Was It Christ or Crestus in Earliest NT Manuscripts?
C. Winn in his article Questioning Paul, chapter one makes a case that in the earliest Christian manuscripts, the word for "Christ" was "Chrestus."
Now, returning to "Christ," and the improper title’s appearance in English translations of the Galatians 1:1 passage, it turns out that the over-scored Greek symbols Chi Rho (??), Chi Rho Sigma (???), Chi Sigma (??), Chi Upsilon (??), Chi Rho Upsilon (???), Chi Omega (??), Chi Rho Omega (???), and Chi Nu (??), weren’t based upon Christos, Christou, Christo, or Christon, but instead upon Chrestus—an entirely different word.
Christos means "drugged." As proof, the one time it was actually written out in the Greek text, it was used to say that the Laodicean assembly applied a manmade drug, an ointment in this case, to their eyes. (And of course that’s also interesting, in that it’s being applied to the current "church age.") Chrestus on the other hand means "useful implement," and "upright servant," as well as "merciful one," and it was used to "depict the good and beneficial work of a moral servant." As such, this affirms my earlier conclusion that rather than write "ha Messiach" the two times the title appears in the Old Covenant, Daniel actually wrote "ha Ma’sehyah"—telling us that the Suffering Servant would be the "Implement of Yah," the Upright Servant and Useful Tool God would use to save all mankind.
In this regard, there is no chance that Yahweh would miss this opportunity to associate this essential title with His name. Likewise, there is no chance that Rabbis, who are adverse to Yahweh’s name and authority, wouldn’t corrupt their favorite title, disassociating it from Yahweh’s name, given the opportunity. Therefore, through this evidence I’m not advocating the use of "Chrestus," but instead "Messiyah—Implement of Yah." Chrestus is nothing more than an affirmation of this important symbolism.
The fact that Yahshua’s Disciples selected Chrestus, not Christis as the closest Greek allegory to Messiyah, can’t be distinguished from the first, second, third, and early fourth-century Renewed Covenant placeholders for Messiyah, because Chi Rho, Chi Rho Sigma, and Chi Sigma, represent both words equally well. But, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a textual affirmation for Chrestus; there is. In all three depictions of the epithet used to depict the first followers of The Way, in Acts 11:26, 26:28, and in 1 Peter 4:16, Codex Sinaiticus reveals that Crestuaneos was penned initially, not Christianous. The same is true with the Codex Vaticanus. Then, after Constantine’s corrupt rule, Crestuaneos, meaning "useful tools and upright servants" was replaced by Christianous, transliterated as "Christian" today, but meaning "those who are drugged."
But there is more, the Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek New Testament reveals that Chrestus was scribed in 1 Peter 2:3, not Christos. Their references for this include Papyrus 72 and the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest extant witnesses of Peter’s (actually of Shim’own Kephas’ letter).
In Shim’own’s letter, which was attested by both ancient manuscripts, the Apostle tells us to:"As a newborn child, true to our real nature (logikos – be genuine, reasonable, rational, and sensible), earnestly desire and lovingly pursue (epipotheo – long for and crave, showing great affection while yearning for) the pure and unadulterated (adolos – that which is completely devoid of dishonest intent, deceit, or deception) milk in order to grow in respect to salvation, since we have experienced (geuomai – partaken and tasted, have been nourished by and perceived)Yahuweh (??) as the Useful Implement and Upright Servant (Chrestus – the Upright One who is a superior, merciful, gracious, kind, and good tool)." (1 Peter 2:2-3) The fact that we find Chrestuswritten in the Codex Sinaiticus, and the placeholder ??? written in P72 in the same place in this passage, we have an early affirmation that the Divine Placeholder representing the title "Messiyah" was based upon the Greek Chrestus.
The related Greek term, chrestos, means: "kind," "good," "useful," "benevolent," "virtuous," and "moral," as in the sense of "being upright." Words directly related to chrestos and chrestus speak of "integrity" in the sense of being trustworthy and reliable, "receiving the benefit of a payment," as in providing recompense and restitution, of "fulfilling one’s duty," as in being a loyal servant, "doing what is beneficial" in the sense of healing us, "transacting business," as in fulfilling one’s mission, "providing a Divine message and response," in the sense of being the Word made flesh and Savior, "being fit for use," as in being Yahweh’s Implement, and "conveying a beneficial and trustworthy message which produces a good result," which is synonymous with "euangelizo—which is to convey the healing and beneficial message" of Yahweh.
Writing about the great fire of Rome circa 64 CE, the famous Roman historian Tacitus (the classical world’s most authoritative voice) in Annals 15.44.2-8, wrote: "All human efforts...and propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the fire was the result of an order [from Nero]. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Chrestuaneos by the populous.Chrestus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate."
So now from this secular source, we have additional evidence in favor of Chrestus over Christos, of "the Useful and Merciful Servant," over "the Drugged One," and Chrestuaneos over Christianios, "those who are useful and merciful servants," over "those who are drugged."
Winn may be technically correct. In an era where Christos no longer is identified as 'drugged,' and "Chrestos' -- good, useful, benevolent, virtuous, moral, upright, etc. -- no longer has such a connotation, it would be pointless to refer to Christians as Chrestians. Yet, it does show likely the original intent was Chrestians was their name. Perhaps among those who intended to insult us, they called us 'Christians' to mean 'drugged ones.' I would wear that name because we are blessed when we are insulted. So if Christian was intended as an insult by those attacking the earliests "Chrestians," let's wear that name with honor.