Acts 11: 19-26…..A major step outwards for the church.

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Comment: This isn’t a diary with everything given in sequence. We are, however, given the fact that initially the scattering believers (those fleeing from persecution) only spoke of their faith to Jews. The ‘Hellenists’ mentioned were Greeks – gentiles. Antioch was a large and influential city. Many became believers, but the gentile converts would have had little understanding of the background to the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, God’s Son. They needed help to grow up in their new found faith. Barnabas, obviously a very good man and a strong believer, was sent to the fledgling church by the leaders in Jerusalem. The Paul, the previous strong persecutor, now a strong believer, was called to help. His name has been changed from Saul. He was a very highly educated man in the Jewish tradition. With that background, the now ardent believer in Jesus, was called to stand beside and help Barnabas. We hear for the first time the word ‘Christians’. Then it referred to the believers but over the centuries it has almost become a cultural word and doesn’t necessarily include the real faith/belief which it did initially.

Prayer: May my faith be real and, please, help me to grow from an uninformed babe to maturity in Christ.

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