Acts 11:25

The chronology of the period reaching from the martyrdom of Stephen to the mission of Barnabas to Antioch is obscure, and has at present indeed refused to yield up to us dates - as, for instance, leading dates affecting Saul - of the utmost interest. It is, however, exceedingly probable that six full years had now passed since the conversion of Saul. During the whole of this time he has been - we may say it without a doubt, though perhaps it were not easy to find actual chapter and verse for the statement - "preaching Christ." He has been removed from one station to another for safety's sake twice. He has latterly been for some time at Tarsus, his native place, and it is of his employment during his stay at Tarsus that we know least. While, as already said, there is scarcely room to doubt that there emphatically he would be preaching Christ, it would seem a little remarkable if he did so through a period of one or two years with impunity. Hither, however, Barnabas now comes, to seek a colleague and efficient help in his work at Antioch. Very brief are the touches of the pen which convey to us the situation here. But they portray, nevertheless, something so natural and almost homely, that it is not difficult, and is pleasant and instructive, to fill in the detail of the picture.


1. He came on one errand; he stays on another, and that a great enterprise. He came to inquire about the justifiableness of certain goings on. He is forced to become part and parcel of them, and to embark in them heart and hand and voice.

2. He observes "that a great door and effectual is opened before him" (1 Corinthians 16:9). Antioch, for its situation, its buildings, and its very various and important people - for its Jewish population, for its Greek fashion, and its Roman military, and its business and commercial connections - cannot be surpassed as a place of importance for preaching Christ from the first moment that it is apparent that not Jews only, but Gentiles also, Greek and Roman, are to be embraced within the blessings of the covenant.

3. When already "much people was added unto the Lord," and "a great number had believed and turned unto the Lord," his heart is "touched with compassion '(as his Master's once and often was) when he saw "the sheep without a shepherd," and "the fields white to harvest," and the harvest one of superlative promise, "but the laborers few." And no doubt he "prayed the Lord of the harvest," and got his answer.


1. He wishes, if it be possible, to compass the work.

2. He knows no grain of envy or jealousy or selfish ambition.

3. He will lose a few weeks of time if he may return armed better by far for the work, for he bethinks himself (or otherwise in answer to his prayer has been reminded divinely) of one of remarkable conversion and of surpassing energy. He will be a likely helpmeet. Barnabas has already walked arm-in-arm with him in Jerusalem, and has been surety for him with the Church in Jerusalem. With this strong man, who has now been tried, been ripening in comparative retirement, and has borne the trial, would he wish to be associated in besieging, with a view to take, this tempting citadel Of Antioch. He is keeping up his character as given us in the preceding verses. He is "full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." His eye is single, his best reason and mental judgment are given to the question before him. His motives are pure and his conscience sensitive.

4. He is going to have his man. He will not miss of Saul. He journeys after him to seek him. He believes not in messages nor proxies. He finds him and brings him to Antioch.


1. They believe in brotherly love. It was a somewhat new thing to believe in, in some aspects of it. Not a few natural kinds of love unite us together. But brotherly love came in largely with the followers of Jesus, viz. that kind of love which brought two men to work together for religious ends.

2. They believe in the practical advantages of two working together.

(1) One sustains the purpose of the other.

(2) The weak side of one character is compensated by the forte of the other.

(3) Many an enterprise must pine for want of sufficient support at the hand of one alone, which may be easily compassed by two, and leave them still spare energy.

3. They disbelieve in unworthy rivalry, in comparisons, in personal ambition. Yet now, eighteen centuries later, these very things are occasionally heard as among the standard objections to two disciples of Jesus Christ being linked together in equal service for him.


1. The importance of Church life begins to be recognized, both for itself and for its witness, in the midst of a great people outside.

2. Even nature itself "is vindicating the need and the advantage of teachers and pastors and examples." "They assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people." It was not all evangelization, nor all missionary journeys, even in earliest days of Christianity. And this is more remarkable in the light of an example, when we remember that the good work at Antioch had sprung up of what in brief might be called "self-sown seed." Those of the dispersion whose hearts burned within them had been, under the Spirit, the beginning of the work. And it was on account of the proportions to which their work had grown, and the fame of it that traveled to Jerusalem, that Barnabas had been sent to visit Antioch. The flock only need to be hungry to look for a shepherd, and the hungry flock do not fail to look up to the shepherd that feeds it.

3. The love of Barnabas and Saul must have been met by much love on the part of those "in and out among whom" they went, teaching them many things. This is the Church love. This is the secret of Church harmony. This the humble beginning alike of the holiness and the happiness of the Church above.


1. It cannot be said to be a conclusion too remote or far-fetched when we assert that there is evidence of the witness that ministry was to the outside world. That "the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch" and at this time means nothing less than these two things.

(1) They take a status in the world; and this has been verified by history. World-wide their name is known.

(2) That status is given them, even if in partial ridicule, by the world. The Church of disciples, of saints, of brethren, of followers of Jesus, of Nazarenes, made its mark upon them of busy, prosperous, intelligent Antioch. They are not a ragged regiment, nor a rope of sand, nor a quarrelsome litigious clique. They have been doing work and have been living consistently.

