Why They Called Them Christians


Working through a couple of emails today after morning devotion, I ran across an advertisement for a free book about how to develop a more Christ-like life. I began to think about Bible verses and teachings concerning how Christ lives in the person who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. I thought first about the verse that says “for to me to live is Christ; to die but gain” ( from PHILIPPIANS 1:21) and about the verse that declares “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (from GALATIANS 2:20). I began to prayerfully reflect on what it means to actually experience Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, living within. Then, I recalled a verse that observes “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (from the last part of ACTS 11:26). While digging into the meaning of the text, I ran across MacLaren’s Expositions on the verse. After dealing a bit with how the term is similar in origin to terms like “Herodians” for followers of Herod, MacLaren writes:

Still, in their groping way, they bad put their finger on the fact that the one power that held this heterogeneous mass together, the one bond that bound up ‘Jew and Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, bond and free’ into one vital unity, was a personal relation to a living Person. And so they said-not understanding the whole significance of it, but having got hold of the right end of the clue-they said, ‘They are Christians!’ ‘Christ’s people,’ ‘the followers of this Christ.’”

It intrigued me to see how God used the simplicity of man’s wisdom to develop a word that would identify followers of Christ for centuries—the word “Christian”. Although in modern times the word often applies more to a western world political identity (that is, some might say a particular nation or position is “Christian”), the word was first used to identify followers of Christ in Antioch. Did you notice the significant phrase in MacLaren’s Expositions about “the one power that held this heterogeneous mass together, the one bond…into one vital unity was a personal relation to a living Person”?

Maybe I need to do a better job with realizing that the label the world gives me has a lot to do with the person or people I hang out with.

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~ by brotherfaron on April 28, 2015.

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