Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ?

I’m leading a study of 1 Corinthians and we were going through the opening chapter Saturday morning when a question was raised. Is there a reason St. Paul would say Jesus Christ as in v.5, and in other places Christ Jesus, as in v.30?

In one sense, the answer could simply be literary variety, so the same phrase or words don’t become too repetitive. But then thanks to Janelle, who forwarded me this article, with some further food for thought!

It’s good to remember that Christ is a title, not Jesus’ last name or family name. And as the article points out, Jesus is very specific in terms of the incarnate Son of God as the particular man Jesus of Nazareth, and may emphasize his humanity. Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word messiah, and may emphasize Jesus’ divinity. Together, they hold a central Christological concept – that Jesus the Christ was both true man and true God. Depending on what Paul is saying he may want to emphasize one of these two natures a bit more than the other.

Of further note in 1 Corinthians 1, when Paul says Jesus Christ he usually doesn’t just say Jesus Christ, but rather Lord Jesus Christ (with the exception of v.9, where instead of lordship Paul emphasizes Jesus’ sonship to the Father. When Paul places Jesus’ humanity first in this chapter he reinforces Jesus’ lordship. Jesus is our human lord as well as the divine Son of God. Jesus has a role in each of our lives, that of Lord. Present, not past tense. His lordship is here and now today, not just back then during his lifetime or somewhere in the indefinite future when He returns in glory.

It’s good to pause and think about the words of Scripture, especially when they’re so familiar we almost don’t even see them any more!

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