The Name "Christian" and Bible Inspiration (Part I)

From Issue: R&R – February 2020

How can we know the Bible is from a supernatural source? Consider the fact that the historical evidence demonstrates that the canon of the Old Testament was completed long before the first century A.D. The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, was executed over two centuries before Christ came to Earth. Hence, when the New Testament, which arose in the 1st-century A.D., possesses specificity with regard to fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, the unbiased person will inevitably “sit up and pay attention.” Unlike the productions of mere men unguided by Deity, the Bible contains scores of prophetic utterances—separated from their fulfillment by hundreds of years—that verify its divine origin.

Hebrew Prophecy and The Messianic Age

Hebrew prophecy is a multi-faceted, fascinating form of divine communication. Each of the Hebrew prophets possessed as central to their purpose the necessity of delivering to their contemporaries hard-hitting, penetrating messages from God Who was displeased with His people’s behavior. Yet, frequently embedded in these powerful proclamations were the anticipations and eventualities that emanated from the Mind of an infinite, eternal God Who exists above and beyond time itself. As the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9,13,22), God’s omniscience, eternality, and timeless infinitude enable Him to transcend time; His self-existence spans the ages. Consequently, His revelations to the prophets are riddled with messianic era anticipations and “types and shadows”1 of the things that were to come in the working out of God’s scheme of redemption. One example of this divine methodology is seen in the prophecy uttered by God in 2 Samuel 7:12-16—

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

This prophecy has been widely considered to be messianic in nature in that it anticipates the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, whose physical body would descend genetically from David, and Who would establish His kingdom, i.e., the church/house of God (Matthew 1:1; 4:17; 16:18; Acts 2:30; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 1:8; 10:5; et al.). However, observe that additional details are fused among the messianic foreshadowing that do not refer to Christ. For example, Solomon also came from David’s body. Jesus committed no iniquity (2 Corinthians 5:21), while Solomon did. While Jesus established a spiritual kingdom/house, Solomon replaced his father over the physical kingdom of Israel, not being rejected as was Saul. Such intertwining and intermixing is typical of Hebrew prophecy in the way it juxtaposes the immediate conditions within ancient Israel with future events and expectations.2

Isaiah 62

One such remarkable prediction was offered by the 8th-century B.C. prophet Isaiah.3 Often referred to as the “messianic prophet,” due to his prolific allusion to the coming Messiah, Isaiah also anticipated many other features pertaining to the establishment of Christianity and the arrival of the kingdom of Christ. One particularly eye-opening prophecy mentioned by Isaiah is his4 reference to the name that would characterize the citizens of the kingdom of Christ. It reads:

For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.

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.

You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.

For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (62:1-5).

More than any other Old Testament prophet, Isaiah’s prophetic oracles are saturated with anticipations of the coming of Christ and the Christian era. Hence, we would particularly expect his writing to be characterized by an intertwining of events and occurrences, some of which pertained to his own day and some of which referred to events several centuries removed from his day. We would expect him to direct the attention of his contemporaries to the return from Babylonian Captivity, while simultaneously foreshadowing the coming of the Christ centuries later. This circumstance is precisely what we find in Isaiah 62. God had forsaken the Israelites due to their iniquity—graphically realized in the foreign invasions and subsequent captivities inflicted by the Assyrians and Babylonians (2 Kings 17:23; 24:1-25:1ff.; 2 Chronicles 6).5 In His providential orchestrations, God arranged for their return from captivity, which enabled them no longer to be “forsaken.” Yet such reassurance is pregnant with meaning pertaining to the Christian era. The Church which Jesus established is His bride.6 The ingathering of souls into Christ’s Church enables them no longer to be “forsaken,” having been “sought out” for redemption. British scholar, historian, and Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford, George Rawlinson, well said: “Israel’s ‘salvation’ would be made manifest; primarily by her triumphant return from Babylon, and more completely by her position in the final kingdom of the Redeemer.”7 F. Delitzsch made the same point in his discussion of Isaiah 62: “The whole history of salvation is the history of the taking of the kingdom, and the perfecting of the kingdom by Jehovah.”8 As the Hebrews writer explained to his Christianized Jewish audience: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (12:22).

