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Christians () are people who follow or adhere to
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. Its adherents, known as Christians, make up a majority of the populati ...
, a monotheistic
Abrahamic religion The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religions that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abra ...
based on the life and teachings of
Jesus Christ Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, ''Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianit ...
. The words ''
Christ Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, ''Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianit ...
'' and ''Christian'' derive from the
Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the common supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written during the Hellenistic period, the ...
title ''Christós'' (Χριστός), a translation of the
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew, a language in the Canaanite branch of Semitic languages, spoken by the Israelites in the area known as Israel, roughly wes ...
term ''
mashiach The Messiah in Judaism () is the savior and liberator figure in Jewish eschatology, whose role is to restore Judaism by enabling the Jewish people to observe all 613 commandments through building the Temple in Jerusalem and then gathering the Jewi ...
'' (מָשִׁיחַ). While there are diverse interpretations of Christianity which sometimes conflict, they are united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance. The term "Christian" used as an adjective is descriptive of anything associated with Christianity or
Christian churches Christian Church is a Protestant ecclesiological term referring to the church invisible comprising all Christians, used since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. In this understanding, "Christian Church" (or "catholic Church") does no ...
, or in a proverbial sense "all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like." It does not have a meaning of 'of Christ' or 'related or pertaining to Christ'. According to a 2011
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the worl ...
survey, there were 2.2 billion Christians around the world in 2010, up from about 600 million in 1910. Today, about 37% of all Christians live in the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with their associated i ...
, about 26% live in
Europe Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlant ...
, 24% live in
sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all African countries and territories that are fully or partially so ...
, about 13% live in
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...
and the
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents of Asia ...
, and 1% live in the
Middle East The Middle East is a transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (partly in Southeast Europe). The term has come into wider usa ...

Middle East
and
North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's Su ...
. Christians make up the majority of the population in 158 countries and territories. 280 million Christians live as a minority. About half of all Christians worldwide are
Catholic The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international ...
, while more than a third are
Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and ...
(37%).
Orthodox Orthodox, Orthodoxy, or Orthodoxism may refer to: Religion * Orthodoxy, adherence to accepted norms, more specifically adherence to creeds, especially within Christianity and Judaism, but also less commonly in non-Abrahamic religions like Neo-paga ...
communions comprise 12% of the world's Christians. Other Christian groups make up the remainder. By 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion. According to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, Christianity will remain the world's largest religion in 2050, if current trends continue. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, especially in the
Middle-East The Middle East is a transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (partly in Southeast Europe). The term has come into wider usa ...
, North Africa, East Asia, and South Asia."Christian persecution 'at near genocide levels'".
''
BBC News BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generate ...
''. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
Kay, Barbara. "Our politicians may not care, but Christians are under siege across the world".
''
National Post The ''National Post'' is a Canadian English-language newspaper. The paper is the flagship publication of Postmedia Network, and is published Tuesdays through Saturdays.
''. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
Wintour, Patrick. "Persecution of Christians coming close to genocide' in Middle East - report".
''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gua ...

The Guardian
''. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.


Etymology

The Greek word (''Christianos''), meaning "follower of Christ", comes from (''Christos''), meaning "
anointed Anointed is a contemporary Christian music duo from Columbus, Ohio, known for their strong vocals and harmonies, featuring siblings Steve Crawford and Da'dra Crawford Greathouse, along with former members Nee-C Walls (who left the group in 2001) a ...
one", with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership. In the
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor of ...
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible, various biblical apocrypha, and ...
, ''christos'' was used to translate the
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only tru ...
מָשִׁיחַ (''Mašíaḥ,''
messiah In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias (; , ; , ; ) is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of ''mashiach'', messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible, in which a ''mashiach'' is ...
), meaning " ne who isanointed." In other European languages, equivalent words to Christian are likewise derived from the Greek, such as ''Chrétien'' in French and ''Cristiano'' in Spanish. The abbreviations ''Xian'' and ''Xtian'' (and similarly-formed other parts of speech) have been used since at least the 17th century: ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive res ...
'' shows a 1634 use of ''Xtianity'' and ''Xian'' is seen in a 1634–38 diary. The word ''
Xmas '': "Give her a for Xmas" Xmas (also X-mas) is a common abbreviation of the word ''Christmas''. It is sometimes pronounced , but ''Xmas'', and variants such as ''Xtemass'', originated as handwriting abbreviations for the typical pronunciation . ...
'' uses a similar contraction.


