The Plea For The Name Of Christ

W. Terry Varner
February 19, 2017

One would think that those who committed themselves to Jesus would want to be called Christians; however, this was not the case. When men began to fall away from faithfully serving Jesus, they often called themselves after their leader; i.e. Arians after Arian or Lutherans after Luther; etc.

Sometimes, they wore names called by their opponents who identified them; i.e. Waldenses after Peter Waldo or Hussites after John Hus; etc.

Sometimes the names worn identified a particular doctrine practiced; i.e. Anabaptists (rebaptizers) because they insisted that the Bible taught only immersion as baptism and required any and all who had been sprinkled to be rebaptized.

Or, they were called Independent churches because they rejected human names, human creeds, and human doctrines and used the Bible as their only guide in matters of faith and life.

Roman Catholic Church was so-called because it was headquartered in Rome, considered themselves universal; i.e. Catholic.

In all of these one must test their name and teachings with the Bible and accept that which is biblical and reject that which is not. The question becomes, “Is the third plea for the name of Christ valid?” Consider:

In the New Testament, the name Christian is found three times: (1) “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26), (2) “And Agrippa said to Paul you almost persuade me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28), and (3) “But if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in name” (1 Peter 4:16).

The name Christian is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. “And the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name” (Isa. 62:2). The prophecy is specific that when the Gentiles or nations “shall see the righteousness” of God; i.e. accept Christ, then God will called those obedient by “a new name.” The new name will be given by God. When the church was established in Acts 2, its membership was Jewish, it was not until Cornelius, a Gentile, and his household obeyed he gospel (Acts 10) that the new name Christian occurs. From Acts 2 through Acts 10, the followers of Christ were called disciples, friends, brethren, saints, etc.

J. W. McGarvey in his New Testament Commentary on Acts wrote that “the new name which here and now originated proved to be the most potent name that has ever been applied to a body of men...The supposition adopted by many that this name [Christian] was given by the enemies of the faith in derision is groundless...The name Christian embodies within itself, in a more generic form, all the obligations specifically expressed by other names; Being derived from the name of him [Christ] who is head over all things for the church, whose name is above every name, it is the title of peculiar glory and honor.”

Why did the Restorers argue for the unity of the name Christian rather than human names: The name Christian (1) is the divinely appointed name (Acts 11:26; Isaiah 62:2), (2) is the only name by which man can be saved (Acts 4:12), (3) is the name into which we are baptized (Acts 19:5; 8:16), (4) is the name in which we are authorized to glorify God (1 Peter 4:16), (5) is the name through which we are justified (Acts 10:43), (6) is the honorable name (James 2:7), (7) is the name above every name Philippians 2:9-11), and (8) is the name that fulfills prophecy (Isaiah 62:2; Acts 11:26).

Wearing His name carries with great responsibilities. Being a Christian emphasizes one’s purpose in life; namely, to be faithful to Christ.