Acts 11

As Christians travel the Gospel spreads, and where God’s Word takes root, the hand of the Lord goes with it to give the tokens of His good will and the evidences of His work among them by the Holy Spirit.

1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.

12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:

13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;

14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

19 ¶ Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.

21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

22 ¶ Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

27 ¶ And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11:1-18 – ​Following a Plain Course

   It is very interesting here to find Peter on the defensive. We have always thought of him as masterful and strong, the born leader of men, whose authority was absolutely indisputable. But here we see him taken seriously to task by the mother Church, and compelled to show the grounds of his unprecedented action. Here also appears the first clear indication of the rift which was, in due course, to develop in the Church, between the converted Jews, who insisted that Gentiles must become Jews before becoming Christians, and those of more liberal views, who began to understand that in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availed anything, but a new creature, Galatians 6:15, and faith working by love, Galatians 5:6. This division was the cause of Paul’s embittered and life-long persecution.
   But the first decision of those in the church in Jerusalem was a perfectly just one, Acts 11:18. The facts compelled a favorable verdict upon Peter’s action. They tacitly confessed that the seal of God’s approval had been unmistakably affixed to his action, and that he had no alternative. When a man lives in union with the Spirit of God, crooked things become straight and rough places plain, Isaiah 40:4. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 11:19-30 – ​Knitting Together the Church

   The development of God’s plan is still further disclosed in the events recorded in this section, which describe the same phenomenon of Gentile conversion, but in different circumstances. In this case, it was not an Apostle that was God’s chosen instrument, but a few unknown and unrecognized disciples, who were fleeing north from persecution, and had reached the gay, volatile city of Antioch. The hand of the Lord was with them, as it certainly had been with Peter, and large numbers of converts were gathered into a church. In this instance, also, the mother church felt bound to make inquiry, so they sent forth Barnabas, Acts 11:22.
   Barnabas was a good man, and his unaffected piety enabled him to recognize at once that this movement was of God. All the signs of true conversion were present. He saw undoubted evidence of the grace of God, and pleaded with the new converts for tenacity and constancy. The secret of perseverance is in the phrase to cleave unto the Lord, Acts 11:23. In addition to the other beautiful traits of his character, we must add the spirit of tender brotherhood that carried Barnabas to Tarsus to find Saul. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 11:24—He was a good man.

​   This is the Holy Spirit’s verdict on the character and life of Barnabas. Very different to the magniloquent inscriptions on the tombs of warriors and statesmen; but it were better to deserve this at the lips of the blaster than to have the longest list of titles ever appended to a mortal’s name. For a good man like this some would even dare to die. The characteristics of this good man were these:
   He could see the good it movements outside his own church-order.—The Church at Antioch originated, as this paragraph proves, in the preaching of a number of unknown, unordained refugees, who were fleeing from the iron hand of persecution. All we know of them is that they were men of Cyprus and Cyrene. They had broken through the barrier of the ages by preaching to the Gentiles, great numbers of whom had been saved. The Church in Jerusalem was somewhat suspicious of this new departure, and sent Barnabas to report; but when he came he was forthwith convinced of its genuineness, saw the evidence of the hand of the Lord, and was glad. No jealousy, nor narrow bigotry, nor suspicion, warped his judgment.
   He was willing that another should share with himself the joys of harvest.—He went off to Tarsus to seek his old acquaintance, and perhaps fellow-student, Paul, and for a whole year the two wrought side by side in loving fellowship, and taught much people.
   He was eager that people should be added to the Lord.—Too often good men seek a following for themselves, and rejoice in those who are added to their church or organization. This is not the noblest style of work. It is better far to imitate the Baptist who was content to be the Bridegroom’s friend. —Our Daily Homily