relationship between Jesus and his disciples during his life, the Greek Kyrios came to represent his lordship over the world.[44]

The high frequency of the use of the term Kyrios in the Acts of the Apostles indicates how natural it was for early Christians to refer to Jesus in this way.[42] This title persisted among Christians as the predominant perception of Jesus for a number of centuries.[45]

The use of the Kyrios title for Jesus is central to the development of New Testament Christology, for the early Christians placed it at the center of their understanding and from that center attempted to understand the other issues related to the Christian mysteries.[47] The question of the deity of Christ in the New Testament is inherently related to the Kyrios title of Jesus used in the early Christian writings and its implications for the absolute lordship of Jesus. In early Christian belief, the concept of Kyrios included the Pre-existence of Christ for they believed that if Christ is one with God, he must have been united with God from the very beginning.[43][47]

The title, even in the Greek form, continues to be widely used in Christian liturgy, e.g. in the Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison combination (i.e. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy), where Jesus is referred to as Lord in one case, and as Christ immediately thereafter.[48]

Logos (the Word)

Main articles: Logos (Christianity), Pre-existence of Christ, Person of Christ and Hypostatic union

The series of statements regarding the Logos at the very beginning of the Gospel of John build on each other.[54] The statement that the Logos existed "at the beginning" asserts that as Logos Jesus was an eternal being like God. The statement that the Logos was "with God" asserts the distinction of Jesus from God. The statement that the Logos "was God" states the unity of Jesus with God, thus stating his divinity.[51][54]


Although as of the 2nd century the use of the title Logos gave rise to debate between the Alexandrian and Antiochian schools of thought regarding the interaction of the human and divine elements in the Person of Christ, after the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and Council of Chalcedon in 451 the Logos and the second person of the Trinity were often used interchangeably.[53][56][57][58]

Son of God

Main article: Son of God

The title "Son of God" is applied to Jesus in many cases in the New Testament.[59] It is often used to refer to his divinity, from the beginning in the Annunciation up to the Crucifixion.[59] The declaration that Jesus is the Son of God is made by many individuals in the New Testament, on two separate occasions by God the Father as a voice from Heaven, and is also asserted by Jesus himself.[59][60][61][62] The Son of God title, according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son".[60][62]

For thousands of years, emperors and rules ranging from the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1000 B.C.) in China to Alexander the Great have assumed titles that reflect a filial relationship with deities.[63][64] At the time of Jesus Emperor Augustus exploited the similarity between the titles Divi filius (son of the Divine One) and "Dei filius" (Son of God) and used the ambiguous inscription DF to refer to himself to emphasize the divine component of his image.[65][66][67][68] J. D. Crossan argues that early Christians adopted this title.[69]

The [60]

In the new Testament Jesus uses the term "my Father" as a direct and unequivocal assertion of his sonship, and a unique relationship with the Father beyond any attribution of titles by others, e.g. in

Of all the Christological titles used in the New Testament, Son of God has had one of the most lasting impacts in Christian history and has become part of the profession of faith by many Christians.[73] In the mainstream Trinitarian context the title implies the full divinity of Jesus as part of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Spirit.[73] However, the concept of God as the father of Jesus, and Jesus as the one and only Son of God is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's Creed.[74] The profession begins with expressing belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" and then immediately, but separately, in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood within the Creed.[74]

Son of Man

Main article: Son of man (Christianity)

The term Son of man appears many times in all four gospels, e.g. 30 times in Matthew.[75] However, unlike the title Son of God, its proclamation has never been an article of faith in Christianity.[76] While the profession of Jesus as the Son of God has been an essential element of Christian creeds since the Apostolic age, such professions do not apply to Son of man. Yet, the Christological analysis of the relationship between the two terms has been the subject of much research.[76]

In modern biblical research the occurrences of Son of man in the Synoptic gospels are generally categorized into three groups: those that refer to his "coming" (as an exaltation), those that refer to "suffering" and those that refer to "now at work", i.e. referring to the earthly life.[75][77][78]

The presentation in the

Although Son of man is a distinct from Son of God, some gospel passages equate them in some cases, e.g. in

For centuries, the Christological perspective on Son of man has been a natural counterparts to that of Son of God and in many cases affirms the humanity of Jesus just as Son of God affirms his divinity.[77] In the 5th century, Saint Augustine viewed the duality of Son of God and Son of man in terms of the dual nature of Christ in hypostatic union, in that the Son of God became the Son of man through the act of Incarnation and wrote: "Since he is the only Son of God by nature, he became also the Son of Man that he might be full of grace as well."[82][83]

