Christian (/ˈkrɪstʃən, -tiən/ ( listen)) is a person
who follows or adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic
religion based on the life and teachings of
Jesus Christ. "Christian"
derives from the
Koine Greek word Christós (Χριστός), a
translation of the
Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (Biblical Hebrew:
While there are diverse interpretations of
sometimes conflict, they are united in believing that
a unique significance. The term "Christian" is also used as an
adjective to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a
proverbial sense "all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like."
According to a 2011
Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center survey, there were 2.2 billion
Christians around the world in 2010, up from about 600 million in
1910. By 2050, the
Christian population is expected to exceed 3
billion. According to a 2012
Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center survey
Christianity will remain the world's largest religion in 2050, if
current trends continue.
Today, about 37% of all
Christians live in the Americas, about 26%
live in Europe, 24% live in sub-Saharan Africa, about 13% live in Asia
and the Pacific, and 1% live in the
Middle East and North Africa.
About half of all
Christians worldwide are Catholic, while more than a
Protestant (37%). Orthodox communions comprise 12% of the
world's Christians. Other
Christian groups make up the remainder.
Christians make up the majority of the population in 158 countries and
territories. 280 million
Christians live as a minority.
2 Early usage
3 Modern usage
3.2 Hebrew terms
3.3 Arabic terms
3.4 Asian terms
3.5 Russian terms
3.6 Other non-religious usages
5 Notable individuals
6 See also
The Greek word Χριστιανός (Christianos), meaning "follower
of Christ", comes from Χριστός (Christos), meaning "anointed
one", with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote
adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership. In the
Greek Septuagint, christos was used to translate the Hebrew
מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ, messiah), meaning "[one who is]
anointed." In other European languages, equivalent words to
Christian are likewise derived from the Greek, such as Chrétien in
French and Cristiano in Spanish.
Church of Saint Peter
Church of Saint Peter near
Antioch (modern-day Antakya), the city
where the disciples were called "Christians".
The first recorded use of the term (or its cognates in other
languages) is in the New Testament, in Acts 11:26, after Barnabas
brought Saul (Paul) to
Antioch where they taught the disciples for
about a year, the text says: "[...] the disciples were called
Christians first in Antioch." The second mention of the term follows
in Acts 26:28, where
Herod Agrippa II
Herod Agrippa II replied to Paul the Apostle,
"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a
Christian." The third and final
New Testament reference to the term is
1 Peter 4:16, which exhorts believers: "Yet if [any man suffer] as
a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this
Kenneth Samuel Wuest holds that all three original New Testament
verses' usages reflect a derisive element in the term
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
becomes the standard term in the
Early Church Fathers
Early Church Fathers from Ignatius
The earliest occurrences of the term in non-
include Josephus, referring to "the tribe of Christians, so named from
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger in correspondence with Trajan; and
Tacitus, writing near the end of the 1st century. In the Annals he
relates that "by vulgar appellation [they were] commonly called
Christians" and identifies
Christians as Nero's scapegoats for the
Great Fire of Rome.
Another term for
Christians which appears in the
New Testament is
Jesus is named as a Nazarene in Math 2:23, while
Saul-Paul 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
(Against Marcion 4:8) which records that "the
Jews call us Nazarenes."
While around 331 AD
Eusebius records that Christ was called a
Nazoraean from the name Nazareth, and that in earlier centuries
"Christians," were once called "Nazarenes." The Hebrew equivalent
of "Nazarenes", Notzrim, occurs in the Babylonian Talmud, and is still
the modern Israeli Hebrew term for Christian.
The Latin cross and
Ichthys symbols, two symbols often used by
Christians to represent their religion
A wide range of beliefs and practices is found across the world among
those who call themselves Christian. Denominations and sects disagree
on a common definition of "Christianity". For example, Timothy Beal
notes the disparity of beliefs among those who identify as Christians
United States as follows:
Although all of them have their historical roots in
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), 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." Philosopher Michael Martin, in his book The Case
Against Christianity, evaluated three historical
Christian creeds (the
Apostles' Creed, the
Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed) to
establish a set of basic assumptions which include belief in theism,
the historicity of Jesus, the Incarnation, salvation through faith in
Jesus as an ethical role model.
Nazareth is described as the childhood home of Jesus. Many languages
employ the word "Nazarene" as a general designation for those of
The identification of
Jesus as the Messiah is not accepted by Judaism.
