Meet the person who invented the name “Christian”

Saint Luke mentions the city of Antioch and the great contribution it made to Christianity in the Acts of the Apostle (Acts 11:25-26). “So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For the entire year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.”

Although, Saint Luke does not go into details about how this designation as “Christians” came about.

The first pope of the Church, Saint Peter the Apostle, is said to have been the first bishop of Antioch and is believed to have founded the early Christian community there. Though, he did not stay in Antioch very long, Peter appointed a successor before he left.

That successor turned out to be Saint Evodius, who became the second bishop of Antioch.

Saint Ignatius, who became the third bishop of Antioch, makes reference to him in one of his letters, saying, “Do not forget your blessed father Evodius, who was made your first pastor by the Apostles.”

Although, little is known about Saint Evodius, however one tradition says that he was one of the 70 disciples commissioned by Jesus Christ in (Luke 10:1).

And it is also said that Saint Evodius was principally responsible for naming the followers of Jesus “Christians” (in Greek Χριστιανός, or Christianos, meaning “follower of Christ”).

At that time, Antioch became home to many Jewish Christians who fled Jerusalem after Saint Stephen was stoned to death. While they were there, they began to preach to the Gentiles. And the new mission became very successful and it resulted in a strong community of believers.

So many biblical scholars see the designation of “Christian” as an early way to distinguish their growing community from other Jews in the city.

Tradition teaches that Evodius served the Christian community in Antioch for 27 years, and the Orthodox Church believes that he died the death of a martyr in the year 66 under the administration of Roman emperor Nero. And his feast day is May 6.

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