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Bible Commentaries
Acts 11

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

Acts 11:1

Heard -- Gentiles -- This was a major event in Christianity, Gentiles obeying the gospel without first being proselyted into the Jewish religion.

Received the Word -- The phrase is u sed in Acts to indicate acceptance and obedience. Acts 2:41; Acts 8:14; Acts 11:1; and Acts 17:11.


1. Pentecost- Acts 2:22 & Acts 2:36-47

2. Samaria- Acts 8:4-13

3. Ethiopian eunuch- Acts 8:26-39

4. Paul (Saul)- Acts 9:1-20 & Acts 22:6-16

5. Cornelius– Acts 10:1-48 & Acts 11:1-18

6. Lydia- Acts 16:13-15

7. Philippian jailer- Acts 16:23-34

8. Corinthians- Acts 18:8

Verse 14

Acts 11:14

Words -- saved -- Acts 10:6; Acts 10:48


Paul was- Acts 23:1 & Acts 26:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:12-16, Acts 7:58-60 & Acts 8:1.

Cornelius was--- Acts 10:1-2 & Acts 11:13-14.

See also Proverbs 14:12, Luke 16:15, Isaiah 55:8-9.

Verse 15

Acts 11:15

Holy Ghost fell -- Holy Spirit baptism was uncommon. The event Peter refers back to as a similar likeness to what happened at Cornelius’ house was ten years old back to that day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2. Peter had to go all the way to "the beginning" to find a likeness to it.

The beginning -- The event on Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4 is referred to as the beginning. That outpouring of the Holy Spirit was upon Jews. And nothing like it occurred again until Acts 10:44-45 when it was upon Gentiles. To find a likeness to what had happened at Cornelius’ house, Peter had to refer back to the day of Pentecost that followed Jesus’ death and resurrection.

That day, Pentecost of Acts 2, was the beginning of the preaching of death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the Gospel. It was the beginning of the church, Acts 2:47. It was the beginning of the New Covenant age. Christ had returned to heaven as High Priest to offer His own blood as the price for man’s redemption. Hebrews 9:24.

Verse 17

Acts 11:17

The like gift -- Cornelius was given the SAME GIFT - tongues - as the Apostles were given in Acts 2:1-4. The second similarity was in the manner of how it was sent. It came directly from God without human intervention.

Verse 18

Acts 11:18

They -- The apostles and Judean brethren spoken of in Acts 11:1-2.

Verse 19

Acts 11:19

Acts 11:19-30; Acts 13:1-3 See Topic Notes "Sermons - Gann"

The Great Church At Antioch

Antioch -- Acts 6:5, Could Nicolas have been one of them? Else why is he the only one connected with a location and the fact that he was a proselyte. This would facilitate a contact with Gentiles in Antioch.

The Great Church at Antioch

1. The church at Antioch was a UNITED church, though composed of a mixture of

a. Jews, Acts 11:19, and

b. Grecians, Acts 11:20, cf. Acts 13:1.

2. The Great Church at Antioch was known for PREACHING CHRIST. Acts 11:20

3. Its MEMBERS were EXHORTED (encouraged), Acts 11:23

a. They enjoyed God’s grace

b. The cleaved to the Lord

4. The LOST were CONVERTED, Acts 11.24

a. Much people were taught acts 11.26

b. The disciples were called "Christians"

5. It was a BENEVOLENT church, Acts 11:28-29

a. They were liberal givers

b. They were concerned

c. The were organized and cooperated, acts 11.30

6. It was a MISSION MINDED church, acts 13.1-3

[For full outline see the sermon "The Great Church At Antioch" in the e-Sword topic file "Sermons_Gann.topx" for additional comments on the Acts 11:19-30; and Acts 13:1-3.]

Verse 20

Acts 11:20

Antioch -- Acts 6:5, Could Nicolas have been one of them? Else why is he the only one connected with a location and the fact that he was a proselyte. This would facilate a contact with Gentiles in Antioch.

Vs. 20 Contrasted with v. 19 "Jews only". It appears that these men of Cyprus and Cyrene had heard of the conversio of Cornelius. The time frame is about A.D. 41-42.

Grecians -- Gentiles

Preaching the Lord Jesus -- Acts 8:35-36

Verse 21

Acts 11:21

Turned unto the Lord -- This followed belief, and completes their conversion, that is , repentance and baptism, cf. Acts 3:19; Acts 2:38.

Verse 22

Acts 11:22

Barnabas -- Acts 4:36-37; A.D. 42.

Verse 23

Acts 11:23

[It is very important right here to see the sermon "The Great Church At Antioch" in the e-Sword topic file "Sermons_Gann.topx" for additional comments on the Acts 11:19-30; and Acts 13:1-3.]

Verse 25

Acts 11:25

About A.D. 43

Verse 26

Acts 11:26

See TopicNotes "Sermons_Gann.topx"

Biblical Characteristics of a Christian

Were called -- (see RWP); see Isaiah 62:2 There Greek verb here is always used of God calling, etc. Hence the evidence that this new name, where given by prophets at Antoch, or a designation from the Gentiles in the city there, was a God given name, the "new name" for the people of His fold.

Called -- Aorist, infinitive, active, meaning "divinely called" in all six places.

Christians -- The word "is made thus like a Latin adjective, though it is a Greek word, and it refers to the Hebrew belief in a Messiah. The name was evidently given to the followers of Christ by the Gentiles to distinguish them from the Jews since they were Greeks, not Grecian Jews. The Jews would not call them Christians because of their own use of Christos the Messiah. The Jews termed them Galileans or Nazarenes. The followers of Christ called themselves disciples (learners), believers, brethren, saints, those of the Way. The three uses of Christian in the N.T. are from the heathen standpoint (here), Acts 26:28 (a term of contempt in the mouth of Agrippa), and 1 Peter 4:16 (persecution from the Roman government). It is a clear distinction from both Jews and Gentiles and it is not strange that it came into use first here in Antioch when the large Greek church gave occasion for it." -

View the LITV Bible version of Acts 11:26. (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, copyright © 1976-2000 by Jay P. Green, Sr.)

Terms uses to refer to the followers of Christ were "disciples" "followers" "believers" "brethren" "saints" "Christians" "Nazarenes" Acts 24:5; but one of the most common was simply "the way" especially by Luke in Acts.

Verse 27

Acts 11:27

Prophets -- Acts 15:32 An inspired spokesman for God.

Verse 28

Acts 11:28

Agabus -- Acts 21:10-11 spoken of as being from Judea, here as one of the prophets from Jerusalem.

By the Spirit -- i.e. by inspiration.

Which came to pass -- Josephus, Ant. xx.5 - the probable date of the famine = AD 46.

Claudius Caesar -- AD 41 - 54, (Poisoned by one of his wives, who wanted her son Nero on the throne.)

Verse 30

Acts 11:30

Elders -- First mention of elders in the church. Here pictured as being in charge of the money delivered to Judean brethern.

Saul -- Saul said this visit was fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:1. Note that the order here is "Barnabas and Saul". This order of their names will change later in their missionary journey.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Acts 11". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/acts-11.html. 2021.
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