It is in Antioch that the talmidim for the first time were called “Messianic”. (JNT) It was in Antioch that the followers of the Lord Jesus were called “Christ-followers” for the first time. (ERV) Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christianoi.” (TLV)(Acts 11:26)
I received the following from a translator colleague which I thought was too good not to pass on to you.
In the Bible the word “Christian” (Greek language form) or “Messiah person” (Hebrew or Aramaic root) is only found three times. The first time is in Acts chapter 11, verse 26: “The disciples were called Messiah people first at Antioch.” Is that use considered complimentary or pejorative (derogatory)?
According to verse 19: “Now those that had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen….” Then also in chapter 12, verse 1 it says, “It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church.” Clearly at that time Isa’s followers were suffering and being persecuted because of their faith in him. The verb used is active, but clearly passive in sense (‘go by the name of”): “They were called Messiah people,” and not “They called themselves Messiah people.” So it may have been their enemies that first gave them the appellation “Messiah people.”
But it could be that people watching from the outside named them “Messiah people,” those that were not their enemies and were also not fellow believers. In either case, it was clear at that time many people believed in the Lord according to chapter 11, verse 21 (“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”) and also verse 24 (“and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”) and verse 26 (“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people”). Even though we believers in the Lord are persecuted, yet the Lord continually adds to our number.
The second use of the term “Messiah people” is found in Acts chapter 26, verse 28. At that time the apostle Paul had been imprisoned for a long time because of his faith in the Lord Isa. One day he was given an opportunity to testify to King Agrippa (the son and successor of King Herod mentioned earlier). After Paul had testified for a longtime, Agrippa began to be afraid and said, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to become a Messiah person?” Clearly Agrippa did not want to repent and believe in the Lord Isa. This second use of the term “Messiah people/person” came from the mouth of a person that didn’t want to believe, even though he wasn’t perhaps actually an enemy.
The third time “Messiah people/person” is used is in First Peter chapter 4, verse 16, where it says, “However, if you suffer as a Messiah person, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” If someone opposes us because of our sins, we are just foolish and deserve to be punished. But if someone opposes us because of our faithfulness to Isa Al Masih, we are to be glad and rejoice because that persecution is according to the Lord God’s will for all of us.
We are not allowed to reject our Lord Isa Al Masih. We must be faithful to him and heed him.
As I told you in the last Gem 1587, You make up your own mind as to how the Antiochans were using this term. I will tell you in the next Gem what I think. I think because there were great numbers come to call themselves “Messiah people” wisely I suspect the motive behind the name calling was not derogatory but complimentary. That there was something about these followers that was attractive. Isn’t that how we are supposed to be? That people looking on will see the quality of our lives and glorify the Father (Matt 5:16).
For me personally the term we are discussing is even more significant when literally in the context of the word, Ian follows Christ – Christian. Yes I think most definitely the meaning of the word in this context pointed to the fact that these believers were following the Messiah, Isa Al Masih. These was the first time the believers were called Messiah people.
When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.Billy – age 4
God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.Anon
The difference between the called and the chosen is that the chosen choose to answer!Rick Godwin
There has never yet been a man in history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.Theodore Roosevelt
For me personally being a Christian signifies ian is following the Christ.Ian Vail