From the book, “What People Ask About The Church,” by Dale A. Robbins

— 60 —
How did followers of Jesus come
to be called Christians?

Apparently, Antioch, the capital of the Roman province of Syria (now within the region of Antakya, Turkey), was the location where "Christian" was first associated with early believers. "And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).

Obviously, the term is identified with the idea of being a follower of Jesus Christ. In classical times the followers of a leader would identify themselves by a descriptive extension to their leader's name (ianus). Pompey's troops were called Pompeiani, and Caesar's were referred to as, Caesariani. The Christianus (of Latin origin, and hellenized), was similarly viewed as the descriptive term of the followers of Christ.

However, Theophilus of Antioch, writing about 170 A.D. claimed that the term "Christian" was used, not as much because of association with Jesus, but because it was derived from the Greek word for oil, CHRISM, which means anointed — and "the followers of Jesus appeared to be anointed with the Spirit." Chrism is also the Greek word used for Christ, and means anointed one.

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible
Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, James Gilchrist Lawson


This article is copyrighted by Dale A. Robbins, 1995, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.You may download for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain published quantities of this title, .

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