Wearing the Name “Christian”
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:16). The word “Christian” was first used in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The word means one who follows Christ. First Peter 4:16 implies that some used it as an insult. Perhaps this is the way that Agrippa meant it in Acts 26:28 when he told the apostle Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Peter says that the person who is called by such a name not be ashamed of it at all, but rather, glorify God.
The word “Christian” contains the word “christ.” “Christ” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “messiah.” Both words mean “anointed one” and come from the tradition of anointing with oil leaders in the ancient world. The Hebrew word “messiah” is used in the Old Testament a total of 39 times. Thirty-seven times it is translated “anointed,” and it usually refers to one of the kings of Israel. The translators chose to translate with the English word “Messiah” twice in the New King James Version in Daniel 9:25-26.
Having studied the book of Daniel extensively, the Jews of the New Testament were expecting God’s Messiah, His Anointed One, to arrive. Jesus fulfilled all prophecies of the Anointed One in the Old Testament. Therefore, He was the Messiah. In the New Testament, the word “christ,” (Greek for “anointed one”) is used almost exclusively to refer to Jesus. Christians are followers of the Anointed One, Jesus, and the word “Christ” is a title, not Jesus’ last name. What an honor it is, then, to share the title “Christ” with Jesus as “Christians.” This was Peter’s point.