The first name by which the church was known before the word “Christian” became attached to it at Antioch, was the “Way.” You can read about it in Acts 9:2; 18:25; 19: 9, 23; 24: 14, 22 (and possibly 2 Peter 2:2).
“What is the meaning of that title?”
Well, no one is quite sure how it came about. The name just appears in Acts without explanation. As you can see, no point is made about it in the passages above. But many think it came from the words of Jesus When He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14: 3).
“But, if it came from that verse, what about the other two items—truth and life? ”
That’s a good question, but remember, Jesus went on to say, “Nobody comes to the Father except by Me” (6). And these words all occur in a discussion of the “way” to the place that Jesus was preparing for His followers (v.3). So, it’s quite likely that John 14 is the source of the name.
“OK. I can see that. But, then, our faith would be described, fundamentally, as the way to eternal life or something similar.”
Right. And that wouldn’t be inaccurate. Surely the apostles who later on it seems dropped it, didn’t do so because they thought it was inaccurate. Luke, in Acts, freely described the faith by the term. It is a highly expressive title for our faith. Indeed, it might be interesting to revive it at times in certain circles to get people to think more about a prime objective of Christianity.
“Did the church eventually reject it or substitute the name “Christian” for it?”
There’s no record of its being rejected. It seems that the name “Christian,” in time, became the more popular designation, and the earlier designation just faded out.
“Then, there wouldn’t be anything wrong with using it?”
Not so long as you explained what it means. Otherwise, people might think you were describing some cult (there once was one that went by that name).
Quite. I kinda’ like the title. Wish it were more widely known, appreciated, and used.