The word ‘Christian’ comes from the Greek word khristeeanos, and means ‘follower of Christ‘. khristeeanos comes from khristos, which is the word used for ‘Christ’.
While it may seem like splitting hairs just a little – but maybe not – a Christian is not a follower of Jesus (the man), but a follower of Christ (the annointed of God).
Christ the Messiah was chosen by and sent from God Almighty. Jesus did not come to earth to show us the way to God. Rather, Jesus was specifically chosen by God to come to earth and reconcile us to God.
It’s not us finding our way to God. It is God making the way for us to come to him.
‘Christian’ in the Bible
A form of the word ‘Christian’ appears three times in the Bible:
- Acts 11:25-26: 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.
- Acts 26:28: King Agrippa’s scornful reply to Paul when the apostle was testifying of his heavenly vision: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
- I Peter 4:15-16: But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
When Jesus told his twelve disciples to “follow me”, he commanded them to accompany him, or be in the same way with him. (Yes, one of the twelve betrayed him. However, we cannot reasonably conclude that a Judas Iscariot in the church is God’s plan).
And they did follow him, even when many of his other disciples stopped. Their reasoning for staying speaks to what it means to be a follower of Christ:
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:66-69)
The disciples stayed with him because they heard the words of eternal life coming from him, and believed he was the khristos.
Believing in Christ = Being Born Again
Anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is ‘born of God’:
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (1 John 5:1)
Being ‘born of God’ means being granted the right to be a son (child) of God):
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Believing in the Son – the Christ – is the way to everlasting life:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
It’s all about Jesus Christ. A Christian is one who believes that Jesus is the Christ. In turn, God grants the believer everlasting life.
In the next post, we’ll see what Scripture says about how to become a Christian.