In confessing Jesus Christ we are confessing the content of those titles ascribed to him. That means, then, that these are more titles than names. Clearly Jesus was his first name, but Jesus’ father Joseph did not have the last name Christ. To confess Jesus Christ is to confess that our Lord is Savior (Jesus; Matt. 1:21) and Messiah (Christ). The Greek word Christos means “anointed” and harkens back to the promised anointed messiah who was to come.
Sonship is a massive topic that has been discussed and debated throughout the history of the church. What exactly did Jesus mean when he referred to himself as the “Son of God”? For starters it will be helpful if we simply remember how that phrase was used and to whom it was applied in the Old Testament. While the plural, “sons of God” was often used to refer to angels, the singular was primarily reserved for Israel (Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9) and her king (2 Sam. 7:14-15; Ps. 89:26-27; Ps. 2). This is very interesting and very important. When Jesus is referred to by God and refers to himself as the “Son of God” he is very intentionally being linked with Israel and her king. As such Jesus is the true and new Israel, the rightful king of his people. Of course the phrase is freighted with more than that, though. As God’s only or unique Son, Jesus is ontologically equal with him. As God’s only Son he possesses rich and mystical communion with God. This is how it has always been. Jesus and the Father have for eternity related to one another as Father and Son.
What exactly did Jesus mean when he referred to himself as the “Son of God”?
Lordship is, likewise, a massive New Testament theme. No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us (1 Cor. 12:3). That statement alone, along with many others (cf. Rom. 10:9, Phil. 2:11), makes it clear that this phrase is a cipher for the gospel itself. To confess Jesus is Lord is to confess Jesus is God. One of the very interesting phenomenon of the New Testament is the application to Jesus of Old Testament verses referring clearly to God/YHWH (cf. Phil. 2:10-11; Isa. 45:23). To confess Jesus as Lord is to confess Jesus as King. Kings rule and reign. (In coming weeks we will hear of God’s seating Jesus at his right hand.) At the ascension, Jesus was enthroned as King of kings and Lord of lords. Finally, notice how the creed personalizes this: we don’t confess merely “Jesus is Lord,” but “Jesus our Lord.” In so doing we are not able to keep him at arm’s length. Rather, we show to him allegiance and render to him all obedience.
The proverbial surface has been scratched. Much, much more could be said about this section of the creed. Nevertheless, hopefully this will get you thinking about the Christian message and what is we believe and why we believe it.