Upon his return to Jerusalem, Peter faced controversy by the other apostles when they heard he had socialized and preached the gospel to Gentiles in Caesarea. The apostles felt God’s promise of salvation was reserved to Jews, the chosen seed of Abraham.
However, it was revealed to Peter that by God’s grace, all those who believe, both Jews and Gentiles would be saved from the wages of sin which is death, and eternal life in Hell.
“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.” (Acts 11:19)
After Stephen’s execution, Christians took refuge in various areas of Judea, including Phoenicia, a long, fertile plain between the Lebanon mountains and the Mediterranean Sea where the cities of Tyre and Sidon were found. Other Christians exiled to the Greek Island of island of Cyprus, and the city of Antioch, to the north, the great, corrupt city. Though they were scattered all over the region, the early ministers of Christ only preached the gospel to Jews.
“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.” (Acts 11:20-21)
A number of ministers of the Lord came from the island of Cyprus as well as Cyrene, located in north Africa, a Greek city with a large Jewish population. These preached the gospel to both Jewish Greeks and Jews alike.
“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.” (Acts 11:22-24)
Barnabas was himself a converted Grecian Jew, a former Hellenist who was well suited to examine the impact of the gospel on Greek audiences in Antioch, a thriving, corrupt city in much need of God’s grace. What Barnabas witnessed the transformation in the Greek city was nothing short of miraculous, as many were saved and added to the church of Jesus, the risen Christ and savior of man.
“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.” (Acts 11:25-26)
Saul had left Jerusalem around A.D. 39 on a missionary journey to Syria and Cilicia. He would be best suited to aid Barnabas on his mission to assess the state of the church in Antioch, as well as continue to advance the gospel and further the kingdom of God. It was at Antioch that believers were first labeled “Christians,” after our Lord Jesus, the Christ.
Barnabas left for Tarsus around A.D. 43 where, joined with Saul, they endeavored together to Antioch where they answered the call of the Lord to fulfill their mission as servants of the risen Christ, and preachers of the gospel. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre