Part 1: What is a Christian? Are You One? (Christian But Not series)

Hey! I thought this was going to be an easy first blog in this series. I mean, everyone knows what a Christian is, right?


From what I learned from the research I just did, everyone has their own idea of what a Christian is.

  1. A person who believes in Jesus
  2. A person who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus
  3. A member of a Christian church
  4. A person who exhibits a spirit proper to a follower of Christ
  5. A person who’s life exemplifies the teachings of Jesus
  6. A person who belongs to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus
  7. A person who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus
  8. A person who is born into a Christian family

Evidently a Christian, as defined by society, has something to do with Jesus. Whether it’s the family they were born in, the church they attend, what they believe, or the way they act – Jesus is the common factor.

That’s well and good. Especially if we put most of the definitions together. The only problem is – they aren’t always put together.

Some people believe to live a life following the teachings of Jesus makes you a Christian, regardless of what you believe about Him.

Some people believe to believe in Jesus as God makes you a Christian, regardless of what else you believe or what you do.

Some people believe that having a relationship with Jesus makes you a Christian, and nothing else matters.

Some people believe belonging a Christian church makes you a Christian, regardless of how you act when not at church.

Some people believe being born into and raised in a Christian family makes you a Christian by default, period.

So who’s right?

There’s only one place I know that always has the truth. And that’s the Bible. (more about this in another blog.) So let’s see what the Bible has to say.

The term ‘Christian’ was used only three times.  Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16. In Acts, the term Christian was applied to them by outsiders; in 1 Peter, Peter referred to his fellow believers as Christians. In all three places, the same Greek word was used. From Bible Hub:

Χριστιανούς (Christianous)
Noun – Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong’s Greek 5546: A Christian. From Christos; a Christian, i.e. Follower of Christ.

So, a Christian is a follower of Christ. Simple, yet still vague, in my opinion. Let’s keep digging.

The early Christians usually referred to themselves as disciples, brethren (brother), saints, believers, and in one place, followers of the Way.

μαθητὰς (mathētas)
Noun – Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong’s Greek 3101: A learner, disciple, pupil. From manthano; a learner, i.e. Pupil.

ἀδελφοί (adelphoi)
Noun – Vocative Masculine Plural
Strong’s Greek 80: A brother, member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian. A brother near or remote.

ἅγιοι (hagioi)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Plural
Strong’s Greek 40: Set apart by (or for) God, holy, sacred. From hagos; sacred.

{does} a believer
πιστῷ (pistō)
Adjective – Dative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 4103: Trustworthy, faithful, believing. From peitho; objectively, trustworthy; subjectively, trustful.

The first Christians saw themselves as…

  1. A follower of Christ
  2. A learner
  3. A brother, member of the same religious community
  4.  Set apart by or for God, holy
  5. Trustworthy, faithful, believing

So a Christian, according to these first Christians followed Jesus, spent time learning what Jesus taught, identified with others who were doing the same, believed they were set apart by or for God from the rest of the world, and were trustworthy and faithful in living what they believed.

In other words… Christians believed what Jesus said, and lived lives consistent with that belief.

Do we?

We’ll find out more in my next blog.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Agree? Disagree? Confused? Let me know in the comments below.

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