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Smith's Bible Dictionary

The disciples, we are told, (Acts 11:26) were first called Christians at Antioch on the Orontes, somewhere about A.D. 43. They were known to each other as, and were among themselves called, brethren, (Acts 15:1,23; 1 Corinthians 7:12) disciples , (Acts 9:26; 11:29) believers , (Acts 5:14) saints , (Romans 8:27; 15:25) The name "Christian," which, in the only other cases where it appears in the New Testament, (Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16) is used contemptuously, could not have been applied by the early disciples to themselves, but was imposed upon them by the Gentile world. There is no reason to suppose that the name "Christian" of itself was intended as a term of scurrility or abuse, though it would naturally be used with contempt.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
The name given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach, to the followers of Jesus. It was first used at Antioch. The names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren," "the faithful," "elect," "saints," "believers." But as distinguishing them from the multitude without, the name "Christian" came into use, and was universally accepted. This name occurs but three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) One who believes, or professes or is assumed to believe, in Jesus Christ, and the truth as taught by Him; especially, one whose inward and outward life is conformed to the doctrines of Christ.

2. (n.) One born in a Christian country or of Christian parents, and who has not definitely becomes an adherent of an opposing system.

3. (n.) One of a Christian denomination which rejects human creeds as bases of fellowship, and sectarian names. They are congregational in church government, and baptize by immersion. They are also called Disciples of Christ, and Campbellites.

4. (n.) One of a sect (called Christian Connection) of open-communion immersionists. The Bible is their only authoritative rule of faith and practice.

5. (a.) Pertaining to Christ or his religion; as, Christian people.

6. (a.) Pertaining to the church; ecclesiastical; as, a Christian court.

7. (a.) Characteristic of Christian people; civilized; kind; kindly; gentle; beneficent.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

kris'-chan, kris'-ti-an (Christianos):

1. Historicity of Acts 11:26

2. Of Pagan Origin

3. The Christian Attitude to the Name

4. Was "Christian" the Original Form?

5. The Christians and the Empire

6. Social Standing of the Early Christians

7. Christian Self-Designations


1. Historicity of Acts 11:26:

The word Christian occurs only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16). The first passage, Acts 11:26, gives the origin of the term, "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." The older generation of critical scholars disputed the historicity of this statement. It was argued that, had the term originated so early, it must have been found far more frequently in the records of early Christianity; sometimes also that the termination -ianus points to a Latin origin. But there is general agreement now that these objections are groundless. The historicity of the Lukan account is upheld not only by Harnack, but by the more radical Knopf in Die Schriften des New Testament, edited by Johannes Weiss. In early imperial times, the adjectival termination -ianos was widely diffused throughout the whole empire. Originally applied to the slaves belonging to the great households, it had passed into regular use to denote the adherents of an individual or a party. A Christian is thus simply an adherent of Christ. The name belongs, as Ramsay says, to the popular slang, as indeed sect and party names generally do. It is only after a considerable interval, and very often under protest, that such names are accepted as self-designations.

2. Of Pagan Origin:

The name, then, did not originate with the Christians themselves. Nor would the Jews have applied it to the followers of Jesus, whose claim to be the Christ they opposed so passionately. They spoke of the Christians as "the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5); perhaps also as "Galileans," a term which the emperor Julian attempted later vainly to revive. The word must have been coined by the heathen population of Antioch, as the church emerged from the synagogue, and a Christianity predominantly Gentiletook its place among the religions of the world.

3. The Christian Attitude to the Name:

Perhaps the earliest occurrence of Christian as a self-designation is in Didache 12:4. In the Apologists and Ignatius on the other hand the word is in regular use. 1Pe simply takes it over from the anti-Christian judicial procedure of the law courts, without in any way implying that the Christians used it among themselves. There is every probability, however, that it was the danger which thus began at an early date to attach to the name which commended it to the Christians themselves as a title of honor. Deissmann (Licht vom Osten, 286) suggests that Christian means slave of Christ, as Caesarian means slave of Caesar. But the word can scarcely have had that fullness of meaning till the Christians themselves had come to be proud of it.

