“The Way”

This is a subsidiary post to The Ways of Messiah.

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The apostle John quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the way” (John 14:6).

This term – “the way” – became the most common shorthand manner of expressing the movement to which the New Testament testifies.  This is the movement we would call “Christianity.”

This post is about the Bible’s description of Christianity as “The Way.”

A BibleGateway.com search of [“the way”] finds 10 verses in the book of Acts in which this phrase occurs.  These verses can be broken down as follows:

FIVE CLEAR REFERENCES IN ACTS TO “THE WAY” 

These clearly refer to what we would call “Christianity.”  Note that the translators of the NASB capitalize the “w” in way, indicating their belief that something quite specific was intended, that it was likely connected with the sentiment of John 14:6, and that it was surely a label for the movement we call earliest Christianity .  Of course, the term “Christianity” was not used in the Bible (and the term “Christian” itself only shows up three times: Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).

Acts 9:2

Acts 19:9

Acts 19:23

Acts 24: 14  –  This is the only one of the five occurrences where Paul is using the term.  All the rest stem from Luke, indicating that the term would have been widely understood by others – both inside and outside the movement.

Acts 24:22

(“THIS WAY” AS A SIXTH REFERENCE)

The NASB translators also capitalize the “w” in Acts 22:4 (“this Way”) indicating that it belongs with the five references above.  Paul, who is speaking this verse, made clear elsewhere that it was the body of Christ he was persecuting (Acts 9:4, 5; 22:7, 8; 26: 14, 15; 1 Corinthians 15:9), and thus it’s clear that “Way” was a label for the movement of which Jesus was the head.

THREE POSSIBLE REFERENCES IN ACTS TO “THE WAY”

Acts 16:17

Acts 18:25

Acts 18:26

TWO EXTRANEOUS REFERENCES TO “THE WAY”

These two verses appear in a search of Acts as containing the exact phrase “the way” but are obviously not relevant to this study.

Acts 25:3

Acts 26:13

OTHER POSSIBLE REFERENCES TO “THE WAY”

Hebrews 10:20  –  “a new and living way”

2 Peter 2:2  –  “the way of the truth”

2 Peter 2:21  –  “the way of righteousness”

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Consider also that “this way” is the equivalent of “the race set before us” in Hebrews 12:2.  And since we are “runners” in this race, Jesus is rightly regarded as “the forerunner” in Hebrews 6:20.

The phrase “the way” occurs a total of 274 times in the NASB (57 in the New Testament, and 217 in the Old Testament).  It would take some time to sift through all of them for other possible uses of “the way” relevant to this post.