2. That ministry has prepared those among whom it was exercised both to feel promptly compassion for their brethren who were to be visited by famine and poverty in Judaea, showing it also promptly by a practical charity and generosity, and also to convey that expression of love in a becoming and grateful manner. Great was the goodness of Barnabas, and great and good was the united ministry and work of him and his chosen, sought colleague, Saul. - B.

Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus for to seek Saul.
How Saul had been employed all this time (Acts 9:30) we have no means of ascertaining. We cannot well doubt that he would bring the claims of Christianity before philosophers and urge the proofs that Jesus was the Messiah in the synagogue; nor can we doubt that his labours would be in some degree successful. The work at Antioch required one like Saul, and in our age a telegraphic despatch would have summoned him; but then Barnabas had to go and find him. Notice —


1. The ideas of Christians up to that time had been limited. It was a slow process by which the attention of the apostles was directed to the regions beyond Palestine, and even then their thoughts were directed to Hebrews.

2. The events at Antioch could not well be mistaken as bearing on this point. The gospel had been preached there to heathen with great power and success.

3. The name Christian was conferred and adopted just as this enlarged view of the nature of their religion was becoming the common view of the Church.


1. Antioch itself. This Syrian capital, by its wealth, its commerce, its accessibility, its communication with the other parts of the world, its numbers, was one of the most important centres of influence; and we may readily understand, therefore, why he was called by Providence to labour there.

2. The world itself would be suggested as a field for which Saul was especially qualified; and which, in his call, he had been designated to occupy. The new idea was one which could not be confined in its operations to Antioch, for the principles which made it proper to preach the gospel there, made it proper to preach it everywhere. The events now occurring could not but suggest to a mind like Saul's the fact that the whole world was to be visited by like influences of the Spirit of God.


1. Talent is found in one of these forms.(1) In preparation for the future.(2) In obscurity.(3) Employed in a purpose corresponding to the design for which it was created.(4) Perverted and abused. These forms may exist separately, or two of them may be combined. Thus talent in preparation, and as yet in obscurity, may be combined, for the occasion may not yet have arisen to call it forth. We have no reason to doubt that while Saul was in Arabia and in Tarsus he was preparing for his great work.

2. There is talent created in each age of the world, for all the purposes of that age. It is not developed from the past; nor is it the production of the mere laws of nature or hereditary; it is as much a new creation as would be the introduction of a new world. There was nothing in Stratford-on-Avon that could produce Shakespeare; nor anything in his father of which "Lear," and "Hamlet," and "Othello" could be the development. The mind of Shakespeare was as really an act of creation as the creation of a world. So with Johnson, Milton, Michael Angelo. These minds were made of such capacity, power, and adaptedness to a particular end, as God pleased; and were brought upon the earth at, when, and how He saw best. There is a difference between the Divine arrangements for the physical wants of the world, and for its mental and moral wants. In the former case, long before man was upon the earth, God had created all that the race would need in all its history. Mind, on the contrary, He brings upon the earth as it is wanted. At every period there is a class of minds needed to carry the world forward in its ordinary course — in working the fields already cultivated. As, however, the world's most marked advances are not by a steady ascent, but rather per saltum, so (when the time arrives for such a new elevation) God creates the mind or minds fitted to the occasion. Thus some great lawgiver, poet, painter, soldier, philosopher. Such men as Moses, Caesar, etc., lay the foundation for new epochs, and such "epochs" really constitute the history of the progress of the world.

3. Under this arrangement much talent may be hidden; much may be in a state of almost unconscious preparation. How little did Washington, amid the quiet scenes at Mount Vernon, how little Oliver Cromwell, on his farm, dream of the great part each was to act in the history of the world! The emergency came. There was enough for those great men to do, and God had endowed them with talent sufficient to do all that was needful to be accomplished in their age.

4. Emergencies do arise to call forth the talent which God has conferred. When liberty is endangered, when reforms are to be effected, when the world is to he prepared for some new and signal advance, then talent before hidden is brought forward to do its work. Such — in a more eminent degree than aught else — was the period when, after so long a preparation, and when "the fulness of the time was come," the Son of God was called from His obscurity in darkened Galilee. Such also — subordinate to that higher purpose, but still so marked in its character as to constitute a new epoch in the world's history — was the calling forth of Saul to act his part on the great theatre of human affairs.

(A. Barnes, D. D.)

The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Nations and parties often call themselves by one name, and are known to the world by another. These outside names are generally given in contempt; and yet they sometimes hit the very centre, and so by degrees get to be adopted as an honour. So it has been with the name "Christian." It is never used in the New Testament by Christians about themselves. It occurs here in Agrippa's half-contemptuous exclamation, and in 1 Peter 4:16. Consider —


1. Observe the circumstances under which it was given. A handful of Jews from Jerusalem had come down to Antioch, and there they preached the gospel to heathen, and their success has for its crowning attestation that it compelled the sarcastic Antiochenes to find out a new name for this new thing; to find out a new label for the new bottles into which the new wine was being put. Clearly the name shows —(1) That the Church was beginning to attract the attention of outsiders.(2) That there was a novel element in the Church. The earlier disciples had been all Jews. But here is something that could not be called either Jew or Greek, because it embraces both. The new name is the first witness to the cosmopolitan character of the primitive Church.(3) That even these superficial observers had got hold of the right notion of what it was that did bind these people together. They called them "Christians" — Christ's men, Christ's followers. If they had called them "Jesuits" that would have meant the followers of the mere man; but it is not Jesus the Man, but Jesus Christ, the Man with His office, that makes the centre and the bond of the Christian Church.

