When Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost after the Holy Spirit had fallen on the gathered believers, he made a bold proclamation: Yeshua was “the Anointed One”; Jesus was “the Christ”. He declared: “Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (v. 36)
We are so familiar with the name and title ‘Jesus Christ’, we don’t give it a second thought — it is used throughout the New Testament, appearing over 400 times. We may even know that ‘Christ’, or Christos in Greek, means ‘the Anointed One’, and is the equivalent of the Old Testament Hebrew word Moshiach, translated ‘Messiah’. But what exactly was/is Jesus anointed for, and what is the Old Testament source of this concept?
In Acts 2:29-33, Peter, in his sermon, references Israel’s King David, who lived 1,000 years prior to Christ. Peter revisits a promise God made to David through the prophet Nathan in 2 Sam 7:12: “I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.” In context this seems to describe only Solomon, one of David’s sons, since God proclaims that “He (Solomon) shall build a house for My name” (v. 13). Earlier in that chapter, David stated his intention to build a house for the Lord, since the Ark of the Covenant up until that time was kept in a tent. Instead, God declared He would build a house for David — the job of building a house for God would be left to Solomon. Nathan ends with God assuring that “Your (David’s) house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Sam 7:16)
The Jews early on recognized that this was a significant prophecy. It is reiterated in Psa 132:11, where we find a promise paraphrased by Peter in Acts 2:30: ‘The LORD has sworn to David, a truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.” ‘ This verse is recounting the 2 Samuel episode covered above. Regarding the promise to David, Peter said “he [David] looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ” (v. 31), whom Peter identifies as Jesus (v. 36). Jesus is a descendant of King David. (Matt 1:1)
So the first, clear notion of an “Anointed One” is found in 2 Samuel with the promise to David that a King issuing from his own body would be ‘anointed’ to sit on an eternal throne, ruling over Israel. Peter’s first stunning claim then, is that Jesus is the long awaited and promised ‘Messiah’, the Christ. His second claim is no less monumental: Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, is YHWH, or Yahweh… God Himself!
Starting in Acts 2:17, Peter quotes verbatim from Joel 2:28-32, with a minor, but paradigm-shifting change–he substitutes the word “YHWH” from Joel 2:32 with the word Lord, in reference to Jesus. Here is the passage:
17 ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
18 EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
And they shall prophesy.
19 ‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.
20 ‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.
21 ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’ (NASB)
Whereas Joel prophesies that in YHWH’s name we would be saved (YHWH is the four letter name of God used throughout the Old Testament), Peter states that it Yeshua who accomplishes this, showing in no uncertain terms His co-equal status with Yahweh. He says “know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” At that point 3,000 Jews ‘were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” ‘ Peter told them to “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (v. 38)
When we call on Jesus (or Yeshua) as Lord and Christ, we are essentially declaring and agreeing that:
1. Jesus is ‘the Christ’, the Anointed One to sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem over Israel forever, and that
2. Jesus is Lord, Yahweh in the flesh, eternal God, our only salvation, long promised (Psa 68:19; Isa 25:9).