Tuesday, 12 March 2013


The first recorded use of the term is in the New Testament, in Acts 11:26, which states "...in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." The second mention of the term follows in Acts 26:28, where Herod Agrippa II replies to Paul the Apostle, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" The third and final New Testament reference to the term is in 1 Peter 4:16, which exhorts believers, "...if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." All three original New Testament verses' usages reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who did not acknowledge the emperor of Rome. 

The town Antioch, which is said to have given them the name Christian, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames. However Peter's apparent endorsement of the term led to its being preferred over "Nazarenes" and the term Christianoi from 1 Peter becomes the standard term in the Early Church Fathers from Ignatius and Polycarp onwards. The earliest occurrences of the term in non-Christian literature include Josephus, referring to "the tribe of Christians, so named from him;" Pliny the Younger in correspondence with Trajan; and Tacitus, writing near the end of the 1st century. In the Annals he relates that "by vulgar appellation commonly called Christians" and identifies Christians as Nero's scapegoats for the Great Fire of Rome.