The word "Christian" very rarely used in the new testament to refer to those that trust/believe on Jesus.

Mostly they were simply called "believers".

When/where and by who coined the word "Christian"?

  • 1
    Could you add references to where you found "Mostly they were simply called "believers"." As "believers" were also those in Judaism that did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah. From my understanding. Commented May 22, 2014 at 14:46
  • i think the original use of the word was meant to identify "partisans of Christ" as opposed to partisans of someone else. Commented May 23, 2014 at 3:12
  • The word meaning "believer" in Greek would have been the participial form of the verb πιστεύω, πιστεύοντες (lit.. "the believing ones"). This does not occur in a context signifying "believer" in the sense you suggest in a single verse of the New Testament. There is not a single instance in the Bible where Christians are referred to as "believers".
    – guest37
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


Actually, the word Christian is used three times in the New Testament. The first occasion answers your question (Acts 11:26c):

It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.

Regarding ''how'' they came to be called Christians, Wikipedia states:

Kenneth Samuel Wuest holds that all three original New Testament verses' usages reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who did not acknowledge the emperor of Rome. The city of Antioch, where someone gave them the name Christians, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames

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    Just beaten to it! +1 Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:12
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    Good answer, but some of those verses cited in your "many times" link have absolutely no corresponding Greek word which can or should be translated as "Christian" (e.g., Rom. 16:16).
    – user900
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:17
  • 2
    You're right. But new living translation is not a literal translation so they have substituted some words not used. If you use King James version which is literal you will want to look for the word 'Christianos'. Therefore you could say the word "Christian" only appears 3 times.
    – hookenz
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:18
  • Exactly. blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/…
    – user900
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:19
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    @Matt Perhaps you could edit that into your question. Currently it makes a false assertion anyway. Commented May 22, 2014 at 7:25

Those that believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and a translation of ancient record, have reason to believe the term Christian predates New Testament times. In Alma 46:13 we find its first reference in the Book of Mormon, and an explanation of its use (my emphasis). This occurred around 73-72 BC in the Americas.

Alma 46:13-15 - 13 [Moroni prays for liberty among the people] so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—

14 For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church.

15 And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.

Interestingly enough the term seems to have a similar origin. In both cases it was used by those that did not believe in Christ to describe believers.

  • This gives insight not available in the bible of the origin of the term Christian. Any reason for the down vote? I would gladly clarify and discuss any point of my answer.
    – Hans Vonn
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 10:57

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