They then who had been scattered abroad through the tribulation that took place on the occasion of Stephen, passed through [the country] to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one but to Jews alone. But there were certain of them, Cyprians and Cyrenians, who entering into Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, announcing the glad tidings of the Lord Jesus. And [the] Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. And the report concerning them reached the ears of the assembly which was in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go through as far as Antioch: who, having arrived and seeing the grace of God, rejoiced, and exhorted all with purpose of heart to abide with the Lord; for he was a good man and full of [the] Holy Spirit and of faith; and a large crowd [of people] were added to the Lord. And he went away to Tarsus to seek out Saul. And having found [him], he brought him to Antioch. And so it was with them that for a whole year they were gathered together in the assembly and taught a large crowd: and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. ~ Acts 11:19-26, DARBY
“Christianity” developed from beliefs that are based on far too many commandments of men taught as doctrines and from the traditions of men that have pagan roots. These reasons are why “Christianity” always has been a dinosaur, which means “Christianity” is and always has been outdated—useless to Christ’s true saints. For the 21st century’s genuine followers of Christ, “Christianity” as an organized religion is, and always has been since its inception (313 A.D., when Emperor Constantine declared “Christianity” the religion of the Roman Empire), an undesirable religion, as well as why the word “Christian” is and always has been an offensive moniker. Since 313 A.D., so many pagan traditions and doctrines have been passed down by The Roman Catholic Church as true and appropriate “Christian” beliefs and practices, including the Christianized belief that claims the word “Christian” is a person who believes in and practices “Christianity.”
The above-stated truths and facts about “Christianity”—a term that is neither indirectly suggested to be the religion of followers of Christ nor directly stated as the religion of followers of Christ. Indeed, the word “Christianity” isn’t even in the New Testament. Moreover, it is the misinterpretations of Christ and His apostles’ first-century teachings and preachings that have so many 21st-century followers of Christ choosing not to adapt to, to surrender to, or to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and His spiritual changes—His sanctification process or progressive transformation—that God says in His Word believers in Christ must undergo so that they might become Christlike. Everything that Christ and His apostles preached and taught is not being preached and taught correctly, if at all, in most of today’s Catholic and Protestants church buildings. They preached and taught about Kingdom of God living; being born again; salvation only in Christ; Christ the ONLY Way; progressive sanctification; godly holiness; the saints as overcomers; the saints, the brethren, and/or the disciples in the assemblies (eklessiae, NOT churches); being baptized with Holy Spirit and Fire; and so forth. Furthermore, apostle Paul addresses his epistles to the saints, the brethren, or the disciples in the assemblies (eklessiae)—not to any “Christians” who practice “Christianity.”
Yet today, in place of what Christ and His apostles preach and teach in the New Testament, what most churchgoers hear from the pulpits is some man-developed religious doctrines and traditions that most pastors are passing off as “Christianity” (an organized man-made religion that, as already mentioned, began with The Roman Catholic Church). As a result, members who attend said pastors’ churches have been practicing “Christianity,” or as I prefer to call it, Churchianity (a word C. S. Lewis coined). My point here is that “Christianity” and Churchianity neither represents the Holy Kingdom of God living nor represents baptized with the Holy Spirit and Fire Christlikeness. It “Christianity” or Churchianity that has been taught to modern-day “Christians”—people who say they are born again, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit when they really are just people who personify the leafy yet barren fig tree Christ withered from its roots.
Most “Christians” today continue to overlook the fact that the word “Christianity” cannot be found anywhere in the Word of God. Moreover, they continue to overlook another fact, which is that neither Christ’s apostles nor the first-century believers in Christ called themselves “Christians.” Christ’s first-century apostles and all the other believers in Christ called themselves “the disciples,” “the brethren,” “the saints,” “the elect,” “the believers,” and “those of the Way.”
The “Christian” label/nickname originated with the pagans who lived in Antioch of Syria. These pagans first called followers of Christ “Christians,” right after many Gentiles in Antioch converted to the Way and were vocal about their conversion. Many sources tell how, in the beginning, “Christian” was a derogatory pagan word—a sarcastic, mocking, irreverent, and contemptuous pagan term. There, indeed, are more than enough trustworthy sources that were written in or close to the first century that verify “Christian” was the derisive term pagans used to describe Christ’s Disciples.
For sure, “Christian,” as a derisive and an offensive term, is used three times in the Holy Bible (cf. Acts 11:26b; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). The apostle Peter references the apparent derisive and offensive nature of the word “Christian” in 1 Peter 4:16. There can be no doubt that apostle Peter knew “Christian” was a snide, scornful, disrespectful, insulting, and demeaning pagan term, even though “Christian” has Christ in it. What apostle Peter is doing in 1 Peter 4:16 is encouraging believers in Christ to wear the derogatory and hurtful term “Christian” like a badge of honor—to count it worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake and to God’s Glory, rather than to be made to feel ashamed for suffering as a “Christian,” which was the name of and a people who belonged to Christ whose name the pagans were blaspheming when they mocked and insulted “Christians.” For sure, to the pagans, being a “Christian” was worse than being a murderer, a thief, or an evil criminal (cf. 1 Peter 4:15)
Still, the truth is that neither Christ nor any of His Disciples/apostles declared or implied that believers in Christ are called to be “Christians.” Then too, neither Christ nor any of His Disciples/apostles declared or implied that believers in Christ are called to practice “Christianity.” Indeed, all throughout the New Testament, the words Christ and/or His Disciples use hundreds of times, collectively speaking, are “disciples,” “brethren,” and “saints,” In contrast, as previously mentioned, “Christian” only is used three times—twice in Acts and once in 1 Peter.
Years later, Roman followers of Christ began to call themselves, in Latin, Christiani, which was pronounced Chrestiani and meant they were followers of Chrestus. It is evident that Christiani was a pun that Romans used to give the Christian epithet a new and sweeter significance. Indeed, saying they were followers of Chrestus was the same as saying they were followers of the merciful one; the upright servant. That gave Roman believers in Christ a sense of pride. They were honored to be associated with and/or to suffer for Chrestus.
Over time, in the Roman Empire, “Christian” was considered to be a more splendid and appropriate name than how it originally was used. In other words, the scornful nickname had now become a respectable name. They were honored to have been given the occasion of their persecution and/or death. That occasion was because they were “Christians.”
Nevertheless, since the first-century followers of Christ not only never called themselves “Christians” but also actually went out of their way to avoid speaking that word and constantly declared they were not “Christians,” then we who are 21st-century followers of Christ should do the same. No justified play on words can change what the first-century believers knew was a contemptuous epithet. No men or women, priests/bishops or pastors/bishops, no organized Church, and no organized religion can tell Christ’s Ekklesia or Bride who or what She should call Herself. He and His first-century Disciples turned Apostles called all followers of Christ disciples, saints, brethren, elect, overcomers, believers, and/or those of the Way.
Finally, just as the first-century pagans used the “Christian” epithet, when they were mocking followers of Christ, the “Christian” moniker also is used to mock 21st-century followers of Christ. Thus, all believers in Christ who call themselves “Christians” need to stop calling themselves Christians and, instead, call themselves disciples, saints, brethren, elect, overcomers, believers, and/or followers of the Way. Likewise, all believers in Christ who claim “Christianity” as their religion, faith, or belief should stop and, instead, claim to be in a relationship with God and Christ.