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Volume 27 - Page 10 of 212 Index | Zoom | |
Twice, therefore, the Gentile church is indebted to Barnabas for bringing the apostle Paul
A whole year passed while Paul and Barnabas taught much people. The results seem
to have crystallized in the emergence of the new name of, "Christian". "And the
disciples were called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11: 26).
The word "Christ" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word "Messiah". To the
Greek mind it meant little or nothing. We have historical evidence that the Romans
mixed up the title "Christos" with "Chrestus", for the decree expelling the Jews from
Rome by Claudius (Acts 18: 2) uses the term, and Chrestianus is common in
inscriptions. It is most unlikely that the Jews would have given the title to the hated
heretics. To do so would have meant the dragging of the very name of the Messiah in
the mud of the street. The term used by the Jews was "the sect of the Nazarenes"
(Acts 24: 5). They were more likely to perpetuate the reproach of the name of
"Christian". The word "Christian" is a Greek rendering of a Hebrew word with a Latin
termination, foreshadowing the worldwide movement to be associated with Antioch and
the ministry of Paul. There is abundant evidence that the termination is Roman. We
have such names as Cęsariani, Pompeiani, Ciceroniani, etc., etc.
"Whosoever is called by any other name than this of Christian is not of God, and it is
our duty not only to be so called, but to be."
Gregory Nazian said:--
"I honoured Peter, but I am not called Petrianus; I know Paul, but I am not called
Paulianus. I will not consent to be named of men, having been born of God. If I
worshipped a creature I should not be a Christian. For why is the name of Christian
precious? Because Christ is God."
The Antiochians were noted for inventing names of ridicule, (see Julian Misopogon,
where he answers their insults regarding his beard, and what Zozimus says of his
emperor's visit, 3: II page 140), and there is every reason to believe that this
epoch-making name originated in the darkened wit of some loose living Antiochene. But
there is another side of the matter. Not even the wit of Antioch could have invented the
name of "Christian" had there been no material upon which to work. That material was
most certainly provided by the ministry of Paul. The first record of Paul's public witness
is given in Acts 9:, where we read:
"And straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus that He is the Son of God
. . . . . proving that this is the Christ" (Acts 9: 20, 22).
Later in Acts 17: we learn that this was his usual procedure;--