What’s In a Name?

We call ourselves Christadelphians. When someone unfamiliar with us first hears about us, they often say, “That’s a funny name.” We respond by asking, “Do you think that the word Philadelphia is a funny word?” No one has ever said that they did. Then we explain that the word Philadelphia is simply two Greek words put together; the Greek word for love is phileo and the Greek word for brother is adelphia, so Philadelphia actually means “love-brother.” The city of Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love because that is the meaning of its name in Greek.

We explain that our name combines the word Christ and the Greek word for brother, so it means “Christ-brother,” or brethren of Christ. So our name is not funny at all; it simply states that we are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is it presumptuous to call ourselves brethren of Christ? We read in Hebrews,

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suf- fering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

Christ is the captain of our salvation, and he chooses to call those for whom he died his brethren. We humbly and thankfully take the name, Christadelphians, Christ’s brethren.

No one is born a Christadelphian. Some of us may have parents, grandparents, and great grandparents all who are or were Christadelphians, but no one is born one. Each Christadelphian has made a personal decision to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior and to serve him with all their heart. Part of that decision requires obedience to the command to be baptized, and since baptism is condi- tional on belief, each candidate for baptism is interviewed to ensure that there is an understanding of the importance of the commitment and a basis of belief.

Being related to Christ conveys privileges and responsibilities. We become eligible to receive the benefits of the promise that God made to Abraham; the apostle Paul tells us, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The promise includes blessings in our lifetime as well as in the life to come. The responsibilities Jesus has told us about twice in the Gospel of John, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” and “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” The apostle John assures us “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

Carrying the name, brethren of Christ, is a privilege we should not take lightly. Twice Solomon tells us of the value of a good name: in Proverbs he says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold,” and then in Ecclesiastes he explains, “A good name is better than precious ointment.”

Each of us should be conscious of the good name we have taken on and work to uphold it. Our lives should reflect the one whose name we have assumed. When Christ wrote to the ecclesia in Sardis, he told them, “These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” They had a name for not doing the work of the Lord. May it never be said of us that we are dead in our service to our Lord.

If we truly are Christ’s brethren and sisters then we must try to live in accordance with his commandments, leading godly lives where we put his service and the needs of others before our own. Paul tells us,

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.’ ”

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ submitted to his Father’s will with the words, “Not my will but thine be done.” We must strive to do the same.

We all long to have our personal name written in the book of life. Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help… my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.” At the judgment the book of life will be opened to see if our name is there, as we read in Revelation,

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

All of us should feel thankful to be called a Christadelphian, and we must strive to live up to that name. May we be truly Christ’s brethren, emulating our Lord, and at that last day may we find our name written in the book of life. We are promised, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

Robert J. Lloyd