The chapters leading up to chapter 62 are laced with messianic overtones. For example, when Jesus visited the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:16), He quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 (Luke 4:18-19) and declared in no uncertain terms: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:12). The prophecy of the “name” in Isaiah 62 commences only nine verses later. Commentators generally identify the surrounding chapters as depictions of Christian era events.9

Intimate acquaintance with the events and circumstances under which Christianity commenced its existence on Earth facilitates a proper interpretation of Isaiah’s remarks. This fascinating prophecy contains four features that merit close consideration: (1) righteousness/salvation would go forth from Jerusalem; (2) the Gentiles would see this righteousness/salvation; (3) a new name would be given; and (4) the Lord Himself would bestow that new name. As is often the case with Old Testament prediction, one must go to the New Testament to find fulfillment and clarification of such marvelous assertions.

Salvation Goes Forth From Jerusalem

In accordance with the inner workings of Hebrew parallelism—so prominent and characteristic of Hebrew poetry—“Zion” and “Jerusalem” refer to the same location.10 The city had a spiritually and morally checkered history throughout the Old Testament. However, the New Testament’s clarification of the scheme of redemption—formulated in the mind of God from eternity (Ephesians 3:11; Revelation 13:8)—pinpoints the moment in time when Isaiah’s graphic depiction was fulfilled. After some 4,000 years of human history, the Gospel was announced in its fullness as a bright, burning light11 for the entire world to see. This momentous event transpired in Jerusalem in A.D. 30 as reported by Luke in Acts 2.

Jesus had specifically instructed the apostles “not to depart from Jerusalem” (Acts 1:4), since “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). From that very location, they would be Christ’s witnesses “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8; cf. Luke 24:48). Indeed, Isaiah earlier predicted that it would be “out of Zion” and “from Jerusalem” that “the law,” the “word of the Lord,” would “go forth” (2:3). Many royal decrees went forth from Jerusalem through the centuries of kingly occupation of the throne of Israel. Likewise, many decrees of God via His prophets sprang forth from this city as well as a host of other geographical locations of the world throughout biblical history. But this prophecy pinpoints a monumental event in redemptive history in which God’s ultimate, eternal intentions commenced to climax. In fact, the events on the day of Pentecost described in Acts 2 have caused perceptive students of the Word to describe the chapter and the occasion as “the hub of the Bible.”12

The term “righteousness,” given in parallel position with “salvation,” refers to the means by which humans could finally and ultimately be made righteous in order to stand redeemed before God.13 Indeed, for the first time in human history, the Gospel in its fullness and climactic culmination was announced.14 The long concealed “mystery” was now being revealed.15 No one, this side of the cross, can be approved by God who does not embrace the religion of Jesus Christ.16 Hence, for the first time in human history, the terms of entrance into the kingdom of Christ were publicly proclaimed and, thereafter, it was from that location that the proclamation of the Gospel emanated (Acts 8:4; 11:19). The first feature of Isaiah’s prophecy received spectacular fulfillment.

Gentiles Included

Interestingly, only Jews were assembled on the day of Pentecost when the Gospel went forth—though “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). But no Gentiles were present. Indeed, Luke goes out of his way to clarify the fact that the initial proclaimers of the Gospel of Christ, stimulated by the persecution that arose surrounding Stephen’s death, went forth “preaching the word to no one but the Jews only” (Acts 11:19). Peter explained the background and divine rationale for this circumstance to Jerusalem Jews:

You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities (Acts 3:25-26).

By divine design, only Jews were recipients of the Gospel message at the beginning.17

But Isaiah proceeds to state that the Gentiles would likewise “see,” i.e., experience and receive the salvation.18 He had already declared: “The Gentiles shall come to your light” (60:3). In the unfathomable plan of God, a time lag occurred between the initial presentation of the Gospel to the Jews and its presentation to Gentiles. The Jews were given the privilege to encounter the message of salvation first—not due to their superiority over non-Jews—but due to their ongoing, long-standing involvement in the grand scheme of redemption that brought Jesus into the world.19 However, within a few short years,20 the Gentiles were likewise treated to contact with the Gospel. The encounter was precipitated by a Roman centurion’s reception of an angelic vision urging him to get into contact with Simon Peter. In the meantime, Peter experienced his own vision which left him perplexed, even as the representatives of the military commander arrived at the gate of the house where Peter was lodging. He accompanied the men to Caesarea where he met Cornelius and many others who had gathered to hear God’s instructions. The resistance by Jews to Gentile inclusion could only be overcome by direct intervention by God by means of Holy Spirit baptism—a powerful demonstration of God’s redemptive intentions (Acts 10:44). After hearing the Gospel, the Gentiles were obedient to the message and became Christians (Acts 10:48). Paul later explained this earthshaking event in the following words: “it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:5-6). The second feature of Isaiah’s prophecy had been dramatically fulfilled.21

