Use of the Word Christian

We live in a world now where Satan is convincing people that even to use the word Christian is unbiblical.  This is a scheme by Satan to create another division between disciples of Christ.  Jesus prays that there be unity among his disciples (John 17:20-21); Satan is always seeking to divide us and cause confusion among believers.

This article explains the origin of the word Christian and its applicability to the disciples of Jesus Christ in every generation.

Biblically speaking Christians are disciples of Christ. Disciples of Christ consists of both Jews/Israelites and Gentiles (non-Jews/non-Israelites); the term Greek also refers to Gentiles but to Gentiles that are not Greek. 

The term Christian distinguishes those Jews and Gentiles who are disciples of Christ from those Jews and Gentiles who are not disciples of Christ.

The term Jew when contrasted with Gentile/Greek has to do with a person’ being a biological descendant of Jacob/Israel in most cases; I say most because I think those who attach themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel may in some contexts be labeled Jew as well as Gentile. Similarly, a Jew who becomes a Christian is still a Jew but also a Christian.

It is righteous to label oneself Christian as it is an identifier for a group of folks who share some significant measure of the same beliefs although there are some differences in their beliefs.

But note, there is no commandment to identify as a Christian; it is a matter of human preference since its usage is not a violation of the holy scriptures.  Yet, by virtue of being a disciple of Christ, a person is by definition a Christian according to the Bible whether one explicitly attaches that word to himself/herself or not.

The word Christian (Greek Christianos, Strongs G5546) does appear in the English translation of the Bible (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). It is a derivative of the English word Christ (Greek word Christos, Strong’s G5547). Christianos is a derivative of the Greek Word Christos. Christos is Greek for the Hebrew word Messiah. (Of course, I write these all in their English form.) It is all about one’s native language.

The Bible in referring to the disciples of Jesus Christ says they were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26).

But in that verse nor elsewhere in the Bible does it say who first called the disciples Christians at Antioch.  In that same verse it does speaks of Paul and Barnabas assembling with the church at Antioch for a year.

In fact, given the context of that verse it is just as reasonable and perhaps even more so to conclude that the church at Antioch first gave themselves that name or maybe either Paul or Barnabas than it is to conclude that other than the church established that name.

The disciples seem to be content with that name as there is no record that they spoke out against the use of the name in regards to the disciples of Christ.  This is in contrast to their sharp rebuke of those who were calling Paul and Barnabas pagan God names and offered to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas as in Acts 14:11-18.

And Peter says “if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16).

Agrippa says that Paul almost persuaded him to be a Christian (Acts 26:28).  Agrippa said  this after Paul gave his testimony concerning Paul’s conversion from a non-believer in Christ (Acts 26:2-11) to a believer in Christ (Acts 26:12-27).

The scripture records Paul response as: “And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26:29).  What was Paul saying he wished Agrippa would be?  He was saying he wish Agrippa would become precisely what Agrippa said he was almost convinced to be.  What is that?  It is a Christian of course. 

In other words, in Paul’s conversation with Agrippa, Paul tells Agrippa he wished Agrippa was as he is except for being in chains. He does not say he did not wish Agrippa to be a Christian but rather implicitly says he wished Agrippa was not almost a Christian but altogether a Christian. But Paul said not only Agrippa but also all who heard his voice/words just as Jesus desires in his prayer for unity among his disciples (John 17:20).

Thus, both Peter and Paul acknowledge the validity of using the word Christian in referring to the disciples of Jesus Christ.   Peter does so explicitly and Paul does so implicitly.

Clearly the apostles Peter and Paul validate the use of the word Christian by every believer. So it seems to me to be dishonorable for a believer to claim he/she is not a Christian or to render use of the word as problematic.

The apostles validate and honor the word  Christian despite the fact that believers did not always do right then just as now. The apostles clearly did not allow that fact to allow them to be ashamed of the word Christian. Neither should we, especially ministers.

Thus, anyone who is a true follower or disciple of Jesus Christ is a Christian; this is true even if they use other labels or nomenclature to describe or identify themselves.

That is, if they want to identify with Peter and Paul and the other biblical Christians, then they would not have any objection to at least the occasional use of the word Christian even if they prefer to regularly use some other label to distinguish themselves from other believers.

For example, a person may on a regular basis identify themselves as a Baptist; but such a person certainly should not have a problem identifying themselves as Christian in alliance with other Christian denominations in contrast to other religions/faith such as Islam, Judaism, or Buddhism, etc.

No where in Acts or elsewhere does the scriptures explicitly or implicitly say anyone in the bible used the word Christian in a derogatory fashion.

Indeed, one cannot be a believer in Christ and not be a Christian whether he or she uses that word or not.

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Christianity Religion Basic Christian Doctrine

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