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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER ELEVEN

"Carpet Call"
Key Verse = Acts 11:18

  1. Peter Accused before the Church at Jerusalem
  2. Barnabas and Saul at Antioch
  3. Relief Sent to the Church at Jerusalem


This chapter falls into two natural parts:
1. (vs. 1-18) Peter is rebuked by the Jewish Christians
   
He is called on the carpet to answer for himself the accusation – “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”
With the result that they all recognized the hand of God and glorified Him.
2. (vs. 19-30) The church in Antioch
   
Barnabas is sent to Antioch by those at Jerusalem,  and he goes to Tarsus to seek out Saul,  to bring him also to Antioch.
The believers were first called "Christians" at Antioch.
The Christians in Antioch sent famine aid to the church at Jerusalem


PETER  ACCUSED  BEFORE  THE  CHURCH  AT  JERUSALEM

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Acts 11:1-3
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(1)  Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

And the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

(2)  And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,

And when Simon Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who upheld the circumcision contended with him.

(3)  saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!"

Saying he had entered into the houses of uncircumcised men and had eaten with them.


However long the interval was,  Peter’s action could not fail to arouse alarm at Jerusalem.  Before this,  while Stephen and the Hellenists might incur popular hostility,  the apostles had been able to enjoy a measure of general good will;  but if the news got about that the leader of the apostolic company himself had begun to fraternize with Gentiles,  that good will would soon be lost.

And in fact it may well have turned out so.  It was not long after this that Herod Agrippa I executed the apostle James and then,  “when he saw that it pleased the Jews,”  arrested Peter as well.  And about the same time James,  the brother of Jesus,  emerges as acknowledged leader of the Jerusalem church rather than any of the twelve apostles.

Apostles and brethren
The Christians who were in Judea.
 
Apostles apóstolos (NT:652) messenger, he that is sent, apostle
First used in the New Testament by Jesus of the 12 in Matthew 10:2.
It was especially applied to the twelve disciples whom Christ selected,  Matthew 10:1-4.
Then,  in a broader sense,  the name is transferred to other eminent Christian teachers such as Barnabas and Paul.
 
Brethren adelphos (NT:80) a brother (literally or figuratively)
1. A brother  (whether born of the same two parents,  or only of the same father or the same mother).
2. Having the same national ancestor,  belonging to the same people,  countryman,
3. Any fellow-man -- as having one and the same father with others,  viz. God (Hebrews 2:11, 12),   and as descended from the same first ancestor.
4. A fellow-believer,  united to another by the bond of affection;  so most frequently of Christians,  constituting as it were but a single family.
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Division - The 8th Attempt of Satan to Destroy the Church

The circumcision
Christians who had been converted from among the Jews.
In this instance it is more a matter of designation.
Circumcision referring to Jews
Uncircumcision referring to Gentiles

Later (Acts 15:1) it became more divisive as a doctrine of contention within the church.
At this time,  however,  the issue was not that the Gentiles Peter had visited had not been circumcised,  but
1. That God would offer His salvation to Gentiles without them first becoming Jewish proselytes.
2. And that Peter had entered their home and eaten their food with them.

To a Jew,  this was no small offence (Acts 10:28);  and,  as they did not know the reason of Peter's conduct,  it is no wonder they should call him to account for it,  as they considered it to be a positive transgression of the law and custom of the Jews.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Peter finally began to understand what Jesus meant when,  in answer to Peter's question,  He said:
Matthew 15:17-18
Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?   But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.

From the Amplified Bible
(1)  Now the apostles (special messengers) and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard [with astonishment] that the Gentiles (heathen) also had received and accepted and welcomed the Word of God [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God].
(2)  So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party [certain Jewish Christians] found fault with him [separating themselves from him in a hostile spirit, opposing and disputing and contending with him],
(3)  Saying, Why did you go to uncircumcised men and [even] eat with them?

Acts 11:4-17
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(4)  But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying:

Then Simon began to recite the facts one after another, 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.'    (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.'    (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?"

(5)  As I was praying in Joppa, I saw in a vision something like a linen cloth descending from heaven, and it was tied at its four corners; and it came even to me.   (6)   And as I looked at it, I saw that there were in it four-footed beasts and creeping things of the earth, and birds of the air.    (7)    Then I heard a voice saying to me, Simon, arise, kill and eat.    (8)    And I said, Far be it, my Lord; for never has anything defiled and unclean entered my mouth.    (9)    But again the voice from heaven said to me, What God has cleansed a do not call unclean.    (10)    This happened three times; then everything was lifted up into heaven.    (11)    And in that very hour, three men  who were sent to me by Cornelius from Caesarea came and stood at the gate of the courtyard where I was staying.    (12)    And the spirit said to me, Go with them, doubting nothing. And these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.    (13)    And he related to us how he had seen an angel in his house, who stood and said to him, Send to the city of Joppa and bring Simon who is  called Peter;    (14)    And he shall speak to you words by which you and an of your household shall be saved.    (15)    And as I began to speak, the  Holy Spirit came on them, as on us at the beginning.    (16)    Then I remembered that word of our Lord, when he said, John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.    (17)    Now, therefore, if God has equally given the gifts to the Gentiles who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ,  just as he gave to us, who am I that I should dispute God?