A New Name

The Gospel having gone forth from Jerusalem, and the Gentiles having been incorporated into the same body of Christ as the Jews, Isaiah asserts that the Lord Himself would instigate the use of a new name. It is notable that God’s people throughout Bible history were designated by several names that characterized their relationship with God and with one another. For example, both Old and New Testament devotees of God were known among themselves as “believers” (pistoi) or those who “believed” (episteusin; e.g., Exodus 4:31 [LXX]; Acts 5:14), “brethren/brothers” (adelphoi; Psalm 133:1; Acts 15:23), “disciples” (mathetai; e.g., Isaiah 8:16 [Hebrew]; John 9:28), “saints” (hagioi; e.g., Psalm 34:9 [LXX]; Romans 1:7), “servants” (Isaiah 56:6 [LXX]; Acts 4:29; 16:17), “the elect” (eklektoi; Isaiah 45:4 [LXX]; Colossians 3:12; 2 Timothy 2:10), and simply “the Church” (e.g., Acts 14:27). They were also identified as those of “the Way” (Acts 19:9,23; 24:14,22). Those more hostile to Christianity labeled them a “sect” (Acts 28:22; cf. 24:14) and “the sect of the Nazarenes (Nazoraion)” (Acts 24:5), and even “Galileans” (Acts 2:7). Yet in this prophecy Isaiah seems to anticipate a new name that had not been characteristic of God’s people in either testament.22

Despite the fact that Isaiah’s allusion is to a single name,23 some have suggested that the “new name” is to be equated with one or more of the names delineated in the context of Isaiah, i.e., “Hephzibah” (“My delight is in her”) and “Beulah” (“married”) in verse 4, or “The Holy People,” “The Redeemed of the Lord,” and “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken” in verse 12. Apart from the fact that verse 2 specifies “name” in the singular, Hebrew scholar Hugo McCord challenges these suggestions, in light of Isaiah 62’s clear application, contextually, to the time of the establishment of Christ’s Church:

That the “new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name” (Isaiah 62:2) was the name Hephzibah (Isaiah 62:4) is erroneous. Hephzibah was a girl’s name in use long before the establishment of the New Testament church. Manasseh’s mother was named Hephzibah (II Kings 21:1). That the “new name”…was the name Beulah (Isaiah 62:4) is likewise erroneous. The word Beulah was already in use when Isaiah made his prediction (cf. Isaiah 54:1 in the Hebrew: the English word Married translates Beulah).24

These appellations certainly fit the circumstances of Israel’s restoration following the cataclysmic national upheaval she experienced, but they are not the “new name” to which Isaiah referred. There is more to consider.

Given by the Lord

Isaiah was insistent: the new name that would arise would, in fact, be given by God Himself. The terminology that the Holy Spirit selected to inform us of the arrival of the name Christian is significant: “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). The words “were called” are a rendering of the Greek verbchrematidzo.


An examination of this term in the original sources reveals that the lexical evidence is fairly uniform. However, keep in mind that lexicographers, like those who compile dictionaries that describe how words in that particular language are currently being used, must rely on an accurate grasp of contextual usage to establish the meaning of a word, thereby risking misunderstanding of the meaning of a word due to bias or misapprehension. Once the usual meaning of a word is ascertained, one must seek to recognize that primary meaning in all of its occurrences—unless forced to do otherwise due to a figurative use or a clearly established secondary meaning that arose in that linguistic climate. One must most certainly take into consideration the Bible’s own inspired use of a term—even if that use does not fully conform to secular usage at the time (cf. agape).25 The fact of the matter is that the term chrematidzo manifests a uniform, consistent use throughout the New Testament. No existing textual factor necessitates imposing multiple separate or unrelated meanings onto the word.

