Chapter 11: Acts 11: 1-30, Revival in Antioch
Heavenly Father, thank You for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and not by good works. Thank You that salvation is universal, to all who believe, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
V 1, Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
Meanwhile, the apostles and disciples in Jerusalem heard about the conversion of Cornelius and his household.
VV 2-3, 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”
When Peter returned to Jerusalem, legalistic, Pharisaic Jews, Judaizers, or those of the circumcision voiced their objections. They confronted Peter and questioned him for being friendly with the Gentiles.
VV 4-8, 4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance, I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners, and it came to me. 6 When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’
Peter narrated about his trance, his vision of unclean animals descending from heaven in a sheet, the Lord’s command to kill and them, and so on.
VV 9-14, 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11 At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover, these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’
The Lord told Peter not to call the Gentiles unclean. He saw the vision repeated three times. While he was recovering from the trance, Cornelius’ men arrived. At the instruction of the Holy Spirit, Peter followed them to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea with 6 brothers. Meanwhile, an angel of God also appeared to Cornelius in a vision and instructed him to bring Peter from Joppa to him in Caesarea.
VV 15-18, 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent, and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
When Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius’ household, and they believed in Jesus. The Holy Spirit descended upon them, enabling them to speak in tongues and prophesied, just as on the day of Pentecost. Peter’s opponents were silent. The apostles accepted Peter’s explanation.
V 19, 19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.
The camera angle shifted from Peter in Jerusalem to Paul in Antioch. Because of intense persecutions of Christians in Jerusalem after the martyrdom of Stephen, they fled Jerusalem and settled in Phoenicia (Lebanon), Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria, preaching to the Jews only.
VV 20-21, 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
Some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch of Syria and preached Christ to the Hellenist, Greek-speaking Jews. A great spiritual revival started in Antioch of Syria, a great multitude believed and turned to the Lord.
VV 22-24, 22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
The apostles in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch of Syria to check out the revival. Barnabas means son of encouragement. Barnabas was an encourager, a faithful, generous, and Spirit-filled Christian. When he saw the great revival in Antioch, he encouraged the believers, and many more came to know the Lord.
VV 25-26, 25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Barnabas went to Tarsus, found Saul, and brought him to Antioch to assist in the church. Barnabas and Saul taught the Christians in Antioch for one whole year and the Antioch church rapidly grew. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch, another first for Acts. Before this, they were called “followers of the Way”.
Saul was a Roman citizen, a Hellenistic, Greek-speaking Jew. Greek for Christian is ‘’Christianos’’, which means a slave of Christ. Christians are slaves of Christ.
There is a sizeable Christian population in Syria today whose history dated back to the time of Acts 11.
VV 27-28, 27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.
A prophet is both a forth-teller and a foreteller. A forth-teller proclaims God’s message truthfully. A foreteller prophesy future events before they happened. A prophet called Agabus prophesied that there would be a worldwide famine during the rule of Claudius Caesar. History recorded a famine during Claudius Caesar from 41 to 51 AD.
VV 29-30, 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The elders of Antioch took an offering and sent them to Judea through Barnabas and Saul to assist them with the famine.
Barnabas means son of encouragement. Are you a Barnabas? When was the last time, you encouraged someone in the faith?
Christian means a slave of Christ. Are you a slave of Christ? Did you surrender to His Lordship?
Heavenly Father, thank you for the timeless story of Acts. Thank You for raising Barnabas and Paul to pioneer the Church in Antioch of Syria. We pray for a Barnabas spirit of encouragement, in Jesus’ name, Amen.