The version of Peter’s refusal in verse 8 is even closer than the version found in Acts 10:14 to Ezekiel’s protest, when directed to eat unclean food:
Ezekiel 4:12-14
"And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight." ... So I said, "Ah, Lord God! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth."    (NKJV)

He thus showed that his own mind had been as much biased as theirs,  and stated in what manner his prejudices had been removed.  It often happens that those who become most zealous and devoted in any new measures for the advancement of religion were as much opposed to them at first as others.  They are led from one circumstance to another,  until their prejudices die away,  and the providence and Spirit of God indicate clearly their duty.

A simple and unvarnished statement of facts is usually the best way of disarming prejudice and silencing opposition.  Opposition most commonly arises from prejudice,  or from false and exaggerated statements,  and such opposition can be best removed,  not by angry contention,  but by an unvarnished relation of facts.  In most cases prejudice will thus be disarmed,  and opposition will die away,  as was the case in regard to the admission of the Gentiles to the church.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us
When I heard the Gentiles speaking in other languages as we did at Pentecost,  I remembered how the Lord Jesus associated this with the baptism in the Holy Ghost  (Acts 2:4).   I recognized that they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit as we had been at Pentecost,  for it was "the like gift."
(Dake's Annotated Reverence Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Publishing, Lawrenceville, GA)

The words of our Lord,  as quoted Acts 1:5,  to which Peter refers here,  have been supposed by many to be referred to the apostles alone;  but here it is evident that Peter believed they were a promise made to all Christians,  whether Jews or Gentiles,  who should believe on Jesus Christ.  Therefore,  when he saw that the Holy Spirit fell upon those Gentiles,  he considered it a fulfillment of our Lord's promise  Hence, we learn that the promise of the Holy Spirit is given to the whole body of Christians - to all that believe on Christ as dying for their sins,  and rising for their justification.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The gift of tongues made it clear that God had given the same gift to the Gentile believers as he had to Jewish believers when they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

Who was I?
God had made no difference between believing Gentiles and believing Jews;  how could Peter maintain a barrier which God plainly did not recognize?  To do so would be to oppose God.

What power or right had I to oppose the manifest will of God that the Gentiles should be received into the Christian church.

Let us take a lesson from Peter:
Let us not interpret Scripture and God's word in light of what we have always been taught, or what we have always believed.
But rather, let us re-evaluate what we believe in light of Scripture and what Jesus taught.

Excerpts from The Bible Exposition Commentary
Peter no sooner returned to Jerusalem when he was met by members of the strong legalistic party in the church of Judea  ("they that were of the circumcision")  who rebuked him for fellowshipping with Gentiles and eating with them. 
Keep in mind that these Jewish believers did not yet understand the relationship between Law and grace,  Jews and Gentiles,  and Israel and the church.  Most Christians today understand these truths;  but,  after all,  we have Romans,  Galatians,  Ephesians,  and Hebrews!
There were many converted priests in the church who would be zealous for the Law (Acts 6:7),  and even the ordinary Jewish believer would have a difficult time making the transition (Acts 21:20).  It was not only a matter of religion,  but also of culture;  and cultural habits are very hard to break.
The phrase  "contended with him"  comes from the same word translated  "doubting nothing"  in Acts 10:20 and 11:12.  It means  "to make a difference."  These legalists were making a difference between the Gentiles and the Jews after Peter had demonstrated that  "there is no difference!"  God had declared the Gentiles  "clean,"  that is,  accepted before God on the same basis as the Jews - through faith in Jesus Christ.
In his personal defense in Acts 11,  Peter presented three pieces of evidence:
1. The vision from God (Acts 11:5-11)
2. The witness of the Spirit (Acts 11:12-15,17)
3. The witness of the Word (Acts 11:16)
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(4)    But Peter began [at the beginning] and narrated and explained to them step by step [the whole list of events]. He said:
(5)    I was in the town of Joppa praying, and [falling] in a trance I saw a vision of something coming down from heaven, like a huge sheet lowered by the four corners; and it descended until it came to me.
(6)    Gazing intently and closely at it, I observed in it [a variety of] four-footed animals and wild beasts and reptiles of the earth and birds of the air,
(7)    And I heard a voice saying to me, Get up, Peter; kill and eat.
(8)    But I said, No, by no means, Lord; for nothing common or unhallowed or [ceremonially] unclean has ever entered my mouth.
(9)    But the voice answered a second time from heaven, What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, do not you defile and profane by regarding or calling it common or unhallowed or unclean.
(10)  This occurred three times, and then all was drawn up again into heaven.
(11)  And right then the three men sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house in which we were.
(12)  And the [Holy] Spirit instructed me to accompany them without [the least] hesitation or misgivings or discrimination. So these six brethren accompanied me also, and we went into the man's house.
(13)  And he related to us how he had seen the angel in his house which stood and said to him, Send men to Joppa and bring Simon who is surnamed Peter;
(14)  He will give and explain to you a message by means of which you and all your household [as well] will be saved [from eternal death].
(15)  When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did on us at the beginning. [Acts 2:1-4.]
(16)  Then I recalled the declaration of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with ( be placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit.
(17)  If then God gave to them the same Gift [equally] as He gave to us when we believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I and what power or authority had I to interfere or hinder or forbid or withstand God?