2. Plain lessons lie on the surface.(1) The Church should draw to itself the notice of the world not by advertising, and ostentation, and singularities. If you are live Christians it will be plain enough to outsiders. What shall we say of leaven which does not leaven, or of light which does not shine? Are the world's names for themselves enough to describe you by, or do you need another to be coined for you? The Church that does not provoke the attention of outsiders is not the Church as Christ meant it to be.(2) The clear impression made by our conduct should be that we belong to Christ. The eye of an outsider may be unable to penetrate the secret of the deep sweet tie uniting us to Jesus, but there should be no possibility of his overlooking the fact that we are His. He should manifestly be the centre, guide, impulse, pattern, strength and reward of our whole lives. Do you think that, without your words, if you, living the way you do, were put down into the middle of Pekin, the wits of the Chinese metropolis would have to invent a name for you; and, if so, the name that would naturally come to their lips would be "Christians" — "Christ's men." If you do not, there is something wrong.(3) It is a very sad thing when the world's inadequate notions of what makes a follower of Jesus Christ get accepted by the Church. The name "Christian" ran all over Christendom in the course of a century and a half, largely because it was a conveniently vague name. Many a man is quite willing to say, "I am a Christian," that would hesitate a long time before he said, "I am a believer"; "a disciple."


1. "Disciples," the name employed almost exclusively during the time of Christ's life upon earth, sets forth Christ as being the Teacher, and His followers His scholars, who learned at His feet. Now that is always true. He teaches us still by the record of His life, and by the living influence of that Spirit whom He sends forth to guide us into all truth. But that name is not enough, and so after He had passed from earth, it unconsciously and gradually dropped out of the lips of the disciples, as they felt deepened bond uniting them to Him who was not only the Teacher of the Truth, which was Himself, but was their sacrifice and Advocate with the Father. And for all who hold the essentially imperfect conception of Jesus Christ as being mainly a Teacher, either by word or by pattern, it is worthy of consideration that the name of disciple was speedily felt to be inadequate to represent the bond that knit men to Christ.

2. Teacher and scholars move in a region which, though it be important, is not the central one. And the word that was needed next lifts us into a higher atmosphere. Believers, they who yield not merely intellectual submission to the dicta of the Teacher, but living trust in the Redeemer. We believe a truth, we trust a Person; and that trust is the one thing that binds men to God, and the one thing that makes us Christ's men. Apart from it, we may be very near Him, but we are not joined to Him. By it, and by it alone, the union is completed, and His power and grace flow into our spirits.

3. The name "saints" has suffered perhaps more at the hands both of the world and of the Church than any other. It has been by the latter restricted to the dead, and further restricted to those who excel, according to the fantastic, ascetic standard of mediaeval Christianity. It has been used by the world with a bitter emphasis to mean a pretender to be better than other people, whose actions contradict his claim. But the name belongs to all Christ's followers. It makes no claim to special purity, for the central idea of the word "saint" is not purity, but separation. The New Testament idea of saint has in it these elements — consecration, consecration resting on faith in Christ, and consecration leading to separation from the world and its sin. And that must be the experience of every true Christian. All Christ's people are saints, not as being pure, but as being given up to Him, in union with whom alone will the cleansing powers flow into their lives and clothe them with "the righteousness of saints."

4. Brethren — a name much maltreated both by the insincerity of the Church, and by the sarcasm of the world. An unreal appellation which has meant nothing, so that the world has said that our "brethren" signified a good deal less than their "brothers." But the main thing about that name is not the relation of the brethren to one another, but their common relation to their Father. As society gets more complicated, as Christian people get unlike each other in education and social position, it gets more and more difficult to feel that any two Christian people, however unlike each other, are nearer each other in the very roots of their nature, than a Christian and a non-Christian, however like each other. It is difficult to feel that but for all that it is a fact. And now I wish to ask you whether you feel more at home with people who love Christ, or whether you like better to be with people who do not. The duties of your position, of course, oblige each of you to be much among people who do not share your faith; but for Christian people to make choice of heart friends, among those who have no sympathy with their love to Jesus Christ, does not say much for the depth and reality of their religion. A man is known by the company he keeps, and if you deeply feel the bond that knits you to Christ, and really live near to Him, you will be near your brethren.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. WHEN it was given.

1. Not until twelve years, apparently, of most intense life, persecution, growth, did the Christians receive any abiding name, which serves to show us that God cares for things, not names. God makes the things, man gives the names; yet how much controversy is merely about names.

2. Not until after the disciples had become known among the Gentiles. The Jews would never have given us this holy name.

II. WHERE. In Antioch. Which was —

1. Beautiful. Situate on the Orontes, where it breaks through between Lebanon and Taurus; the scenery magnificent, itself splendidly adorned, and surrounded with groves and gardens.

2. Rich. The capital of Syria and the third city of the world; centre of traffic between east and west.

3. Pleasure-loving. The meeting place between the lively Greek and self-indulgent Eastern, with every inducement and advantage for enjoyment.

