What Was Jesus' Last Name?
We often refer to Jesus as Jesus Christ, and some people assume that Christ is Jesus’s last name. But Christ is actually a title, not a last name. So if Christ isn’t a last name, what was Jesus’s last name? The answer is Jesus didn’t have a formal last name or surname like we do today. So why didn’t Jesus have a last name?
Why Didn’t Jesus Have a Last Name?
Culturally, during Jesus’s lifetime, the Jews didn’t use formal surnames to distinguish people from each other. Last names weren’t commonplace in the area or culture, so very few people used them. Instead, the Jews would refer to each other by first names, unless the first name was common. Jesus was a common first name at the time, so he likely would have been referred to with a distinguisher. Many people would refer to his parentage and most likely call him “Jesus son of Joseph” or “Jesus son of Mary,” like how Peter was referred to as “Simon, son of Jonah” in Matthew 16:17 and “James son of Zebedee” in Mark 3:17.
Another way people would distinguish between those with common names was to refer to their hometown. Many people had their hometowns attached to their names like Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13:1), Mary Magdalene (Matthew 27:56), and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:4). In the Bible, we do see Jesus referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth,” so he was likely often referred to by his hometown.
When Did Jesus Become Known as Jesus Christ?
Christ is a title that means the “Anointed One” or “Chosen One.” Jesus wasn’t referred to as Christ during his mortal ministry but instead gained the title after his death and resurrection, as shown in scriptures that come after his ascension back to heaven like 2 Peter 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Jude 1:1, and Revelation 1:1. The Biblical writers call him “Jesus Christ” to show that he is the Savior and Chosen One of God. It’s another way of saying that Jesus is the Messiah.
Overall, Jesus didn’t have a formal last night. Instead he was most commonly called “Jesus son of Joseph” or “Jesus of Nazareth.” After his resurrection, he was called Jesus Christ to show that he is the Messiah and Savior of the world. To learn more about Jesus’s mortal ministry and the time and culture that he lived during, stream The Chosen and see it come to life.