According to tradition, Luke himself belonged to Antioch. In Acts 11:27, 28 Codex Bezae (D) reads "There was much rejoicing, and when we had assembled, there stood up," etc. In view of the greater authority now so frequently accorded to the so-called Western text, we cannot summarily dispose of such a reading as an interpolation. If the historian was not only an Antiochene, but a member of the original GentileChristian church, we have the explanation alike of his interest in the origin of the name Chris tian, and of the detailed precision of his information.

4. Was "Christian" the Original Form?:

In all three New Testament passages the uncorrected Codex Sinaiticus reads "Chrestian." We know from many sources that this variant was widely current in the 2nd century. Blass in his edition of Acts not only consistently reads "Chrestian," but conjectures that "Chrestian" is the correct reading in Tacitus (Annals, xv.44), the earliest extra-Biblical testimony to the word. The Tacitus manuscript has since been published in facsimile. This has shown, according to Harnack (Mission and Expansion (English translation), I, 413, 414), that "Chrestian" actually was the original reading, though the name "Christ" is correctly given. Harnack accordingly thinks that the Latin historian intended to correct the popular appellation of circa 64 A.D., in the light of his own more accurate knowledge. "The common people used to call them `Chrestians,' but the real name of their founder was Christ." Be this as it may, a confusion between "Christos" (Christos) and the familiar Greek slave name "Chrestos" (chrestos is more intelligible at an early date than later, when Christianity was better known). There must have been a strong tendency to conform the earlier witnesses to the later, familiar, and etymologically correct, usage. It is all the more remarkable, therefore, that the original scribe of Codex Sinaiticus retains "Chrestian." On the whole it seems probable that this designation, though bestowed in error, was the original one.

5. The Christians and the Empire:

The fuller discussion of this subject more appropriately falls under the articles dealing with the relation of the church and empire. Suffice it here to say that Paul apparently hoped that by his acquittal the legal position of Christianity as a religio licita would be established throughout the empire, and that 1 Peter belongs to a time when the mere profession of Christianity was a crime in the eyes of the state, but that in all probability this was a new position of affairs.

6. Social Standing of the Early Christians:

That early Christianity was essentially a movement among the lower non-literary classes has been rightly emphasized-above all by Deissmann. This is a circumstance of the utmost importance for the correct understanding of the early history of our faith, though probably Deissmann in some degree exaggerates and misplaces the significance. Is it correct to say, for example, that "primitive Christianity was relatively indifferent to politics, not as Christianity, but as a movement of the humbler folks, whose lot on the whole had certainly been lightened by the Empire" (Licht vom Osten, 254)? Very probably however the difficulties of the Pauline Gentilemission were appreciably increased by the fact that he touched a lower social stratum than that of the original Jewish Christianity of Palestine. No class more resents being associated in any way with the "submerged masses" than the self-respecting peasant or artisan, who seems to have formed the backbone of the Palestine church. The apostle had conseq uently to fight against social, no less than racial and religious, prejudices.

7. Christian Self-Designations:

The Christians originally called themselves "Disciples," a term afterward restricted to personal hearers of the Lord, and regarded as a title of high distinction. The ordinary self-designations of the apostolic age are "believers" (Acts 5:14 1 Timothy 4:12), "saints" (Acts 9:13, 12, 41 Romans 1:7), "brethren" (Acts 6:3; Acts 10:23, etc.), "the elect" (Colossians 3:12 2 Timothy 2:10), "the church of God" (Acts 20:28 margin), "servants (slaves) to God" (Romans 6:22 1 Peter 2:16). The apostolic authors refer to themselves as "servants (slaves) of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:1). Other expressions are occasionally met with, of which perhaps the most significant is: Those "that call upon the name of the Lord" (Acts 9:14 Romans 10:12, 13 1 Corinthians 1:2). Compare Pliny's report to Trajan (Epistles, X, 97): "They affirmed that. they had been wont to assemble and address a hymn to Christ as to a god."


