The Creed of Chalcedon
one and the same Christ
The angel told Mary that she was to name her baby, “Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Joseph was given the same instructions, adding that the baby would be so named because “he would save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-25). That is the meaning of the name. It was his given or personal name. Jesus was not the only child to bear that name, and many have since.
But as beautiful as that name is, there was one with far more meaning to first-century Jews. Indeed, it is really not a name but a title—and that title is “Christ.” The Greek, Christos, is the translation of the Hebrew, Mashiach, in English, “Messiah.” Indeed, in that one word was the hope of every Jew. Jewish girls dreamed of bearing the Messiah—the greatest honor she could ever achieve. The meaning in English is “anointed one”—the one whom God had chosen and tasked to lead his people to—well, it’s hard to say. The Zealots wanted a Messiah to lead them into battle against the Romans to throw off the Roman yoke. The common people who eked out an existence looked for a Messiah to supply for all their needs (John 6:26-27). The Sadducees frankly didn’t care for a Messiah except to affirm their privileged position in the kingdom. The title came to mean different things to different people who filled it with their own meaning. No one was expecting a baby born to poor folks who raised him in Nazareth, who would be accused of blasphemy by his own people and handed-over by them to pagans to be crucified. This was on nobody’s radar except for very few (cf. Luke 2:33-35).
But God had prophesied what this Messiah, this Christ, would do in Isaiah 53 and Psalms 2 & 16 and a host of Old Testament passages too numerous to tell: He would fulfill his roles of prophet uttering things “hidden since the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:35), of priest giving his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), and of king having ascended to the right hand of power (Luke 2:32-33; Acts 2:30-36; Revelation 19:16). And that was ever the task of the Christ laid down from the foundation of the world.
But here in the Creed, the Bishops want us to know that this Christ is “one and the same” as the one who was “begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead” and “born of the Virgin Mary, theotokou, according to the Manhood—of the same nature of each but united in the one Person of the Christ. So the Christ was really far beyond anything a Jew of that day could ask or think; the problem is often the same for us. He is the Father’s anointed one, chosen one, special one. He is the Christ.