Sermons & Devotional Messages

    They were called "Christians"

"...the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
     "Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch."

Acts 11:21-26


    "Barnabas and Saul ministered a full year in Antioch, teaching great numbers of people. The church was continuing to grow numerically. Jesus’ disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. The ending “-ian” means “belonging to the party of”; thus “Christians” were those of Jesus’ party. The word “Christians” is used only two other times in the New Testament: in 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The significance of the name, emphasized by the word order in the Greek text, is that people recognized Christians as a distinct group. The church was more and more being separated from Judaism."
     --Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary . The Bible knowledge commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985.

        "What honour was now put upon the church at Antioch: There the disciples were first called Christians; it is probable they called themselves so, incorporated themselves by that title....

       "Hitherto those who gave up their names to Christ were called disciples, learners, scholars, trained up under him, in order to their being employed by him; but henceforward they were called Christians. Thus the reproachful names which their enemies had hitherto branded them with would, perhaps, be superseded and disused. ... Thus those who before their conversion had been distinguished by the names of Jews and Gentiles might after their conversion be called by one and the same name, which would help them to forget their former dividing names, and prevent their bringing their former marks of distinction, and with them the seeds of contention, into the church. Let not one say, 'I was a Jew;' nor the other, 'I was a Gentile;' when both the one and the other must now say, 'I am a Christian.'

        "Thus they studied to do honour to their Master, and showed that they were not ashamed to own their relation to him, but gloried in it.... They took their denomination not from the name of his person, Jesus, but of his office, Christ-anointed, so putting their creed into their names, that Jesus is the Christ; and they were willing all the world should know that this is the truth they will live and die by. Their enemies will turn this name to their reproach, and impute it to them as their crime, but they will glory in it: If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile.

      "Thus they now owned their dependence upon Christ, and their receivings from him; not only that they believed in him who is the anointed, but that through him they themselves had the anointing, 1 Jn. 2:20, 27. And God is said to have anointed us in Christ, 2 Co. 1:21. [5.] Thus they laid upon themselves, and all that should ever profess that name, a strong and lasting obligation to submit to the laws of Christ, to follow the example of Christ, and to devote themselves entirely to the honour of Christ—to be to him for a name and a praise.

      "Are we Christians? Then we ought to think, and speak, and act, in every thing as becomes Christians, and to do nothing to the reproach of that worthy name by which we are called; that that may not be said to us which Alexander said to a soldier of his own name... Either change thy name or mend thy manners.

      "And as we must look upon ourselves as Christians, and carry ourselves accordingly..." Isa. 65:15.

"The church at Antioch, for example, where believers were first called Christians, sent Barnabas and Saul to the elders at Jerusalem with a gift to be distributed to the needy brethren in Judea (Acts 11:29–30). It is therefore clear both that elders existed in the church at that very early date and that the believers at Antioch recognized their authority."
     --MacArthur New Testament Commentary, "Ephesians," Moody Press, (1996, c1986).

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