The most recent discussion of the names of Christian believers, including "Christian," is in Harnack's Mission and Expansion of Christianity, English translation (2nd edition, 1908), I, 399. See also EB, HDB, DCG, with the lit. there cited. On the social status of the early Christians, compare Orr's Neglected Factors in the Study of the Early Progress of Christianity; on the religious significance of the name, see CHRISTIANITY.

John Dickie

5546. Christianos -- a Christian
... a Christian. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: Christianos Phonetic
Spelling: (khris-tee-an-os') Short Definition: a Christian Definition: a ...
// - 6k

3683. Onesiphoros -- "bringing advantage," Onesiphorus, a ...
... "bringing advantage," Onesiphorus, a Christian. Part of Speech ... From a derivative
of oninemi and phoros; profit-bearer; Onesiphorus, a Christian -- Onespiphorus. ...
// - 6k

5161. Trophimos -- Trophimus, a Christian
... Trophimus, a Christian. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: Trophimos
Phonetic Spelling: (trof'-ee-mos) Short Definition: Trophimus Definition ...
// - 6k

1866. Epainetos -- "praiseworthy," Epaenetus, a Christian of Rome
... praiseworthy," Epaenetus, a Christian of Rome. ... Word Origin from epaineo Definition
"praiseworthy," Epaenetus, a Christian of Rome NASB Word Usage Epaenetus (1). ...
// - 6k

2890. Kouartos -- Quartus, a Christian at Rome
... Quartus, a Christian at Rome. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: Kouartos
Phonetic Spelling: (koo'-ar-tos) Short Definition: Quartus Definition ...
// - 6k

1889. Epaphras -- Epaphras, a Christian
... Epaphras, a Christian. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: Epaphras
Phonetic Spelling: (ep-af-ras') Short Definition: Epaphras Definition: Epaphras ...
// - 6k

4504. Rhouphos -- "red," Rufus, a Christian at Rome
... Rhouphos. 4505 . "red," Rufus, a Christian at Rome. ... Word Origin of Latin origin
Definition "red," Rufus, a Christian at Rome NASB Word Usage Rufus (2). Rufus. ...
// - 6k

1891. Epaphroditos -- Epaphroditus, a Christian
... Epaphroditus, a Christian. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration:
Epaphroditos Phonetic Spelling: (ep-af-rod'-ee-tos) Short Definition: Epaphroditus ...
// - 6k

5415. Phortounatos -- "prosperous, lucky," Fortunatus, a Christian
... Phortounatos. 5416 . "prosperous, lucky," Fortunatus, a Christian. Part of ... Fortunatus.
Of Latin origin; "fortunate"; Fortunatus, a Christian -- Fortunatus. ...
// - 6k

5095. Timotheos -- Timothy, a Christian
... Timothy, a Christian. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: Timotheos
Phonetic Spelling: (tee-moth'-eh-os) Short Definition: Timothy Definition ...
// - 6k


Lyra Germanica: Second Series: The Christian Life
Lyra Germanica: Second Series: The Christian Life. <. Lyra Germanica: Second
Series: The Christian Life Catherine Winkworth. Table of Contents. ...
/.../winkworth/lyra germanica second series the christian life/

The Master-Christian
The Master-Christian. <. The Master-Christian Marie Corelli. Karol Pietrzak,
Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. ...
// master-christian/

History of the Christian Church, Volume I
History of the Christian Church, Volume I. <. History of the Christian
Church, Volume I Philip Schaff. Table of Contents. Title Page. ...
// of the christian church volume i/

Christian Singers of Germany
Christian Singers of Germany. <. Christian Singers of Germany Catherine
Winkworth. Table of Contents. Title Page. PREFACE. ...
// singers of germany/