Early usage

The first recorded use of the term (or its
cognate In linguistics, cognates, also called lexical cognates, are words that have a common etymological origin. Cognates are often inherited from a shared parent language, but they may also involve borrowings from some other language. For example, the ...
s in other languages) is in the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianit ...
, in
Acts 11 Acts 11 is the eleventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records that Saint Peter defends his visit to Cornelius in Caesarea and retells his vision prior to the meeting as well as the pouring of Hol ...
after Barnabas brought Saul (Paul) to
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ "A ...
where they taught the disciples for about a year, the text says: " ..the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." ( Acts 11:26). The second mention of the term follows in
Acts 26 Acts 26 is the twenty-sixth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the period of Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but Holman states that "uniform Chr ...
, where
Herod Agrippa II Herod Agrippa II (; AD 27/28 – or 100), officially named Marcus Julius Agrippa and sometimes shortened to Agrippa, was the eighth and last ruler from the Herodian dynasty. He was the fifth member of this dynasty to bear the title of king, b ...

Herod Agrippa II
replied to
Paul the Apostle Paul the Apostle,; el, Παῦλος, translit=Paulos; cop, ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; he, פאולוס השליח; – AD commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Hebrew name Saul of Tarsus,; ar, بولس الطرسوسي; el, Σαῦ ...
, "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." ( Acts 26:28). The third and final New Testament reference to the term is in
1 Peter 4 1 Peter 4 is the fourth chapter of the First Epistle of Peter in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The author identifies himself as "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ" and the epistle is traditionally attributed to Peter the Apostle, but th ...
, which exhorts believers: "Yet if ''
ny man suffer#REDIRECT NY {{R from ambiguous ...
' as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." ( 1 Peter 4:16). 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. However Peter's apparent endorsement of the term led to its being preferred over "Nazarenes" and the term ''Christianoi'' from
1 Peter The First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author presents himself as Peter the Apostle. The text of the letter includes a statement that implies that it was ...
becomes the standard term in the
Early Church Fathers The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers who established the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. The historical peri ...
from
Ignatius Ignatius is a male given name of presumed Latin or Etruscan origin, believed to mean "fiery one" (compare the word "ignite"). Notable people with the name include: Given name Religious * Ignatius of Antioch (35–108), early Christian bishop * Ig ...

Ignatius
and
Polycarp Polycarp (; el, Πολύκαρπος, ''Polýkarpos''; la, Polycarpus; AD 69 155) was a Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the ''Martyrdom of Polycarp'', he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to ...
onwards. The earliest occurrences of the term in non-Christian literature include
Josephus Titus Flavius Josephus (; ; 37 – 100), born Yosef ben Matityahu ( he, יוסף בן מתתיהו ''Yōsef ben Matiṯyāhu''; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος Ματθίου παῖς ''Iṓsēpos Matthíou paîs''), was a first-century Romano-Jewish hi ...
, referring to "the tribe of Christians, so named from him;"
Pliny the Younger Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo (61 – c. 113), better known as Pliny the Younger (), was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny's uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate h ...
in correspondence with Trajan; and
Tacitus Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus ( , ; – ) was a Roman historian and politician. Tacitus is widely regarded as one of the greatest Roman historians by modern scholars. He lived in what has been called the Silver Age of Latin literature, a ...
, writing near the end of the 1st century. In the ''
Annals Annals ( la, annāles, from , "year") are a concise historical record in which events are arranged chronologically, year by year, although the term is also used loosely for any historical record. Scope The nature of the distinction between annals a ...
'' he relates that "by vulgar appellation hey werecommonly called Christians" and identifies Christians as
Nero Nero ( ; Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the fifth Roman emperor, ruling from 54 to 68. His infamous reign is usually associated with tyranny, extravagance, and debauchery.Kragelund, Patrick. 2000. ...
's scapegoats for the
Great Fire of Rome The Great Fire of Rome ( la, incendium magnum Romae), was an urban fire that occurred in July, AD 64. The fire began in the merchant shops around Rome's chariot stadium, Circus Maximus, on the night of 19 July. After six days, the fire was brought ...
.


