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What is the meaning of the saying “Christ is King”?

Christ is King

One tragedy of living in a fallen world is that people sometimes use holy words, terms, and phrases for wicked purposes. The saying Christ is King is an example of this. Although its biblical meaning highlights and glorifies Jesus’ rule over all earthly authorities, some have hijacked the phrase to promote anti-Semitism—a form of racism consisting of hatred, prejudice, and discrimination against Jewish people. Specifically, some people are saying “Christ is King” as a slogan in the context of denying the Holocaust, promoting the theory of a global Jewish conspiracy, and speaking similarly against Jewish people.

The Bible warns people about using God’s names improperly, such as in the third commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7, ESV). Similarly, people sometimes use Jesus’ names and titles for sinful purposes. The faithless sons of Sceva illustrated this by invoking Jesus’ name when attempting to perform an exorcism. Even the demons recognized their appeal was powerless and were thus unaffected (Acts 19:13–16; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4). Likewise, wielding the saying Christ is King as an anti-Semitic weapon is to use Jesus’ name in vain, desecrating a sacred title and dishonoring its true meaning.

Like all forms of racism, anti-Semitism is sin, because people of all ethnicities are made in God’s image, and therefore have equal value (Genesis 1:26–28). The belief that some races are inferior to others undermines the truth that God created “every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26; Jeremiah 27:5) and that His plan includes blessing “all the families of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). Additionally, racism resists Jesus’ instructions to “make disciples of all nations” through the gospel (Matthew 28:19–20). It also fails to recognize heaven’s ethnic diversity, as John describes “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).

Although ignorance pervades all racism, anti-Semitism in particular exposes a lack of understanding about the Bible. The Old Testament reveals God’s love for Jewish people (Deuteronomy 7:6–8; Jeremiah 31:3), and the New Testament reiterates it (Romans 11:1–2). Furthermore, anti-Semitism neglects the role of Jews in God’s plan to save people of all races (Genesis 12:3; Psalm 22:27; Acts 3:25). Racism toward Jews also egregiously overlooks the historical fact that Jesus, His family, and most of His early followers were Jewish. Consequently, using the Bible to justify anti-Semitism dishonors God’s plan of salvation and distorts the straightforward meaning of His Word (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15).

In contrast to the Bible’s teachings, some racist ideologies use Christian terms and symbols to promote anti-Semitism. For instance, so-called “Christian Identity,” a worldview associated with the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, argues that Anglo-Saxons, Nordic people, and the fabricated “Aryan race” are the true Israelites. According to this perspective, people called Jews today are unlawful imposters, deceitfully identifying themselves as God’s chosen people. The erroneous claims of Christian Identity teachings are neither historically true nor biblically accurate but are satanic lies (cf. John 8:44).

Some teachings on the mark of Cain are an example of twisting the Bible to promote racism. According to one prejudiced interpretation, God cursed Cain with dark skin. This explanation contradicts the teaching of Genesis, which says the mark signifies God’s protection, not His punishment. “If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him” (Genesis 4:15). As this example shows, a straightforward reading of the Bible demolishes racist interpretations.

Despite the misuse by some of Christ is King, Christians should believe and defend what the Bible says about Jesus’ kingship. Importantly, the New Testament opens with the announcement that Jesus is King and closes with the proclamation of the same. At the beginning of Matthew, Jesus is called the King of the Jews, an identity He later confirms (Matthew 2:2; 27:11). Later, at the end of Revelation, the description of Jesus’ return describes Him wearing a victory sash that reads, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords,” which declares His rule over all worldly rulers (Revelation 19:16). Accordingly, the solution to the misuse of Jesus’ name isn’t to abandon saying it or to soften its meaning—it’s to proclaim the truth of it loudly and boldly.

Christ is King. The proper response to Jesus’ kingship is showing Him unrivaled allegiance and paying Him the homage He deserves. Moreover, the proper response to anti-Semitism is calling it sin, destroying the arguments that undergird it (2 Corinthians 10:4), and defending what the Bible teaches about racial equality. When Jesus returns as the conquering King, the victory He won over sin on the cross will fully manifest, and like all other wickedness, the wrath of God will target anti-Semitism for destruction. Until then, may all who loathe racism as God does pray earnestly, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

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This page last updated: June 13, 2024