“ . . . and the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
In Bible times, there were several groups of people named after the men they followed. Those that followed the Caesar were called Cesareans, those that followed Herod, the Herodians (Matthew 22:16). Today’s verse passage reminds us that Christ-followers became known as Christians, first in Antioch, probably in the 40’s of the first century. The text says they were called Christians; apparently this is not a name that community gave themselves. The Jews would never have given them this name, as it denotes their following the Christ, the promised Messiah or “Anointed One,” which thing the Jews denied. Almost certainly the term was coined by unbelieving Gentiles, and most likely it was given in ridicule of the new religious community. Whether it was used as a derogatory slur or not, we know the Christian’s association with the Savior is far deeper than the relationship between a disciple and his teacher or a king and His subjects. We are His body and bride (Ephesians 5:25-33); He reckons hostility against the church to be a personal attack on Himself (Acts 9:4; 22:7-8; 26:14-15). In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil (Exodus 28:41; 29; 40:15; Leviticus 16:32; 1 Kings 19:16; Isaiah 61:1; 1 Samuel 15:1; 16:12; 1 Kings 1:34). Jesus is the Christ (i.e. the Anointed One); He is God’s Supreme King over His people (Psalm 2; Luke 1:32) and the High Priest and Mediator between God and men (Hebrews 4:14-5:10; 1 Timothy 2:5). He is the ultimate prophet also (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 7:40; Acts 3:19-23). The Old Testament prophets represented God, delivering His message to the people. The Lord Jesus represented God more perfectly; being God Himself manifest in the flesh (Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16), He is God’s ultimate self disclosure (John 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-3). Whereas prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil, our Lord was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38), “the oil of gladness” (Hebrews 1:9). Our special relationship with our Lord makes us Christians, that is “little Christs” or “little anointed ones.” Paul wrote,“now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). We too fill the role of anointed prophets, giving out the Gospel and acting as Christ’s representatives on the earth (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We too are called priests and kings (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). As kings even now, we are to exercise Godly authority over our own minds and bodies (2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:4). As priests we are to offer our very selves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1). May the Lord encourage, protect, and provide for His special anointed and redeemed people today!