The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists/Part 20

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©{{{copyright}}}
Wasn’t the Messianic Idea a Christian Invention?

Editor’s Note: This material was first published in book form in 1989 by the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association (now known as the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute).

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Wasn’t the Messianic Idea a Christian Invention?

Jesus asked, “What do you think about the Christ [Messiah]? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42)

There are some critics who claim that the early Christians, looking for support for their new belief, created a scenario from the Hebrew Scriptures to persuade people Jesus was the divine Messiah. This theory states that, “Even Jesus did not believe he was the Messiah. What we find in Mark is a theory imposed by Mark on the narrative.”[1]

But it is not possible for the critics to prove their assertions. The idea of a coming Jewish Messiah was not the invention of the Apostles or the early Christian community. Rather, it is beyond dispute that the Messianic promises already existed before Christ appeared on the scene. This can be seen from the following:

  1. It can be documented that at the very time of Christ, there was a general expectation among the Jews for their Messiah.
  2. As we have already seen, some rabbis before Christ’s time understood from the prophecies in Daniel 9:24-27 that the time of the Messiah had to be around the general time of Christ (see our discussion of Daniel 9).
  3. History records that there were so many claimants for the title of Messiah during this time.[2] (In fact, there was widespread Messianic expectation throughout the East, including in the Sibylline Oracles.)[3]
  4. It is beyond question that the Jews based their Messianic expectation on the prophecies contained in their sacred books.[4] Gloag has recorded: “It is thus a matter beyond controversy that there existed about the time of our Lord the expectation of the advent of some mighty prince, to whom the Jews gave the name of Messiah. The Jews grounded this expectation on certain prophecies contained in their sacred books.”[5]

Additional proof that the Jewish people were expecting their Messiah at the time of Christ can be seen in the historical documents of the New Testament. There we find:

  1. It is universally recognized by the “chief priests and teachers of the law” that the Messiah was to be born “in Bethlehem in Judea” on the basis of Micah 5:2 (Mt. 2:4-6).
  2. Godly men such as Simeon were “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (the Messiah) (Lk. 2:25-26).
  3. The people in general expected the Messiah. “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John [the Baptist] might possibly be the Christ [Messiah]” (Lk 3:15).
  4. The Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask John the Baptist whether or not he was the Messiah (Jn. 1:19-20).
  5. Crowds of people are pictured arguing as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah (Jn. 7:40-43).
  6. The Jewish leaders are portrayed as being anxious to have an answer whether or not Jesus was the Messiah (Jn. 10:24).


In conclusion, this evidence clearly indicates that the critics are wrong in asserting the Messianic concept was only a Christian invention.

Read Part 21


  1. E. Basil Redlich, Form Criticism (Nelson & Sons, 1939), p. 20; cf. W. Wrede, The Messianic Secrets of the Gospels (1901); cf. Charles C. Anderson, Critical Quests of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1969), pp. 69-71, 91.
  2. William Whiston, tr., The Words of Flavius Josephus, Vol. I (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1984), p. 165; Vol. IV, p. 135.
  3. Delitzsch and Gloag, Part 2, pp. 150-153.
  4. Ibid., pp. 145-153.
  5. Ibid., p. 153.


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