This term had as its original and primary meaning the notion of transacting business (from chrema).26 From this primitive meaning came the later variations of the term—what Reicke identifies as “two Hellenistic developments.”27 Current Greek authorities typically specify two central meanings: (1) a divine communication and (2) to be called or named. For example, the most popular lexicon today gives the two meanings first as “impart a divine message, make known a divine injunction/warning,” and second as “to take/bear a name/title, to go under the name of.”28 Similarly, in his Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Gingrich gives the same two meanings, i.e., “of God impart a revelation or injunction or warning” and “bear a name, be called or named.”29 Reicke describes the first meaning in the words, “God instructs someone by revelations… the recipient of revelation being an instrument of divine rule,” which includes “the decree of a sovereign,” and the second sense as “appearing as something,” with Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3 the “two cases” in the New Testament in which the latter meaning applies.30 A host of additional Greek authorities, with little variation, affirm these same two basic usages.31 These lexicographers and linguistic experts cite Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3 as the only two instances in the New Testament of the second meaning of the term. But why single out these two from among the others and assign an alternative meaning? And why insist on the simple meaning of “call” when the Greek has several other words that are more suited to conveying the idea of “calling” or “naming”?32

New Testament Occurrences of Chrematidzo

The term chrematidzo occurs nine times in the New Testament.33 Consider the Holy Spirit’s own use of this unique term (from the NKJV):

Matthew 2:12—“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”34

Matthew 2:22—“But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.”

Luke 2:26—“And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”35

Acts 10:22—“And they said, ‘Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.’”36

Acts 11:26—“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.”

Romans 7:3—“So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”

Hebrews 8:5—“…who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’”

Hebrews 11:7—“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

Hebrews 12:25—“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven.”

If the reader will take the time to examine each verse, paying close attention to the bold words, it becomes readily apparent that in each verse, with the possible exception of Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3, the speaking, calling, or warning that is described entails divine activity. In fact, English translators are so confident of this fact that they literally insert words to make certain the English reader recognizes the intended import of chrematidzo. Specifically, the following terms are introduced by translators into five of the above nine verses:

Matthew 2:12—“divinely”

Matthew 2:22—“by God”

Acts 10:22—“divinely”

Hebrews 8:5—“divinely”

Hebrews 11:7—“divinely”

These six words are not in the Greek text; they were added by the NKJV translators in order to aid the English reader in grasping the import of chrematidzo in each instance. Translators did not need to insert a qualifier into Luke 2:26 since the verse already contains its own qualifier (i.e., by the Holy Spirit). Likewise, Hebrews 12:25 has “Him” preceding “who spoke.”37 Hence, seven out of the nine verses in the New Testament, in which the term chrematidzo occurs, clearly and unmistakably use the term to refer to divine communication.

[to be continued]


1 While this expression is not found verbatim in Scripture, it accurately represents the situation. See Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 10:1; Luke 24:47. Also Thomas Taylor (1816), Christ Revealed: Or the Types and Shadows of Our Saviour in the Old Testament Opened and Explained (Glasgow: Jack & Gallie).

2 A variety of terms have been generated by scholars over the years in an attempt to describe/identify the intricate features of biblical prophecy. One such attempt consists of the term sensus plenior, meaning “fuller sense,” which refers to those Bible prophecies where, in addition to the immediate circumstances to which the prophet’s words apply, some of the words also apply to persons or events in the future. This phenomenon is an attractive explanation for the prophecy of Isaiah 62. See Andrea Fernandez (1927), “Hermeneutica,” Institutiones Biblicae (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute), second edition, pp. 306-307, and Raymond Brown (1955), The Sensus Plenior of Scripture (Baltimore, MD: St. Mary’s Seminary and University). See also the New Testament’s use of “type” and “antitype” (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Peter 3:21).

3 Scholars through the centuries have typically identified Isaiah as an 8th-century B.C. prophet, i.e., he lived and worked in approximately 750 B.C. Liberal scholars have attempted to shift the writing of the book of Isaiah to much later. However, even in the face of such bias, the Great Isaiah Scroll, included among the Dead Sea Scrolls, is dated at the latest 125 B.C. The book of Isaiah had to have been in existence prior to that time. Even modern liberal scholarship dates the section that includes chapter 62 to over 500 years before Christ. See “The Great Isaiah Scroll,” in The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum),

4 Like all Old Testament prophecy, God is the actual speaker. See F. Delitzsch (1976 reprint), Isaiah in Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 7:435.