4. Wicked. Antioch was exceptionally depraved. Borne was horribly bad; but when the satirist wished to say that Rome was made tenfold more corrupt, he wrote that Orontes had emptied itself into the Tiber.

5. Heathen. Here were the notorious groves of Daphne, where Apollo was worshipped with all magnificence and vice.

III. WHY. That is not quite so certain; but we may safely say that it came about thus: The Antiochenes noticed some among them who differed from others. The beauty of the place they regarded with sober admiration; its riches and business they cared little for: they were industrious, used no trickery, abandoned many trades altogether, and did not grieve much if they lost their money; its amusements they shunned, and as for the sins of the place, they both avoided and rebuked them. Then the heathen were astonished, and asked, "Who has taught you this? Who has given you this new-fangled view of the beauty, wealth, pleasure, and sin (as you call it) of Antioch? Who has forbidden you to worship our gods?" To this the answer was ever,Christ has told us that the world and its beauty pass away; but He has told us of a new heaven and earth far better. He has taught us to think but little of the world's wealth, for He has given us treasure in heaven. He has taught us to look for higher pleasures, and to beware of yours, lest they lead us to sin and death. He has taught us above all to know and hate sin, and not to give to your gods that which is His due. So," the Antiochenes would say, "this is your God." "Yes," they would reply, "we are His, and cannot take the absorbing interest you do in the beauty, wealth, pleasure, sin, and idolatry of Antioch." Some among the heathen would believe, the rest would scoff and call them "Christians."

(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)

1. At first sight this might seem to be a piece of information such as is to be met with in an old chronicle, or in Notes and Queries, and it probably was meant to correct the idea that the disciples were first called Christians at Jerusalem. But we have here much more than this.

2. The name of a man or society is not like a label, which may be detached from a piece of lifeless furniture; it is a factor of which account must be taken for good or evil. Men have borne names which they have felt to be a stigma — an active cause of discouragement and failure. Men have also inherited names which have lifted themselves into a fellowship with a past of high effort. And, in religion names have a mighty power of shaping thought and sympathy. This applies to the greatest of names — Christians.


1. It comes into view together with the first attempt to preach the gospel to the pagan world. The Jews would not have given it. They believed in a coming Christ, but rejected the true Christ. But His appearance was an entirely new and original idea to pagans, and the constant repetition of His name would suggest to the keen-witted Greeks to call the disciples Christians.

2. It is probable that the name was a nickname, meant to suggest that those who could do nothing but talk about their Christ were a set of fanatics to be laughed out of existence. The ease was parallel to the feeling about Christ crucified at Corinth.


1. Before: Brethren, Disciples, Elect, Saints, Faithful.

2. After: Gnostics, men who had a knowledge of Divine things — Theophori, Christopheri (God bearers, Christ bearers), Nazarenes, and at Rome especially, impostors, magicians, Galileans, sophists, atheists, Sarmentitii, desperate men, who were indifferent to death; Parabolani, men who lived only to die, Biathanati, men whose garments smelt of the faggot, etc.

3. Since: Catholic, a name of commanding power, but this describes a quality, Christian, the substance of true religion; the one views it in relation to mankind, the other in its source and author; Catholic might be dissociated from Christ — Christian never.

III. THE IMPORT AND GLORY OF THE CHRISTIAN NAME. The apostles highly prized it: James calls it "that worthy name"; St. Peter a name for which it is a glory to suffer. It is a great distinction —

1. To be a learner in the one great school of truth. This is the very least that the name can mean, just as those who followed Plato were called Platonists.

2. To be in the service of such a commander as Christ. We know the feeling which attaches in our army to being in the best regiments; to be in the regiment led by Jesus Christ across the centuries, ought to satisfy a nobler ambition.

3. To be endowed with a new nature — that of Christ the Lord. Compared with this, how poor is "noble" birth! A Christian is a member of the aristocracy of heaven.


1. It is a summons to unity.(1) Because it distinguishes the disciples from others it has been stigmatised as a badge of division. Human, it is contended, would represent a more adequate bond of brotherhood. But the aim of Christianity is to make one synonymous with the other and the name is a pledge that it will one day do so.(2) This name is borne by millions of Christian worshippers who are divided widely from each other. But the name implies amid all their divisions the substantial loyalty of all to Christ.

2. It is a call to holiness. "Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." Application: Let us remember this name —

(1)In the morning.

(2)At night.

(3)In the hour of death.

(Canon Liddon.)

We may consider this name in various views; as a name of distinction from the rest of the world, who know not Christ, or reject Him; as a patronymic name, pointing out the Founder of the Christian Church; as a badge of our relation to Christ as His servants, His children, His bride; as intimating our unction by the Holy Spirit; as Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit, or above measure, as a name of appropriation, signifying that we are the property of Christ and His peculiar people. But my present design confines me to consider the Christian name —


1. The name Gentile was odious to the Jews, and the name Jew to the Gentiles. The name Christian swallows up both in one common and agreeable appellation. He that hath taken down the partition wall, has taken away partition names, and united all His followers in His own name (Colossians 3:11; Galatians 3:28; Zechariah 14:9).

