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
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."² Chrism is also the Greek word used for
Christ, and means anointed one.
¹ The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of
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