Who is a Christian?

We live in a world where the word ‘Christian’ is used very loosely.  An example is South Africa. About 80% of the population is supposed to be ‘Christian.’ If one looks at what happens in the country with theft, corruption, farm murders, et cetera, it is obvious that it must be much less.

The meaning of the word ‘Christian’ has changed with time.  Today people seem to think that any person who is not an Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, et cetera (especially if he is of  Western origin) is automatically a ‘Christian.’  The question is, who is a ‘Christian?’ Can we answer it from the Bible? Acts 11:26 says ’The disciples [of Christ] were called Christians first at Antioch.’  

Those first Christians were known for their lifestyle, ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ 1  The teaching of Christ’s sacrificial death, resurrection from the dead and baptism by the Holy Spirit were essentials.  They became followers of ‘the Way [of life Jesus set before us].’ 2

Jesus defined a disciple when He said,  ‘Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’ So a disciple of Christ is not someone who only talks about the Word of God, but someone who lives it (‘the called, chosen and faithful followers [of Jesus]).’ 4

Since the meaning of the word ‘Christian’ has changed, let’s call ourselves ‘disciples of Christ.’


  1. Acts 2:42
  2. Acts 9:2
  3. Matthew 7:21
  4. Revelation 17:14b


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