“Who do people say I am?” “But who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:27-29)

Jesus is asking these questions of his disciples. Here is how the questioning went, together with their answers:
Then Jesus departed with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. As they were on their way, he asked his students, “Who do people say I am?” “John the Baptist – but some say Elijah and others say one of the Prophets,” they replied. Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied and said, “You are the Anointed of God [Christ, Messiah].” He instructed them not to tell anyone about this. (Mark 8:27-30)


Why would people think Jesus was a previous Prophet?

We can tell from Jesus' disciples' responses that the Judean people essentially accepted that a person could reappear in another body. How can a person who lived before in one body appear many years later - even centuries later - in another body?

Certainly, the Prophets they were referring to had died. Without question, the body of the Prophet Elijah was thoroughly decomposed by then. How could he reappear centuries later in the form of Jesus?

The custom for handling dead bodies in those times was to entomb the body until it decomposed, leaving only the bones. Then, at least among wealthier families, the bones would be placed in a box. This is called an ossuary. As evidence of ossuaries shows, unless the box was well-preserved, the bones also turn to dust within a few decades.

Among not-so-wealthy families, the dead bodies were simply burned and buried in a heap. There the bodies also decomposed to dust within a few years.

So how could the Prophets reappear as Jesus if their bodies had decomposed?

In fact, this notion of a prophet returning is clear evidence that the ancient Mosaic teachings of the prophets taught that we are not these physical bodies. Indeed, the ancient teachings taught that we are each spirit-persons, temporarily occupying a physical body.

Just as a person might temporarily occupy a house, and then move away from that house, the spirit-person temporarily occupies the physical body. When the body dies, the spirit-person moves on.

This is the only logical way that a prophet who lived before in a body that died could reappear centuries later. The person had to have left the body behind at the time of death and come back to occupy a new body.

Did Jesus also teach that we are not the physical body?

This notion of the spirit-person occupying a physical body was taught by Jesus, as he stated:
"That which arises from the flesh is flesh, and that which arises from the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6)
"It is spirit that gives life; the physical body provides no benefit. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (John 6:63)
“For this reason I say to you, don’t be anxious about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body and what you will wear." (Matt. 6:25)
"And don’t fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)
In the last statement, the word "soul" comes from the Greek word ψυχή (psychē) - which means according to the lexicon, "the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions" and "the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death."

This "essence" is what our personality, our goals, our motives and our love comes from - as well as " feelings, desires, affections, aversions" as explained in the lexicon. This is the self - each of us has a unique personality or person - and this person is not composed of flesh and blood, but of spirit. In other words, we are not these physical bodies.

Did the Romans support this concept?

This understanding of the ancient teachings of Jesus and the Prophets before Jesus was all but squelched in the Fourth Century after Jesus. This came as a result of the Romans' attempt to white-wash these teachings, in order to keep people controlled.

In the Fourth Century, the Romans organized their own version of Christianity and cherry-picked the circulating Scriptures, and translated them into Latin in a manner that supported the personal interpretations of Constantine. This excluded the understanding that we are not the physical body.

Over the centuries since, the Romans methodically confiscated or destroyed any other ancient Scriptures from around the region. This is why Scriptures were found buried in the desert: They were buried to avert the destruction of the Romans. Indeed, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi texts found last Century contain significantly more references to the separate existence of the spirit-person. You can find a modern-English translation of these texts at the Lost Gospels of Jesus.

This also is why, for example, the phrases, "the last day" and "resurrection" remain even today in English versions. These are terms that indicate the time of death ("the last day") and the spirit rising from or leaving the physical body at the time of death (resurrection).

Yet these and other terms have been thoroughly misconstrued - starting from their mistranslation into Latin by the Romans and continuing through today among the various sects that broke off of the Roman Catholic Church.

For the next 1,000 years, these institutionally translated Latin texts were the only allowed forms of Christian scripture and it was against the law for any common person to personally own any version of the scriptures - even if they were in Latin. The only way a person could have contact with scripture was to go to a Roman Catholic Church and hear a priest repeat selected verses in Latin during a Church service.

And few Europeans understood Latin.

In this way, the Roman government and their proxy, the Roman Catholic Church, controlled the teachings of Christianity and Judaism for over ten centuries. They also controlled how they were interpreted and translated. And while new translations of the Greek do exist, by virtue of institutional hierarchy, most translations have towed the line with the Roman translations.

Did they change the scriptures?

By virtue of these translations, institutional sects virtually muddied or removed any clear teachings that explained how the spirit-person leaves the body at the time of death and can (if the person has not perfected their relationship with God) return to another physical body.

Instead, by white-washing the Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus, they have served to confuse billions of people over the centuries with regard to our identity. As a result of their muddying or destroying the teachings of the Prophets and Jesus, they have caused so much confusion amongst the Western world regarding our identity. This is why, for example, people will often erroneously refer to the soul as an organ - as something besides ourselves that can be bought or sold, or lost.

Yet even with this white-washing, a few remnants of verses remain in the Western Bible - as we see above. To these we can add the question of Jesus' disciples upon seeing a man who was born blind:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
 (John 9:2)This clearly indicates that Jesus' disciples already accepted that the spirit-person exists prior to being born within a certain body, and the activities of that person in a previous lifetime (here "sins") could affect the condition of their body in this lifetime.

Next, we see from the text above that Jesus' disciples identified Jesus differently than other translations indicate:

"You are the Anointed of God."

The word "Anointed of God" is being translated from the Greek word Χριστός (Christos). Some Biblical versions translate this to "Messiah" and some to "Christ" - as in "You are the Christ."

But what does the word mean?

As clarified here, according to Thayer's lexicon, Χριστός (Christos) can refer to "the anointed" or "the Messiah." The Greek root of the word is χρίω - which literally means, to anoint, or be blessed. But by whom? Within the context of the scriptures, we understand this to be the Supreme Being.

This relates to the meaning of these titles anointed or messiah. Both refer to someone who is selected - anointed - by the Supreme Being to serve Him and represent Him.

We find the basis for this definition in the Old Testament, where it describes the Supreme Being "anointing" those who would serve Him and represent Him:
[God speaking]"Anoint them just as you anointed their father, so they may serve Me as priests. Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.” (Exodus 40:15)
We also find that the etymology of Χριστός (Christos) is derived from the Holy Name of the Supreme Being. Hence, the Source of the anointing is the Supreme Being.

This is the basis for one who represents the Supreme Being. One who represents the Supreme Being would certainly be referred to Him. This is confirmed by the phrase:
εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου
Which is typically translated to:
"Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord"
This is also a phrase used in the Old Testament - as service to God was said to be done "in the Name of the Lord" - with the word "Lord" being translated from the word יְהֹוָה (Yĕhovah) - the Holy Name of Jehovah or Yahweh.

As such, the term Χριστός (Christos) would be appropriately translated to "Anointed by God" or "God's representative" - while Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Iēsous Christos) would be appropriately translated to "Jesus Anointed by God" or "Jesus, God's representative."

This could also certainly be abbreviated to "the Anointed" as it was sometimes done. However, this would not present the full accuracy of the term Χριστός (Christos). It would leave out the Source of the anointing - our true Savior, the Supreme Being.

It is evident from the Gospels that Jesus' disciples clearly accepted Jesus as God's anointed - Messiah or Christ - indicating God's representative - but others did not. They weren't ready to accept Jesus as God's representative. But ironically, the Judean people were prepared to see Jesus as a reincarnation of an earlier Prophet - an earlier representative of God.