Geza Vermes has argued that "the son of man" in the Gospels is unrelated to these Hebrew Bible usages. He begins with the observation that there is no example of "the" son of man in Hebrew sources. He suggests that the term originates in Aramaicbar nash/bar nasha. Based on his study of Aramaic sources, he concludes that in these sources: (1) "Son of man" is a regular expression for man in general. (2) It often serves as an indefinite pronoun ("one" or "someone"). (3) In certain circumstances it may be employed as a circumlocution. In monologues or dialogues the speaker can refer to himself, not as 'I', but as "the son of man" in the third person, in contexts implying awe, reserve, or modesty. (4) In none of the extant texts does "son of man" figure as a title.[84]

Lamb of God

Main article: Lamb of God

The title Lamb of God (

These two proclamations of Jesus as the Lamb of God closely bracket the Baptist's other proclamation in


The theme of a sacrificial lamb which rises in victory as the Resurrected Christ was employed in early Christology, e.g. in 375 Saint Augustine wrote: "Why a lamb in his passion? For he underwent death without being guilty of any inequity. Why a lion in his resurrection? For in being slain, he slew death."[91] The Lamb of God title has found widespread use in Christian prayers and the Agnus Dei ("Lamb of God who take away the sins of the world have mercy on us; Lamb of God who take away the sins of the world grant us peace") is used both in liturgy and as a form of contemplative prayer.[92][93]

New Adam / Second Adam / Last Adam

Main article: Last Adam
Just as in Adam all of us died, so too in Christ all of us will be brought to life.
— 1 Corinthians 15:22

Just as the Gospel of John proclaims the universal relevance of the Incarnation of Jesus as Logos, the Pauline view emphasizes the cosmic view that his birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection brought forth a new man and a new world.[31] Paul's eschatological view of Jesus counter-positions him as a new man of morality and obedience, in contrast to Adam. Unlike Adam, the new man born in Jesus obeys God and ushers in a world of morality and salvation.[31]

In the Pauline view, Adam is positioned as the first man and Jesus as the second and last Adam (

The theme is reiterated by Paul, in Romans 5:18-21, when he states:

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification* leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In the 2nd century Church Father Irenaeus continued this tradition and stated: "so that what we had lost in Adam - namely to be according to the image and likeness of God- that we might recover in Christ Jesus."[95][96] Irenaeus also used the analogy of "second Adam and second Eve" and suggested the Virgin Mary as the "second Eve" who had set a path of obedience for the second Adam (i.e. Jesus) from the Annunciation to Calvary.[97]

The tradition continued in the 4th century by Ephrem the Syrian and later by Saint Augustine in his Felix culpa, i.e. the happy fall from grace of Adam and Eve.[98][99] Later, in the 16th century, John Calvin viewed the birth of Jesus as the second Adam one of the six modes of atonement.[100]

Light of the World

Main article: Light of the World

Jesus is called a light in seven instances in the New Testament and Light of the World only in the Gospel of John. The terms "Bread of Life" and "Life of the World" are also applied by Jesus to himself in John's Gospel in the same Christological sense.[101]


I am the light of the world: he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus again claims to be Light of the World in healing the blind at birth, saying: [101]

When I am in the world, I am the Light of the World.

This episode leads into

In the Christological context, the Light of the use of the World title is similar to the

This application of "light compared with darkness" also appears in

Jesus also used that term Light of the World to refer to his disciples in Lamp under a bushel.

King of the Jews

Main articles: Jesus, King of the Jews and INRI

In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the King of the Jews in a number of episodes, both at the beginning of his life and at the end. Both uses of the title lead to dramatic results in the New Testament accounts. In the account of the Nativity of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men (called the Magi) who come from the east call Jesus the "King of the Jews", causing King Herod to order the Massacre of the Innocents. In the accounts of the Passion of Jesus in all four Canonical Gospels, the use of the "King of the Jews" title leads to charges against Jesus that result in his Crucifixion.[106][107]

In the New Testament the "King of the Jews” title is used only by the gentiles, namely by the

The final use of the title only appears in

Rabboni and Rabbi


The Kiss of Judas episode, heavily implying he may never have acknowledged, believed, or understood the divinity of Jesus.

Jesus is called Rabbi in conversation by Mark 14:45 by

Intimating that the title Rabbi was used by status seeking

Other names and titles


Christian theologians such as

One of the titles preceded by an "I am" assertion of Jesus is the "Bread of Life" title in

In the

While John's Gospel emphasizes Jesus as the


See also


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