Labels and a Lost Tract

by | Aug 16, 2021 | Devotional, Uncategorized

The only known manuscript of The Epistle to Diognetus, which may have then been the earliest gospel tract in existence, was destroyed in 1870 during a European war. Thankfully, a couple of careful folks had copied down the text of this manuscript well before its immolation (689–690).

This old text sounds like you would imagine an ancient gospel tract might explain Christianity to non-Christians. What was true then is still true now. Although an unsaved person might be able to label a Christian, they probably don’t understand what a Christian actually is.

This remind me of how Acts 11:26 records the first time people started calling believers Christians.

And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26c).

The word Christian labels someone as a “follower of Christ.” So what was it that allowed a denizen of Antioch to identify a follower of Christ? I would suspect that the same was true for the believers at Antioch as the believers described in the ancient tract I referenced at the beginning. For them, it wasn’t their country, their language, or their eccentric customs that set them apart. It was their godliness, love, and good works. And this was the supernatural fruit of their belief in God’s only Son, “the holy one for the lawless, the guiltless for the guilty, the just for the unjust,” who covers our sin with His righteousness (Diogn. 5; 9.2–3).

There is no indication the believers at Antioch were ashamed of following Christ. Nor should any Christian be. As Scripture instructs us elsewhere, we bring glory to God by faithfully bearing this name (1 Pet. 4:16). We should be know for our godliness, love, and good works. Bearing the label Christian is a God-given opportunity to glorify God.

This is an edited version of a post I originally wrote for Positive Action Bible Curriculum. You can view that post here.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash.


Brent Niedergall

Pastor, Grammarian, Runner

Brent Niedergall, MDiv, is Chief Editor at Positive Action for Christ in Whitakers, North Carolina. He’s gone to war in Afghanistan, felled towering trees, and parsed Greek verbs.


Brent Niedergall