We call Him “Jesus,” and sometimes we refer to Him as “Jesus Christ.” Some have mistakenly assumed that Jesus is the Lord’s first name, and that Christ is His last name.
The reality is that Christ is a title, not a name. The word Christ is transliterated from a Greek word meaning “Anointed One” or “Chosen One.” The Hebrew equivalent is the source of the word Messiah. When the Bible refers to “Jesus Christ,” it is saying that Jesus is the Chosen One of God. It’s another way of stating that Jesus is the Messiah. See 2 Peter 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Jude 1:1, and Revelation 1:1.
In Acts 18:5, we see a clear distinction between the name Jesus and the title the Christ: “Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus” (ESV). In other words, the subject of Paul’s preaching at that time was proving that the Messiah (the Christ) was in fact Jesus. The man called “Jesus” fulfilled the role of the Christ, as prophesied in the Law and the Prophets.
Christ is not Jesus’ last name or surname. People in those days did not have last names. Instead, they were identified in other ways, especially if they had a common name (and Jesus was a common name). Many people were identified by who their fathers were: Levi the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2:14), James the son of Zebedee (Mark 3:17), James the son of Alphaeus (verse 18), and Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus (Mark 10:46) are examples.
Other people were identified by their hometown. Jesus was often identified this way. “Jesus of Nazareth” was a common way of referring to Him (Mark 10:47; Luke 24:19; John 18:5). Others who had their hometowns or home countries attached to their names include Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13:1), Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:56), and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:4).
Still others were distinguished from people with the same name by the use of nicknames. For example, two of Jesus’ disciples were named “Simon”; Jesus gave one the nickname Peter (John 1:42), and the Bible distinguishes the other as “Simon the Zealot” (Matthew 10:4).
Jesus’ last name was not Christ, but referring to Him as “Jesus Christ” is one way to identify His mission in the world. He has many titles. The angel told Mary that He would “be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Isaiah said He would be called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Others called Him “Son of David” (Matthew 15:22). Whatever title we use, we know that “there is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NLT). Jesus has been given “the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11, BSB).