When added by the Lord to His church, a person has been born
into the family of God (John 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23; Acts 2:36-41,
47). God is the Father of those in His spiritual family (2 Corinthians
6:18). The relationship of those who are in God’s family
to one another is similar to that of siblings in a physical
family. Thus, the terms, “brother” and “sister”
are not formal titles, but rather pertain to a family relationship.
Although there is certainly nothing wrong for those in Christ
to refer to one another as brother or sister, still it is not
to be used as a formal address.
Just as a physical family has its family name, so do the children
of God. During the patriarchal age, Jacob, the son of Isaac
and grandson of Abraham, received a new name given unto him
by the Lord. That name was Israel, which means prince of God
(Genesis 32:28; 35:10; and 2 Kings 17:34). He was the father
of twelve sons whose descendants became known as the twelve
tribes of Israel (Exodus 5:1-2). As a people the Jews were called
Israelites, meaning the children of the prince of God (Joshua
13:6). In speaking of these same people as a nation, it became
the nation of Israel (2 Samuel 7:23). It was during the Jewish
dispensation that the prophet Isaiah foretold that the family
of God would receive a new name when Gentiles saw the righteousness
of God (were converted) (Isaiah 62:2). After the Gentile household
of Cornelius obeyed the gospel (Acts 10), obedient believers
in Christ were called Christians (Acts 11:26). This was the
new name given by the mouth of the Lord. We are to glorify God
in the name Christian and in no other name (1 Peter 4:16; Acts
26:28). To be a Christian is to be a follower and learner of
Jesus Christ. Salvation is found only in the name of Christ
in whom we honor as Christians (Acts 4:12).
There are other scriptural terms pertaining to the family
of God, but these are not a proper name or a family name. For
example: A man whose name is John Brown includes both a given
name and a family name. If Mr. Brown’s occupation is farming,
then it is correct to refer to him as farmer Brown. The word
“farmer” is not his name, but depicts his occupation.
In a similar manner, the following terms are descriptive, but
do not fall in a category of a given name or a family name.
Some of these terms are: sons of God (Romans 8:14); disciples
(John 8:31,32); brethren (Ephesians 6:23); saints (2 Corinthians
1:1); children of God (Galatians 3:26); a good soldier of Jesus
Christ (2 Tim. 2:3); a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).