“‘And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch’ (Acts 11:26). The Apostle Paul addresses believers as saints, brethren, and the faithful in Christ Jesus, but never Christians. Should not believers today be more properly called ‘grace believers’ instead of Christians as so many denominations do?”
The term “Christian” is a title that was originally given to us by the world. Notice, the believers were “called Christians first in Antioch.” These believers spoke so frequently and affectionately of Christ that the world coined the term Christians. Of course, they meant it in a derogatory sense. The citizens of Antioch were famous for their witty quips; they were the punsters of their day. Since this expression has a Latin origin, it was probably the Romans among them who first assigned this name to believers.
Be that as it may, we have no major objection to believers being called Christians, based on Acts 11:26; 26:28, and I Peter 4:16. Today, however, the word is so sweeping that it includes both believers and religious unbelievers. While a true believer is a Christian, one who calls himself a Christian may not necessarily be saved. With that said, we prefer the terminology “believer,” “saved,” “brethren,” “saints,” or “faithful in Christ Jesus.” We would also include the designation “grace believers,” the sense of which is drawn from Paul’s letters, but it should be remembered that not all believers are “grace” as we understand the usage.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.