On Christian Doctrine In Four Books.
On Christian Doctrine In Four Books. . On Christian Doctrine In
Four Books. St. Augustine. Translated by Rev. Professor ...
// christian doctrine in four books /

The Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Institutes of the Christian Religion. <. The Institutes of the Christian
Religion John Calvin. Table of Contents. Title Page. ...
// institutes of the christian religion/

Hymns for Christian Devotion
Hymns for Christian Devotion. <. Hymns for Christian Devotion JG
Adams. JG Adams and EH Chapin; Produced by Ryan Wheeler ...
// for christian devotion/

The Instructions of Commodianus in favour of Christian Discipline
The Instructions of Commodianus in favour of Christian Discipline. <. The
Instructions of Commodianus in favour of Christian Discipline Commodianus. ...
// instructions of commodianus/

On Christian Doctrine, in Four Books
On Christian Doctrine, in Four Books. <. On Christian Doctrine, in
Four Books Saint Augustine. Table of Contents. Title Page. ...
// christian doctrine in four books/

Early Christian Fathers
Early Christian Fathers. <. Early Christian Fathers Cyril C. Richardson.
Table of Contents. Title Page. GENERAL EDITORS' PREFACE. ...
// christian fathers/

Christian (41 Occurrences)
... were "brethren," "the faithful," "elect," "saints," "believers." But as distinguishing
them from the multitude without, the name "Christian" came into use, and ...
/c/christian.htm - 29k

In (142459 Occurrences)
... James Orr. IN THE LORD. (en Kurio): A favorite Pauline expression, denoting that
intimate union and fellowship of the Christian with the Lord Jesus Christ which ...
/i/in.htm - 13k

Nymphas (1 Occurrence)
... Lachmann, Tregelles (margin), Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek read
Numpha, the name of a woman (Colossians 4:15)): 1. A Christian in Laodicea: A ...
/n/nymphas.htm - 9k

Cornelius (10 Occurrences)
... He became the first fruit of the Gentile world to Christ. He and his family were
baptized and admitted into the Christian church (Acts 10:1, 44-48). ...
/c/cornelius.htm - 16k

Antioch (21 Occurrences)
... It was called the "first city of the East." Christianity was early introduced into
it (Acts 11:19, 21, 24), and the name "Christian" was first applied here to ...
/a/antioch.htm - 27k

Almost (27 Occurrences)
... en oligo does not mean "almost," although scholars have for centuries translated
the clause "Almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian." The revisers saw ...
/a/almost.htm - 20k

Hymenaeus (2 Occurrences)
... Accordingly, the facts mentioned in the two epistles must be placed together, namely,
that though he had made a Christian profession by naming the name of ...
/h/hymenaeus.htm - 13k

Alms (13 Occurrences)
... begging was common (Mark 10:46; Acts 3:2). The Pharisees were very ostentatious
in their almsgivings (Matthew 6:2). The spirit by which the Christian ought to ...
/a/alms.htm - 22k

Kindness (295 Occurrences)
... nation. And the Christian ideal of society is that a similar relation should
exist between all men without limit or distinction. ...
/k/kindness.htm - 45k

Novice (1 Occurrence)
... a beginner; a tyro. 2. (n.) One newly received into the church, or one newly
converted to the Christian faith. 3. (n.) One who enters ...
/n/novice.htm - 8k

Questions about the Christian Life (All) |

Is the United States a Christian nation? |

What does it mean for a society to be post-Christian? |

Christian: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Christian (41 Occurrences)

Acts 16:1
He also came to Derbe and to Lystra. At Lystra he found a disciple, Timothy by name--the son of a Christian Jewess, though he had a Greek father.

Acts 26:28
Agrippa said to Paul, "With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?"

Romans 9:1
I am telling you the truth as a Christian man--it is no falsehood, for my conscience enlightened, as it is, by the Holy Spirit adds its testimony to mine--

Romans 15:2
Let each of us endeavour to please his fellow Christian, aiming at a blessing calculated to build him up.