Acts 11:18
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(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 they heard these words, they held their peace and glorified God, saying, Perhaps God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.


They were convinced,  as Peter had been,  by the multiple indications of the will of God.

The great truth in this manner established that the doors of the church are opened to the entire Gentile world - a truth that was worthy of this remarkable interposition.  It at once -
changed the views of the apostles and of the early Christians;
gave them new,  large,  and liberal conceptions of the gospel;
broke down their long-cherished prejudices;
taught them to look upon all people as their brethren;
impressed their hearts with the truth, never after to be eradicated, that the Christian church was founded for the wide world, and that it opened the same glorious pathway to life wherever man might be found, whether with the narrow prejudice of the Jew, or amidst the degradations of the pagan world.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(18)  When they heard this, they were quieted and made no further objection. And they glorified God, saying, Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto [real] life [after resurrection].



BARNABAS  AND  SAUL  AT  ANTIOCH

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Acts 11:19
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(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.

Now those who had been dispersed by the persecution which occurred on account of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and even to the land of Cyprus and to Antioch, preaching the word to none but to the Jews only.


This verse introduces a new train of historical remark;  and from this point the course of the history of the Acts of the Apostles takes a new direction.  Thus far,  the history had recorded chiefly the preaching of the gospel to the Jews.   From this point the history records the efforts made to convert the Gentiles.

It begins with exactly the same words used in Acts 8:4 about those scattered by Saul and a direct reference to it.
Acts 8:4 Hoi mén oún diasparéntes

translated

Therefore those who were scattered
Acts 11:19 Hoi mén oún diasparéntes

translated

Now those who were scattered
There, it was a general statement:  "went everywhere preaching the word."  They were scattered,  and everywhere they went, they preached the word.
Here, it is a more specific statement: "traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word."
And here, also, the information is added that they preached the word  "to no one but the Jews only."

Robertson suggests:
From that event Luke followed Saul through his conversion and back to Jerusalem and to Tarsus.
(Acts 8:1-9:32)
Then he showed the activity of Peter outside of Jerusalem as a result of the cessation of the persecution from the conversion of Saul with the Gentile Pentecost in Caesarea and the outcome in Jerusalem.
(Acts 9:33-11:18)
Now Luke starts over again from the same persecution by Saul and runs a new line of events up to Antioch parallel to the other, probably partly following.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.

Phoenicia
Name meaning,  "purple" or "crimson,"  translation of Hebrew  "Canaan, land of purple."   The narrow land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Lebanon Mountains between Tyre in the south and Arvad in the north. New Testament Phoenicia reached south to Dor.  Great forest land enabled the people to build ships and become the dominant seafaring nation.  The forests also provided timber for export,  Phoenician cedars being the featured material of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 5:8-10).
Culture
Phoenician religion was akin to that of the Canaanites,  featuring fertility rites of Baal.   Later,  Baal's Greek counterpart Adonis ("my lord") was worshiped in similar fashion to Tammuz.  The Phoenician princess Jezebel imported devotion to Baal to Israel.  Phoenicia introduced the alphabet to the western world,  but little of their literature survived.
History
City-states rather than central government dominated Phoenicia.  Leading cities were Tyre,  Sidon,  Byblos (Gebal),  and Berytos (Beirut).  An early Neolithic race disappeared about 3000 B.C.,  being replaced by Semitic colonizers from the east.   Invading armies from north (Hittites),  east (Amorites and Assyrians),  and south (Egyptians) dominated history until 1000 B.C. when King Hiram of Tyre established local rule (981-947 B.C.).  They were able to take advantage of their location on the sea with natural harbors and their forests to establish far-flung trade.  Compare Ezekiel 27.  Their sailors established trading colonies to the west and south all along the Mediterranean coast.  The most notable colony was Carthage on the North African coast.
Growth of Assyrian power about 750 B.C. led to Phoenicia's decline.  The Persian Empire gave virtual independence to Phoenicia,  using the Phoenician fleet against Egypt and Greece.  Alexander the Great put an end to Phoenician political power,  but the great cities retained economic power.
New Testament
Jesus' ministry reached Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21).  Persecution beginning with Stephen's death,  led the church to spread into Phoenicia
(from Holman Bible Dictionary. Copyright © 1991 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

Cyprus
A large island lying off the coast of Asia Minor and Syria.  Barnabas was from Cyprus.