Nazarenes

Another term for Christians which appears in the New Testament is "
Nazarenes Nazarene may refer to: * A person from Nazareth Religion * Nazarene (sect), a term used for an early Christian sect in first-century Judaism, and later a sect of Jewish Christians * Nazarene (title), used to describe people from Nazareth in the N ...
".
Jesus Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, ''Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianit ...
is named as a Nazarene in Matthew 2:23, while
Paul Paul may refer to: *Paul (name), a given name (includes a list of people with that name) *Paul (surname), a list of people People Christianity *Paul the Apostle (AD 5–67), also known as Saul of Tarsus or Saint Paul, early Christian missionar ...
is said to be Nazarene in Acts 24:5. The latter verse makes it clear that Nazarene also referred to the name of a sect or heresy, as well as the town called Nazareth. The term Nazarene was also used by the Jewish lawyer
Tertullus In the Bible, Tertullus (a modification of "Tertius") was a lawyer, who was employed by the Jews to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix (Acts 24:1-9). The charges he raised against the apostle were "First, that he created distur ...
(''Against Marcion'' 4:8) which records that "the Jews call us Nazarenes." While around 331 AD
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου), wa ...

Eusebius
records that Christ was called a Nazoraean from the name
Nazareth Nazareth (; ar, النَّاصِرَة, ''an-Nāṣira''; he, נָצְרַת, ''Natzrat''; arc, ܢܨܪܬ, ''Naṣrath'') is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel". In its populati ...
, and that in earlier centuries "Christians" were once called "Nazarenes". The Hebrew equivalent of "Nazarenes", ''Notzrim'', occurs in the
Babylonian Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the T ...
, and is still the modern Israeli Hebrew term for Christian.


Modern usage


Definition

A wide range of beliefs and practices are found across the world among those who call themselves Christian.
Denomination Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Buddhist denomination * Denomination (currency) * Denomination (postage stamp) * Prot ...
s and sects disagree on a common definition of "Christianity". For example, Timothy Beal notes the disparity of beliefs among those who identify as Christians in the United States as follows:
Although all of them have their historical roots in Christian theology and tradition, and although most would identify themselves as Christian, many would not identify others within the larger category as Christian. Most Baptists and fundamentalists (
Christian Fundamentalism Christian fundamentalism in its modern form began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among British and American ProtestantsMarsden (1980), pp. 55–62, 118–23. as a reaction to theological liberalism and cultural modernism. Fundamentalis ...
), for example, would not acknowledge Mormonism or Christian Science as Christian. In fact, the nearly 77 percent of Americans who self-identify as Christian are a diverse pluribus of Christianities that are far from any collective unity.
Linda Woodhead attempts to provide a common belief thread for Christians by noting that "Whatever else they might disagree about, Christians are at least united in believing that Jesus has a unique significance." Michael Martin evaluated three historical Christian creeds (the
Apostles' Creed The Apostles' Creed (Latin: ''Symbolum Apostolorum'' or ''Symbolum Apostolicum''), sometimes titled the Apostolic Creed or the Symbol of the Apostles is a Christian creed or "symbol of faith". It most likely originates in 5th-century Gaul, as a ...
, the
Nicene Creed The Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) is a Christian statement of belief widely used in liturgy. It is the defining creed of Nicene Christianity. It is named for the city of Nicaea (present ...
and the
Athanasian Creed was traditionally thought to be the author of the Athanasian Creed, and gives his name to its common title. The Athanasian Creed, also called the Pseudo-Athanasian Creed and sometimes known as ''Quicunque Vult'' (or ''Quicumque Vult'') which is bot ...
) to establish a set of basic Christian assumptions which include belief in
theism Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with ''deism'', the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism (also referred to ...
, the
historicity of Jesus The historicity of Jesus relates to whether Jesus of Nazareth is a historical figure. Nearly all historians accept that Jesus existed, and standard historical criteria have aided in reconstructing his life. Scholars differ on the beliefs and teac ...
, the
Incarnation Incarnation literally means ''embodied in flesh'' or ''taking on flesh''. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient being who is the material manifestation of an entity, god, spiritual or universal force whose original nature is immateria ...
,
salvation Salvation (from Latin: ''salvatio'', from ''salva'', 'safe, saved') is the state of being saved or protected from harm or a dire situation. In religion and theology, ''salvation'' generally refers to the deliverance of the soul from sin and its co ...
through faith in Jesus, and
Jesus Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, ''Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianit ...
as an ethical role model.