Romans 15:14
But as to you, brethren, I am convinced-- yes, I Paul am convinced--that, even apart from my teaching, you are already full of goodness of heart, and enriched with complete Christian knowledge, and are also competent to instruct one another.

Romans 16:2
that you may receive her as a fellow Christian in a manner worthy of God's people, and may assist her in any matter in which she may need help. For she has indeed been a kind friend to many, including myself.

Romans 16:12
Greetings to those Christian workers, Tryphaena and Tryphosa; also to dear Persis, who has laboured strenuously in the Lord's work.

Romans 16:22
I, Tertius, who write this letter, send you Christian greetings.

1 Corinthians 4:17
For this reason I have sent Timothy to you. Spiritually he is my dearly-loved and faithful child. He will remind you of my habits as a Christian teacher--the manner in which I teach everywhere in every Church.

1 Corinthians 7:12
But to the rest I say, and not the Lord; If a brother has a wife who is not a Christian, and it is her desire to go on living with him, let him not go away from her.

1 Corinthians 7:13
And if a woman has a husband who is not a Christian, and it is his desire to go on living with her, let her not go away from her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:14
For, in such cases, the unbelieving husband has become--and is--holy through union with a Christian woman, and the unbelieving wife is holy through union with a Christian brother. Otherwise your children would be unholy, but in reality they have a place among God's people.

1 Corinthians 7:15
If, however, the unbeliever is determined to leave, let him or her do so. Under such circumstances the Christian man or woman is no slave; God has called us to live lives of peace.

1 Corinthians 7:18
If any man who is a Christian has had circumcision, let him keep so; and if any man who is a Christian has not had circumcision, let him make no change.

1 Corinthians 7:21
If you were a servant when you became a Christian, let it not be a grief to you; but if you have a chance to become free, make use of it.

1 Corinthians 7:22
For a Christian, if he was a slave when called, is the Lord's freed man, and in the same way a free man, if called, becomes the slave of Christ.

1 Corinthians 7:39
A woman is bound to her husband during the whole period that he lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to marry whom she will, provided that he is a Christian.

1 Corinthians 9:2
If to other men I am not an Apostle, yet at any rate I am one to you; for your very existence as a Christian Church is the seal of my Apostleship.

1 Corinthians 9:5
Have we not a right to take with us on our journeys a Christian sister as our wife, as the rest of the Apostles do--and the Lord's brothers and Peter?

1 Corinthians 9:18
What are my wages then? The very fact that the Good News which I preach will cost my hearers nothing, so that I cannot be charged with abuse of my privileges as a Christian preacher.

1 Corinthians 14:16
Since otherwise, if thou blessest with the spirit, how shall he who fills the place of the simple Christian say Amen, at thy giving of thanks, since he does not know what thou sayest?

1 Corinthians 16:19
The Churches in the province of Asia send you greetings; and Aquila and Prisca, in hearty Christian love, do the same, together with the Church which meets at their house.

2 Corinthians 12:2
I know a Christian man who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows--was caught up (this man of whom I am speaking)

Galatians 1:22
But to the Christian Churches in Judaea I was personally unknown.

Galatians 6:6
But let those who receive instruction in Christian truth share with their instructors all temporal blessings.

Ephesians 4:21
if at least you have heard His voice and in Him have been taught--and this is true Christian teaching--

Ephesians 6:1
Children, be obedient to your parents as a Christian duty, for it is a duty.

Ephesians 6:4
And you, fathers, do not irritate your children, but bring them up tenderly with true Christian training and advice.

Philippians 1:8
For God is my witness how I yearn over all of you with tender Christian affection.

Philippians 2:29
Receive him therefore with heartfelt Christian joy, and hold in honour men like him;

Philippians 4:21
My Christian greetings to every one of God's people. The brethren who are with me send their greetings.

