Joseph Prince Has Lied Again that the Holy Spirit Replaced the name ‘Disciples’ with ‘Christians’ in Acts 11:26 – By Rev George Ong (Dated 23 June 2022)


In a weekly Sunday sermon aired on YouTube on 19 June 2022, last Sunday (not a live but pre-recorded sermon), 4 days ago, Joseph Prince said the following;


Please click here to view excerpts in the 5-second video:


“It was the Holy Spirit who replaced the name ‘disciples’ into Christians.”


Based on Acts 11:26 in this particular sermon, Joseph Prince asserted that the Holy Spirit is the one who called disciples Christians, and hence, He has replaced the name ‘disciples’ with ‘Christians’:


Acts 11:26 NIV

26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.


I have already thoroughly refuted the above bogus claim of Joseph Prince in my previous articles.


But let me add that Bible scholars have different opinions as to how believers in Acts came to be known as Christians.


Some said that they were called Christians by others, while others opined that it was the believers themselves who took on the name ‘Christians’.


Let me quote what Thomas A Tarrants wrote:


“It (Christians) could have been a term devised by the Gentile believers to distinguish themselves from the local Jews. The renowned New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce recognizes the possibility “that it was the disciples who first began to call themselves Christians, meaning thereby ‘servants of Christ’.”


However, he also suggests, as John Stott and many others do, that the name may have been the natural outgrowth of the believers speaking so much about Christ that Gentiles began to describe them as “the Christ-people, or Christians.”


John Stott sees this as positive, since “it marked out the disciples as being, above all, the people, the followers, the servants of Christ.”


C.K. Barrett comments, “the new designation was probably needed when it first became apparent that the believers, who had left their old Gentile way of life, were no more Jews than heathens – in fact, a third race, Christians.”


Others have suggested that Christian was a term of derision bestowed by nonbelievers, that the term stuck and was subsequently embraced with honor, as were the names Puritan and Methodist many centuries later.”


You would notice that even though these renowned Bible scholars have different opinions about the origin of the name, ‘Christians’, none has ascribed its origin to the Holy Spirit as Joseph Prince has. To me, this is simply because the phrase, ‘the Holy Spirit’, is completely absent in Acts 11:26. 


In the light of the differing views of renowned scholars, such as F F Bruce, John Stott and C K Barret and others of how the name ‘Christians’ came to be used to address believers, and the fact that the phrase, ‘the Holy Spirit’ isn’t found in Acts 11:26 at all, Joseph Prince’s stand that it was the Holy Spirit who called the ‘disciples’ ‘Christians’ is based on mere presumption and his wild adding into God’s word.


In order for his view that it was the Holy Spirit who called ‘disciples’ ‘Christians’ and that it was the same Spirit who replaced ‘disciples’ with ‘Christians’ to stand, Prince had to add the words, ‘the Holy Spirit’ into the text of Acts 11:26.


Adding into God’s word is a forbidden sin that any true teacher wouldn’t even dare to venture in – yet, Joseph Prince has committed this audacious act again!


But even if it was true that the Holy Spirit was the one who called ‘disciples’ ‘Christians’ in Acts 11:26 as Joseph Prince has postured, there is never anywhere stated in Acts 11:26 and the entire scriptures that the Holy Spirit has replaced ‘disciples’ with ‘Christians’.


Please take another closer look at Acts 11:26, and tell me whether you can find the word, ‘replaced’ or its equivalent in the text?


Not an iota!


The text in Acts 11:26 plainly says:


“… The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”


Joseph Prince has magically transformed and twisted the words, “were called” to “replaced by” in the text.


Indeed, Joseph Prince has daringly lied against the Holy Spirit by putting his words into the Holy Spirit’s mouth when there isn’t a single piece of evidence in the entire scriptures that the Holy Spirit has replaced ‘disciples’ with ‘Christians’. 


Again, assuming if it was true that the Holy Spirit was the one who called ‘disciples’ ‘Christians’ as Joseph Prince has asserted, plain logic, let alone Bible exegesis, would dictate that that doesn’t mean ‘Christians’ has replaced ‘disciples’.


Let’s take our former and late Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, as an example.


Many of us would know that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was also known as Harry, and some of his friends called him ‘Harry’.


However, the fact that others called him Harry doesn’t mean he is no longer called Lee Kuan Yew, or that Harry (his ‘Christian’ name) has replaced Lee Kuan Yew (Chinese name).


