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Bible Commentaries

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
Acts 11

 

 

Introduction

The Gentiles Had Accepted
God"s Message
- Acts Eleven
-

Word spread quickly about what had happened at Cornelius" house. The apostles and the brethren in Judea heard that Gentiles had accepted God"s word. Upon Peter"s return to Jerusalem, some of the Jewish brethren started arguing with him. They were upset that he had stayed in the home of Gentiles, and had even eaten with them.

Peter reviewed the details of the events that had transpired. He explained about: (1) his vision in Joppa, (2) how the angel had appeared to Cornelius, (3) how God had bidden him to go to Cornelius, (4) how the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Gentiles, and (5) how six Jewish brethren had been witnesses to what had happened. Peter said that God gave the Gentiles the same gift of the Holy Ghost that he had given to the Jews. When they heard Peter say this, they stopped arguing and started praising God. They knew that God had now allowed the Gentiles to turn to Him, and that He had given spiritual life to them.

The gospel spread from Jerusalem to Antioch. The terrible trouble that started when Stephen was killed led to some Christians going to Antioch and preaching Christ to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were allowed to hear the good news about Jesus. Many of them put their faith in the Lord. When the news of what was happening reached the church in Jerusalem they sent Barnabas to Antioch to encourage the brethren. He rejoiced in what he saw.

Barnabas realized that he needed help in this work so he sent to Tarsus to find Saul. They met with the church for a whole year and taught many people. There in Antioch the Lord"s followers were called Christians for the first time. Not only were these people "called Christians" they acted like Christians should. When they heard about a terrible famine the brethren in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the Christians in Judea. They sent this help to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.


Verses 1-18

Peter"s defense of his visit to the gentiles - Acts 11:1-18 : The apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter returned to Jerusalem he was challenged by the Jewish brethren for preaching to the Gentiles. The brethren at Jerusalem thought it was wrong to receive the Gentiles. God had used a vision to convince Peter that it was right to preach to Gentiles. The Holy Ghost was given to the Gentiles just as He had been given to the Jews.

The Jews seemed insulted by the fact that Peter had stayed in the home of Gentiles, and had even eaten with them. Peter explained the events that had led him to preach to Cornelius. He recounted his vision in Joppa of the unclean beasts. He heard the voice of God say, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." He told these brethren about the three men that were sent by Cornelius and how that the Spirit told him to go with them and not to worry. An angel of the Lord had instructed Cornelius to send for Peter in order to learn how to be saved. Peter did go with these Gentiles and he was accompanied by six Jewish brethren. As Peter began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles just as upon the apostles at the beginning.

Peter believed that refusing Gentiles into the church would be withstanding God. God made no distinction between Jew and Gentile when He granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life. When they heard Peter say this, they became silent and started praising God.


Verses 19-21

The church was established in Antioch of Syria - Acts 11:19-21 : As early Christian were scattered they preached the word wherever they went. The persecution that followed the death of Stephen led to the gospel being preached in Antioch. Some of the followers of our Lord went to Antioch and started telling Gentiles the good news about salvation through the Lord Jesus.

The gospel reached Antioch with great success. The hand of the Lord was with those that preached to Jews and Greeks. When the Greeks heard the gospel a great number of them turned to the Lord. Antioch became the base for the great evangelistic journeys among the Gentiles.


Verses 22-26

Barnabas was sent by the church to Antioch - Acts 11:22-26 : The news of what was happening in Antioch reached the church in Jerusalem. Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem church to look into the work at Antioch. When he reached Antioch he was glad to see what the grace of God was doing there. Barnabas begged them to remain faithful to the Lord with all their hearts. In his teaching Barnabas always exhorted people to cleave unto the Lord.

Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. Many more people turned to the Lord through the work of Barnabas and others. Barnabas found Saul and brought him to Antioch to be part of this great work. They met with the church for a whole year and taught many of its people. There in Antioch disciples were called Christians in fulfillment of prophecy. The prophet Isaiah had written "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name." (Isaiah 62:2) The name Christian is also found in Acts 26:28 and in 1 Peter 4:16. It is a great blessing to be able to wear the precious name of the Christ.


Verses 27-30

Barnabas and Saul were sent to Jerusalem -- Acts 11:27-30 : In that year that Saul and Barnabas were at Antioch some Christian prophets came from Jerusalem. One of them named Agabus, predicted, by the Spirit of God, a famine throughout the entire world. This would be a terrible famine and it happened when Claudius was Emperor. The brethren at Antioch determined to send relief to the brethren in Judea. The Christians in Antioch decided to send whatever help they could to the followers of Christ in Judea.

Each Christian did what he or she could to relieve those that were suffering. Each person, whether rich or poor, master or servant, according to the substance he was possessed gave to help those that were in need. The gift was sent to the elders of the church in Judea to be given to the poor. The Christians at Antioch, in gratitude to the brethren in Judea for having received the Gospel through them resolved to help them with their physical needs. The contribution given by the brethren was sent by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 11:4". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/box/acts-11.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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