Cyprus is that rich and productive island of the Mediterranean lying to the southwest of Seleucia,  from whose eastern promontory it may be seen on a clear day.  Between Phoenicia and Cyprus an active commercial contact subsisted.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Antioch
This Antioch by the Orontes was founded 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator and was one of five cities so named by the Seleucides.  It became the metropolis of Syria though the Arabs held Damascus first.  Antioch ranked next to Rome and Alexandria in size,  wealth,  power,  and vice.  There were many Jews in the cosmopolitan population of half a million.  It was destined to supplant Jerusalem as the center of Christian activity.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

Don't confuse this city with Antioch in Pisidia,  Acts 13:14.  There were at least sixteen Antiochs in the ancient world,  but this one was the greatest.
With a population of half a million,  Antioch ranked as the third largest city in the Roman Empire,  following Rome and Alexandria.  Its magnificent buildings helped give it the name  "Antioch the Golden,  Queen of the East"  The main street was more than four miles long,  paved with marble,  and fined on both sides by marble colonnades.  It was the only city in the ancient world at that time that had its streets lighted at night.
A busy port and a center for luxury and culture,  Antioch attracted all kinds of people,  including wealthy retired Roman officials who spent their days chatting in the baths or gambling at the races.  With its large cosmopolitan population and its great commercial and political power,  Antioch presented to the church an exciting opportunity for evangelism.
Antioch was a wicked city,  perhaps second only to Corinth.  Though all the Greek,  Roman,  and Syrian deities were honored,  the local shrine was dedicated to Daphne,  whose worship included immoral practices.  "Antioch was to the Roman world what New York City is to ours,"  writes James A. Kelso in An Archeologist Follows the Apostle Paul.  "Here where all the gods of antiquity were worshiped,  Christ must be exalted."  Not only was an effective church built in Antioch,  but it became the church that sent Paul out to win the Gentile world for Christ.
When the persecuted believers arrived in Antioch,  they did not at all feel intimidated by the magnificence of the buildings or the pride of the citizens.  The Word of God was on their lips and the hand of God was on their witness, and "a great number" of sinners repented and believed.  It was a thrilling work of God's wonderful grace.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

With the exception of Jerusalem,  Antioch of Syria played a more important role in the early church than any other city.
After Rome and Alexandria,  Antioch was the largest city in the Roman world.
In Antioch the first Gentile church was founded,  and there the believers were first called Christians (11:26).
Paul used the city as his home base during his missionary journeys.
Antioch was the center of worship for several pagan cults that promoted sexual immorality and other forms of evil common to pagan religions.
It was also a vital commercial center — the gateway to the eastern world.  Antioch was a key city both to Rome and to the early church.   
(from Life Application Bible Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The Jews only
They did not yet understand that the Gentiles were to be fellow-heirs,  and of the same body;  but left the Gentiles either to turn Jews,  and so come into the church,  or else remain as they were.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

At this time, however, these new Jewish converts from Jerusalem had limited understanding:
What they did understand:
The Jews were specially called out by Jehovah as His chosen people.
Jesus Himself had said (Matthew 15:24) that He "was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
What they did not understand:
They possibly had not yet heard about the events in Caesarea (Acts 10).
They possibly were unaware of the decision of the first council at Jerusalem regarding the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit even as the Jews had (Acts 11:1-18).
The fact that they did not understand fully may have been because
The events in Caesarea had not yet happened as Robinson suggests.
           - OR -
They could not conceive of God accepting anyone who was not a Jew, or a Jewish proselyte first.  This could be the first seeds of what was later to become known as the Judaizers.

More than likely,  these were Jews from Palestine who spoke the local language of Palestine,  and therefore went only to the Jewish synagogues,  proving to them that Jesus was the Messiah.

From the Amplified Bible
(19)  Meanwhile those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen had traveled as far away as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, without delivering the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] to anyone except Jews.

Acts 11:20 & 21
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(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.

But there were some men among them from Cyprus and from Cyrene; these men entered into Antioch and spoke to the Greeks and preached concerning our Lord Jesus.

(21)  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.


Cyprus - see verse 19.

Cyrene - on the north coast of Africa.

Hellenists
In chapter 6, Hellenists refers to the Greek-speaking Jews of the dispersion that were in Jerusalem.
However, as Barnes points out:
This word usually denotes in the New Testament  "those Jews residing in foreign lands,  who spoke the Greek language."   But to them the gospel had been already preached;  and yet in this place it is evidently the intention of Luke to affirm that the people of Cyprus and Cyrene preached to those who were not Jews,  and that thus their conduct was distinguished from those in verse 19 who preached to the Jews only.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Also Chrysostom notes:  "Accordingly they went about,  preaching to Gentiles also."

