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The Christ (from GreekΧριστός Christós; LatinChristus, as translation of Hebrewמָשִׁיחַ Maschiach, Aramaic: Meschiah, in Greek transcription Μεσσίας Messiah, "the anointed one") is a supreme cosmic spiritual being who - according to the customary occidental designation - represents the Son principle of the divine Trinity and stands as the great World-I, the macrocosmic I, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the primordial source of creation above all spiritual hierarchies.

Jesus Christ (GreekΙησούς Χριστός Iesous Christos "Jesus, the anointed one") is the name for the unique and singular earthly embodiment of the Christ in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. According to Rudolf Steiner's research, this incarnation began with the baptism in the Jordan River, which occurred around the 30th year of Jesus' life, and was completed with his death on Golgotha.

Through the Mystery of Golgotha, the Christ Power, which originally worked from the Sun, united with the Earth. This is a spiritual fact that stands above all denominational religious confessions and, as Rudolf Steiner emphasises, is also not bound to the name "Christ" that is in common use among us: "Never will he who recognises the Christ-being insist that the name of the Christ remain." (Lit.:GA 121, p. 197)

The I in man is the same as Christ in the world

The I in man is microcosmically the same as Christ is macrocosmically for the world.

„The I in man is the same as Christ in the world. It is the turning point in the whole evolution of humanity. Everything that preceded Christ in the development of humanity was a preparation for the appearance of Christ; everything that followed the appearance of Christ proceeded from it. Christ is the world centre. He is the Word who stands at the centre of all development. Like rays, the whole development of humanity flows towards him, towards his embodiment.

The whole world life had gone through a descending process into the physical. At last it appeared in the physical. The Divine had completely united with its own creation when Christ descended to the personality of Jesus of Nazareth and made His entry into Him. This Christ was an expression of the whole world-life in a physical body, in the shell of the personality of Jesus who lived in Palestine. There the whole life of the world was radiated together as in one centre. There the World-I dwelled for three earthly years. There the World-I became conscious of its entire task for the world, which had previously emanated from it. If at first the Logos had let the world come forth from himself through the word of creation, if He Himself held in His arms this world that had flowed forth from Him and pulsed it with His own life, He now took upon Himself the great sacrifice of no longer living only as the creator and sustainer of this world and of ruling over it, but He moved with His life into the centre of this world. He had fashioned the world for Himself as a shell, as the temple in which He wanted to dwell. Then the Word joined himself to all that was thought through the same. The Word became flesh.“ (Lit.:GA 91, p. 241)

The Solar Home of the Christ

The Christ was the supreme leader of the ancient solar evolution, and also during the actual Earth evolution the Sun was initially his home. However, in order to compensate for the consequences of the Fall of man, the Christ descended to Earth for the salvation of mankind. According to Rudolf Steiner's spiritual research, the Christ underwent three preliminary stages to the Mystery of Golgotha in the supersensible world before he incarnated in the body of Jesus of Nazareth with the baptism in the Jordan in the 30th year of his life and lived in it as the Jesus Christ for about three years until his death on the cross at Golgotha.

The Christ and the Karma of Man

The fact that the Christ was to be found in the spiritual world until then did not remain hidden from the initiates of the ancient cultures. And already from this spiritual sphere, the Christ gave people the opportunity to compensate for their mistakes through karma and thus to develop further.

„Even if the Christ only appeared later, he was always present in the spiritual sphere of the Earth. Even in the ancient Atlantean oracles, the oracle priests spoke of the Spirit of the Sun, of the Christ. The holy Rishis in the Indian cultural period spoke of Vishva Karman; Zarathustra in Persia spoke of Ahura Mazdao. Hermes has spoken of the Osiris; and it has spoken of that Power which by its Eternal is the equalizer of all that is natural, of that Power which lives in the "Ehjeh asher ehjeh," the Forerunner of the Christ, the Moses. All have spoken of the Christ; but where was he to be found in those ancient times? Only where the spiritual eye could see, in the spiritual world. He was always to be found in the spiritual world, and he was effective in the spiritual world, effective out of the spiritual world. He is the one who sent down the possibility of karma to man before he appeared on Earth.“ (Lit.:GA 107, p. 250f)

The macrocosmic I of the Christ

Christ Pantokrator, icon in St. Catherine's Monastery in Sinai

„The Christ is quite radically different from other beings who participate in earth evolution. He is a being of a completely different order. He is a being who not only remained behind during the lunar evolution in the same way as the Luciferic spirits, but who, anticipating the lunar evolution, actually remained behind even earlier, already during the old solar evolution, and out of a certain sure, far superhuman wisdom remained behind during the old solar evolution. We must not regard this being as a microcosmic being in the same sense as the other beings mentioned, for we have to regard as microcosmic beings those who were connected with this earth evolution from the beginning. The Christ was not directly connected with the evolution of the earth, but with the evolution of the sun. He was a macrocosmic being from the beginning of earth evolution, a being which is therefore exposed to quite different conditions of evolution than the microcosmic beings. And its conditions of development were of its own kind. They were such that this macrocosmic Christ being had developed the macrocosmic fourth principle, the macrocosmic I, outside the earthly. For his, that is, for this Christ-evolution, it was normal to bring an I of macrocosmic nature outside the earth just to the completion of the I and then to descend to the earth. So it was normal for the development of the Christ being - when it descended from the macrocosm to our earth - to bring in the great impulse from the macrocosmic I, so that the microcosmic I, the human I, could take up this impulse and progress in its development. It was normal for the Christ not to have the microcosmic I-impulse, but to have the macrocosmic I-impulse just as far as man had the microcosmic one on earth. Thus the Christ being is a being which in a certain respect resembles man, only that man is microcosmic and has expressed his four principles microcosmically, thus also having his I microcosmically as Earth-I, while the Christ has it as World-I. But thus in him the development of the I was microcosmic. But his development was such that he was just great and important through the full development of this I which he brought down to earth. And he did not have the fifth macrocosmic principle and not the sixth macrocosmic principle, for he will develop these so that he can give them to man, on Jupiter and Venus.

So the Christ is a being of four-membered nature - up to his macrocosmic I - just as man himself is such a being microcosmically. And just as man has the mission during his time on earth to train his I in order to be able to receive, so the Christ had to train his I in order to be able to give. When he descended to earth, he was such that everything in his being was used to express his fourth principle in as perfect a form as possible. Now each principle of the macrocosm and the microcosm, which has the same number, has an intimate relationship to the corresponding other principle which has the same number. The fourth macrocosmic principle in the Christ corresponds to the fourth microcosmic one in man, and the fifth in the Christ will correspond to the spirit self in man.

Thus the Christ began his earthly career by bringing down to man from the macrocosm that which man was to form microcosmically, only the Christ brought it as a macrocosmic principle. He entered into the evolution of the earth in such a way that during it he had no fifth, sixth or seventh principle as his property, any more than man has one in his own kind.

The Christ is a being who had developed macrocosmically up to the fourth principle and who, during the passage through the earth, will see the development of his fourth principle in the fact that he gives up everything so that man can form his I.“ (Lit.:GA 130, p. 213ff)


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.