2. It is but a due honour to Christ, the founder of Christianity, that all who profess His religion should wear His name; and they pay an extravagant compliment to his ministers when they take their denomination from them. Had this humour prevailed in the primitive Church there would have been Paulites from Paul, Peterites from Peter, Johnites from John, Barnabites from Barnabas, etc. Paul took pains to crush the first risings of this party spirit in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:12-15). But alas! how little has this convictive reasoning of the apostle been regarded. Not to take notice of , , , , etc., in the popish Church, where, having corrupted the thing, they act very consistently to lay aside the name, what party names have been adopted by the Protestant Churches, whose religion is substantially the same. To be a Christian is not enough nowadays, but a man must also be something more. But where is the reason or propriety of this? I may indeed believe the same things which Luther or Calvin believed: but I do not believe them on the authority of Luther or Calvin, but upon the sole authority of Jesus Christ, and therefore I should not call myself by their name, as one of their disciples, but by the name of Christ, whom alone I acknowledge as my only Master and Lord.

3. To guard against mistakes on this head I would observe that every man has a right to choose for himself in matters of religion. In the exercise of this right he will find that he agrees more fully with some particular Church than others, and thereupon it is his duty to join that Church; and he may, if he pleases, assume the name which that Church wears, by way of distinction from others; this is not what I condemn. But for me to glory in the denomination of any particular Church as my highest character, to lay more stress upon the name of a Presbyterian era Churchman than on that of Christian; to make it the object of my zeal to gain proselytes to some other than the Christian name; to connive at the faults of those of my own party, and to be blind to the good qualities of others, or invidiously to misrepresent or diminish them; these proceed from a spirit of bigotry directly opposite to the generous catholic spirit of Christianity.

II. AS A NAME OF OBLIGATION UPON ALL THAT BEAR IT TO BE CHRISTIANS INDEED, OR TO FORM THEIR TEMPER AND PRACTICE UPON THE SACRED MODEL OF CHRISTIANITY. To be a Christian, in the popular and fashionable sense, is no difficult or excellent thing. It is to be baptized, to believe, like our neighbours, that Christ is the Messiah, and to attend upon public worship once a week. In this sense a man may be a Christian, and yet be habitually careless about eternal things; a Christian, and yet fall short of the morality of many of the heathens. To be a Christian in this sense is no high character; and if this be the whole of Christianity it is very little matter whether the world be Christianised or not. But to be a Christian indeed is the highest character and dignity of which the human nature is capable. To be a Christian is —

1. To depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19). What, then, shall we think of the profligate, profane Christians, that have overrun the Christian world? Can there be a greater contradiction? A loyal subject in arms against his sovereign, an ignorant scholar, a sober drunkard, a charitable miser, an honest thief, is not a greater absurdity, or a more direct contradiction. Therefore, if you will not renounce iniquity, renounce the Christian name. Alexander had a fellow in his army that was of his own name, but a mere coward. "Either be like me," says Alexander, "or lay aside my name."

2. To deny yourselves and take up the cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). To deny ourselves is to abstain from the pleasures of sin; to deny our own interest for the sake of Christ. To take up our cross is to bear sufferings, to encounter difficulties, and break through them for His sake. To follow Him is to trace His steps and imitate His example whatever it cost us. These are the terms if you would be Christians. These He honestly warned mankind of when He first called them to be His disciples (Luke 14:25, etc.). What, then, shall we think of those crowds who retain the Christian name, and yet will not deny themselves of their sensual pleasures, nor part with their temporal interest for the sake of Christ? A Christian, without self-denial, and a supreme love to Jesus Christ, is as great a contradiction as fire without heat, or a sun without light, a hero without courage, or a friend without love.

3. To be a follower or imitator of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21; Romans 7:29; Philippians 2:5). Conclusion: I might add that the Christian name is not hereditary, but you must be born anew of the spirit to entitle you to this new name; that a Christian is a believer, believing in Him after whom he is called as his only Saviour and Lord, and that he is a true penitent.You may hence see —

1. That the Christian character is the highest in the world, it includes everything truly great and amiable. To acquire the title of kings and lords is not in your power; to spread your fame as scholars, philosophers, or heroes, may be beyond your reach; but here is a character more excellent, more amiable, more honourable than all these, which it is your business to deserve and maintain. And this is a dignity which beggars and slaves may attain.

2. That if all the professors of Christianity should behave in character, the religion of Christ would soon appear Divine to all mankind, and spread through all nations of the earth. It would be as needless to offer arguments to prove it Divine as to prove that the sun is full of light: the conviction would flash upon all mankind by its own intrinsic evidence.

(S. Davies, M. A.)

I. WHAT. All that the name has come to mean was quite unintended by the Antiochenes. But the question now is not what these ancient people meant, but what, after nineteen centuries of Christian literature and life, it has come to mean. Undoubtedly it comprehends —

1. Faith in Christ.

2. Love to Christ.

3. Imitation of Christ.

4. Union with Christ, with all the effects which flow from these, such as obedience to Christ's will, loyalty to Christ's cause, fellowship with Christ's people, profession of Christ's principles, and the blessed hope of being with Christ forever. Without each of these in a greater or less degree no man is entitled to the Christian name.