To present Him as Messiah to people who knew nothing of the hope of Israel would have been a meaningless procedure,  but the Greek terms  “Kyrios” (Lord) and “Soter” (Savior)  were widely current in the religious world of the eastern Mediterranean.

Many were attempting to find in various mystery cults a divine lord who could guarantee salvation and immortality to his devotees;  now the pagans of Antioch were assured that what they vainly sought in those quarters could be secured through the Son of God who had lately become man,  suffered death and conquered the grave in Palestine.

A great number believed
An Ethiopian eunuch became a Christian while sitting in his chariot on the Gaza road –

A Roman centurion and his household believed the gospel at Caesarea as an apostle unfolded it to them –

But the scale of Gentile evangelization in Antioch was something entirely new,  and it was not spear-headed by any of the 12 apostles.

In Antioch,  Christianity was launched on its worldwide mission and there the believers aggressively preached to the Gentiles (non-Jews who did not worship God).  Philip had preached in Samaria,  but the Samaritans were part Jewish (8:5);  Peter had preached to Cornelius,  but he already worshiped God (10:2).  Believers who were scattered after the outbreak of persecution in Jerusalem spread the Good News to other Jews in the lands they fled to (11:19).  The seeds of this missionary work had been sown after Stephen's death.  At this time,  the believers began actively sharing the Good News with Gentiles.
(from Life Application Bible Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(20)  But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on returning to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, proclaiming [to them] the good news (the Gospel) about the Lord Jesus.
(21)  And the presence of the Lord was with them with power, so that a great number [learned] to believe (to adhere to and trust in and rely on the Lord) and turned and surrendered themselves to Him.

Acts 11:22-24
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(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.

Then tidings of these things came to the attention of the members of the congregation at Jerusalem; and they sent Barnabas to 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.

When he came there and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he pleaded with them that they should follow our Lord with all their hearts.

(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.

For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith; and many people were added to our Lord.


Barnabas
A Cypriot Jew – Investigative delegate from Headquarters.  See Acts 4:36-37 for notes on Barnabas.

They sent Barnabas to aid the disciples there,  and to give them their sanction.  They had done a similar thing in the revival which occurred in Samaria (Acts 8:14).

Had seen
Idoo  (NT:1492)
to perceive (with the eyes)
to perceive by any of the senses
universally, to perceive, notice, discern, discover
to experience
with the accusative of person to see,  i.e. have an interview with,  to visit
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

He took time to make his observations,  and not only in their public worship,  but in their common conversations and in their families,  he saw the grace of God among them.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Each party seems to have acted toward the other in a beautiful spirit.
As for the new converts,
instead of regarding Barnabas with prejudice and suspicion,  as an intruder on the labors of their own teachers,  they,  and their teachers themselves,  seem to have hailed his visit,  and to have put themselves cordially under him as an honored deputy from the mother Church,  who would confirm and advance them in the Faith,  the rudiments of which only they had as yet received.
But no less admirable was the spirit of Barnabas.
Unlike some ecclesiastics of subsequent times - jealous for their own position,  and looking with unfriendly eye on the evangelistic labors of simple Christians as irregular and disorderly - this  noble-minded teacher no sooner saw the grace of God in these uncircumcised converts than he owned it as divine,  and rejoiced in it;  nor could he find anything at first to do among them,  except to exhort them all that  (guarding against fickleness)  with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.  The question of circumcision seems never to have come up.  The reality first,  and then the permanence of the grace given to them,  seem to have been his whole care;  and the historian evidently wishes his readers to regard this as the result of rare spirituality and large-heartedness on the part of Barnabas.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(22)  The rumors of this came to the ears of the church (assembly) in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
(23)  When he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them, he was full of joy; and he continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them all to cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart.
(24)  For he was a good man [good in himself and also at once for the good and the advantage of other people], full of and controlled by the Holy Spirit and full of faith (of his belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation). And a large company was added to the Lord.

Acts 11:25 & 26
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(25)  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.

Then Barnabas departed to Tarsus to seek for 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.

And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for the whole year they assembled together in the church and taught a great many people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch and from that time on.


To seek Saul
The verb translated “to seek for”  – (anazeeteésai) –  is found in the papyri,  where,  according to J.H. Moulton and G. Milligan,  it  “is specially used of searching for human beings,  with an implication of difficulty.”