5 Interestingly, God prompted His prophets to liken the sinful behavior of the Israelites to sexual infidelity (e.g., Hosea). Israel had been married to God after He rescued her from her infantile, bloody predicament (Ezekiel 16). He had been a husband to her (Jeremiah 31:32). But she played the harlot, committing spiritual fornication with idols and false gods (Jeremiah 3:9). On the basis of their spiritual infidelity (physical fornication being the only legitimate ground for divorce—Matthew 19:9), the nation of Israel placed herself in the position of being legally divorced by God (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8). Consequently, she was rejected, forsaken, and made desolate.

6 Read Luke 5:34-35; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:32; Romans 7:4; Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2,9; 22:17.

7 George Rawlinson (1950), Isaiah in The Pulpit Commentary, ed. H.D.M. Spence and Joseph Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 10:430.

8  7:435.

9 For example, in his commentary on Isaiah, Wayne Jackson labels chapters 58-65 as “The Glory of the Messianic Age” in (1991), Isaiah (Abilene, TX: Quality Publications), p. II. Premillennial commentators typically apply surrounding chapters to the return of Christ and the establishment of His alleged millennial reign on Earth. For a critique of millenarianism, see Dave Miller (2014), “Left Behind—or Left Bedazzled? (Parts I/II),” Reason & Revelation, 34[11]:122-125,128-131 and 34[12]:134-137,140-143. In any case, even if, in context, the immediate application is the restoration of the nation of Israel after Babylonian Captivity, like many Old Testament prophecies, the ultimate application is undoubtedly to the Christian era.

10 “Zion” is alluded to over 160 times in the Bible, first mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:7 when David attacked and captured it from the Jebusites, making it his capital city. Isaiah uses the term some 47 times.

11 The underlying term refers to “the splendor, or the bright shining of the sun, the moon, or of fire”—Albert Barnes (2005 reprint), Notes on the Old Testament: Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 2:380. “[A]s a torch that blazeth”—Rawlinson, 10:430. See other uses of the term in Judges 15:4, Nahum 2:4, and Zechariah 12:6.

12 E.g., James Bales (1960), The Hub of the Bible (Rosemead, CA: Old Paths Book Club). As extremely significant as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is in a proper understanding of God’s redemptive will, the Bible likewise places Acts 2 in tandem with the atoning activity of Christ on the cross as of similar significance in bringing to culmination several Old Testament prophecies, including Isaiah 2:1-5, Micah 4:1-5, Daniel 2:44 and 7:13-14, and Joel 2:28-32, not to mention Jesus’ own declaration that He would personally build His Church (Matthew 16:18) during the lifetime of some of His disciples (Mark 9:1).

13 See Romans 1:17; 3:21-22; Philippians 3:9.

14 The Gospel had actually been preached to Abraham (Galatians 3:8), i.e., he was informed that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3; cf. 18:18; 22:18). But the specifics and the details of Christ’s salvific activity were not brought to fruition until the cross, followed by the apostolic explanations issued via their Gospel preaching.

15 See Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3,4,9; 6:19; Colossians 1:26-27.

16 See John 8:24; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 10:43; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; cf. Isaiah 53:11.

17 See also Acts 13:46; Romans 1:16 (“for the Jew first”); 2:9.

18 Cf. Isaiah 42:1.

19 Read carefully Paul’s inspired assessment of the role of the Jews in God’s plan to redeem mankind expounded in Romans 9-11. See especially 9:5 and 11:28. It is evident that, so far as salvation is concerned, the Jews are on equal footing with everyone else in their access to the Gospel and forgiveness of sin. But they, like everybody else, must obey the Gospel of Christ to receive salvation. Read also Paul’s forthright declarations in Romans 2:28-29 and Galatians 3:28 where it is made abundantly clear that fleshly connection to Abraham is superfluous so far as personal forgiveness is concerned and that all that matters “now” (Romans 3:21; 8:1) to God is spiritual Israel, i.e., New Testament Christians who compose the Church of Christ—“the Israel of God”—regardless of ethnicity (Galatians 6:16).

