AskDefine | Define Christian

Dictionary Definition

Christian adj
1 relating to or characteristic of Christianity; "Christian rites"
2 following the teachings or manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus Christ [ant: unchristian] n : a religious person who believes Jesus is the Christ and who is a member of a Christian denomination

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈkɹɪstʃən/
  • Hyphenation: Chris·tian


From Latin Chrīstus, from Ancient Greek Χριστός, noun use of χριστός, khristos meaning anointed. The word Christian is first used in Antioch, according to Acts xi.25-26.


  1. In the context of "Christianity": A believer in Christianity.
  2. In the context of "Christianity": An individual who seeks to live his or her life according to the principles and values taught by Jesus Christ.


member of the Christian religion
someone who seeks to obey Jesus Christ
  • ttbc Thai: (krítdtian)

Proper noun

  1. A given name found in England since the twelfth century.
  2. A given name of medieval usage, rare today.


male given name
  • Czech: Kristián
  • Danish: Christian
  • Finnish: Kristian
  • French: Christian
  • German: Christian
  • Hungarian: Krisztián, Keresztély
  • Icelandic: Kristján
  • Italian: Cristiano
  • Norwegian: Kristian
  • Spanish: Cristián
  • Swedish: Kristian

Related terms


  1. In the context of "not comparable": Of, like or relating to Christianity or Christians.
  2. Kind, charitable.
    That's very Christian of you.
    To non-Christians, this may be an offensive usage (similarly, see the offensive usage of Jew)


of, like or relating to Christianity


Derived terms



Alternative spellings

Proper noun

  1. A given name traditionally popular in Denmark, as the name of ten ruling kings since the fifteenth century.

Related terms


Proper noun

  1. A given name, cognate to Christian.

Related terms


Proper noun

  1. A given name.

Related terms


Proper noun

  1. A given name, an alternative spelling of Kristian.


Proper noun

  1. A given name, an alternative spelling of Kristian.

Extensive Definition

A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament and interpreted by Christians to have been prophesied in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.


From Old English cristen, from Latin Christianus, from Greek (khristianos), from (khristos) meaning "the anointed". In the (Greek) Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible, khristos was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (,) (messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed."
The first known usage of the term Χριστιανός (khristianos) can be found in the New Testament, in Bible verse |Acts|11:26|31: "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." The term was thus first used to denote those known or perceived to be disciples of Jesus Christ. In the two other New Testament uses of the word (Bible verse |Acts|26:28|31 and Bible verse 1|Peter|4:16|31), it refers to the public identity of those who follow Jesus.
The earliest recorded use of the term outside the Bible was when Tacitus recorded that Nero blamed the "Christians" for the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64.
"Christian" also means a member or adherent of a church or other organized group within Christianity. As an adjective, the term may also describe anything associated with Christianity, or even remotely thought to be consistent with Christianity, as in "the Christian thing to do."
In the United States, especially (but not only) the South and Midwest, the word Christian may also be narrowly used as shorthand for either of two denominations: Disciples of Christ or the United Church of Christ. For example, "First Christian Church of (name of local town)."

Who is a Christian?

The definition of who is a "Christian" varies among people and christian groups. Some believe that, to be a Christian, an individual must go to a church and participate in baptism. Others teach that instead a belief and acceptance in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is necessary. Some consider a Christian to be simply one who tries to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Some theologians consider a Christian to be anyone who accepts the Nicene Creed. This ancient text is accepted by Catholics, the Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and all the remaining mainline Protestant Churches.
Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and many Protestants define a Christian as one who has become a member of the church through the sacrament of baptism. In these denominations, infants who are baptized may be considered Christians, although they are expected to make a personal affirmation of faith when old enough to decide for themselves.

Basis of Christian Teaching

There are three different views on the correct basis for Christian teaching:

The Principle of Sacred Tradition entrusted to the Church

This is the principle of both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox teaching, in which doctrine is taught by the teaching authority of the Church, drawing on the "Deposit of Faith", which is composed of both the "Sacred Tradition" and the Scripture. In Catholicism the teaching authority of the Church is called magisterium, and "the task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church" .

The Sola Scriptura Principle

This is the principle of traditional Protestant teaching (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") and is the assertion that the Bible as God's written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter ("Scripture interprets Scripture"), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian doctrine. Sola scriptura was a foundational doctrinal principle of the Protestant Reformation held by the reformer Martin Luther and is a definitive principle of Protestants today (see Five solas).

The Prima Scriptura Principle

This is a principle often found in Anglican teaching which holds that even though the Bible is the primary source of doctrine it is improved by reference to other sources. It is sometimes considered part of, and sometimes separate from, Sola Scriptura.


Christians believe that the only way to Salvation is through Jesus Christ (), although this principle is interpreted in various ways by different churches and individuals.
For some Christians, this means one must be practising Christian to be saved, while for others, this means that it is because Jesus sacrificed himself that a situation exists in which people can be saved.
Some Christians believe that people of other religions can be saved through the sacrfice of Jesus which allows their reconciliation with God. The Catholic Church does not believe that being Christian is necessarily required for salvation as long as individuals "seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience" . However it is understood this should normally lead to being Christian.
Some prominent Christians believe in universal salvation through Jesus's sacrifice and universal reconciliation.
A few Christians believe it is necessary to be a member of a specific denomination to be saved.
Denominations and sects which teach that Believer's baptism is necessary for salvation — the transition from non-Christian to Christian (see Baptismal regeneration) define a Christian as one who has been baptized as a repenting adult. They believe that everyone is a sinner and must repent. Other Christians believe that being baptised is not required for salvation, but is an example that you are going to change your life and live as God wants you to live.
Evangelical and fundamentalist denominations do not generally practice infant baptism and do not necessarily believe that baptism is necessary for salvation (a sacrament). Rather, they consider it to be a public command of identifying oneself with Jesus Christ in his death, representing repentance and a new life in God, as in Christ's resurrection. They encourage youth and adults to "become Christians" by personally "accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour," and to follow that decision with Believer's Baptism. These groups also use the phrase "born-again" () to describe becoming a Christian.
Other believers follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but do not believe it is necessary to affiliate with organized religion.
Within countries where Christianity is the historical majority religion, the term is also used by some in a casual generic sense to indicate that they are not members of nor affiliated with any other religion – therefore considering themselves Christians by default.


This is a brief basic introduction to Christian denominations. Further information can be found on other articles.
Christians are divded into branches or "denominations" with different theologies and structures. There are very many different branches in Christianity. Very broadly, Christianity is divided into:

In other languages

As the identification of "Christ" with Jesus is not accepted within Judaism, in Talmudic Hebrew Christians are called "Nazarenes" (Notzri), because Jesus is described in the New Testament as being from the city of Nazareth.
Among Arabs (whether Christians, Muslims or belonging to other faiths), as well as in other languages influenced by the Arabic language (i.e. mainly in Muslim cultures influenced by Arabic as the liturgical language of Islam), two words are commonly used for Christians: Nasrani (stemming from the Arabic ansar, as in the disciples of Jesus), and Masihi meaning followers of the Messiah. Where there is a distinction, Nasrani refers to people from a Christian culture and Masihi means those with a religious faith in Jesus. In some countries Nasrani tends to be used generically for non-Muslim white people. Another Arabic word sometimes used for Christians, particularly in a political context, is Salibi; this refers to Crusaders and has negative connotations.


Christian in Afrikaans: Christene
Christian in Arabic: مسيحيون
Christian in Czech: Křesťan
Christian in German: Christ
Christian in Spanish: Cristiano
Christian in Esperanto: Kristanismo
Christian in Basque: Kristau
Christian in French: Chrétien
Christian in Haitian: Kretyen
Christian in Korean: 그리스도인
Christian in Italian: Cristiano (religione)
Christian in Kirghiz: Христиан
Christian in Latin: Christianus
Christian in Dutch: Christen
Christian in Japanese: クリスチャン
Christian in Low German: Christ
Christian in Simple English: Christian
Christian in Swedish: Kristen
Christian in Tagalog: Kristyano
Christian in Vietnamese: Cơ Đốc nhân
Christian in Tok Pisin: Kristen
Christian in Turkish: Hristiyan
Christian in Urdu: عیسائی
Christian in Chinese: 基督徒

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Christianlike, Christianly, Christlike, Christly, God-fearing man, Nazarene, Nazarite, accepted, accepter, adoring, affectionate, approved, authentic, authoritative, becoming, befitting, believer, believing, benign, benignant, blameless, brotherly, burgher, canonical, catechumen, churchgoer, churchite, churchman, civilized, clean, communicant, compassionate, conventional, convert, correct, creditable, cultish, cultist, cultistic, customary, daily communicant, decent, devoted, devotee, devotionalist, devout, disciple, done, dutiful, erect, estimable, ethical, evangelical, exemplary citizen, fair, faithful, fanatic, firm, follower, fraternal, full of integrity, good, good Christian, good citizen, good neighbor, gracious, high-minded, high-principled, highly respectable, honest, honorable, human, humane, immaculate, inviolate, irreproachable, just, kind, kindhearted, kindly, kindly-disposed, law-abiding, law-loving, law-revering, literal, loving, manly, moral, neophyte, nice, noble, of the faith, orthodox, orthodoxical, pietist, pietistic, pillar of society, pious, prayerful, principled, proper, proselyte, pure, received, receiver, religionist, religious, reputable, respectable, respectable citizen, reverent, reverential, right, right-minded, righteous, saint, scriptural, seemly, softhearted, solemn, sound, spotless, stainless, standard, sterling, sympathetic, sympathizing, tender, tenderhearted, textual, theist, theistic, traditional, traditionalistic, true, true Christian, true-blue, true-dealing, true-devoted, true-disposing, true-souled, true-spirited, truehearted, truster, unblemished, uncorrupt, uncorrupted, undefiled, unimpeachable, unspotted, unstained, unsullied, untarnished, upright, uprighteous, upstanding, venerational, venerative, virtuous, votary, warm, warmhearted, worshipful, worthy, yeomanly, zealot
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