What does it mean to be a Christian?
Christos – Christ, the Greek form of the Hebrews “Messiah,” which means anointed one.
-ianos – indicates that a person is the follower of a leader or the slave of a master.
Christianons – A person who follows and belongs to the Christ, the Messiah, the annointed one.
(Acts 11:26) “And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
(Acts 26:28) “Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.’ (NASB) ” [or] ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ (NIV)
(1 Peter 4:15-16) “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.”
Why do we use the term “Christian” so much more frequently than the Bible does? Is that okay?
The Context of all three passage cited above suggests that “Christian” was a name given and used by outsiders about the church. Thus, the NT writers had no habit of using it themselves.
Does our usage of the same term as the world reflect a concerning lack of distinctiveness in our thinking?
Perhaps a shift towards the language that the 1st century church actually used with frequency about themselves could help up demonstrate the distinctiveness of the true church?
Are there other terms we ought to use more often?
Brethren: (occurs 188 times in NT)
“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.” (Acts 6:3)
“And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.” (Acts 11:29)
“Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.” (Acts 15:32)
“After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’” (Acts 15:36)
“And he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.” (Acts 16:2)
“After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.” (Acts 21:17)
“There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome.” (Acts 28:14)
Church: (occurs 112 times)
“The church in Jerusalem.” (Acts 8:1)
“The church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria” (Acts 9:31)
“They had appointed elders for them in every church.” (Acts 14:23)
“The church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
“The church that is in their house.” (Romans 16:5)
“All the churches of Christ greet you.” (Romans 16:16)
“The churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)
“The church of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:2, 10:32, 15:9, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:13, 1 Timothy 3:5)
“The churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:16, 2 Thessalonians 1:4)
“The churches of Judea which were in Christ.” (Galatians 1:22)
“The churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)
“The household of God, which is the church of the living God.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
Saints: (occurs 61 times)
“Your saints at Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:13)
“The saints who lived at Lydda.” (Acts 9:32)
“To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints.” (Romans 1:7)
“And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)
“as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33)
“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)
“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.” (Philippians 1:1)
The Way: (occurs 5 times)
“So that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:2)
“About that time there occurred no small disturbance concerning the Way.” (Acts 19:23)
“But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14)
Is it okay to call someone a “Christian” if they have some false doctrines or practices? If yes, explain. If no, what should we call them?
(Matthew 7:21-23) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
(1 Corinthians 5:11) “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one.”
(2 John 1:10) “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”
(Matthew 7:15) “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
(Revelation 2:2) “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;”
(Romans 14:1-4) “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
Given that the term “Christian” appears to have been imposed and mostly used by outsiders to refer to those who followed or claimed to follow Christ, does this effect our answer?
How can we honor God through the name “Christian?”
(2 Timothy 2:19) Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
(1 Peter 4:12-16) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name
(Acts 5:40-42) They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
(Acts 21:13) Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
What attributes should a Christian clearly exhibit?
(Acts 4:13) Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
(John 13:34-35) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(Acts 17:10-12) The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.
What does it mean to “be a good Christian” or to say “I need to be a better Christian,” and how can we do this?