Colossians 2:11
In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not performed by hand, when you threw off your sinful nature in true Christian circumcision;

Colossians 4:15
Christian greetings to the brethren at Laodicea, especially to Nymphas, and to the Church that meets at their house.

1 Thessalonians 4:6
and that in this matter there be no encroaching on the rights of a brother Christian and no overreaching him. For the Lord is an avenger in all such cases, as we have already taught you and solemnly warned you.

1 Thessalonians 5:12
Now we beg you, brethren, to show respect for those who labour among you and are your leaders in Christian work, and are your advisers;

1 Timothy 6:1
Let all who are under the yoke of slavery hold their own masters to be deserving of honour, so that the name of God and the Christian teaching may not be spoken against.

Titus 2:5
industrious in their homes, kind, submissive to their husbands, so that the Christian teaching may not be exposed to reproach.

Philemon 1:16
no longer as a slave, but as something better than a slave--a brother peculiarly dear to me, and even dearer to you, both as a servant and as a fellow Christian.

James 2:15
Suppose a Christian brother or sister is poorly clad or lacks daily food,

1 Peter 3:16
Yet argue modestly and cautiously, keeping your consciences free from guilt, so that, when you are spoken against, those who slander your good Christian lives may be put to shame.

1 Peter 4:16
But if one of you suffers for being a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this matter.



Christian Attributes

Christian Being in Love

Christian Character

Christian Cleanliness

Christian Dating

Christian Education

Christian Families

Christian Fellowship

Christian Hedonism

Christian Liberty

Christian Lifestyles

Christian Marriage

Christian Maturity

Christian Mission

Christian Relationships

Christian Service

Christian Services

Christian Single Dating

Christian Tithing

Christian Women

Christian: Believers Called

Related Terms

In (142459 Occurrences)

Nymphas (1 Occurrence)

Cornelius (10 Occurrences)

Antioch (21 Occurrences)

Almost (27 Occurrences)

Hymenaeus (2 Occurrences)

Alms (13 Occurrences)

Kindness (295 Occurrences)

Novice (1 Occurrence)

Brotherly (8 Occurrences)



Greetings (48 Occurrences)


Pentecost (3 Occurrences)


Quartus (1 Occurrence)



Times (1875 Occurrences)


Dorcas (3 Occurrences)

Phoebe (1 Occurrence)

Beloved (117 Occurrences)

Stephanas (3 Occurrences)

Charity (29 Occurrences)

Almsgiving (3 Occurrences)


Alexander (5 Occurrences)

Time (7245 Occurrences)

Ordination (12 Occurrences)

Ordain (13 Occurrences)



Righteousness (442 Occurrences)

Synagogue (52 Occurrences)

Praise (487 Occurrences)


Conversion (1 Occurrence)

Fellowship (114 Occurrences)

Joy (422 Occurrences)




Perfection (30 Occurrences)

Onesiphorus (2 Occurrences)

Tertius (1 Occurrence)

Rufus (2 Occurrences)

Perfect (205 Occurrences)

Euodia (1 Occurrence)

Phygellus (1 Occurrence)

Philetus (1 Occurrence)

Babylonia (17 Occurrences)

Commandment (209 Occurrences)

Cases (16 Occurrences)


Chloe (1 Occurrence)


Apostate (5 Occurrences)

Aquila (7 Occurrences)

Apelles (1 Occurrence)

Apostasy (6 Occurrences)

Ananias (11 Occurrences)

Allegory (6 Occurrences)

Bethlehem (49 Occurrences)

Hermogenes (1 Occurrence)

Adoption (5 Occurrences)



Philemon (2 Occurrences)

Sardis (3 Occurrences)

Election (6 Occurrences)

Gifts (144 Occurrences)


Conception (6 Occurrences)

Antichrist (4 Occurrences)

Baptismal (1 Occurrence)

Last (1087 Occurrences)

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