II. WHERE. At Antioch.

1. An unlikely place, one would think. Why should the worshippers of physical beauty, the slaves of lust, the devotees of gain, the priests of a false religion, and the teachers and disciples of an agnostic philosophy care a straw about the followers of a crucified Jew whose teachings ran counter to all their desires, practices, traditions, and disbeliefs, much less trouble to give them a new name? But experience should teach us that people are not so indifferent as they seem. With every motive to ignore the Christianity of today, people are earnestly noting and talking about it.

2. Really a most likely place. Here Christianity stood out in marked contrast to all the Antiochenes had ever known. It was a new thing. Its positive belief, purity, charity, brotherhood, stood in contrast with the prevalent scepticism, iniquity, and selfishness of the place. Light cannot but be seen in darkness, and of all places Christianity must have been most conspicuous at Antioch. It compelled attention, and the symptom of this attention was the name Christian.

3. The best place. No city in the world except Rome and Alexandria afforded such facilities for the dissemination of the knowledge of this name. Antioch was the Liverpool of the age. Let once a religious movement get well rooted in the great northern port, and all the world will soon hear of it.


1. Perhaps by matter of fact men who wanted a word which they could use in current conversation and be universally understood when talking of this new movement. Just as when a name was required to describe the followers of Aristotle or Plato in ancient, and of Luther and Pusey in modern times, the convenient designations were Aristotelians, etc.

2. Perhaps by wits and scoffers, who gladly availed themselves of the opportunity of fixing the name of a crucified malefactor on fanatics whose tenets were only worthy of laughter or scorn.

3. Perhaps by admirers who saw a resemblance between the disciples and all that was known of Christ.

IV. WHEN. When a new name was required to describe a new thing. Up till now all Christians were Jews, but even now there were such characteristics that marked them off from the rest of their race that a separate designation was required. When, however, Greeks came into the fold a distinctive name became imperative, and one was found which covered both Jew and Greek.

V. WHY. Because the disciples were —

1. Consecrated to Christ.

2. Always talking about Christ.

3. Ever seeking to secure disciples for Christ.


1. Gradually superseded every other name.

2. Still towers above every other name. All genuine Christians are glad to subordinate denominational distinctions.

3. Will eventually be the only name.

(J. W. Burn.)

I. Although everyone admits that the appellative "Christian" is derived from our great Master Christ, there is considerable variety of opinion as to THE WAY in which it was so derived.

1. The view taken by one class of expositors is, that this appellative was first given in derision and contempt.

2. A second opinion is, that the title in question was first assumed by the Christians themselves, as a new and significant distinction.

3. But a more probable account of this matter is, that the name Christian was first adopted by Divine appointment and authority.(1) The word translated "called," in the text, is sometimes used in the sense of "to warn, or appoint by Divine authority."(2) The mere fact of the first use of the term "Christian" being recorded in so abbreviated and important a history as that of the Acts would argue that it was an event of much interest to the Church of Christ in all succeeding ages.(3) As it is mentioned in immediate connection with the teaching of Barnabas and Paul, it is not unreasonable to infer that those holy men instructed the disciples at Antioch not only to believe in Christ, but also to adopt His name.

II. Having considered the derivation and meaning of the name, we must not inquire respecting THE CHARACTER; for it is one thing to be called a Christian, and another thing to be one. Suppose that, with the New Testament in our hand, we were required to give some account of one of those early Antiochian Christians; we should, without fear of contradiction, assert the following particulars: —

1. That he was a man who received and believed the doctrines of the Lord Christ.

2. Our disciple at Antioch, one of those first called Christians, would place his confidence in the Lord Jesus as his Saviour, and in Him alone.

3. He would be one that yielded implicit obedience to the commands of the Son of God.

4. He would consider the Lord Jesus Christ as that perfect and illustrious example he was bound by every obligation to imitate.(1) Do Christians imitate the Lord Jesus? — then are they an inoffensive people; for He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26).(2) Are Christians imitators of Christ? then are they a useful people; for He "went about doing good," and then "gave Himself a ransom for all."(3) Are Christians people who follow the example of the holy Jesus? then are they a holy and devout people; for He frequented the temple and the synagogue, to pray in public; and retired to the mountain's summit, to pray in private; and in that exercise sometimes wasted the hours of the night!

III. It only remains to deduce certain CONSEQUENCES in which we have all an intimate and deep concern.

1. The first is, that no man can become a Christian, in the evangelical sense of the word, without the intervention of Divine mercy and power.

2. The next is, that as a religious designation, the term "Christian" is of itself quite sufficient; and that all sectarian additions are but proofs of the infirmity or depravity of men. On this subject I venture to advise —(1) That you esteem denomination as Christian, only as its members embrace the truth, imbibe the spirit, and obey the commands of Christ; and —(2) That you glory in the name of "Christian," and make no account of any other.

3. It is clear from what has been advanced, that to assume the name without sustaining the character of a Christian is a serious evil. No man can be so called without being eternally better or worse for it!

4. It is evident from the whole, that to be called a Christian, and to be one, is the supreme happiness of man! Oh the honour! to have that dear, that sacred, that exalted name, named upon us! Christians! — happy people! Innumerable, exceeding great and precious promises are theirs. Then why hesitate a moment to become an entire and decided Christian? To this high and unspeakable honour you are all invited; Oh, spurn not this mark of infinite mercy, condescension, and love!

(James Bromley.)