Saul had been converted about ten years when Barnabas brought him to Antioch.  The New Testament does not tell us what Saul did back home in Tarsus after he left Jerusalem  (Acts 9:28-30),  but it is likely he was busy evangelizing both Jews and Gentiles.  It may have been during this period that he founded the churches in Cilicia (Acts 15:23,41;  Galatians 1:21),  and that he experienced some of the sufferings listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. As he witnessed in the synagogues,  you can be sure he would not have an easy time of it!
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

During these years it is likely that Saul was disinherited  (He says in Philippians 3:8  that for Christ’s sake he had “suffered the loss of all things.”).

A whole year
Probably AD 44.

The church
The believers in Antioch.  There is no instance in the New Testament where the word  "church"  refers to the edifice in which a congregation worships.

Christians
Christianos (NT:5546) follower of Christ - like Christ
This word occurs only three times in the New Testament:
1. Acts 11:26 By the people at Antioch
"the disciples were first called Christians"
2. Acts 26:28 By Agrippa
"You almost persuade me to become a Christian."
3. 1 Peter 4:16 By Peter
"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed,"

Vincent points out:
The name was evidently not given by the Jews of Antioch,  to whom Christ was the interpretation of "Messiah,"  and who would not have bestowed that name on those whom they despised as apostates.  The Jews designated the Christians as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5),  a term of contempt,  because it was a proverb that nothing good could come out of Nazareth  (John 1:46).
The name was probably not assumed by the disciples themselves;  for they were in the habit of styling each other  "believers, disciples, saints, brethren, those of the way."
It,  doubtless,  was bestowed by the Gentiles.  Some suppose that it was applied as a term of ridicule,  and cite the witty and sarcastic character of the people of Antioch,  and their notoriety for inventing names of derision; but this is doubtful.
The name may have been given simply as a distinctive title,  naturally chosen from the recognized and avowed devotion of the disciples to Christ as their leader . The Antiochenes mistook the nature of the name,  not understanding its use among the disciples as an official title - "the Anointed" - but using it as a personal name,  which they converted into a party name.
(from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Robertson observes:
This word is made after the pattern of Herodianus
Heeroodianoi,  followers of Herod  (Matthew 22:16)
Caesarianus,   a follower of Caesar  (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 377, gives papyri examples of the genitive Kaisaros meaning also  "belonging to Caesar"  like the common adjective Caesarianus).
It is a clear distinction from both Jews and Gentiles and it is not strange that it came into use first here in Antioch when the large Greek church gave occasion for it.  Later,  Ignatius was bishop in Antioch and was given to the lions in Rome,  and John Chrysostom preached here his wonderful sermons.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

It is,  however,  an honored name - the most honorable appellation that can be conferred on a mortal.  It suggests at once to a Christian
the name of our great Redeemer;
the idea of our intimate relation to Him;
the thought that we receive Him as our chosen Leader,
the Source of our blessings,
the Author of our salvation,
the Fountain of our joys.
It is the distinguishing name of all the redeemed. 
It is not that we belong to this or that denomination,
it is not that our names are connected with high and illustrious ancestors,
it is not that they are recorded in the books of heraldry,
it is not that they stand high in courts,
it is not that they stand among the frivolous, the fashionable, and the rich
that true honor is conferred upon men.
These are not the things that give distinction and specialty to the followers of the Redeemer.
It is that they are "Christians."
This is their special name;
by this they are known;
this at once suggests their character,  their feelings,  their doctrines,  their hopes,  their joys.
This binds them all together - a name which rises above every other appellation;  which unites in one the inhabitants of distant nations and tribes of men;  which connects the extremes of society,  and places them in most important respects on a common level;  and which is a bond to unite in one family all those who love the Lord Jesus,  though dwelling in different climes,  speaking different languages,  engaged in different pursuits of life,  and occupying distant graves at death.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The pagans of Antioch knew all about these people,  for the Christians did not keep quiet about their faith,  but proclaimed it wherever they went.  “CHRISTOS”  –  the Greek form of the title “Messiah”  –  might be the name of an office to Greek-speaking Jews,  but to the pagans of Antioch it was simply the name of a man of whom these people were always talking about;  a curious name,  to be sure.
“Who are these people?” One would ask another –
“O,  these are the people who are always talking about Christos,  the Christ-people,  the Christians.”

From the Amplified Bible
(25)  [Barnabas] went on to Tarsus to hunt for Saul.
(26)  And when he had found him, he brought him back to Antioch. For a whole year they assembled together with and were guests of the church and instructed a large number of people; and in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.



RELIEF  SENT  TO  THE  CHURCH  AT  JERUSALEM

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Acts 11:27 & 28
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(27)  And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.

And in those days came prophets 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.

And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the spirit that a great famine was to come throughout the land, the famine which occurred in the days of Claudius Caesar.


In these days
While Barnabas and Saul were at Antioch.

