Followers of Christ -or- Good Doers
Herein lies a great truth, or at least the plausibility of one. There is support for the idea that the original word recorded in Scripture was "chrestian," not "Christian" as we have previously believed. This is evidenced in both early Greek and Aramaic which use the more generic term for "good, of high moral character".
The oldest Greek New Testament - Alexandrinus
The Sinaiticus (dated to 330-360AD) always shows XPHCTIAN (chrestian), not XPICTIAN (christian). Alexandrinus (dated to 400-440AD) appears to be the earliest Greek New Testament to contain XPICTIAN (christian) which is roughly 75 years later.1 Notice the spelling in the following three verses (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16):
The plausibility of "chrestian" being the correct word is by no means a 'slam dunk,' as there are arguments to be made both ways. However, as evidenced in the Sinaiticus texts pictured above, great weight should be given to the idea. Notice how the following three verses read with "Christian" being replaced with "good-doers":
Acts 11:24-26, Because he was a good man, and filled with the Set-apart Spirit and with belief. And large numbers were added to the Master. Then Barnabah went to Tarsos to seek Sha’ul, and having found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came to be that for an entire year they came together in the assembly and taught large numbers. And the disciples were called good [men] first in Antioch.
Acts 26:28, And Agrippa said to Sha’ul, “With a little you might persuade me to be gracious (or, kind)!”
It does not appear that this famous 'altar call' passage is the evangelical passage we have so long assumed. It appears that Paul is asking/persuading for Agrippa to deal with him graciously, with kindness. Paul has put Agrippa in a quandry, if Agrippa says that he believes the prophets, then he must also agree that Yeshua is the Messiah which would upset the Jewish religous leaders. If Agrippa says that he does not believe the prophets, he will also upset the Jewish religious leaders. Answering either way puts Agrippa in a quandry which is why we see him deferring judgment.
1 Peter 4:15-19, For do not let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or doer of evil, or as a meddler. But if [one suffers] being a good [man], let him not be ashamed, but let him esteem Elohim in this matter. Because it is time for judgment to begin from the House of Elohim. And if firstly from us, what is the end of those who do not obey the Good News of Elohim? And if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where shall the wicked and the sinner appear? So then, those who suffer according to the desire of Elohim should commit their lives to a trustworthy Creator, in doing good.
Aramaic - Khabouris Codex Aramaic Peshitta
A further witness to the plausibility of "chrestian" over "christian" is found in the Aramaic (displayed below as Hebrew). Although the vowel pointings are of a later century, they give us a another witness as to the correct pronounciation. ܟܪܣܛܝܢܐ is a Greek word that is not exactly translatable into Aramaic:
כרסטינא = KRSTINA
The Hebrew yod (י) is equivalent to the Greek iota (I,i). As seen here, the dispute is what letter/vowel should come between the ס and ר (read right to left). If an "i" should be here (krIstina) then there should be another yod (י) in the word as so: כריסטינא. Since there is only one yod (י), it seems most logical that there should only be one iota (I,i) in the word. So, should there be another "i" or another vowel sound? According to the Khabouris vowel pointings, the pronounciation should be 'eh' as in egg.
The Zlama Qashya vowel produces the "eh" sound and is displayed as two vertical dots below the letter (as seen above). If this word was to produce the "ih" sound (as in Christian), we should see two horizontal dots called Zlama Pseeqa.
The Summary of the Matter
The Khabouris (Aramaic/Syriac) agrees with the Sinaiticus (Greek) that the pronunciation should be "chrestian," not "christian."
Romans 2:4, Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and tolerance, and patience, not knowing that the kindness (chrestos) of Elohim leads you to repentance?
Ephesians 4:32, And be kind (chrestos) towards one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Elohim also forgave you in Messiah.
1 Peter 2:2-3, as newborn babes, desire the unadulterated milk of the Word, in order that you grow by it, if indeed you have tasted that the Master is good (chrestos)
The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 14:4, For it is written, The men of kindness (chrestoi) shall inherit the land. The innocent shall be left upon it; but they that be lawless shall be destroyed out of it.