The Disciples Were Called Christians
If you should ask ten of your friends the question, "What are you religiously?
you can be assured that most of them would say "I am a _____________." The blank
would probably be filled with a denominational name. If you responded to their
answer, "I'm a Christian," they would no doubt say, "Oh, so am I, but I also a
_____________ Christian." If the disciples of Jesus in the 1st century had
been asked this question, what do you think they would have replied? They probably
would have said, "I'm a Christian." When some at Corinth were saying they were
Paul-Christians, Apollos-Christians, and Cephas-Christians, Paul asked them if Paul
or Apollos or Cephas had been crucified for them. The strong implication was that
the disciples should wear only the name of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
How did people get started in the "hyphenated Christian" business? After the
Protestant Reformation people became more devoted to their denominational ties than
they were to simply being Christians. How different this was from the 1st century
disciples who were "called Christians first at Antioch" (Acts 11:26). When Paul was
preaching to King Agrippa, the monarch said, "You almost persuade me to be a Christian"
Notice that the king was not also almost persuaded to something in addition to or
other than a Christian. Does any of this really matter?
Consider this: What were the 1st century disciples of Jesus called in Acts 11:26? What
did they do to become Christians? The conversion accounts in the book of Acts show us
that upon hearing the gospel they believed the message, repented of their sins,
openly confessed their faith in Christ, and were baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
If we do today what they did then, will we not become what they became? We will just
be Christians, Christians only, and members of Christ's church...without the hyphen!