Question to the rabbi: Could you please explain the meaning of the word “Christians” and how often is it used in the New Testament?
Boris Grisenko, the Senior Rabbi of KJMC replies: “The word “Christians” as a definition of the believers in the New Testament is used only three times: two times in positive meaning and one in a negative one.
The first mention is: “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26). The second one is: “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:16). And the third mention, in the Acts of the Apostles, has a humiliating and mocking meaning, where King Agrippa laughed at Apostle Paul and said to him: “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”(Act 26:28).
These are the only three places in the New Testament where the word “Christian” is used. Although the major quantity of the designations of the followers of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the “believers” and “disciples”. “Disciples” is the most abundant designation in the Acts of the Apostles. At the same time Messianic Judaism and Christianity are designated as the “way”, the “way of the Lord”, “God’s way”, the “way of salvation”, the “way of truth” in many places of the Scripture. These are Jewish designations.
When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, they were mainly the Essen Scrolls. However, another significant document was discovered in the Judaean Desert: “The Way of the Sons of Light and of the Sons of Darkness”. The word “way” had a special meaning in the 1st century AD and even earlier that described God’s faith or behavior and faith of the sons of the Devil. These are the two opposite ways.
Therefore “the way of God” is a frequent meaning of the New Testament faith, especially for the Jewish people, as the first biblical New Testament congregations consisted exclusively of the Jewish people.