Act 11: "The work of the Truth in the first century continued
apace as the apostle Paul defended his preaching to Gentiles. It was a time of
acute agitation, as brethren contended over the matter. It was difficult for the
Jewish believers to accommodate the involvement of Gentiles on the same basis as
those of the covenant nation. 'They of the circumcision' (Act 11:2) questioned
the work of the apostle with Cornelius (Act 10). The witnesses that Peter took
with him as so described in Act 10:45. Perhaps, before he left with the
messengers of Cornelius there had been some discussion as to whether such action
should be taken, and Peter had selected witnesses who had voiced their
opposition to such a reversal of tradition. In the face of God's obvious
endorsement of Cornelius (vv 44-46), they were silenced, and Cornelius was
baptised. In Jerusalem, however, the action of Peter had created a party now
known as 'they of the circumcision', determined to maintain the traditional
attitude of Judaism. He had anticipated this, and took six witnesses back to
Jerusalem with him (Act 11:12). So the record continues: (1) Controversy within
the ecclesia: vv 1-3. (2) Peter explains the circumstances: vv 4-17. (3) The
opposition is temporarily silenced: v 18. (4) The Gospel spreads to Antioch: vv
19-21. (5) Barnabas is sent to supervise the work: vv 22-24. (6) Barnabas seeks
the help of Paul: vv 25,26. (7) Famine predicted: relief is sent to Jerusalem
through Barnabas: vv 27-30" (GEM).
PETER WENT UP TO JERUSALEM: Accompanied by the six
witnesses (Acts 10:23; 11:12).
Did the "agape" feast involve non-kosher food?
Vv 19-30: Antioch becomes the new center for the proclamation
of the gospel to the Gentiles.
GREEKS: Actually, "Hellenists", ie, ones who imitate
the manners and customs or the worship of the Greeks, and use the Greek tongue;
used in the NT of Jews born in foreign lands and speaking Greek.
THE LORD'S HAND WAS WITH THEM: By miraculous signs: Act
EVIDENCE OF THE GRACE OF GOD: "Grace must find
expression in life; otherwise it is not grace" (Karl Barth).
What was the evidence of God's grace in the new believers?
Holy Spirit gifts? Not necessarily. How about? (1) Self-sacrifice for Truth: the
giving up of this life's pleasures for the hope of something far better. (2)
Willingness to change: the true measure of a profession of repentance. (3)
Eagerness to learn, from the Bible itself and one's teachers, the details of the
plan and purpose of God, and personal and practical application of the teachings
of God's Word. (4) The love of the brethren, in real and practical
Barnabas recruits Saul for the great new work.
CALLED: Gr "chrematizo", sig "to impart a revelation,
injunction or warning; bear a name, be called or named... a divine statement or
answer" (NIDNTT). Elsewhere the sw ref to communication from God or an angel
(Mat 2:12,22; Luk 2:26; Act 10:22; Rom 7:3 -- poss; Heb 8:5; 11:7; 12:25).
Therefore, even though it appears that the name "Christian" is given to the
disciples by the people of Antioch, such a naming may have been arranged by God
in His providence. Why? Because -- with the imminent influx of Gentile believers
-- a new designation was in order for a new "church" which would no longer be
CHRISTIANS: A name occurring elsewhere only in Act
26:28 and 1Pe 4:16.
AGABUS: Sig "locust": the insect of famine. (Both of
his prophecies were of calamities.) Cp Act 21:10.
TO PROVIDE HELP FOR THE BROTHERS LIVING IN JUDEA: The
Christians in Jerusalem would be the most affected, being a much hated, yet
significant, minority. The other Jews would use the famine as an excuse to deny
them food and other necessities.