Question: Who made the choice to use the word "Christ", which is the Greek word for Messiah? Would not "Jesus" have been more appropriate for translators in translating the epistles of the Apostle Paul?
Answer: The word “Christ” comes from the Greek ‘christos’ meaning “anointed.” The Hebrew Old Testament word for anointed is ‘meshiyach,’ and is only translated Messiah in 2 of the 39 places in the King James Version of the Bible (both in Daniel 9). In the New Testament, Andrew, upon finding Jesus, tells his brother Simon Peter, “We have found the Messiah (Greek ‘messias’ from the Hebrew ‘mashiyach’)” (which is translated the Christ) (John 1:41; cf. 4:25). The term “the Anointed One” in time become a proper designation for Jesus – He is the anointed Savior (and at times the name is "the anointed one, the savior," other times simply "the Christ," and others, "the Christ, Jesus.").
The fact that the original Greek of the New Testament calls Him the ‘Christos’ not the ‘Messias’ is significant. The writers of the New Testament under the inspiration and superintending by the Holy Spirit made an effort to identify Jesus with the Old Testament Messiah but also to distinguish Him by using the Greek word “Christos.” As a result, all translators use the proper Greek translated term Christ and do not substitute Messiah for it. We understand that Jesus is the Messiah, because the Scriptures say so, but at the same time we understand Jesus is the Christ because Scripture makes that clear also. In fact, the apostle John writes his gospel so that we may know Jesus Christ. He writes, “these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name” (John 20:31).
Thanks for asking,
John Pappas, ThD