The term for a
Christian in Hebrew is נוֹצְרִי
(Notzri—"Nazarene"), a Talmudic term originally derived from the
Jesus came from the Galilean village of Nazareth, today in
northern Israel. Adherents of
Messianic Judaism are referred to in
modern Hebrew as יְהוּדִים מְשִׁיחִיִּים
(Yehudim Meshihi'im—"Messianic Jews").
In Arabic-speaking cultures, two words are commonly used for
Christians: Naṣrānī (نصراني), plural Naṣārā (نصارى)
is generally understood to be derived from
Nazareth through the Syriac
(Aramaic); Masīḥī (مسيحي) means followers of the Messiah.
The term Nasara rose to prominence in July 2014, after the Fall of
Mosul to the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the
Levant. The nun or ن— the first letter of Nasara—was
spray-painted on the property of
Christians ejected from the city.
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. In some countries Nasrani
tends to be used generically for non-
Muslim Western foreigners, e.g.
Another Arabic word sometimes used for Christians, particularly in a
political context, is Ṣalībī (صليبي "Crusader") from ṣalīb
(صليب "cross") which refers to Crusaders and has negative
connotations. However, Ṣalībī is a modern term;
Muslim writers described European
Christian Crusaders as
al-Faranj or Alfranj (الفرنج) and Firinjīyah
(الفرنجيّة) in Arabic. This word comes from the name of
Franks and can be seen in the Arab history text Al-Kamil fi
al-Tarikh by Ali ibn al-Athir.
The most common Persian word is Masīhī (مسیحی), from Arabic.
Other words are Nasrānī (نصرانی), from Syriac for "Nazarene",
and Tarsā (ترسا), from
Middle Persian word Tarsāg, also meaning
"Christian", derived from tars, meaning "fear, respect".
The Syriac term Nasrani (Nazarene) has also been attached to the Saint
Christians of Kerala, India. In the Indian subcontinent,
Christians call themselves Isaai (Hindi: ईसाई, Urdu:
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 Malays used to call the Portuguese Serani from the
Arabic Nasrani, but the term now refers to the modern Kristang creoles
The Chinese word is 基督徒 (pinyin: jīdū tú), literally "Christ
follower." The two characters now pronounced Jīdū in Mandarin
Chinese, were originally pronounced Jīdū (基督) in Cantonese
as representation of Latin "Christus". In Vietnam, the same
two characters read Cơ đốc, and a "follower of Christianity" is a
tín đồ Cơ đốc giáo.
Christians ("Kurisuchan") in Portuguese costume, 16–17th
In Japan, the term kirishitan (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. Today,
Christians are referred to in
Standard Japanese 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
mean "Christ person/people" or "
Jesus person/people." The Thai word
คริสต์ (khrit) is derived from "Christ."
The region of modern Eastern
Europe and Central Eurasia (Russia,
Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet bloc) has a long
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
Christians already lived there. Later the region saw the first
states to adopt
Christianity officially - initially
Armenia (301 AD)
and Georgia (337 AD), later Bulgaria (c. 864) and the Great Russian
Principality (Kyivan Rus, Russian: Великое княжество
Русское, c. 988 AD).
In some areas, people of that time[when?] came to denote themselves as
Christians (Russian: христиане, крестьяне) and as
Russians (Russian: русские). Both terms had strong Christian
connotations. It is also interesting that in time the
Russian term "крестьяне" (khrest'yanye) acquired the meaning
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"
(Russian: козак, казак - "free man" by the will of
God) was used[by whom?] 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 "our" group - even in a thoroughly secular (though formerly
For a detailed breakdown of
Christian demographics, see Christianity
As of the early 21st century,
Christianity has approximately 2.4
billion adherents. 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, with 1.17 billion adherents, representing half of all
Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western World, where
70% are Christians. According to 2012
Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center survey if
current trends continue,
Christianity will remains the world's largest
religion by 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.
second, with 2.7 children per woman. High birth rates and conversion
were cited as the reason for the
Christian population growths. A 2015
study found that approximately 10.2 million
Muslim converted to
Christianity is growing in Africa,
Asia, Latin America,
Muslim world, and Oceania.
Christians worldwide, June 2014
Christians (self-described) by region
(Pew Research Center, 2011)
Middle East–North Africa
According to a study from 2015,
Christians hold the largest amount of
wealth (55% of the total world wealth), followed by
Hindus (3.3%) and
Jews (1.1%). According to the same study it was
found that adherents under the classification
Irreligion 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
Pew Center 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 after
Jews with an average of 9.3
years of schooling, and the highest of years of schooling among
Christians found in
New Zealand (13.5) and
Christians were also found to have the second
highest number of graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita while
in absolute numbers ranked in the first place (220 million).
