You Will Be Called By A New Name
July 1, 1998 Issue
by Jerry Cutter
"You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow" (Isaiah 62:2). What is this new name "which the mouth of the Lord shall name?" The word Christ (the anointed) is not a new name. Jesus is not new, and is sometimes translated Joshua. The words saint, disciple, or believer also are not new. The new name is CHRISTIAN, a new name given to the Lords children by the Lord Himself. "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1), and this is a good name.
A few years ago I was listening to a tape of brethren discussing Christmas. One defense of Christmas (Christ-mass) was that pagans gave us the name Christian. The conclusion was that if we readily accept, and wear with honor, a name the world gave us, then to be consistent, we should not be concerned with something like Christmas. No one present at the discussion challenged this pseudo argument. There are two great admissions in what the brethren said. One was that Christ Mass is of the world (Catholic). This is correct. The other admission was false, and unscriptural. That is, that pagans gave us the name Christian.
In the above discussion, Acts 11:26 was given as a proof text. The Bible says "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." In this clear and simple statement, nothing is said, or alluded to, that would suggest that Christian was a nickname given by pagans to the Lords people.
We are not discussing the use of the word Christian, but it is well to remember that it is a name, or a noun. However, nouns may be used as adjectives, and often are, as with gospel (gospel meetings), church (church buildings), song (song books), Christian (Christian homes), etc.
The key to Acts 11:26 is found in the word called. The disciples were CALLED Christians. This word is used nine times in the New Testament. Vine explains called by saying "occasionally means to be called or named, Acts 11:26 (or the name 'Christian) and Rom. 7:3, the only places where it has this meaning." "They 'were (publicly) called Christians, because this was their chief business." Thayer (671) defines called: "3. to assume or take to ones self a name from ones public business; univ. to receive a name or title, be called: Acts 11:26; Rom. 7:3." In the other seven instances where this word is used in the New Testament, it is translated in various ways, depending on the text. However, the main point is, the word always refers to something revealed FROM HEAVEN ITSELF. It was never something man gave, and certainly not the pagans. Thus, you shall be called by a NEW NAME, which the mouth of the LORD shall name.
You will also notice that there is a verse listed along with Acts 11:26. Rom. 7:2-3 reads: "For the woman which has a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall BE CALLED an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." Who calls a woman an adulteress (not withstanding the exception) who is married to another man while her husband lives? God does. Not civil law. And all the debating, twisting, and pleading man can devise will never escape the truth of the matter. God calls such a woman an adulteress.
Why was not the new name, Christian, given from Jerusalem? No answer is really required. However, at the time the church was established in Jerusalem no Gentiles were members. The prophecy in Isaiah says that "the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness." When the new name was given the Gentiles were Christians, and Antioch was the center of Gentile activity.
Christian is a great name. We need to be reminded that great privileges and responsibilities go with this name. It is a name to be desired. "Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not" (I John 3:1). I Peter 4:1-16 gives strong advice on what being a Christian means. Verse 16 says: "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." (MV)
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