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Who Are The First Christians?
by Wayne Blank
"Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, 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 11:25-26 KJV)
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?"
"Christian," from the Greek Christianos, was originally a term used by unbelievers to describe the followers of Jesus Christ as slaves (i.e. the suffix ianos was popularly used to specify the slaves of the one whose name with which it was compounded i.e. "Christianos" meant slaves of Christ), and was the name given to the church by the Greeks and Romans who most often intended it in a derogatory manner - although Paul, in referring to himself, made reference to that slave, or servant, label in a positive way by honorably calling himself a "servant of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1 KJV). The critical manner of using the term in those early years is perhaps the reason that, surprisingly, "Christian" (in its Greek form as originally written in the Scriptures) is found only three times in the Bible, and "Christianity" does not occur at all. It was however eventually adopted by the followers of the Messiah themselves and was thereafter used in a positive way, at least among "Christians."
All of Christ's "Christians" are being prepared for service to Christ, and to the rest of the world, when the time comes (see the Fact Finder question below). Until then, the life of a true "Christian" is a matter of overcoming the ways of a world that is yet hostile to the Word of God, a hostility that is going to end in due time (see The End Of The World?).
"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."
Fact Finder: Why will all of the first "Christians," who lived through all of time, be in the first resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ? How will they serve Christ after His return? What role will they have in helping the rest of humanity become "Christians" too?