Nobody ever called Messiah a christian. Do you know why? It’s because that mocking term wasn’t invented until after His earthly ministry. What did the term mean? It meant “little messiah.” The unbelievers in Antioch were the ones who first came up with the epithet (as the Greeks commonly gave groups they didn’t agree with satirical names meant to belittle them).
Now, remember that in Matthew 24, Messiah said that “many will come in my name, and deceive many.” It is important to understand that Messiah was not speaking to His disciples in Greek, but in Hebrew.
The Gospels were translated into Greek after they were written, and after the writers had died. As Papias of Hierapolis (circa 70-163 AD) wrote of Matthew’s Gospel account, it was “written in Hebrew, and others translated it the best they could.” So, we must understand what Messiah said through the lens of translation. We do not have access to those original Hebrew manuscripts.
Here is what is important to understand: the early christians were basically pagans who hated the Jews. Being pagans, they were accustomed to many different gods and religious rituals.
Becoming enamored with the teachings of the apostles that were spreading, but demanding that their own religious practices in no way bore any resemblance to the traditions of the “Jewish dogs,” they instituted their own new traditions that included the trappings of their paganism, and then altered the original Hebrew texts of the Gospels when translating them into Greek—all to remove as much of the Jeweyness from the faith as they could.
What they created was a counterfeit of the true faith.
So, what we read in the Greek texts must be understood through that paradigm, and it is the Holy Spirit who will lead and guide Yah’s people into all truth concerning His meanings within His scriptures.
What was Messiah saying when He foretold that many would come “in His name,” and deceive many? Well, it is important to understand that the word translated as “name” has multiple meanings. It can mean one’s actual given name—the literal name given to children by their parents; or, it can mean one’s reputation, character, or authority.
Messiah Yahoshua came in His Father’s name, both literally and figuratively. His given name has His Father’s name (Yah) in it, and means “Yah’s salvation.” However, He also came in His Father’s authority and character.
Now, Yahoshua was the prophesied Messiah the Jews had been awaiting. “Messiah” in the Hebrew is “mashiach,” which means “anointed one.” The Greek equivalent of the word “mashiach” is “christos,” and means the same thing—anointed one.
Knowing that the Gospel message is that Yahoshua is the mashiach/christos, unbelievers started referring to the apostles and Messiah’s followers as “little messiahs,” or “christianos.”
Of course, christianity has altered that narrative, claiming that christianos means “followers of Christ,” but that is false. It literally means “little messiahs,” which is why Peter included it in a list of terms of shame like “murderer, thief, evildoer, or busybody” (1 Peter 4:15-16).
Throughout history, there have been a very small number of men who have claimed to be the actual incarnation of the Messiah. Their followings, if any, have been insignificant and inconsequential. Was Messiah Yahoshua mistaken when He said that “MANY” would come in His name, claiming to be Him, and they would deceive many?
No. He was not talking about the occasional lunatic with mentally unstable followers. He said “many,” and He meant “many,” both those coming in His name, and those who would be deceived.
Remember, also, that Messiah Yahoshua spoke from a divine eternal perspective, not a human mindset based on changing trends, beliefs, and word definitions. He spoke from His knowledge of the beginning, the end, and everything in between.
So, according to that eternal perspective, what does the word “christianos” mean literally? It means “little messiah.” When someone proclaims “I am a christian,” he is literally saying, “I am a little messiah.”
Those who claim to be “christians” are actually claiming to come in Messiah’s authority and character. They are saying they are “little messiahs,” meaning they are diminutive versions OF HIM, or that they speak by His authority, which is to speak with the entire weight and essence of who He is.
And, by “coming in His name,” as versions of Him (little messiahs), they have deceived many. The counterfeit belief system that was codified by Constantine in the 4th century is called “christianity.” Paul foretold of the counterfeit in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, calling it a “falling away,” or “apostasy.”
The counterfeit belief system was invented by stripping the true faith of its foundations (the Father’s traditions), replacing them with pagan rituals and traditions, and teaching a false salvation that is purportedly obtained by decision, or by living according to accepted standards of morality (just as the rich young ruler had done—he had lived according to the physical commandments).
Notice what Paul said to King Agrippa in Acts 26, after Paul had told Agrippa of his new life through the Gospel of Yahoshua the Messiah, and King Agrippa had said to him that Paul had almost persuaded him to be a “little messiah” (christianos). Paul didn’t say that he wished Agrippa would be a “little messiah,” but that he wished Agrippa, and everyone who was listening, would become as Paul was, which was to be born again by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Rather than correcting Agrippa, who was not a born again believer, and quibbling about his usage of a derogatory term to describe what Paul was sharing with him (Agrippa was a king, after all), Paul simply stated his desire for those present was to become as Paul was—born again through belief in the true Gospel of Messiah Yahoshua.
The belief system called “christianity” currently boasts some 2.2 BILLION “little messiahs” (christians) on the planet. Doesn’t that sound like “many”? Contrast that with what Messiah said in Matthew 7:14 of life in Him: “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are FEW WHO FIND IT.”
Messiah is a Jew (yahudiy), both physically and spiritually. Messiah’s bride MUST be a Jew spiritually, and that is what Paul described in Romans 2:29—that the true yahudiy (Jew) is the person whose heart (not flesh) has been circumcised, which is to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul went on to state that the true Jew is the person who has been made a Jew spiritually, and that has nothing to do with ANY physical attributes.
He also explained in Romans 11:11-24 that those who are made spiritual Jews are grafted into Y’isra-el. The physical Jews who did not believe in Messiah Yahoshua were cut off from Y’isra-el (spiritual), but they could be grafted back into Y’isra-el by belief in Messiah Yahoshua.
Spiritual Y’isra-el is comprised of spiritual Jews, like Messiah Yahoshua is. He was never a “christian,” or “little messiah,” as He IS the Messiah. And, those who are His, according to Romans 8:9, are also Jews (yahudiy–”My people who are called by My name”)–they are not “christians,” for christianity is a counterfeit of the true faith. Moreover, those who follow Messiah Yahoshua honor His Father’s traditions, just as He did—those traditions that the early pagan christians despised, and modern christians mostly reject.
For more information: Circumcision and Spiritual Reproduction