Hebrew terms

The identification of Jesus as the Messiah is not accepted by Judaism. The term for a Christian in
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only tru ...
is נוֹצְרִי (''Notzri''—"Nazarene"), a
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the T ...
ic term originally derived from the fact that Jesus came from the
Galilean Generically, a Galilean (; he, גלילי; grc, Γαλιλαίων; la, Galilaeos) is an inhabitant of Galilee, a region of Israel surrounding the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). The New Testament notes that the Apostle Peter's accent gave him away a ...
village of
Nazareth Nazareth (; ar, النَّاصِرَة, ''an-Nāṣira''; he, נָצְרַת, ''Natzrat''; arc, ܢܨܪܬ, ''Naṣrath'') is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Nazareth is known as "the Arab capital of Israel". In its populati ...
, today in northern Israel. Adherents of
Messianic Judaism Messianic Judaism is a modern syncretic Christian religious movement that incorporates some elements of Judaism and Jewish tradition with Evangelical Christianity. The movement emerged in the 1960s and 1970s from the Hebrew Christian movement and ...
are referred to in modern Hebrew as יְהוּדִים מְשִׁיחִיִּים (''Yehudim Meshihi'im''—"Messianic Jews").


Arabic terms

In Arabic-speaking cultures, two words are commonly used for Christians: ''Naṣrānī'' (), plural ''Naṣārā'' () is generally understood to be derived from
Nazarenes Nazarene may refer to: * A person from Nazareth Religion * Nazarene (sect), a term used for an early Christian sect in first-century Judaism, and later a sect of Jewish Christians * Nazarene (title), used to describe people from Nazareth in the N ...
, believers of
Jesus of Nazareth Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, ''Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianit ...
through Syriac (Aramaic); ''Masīḥī'' () means followers of the Messiah.Society for Internet Research
The Hamas Charter
note 62 (erroneously, "salidi").
Where there is a distinction, ''Nasrani'' refers to people from a Christian culture and ''Masihi'' is used by Christians themselves for those with a religious faith in Jesus.
Jeffrey Tayler Jeffrey Tayler is a U.S.-born author and journalist. He is the Russia correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a contributor to several other magazines as well as to NPR's All Things Considered. He has written several non-fiction books about diff ...
,
Trekking through the Moroccan Sahara
''
In some countries ''Nasrani'' tends to be used generically for non-Muslim Western foreigners. Another Arabic word sometimes used for Christians, particularly in a political context, is ''Ṣalībī'' ( "Crusader") from ''ṣalīb'' ( "cross"), which refers to
Crusaders The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...
and may have negative connotations. However, ''Ṣalībī'' is a modern term; historically, Muslim writers described European Christian Crusaders as ''al-Faranj'' or ''Alfranj'' () and ''Firinjīyah'' () in Arabic. This word comes from the name of the
Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Roman sources, and associated with tribes between the Lower Rhine and the Ems River, on the edge of the Roman Empire. Later the term was a ...
and can be seen in the Arab history text Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh by
Ali ibn al-Athir Abu al-Hassan Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ash-Shaybani, better known as Ali 'Izz al-Din Ibn al-Athir al-Jazari ( ar, علي عز الدین بن الاثیر الجزري) (1160-1233) was an Arab or Kurdish historian and biographer who wrote in ...
.


