There are three passages in the scriptures (two found in Acts; one in 1Peter) in which
the word christian(s) is used. We do not hear much teaching on this as the terms
Christian, or Christianity is generally accepted as mandated by the scriptures, and of
course the title has been used for centuries by westernized Christianity, i.e. it’s the way
we’ve always done it. A much needed examination of this is needed; always in context.
24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind."
25 But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.
26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe."
28 And Agrippa said to Paul, "In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?"
29 And Paul said, "Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains."
The entirety of Acts 26 is the account of Paul’s testimony before Festus and King Agrippa. This is the context of his statement regarding “becoming a Christian”. Paul always chose His words wisely in every circumstance he found himself; while displaying soundness of mind when speaking and/or writing, or in as seen here, defending himself against the accusations of the judaizers.
Paul’s reply to Agrippa’s question;"In a short time would you persuade me to be a christian? , is most carefully worded. (Agrippa is simply using the same terminology used by those outside the church.)
"Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains."
“SUCH AS I AM”
Paul did not reply in the affirmative, e.g. ‘yes I would have you become a Christian’. He never referred to himself as such in any of his writings, which now comprise the majority of new covenant doctrine.
So what did Paul mean by the phrase “such as I am”?
He used the term called out, which we translate as “church” over 40 times in his letters.
He also used the term saints over 40 times in his writings to describe those who were called into sanctification/consecration.
We find the terminology “body of Christ” or “His body” employed nine times ; Romans;1 Corinthians; Ephesians; Colossians. (Used once in conjunction with ekklesia.)
There are 5 references to the saints in Acts (written by Luke, a believer) as “the Way”. Apparently this is a nomenclature which was acceptable to the church at the time.
A road; by implication a progress (the route, act or distance); figuratively a mode or means: - journey, (high-) way.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Same word used by the Lord as found in Acts)
Therefore “such as I am” can be interchanged with the saints, the church/called out, the Body of Christ, those of the way, believers, the redeemed, etc.
25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.
They were first called……. not they called themselves christians. Once again there is not a single example of any of the saints speaking of themselves in this way.
Last of all from Peter’s first letter we find this;
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace:
11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
So, do not suffer as a murderer, a thief, or any kind of evildoer or meddler, (? interesting).
Yet if you suffer as a christian, do not be ashamed of suffering under that false accusation (insult), but glorify God under that name. In conjunction with Acts 11:26 this would then logically lead to the understanding that the name “christian” was used as a term of derision, by non-believers. These are those who mock Christ, and so mock those who are His.
18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'
Peter is not telling anyone to identify themselves as Christians.
While there was a time when being called a christian spoke of those who were and are members of the one true church, that time has long passed. Seekers of political office,, celebrities, professional clergy, pew sitters etc all identify themselves as “Christians”, a term which has become essentially meaningless. One hears such talk as “I am a true christian” or “he/she is an authentic christian”, “I’m a born again Christian”, ad nauseum. Calling ourselves Christian just confuses the issue as there are a plethora of christian denominations. (Sectarianism is forbidden by the way; 1 Cor 3)
The call to all who are His is to come out of Babylon. Christianity is just another religion birthed out of western and roman traditions and is no more the true religion than any other.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
I found Peter mentioning being a meddler to a list which included murderers, thieves, and all kinds of evildoers to be extremely interesting.
The Greek translates as meddler is:
overseeing others' affairs, that is, a meddler (specifically in Gentile customs): - busybody in other men’s matters.
I would say this applies to those that I like to refer to as “sin sniffers”. Falls right in line with gossipers to which Paul makes many references as one of the most common and worst of man’s evil.