Between the various
Singapore outranks other
nations in terms of
Christians who obtain a university degree in
institutions of higher education (67%), followed by the Christians
of Israel (63%), and the
Christians of Georgia (57%).
According to the study,
Christians in North America, Europe, Middle
North Africa and
Pacific regions are highly educated since
many of the world universities were built by the historic Christian
Churches, 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 in educational attainment,
and the study suggests that one of the reasons is the encouragement of
Protestant Reformers in promoting the education of women, which
led to the eradication of illiteracy among females in Protestant
Main articles: Lists of Christians, List of
Christian Nobel laureates,
and List of converts to Christianity
Christian population growth
Conversion to Christianity
Christian denominations by number of members
List of religions and spiritual traditions
List of religious organizations
Christianity 2015: Religious Diversity and Personal Contact" (PDF).
gordonconwell.edu. January 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u ANALYSIS (19 December
2011). "Global Christianity". Pewforum.org. Retrieved 17 August
^ "Discrimination in the EU in 2012" (PDF),
383, European Union: European Commission, p. 233, 2012, retrieved
14 August 2013 The question asked was "Do you consider yourself
to be...?" With a card showing: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Other
Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, and
Non-believer/Agnostic. Space was given for Other (SPONTANEOUS) and DK.
Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu did not reach the 1% threshold.
^ Johnson, Todd M.; Grim, Brian J. (2013). The World's Religions in
Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography (PDF).
Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 10. Archived from the original
(PDF) on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
^ A history of ancient Greek by Maria Chritē, Maria Arapopoulou,
Centre for the Greek Language (Thessalonikē, Greece) pg 436
^ Wilken, Robert Louis. The First Thousand Years: A Global History of
Christianity. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 26.
^ Bickerman (1949) p. 145, The
Christians got their appellation from
"Christus," that is, "the Anointed," the Messiah.
^ a b c Woodhead, Linda (2004). Christianity: A Very Short
Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. n.p.
^ Beal, Timothy (2008).
Religion in America: A Very Short
Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 35, 39.
Beal states that, "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, for
example, would not acknowledge Mormonism or
Christian Science as
Christian. In fact, the nearly 77 percent of Americans who
Christian are a diverse pluribus of Christianities
that are far from any collective unity."
^ Schaff, Philip. "V. St. Paul and the Conversion of the Gentiles
(Note 496)". History of the
^ Christ at Etymology Online
^ Bickerman, 1949 p. 147, All these Greek terms, formed with the Latin
suffix -ianus, exactly as the Latin words of the same derivation,
express the idea that the men or things referred to, belong to the
person to whose name the suffix is added.
p. 145, In Latin this suffix produced proper names of the type
Marcianus and, on the other hand, derivatives from the name of a
person, which referred to his belongings, like fundus Narcissianus,
or, by extension, to his adherents, Ciceroniani.
^ Messiah at Etymology Online
^ Acts 11:26
^ Acts 26:28
1 Peter 4:16
^ #Wuest-1973 p. 19. The word is used three times in the New
Testament, and each time as a term of reproach or derision. Here in
Antioch, the name Christianos was coined to distinguish the
worshippers of the Christ from the Kaisarianos, the worshippers of
^ #Wuest-1973 p. 19. The city of
Antioch in Syria had a reputation for
^ Christine Trevett
Christian women and the time of the Apostolic
Fathers 2006 "'Christians' (christianoi) was a term first coined in
Antioch (Acts 11: 26) and which appeared next in Christian
sources in Ignatius, Eph 11.2; Rom 3.2; Pol 7.3. Cf. too Did 12.4;
MPol 3.1; 10.1; 12.1-2; EpDiog 1.1; 4.6; 5.1;"
^ Josephus. "Antiquities of the Jews — XVIII, 3:3".
^ Tacitus, Cornelius; Murphy, Arthur (1836). The works of Cornelius
Tacitus: with an essay on his life and genius, notes, supplements,
&c. Thomas Wardle. p. 287.
^ Bruce, Frederick Fyvie (1988). The Book of the Acts. Eerdmans.
p. 228. ISBN 0-8028-2505-2.
^ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies: Volume 65,
Issue 1 University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies -
2002 "... around 331,
Eusebius says of the place name
'from this name the Christ was called a Nazoraean, and in ancient
times we, who are now called Christians, were once called Nazarenes';6
thus he attributes this designation ..."
^ Beal, Timothy (2008).
Religion in America: A Very Short
Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 35.