Prophets
prophetes (NT:4396) a foreteller;  by analogy, an inspired speaker

The word "prophet" denotes properly  "one who foretells future events."   It is sometimes used in the New Testament to denote simply  "religious teachers,  instructors sent from God,  without particular reference to future events."   These prophets seem to have been endowed in a remarkable manner with the knowledge of future events;  with the power of explaining mysteries;  and in some cases with the power of speaking foreign languages.  In this case,  it seems that one of them at least had the power of foretelling future events.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Ephesians 4:11 speaks of the Ministry of the Prophet as one of the ministries given to the church to help equip the believers for the work of the ministry, and the edification (or the building up) of the body of Christ.

I Corinthians 12:10 speaks of the Gift of Prophecy as one of the gifts given to the church as a manifestation of the Spirit of God in the body of Christ.

Agabus
This man is mentioned but in one other place in the New Testament.  In Acts 21:10-11,  he is referred to as having foretold that Paul would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles.

Great famine
The meaning of this prophecy evidently is,  that the famine would be extensive;  that it would not be confined to a single province or region,  but that it would extend so far as that it might be called "general."  In fact,  though the famine was particularly severe in Judea,  it extended much further.

This is one of the few instances in which the sacred writers in the New Testament affirm the fulfillment of a prophecy.

Claudius Caesar
The Roman emperor.  He began his reign in 41 AD,  and he reigned for 13 years.  He was at last poisoned by one of his wives,  Agrippina,  who wished to raise her son Nero to the throne.  During his reign no less than four different famines are mentioned by ancient writers,  one of which were particularly severe in Judea,  and were the one,  doubtless,  to which the sacred writer here refers:
(1) The first happened at Rome,  and occurred in the first or second year of the reign of Claudius.
It arose from the difficulties of importing provisions from abroad.  It is mentioned by Dio,  whose words are these:  "There being a great famine,  he (Claudius) not only took care for a present supply,  but provided also for the time to come."  He then proceeds to state the great expense which Claudius was at in making a good port at the mouth of the Tiber,  and a convenient passage from thence up to the city  (DID, lib. Ix. p. 671,672; see also Suetonius, Claudius, cap. 20).
(2) A second famine is mentioned as having been particularly severe in Greece.
Of this famine Eusebius speaks in his Chronicon, p. 204:  "There was a great famine in Greece,  in which a modius of wheat (about half a bushel) was sold for six drachms."  This famine is said by Eusebius to have occurred in the ninth year of the reign of Claudius.
(3) In the latter part of his reign,  51 AD,  there was another famine at Rome,
mentioned by Suetonius (Claudius, cap. 18),  and by Tacitus (Ann., 12:43).  Of this,  Tacitus says that it was so severe that it was deemed to be a divine judgment.
(4) A fourth famine is mentioned as having occurred particularly in Judea.
This is described by Josephus  (Antiq., book 20, chapter 2, section 5).
"A famine," says he, "did oppress them at the time (in the time of Claudius);  and many people died for the lack of what was necessary to procure food withal.  Queen Helena sent some of her servants to Alexandria with money to buy a great quantity of grain,  and others of them to Cyprus to bring a cargo of dried figs."
This famine is described as having continued under the two procurators of Judea,  Tiberius Alexander and Cassius Fadus.
Fadus was sent into Judea,  on the death of Agrippa,  about the fourth year of the reign of Claudius,  and the famine,  therefore,  continued probably during the fifth,  sixth,  and seventh years of the reign of Claudius.  (See the note in Whiston's Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 2, section 5;  also Lardner as quoted above)  Of this famine,  or of the want consequent on the famine,  repeated mention is made in the New Testament.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Roman historians refer to several famines during the reign of Claudius ( A.D. 41-54),  while Josephus,  the Jewish historian,  mentions a severe famine in Judea in A.D. 46.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(27)  And during these days prophets (inspired teachers and interpreters of the divine will and purpose) came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
(28)  And one of them named Agabus stood up and prophesied through the [Holy] Spirit that a great and severe famine would come upon the whole world. And this did occur during the reign of Claudius.

Acts 11:29 & 30
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(29)  Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.

Then the disciples, each one according to his ability, determined to set something aside for relief to the brethren who dwelt in Jerusalem.

(30)  This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

This they did, and sent it there to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.


Disciples
Mathetes (math-ay-tes');  (NT:3101);  a learner, i.e. pupil:   The Christian believers at Antioch.

According to his ability
According as they had prospered.  It does not imply that they were rich,  but that they rendered such aid as they could afford.

This arose not merely from their general sense of obligation to aid the poor,  but they felt themselves particularly bound to assist their Jewish brethren.