Asian terms

The most common Persian word is ''Masīhī'' (), from
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Wats ...

Arabic
. Other words are ''Nasrānī'' (), from Syriac for "Nazarene", and ''Tarsā'' (), from
Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For some time after the Sasania ...
word ''Tarsāg'', also meaning "Christian", derived from ''tars'', meaning "fear, respect". An old Kurdish word for Christian frequently in usage was ''felle'' (فەڵە), coming from the root word meaning "to be saved" or "attain salvation". The Syriac term ''Nasrani'' (Nazarene) has also been attached to the
Saint Thomas Christians The Saint Thomas Christians, also called Syrian Christians of India, Marthoma Nasrani, Malabar Nasrani, Malankara Nasrani or Nasrani Mappila, are an ethno-religious community of Indian Christians from the state of Kerala, who employ the East S ...
of
Kerala Kerala (; ) is a state on the southwestern Malabar Coast of India. It was formed on 1 November 1956, following the passage of the States Reorganisation Act, by combining Malayalam-speaking regions of the erstwhile regions of Cochin, Malabar, ...
, India. In the
Indian subcontinent#REDIRECT Indian subcontinent#REDIRECT Indian subcontinent {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Indian subcontinent
, Christians call themselves ''Isaai'' ( hi, ईसाई, ur, عیسائی), and are also known by this term to adherents of other religions. This is related to the name they call Jesus,'' 'Isa Masih'', and literally means 'the followers of 'Isa'. In the past, the
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
s used to call the Portuguese ''Serani'' from the Arabic ''Nasrani'', but the term now refers to the modern Kristang creoles of
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federal constitutional monarchy consists of thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo's East Malaysia. Pe ...

Malaysia
. In
Indonesian language Indonesian (, ) is the official language of Indonesia. It is a standardized variety of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries. Indonesia is the fourth most p ...
, the term "''Nasrani''" is also used alongside "''Kristen''". The Chinese word is (
pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin, which is normally written using C ...
: jīdū tú), literally "Christ follower." The two characters now pronounced ''Jīdū'' in Mandarin Chinese were originally used phonetically to represent the name of Christ. In Vietnam, the same two characters read '' Cơ đốc'', and a "follower of Christianity" is a ''tín đồ Cơ đốc giáo''. In Japan, the term ''
kirishitan The Japanese term , from Portuguese ''cristão'' (cf. Kristang), meaning "Christian", referred to Catholic Christians in Japanese and is used in Japanese texts as a historiographic term for Catholics in Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries. Mode ...
'' (written in Edo period documents 吉利支丹, 切支丹, and in modern Japanese histories as キリシタン), from Portuguese ''cristão'', referred to Roman Catholics in the 16th and 17th centuries before the religion was banned by the
Tokugawa shogunate The Tokugawa shogunate (, Japanese 徳川幕府 ''Tokugawa bakufu''), also known as the , was the feudal military government of Japan during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868.Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005)"''Tokugawa-jidai''"in ''Japan Encyclop ...