^ Martin, Michael (1993). The Case Against Christianity. Temple
University Press. p. 12. ISBN 1-56639-081-8.
^ Nazarene at Etymology Online
^ a b Society for Internet Research, The Hamas Charter, note 62
^ Euronews 22 July 2014 "Over the weekend, while the world’s gaze
was on Gaza and Syria, the situation of
Christians in northern Iraq
took a sharp turn for the worse, with thousands forced to flee their
homes. ... In Mosul, IS militants marked with a spray-painted ن (the
Arabic letter for “N”) all
Christian property to be seized after
^ Jeffrey Tayler, Trekking through the Moroccan Sahara.
^ "Nasara". Mazyan Bizaf Show.
^ Akbar S. Ahmed, Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity, p 110.
^ Rashid al-din Fazl Allâh, quoted in Karl Jahn (ed.) Histoire
Universelle de Rasid al-Din Fadl Allah Abul=Khair: I. Histoire des
Francs (Texte Persan avec traduction et annotations), Leiden, E. J.
Brill, 1951. (Source: M. Ashtiany)
^ سنة ٤٩١ - "ذكر ملك الفرنج مدينة
أنطاكية" في الكامل في التاريخ
^ "Account of al-Faranj seizing Antioch" Year 491AH, The Complete
^ MacKenzie, D. N. (1986). A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary. London:
Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-713559-5
Catholic priest in saffron robe called 'Isai Baba'". The Indian
Express. December 24, 2008. Archived from the original on January 13,
^ Christ in Cantonese, translation, English-
Christian - Meaning Definition Synonym Synopsis
^ Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Christus
^ Вселенские Соборы читать, скачать -
профессор Антон Владимирович
^ Compare: Cross, Frank Leslie; Livingstone, Elizabeth A., eds.
(1957). "Christian". The Oxford Dictionary of the
Christian Church (3
ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (published 2005). p. 336.
ISBN 9780192802903. Retrieved 2016-12-05. In modern times the
Christian [...] has tended, in nominally
Christian countries, to
lose any credal significance and imply only that which is ethically
praiseworthy (e.g. 'a
Christian action') or socially customary
^ Compare: Sandmel, Samuel (1967). We
Jews and You Christians: An
Inquiry Into Attitudes. Lippincott. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
^ 33.39% of 7.174 billion world population (under "People and
Society") "World". CIA world facts.
^ "The List: The World's Fastest-Growing Religions".
foreignpolicy.com. March 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
^ "Major Religions Ranked by Size". Adherents.com. Retrieved
^ Pontifical Yearbook 2010,
Catholic News Agency. Accessed September
^ Johnstone, Patrick; Miller, Duane Alexander (2015). "Believers in
Christ from a
Muslim Background: A Global Census". Interdisciplinary
Journal of Research on Religion. 11: 8. Retrieved 30 October
Christianity growth soars in
Africa – USATODAY.com".
USATODAY.COM. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
^ a b Ostling, Richard N. (24 June 2001). "The Battle for Latin
America's Soul". TIME.com. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
^ "In China, Protestantism's Simplicity Yields More Converts Than
Catholicism". International Business Times. 28 March 2012. Retrieved
14 February 2015.
^ Chris Arsenault. "Evangelicals rise in Latin America". Retrieved 14
^ Believers in Christ from a
Muslim Background: A Global Census
^ ANALYSIS (19 December 2011). "Europe". Pewforum.org. Retrieved 17
^ ANALYSIS (19 December 2011). "Americas". Pewforum.org. Retrieved 17
^ ANALYSIS (19 December 2011). "Global religious landscape:
Christians". Pewforum.org. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
Christians hold largest percentage of global wealth: Report".
^ The religion of millionaires
^ a b c d e f g h i j k "
Religion and Education Around the World"
(PDF). Pew Research Center. December 19, 2011. Retrieved December 13,
^ "المسيحيون العرب يتفوقون على يهود
إسرائيل في التعليم". Bokra. Retrieved 28 December
Bickerman, Elias J. (April 1949). "The Name of Christians". The
Harvard Theological Review. 42 (2): 109–124.
doi:10.1017/s0017816000019635. JSTOR 1507955. also
available in Bickerman, Elias J. (1986). Studies in Jewish and
Christian history. ISBN 90-04-04395-0. (from which page
numbers are cited)
Wuest, Kenneth Samuel (1973). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New
Testament. 1. ISBN 978-0-8028-2280-2.
Jesus in Christianity
Son of God
History of theology
Oriental Orthodox (Miaphysite)
Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East ("Nestorian")
Latter Day Saint movement