What Does Messiah Mean?

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A point of confusion between religions is that they often use the same words, but with different meanings. Misunderstandings can result. In this video Luke Price and Dr. C discuss the different meanings of the word “messiah” between the Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

In the Bible, the word “messiah” in general refers to someone who is anointed, as with oil, for a special purpose. So there is not only one messiah. But beyond that, there are many prophecies of a specific, special Messiah. It is this Messiah that Jews, Christians, and Muslims understand differently.

The Jewish understanding of the Messiah is primarily a political savior who will deliver the Jewish people from suppression everywhere. He will make them the most honored on earth. Since Jesus did not do this, current Jewish leaders do not consider that he can be the promised Messiah.

Christians accept that the Messiah will one day be a political ruler. However, they recognize that the prophecies of the suffering messiah to point to Jesus. They also understand from Jesus’ teaching that he came primarily as a spiritual messiah, to save people from their sins, and to teach the world how to live in harmony and love.

Muslims consider the Messiah to be Jesus Christ, as the Christians do. However, it is not clear exactly what the Quran, or they, mean by that. The closest is probably the idea when they say that “Jesus was sent only to the Jews.” They add to that, “Mohammed came for the whole world!” We disagree with both these claims.