Christian - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G5546, christianos ]
Christian," a word formed after the Roman style, signifying an adherent of Jesus, was first applied to such by the Gentiles and is found in Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.

Though the word rendered "were called" in Acts 11:26 (See under CALL) might be used of a name adopted by oneself or given by others, the "Christians" do not seem to have adopted it for themselves in the times of the Apostles. In 1 Peter 4:16, the Apostle is speaking from the point of view of the persecutor; cp. "as a thief," "as a murderer." Nor is it likely that the appellation was given by Jews. As applied by Gentiles there was no doubt an implication of scorn, as in Agrippa's statement in Acts 26:28. Tacitus, writing near the end of the first century, says, "The vulgar call them Christians. The author or origin of this denomination, Christus, had, in the reign of Tiberius, been executed by the procurator, Pontius Pilate" (Annals xv. 44). From the second century onward the term was accepted by believers as a title of honor.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words