You are here

TitleJesus Christ, Names and Titles of
Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsRobinson, Stephen E.
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsNames of Jesus Christ; Titles of Jesus Christ
Citation Key9486

Show Full Text

Jesus Christ, Names and Titles of

Author: Robinson, Stephen E.

Since Jesus Christ is the central focus both in Church devotion and in scripture, he is naturally known under many names and titles, including the following:

JESUSThe Hebrew yeshua or yehoshua, meaning "Jehovah saves," is transliterated into English as the name Joshua. In Greek, it became Iesous, thence Iesus in Latin and Jesus in English. Since Jesus was actually Jehovah performing saving work, his name yeshua, "Jehovah saves," coincides precisely.

MESSIAH. This title comes from the Hebrew meshiach, "anointed one." Among the Israelites, prophets, priests and kings were anointed, designating them as rightful successors. Commonly, "messiah" referred to a figure awaited by Israel to be her king. Applied to Jesus, the title retains its full sense of "anointed" prophet, priest, and king.

CHRIST. Greek for Messiah (anointed one) is Christos, Christ in English. Thus, "Jesus Christ" joins a name and a title, and means Jesus the Messiah.

SON OF GOD. Jesus was not the son of any mortal man. His biological father was God, the Father. As Son of God, Jesus represents the Father and acts as his agent in all things.

SON OF MAN. From his mother Jesus inherited mortality. Hebrew ben 'adam denotes "a son of Adam," that is, any mortal man (Dan. 8:17). Thus, as a son of Adam, Jesus represents Adam's children, acting as their agent with the Father. As both Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus stands between God and man as mediator. With the definite article, the Son of Man described an expected apocalyptic heavenly figure, identified with the Messiah (Dan. 7:13). Jesus is the son of the archetypal Man, the perfect heavenly Man, the Eternal Father (Moses 6:57;7:35). In this sense, "Son of Man" equals "Son of God" and conveys an intentional ambiguity, reflecting both Jesus' mortal and immortal parentage.

SON OF DAVID. Jews expected the Messiah to belong to David's lineage. Prophets had foretold that a son (descendant) of David would restore Israel's kingdom to its former zenith (see Isa. 11:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6). According to Matthew 1:1-16,Jesus was descended from David. "Son of David" refers particularly to Jesus' messiahship in its political aspect as Davidic king.

JEHOVAH. Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus was Jehovah himself, God of Israel, not son of Jehovah (Isa. 41:14;43:11, 14; Mosiah 3:5; 3 Ne. 11:14;15:5). The name Jehovah vocalized thus is not found in ancient texts, but is a modern convention. In ancient times, the Hebrew text had no vowels; thus the consonants in God's name were yhwh. Jews avoided pronouncing these consonants when reading aloud, substituting ‘adonai, a word meaning "the Lord." Following this practice, King James translators usually rendered yhwh as "the Lord." In medieval Hebrew texts, the vowels from ‘adonai were added to the consonants yhwh to remind Jewish readers to say "'adonai." English translators adopted this convention, creating the artificial form "Jehovah." Latter-day Saints accept Jehovah as a name for the premortal Christ because this is the common English form for yhwh.

EL. ‘El is not a name, but is the common noun for God in Hebrew (plural, elohim). Latter-day Saints often use Elohim for the Father, allowing a distinction between members of the Godhead. Nevertheless, in the Old Testament, El and its cognates, such as Elohim and El Shaddai (God Almighty), usually refer to the premortal Jesus, the God ('el) of the Old Testament.

'EMMANUEL. Since Jesus was the ancient El, the angel (Matt. 1:23) correctly called his name Emmanuel (Hebrew, ‘immanu'el), meaning El (god) with us.

THE LORD. Since Jews uttered adonai (Lord) instead of the divine name, the Greek Bible (c. 200 B.C.) usually translated yhwh as ho kurios, "the Lord." Thus, "the Lord," whether ‘adonai or kurios, equaled "Jehovah." Not surprisingly, "the Lord" is Jesus' most common title in the New Testament. The confession of the early Church, "Jesus is Lord" could only mean Jesus is Jehovah.

I AM. In Exodus 3:14, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) identified himself as "I AM," perhaps affirming Jesus as the creator who exists independently of his creation. Scholars see connections between this Old Testament title and Jesus' many "I Am" statements in the New Testament, for example, "I Am the good Shepherd" (John 10:11, 14), or "Before Abraham was I Am" (John 8:58).

FATHER. In at least three senses Jesus is Father: (1) he is the creator of the physical universe; (2) he is the Father's agent in everything pertaining to this creation and its inhabitants; and (3) he is Father of all eternal, resurrected human beings. Jesus Christ begets spiritually and gives eternal life to one "born again," who thus becomes Christ's son or daughter (Mosiah 27:25). Moreover, Latter-day Saints call Christ "elder brother." In the premortal context this is correct, for there Jesus was "the Firstborn" of all spirit children of the Father (D&C 93:21). Nevertheless, "Father" best describes Christ's present and future relationship to mortals who have been spiritually reborn.

SECOND COMFORTER. The Holy Ghost, the Comforter, comforts the faithful with the assurance of inheriting the kingdom of God. However, through faith in Christ one can receive a second comforter, an appearance of Jesus himself, who assures the individual of his or her place in the kingdom. After a witness from the Spirit, the Second Comforter is a personal witness from the risen Lord (John 14:16-23).

SAVIOR. The most sublime of titles, Savior underscores Jesus' role in the divine plan. Both Old and New Testaments specify that the Savior is God (Isa. 45:21-23; Luke 1:47; etc.). Through agony and death suffered for others, Jesus is able to erase imperfections and bestow worthiness, on condition of repentance. Since imperfect beings cannot reside in God's presence (D&C 1:31), Jesus saves believers from their imperfection, their sins, and their worst selves. (See also, above, the definition of his name, "Jesus.")

THE WORD. As words carry the thoughts of one mind to the minds of others, so Jesus communicates the mind and will of the Father to mortals. Moreover, as words are agents for expression, so from the beginning (John 1:1-3) Jesus is the agent for expressing and accomplishing the Father's will. Christ is both the messenger and the message.

ALPHA AND OMEGA. Equivalent to the Old Testament term "the first and the last" (e.g., Isa. 44:6), alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Just as no letters stand before alpha or after omega, so there are no other gods in this creation other than that represented in Jesus Christ. He encompasses all, from beginning to end; he extends beyond all extremities and categories.

ONLY BEGOTTEN. Jesus Christ is the only being begotten by the Father in mortality. His full title is "the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh." Since Mormons believe all humans were spiritually begotten by the Father before creation, "Only Begotten" is understood as being limited to mortality.

LAMB OF GOD. In the first Passover, a slain lamb's blood was daubed on Israelites' houses to avert the destroyer. In the New Testament, Jesus is understood as a Passover lamb supplied by God, and Passover stands as a type for the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose blood, through baptism and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, protects Christians from the destroyer, Satan. According to Moses 5:6-8,animal sacrifices were to be "a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father."