First CALLED Christians –
"First CALLED Christians". There is some
variation of thought as to how the base or root word "called"
chrēmatizo [χρηματιζω] is used in its derivatives. The root word
itself in fact does not appear in the NT but rather its cognates; and
context seems to govern their use.
In the OT Greek [the Septuagint – LXX] this word
is primarily used in describing God's "dealings" with His people – hence
the thought of "business" etc. It is however the "divine" origin or
nature of these dealings that seems to have credence, as is reflected in
its various uses as found in the NT. Such NT usage seems to focus more
on this "Godly" aspect rather than a common designation. Thus
chrēmatizo [χρηματιζω] can be interpreted or understood accordingly:
Root word = chrēmatizo – χρηματιζω:
1] …to transact business, esp. to manage public
affairs. 1a] …to advise or consult with one about public affairs. 1b]
…to make answer to those who ask for advice, present enquiries or
requests, etc. 1c] …of judges, magistrates, rulers, kings, God. 2]
…to give a response to those consulting an oracle, to give a divine
command or admonition, to teach from heaven. 2a] …to be divinely
commanded, admonished, instructed. 2b] …to be the mouthpiece of divine
revelations, to promulgate the commands of God. 3] …to assume or
take to one's self a name from one's public business. 3a] …to receive a
name or title, be called. [greekbible.com]
revelation of the Holy Spirit.
εχρηματισθη = divine warning.
χρηματισαι = "called" or "known as" – divinely so??
χρηματισει = "called" or "known as" – divinely so??
χρηματισμος = divine revelation.
Of the above 10 references only 2 are
questionable as to whether there is any "divine-ness" in relation to
these verses, yet even Rom 7:3 can be attributable to being a divine
sanction in that Paul could quite easily be stating the case as per
God's revealed will – in other words, Paul is speaking on God's behalf.
As for Act 11:26 chrēmatizo [χρηματισαι]
= "called" or "known as" – and can possibly be viewed as a
divine designation. I think a case can be made for this being an
instance where God has spoken a specific "prophetic word" – rhēma
[ρημα] specifically announcing that the disciples were God's "anointed
ones" or "Christ-ones" thus "Christians", as the word christos [χριστοV]
How so? In the Greek, text punctuation is minimal to non existent, and
in context a case can be made for God having spoken a divine "word"
through His prophets there present, as was their calling, or as the
Amplified Version says:
Act 11:27 AMP
And during these days prophets (inspired teachers and interpreters
of the divine will and purpose) came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
Now, quoting the wider passage then re-quoting a
portion of it with an explanation we will see how it could be
And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that
for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many
people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one
of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was
going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened
in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Now with the phase "in these days" the
translated and or now
preceding it in the Greek can also be rendered with such variants as
indeed, yes, in fact. This little Greek word
conjunctive particle and is used for connecting one clause with
another, that being
– the giving of the name "Christian" and the
presence of prophets from Jerusalem. If then the now or
and is substituted with for
to link the preceding clause with the following,
and given that punctuation in the Greek text is minimal to non existent,
so at times a little arbitrary, then what we have is a possible
"prophetic ministration" that one could surmise may have brought such a
prophetic word, and so could be paraphrased:
"And the disciples were first called
Christians in Antioch, for in these days prophets came from
Jerusalem to Antioch. Then, one of them named Agabus…"
Understanding the passage in this fashion may
help explain verses such as these:
Isa 62:2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your
glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the
mouth of the LORD will name.
Isa 65:15 You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; for the Lord
GOD will slay you, and call His servants by another name.
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,
and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and
the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out
of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but
let him glorify God in this name.
Now as to why Paul himself nowhere specifically uses this
term in any of his writings is also speculative – one could imagine that
since the early church was initially and predominately "Jewish" and thus
viewed by outsiders as essentially a Jewish sect, that Paul, whose main
audience came to be the Gentiles, may not have thought to use such a term as he
might have linked it more with the group within whom Peter, John and co were
working; Peter of course does use the term "Christian" as a title, as
does Agrippa in his dealings with Paul, who does however acknowledge his
ownership of it [Act 26:28-29]. Speculation
yes, but food for thought.
David G. Embury
© Copyright 2005à