Tokugawa shogunate
. Today, Christians are referred to in
Standard Japanese#REDIRECT Japanese language {{Redirect category shell, 1={{R from other capitalization ...
as キリスト教徒, ''Kirisuto-kyōto'' or the English-derived term クリスチャン ''kurisuchan''. Korean still uses 기독교도, ''Kidok-kyo-do'' for "Christian", though the Greek form ''Kurisudo'' 그리스도 has now replaced the old Sino-Korean ''Kidok'', which refers to Christ himself. In Thailand, the most common terms are คนคริสต์ (''khon khrit'') or ชาวคริสต์ (''chao khrit'') which literally means "Christ person/people" or "Jesus person/people." The Thai word คริสต์ (''khrit'') is derived from "Christ."


Russian terms

The region of modern Eastern Europe and Central Eurasia (Russia, Ukraine and other countries of the former
Soviet bloc#REDIRECT Eastern Bloc#REDIRECT Eastern Bloc {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{R from other capitalisation ...
) has a long history of Christianity and Christian communities on its lands. In ancient times, in the first centuries after the birth of Christ, when this region was called Scythia, the geographical area of
Scythians The Scythians (; from Greek ), also known as Scyth, Saka, Sakae, Iskuzai, or Askuzai, were an ancient nomadic people of Eurasia, inhabiting the region Scythia. Classical Scythians dominated the Pontic steppe from approximately the 7th century B ...
- Christians already lived there. Later the region saw the first states to adopt Christianity officially - initially
Armenia Armenia (; hy, Հայաստան, translit=Hayastan, ), officially the Republic of Armenia,, is a landlocked country located in the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.The UNbr>classification of world regions places Armenia in Western Asia; the ...
(301 AD) and
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Kingdom of Georgia ...
(337 AD), later
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and No ...
( 864) and the Great Russian Principality (
Kyivan Rus Kievan Rus' or Kyivan Rus' ( orv, Роусь, Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") was a loose federationJohn Channon & Robert Hudson, ''Penguin Historical Atlas of Russia'' (Penguin, 1995), p.16. of East Slavic and Finno-Ugric peoples in Europe from the la ...
, rus , Великое княжество Русское, 988 AD). In some areas, people came to denote themselves as Christians (russian: христиане, крестьяне) and as Russians (russian: русские). In time the Russian term "крестьяне" (''khrest'yanye'') acquired the meaning "peasants of Christian faith" and later "peasants" (the main part of the population of the region), while the term "христиане" (''khristianye'') retained its religious meaning and the term "русские" (''russkiye'') began to mean representatives of the heterogeneous Russian nation formed on the basis of common Christian faith and language, which strongly influenced the history and development of the region. In the region the term "Pravoslav faith" (russian: православная вера - Orthodox faith) or "Russian faith" (russian: русская вера) from earliest times became almost as known as the original "Christian faith" (христианская, крестьянская вера). Also in some contexts the term "
cossack The Cossacks * russian: казаки́ or * be, казакi * pl, Kozacy * cs, kozáci * sk, kozáci * hu, kozákok, cazacii * fi, Kasakat, cazacii * et, Kasakad, cazacii are a group of predominantly East Slavic-speaking Orthodox Christian pe ...
" (russian: козак, казак) was used to denote "free" Christians of steppe origin and Russian language.


Other non-religious usages

Nominally "Christian" societies made "Christian" a default label for citizenship or for "people like us". In this context, religious or ethnic minorities can use "Christians" or "you Christians" loosely as a shorthand term for mainstream members of society who do not belong to their group - even in a thoroughly secular (though formerly Christian) society.


Demographics

As of the early 21st century,
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers. Its adherents, known as Christians, make up a majority of the populati ...
has approximately 2.4 billion adherents.33.39% of 7.174 billion world population (under "People and Society") The faith represents about a third of the world's population and is the largest religion in the world. Christians have composed about 33 percent of the world's population for around 100 years. The largest Christian denomination is the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international ...
, with 1.3 billion adherents, representing half of all Christians. Christianity remains the dominant religion in the
Western World The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, the Americas, and Australasia. According to a 2012
Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the worl ...
survey, if current trends continue, Christianity will remain the world's largest religion by the year 2050. By 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion. While Muslims have an average of 3.1 children per woman—the highest rate of all religious groups, Christians are second, with 2.7 children per woman. High birth rates and conversion were cited as the reason for
Christian population growth Christian population growth is the population growth of the global Christian community. According to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, there were more than 2.2 billion Christians around the world in 2010, more than three times as many as the 600 mi ...
. A 2015 study found that approximately 10.2 million
Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. The derivation of "Muslim" is from an Arabic word meaning "submitter (to God)". Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God ...
s
converted to Christianity Christianization (or Christianisation) is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and throughout ...
. Christianity is growing in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of it ...

