“Christians” – A Term Of Reproach

And it happened with them that for a whole year they were gathered in the church and taught a considerable number and that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Acts 11:26

At Antioch They Began To Call The Followers Of Christ Christianos (Christians)

Acts 11:25 and 26 say, “And he went away to Tarsus to hunt for Saul; and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came about that for a whole year they were gathered in the church and taught a considerable number. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

The Greek word rendered “Christians” is Christianos, a word of Latin formation. The ending ianos, denoting an adherent of someone, was applied to slaves belonging to the great families in the Roman Empire.

Those who worshipped the emperor, the Caesar—Kaisar—were called Kaisarianos, which means adherents of Kaisar, the people belonging to Kaisar. When people believed in Christ and became His followers, this caused some in the Empire to consider Christ as a rival of the Kaisar. 

At Antioch they began to call the followers of Christ Christianos (Christians), adherents of Christ, as a nickname, a term of reproach.

That the disciples in Antioch were given such a nickname as a term of reproach indicates that they must have borne a strong testimony for the Lord, a testimony that made them distinct and peculiar in the eyes of the unbelievers.

The Term “Christian” Should Bear A Positive Significance Today

Today the term Christian should bear a positive significance, that is, a man of Christ, one who is one with Christ, not only belonging to Him, but having His life and nature in an organic union with Him, and who is living by Him, even living Him, in his daily life.

If, according to 1 Peter 4:16, we suffer for being such a person, we should not feel ashamed. Rather, we should be bold to magnify Christ in our confession by our holy and excellent manner of life to glorify God in this name.

All quotations in this post, unless otherwise noted, are from Life-Study of Acts, message 33 by Witness Lee. Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA, U.S.A. 1985. Source: ministrybooks.org

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