When Were the Disciples First Called Christians?

It is noteworthy that the believers were first called Christians here since all that they shared, practically speaking, was Christ, not customs, nationality, or even language. Christ can cross all limits and bring all individuals together.

Contributing Writer
Oct 12, 2022
When Were the Disciples First Called Christians?

After the church acknowledged Peter's declaration that the gospel was additionally for the Gentiles (Acts 11:1-18), Christianity detonated into the Gentile regions, and an enormous number of individuals became believers.

The missionary seeds had been planted after Stephen's demise when large numbers of the accepting Jews that were abused had dissipated, moving to distant urban areas, and spreading the gospel.

The Beginnings of Christianity

Christianity was started in Antioch on its overall mission and where the believers assertively taught the Gentiles (the non-Jews who did not revere God). Philip had taught in Samaria; however, the Samaritans were part Jewish (Acts 8:5).

Peter had taught Cornelius, yet he was a worshiper of God already (Acts 10:2). The believers who dispersed after the episode of abuse in Jerusalem spread the gospel to different Jews in other areas to which they had escaped. As of now, the believers started effectively offering the Good News to the Gentiles.

Except for Jerusalem, Antioch of Syria assumed a more significant part in the early church than any other city. After Rome and Alexandria, Antioch was the biggest city in the Roman world. In Antioch, the main Gentile church was established, and the believers were first called Christians.

Paul involved the city as his headquarters when he was on a missionary trip. Antioch was the focal point of pagan worship, advancing plenty of diverse types of evil practices that were normal to the pagans.

It was additionally a fundamental business place as the doorway to the eastern world. Antioch was a pivotal city to the early church as well as to Rome.

Barnabas provides us with a great illustration of how to help new Christians. He showed solid confidence, he served happily with graciousness and support, and he showed them further illustrations about God (Acts 9:26-30). 

We ought to look at Barnabas when we see new believers and consider ways of assisting them with developing their faith.

Paul had already been shipped off his home in Tarsus to safeguard him from risk after his transformation, creating a ruckus among the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-30).

He remained there for a considerable length of time before Barnabas accompanied him to Antioch to assist with the church.

The newly formed church at Antioch was an inquisitive combination of Jews (who communicated in Greek or Aramaic) and Gentiles.

It is noteworthy that the believers were first called Christians (or Christ-individuals) here since all that they shared, practically speaking, was Christ, not customs, nationality, or even language. Christ can cross all limits and bring all individuals together.

Barnabas and Paul remained at Antioch for an entire year, providing instruction to the new believers. They might have left for new urban areas, yet they saw the significance of continuing with training and preparation.

Have we assisted somebody with coming to faith in God? Assuming this is the case, we need to invest energy in instructing and empowering that individual.

New Believers

Are any of us new believers? If that is the situation, then we are simply starting our Christian life. Our confidence and faith need to develop and grow through steady Bible review and learning.

Not only were there prophets in the Old Testament, but they were also in the New Testament during the early church as well. Their job was to introduce and train individuals in God's Word and in His will. Now and again, as Agabus, they additionally had the endowment of anticipating what was to come.

There were food deficiencies during the rule of the Roman ruler Claudius (AD 41-54) due to a dry spell that reached out across a large part of the Roman Empire for a long time.

So, it was critical that the Antioch church help the Jerusalem church. The newly planted church in Antioch had developed to the point of having the option to help the parent church.

Individuals of Antioch were roused to give liberally on the grounds that they thought often about others’ needs. This is what is designated as being a “cheerful giver,” which the Bible compliments (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Hesitant giving mirrors an absence of caring and concern for others. We ought to direct our compassion on the poor, and we will be spurred into giving.

Certain elders were chosen to deal with the issues within the church. Now, not much has been made aware of their obligations, but apparently, their primary job was to answer to the needs of the congregation.

Two other points where the word Christian is used in the Bible.

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).

When we look at the following verse, we see Paul’s reply. Instead of being worried about the removal of his bonds, Paul had a burden for the salvation of these individuals.

Where is our burden for lost souls? Are we more concerned about what people will think of us as being Christians, or are we truly doing our work for the Lord?

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name (1 Peter 4:16).

Persecution is a depiction of God’s approval for a Christian’s work (Acts 5:41). This is why Peter and John rejoiced for their persecution of preaching the gospel. They saw it as approval from God.

If we are doing what God has called us to do, we will face a type of persecution. If it seems that the devil is not after us, then maybe we need a personal inventory and see where we stand with the Lord.

Now, let us go back to verse 19. We will notice that during this time, the early believers were scattered abroad to preach the gospel, but they only went to other Jews. Then, after sending Barnabas, we see in verse 24 that he was full of the Holy Spirit.

Then down in verse 26 is where we learn that after Barnabas’s preaching and instructing, the students (disciples) were called Christians for the first time.

So, with that being said, what are we called to do? How do people know who and what we are? What are we doing in pointing the world to Jesus?

To become a disciple (student) of Christ, someone that is Spirit-filled has to present the gospel to others. Christians will still face persecution as they are scattered about in presenting the gospel (Mark 16:15).

What Does it Mean to Be a Christian?

Do people see Christ in us? Are we bearing good fruit (Matthew 13:23)? Do we bear the marks of a Christian? What marks do we bear that the world may know that Christ lives within us?

What marks do we bear so that others may understand clearly and see the light of the Lord shining through us?

Marks are also an outward expression of an inward accomplishment or conviction. Christ bore the marks of what He suffered for all of humanity.

We will, in no doubt, encounter some type of suffering, chastisement, persecution, or an event that causes marks to be placed upon us. If we are to bear our Cross, we will endure marks of some type (Matthew 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34, 10:21; Luke 9:23).

For further reading:

How Do We Make Disciples?

Could the Disciples Understand Jesus Without the Holy Spirit?

What Really Happened at Pentecost?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Javier_Art_Photography

Chris SwansonChris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.

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