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Acts 11:19-30 – Believers First Called “Christians” in Antioch

Summary

After the death of Stephen many Greek-speaking believers flee Jerusalem for Antioch, where they build up a community with many new believers. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) visit this new community in which believers are first called "Christians."

Analysis

After the death of Stephen, many of the Greek-speaking believers in Jerusalem flee to other Mediterranean cities. Those who go to Antioch, called by one ancient writer the "third among the cities of the Roman world," have God-given success in drawing many people to belief in Jesus. Antioch had a large and well-established Jewish population as well as a predominantly Gentile population. Outside of Jerusalem, in this great and diverse cosmopolitan city, believers are first identified as Christians.

Acts 11:19-30

The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists* also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they associated with* the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’.

27 At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. 29The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers* living in Judea; 30this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

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