20 The amount of time that transpired between the conversion of the Jews in Acts 2 and the conversion of the first Gentiles in Acts 10 cannot be pinpointed with certainty. However, scholars are in general agreement. For example, Reicke states that the name “Christian” was given “around 40 A.D”—Bo Reicke (1974), “xrh=ma, xrhmativzw, xrhmatismov$,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 9:482. H.B. Hackett (1870), A Commentary on the Original Text of the Acts of the Apostles (Boston, MA: Gould & Lincoln), p. 193—“Thus ten years or more elapsed after the Saviour left the earth before the introduction of this name.” Exeter College scholar of Oxford, Sydney Gayford, added: “it is certainly before the Herodian persecution of 44…not very long before it; perhaps between 40-44”—(1898), “Christian” in A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), 1:384. Professor of Biblical History at Bangor Theological Seminary, George Gilmore, notes: “The date implied by the passage is 40-44 A.D”—(1977 reprint), “Christian,” The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, ed. Samuel Jackson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 3:39.

21 It is not without significance that God delayed the bestowal of the new name for several years after the establishment of the church of Christ on Earth. It was absolutely essential to the divine scheme of things for the kingdom to incorporate “all peoples, nations, and languages” (Daniel 7:14). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)—without regard to nationality or ethnicity. Consequently, the ultimate name by which God wanted His people to be known was delayed until this crucial reality was achieved. Hence, Luke uses the term protos (prwvtw$)—“for the first time” (Danker, p. 894) to flag the fact that those who obeyed the Gospel of Christ on the day of Pentecost, as well as all those who did so during the intervening decade, had not worn the name “Christian.” The disciples were not called “Christians” first in Jerusalem. Rather, the bestowal of that appellation was divinely withheld and reserved for the disciples only after Gentiles were added to the kingdom.
Some commentators catch the drift of this concept, though they do not seem to grasp its significance in the overall divine scheme. For instance, John Calvin noted in passing: “much people was grown together into one body, as well of Jews as of Gentiles”—(1999 reprint), Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 1:471. Heinrich Meyer notes that it was not until Antioch that “the Christians, in consequence of the predominant Gentile-Christian element, asserted themselves for the first time not as a sect of Judaism, but as an independent community”—(1879), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), p. 296. Henry Alford asserted: “but now that a body of men, compounded of Jews and Gentiles, arose, distinct in belief and habits from both, some new appellation was required”—(1980 reprint), Alford’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 2:129, italics in orig. John Guyse adds: “thereby shewing that all invidious distinctions between believing Jews and Gentiles should cease for ever, now they were incorporated together into one and the same body of Christ”—(1797), The Practical Expositor (Edinburgh: Ross & Sons), 3:137, italics in orig. And Frederick Maurice: “But to the disciples it signified that they were witnesses for a King, and a King whom all nations would in due time be brought to acknowledge”—(1854), Lectures on the Ecclesiastical History of the First and Second Centuries (Cambridge: Macmillan), p. 79, emp. added.

22 Willis insists, “The idea that the new name is ‘Christian’ is fanciful and ignores the context” in John Willis (1980), Isaiah in The Living Word Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. David Jones (Austin, TX: Swete Publishing), 12:458. Apart from a lack of proof for such an assertion, his dismissive exclusion of prophetic anticipations of the coming Christian era is, itself, fanciful and ignores the context. This entire multi-chapter section of Isaiah is riddled with messianic expectations. One wonders if he would extend the same terse brush off to Jesus, Himself, Who stated emphatically to the disciples: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).

23 The singular form of the Hebrew word for “name” (shehm) is used here rather than the plural (shemos). See Hebrew-English Lexicon (no date), (London: Samuel Bagster).

24 Hugo McCord (1963), “The Divine Name,” Gospel Advocate, 105[50]:790, December 12. Observe that the restoration of Israel to their land in the 6th century B.C. in the wake of the Babylonian Captivity constituted an initial fulfillment of the descriptive terms that Isaiah set forth (i.e., from “Forsaken” and “Desolate” to “Hephzibah,” “Beulah,” “The Holy People,” “The Redeemed of the Lord,” “Sought Out,” and “A City Not Forsaken”). However, as noted earlier, in keeping with the intricacies and flexibility of Hebrew prophecy, these terms also naturally, and with meaningful relevance, apply to the New Testament era and the arrival of Christ’s Kingdom/Church. Those incorporated into her may once again be “married,” in a blissful state in which they look forward to the promised land—the heavenly rest (Hebrews 4:8-11). “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

25 For discussions of the development of agape and its enhanced use in the New Testament, see Walther Gunther and Hans-Georg Link (1976), “Love” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2:538-547, and Ethelbert Stauffer (1964), “agapao, agape, agapetos,Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:21-55. See also New World Encyclopedia contributors (2019), “Agape,” New World Encyclopedia,

26 R.J. Knowling (no date), The Acts of the Apostles in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 2:268.

27 9:481.