He was known as Lee Kuan Yew as most have addressed him, or, alternatively, Harry, as some have called him.


This simply means that the former Prime Minister can be called either Lee Kuan Yew or Harry, depending on who called him, and they would all be right because they were referring to the same person.


Similarly, Acts 11:26,


26 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch,


doesn’t mean that ‘Christians’ have replaced ‘disciples’; but that disciples, which is the most common word for denoting believers, are also now called Christians. Whether people called them ‘disciples’ or ‘Christians’, they are referring to the same people.


Joseph Prince has deceptively hidden this important fact from you that even though ‘disciples’ were called ‘Christians’ in Acts 11:26, they were still called ‘disciples’ in many other later passages in Acts:


Acts 13:52; 14:20; 14:21; 14:22; 14:28; 15:10; 16:1; 18:23; 18:27; 19:1; 19:9; 19:30; 20:1; 20:30; 21:4; 21:16.


This clearly indicates that the word ‘disciples’ has not fizzled out after Acts 11:26, and provided concrete proof that the name ‘Christians’ has not replaced ‘disciples’ but that both were synonymous names used for New Covenant believers in Acts.


Prince has also hidden another fact from you that while the word ‘Christians’ appeared only 2 times in Acts and a mere 3 times in the entire New Testament, the word ‘disciples’ was mentioned 28 times in Acts and a hefty 280 times in the New Testament – clearly indicating that disciples was a far more common term used to denote believers, rather than Christians.


During Jesus’ earthly ministry, those who believed in Him and chose to follow Him were called disciples.  After Jesus’s death and resurrection, the term ‘disciples’ was still used in Acts and didn’t disappear from the scene.


Whenever the word disciple is used in the Book of Acts, it refers to believers without exception. All believers are called disciples.  Those who believed in Jesus and were saved in the Book of Acts, are called disciples. One becomes a disciple when he decides to become a believer. In other words, the terms ‘believers’ and ‘disciples’ are synonymous. They refer to the same person.


Furthermore, there are many other synonyms used to refer to those who are believers in Christ: ‘disciple’, ‘Christian’, ‘saint’, ‘brethren’, ‘the elect’, ‘people of God’, etc. These have not replaced one another but, generally speaking, they can be used in place of one another.


Disciples are also called ‘Christians’, in the same way that they can also be addressed as ‘saints’ or ‘the people of God’ or ‘the elect’, because they are synonyms, and not because ‘disciples’ has been replaced by ‘Christians’ as Joseph Prince has falsely alleged.


Disciples and believers/Christians are terms that are used interchangeably in the Book of Acts – definitely implying they are synonymous and have the same meaning.


In the Book of Acts which documents the history of New Testament Christianity, and arising from the church’s obedience to Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples, those who repented and believed in Jesus were still called disciples:


Acts 6:7 NKJV

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.


On another occasion, Luke, the author of Acts, reported another increase in converts. But this time instead of using the term ‘disciples’, he used the word, ‘believers’:


Acts 5:14 NKJV

14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,


On yet another occasion, Luke also records that the disciples were called Christians:


Acts 11:26 NIV

26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.


From these 3 passages (Acts 6:7, 5:14 & 11:26), it is rather clear that Luke treated these 3 terms: ‘disciples’, ‘believers’ and ‘Christians’ as synonymous.


They have not replaced one another but they, if used in the context of the Body of Christ, can be used in place of one another.


To say that the name ‘Christians’ is another way of addressing ‘disciples’, which I have proven to be so, is totally different from saying that the name ‘disciples’ has now been replaced by ‘Christians’.


But this is what Prince has falsely asserted when he told a blatant lie that the term ‘disciples’ has now been replaced by ‘Christians’ by the Holy Spirit Himself.


This is plainly using, or more correctly, misusing and abusing the name of God, the Holy Spirit, in vain.


Rev George Ong



This article was featured in conjunction with the following 3 Articles; Please click below to read them:


Joseph Prince’s Use of Half-Truth & Twisted-Truth to Cast a bad light on Jesus’ 12 Disciples & Discipleship – By Rev George Ong


Joseph Prince’s False Dichotomy Between Sonship and Discipleship – By Rev George Ong


Joseph Prince Justifying His Holiday Based on the Lamest Reason – By Rev George Ong


(These 4 articles were also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)