Christianity is a faith based on the acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth being the Christ, which means Anointed One. The word Christ in Greek means the same thing as the Hebrew word for Messiah. To the Jews of his time, they were looking for the coming of the Messiah who would deliver them and save the entire world. Many followers as well as those who do not follow Christ have opinions and beliefs about Christianity. Here are five things not commonly known about this faith.
1. The Word "Christian"
The first usage of the word "Christian" is in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Acts 11:26 speaks of how those who were disciples of Jesus were for the first time being referred to as Christians in the town of Antioch. The word is actually derogatory in nature. Followers were also called "Nazarenes" making reference to Jesus being from Nazareth. It was also a derogatory label. When Philip told Nathaniel that they had found the Messiah, Nathaniel said in John 1:46, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" The word was used as a descriptive label for those who were following what was at the time considered a radical belief.
2. The Most Famous Bible Verse Has Consequences
A common misconception is put forth with the number one quoted Bible verse. John 3:16 is probably the one verse practically everyone can quote from memory. It says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Many see the profound expression of love and desire the eternal existence with God, but are unaware of the consequences of rejecting this free gift from God. Just two verses down in the same chapter, it plainly declares, "He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
3. Paul's Name Was Not Changed From Saul at His Conversion
Many often speak of the apostle Paul having his name changed after he put his faith in Jesus. The early part of the book of Acts of the Apostles uses the Hebrew version of Paul's name, which is Saul. Paul was a Hebrew of the sect of the Pharisees by birth (Acts 23:6, Philippians 3:5). However, Paul was also born in Tarsus, a city controlled by Rome, thus making him also a natural-born Roman citizen (Acts 22:24-30). Greek was a language spoken across wide regions of geography. Paul was the Greek name that Saul of Tarsus had. Throughout the New Testament, Paul is generally referred to by fellow Jews as Saul, and is referred to as Paul in his ministry of reaching the Gentiles (non-Jews) with the message about Jesus being the Christ.
4. The Apostle Paul Once Had Christians Killed
Paul is accepted as being called as an apostle of Jesus after Jesus had died on the cross, resurrected and ascended into heaven. Paul met the Risen Christ on the road to a town called Damascus. Paul was on his way to have Christians he found along the way brought back to religious leaders of the time in chains for punishment that could include death. Read the account in Acts 9. Paul also was present when Stephen was stoned to death because Stephen believed that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 7:1-8:1, 21:40-22:30).
5. The End Goal for Christians is Not Just Heaven
Many who think of Christianity think of people who are hoping to make it to a place of eternal bliss. The typical envisioning of what heaven is like usually includes imagery of clouds, harps and wings. The Bible talks about beings created by God, of which some do have wings (Revelation 4:8), but there is never a mention of human beings ever becoming such creatures if they go to heaven. In fact, the Bible bears out that believers will remain as people, yet in new bodies that are no longer subject to death (2 Corinthians 5). The Bible also declares that there will be a new heaven and a new Earth (Revelation 21:1-8). Nowhere does it even allude to any believer floating around on a cloud playing a harp. Rather, overall the Bible indicates that the faithful will continue on with a purpose in the everlasting kingdom of God.
There are many more things that people are surprised to find out about Christianity. Probably the most important to the individual is to know what Jesus himself said about the way it is necessary for human beings to be able to stand before God, the father, blameless. Though there is a large number of people who say that Jesus is one way to get to heaven, Jesus spoke something different. His exact words are found in John 14:6 where it states, "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (NIV).
Rachel Rogers is a career counselor and guest author at ChristianDegrees.net, where she has contributed articles about top-rated online Christian degree programs.
The above guest post is published based on the premise that it will be helpful and informative. The opinions made within it are those of the author and not of sunnyray.org. The links you may find within this post do not necessarily imply our recommendation or endorsement of the views expressed within them.
The idea that "Christian" was first a derogatory title is pure conjecture and nonsense recently made popular by Andy Stanley and originally proposed by Kenneth Wuest. The NT testimony is different than yours. Acts 26.28-29 and 1 Pet 4.16 the only instances of "Christian" other than Acts 11.26 (Christians) both use it positively. Even if it can be proven (and it can't) that non-followers first coined the term, it is speculation to consider their motives were anything more than as a descriptor for a new movement. That's like saying today, "selfie" was originally a derogatory term.
The current promotion of this untruth is insulting and smacks of faux-intellectualism.
Here's another one: the early Christians believed in reincarnation. To them, it was a normal thing. This idea was systematically rooted out by the rulers of that time, including empress Theodora. It was in year 553 A.D., when the Church condemned reincarnation. Before that, it had been one of the most basic Christian teachings. Source
Interesting thing is that as we go back in the past, we find more and more ancient cultures, including for example the Native Americans that believed in reincarnation.