This word study first appeared in the June 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer, part of the rubric "A Word Fitly Spoken."
We have a saying, “X marks the spot.” It comes from the practice of marking an important location on a map with an “X,” something that has fascinated many a reader of tales about buried treasure. Scripture also has its “X.” It marks treasure that is somewhat hidden to us English readers, but infinitely more valuable than a chest stuffed with gold. This “X’ is not a particular word (the usual subject of this rubric), but the Greek letter Chi (pronounced much like ‘key’). Although there are few English words that begin with an “X,” in Greek, this ‘key’ opens a vast treasury of dazzling words in the New Testament Scripture.
“X” (remember, Chi, like ‘key’) is for Xristos, or “Christ,” which means “anointed” (Acts 2:36). It refers to the Old Testament ceremony of pouring a special formula of olive oil on the head of someone God chose to hold the office of prophet, priest, or king in the kingdom of Israel. As Christ, Jesus is marked by God as His one officebearer to, for, over, and in His covenant people and kingdom. As Christ, Jesus is anointed by the Spirit with God’s authority and power to be His Prophet, who fully reveals to us the secret counsel of God concerning our redemption; His Priest, who by the sacrifice of His body redeemed and continually intercedes for us; and His King, who by His Word and Spirit rules over us and preserves us in the enjoyment of that salvation He has purchased for us (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 31).
Somewhat as an aside, that Chi (X) stands for Christ explains why in the second century the fish became a symbol for Christians (and is still today). It may have represented disciples of Christ as fishers of men, but the symbol itself is derived from the Greek letters beginning each word in the phrase Iesous (Jesus) CHristos (Christ), THeou (God’s) Yious (Son), Soter (Savior), or ICHTHYS, the Greek word for fish (even in English the study of fish is called Ichthyology).
Not surprisingly, Chi (X) begins many words related to the saving work and benefits in Christ. Chi (X) is for chreia, or “need.” The blind, sick, and lame need the Great Physician, whereas any cleansed by Christ have no need to be washed again (Luke 5:31; 9:11; John 13:10). In the body of Christ we need one another; and he who does not help his brother in need has not the love of God dwelling in him (I Cor. 12:21; I John 3:17)
Chi (X) is for chrusion, or “gold.” God considers the adornment of a meek and quiet spirit in godly women more beautiful than gold; the trial of our faith is more enduring than gold; and we are not redeemed with gold, but with the precious blood of Christ (I Pet. 1:7, 19; I Pet. 3:4). Yet, Christ’s gathered, redeemed, and perfected church is called a city of pure gold (Rev. 21:18).
Chi (X) is for chilias, or “thousand,” as in the thousand figurative years until Christ returns, four and five thousand He fed with bread and fish (Mark 8:19-20), seven thousand God kept from Baal (Rom. 11:14), twenty-three thousand He killed for fornication (I Cor. 10:8), 144 thousand He sealed, and 200 thousand, thousand horsemen who plague earth as a sign of Christ’s coming (Rev. 7:4; 9:16).
Finally, Chi (X) is for three words that represent all the treasures of the Christ’s saving work: charis, charisma, and chara, or “grace,” “gift,” and “gladness” (joy). In English, these three have no linguistic connection; but in Greek they have the same root, which has rich implications. Basically, they together show that the saving work of Christ proceeds from the Father, by the Son, and through the Spirit as one, inseparable work from beginning to end. Salvation essentially is to receive the gift (charisma) of Christ’s Spirit (I Cor. 12:4), which gift, since Christ alone merited, imparts, and preserves it, is grace (charis) (Rom. 5:17; Heb. 10:29), with the fruit or effect always of gladness (chara) (Gal. 5:22). Christ, by faith, makes us partakers in His anointing—Christians, who in gladness for this gift of grace, confess His name, present ourselves a living sacrifice unto Him, fight against sin and Satan now, and afterwards reign with Him eternally over all creatures (HC, Q&A 32). Those, brothers and sisters, are the real treasures of Christ marked by Chi (X).
Rev. William A. Langerak (Wife: Karen)
Ordained: September 2003
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI: 2003-2019; Trinity PRC, Hudsonville, MI - May 2019-Website: www.prca.org/current/news/churches/usa-canada/trinity-prc-hudsonville-mi
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