Names for the Followers of Christ

By Royce Frederick

God chose the words to use in writing the Bible (1 Cor. 2:13). Therefore, those words should be important to us, and everything we teach and practice should be in harmony with what God has said (1 Tim. 6:3).

In his last letter, Paul told Timothy, “Hold fast [hold firmly] the pattern of sound words, which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). “Sound words” means “healthful, wholesome words” — words which are healthy for our soul. Paul also wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you...” (1 Cor. 1:10). The night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed, that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17:21).

When men originate their own religious names, that creates division. If we desire to please God and encourage unity, we must go back to the Bible for the religious name we wear.

What should we call those who truly follow Christ? The New Testament uses several terms to refer to followers of Christ, such as saints, brothers and sisters, disciples, and members. But “Christian” is the only actual name given by God’s word for the followers of Christ. “...And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). “Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’” (Acts 26:28). “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Pet 4:16).

Jesus did not write any of the New Testament with His own hands. But all of the New Testament is from Him, because He sent the Holy Spirit who revealed it through inspired men (Jn. 16:12-13; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3). If we are serious about wanting to follow Christ, we must put away all man-made religious names and simply become “Christians” — in name and in deed.