Listen:  150.4

It may surprise you to learn that the word ‘Christian’ is only used three times in the Word of God.  We read of the first occasion of the use of this word in Acts 11:25-26which says, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  The word “Christian” means ‘a follower of Christ, or one like Christ.’  It is difficult to determine if these believers were called Christian as a mockery or as a compliment.  However, it is nice to think that these believers acted so much like their savior that others noticed and called them Christians. 

The word ‘Christian’ evidently became well known.  As the Apostle Paul witnessed to King Agrippa, we have Agrippa’s response to Paul in Acts 26:28where we read, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”  I encourage you to read Acts 26:1-27to learn Paul’s earnest words to Agrippa.  Paul responded to Agrippa’s words in Acts 26:29, “And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”  To be ‘almost persuaded’ is to be ‘totally lost.’  Paul certainly desired the salvation of these men.  What an example to us!  Do we really care about the salvation of others, or do we just go through the motions without any real concern?

Lastly we see the word ‘Christian’ in 1 Peter 4:16which says, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”  These words from the Apostle Peter indicate that the word ‘Christian’ was now being used even among believers.  So, what might have started out as a word of mockery was accepted by the Lord’s people and was now a part of their vocabulary to describe believers.  It is interesting to notice that we don’t have an occasion where someone claimed to be a Christian, but were called Christians by others who saw their behavior and heard their words.  It is good when our behavior reflects the characteristics of our savior and others take notice.  May it be said of us as it was of Peter and John in Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”  (150.4)