The Political Name: “Christian!”

The Political Name: “Christian!”

     Since we have witnessed two major political conventions within less than a month, we have a good context to understand the word and label:  Christian.  “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch,”  “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16).  One may still find in print that the word “Christian” means “little Christ;” however, this is not accurate.  I find scholar John Polhill’s explanation most helpful:    “The term in Greek is Christianos  [Christianoi for plural].   It is a “Latin term in Greek disguise,” built on the Greek word for Messiah (Christos, “anointed one”), and the Latin suffix—ianus, which means “belonging to.”  A number of ianus formations are found in the contemporary Latin literature, generally referring to followers or partisans of someone.  For instance, the term Herodianoi  is found in Mark 3:6.  It refers to the partisans of King Herod.  The term Augustianoi came from the imperial title Augustus (“revered”).  It was borne by a group of avid young devotees of Nero in the early years of his reign.  The –ianus suffix was sometimes used of freedman to denote the patrons to whom they owed their liberty.”

The term “Christian” looks to be originally what outsiders called followers of Christ, perhaps mockingly as something like a “Christ sycophant.”  It’s political overtones show that Christians were perceived as enthusiastic and motivated devotees to the aims of the Jewish Messiah Jesus.  Considering the political flavor, the name is saying we are “Crazy for Christ.”  “Christ is our Cause,” and in good FH words, “We Choose Jesus.”  Wear the name well, for it says, “I’m affiliated, sold out, and proud to promote Jesus — the Real Lord, and King of Kings.”    We sometimes put a sign in our yard for a political candidate; Jesus asks us to put his sign in our life.     LH


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