Surprisingly the word ‘Christian’ only appears three times in the whole of the Bible. Yet today it is the universal title by which followers of Jesus are known. In the early days of the church such followers were known as believers, disciples, followers of the way or brothers.
In the book of Acts, which is a history of the first thirty years of the church, the initial centre for the Christian faith was Jerusalem. It was there that Peter preached his powerful sermon and three thousand people became followers of Christ in one day (Acts chapter 2). However, the audience at that time was totally Jewish and any Gentiles present were proselytes who had converted to the Jewish religion. So, Christianity was exclusively Jewish at the beginning.
Later a second great centre for the Christian faith opened up to the north of Jerusalem in the country of Syria. That city was Antioch and there was a mixture of Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ. These Gentiles had not previously embraced Judaism but had believed directly on the Lord. This was revolutionary to the Jewish mind of the first century, who thought that non-Jews had to first embrace Judaism and then could believe in Christ. Yet the Gospel makes no distinction, everyone whether Jew or Gentile, has direct access to God through faith in Christ.
It was in Antioch that the believers in Christ were first called Christians (Acts chapter 11 verse 26) and it may have been a title of derision because these believers were so devoted to their Saviour. Enemies of the Gospel may have used it as a mocking term but it remained as a title taken proudly by all followers of the Saviour. To this day anyone believing in Jesus is known first and foremost as a Christian.
Later in the New Testament a king listened to the Gospel and said that he was almost persuaded to be a Christian (Acts chapter 26 verse 28). Sadly, there is no record he ever entered into eternal life through faith in Christ. Towards the end of the New Testament we read the word ‘Christian’ for a third time and it talks of inevitable suffering (1 Peter chapter 4 verse 16). Persecution may come upon followers of Christ but their eternal inheritance is glorious, permanent and full of joy. May that be our anticipation through faith in Christ.
Are you a Christian? Do you want to know more? Please contact us and we will gladly send you a Bible and helpful literature wherever you are. We will pray for you. Come back again for another Message of Hope.