“Christian” has become a common term for people who believe in the salvation given to us by Jesus, the Son of God. But is the word “Christian” in the Bible?
The short answer is “yes.” And the longer answer is quite inspiring, so let’s go there. 🙂
Speaking (a little) Greek
The actual Greek word for “Christian” is listed in Strong’s concordance as #5546. I’m not even going to try typing the real Greek characters…
The way it would look in English, though, is something like this: Christianos. We would pronounce it khris–tee–an–os’.
So it is really not far from the word we use: Christian.
Moving into King James
In the King James translation, the English word “Christian” is in the Bible exactly three times. Those three times happen to be the same three times the Greek “Christianos” is used.
All three of the verses with the word “Christian” in them have very important points to make, too. Let’s take a look.
Acts 11:26 documents the beginnings of the word “Christian”:
And when he [Barnabas] had found him [Paul], 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 lays out one man’s pivotal decision in a single sentence:
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
We can feel the heaviness of Paul’s heart in his response to King Agrippa (verse 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.
Almost is simply not good enough. We are either all in — or we are not in at all.
And 1 Peter 4:15 and 16 lay out a basic principle regarding suffering:
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.
Other Bible translations
In the Bible versions listed in the parallel Bible at biblehub.com, the word “Christian” is in the Bible (collectively) 41 times.
Three of those times are the ones noted above in the KJV. Of the others, the word “Christian” appears basically in one of the following three ways:
- as an adjective describing the behavior becoming of a Christian (The King James version will often say, “in the Lord,” “in Christ,” or something similar.)
- as a word added in for clarification, where the original did not have a word (For example, the believing spouse in 1 Corinthians 7. Generally referred to simply as “husband” or “wife,” some versions will say “Christian husband” or “Christian wife.”)
- as a noun to mean fellow believers (also commonly referred to as “brethren”)
The basic meaning of “Christian”
At its core, taking the name “Christian” is taking the name of Christ. It labels us as belonging to Jesus, as deciding to follow in His steps.
In the Bible, the word “Christian” pointed out some key things about a person’s beliefs. And it ought to do the same today.
- Not only do I believe in God the Father; I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and verily God Himself.
- I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and choose to follow where He leads, through His Word and example.
The word “Christian” is in the Bible — and it is very significant.
These are things that the children are very interested to hear, too. They are touched on all throughout both VBS—The Land of Milk & Honey (which digs into the Ten Commandments, one of which happens to be “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.”) and VBS—Superstars for Jesus (which explores the life and ministry of Paul, one of the early Christians).
Linking up with Kelly Balarie & Friends for the #RaRaLinkup this week. 🙂