A father once planned a pleasant surprise for his son who was just beginning to think for himself. In a corner of his garden he wrote with his finger his boy's name in soft mould. The furrows he then sowed with seeds of cress. A few days after this, as was expected, the astonished lad came running in with the news that his name was growing up out of one of the flower beds. Then, with the explanation immediately rendered, followed the lessons — that nothing comes by chance; that many mysteries can be traced out very easily by a little patient study; that it is possible for men to seem to do many things of their own accord, when really it is God who overrules even the powers of nature to His own glory; and that, noble and excellent a thing as it is to have a Christian name, it is always worth while to ask where it comes from, and what it actually means. Here is a use for the illustration at once. Our young people, coming into life, find the name of "Christian" meeting their eyes at every turn, almost as if it had grown up out of the ground of human history with no hand to plant the seed.

I. WHERE WAS IT THAT THE NAME WAS FIRST RECEIVED? Twenty miles from the Mediterranean, just at the point where Syria joins Asia Minor, stood a town so magnificent that even the fastidious Greeks called it "Antioch the beautiful," and the Romans "the Queen of the East." But, as too often happens in this world, Antioch was as vile as it was beautiful. No man cared for God or for his fellow man.

II. WHO GAVE THE NAME? The Romans or the local inhabitants of Antioch under their sway. The term reads like the rest of Latin appellations. They called the followers of Herod "Herodians," of Vitellius "Vitellians," and so they easily invented the name of "Christians" from the name of Christ. Hence we see that in the beginning it was a mere nickname; probably they hissed it out hatefully, and pointed their fingers at the man who gloried in a crucified Leader. All we need to say, however, is that the beautiful city is today lying in unsightly ruins; and if anyone were to ask what Antioch was, the answer would be, the town where "the disciples were first called Christians." That nickname preserves Antioch from being forgotten.

III. WHAT DOES THE NAME MEAN? One who goes after Christ as His Redeemer and Pattern. Change only one of the letters, and we have the whole significance; a Christian is a Christ-man. And this includes these things at the least: one who has learned about Christ; one who trusts to Christ for pardon; one who resembles Christ in his life; and one who gives to Christ his entire heart in a lasting love.

1. The first of these it might be assumed we all have already. Those person would be called heathen who had never been told of Jesus' life and death.

2. But, most of all, we need to see that we are sinners; then we shall perceive how gracious God was in sending His only Son to die for us; and then we shall be ready to accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

3. Then, to be a Christian means that one shall grow like the Saviour. God has given us four portraits of Him in the Gospels. These we can study constantly.

4. Then we are to give our hearts to Christ in a loving service. We are to go about doing good, as He did.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Homiletic Monthly.
1. The Divinity of Christ is the object of the Christian's worship.

2. The condescension and atonement of Christ are the objects of the Christian's gratitude and trust.

3. The life and teachings of Christ are the subjects of the Christian's example and belief.

4. The reign of Christ is the object of the Christian's confidence and joy.

5. The return of Christ is the object of the Christian's expectation. "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

(Homiletic Monthly.)

The history of Christianity at Antioch is on a small scale the history of Christianity in the world. Study the growth of one tree, and you will have a knowledge of the laws which regulate development in the vegetable world. The flowers that bloom today obey the same laws as did those of Paradise, and the Churches of today spread themselves after the same fashion as did that of Antioch. It is of the first importance, then, that we should know all that the name Christian means.

I. CHOICE. Choice does not rule everywhere. We did not choose whether we would have life, parents, name, country, or not. And there are some things connected with Christianity which may be put in the same list — Christian land, books, thoughts, facts, etc. We are not Christians because we live among these circumstances, any more than a man becomes a horse by being put into a stable, any more than a sheep's clothing makes a sheep. Doubtless there are thousands who believe that baptism makes them Christians, just as Pagans believed that, by going through certain rites, they obtained the favour of the gods. But the New Testament teaches that Christianity is to be chosen. There must be first a willing mind — not a mere non-rejection of Christianity, but a clear acceptance of Christ. There is something inspiriting in this. Christ appeals to our manhood. He does not treat us like children to be led by the hand, nor compel us to a kind of religious slavery, but teaches us to stand erect in our humility.

II. OBEDIENCE. Authority is essential to all life. Natural life must be regulated by well known rules, which we did not invent, but which we found invented for us. So with spiritual life and communion. We may be improving their outward forms and adapting them to the changing culture of the age. But we must build on the same foundations, and progress on the same principles as the earliest Christians did — in one word, bow to the authority of Christ. The Church has suffered from the usurped authority of kings, parliaments, bishops, mobs; but the Church's true Head is Christ. Alas for the Churches, they have too often lived as though the Head were a mere caput mortuum. But the Head of the Church is a mind that thinks of its difficulties and trials; it governs a hand that can guide it in all its devious paths; it moves a will that can defend it, and has a mouth by which the law of God can be made known.

III. SEPARATION. One of the reasons why Christians were so much hated was that they stood aloof from the common enjoyments of life. But this was inevitable, for the festivities and customs of Greece and Rome were so leavened with idolatry and sin that indulgence in the one involved complicity with the other. The early Christians consequently were in danger of asceticism, and were tempted to confound what was innocent with what was sinful. Society, thanks to Christian influence, is not now so corrupt. And yet our danger lies in too much laxity and indifference. Depravity has not been charmed away, and there is no less peril in the world's friendship today than there was eighteen hundred years ago. If, then, we would do good service in the world we must separate from its evil. The hope of the Church is in its clean hands and pure heart. Separation from all known evil is the mark alike of the Christian soul and the Christian community.