The manner of expression here seems clearly to imply that this spirited proposal originated,  not with Barnabas and Saul,  but with the disciples themselves, in the spontaneous exercise of Christian love to their suffering brethren of the circumcision - a grace which seems to have shone the brightest in the earliest days of the churches,  as it still does in every new community of believers.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The worst of the famine came A.D. 45.  The warning by Agabus stirred the brethren in Antioch to send the collection on ahead.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

The gift sent to Jerusalem by the disciples in Antioch (most of whom were probably Gentiles) indicates at least two things:
(1) their gratitude to the Jerusalem church from which the Christian message had come
(2) their sense of unity with the Jewish believers in Jerusalem
A literal rendering of each of them would send as much as he could might suggest that each individual was sending his own particular gift.  Obviously,  however,  this was a joint undertaking since the money was sent to the church elders in Jerusalem by means of two persons designated for the task,  Barnabas and Saul.
(from the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)

Elders
Presbuteros  (NT:4245)  older;  as noun,  a senior;  specifically,  an Israelite Sanhedrist  (also figuratively,  member of the celestial council)  or Christian "presbyter."

In the church,  the elders were mature believers who had the spiritual oversight of the ministry (1 Peter 5:1; 2 John 1).  When you compare Acts 20:17 and 28, and Titus 1:5 and 7, you learn that  "elder"  and  "bishop"  [overseer] are equivalent titles.  The elders/bishops were the  "Pastors"  of the flocks,  assisted by the deacons;  and the qualifications for both are found in 1 Timothy 3.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

By Barnabas and Saul
This is the first effort of the new church to send help to the Christian believers at Jerusalem, but by no means was it the last.
AD 49 Galatians 2:9-10
James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews.  All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do.
AD 56 1 Corinthians 16:1-3
Now, concerning what you wrote about the money to be raised to help God's people in Judea. You must do what I told the churches in Galatia to do.  Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what he has earned, and save it up, so that there will be no need to collect money when I come.  After I come, I shall give letters of introduction to the men you have approved, and send them to take your gift to Jerusalem.
AD 57 2 Corinthians 9:1-2
There is really no need for me to write you about the help being sent to God's people in Judea.  I know that you are willing to help, and I have boasted of you to the people in Macedonia.  "The brothers in Achaia,"  I said,  "have been ready to help since last year."  Your eagerness has stirred up most of them.
AD 57-58 Romans 15:25-28
Right now, however, I am going to Jerusalem in the service of God's people there.  For the churches in Macedonia and Achaia have freely decided to give an offering to help the poor among God's people in Jerusalem.  That decision was their own; but, as a matter of fact, they have an obligation to help them. Since the Jews shared their spiritual blessings with the Gentiles, the Gentiles ought to use their material blessings to help the Jews.  When I have finished this task and have turned over to them all the money that has been raised for them, I shall leave for Spain and visit you on my way there.
Quotations from the TEV.

This act of the new church in Antioch reflects the second greatest commandment God gave to mankind, and the greatest sign to the world of the true effects of the Spirit of God:
Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus answered,  " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the greatest and the most important commandment.  The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'     (TEV)
John 13:34-35
"And now I give you a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples."     (TEV)
And it was repeatedly taught throughout the New Testament:
Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.     (NKJV)
Matthew 5:42
Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.     (NKJV)
Matthew 19:21
Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."      (NKJV)
Acts 20:35
And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said,  'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"      (NKJV)
Romans 12:20
Therefore  "If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him a drink;      (NKJV)
2 Corinthians 9:7
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart,  not grudgingly or of necessity;  for God loves a cheerful giver.      (NKJV)
Ephesians 4:28
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.      (NKJV)
1 Timothy 6:18
Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give , willing to share,      (NKJV)


Six Characteristics Of A Usable Christian
Acts 11:29-30
 

1. Unstained by our Culture (11:19-20, 22, 26)
 
At Antioch the believers were first called Christians, the Christ-ones. There are some distinctions of a church that must be kept intact. We bear the name of our Savior.
2. Stretched to our Limits. (11:19; 12:1-3)
 
From a close look at the early church, we see clearly that struggle, rejection, criticism, and even death for believers was the norm.
3. Adhering to the Savior. (11:21, 23, 26)
 
Barnabas encouraged the believers to make a serious, solid attachment to Christ and Christ alone.
4. Bold in our Witness. (11:19-21, 24)
 
This church spoke, told, and preached the Good News. People believed and turned to the Lord.
5. Liberal in our Giving. (11:22, 24, 27-30)
 
The Antioch church gave. They were unselfish, other-centered, and giving oriented, even to a culturally and racially different congregation.
6. Equipped in the Scriptures (11:23, 26)
 
This church was taught. The picture here is of classrooms, courses, study, memorization . . . work. Before Antioch became a sending place it was a studying place. We have the picture of an equipping church and an equipped people. No wonder they changed the world.
(Tyndale Handbook of Bible charts and maps, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, IL)

From the Amplified Bible
(29)  So the disciples resolved to send relief, each according to his individual ability [in proportion as he had prospered], to the brethren who lived in Judea.
(30)  And so they did, sending [their contributions] to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.




(End of Chapter Eleven)

 

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