Friday, October 05, 2007

The First Christians

Acts 11v26b
It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.
I must have read that verse loads of times. It always struck me as an interesting footnote in history, but nothing worthy of major study.

But I listened to a sermon from Mars Hill Bible Church the other day on Acts 11 and the preacher (Doug Pagitt) dug into it a bit deeper and asked the one question that I'd never really asked before:


The disciples had a collective name already before this time, they appear to have been known as followers of 'The Way'. Why should they suddenly gain a new name?

The thing that I'd never really thought about was that there must have been something distinctly different about the disciples in Antioch from the others to merit the use of a new name. These guys were culturally different from the church in Jerusalem, perhaps they did things in a different way from the church in Jerusalem. Perhaps what we see here is the first denominational divide...

The word 'Christian' is based on the word 'Christ' which is a Greek word. Not a Jewish word. There is a cultural difference here. These guys viewed the world in a different way from the Jews, is it too much of a leap to wonder if they did Church in a totally different way? Hence the need for a new name. Hmmm.

But for all that, the next interesting thing is that the first recorded act of this new denomonation was to send aid to the other denomonation. We don't really see this today - sometimes denomonations appear to be rivals rather than simply different parts of the body.

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