Bible Study: What does it mean to be a Christian
Who is a Christian?
Some claim there are 2.1 billion Christians in the world
(about one third of the total population of the planet). “What is included among the definition of
'Christian' is not agreed upon by many of the groups involved” (Wiki). Much of this disagreement comes from misunderstanding the definition.
Whenever we want to understand the Bible, it is helpful to look at original word definitions since language is consantly changing (think about what the word "cool" means now...and 200 years ago). Looking up word meanings may seem kind of boring, but it is unavoidable if we want to grasp what the author was trying to say.
Salvation | Christian | Bible Study | Facts
It is interesting that the word “Christian” is only found in the Bible a few times. When we look at the word origin we get the following: Christian comes from the Greek word Christianos and simply means “a follower of Christ”
The three verses that refer to “Christians” are:
Acts 11:26 “and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
Acts 26:28 “Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"
1 Peter 4:16
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
The word “Christianity” isn’t found in the Bible at all. Just as a side note-- It's curious to me that we use this to describe ourselves and our faith.
There is another term that is similar to “Christian”—that word is disciple. There are two different words for disciple used in the New Testament: Matheteuo and Mathetes.
“Matheteuo” -- This word is used only 3 times in Matt.13:52, 27:57, and 28:19. It means to be a disciple of someone; to follow his precepts and instructions; to make disciples by teaching and instructing. We see this word used in a very familiar passage-- This passage has been called the “Great Commission”.
Matthew 28:19--"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
It is our instruction to go into the world and teach the nations to follow the precepts of God.
The other word for disciple,” Mathetes”, is used 246 times in the New Testament. Mathetes means to be a learner or pupil.
I think it is good to understand some of the nuances of each of these terms as it helps with our understanding of what it means to call ourselves “Christian”. It also may help those who don’t know Christ, understand what to expect from someone who claims to be “Christian”.
We are disciples of Christ.
How does Christ fit in to your religion? Some common answers:
- He was a prophet
- He was a good man
- He was a disciple of God
- He was a good teacher
Jesus asked his own followers who people thought he was. Here is the answer that Peter gave him:
Matthew 16:13-16--When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus is “the Christ”. He is the Son of the living God. Christ, or “Christos”, the Messiah, the Son of God, the anointed one.
As Christians then-
- We are to believe and acknowledge that Christ was who he claimed to be--Accept it (salvation).
- We are to be pupils of Christ. We are to learn his ways and his teachings (disciples-Mathetes).
- We are to be followers of Christ. We are to follow his ways in our own lives and teach others to follow them (disciples-Matheteuo).
is the definition of what it means to be a Christian.
John 10:38B " that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.
1 John 2:22, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.
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