IV. WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER for Christ (1 Peter 4:16).

(S. Pearson, M. A.)

A friend of mine was staying at a farm in the South of Scotland. The district was supposed to be very religious; and one afternoon, while sitting in the dining room, my friend and the hostess fell into a conversation about Church affairs. The lady was quite well informed of the difference between these two great branches of the Presbyterian Church, the Free and the Established; but when her visitor asked if there were many real Christians in the parish, she only stared in blank amazement as she replied, "Why, we are all Christians." "But," continued her friend, "it is true Christians I mean, not merely nominal Christians, but men and women who have really trusted Christ with their souls, and are trying to convince and persuade their fellows to do the same." But the distinction between real and nominal Christians seemed too subtle for her, and all she replied was, "But we are all Christians, we were all born Christians!" Her guest, however, was determined, if possible, to bring home the difference to her, and mentioning a man welt known in the locality for his drunken and disorderly habits, asked, "Would you call K — a Christian?" "Yes, I suppose he must be." "Then there is G — ," mentioning a gentleman equally well known for his godly and philanthropic life, "would you call him a Christian?" "Yes!" — the "yes" came more heartily this time. "Then both these men are Christians. There is no difference between them." "Oh, yes, there is a difference." "Then what is that difference?" But she would not attempt to define it. She wished to keep that comfortable delusion that we are all Christians, whose principal Christian duty is to go to church on Sunday and put a penny in the plate. It is from such lukewarm, nominal Christians that the Church must shake herself loose before she can take her true place as a militant force against the powers of evil.

(H. Hamilton.)

To what sort of a character should we attach the name of Christian; what life is it deserves that? The medals given to the Indians at the treaty of Red River were supposed to be of silver, but were really of a baser metal. Said an Indian chief, striking his in such a way that the deceit was apparent, "I think it would disgrace the Queen, my mother, to wear her image on so base a metal as this."

A little child was once asked what it was to be a Christian, and she wisely answered, "It is just to do what Jesus would do if He was a little girl and lived at our house."

The Christian man is to be something like a physician. You know we call a physician a professional man. Well, how does he profess? There is a large brass plate on his door and a big bell, and everybody knows what the brass plate and the bell mean. That is part of his profession. What else? How does he profess to be a physician? He goes into company, and his dress is like anybody else's. You do not see a box of lancets hanging at his side; you do not observe that he is dressed in any peculiar costume. He is a physician, and he is always a physician; but his profession is carried on by his practice. This is how a Christian's profession is to be carried on, by his practice. The man is a physician professionally, because he really does heal people and write prescriptions and attend to their wants. I am to be a Christian in my actions, my deeds, my thoughts, my words. Therefore, if anybody wants a Christian, I should be known by my words and my acts. When we used to go to school, we would draw houses, and horses, and trees on our slates, and we remember how we used to write "house" under the house, and "horse" under the horse, for some persons might have thought the horse was a house.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Four things are necessary to constitute a Christian.

1. Faith makes a Christian.

2. Life proves a Christian.

3. Trials confirm a Christian.

4. Death crowns a Christian.

Christian Age.
A young convert arose in the prayer meeting and said, "A few days since the foreman of my room came to me and said, 'Henry, are you a Christian!' I replied, 'Yes, sir, I am. At least I am trying to be. I look to the Lord for strength and grace!' And then I could think of nothing better to say, so I thought I would ask him a question; so I said, 'Mr. Smith, are you a Christian?' He replied, 'I go to church!' Then I didn't know what to say. But a few days before this conversation a boy of about twelve years old came into the shop and asked for work. When the foreman told him he had none for him, he told a pitiful story of the sickness of his father and mother. The foreman then asked him if he had ever worked in a jeweller's shop, and he replied, 'No, sir, but I have worked next door to one!' So, when I could not think what to say to my foreman, this came into my mind, and I said, 'Mr. Smith, do you remember the little boy who came in here the other day and said he once worked next door to a jeweller's shop?' 'Yes.' 'Do you think that working next to a jeweller's shop made him a jeweller?' 'No.' 'Do you think that going to church makes you a Christian?' Who does not see that the answer of this young convert razes to the earth all the refuges of our dear friends away from the Saviour, who have become accustomed to substituting fallacies for reasons, and good deeds of their own for faith in Christ's blood and New Testament obedience? Many who are deferential and reverential in the presence of the gospel's proclamations say that, while such a way as it prescribes is doubtless proper for most people, they must be allowed to present, as the ground of their hopes, their uniform kindness to Christian ministers, their constant readiness to aid in their support, their presence and devout behaviour in church service, their compassionate and self-sacrificing ministrations to the unfortunate, their honourable business dealing, and their high regard, generally, for the rights of men. These are grand things. True Christianity is very far from discarding them; it insists upon them. But with equal vigour it protests against their substitution for the "faith which works by love." This is evidently working "next door to a jeweller's shop."

(Christian Age.)

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