What Does the Word Christian Mean in Hebrew: Meshikhi

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Blog | 0 comments

The word Christian was first used in Antioch in the New Testament to describe the disciples of Jesus. It was more of a nickname to describe their “Christ-like” lifestyle. Today, Christianity carries different connotations and has different meanings. Let’s examine what the word Christian means in Hebrew and the implications of this for the believer. 

So, what does the word Christian mean in Hebrew?

The Hebrew word for Christian is meshikhi to mean a follower of Christ. In the Hebrew Bible, Christ is called the Messiah, the anointed king, savior, and redeemer. So Jesus the Nazarene, who dominated the New Testament, was not a new concept in the Old Testament. He is mentioned in the Tanakh, and Christ also referred back to the Old Testament to prove that He was there.

What Is The Christian Meaning In Hebrew?

Christian comes from the word Christ, which means the anointed one. In addition, Notzri and the plural form Notzriyim means “those under the Nazareth” or “the one from Nazareth.” Jesus was from Nazareth; in Hebrew, he is Yeshua, the Messiah, the Son of God.

 As a result, a Christian is a believer/follower of Christ or someone who is under the anointed one. The Hebrew word for followers of Christ or Messiah is meshikhi. To paint a clear picture, Christ, referred to as Messiah in Hebrew, is the shepherd, and those who follow him are sheep. Jesus reiterated a similar message: “There will be one flock under one shepherd (John 10:16).

In the Old Testament, anointing was done to inaugurate people into specific offices. For instance, David and Elisha were anointed to be King of Israel and a prophet that serves God, respectively.

The Hebrew word for anoint is the verb mashah, which points to anointing through the Holy Spirit. The noun form chrisma has a broad range of meanings, and the most common one is to be endued with the Holy Spirit and divine gifts. In Hebrew, God’s anointed one is the king of Israel, meaning the Messiah or mashiach prophesied.

In the Hebrew Bible, a messiah is a future king that would come from the Davidic line or High Priest of Israel who will be traditionally anointed with holy oil and rule the people. In this context, the Messiah has the connotation of a savior or redeemer who would come at the end of times to restore Israel and usher in the kingdom of God. In the Old Testament, it is foretold that earthly rulers would rise “against the LORD and His Anointed” (Psalm 2:2). The same message is restated in the New Testament (Acts 4:26).

The core beliefs of Christianity are grounded in three main things: faith in Jesus Christ, salvation, and regeneration (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). At the center of Christian dogma is Christ or Messiah and the belief God is omnipresent.

Jesus Was Present in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, people also looked forward to the fulfillment of the prophecy of the coming Messiah. However, Jesus was present in the Old Testament, and several scriptures attest to that. The Exodus is a good example of that. Scripture says that it was Jesus who saved the people from slavery and took them out of Egypt (Jude 5).  Jesus himself confirmed that He was active in the Old Testament when he said, “Truly I say to you before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

Jesus was also active in the Old Testament through the Trinity. So those who had faith in God indirectly had faith in Jesus, God the Son. However, in the Old Testament, God the Son had not taken a human form/flesh as it’s portrayed in the New Testament.

The similarity between Abraham’s test of faith and the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus also shows that there were believers in the Hebrew Bible. Abraham was told to sacrifice his one and only son, whom the Bible later calls Jesus, the seed of Abraham. In addition, when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac, he did not hesitate because he had faith that God would raise him from the dead. Jesus, God’s son, was also raised from the dead.

Abraham carried firewood across Mount Moriah, found in Jerusalem, just like Jesus, who carried his cross to Golgotha, found in Jerusalem. So the Old Testament is, in its own context, Christian Scripture that proclaims Christ, who was the center of their faith.

Salvation in Christ

There are also several instances in the Hebrew Bible where the word salvation is mentioned (Psalm 3:8; 18:2; 18:35; 25:5; 62:1-2; Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 3:17-18). Isaiah talks about “how God has clothed me in the garment of salvation” (61:10), while Job talks about how the redeemer lives (19:25). Scripture also talks about Christ’s crucifixion before it happened by saying, “he poured out his soul to death and bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:12).

So, the faith of the Old Testament believers was not based on the Law or covenants that YHWH made with the Jews. Instead, their faith was in God and the promised Messiah, who would come from Abraham’s seed and King David’s lineage. The Bible says the promise was made to Abraham’s offspring: Christ (Galatians 3:16). This indicates that the Old Testament way of salvation is the same as that of the New Testament.

Throughout the Old Testament, there are messages that the Messiah would “save His people” (Isaiah 53:5-6). The word save in this context means to be protected or rescued from danger. But symbolically it refers to salvation that leads to eternal life. 

Job’s knowledge of the Messiah is exemplified when he says, “I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last days He will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

Salvation has always relied on faith. In the Old Testament, it meant trusting in God’s promise to provide protection and a future savior. As a result, Jews looked forward to the fulfillment of the prophecy and believed in God’s promise of the coming Messiah to save His people (Isaiah 53). Those who exercised such faith in God were saved.


Through faith, we allow Christ to dwell in us. On the other hand, in the Old Testament, regeneration was through the spirit of God in the form of a circumcised heart or transforming a hardened heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26). Moses told the Israelites “God would circumcise your hearts and those of your descendants so that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). To live in this context refers to eternal life.

Old Testament figures who exemplified faith in God, such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, are also mentioned in the New Testament (Hebrew 11). These are people who looked forward to the fulfillment of God’s ultimate plan.


Meshikhi the Hebrew word for Christian means a follower of Messiah. It teaches us that Jesus was just as active in the Old Testament as in the New Testament. As God the Son, He was with the Israelites, saving, teaching, and forming a relationship with them. As the people multiplied, God took on the human form of Jesus Christ and died for our sins once and for all. In the process, YHWH replaced the old system of sacrificing on the altar as a way to atone for our sins.

As believers, we no longer have to wait for God the Holy Spirit to come in an ark or temple temporarily; through Christ, He dwells in us. Since meshikhi means follower of Messiah (the anointed one), the core principles of Christianity practiced today are similar to those in the Old Testament. This exemplifies the phrase “Jesus is the same today as He was in the Hebrew Bible.

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About: Ronie

Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.
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Ronnie Amaya has been actively involved in ministry since his high school and university days where he served as a Christian union leader. After graduation, he worked as an itinerary minister preaching in Schools, Universities, Street Evangelizations, and Churches. In 2018, he led a team in planting a new church in Nairobi, Kenya where he is currently serving as the lead pastor.

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