(Gk.). A Greek word meaning “anointed.” It is a term subsequently used for Jesus of Nazareth. According to Helena P. Blavatsky, the terms Christos and Chrestos must be distinguished from each other, and both antedate Christianity. They were names used in the initiations of the mysteries.
Chrestos meant, in that vocabulary, “a disciple on probation,” a candidate for hierophantship; who, when he had attained it, through Initiation, long trials and suffering, and had been anointed (i.e., “rubbed with oil,” as Initiates and even Idols of the Gods were, as the last touch of ritualistic observance), was changed into Christos — the “purified” in esoteric or mystery language. In mystic symbology, indeed, Christes or Christos meant that the “way,” the Path, was already trodden and the goal reached; when the fruits of the arduous labour, uniting the personality of evanescent clay with the indestructible INDIVIDUALITY, transformed it thereby into the immortal EGO. “At the end of the way stands the Christes,” the Purifier; and the union once accomplished, the Chrestos, the “man of sorrow” became Christos himself. (Key to Theosophy)
Christos is the crown of glory of the suffering Chrêstos of the mysteries, as of the candidate to the final UNION, of whatever race and creed. (CW VIII:204)
Thus Jesus was a Chrestos, or a good and holy initiate. It was a Christos that descended on him or overshadowed him (CW VIII:380). This was also the view of the Gnostic Cerinthus. He taught that “the world and Jehovah having fallen off from virtue and primitive dignity, the Supreme permitted one of his glorious Ae¯ns, whose name was the ‘Anointed’ (Christ) to incarnate in the man Jesus” (CW XIV:372).
The use of the word Chrestos may be found in the works of Herodotus and Aeschylus, as early as the 5th century BCE. It refers to “the ‘good, and excellent,’ the gentle, and the holy Initiate, who showed the ‘way’ to the Christos condition, and thus became himself ‘the Way’ in the hearts of his enthusiastic admirers” (CW VIII:205).
The term “Christos” is used in another sense. It is equivalent to the spiritual Ego of every human being, the atman.
The Christos which Theosophists, thus liberated, have acknowledged . . . is the spiritual Ego, glorious and triumphant over the flesh. . . . Once united to his atman-Christos, the Ego, by that very act, loses the great illusion called ego-ism, and perceives at last the fullness of truth; that Ego knows that it has never lived outside the great All, and that it is inseparable from it. Such is Nirv€na, which, for it, is but the return to its primitive condition or state. (CW VIII:388-9)
This meaning of Christos is identical with the intent of St. Paul in the New Testament when he spoke of “Christ within you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) and again, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:19).
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