Is The Word Christian In The Bible

Is The Word ‘Christian’ In The Bible?

For thousands of years, throughout predominantly Christian societies, the word ‘Christian’ has been used to describe someone who follows the teachings of Jesus and Christianity. But is the word ‘Christian’ actually in the Bible?
The answer is ‘No’. The word ‘Christian’ does not appear in the Bible even once. Though Jesus does mention followers of his teachings and faith, he does not use the term ‘Christian’ in the Bible. In fact, the first use of the word appears in 38AD, when the Book of Acts refers to the followers of Jesus Christ as ‘Christians’.
However, Jesus does mention believers in the Bible. In John 3:16, he declares that “whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Through this scripture, it is clear that Jesus was referring to individuals who had faith in him, and that these individuals could be referred to as believers.
The term ‘Christian’ started to gain usage throughout the Roman Empire, and the Book of Acts mentions the early followers of Jesus being referred to as the ‘Saintly Ones’, due to their commitment and devotion to Jesus’ teachings, rather than a specific name.
It was not until after the death of Jesus and the spread of his teachings among the Roman Empire, that it was likely first used as a label for followers of Jesus, although it is not completely clear who first coined the term ‘Christian’.
Some believe it was coined by Roman soldiers, as a derogatory label for those followers, stating that they followed Christ. This is steeped in speculation, but it is possible.

Early Use of the Term

The term ‘Christian’ was first used to refer to Jesus’ followers in Antioch, in 35AD, by the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. The term was first used in the New Testament, as the letter to the Corinthians. The letter explains the importance of being united as one in faith, under the term ‘Christian’.
The early use of the term ‘Christian’ was more so to refer to those who had devoted their lives to Jesus and the faith, rather than to refer to simply someone who believed in the teachings of Jesus.

Implications of Using the Word

The use of the term led to persecution of Christians, as Nero made it illegal for anyone to follow the faith. During this time, up to 50,000 Christians were killed and public gatherings of Christians were prohibited.
The use of the word Christian has had long-reaching implications of both good and bad. It has brought people together across the world, who would not otherwise have been united. It has also brought bitter divide and hatred among those who do not subscribe to the Christian faith.

Modern Meaning of ‘Christain’

The meaning of ‘Christian’ has evolved over the years, and today, the word ‘Christian’ generally refers to individuals that have faith in Jesus, and also accept and defend the beliefs and values of the Bible, as well as subscribing to the religion as a whole.
The term ‘Christian’ is not an exclusive term, and there are many who do not follow the Bible and yet consider themselves Christian. There are some who accept the teachings of Jesus, and yet are not part of any Church, or have their own interpretations of the Bible and Christianity.

Important Considerations

The use of the word ‘Christian’ has evolved over the years. Whilst it was once used to refer to those who had devoted their lives to the faith, today it generally means to have faith in Jesus and subscribe to the language and teachings of the Bible.
It is also important to remember that the word ‘Christian’ does not actually appear in the Bible. Rather, Jesus refers to his followers generally as ‘believers’, and this was later used to create the term ‘Christian’.

How Christian Faith Has Developed Over Time

Since the initial use of the word ‘Christian’ in 35AD, the faith has evolved and been shaped by many different cultures and interpretations. As it has become more accessible, so too have its denominations. That is to say, the way ‘Christian’ is used – as well as the way the faith is expressed – is now much more varied.
From the catechumenate, to the great Creeds, Christian faith has been shaped by countless Councils and debates, which have significantly redefined the beliefs and practices of the Church.
Today, Christian faith is still in flux. Whether it is the rise of Pentecostalism, the continuing influence of Catholic tradition, or the emergence of the Charismatic movement, Christian faith continues to evolve and be redefined.

How The Bible Is Interpreted Differently Around The World

The Bible is the greatest source of Christian faith and it is interpreted differently around the world. Different cultures have different interpretations of the Bible and this shapes the way they view faith and practice Christianity.
In the West, there is a large emphasis on personal achievement and following the example of Jesus. In other cultures, however, faith and morality may be seen in a different light, as they may place more emphasis on loyalty to a particular leader or hierarchy of society.
No matter the interpretation, however, the Christian faith is a foundation of values and beliefs which unites its followers together and provides them with a sense of solidarity.

Variations in the Practice of Christianity

Despite the fact that the Bible is often interpreted differently around the world, there are still certain key points that remain the same. These points include: belief in the grace of God, love for one’s fellow human being, and the need for repentance and forgiveness.
However, how these points are expressed, practiced and understood can vary significantly, depending on the interpretation of the faith by particular cultures and movements. For example, the contemporary Charismatic movement sees the need for a sense of ecstacy, whereas other denominations such as the Lutherans and Presbyterians may view their faith in a more subdued way.
Different denominations may also have different rituals and practices associated with them, as well as slight variations in the interpretation of particular bible verses.


The term ‘Christian’ is not a feature of the Bible, but it has become a powerful label of faith and religion. Despite interpretations of the Bible varying around the world, the faith of those subscribing to Christianity is what binds them together in the practise of their faith.
Ultimately, the term ‘Christian’ has become an important identifier of faith and culture, and it has become synonymous with religious devotion and loyalty, as well as providing a foundation for the values and beliefs of Christianity.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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