CHURCH OF CHRIST BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE

LESSON 9

THE SOURCE OF THE NAME CHRISTIAN

    
"The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26).
The question involved in this passage of scripture is:
Was the name "Christian" given in derision (mockery, ridicule, or contempt), or was it given by inspiration, through Paul and Barnabas?
This question is not determined by dogmatic assumptions. Our conclusion must be deducted from the revealed Word, together with the implication of the terms employed. If it was given in derision, its present favorable usage is traditional, rather than inspirational; if it was given by inspiration, it takes precedence over every designation of inferior origin.

The name "Christian" (or plural, "Christians"), is found only in Acts 11:26, and in 1 Peter 4:16. But it is generally believed that this name is alluded to in James 2:7, Ephesians 3:15, and 1 Peter 4:14. Indirectly, the evidence of prophecies practically lifts the question above all doubt.

Is "Christian" the new name that God promised to reveal? In Isaiah 62:2, we read, "And the Gentiles (nations) shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name." From this prophecy we may deduce the following facts:

         1. The fulfillment of this prophecy points to the time when the revealed religion would spread beyond the borders of national lines.              The Gospel must therefore supply the explanation.
         2. The fulfillment of this is obviously linked with the introduction of Gentiles into the kingdom. It is a recorded fact that the church at              Antioch was the first church composed of both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 11, and 15), and Antioch was therefore the place where we              should expect the fulfillment of this prophecy.
         3. It was to be a revealed name---"which the mouth of the Jehovah shall name."
         4. It was to be "a new name." The name "Christian" is the only name for God's children that is "a new name."
                 (1) "Children (Sons) of God,"...(1 John 3:1), used before in Gen.6:2.
                 (2) "Brethren,"...(Matthew 23:8), used before in Psalms 133:1.
                 (3) "Disciples,"...(Matthew 5:1), used before in Isaiah 8:16.
                 (4) "Saints,"...(Acts 9:13), used before in Deuteronomy 33:2.
                 (5) "Witnesses"...(Acts 1:8), used before in Isaiah 43:10.
                 (6) "Christians"...(Acts 11:26), a new name in Antioch.

It is significant that of all the distinguishing Christian names in use, the name "Christian" is the only one claimed to be the fulfillment of the "new name" that God promised to reveal.

Every time the name "Christian" is pronounced, the name of Christ which embodied in it, is spoken. The apostle had reference to this fact when he said, "If ye are reproached for the name of Christ blessed are ye" (1 Peter 4:14). To "suffer as a Christian" and to be "reproached for the name of Christ," are the same thing. The same fact is referred to by James, in the language, "Do not they blaspheme the honorable name by which ye are called?" (James 2:7). Paul states the same fact from another stand- point, when he says, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." (Ephesians 3:14-15).

The term "Christian" is derived from the word "Christ", Greek kristos, meaning "anointed." Christians, therefore, are the spiritually anointed of God. Under the old covenant the priests were anointed with holy oil (Exodus 30). Under the new covenant, the Lord's people are regarded as priests to God. " Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."(1 Peter 2:5)

Study the following scriptures:

1. "And the disciples were called first at (Acts 11:26)
     The church at Antioch was the first composed of both Jews and Gentiles therefore, in harmony with Isaiah's prophecy we would expect to      find the "new name" promised by God given there.

2. God said that His people would be by a new which the of the Lord would name.
     (Isaiah 62:2)

3. "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a ": (Acts 26:28)

4. "Yet if any suffer as a , let him not be ashamed; but let him God on this behalf." (1 Peter 4:16)
     God is glorified when we suffer as a Christian. The name Christian is the only name that glorifies God through Christ.

5. "Do they not blaspheme that worthy by which ye are called. (James 2:7)
     That worthy name by which we are called is the name Christian.

6. When the name Christian is spoken we glorify .

7. We cannot glorify Christ unless we wear the name Christian. (True or False)

8. Peter teaches in Acts 4:12 that any name will do. (True or False)

9. The disciples at were the first to wear the name Christian.

CONCLUSION

         1. God foretold the revelation of a "new name" as the surname of Gentiles who accepted Christ.
         2. The name "Christian" is the only "new name" revealed when the Gentiles were included in the kingdom.
         3. The appropriateness of Antioch as the place for this revelation of a "new name" is seen in the fact that the church there was the first to              be composed of both Jews and Gentiles.
         4. The word rendered "called" in Acts 11:26 implies a Divine source or agency.
         5. We therefore conclude that the name "Christian" was given by a revelation from God, and not by the enemy.

That every faithful child of God will wear the name Christian and that name only is the import of every passage of scripture in the Bible that relates to this subject. The name Christian lifts up Christ. Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all {men} unto me."(John 12:32) We cannot lift Him up by the use of a man-made name. For example: Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.


***All Bible texts and quotations are taken from the King James Version.




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