28 Frederick Danker (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), third edition, p. 1089.

29 F. Wilbur Gingrich (1965), A Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Chicago: The Chicago University Press), p. 237, italics in orig.

30 pp. 481-482.

31 Classical Greek scholars Henry Liddell and Robert Scott cite instances of several shades of this fundamental meaning, including “in N.T. of divine warnings or revelations,” but then go ahead to list Acts 11:26 with the meaning “to be deemed” while placing Romans 7:3 under a different meaning of “to be called” (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press), p. 1740. Harvard professor of Ancient, Byzantine, and Modern Greek, E.A. Sophocles, gave three variations on the word: (1) “to declare, to deliver an oracle,” (2) “to assume a name or title, to be called,” and (3) “to be, to have been in existence.” He cites Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3 as instances of the second meaning—(1914), Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), p. 1169, italics in orig. George Wigram lists five meanings: “be called, be admonished of God, be warned of God, reveal, speak”—(1870), The Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons), p. 1018. Similarly E.W. Bullinger (1908), A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (London: Longsmans, Green, & Co.), p. 997. Wesley Perschbacher notes the initial meaning of “to have dealings, transact business” and then adds “in N.T. to utter a divine communication,” with the passive signifying “to be divinely instructed, receive a revelation or warning from God,” but then gives as the intransitive meaning in both Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3 “to receive an appellation, be styled”—(1990), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson), p. 440, italics in orig. William Mounce gives the same analysis as Perschbacher in (2006), Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), p. 1312. G. Abbott-Smith does the same, inconsistently stating that the term is used in the New Testament “of divine communications” but then isolates Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3 as having the meaning “to assume a name, be called”—(1922), A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), pp. 483-484, italics in orig. W.E. Vine, whose scholarship according to F.F. Bruce was “wide, accurate and up-to-date” (Foreword), states emphatically that the meaning “to be called or named” in Acts 11:26 and Romans 7:3 are “the only places where it has this meaning”—(1940), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell), p. 164, emp. added. Also Charles Robson (1839), A Greek Lexicon to the New Testament (London: Whittaker & Co.), p. 506, and Alexander Souter (1917), A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: The Clarendon Press), p. 284, and Joseph Thayer (1889), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: American Book Company), p. 671. Interestingly, James Moulton insists that “two entirely distinct words” are involved in the discussion, one from the word for “business,” thereby meaning “to be called” or “to do business under the name of Christ, to bear the name of,” and the other coming from the word for “oracle,” thereby meaning “to warn”—(1919), A Grammar of New Testament Greek (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), 2:265,408, italics in orig.

32 For example, the normal Greek verb that means “to call” is kaleo with its host of derivatives (eiskaleo, epikaleo, metakaleo, proskaleo, sunkaleo, etc.). Other words include phoneo meaning “to call, to call by name” as when the disciples call Jesus “Teacher and Lord” (John 13:13), or the shepherd “calls his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). Vine says these latter two instances carry “the implication of the pleasure taken in the possession of those called” (p. 164). The Aorist (eipon) of the Greek word lego (“to say”) specifically means “to call by a certain appellation” as in John 10:35, and the derivative form epilego means “to call by another name” as in John 5:2. Though he thinks the name “Christian” was “first given by outsiders,” this fact is acknowledged by E.H. Plumptre: “The term for ‘were called’ is not the word usually so rendered. Better, perhaps, got the name of Christians”—(1884), The Acts of the Apostles (London: Cassell Petter & Galpin), 190-192, italics in orig.

33 W.F. Moulton and A.S. Geden (1899), A Concordance to the Greek Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), p. 1011.

34 See F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and Robert Funk (1961), A Greek Grammar of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press), p. 164, who render the phrase “to receive a direction (from God)” and “receive a divine command” (p. 200).

35 Blass, Debrunner, and Funk note regarding this verse that “the inf[initive] expresses an assertion” (p. 200) and may be rendered “prophesy” (p. 204).

36 Blass, Debrunner, and Funk render the phrase “receive a divine command” (p. 200).

37 Marcus Dods renders Hebrews 12:25—“Him that made to them divine communications on earth” in (no date), The Epistle to the Hebrews in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 4:373.


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