Africa
,
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with b ...
, the
Muslim world The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the ''Islamic community'', which is also known as the Ummah. This consists of all those who adhere to the religion of Islam, or to societies where Islam is practiced. In a modern geopo ...
,Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census
/ref> and
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region that includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of and a population of over 41 million. When compared to continents, ...
.


Socioeconomics

According to a study from 2015, Christians hold the largest amount of wealth (55% of the total world wealth), followed by
Muslims Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. The derivation of "Muslim" is from an Arabic word meaning "submitter (to God)". Muslims consider the Quran, their holy book, to be the verbatim word of God ...
(5.8%),
Hindus Hindus () are persons who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism.Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as a ge ...
(3.3%) and
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish ...
(1.1%). According to the same study it was found that adherents under the classification
Irreligion Irreligion, or nonreligion, is the absence or rejection of religion, or indifference to it. According to the Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries and territories, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with any relig ...
or other religions hold about 34.8% of the total global wealth. A study done by the nonpartisan wealth research firm New World Wealth found that 56.2% of the 13.1 million millionaires in the world were Christians. A
Pew Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank (referring to itself as a "fact tank") based in Washington, D.C. It provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the worl ...
study about religion and education around the world in 2016, found that Christians ranked as the second most educated religious group around in the
world The world is the Earth and all life on it, including human civilization. In a philosophical context, the "world" is the whole of the physical Universe, or an ontological world (the "world" of an individual). In a theological context, the ''w ...

world
after
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish ...
with an average of 9.3 years of schooling, and the highest numbers of years of schooling among Christians were found in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German , demonym = German , government_type = Federal parliamentary republi ...
(13.6),
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island () and the South Island ()—and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of . New Zealand ...
(13.5) and
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...
(13.1). Christians were also found to have the second highest number of
graduate Graduate refers to someone who has been the subject of a graduation, namely, someone who has completed the requirements of an academic degree. Education * Graduate, an alumnus * Graduate diploma, generally a postgraduate qualification, although ...
and
post-graduate Postgraduate education (graduate education in North America) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees, academic or professional certificates, academic or professional diplomas, or other qualifications for which a first ...
degrees per capita while in absolute numbers ranked in the first place (220 million). Between the various
Christian communities Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koine Greek title ''Christós'' (Χριστ ...
,
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, bordering the Straits ...
outranks other nations in terms of Christians who obtain a university degree in institutions of
higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion o ...
(67%), followed by the Christians of Israel (63%), and the Christians of Georgia (57%). According to the study, Christians in
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
,
Europe Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the continental landmass of Eurasia, and is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlant ...
,
Middle East The Middle East is a transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (partly in Southeast Europe). The term has come into wider usa ...

Middle East
,
North Africa North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's Su ...
and
Asia Pacific 300px, Map showing the general definition of Asia-Pacific. Dark green refers to the core Asia-Pacific countries, while light green refers to regions that may be included. The Asia-Pacific is the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean ...
regions are highly educated since many of the world's
universities A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. ...
were built by the historic
Christian denominations Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koine Greek title ''Christós'' (Χριστ ...
, in addition to the historical evidence that "Christian monks built libraries and, in the days before printing presses, preserved important earlier writings produced in Latin, Greek and Arabic". According to the same study, Christians have a significant amount of
gender equality Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing di ...

gender equality
in educational attainment, and the study suggests that one of the reasons is the encouragement of the
Protestant Reformers Protestant Reformers were those theologians whose careers, works and actions brought about the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. In the context of the Reformation, Martin Luther was the first reformer (sharing his views publicly in 1517 ...
in promoting the
education of women Female education is a catch-all term of a complex set of issues and debates surrounding education (primary education, secondary education, tertiary education, and health education in particular) for girls and women. It is frequently called girl's ...
, which led to the eradication of illiteracy among females in Protestant communities.


