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First Called Christians

Acts 11:26

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The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Acts 11:26b NIV

There is some debate as to what the name Christian means, little Christ or Christ followers, and who coined the name, whether the disciples

The very first followers of Jesus were all Jewish. They understood themselves to be Jews who were following the long-promised Messiah. The people around them saw those who followed Jesus as a sect of Judaism, not a separate religion. It was only when Jesus’ followers began to reach Gentiles that any question arose about the Jewishness of this faith. And that is what happened in Antioch. The church there was started by Jewish believers. But they were telling the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles. Large numbers of people were turning to the Lord. And the church became primarily composed of Gentiles. So what do you call a group of Gentiles who adhere to a Jewish Messiah and study the Jewish Scriptures?


The name adopted for them was Christian or Christ-follower. It is unclear if that is a name the believers adopted for themselves, or if it was given to them by the unbelievers in Antioch. Many see it as a term of derision that the unbelievers applied to the followers of Jesus. But whatever the source for the name, it ultimately was adopted by the followers of Jesus. A name they took with themselves wherever they went. And still today we call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ.

I wonder; if we did not already have an identifying label today, what would our communities call us? Or would they even recognize that we were different?

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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