First Baptist Church Laredo
Wednesday Night Bible Study - 7/15/2020 - Acts 11:19-30
  • This passage of Scripture begins with a reminder of what has transpired so far. Stephen had been killed and the church was scattered, but the gospel continued to spread. What was meant to destroy the church and the gospel witness, actually made the gospel witness stronger and brought more people into the kingdom of God.

    1. The Church at Antioch (Acts 11:19-26)

    Acts 11:19–26 CSB
    19 Now those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 News about them reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And large numbers of people were added to the Lord. 25 Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul, 26 and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.

    A. The gospel, at this point, was exclusively being given to the Jewish people. (Acts 11:19)

    The church was being persecuted in Jerusalem and they spread out. As they spread the took the message of the gospel with them; however, they thought the gospel was only for Jews. For whatever reason, it didn’t dawn on most of them that Gentiles could be saved too.
    They had spread out pretty far.

    <show map>

    Phoenicia would be modern day Lebanon. Cyprus was the island nation off the coast of Israel and Syria. Antioch was in modern day Syria. Antioch was a principle city in the ancient world. It was a city of around 300,000 people and was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. Only Rome and Alexandria were larger cities. Antioch also had a large Jewish population. The were taking the gospel wherever they went, but their impact was limited to the Jewish people.

    B. Some intrepid believers started giving the gospel to Gentiles in Antioch. (Acts 11:20)

    We don’t know who they are, but we know they were from Cyprus and Cyrene.

    <show map>

    Cyprus would have been the island we just mentioned and Cyrene would be in modern day Libya. We don’t know why they started preaching to the Gentiles, but we would have to assume the Holy Spirit was with them because of the results they experienced. This reminds me of an important point. We are responsible to spread the gospel and speak the good news. We are not responsible for the results. God is the one who draws people to himself. We give the message and the Holy Spirit does the work of convicting the heart of people. As faithful stewards of the promises of God, we are to be spreading the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust God to give the results.

    C. A large number of Gentiles in Antioch accepted the gospel message. (Acts 11:21)

    God blessed their efforts. We don’t know how many people turned to God, but the Bible records that “a large number who believed turned to the Lord.” This was an evangelical explosion. “The problem with unknown people doing significant things is that they lack credentials for others to accept the validity of what they are doing.”

    D. Barnabas is sent to investigate what was happening in Antioch. (Acts 11:22)

    Barnabas was highly respected by the believers in Jerusalem. He was from Cyprus. He was Jewish, so he had something in common with those who were ministering to the Gentiles in Antioch. He would be able to provide a perspective others may not have.

    E. Upon arriving in Antioch, Barnabas was quickly convinced of the presence of God’s grace on the community of believers. (Acts 11:23-24)

    Barnabas’ first response was joy. It is apparent why he had the nickname of “Encourager” because that is exactly what he did. Barnabas encouraged them to stay faithful. Verse twenty-four is an explanatory verse. It gives us the reason for Barnabas’ encouragement. It connects his ministry of encouragement to his character.

    Why did Barnabas encourage the believers at Antioch?

    i. He was a good man.

    “Good” is a quality that inspires others to action. It is someone you want to be like. It inspires loyalty and commitment. He didn’t see the bad in people. He saw the good they were doing and he encouraged them to continue in the good they were doing. Barnabas was a man of integrity.

    ii. He was full of the Holy Spirit.

    Like Stephen, he was full of the Holy Spirit. He was led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guided his actions.

    iii. He was full of faith.

    He lived his life by faith in God.

    F. More people were added to the believers at Antioch. (Acts 11:24)

    The results of Barnabas’ presence in the city of Antioch was an increased fervor to spread the gospel. More people believed. Now, we have a good problem. Who is going to help this work in Antioch continue?

    G. Barnabas searched for Saul to minister to the believers at Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26)

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    Tarsus was about a hundred miles from Antioch, no small journey in the ancient world. Saul had left Jerusalem about 10 years before the event in chapter 11.

    H. Believers were first called “Christians” in Antioch. (Acts 11:26)

    Antioch is a special place in Christian history because it is where the name “Christian” originated. Christians didn’t use this designation for themselves. Early writings suggest that Christians didn’t call themselves “Christians” until the second century. They used terms like “disciples”, “saints”, “brothers and sisters”, and “Followers of the Way”. It was non-Christian Gentiles who used the term, likely in a derogatory way. “Christian” means “Christ people” or “Messiah people” or “Jesus people”. This name would not have come from the Jews because they did not accept Jesus as Messiah. Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. This term would have come from Gentiles.

    2. Giving to the church at Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30)

    Acts 11:27–30 CSB
    27 In those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman world. This took place during the reign of Claudius. 29 Each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers and sisters who lived in Judea. 30 They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.

    A. A famine was predicted to hit Jerusalem. (Acts 11:27-28)

    It is interesting to me that the gift of prophecy is mentioned as the source of the knowledge that a famine was coming. It is indicated that this prophecy was given under inspiration from God, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

    Do you think the gift of prophecy still exists today?

    Paul considered the gift of prophecy to have high value.
    1 Corinthians 12:28 CSB
    28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, leading, various kinds of tongues.
    Ephesians 4:11 CSB
    11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
    In 1 Corinthians 14:1 and verse 39, Paul even indicated it was something to be desired. This person Agabus is mentioned twice in the book of Acts. On both occasions he used this gift of prophecy to predict future events. We just read the first one. The second one is in chapter 21.
    Acts 21:10–11 CSB
    10 After we had been there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him over to the Gentiles.’ ”
    Frankly, I see no reason to think the gift of prophecy has ceased. We need to be sure to test the prophet. We need to be sure they are not saying something contrary to God’s Word or are trying to profit from their gifting. Many people have claimed to be prophets and to have received a word from God, but have proved to be false prophets. For example, if someone gives a date for the coming of Jesus Christ, we can judge such a person to be false. The Bible says,
    Matthew 24:36 CSB
    36 “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels of heaven nor the Son—except the Father alone.
    Sometimes, I think the gift of prophecy is not recognized today because we don’t understand how it manifests. For example, the gift of prophecy might manifest itself when a person says something they did not plan to say. Sometimes during times of prayer, things are revealed to us that we were previously not thinking about. Sometimes, people can see potential future events if the course we are on does not change. Prophets are known for speaking the truth, even and especially to people who did not want to hear from God.
    The famine came during the reign of Claudius, which would have been between 41-54 A.D. According to Josephus, a severe famine overtook Judea in 46 A.D.

    B. The believers took up a collection to help those in need in Judea. (Acts 11:29-30)

    This set a precedent for believers helping other believers financially in other areas of the world.
      • Acts 11:19–26CSB

      • Acts 11:19–26CSB

      • Acts 11:19CSB

      • Acts 11:20CSB

      • Acts 11:21CSB

      • Acts 11:22CSB

      • Acts 11:23–24CSB

      • Acts 11:24CSB

      • Acts 11:25–26CSB

      • Acts 11:26CSB

      • Acts 11:27–30CSB

      • Acts 11:27–30CSB

      • Acts 11:27–28CSB

      • 1 Corinthians 12:28CSB

      • Ephesians 4:11CSB

      • Acts 21:10–11CSB

      • Matthew 24:36CSB

      • Acts 11:29–30CSB

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