Persecution

Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, especially in the
Middle-East The Middle East is a transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia which generally includes Western Asia (except for Transcaucasia), all of Egypt (mostly in North Africa), and Turkey (partly in Southeast Europe). The term has come into wider usa ...
, North Africa and South and East Asia. In 2017,
Open Doors Open Doors is a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in the world. They work with local partners to distribute Bibles and Christian literature, give discipleship training and provide practical support, such as emergency reli ...
estimated approximately 260 million Christians are subjected annually to "high, very high, or extreme persecution"Weber, Jeremy. "'Worst year yet’: the top 50 countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian".
''
Christianity Today ''Christianity Today'' magazine is an evangelical Christian periodical founded in 1956 by Billy Graham. It is published by Christianity Today International based in Carol Stream, Illinois. ''The Washington Post'' calls ''Christianity Today'', "ev ...
''. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
with North Korea considered the most hazardous nation for Christians.Enos, Olivia. "North Korea is the world's worst persecutor of Christians".
''
Forbes ''Forbes'' () is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family. Published eight times a year, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. ''Forbes'' al ...
''. 25 January 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
In 2019, a reportMounstephen, Philip. "Interim report".
''Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians''. April 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
commissioned by the United Kingdom's
Secretary of State#REDIRECT Secretary of state {{R from move ...
of the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), created in 2020 through the merger of the former Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)—commonly called the Foreign Office (FO)—and the former Department for International Development (DFI ...
(FCO) to investigate global persecution of Christians found persecution has increased, and is highest in the Middle East, North Africa, India, China, North Korea, and Latin America, among others, and that it is global and not limited to Islamic states.Mounstephen, Philip. "Final Report and Recommendations".
'' Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians''. July 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
This investigation found that approximately 80% of persecuted believers worldwide are Christians.


See also

*
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian states, Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity dominates or prevails.SeMerriam-Webster.com : dictionary, "Christendom"/ref> Since the spread of Ch ...
*
Conversion to Christianity Conversion or convert may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * "Conversion" (''Doctor Who'' audio), an episode of the audio drama ''Cyberman'' * "Conversion" (''Stargate Atlantis''), an episode of the television series * "The Conversion" ('' ...
*
Cultural Christian Cultural Christians are nonreligious persons who adhere to Christian values and appreciate Christian culture. As such, these individuals usually identify themselves as culturally Christians, and are often seen by practicing believers as nominal ...
*
Early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, Christian countries, and the Church with its various denominations, from the 1st century to the present. Christianity originated with the ministry of Jesus, a Jewish teacher and heal ...
*
List of Christian denominations A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church, convention, c ...
*
List of Christian denominations by number of members This is a list of Christian denominations by number of members. It is inevitably partial and generally based on claims by the denominations themselves. The numbers should therefore be considered approximate and the article an ongoing work-in-prog ...
* List of Christian synonyms *
List of religions and spiritual traditions A ''list'' is any enumeration of a set of items. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby un ...
* List of religious organizations *
Lists of Christians Christians have made myriad contributions in a broad and diverse range of fields, including the sciences, arts, politics, literatures and business. Clergy * List of Abbots of Abingdon * List of Abunas of Ethiopia * List of Anglican diocesan bish ...


References


Bibliography

Etymology * (from which page numbers are cited) also available in * {{Authority control
Christian terminology Words or phrases used to refer to concepts associated with Christianity. {{DEFAULTSORT:Christian terminology Terminology Christian ...
New Testament Greek words and phrases Religious identity