Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is the incarnate Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, fully God and fully man, born in time of the Virgin Mary and begotten from before all time of God the Father.
"Jesus" is a transliteration, occurring in a number of languages and based on the Latin Iesus, of the Greek Ιησους (Iēsoûs), itself a Hellenisation of the Hebrew יהושע (Yehoshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic ישוע (Yeshua ), (Joshua), meaning "the Lord saves".
"Christ" is His title derived from the Greek Χριστος (Christós), meaning the "Anointed One", a translation of the Hebrew-derived Mashiach ("Messiah").
The Gospel of John opens with a hymn identifying Christ as the divine Logos, or Word, that formed the universe (John 1:1–5; 9–14). His earthly life was the Logos incarnate (John 1:14).
The only begotten Son and Word of God
As the 'uncaused' hypostasis [person], the Father was nonetheless always with his divine Word and Spirit, who themselves were also concrete and distinct modes of existence within the divine essence. Being Father necessarily implied a schesis with his Son and Spirit, without whom, fatherhood would be logically inconceivable. That is to say, the Father could never be perceived to be alone in his divinity as this would imply that He was not always 'father' but became so, which would be unacceptable in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. And so, there was never a time when God was without his Word and Spirit. Indeed, St Irenaeus (130-202AD) had noted that when God acts in the world, He always does so through his Word and Spirit, which he called the "two hands of God." Accordingly, the teaching of the Church on the Son of God is that He was begotten of the Father before all ages, and not created in time like all other created beings of the world. Being begotten of the Father [tovn ejk tou' Patrov" gennhqevnta prov pavntwn tw'n aijwvnwn] – as is said in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed – simply meant that the Son of God shared the same essence as God the Father and so was 'light from light, true God from true God.' And this eternal Son of God they identified with Jesus, whom they taught was God incarnate and born of the Virgin Mary.
In countering the Arian controversy in the fourth century, which claimed that the Son of God was a creature – even though a most exalted one - born in time, the fathers of the Church taught that Jesus, as the Son of God was consubstantial [of one essence] with the Father [oJmoouvsion tw'/ Patriv]. In teaching that the Son of God was consubstantial with the Father, the Church not only refuted the famous Arian slogan which stated that “there was a time when He [i.e., the Son of God] was not”, but also made plain that that the 'being' [oujsiva] of the Son in relation to his Father was identical, one and the same; and hence entirely 'other' from that of the world's nature. On the contrary, the Son’s 'being', the fathers taught, belonged to the same substance or essence of God, whereas that of the world's belonged to the will of God and was created. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ was divine with exactly the same divinity as God the Father, but, as One born on earth from the virgin Mary in Bethlehem, he was also fully human. Being of the same substance with the Father, God's only begotten Son, the man Jesus of Nazareth not only revealed the Father – "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6) – but was also the saviour of the world. Being fully human, Jesus Christ identified totally with the human condition – except for sin of course – and therefore raised it back to God, uniting it with God. And so, the Church teaches that in the theanthropic person of Jesus Christ, the faithful of the Church not only 'behold' and 'see' God but are also saved by him as well.
Jesus Christ is the Messiah prophesied by the Jewish prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Gospel of Matthew in particular focuses on the Jesus' fulfilment of prophecy, mainly because it was written for a Jewish audience.
Immanuel / Emmanuel
Immanuel (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל) as found in the Hebrew Text of the Book of Isaiah of the Old Testament consists of two Hebrew words: אל (El, meaning God) and עמנו (Imanu, meaning with us) and therefore has the meaning "God with us." It also appears as Εμμανουηλ (Emmanuel) in Isaiah 7:14 of the Greek Septuagint, and is most notably found in Matthew 1:23 where this descriptive name is applied to Our Lord and Savior since He is "God with us."
- "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matt. 1:23; KJV)
- "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isa. 7:14; KJV)
- A Messiah is a king anointed at God's direction or with God's approval.
- Extract from "The Mystery of the Holy Trinity" written by Mr. Mr. Philip Kariatlis, Academic Secretary and Associate Lecturer, St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Theological College.
| This article forms part of the series
Introduction to Orthodox Christianity