The Messianic People

W. Terry Varner
August 24, 2014

In the last two articles, we have set forth that the Bible teaches that: 1) The Messianic Hope involved the Savior of mankind and 2) The Messianic Age involved God’s final covenant with humanity. Another distinctive teaching of the Bible is The Messianic People.

The Messianic People are called by various terms; i.e. disciples (cf. John 8:31-32), followers (cf. 1 Peter 2:21), etc.

The Messianic People Are Christians. Messianic people are followers or disciples and are to be identified by a clear, distinctive name. Messianic People are prophesied to have “a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off’ (Isa. 56:5). It would be “a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name” (Isa. 62:2).

The new and distinctive name is Christian, not disciple or follower. Concerning the latter names, any leader or philosopher would have disciples or followers devoted to him and his tenets.

In the New Testament, the name Christian is a clear, distinct name relating to the followers to the Messiah (Christ). The suffix at the end of the word Christian, “ian,” means “a sense of belonging”; therefore, a Christian is one who belongs to Christ. “Do you not know that . . . you are not your own? For you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). According to Paul, Agrippa knew of the body of community of Christians. Paul said to Festus, “the king knows these things” (Acts 26:26). Agrippa’s response to the gospel was “you almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). Christians in the first century, as at various times, were/are persecuted. We are told, “yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:16). No wonder James refers to Christians as wearing “that worthy name by which you are called” (James 2:7).

The Messianic People Are a Community. The community (aggregate) of Christians is called by various names signifying the various aspects of our spiritual relationship with Christ and to show that Christianity is the religion of biblical authority. A few of these names are listed below.

  • Church. The church is composed of a community of people who have been called out of sin and the world and into Christ (cf. John 17:13-18; James 4:4; Gal. 3:26-29).
  • Body. Christ established the church and “is the head of the body, the church” (Col. 1:18). The emphasis is that church is composed of individual members with each contributing its part to the functioning of the whole (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12-24).
  • Family. God is our Father (cf. Matt. 6:9), Jesus our Elder brother (cf. Heb. 2:11), and we are brother and sisters in Christ.
  • Assembly. Christians assemble corporately by virtue of their relationship to Jesus our Savior.

The Messianic People Are a Proclaiming People. Old Testament prophecy predicted the Messianic Hope and Age would have the message of salvation to be proclaimed (cf. Isa. 52:7). Salvation is in Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 2:10). Christians are to spread the message of salvation (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-47). Christians are to live as the light of the world (cf. Isa. 49:6; Matt. 5:13-16) so that their lives and works glorify God before the world (cf. Isa. 43:10-11; Matt. 5:16).