devotion 7-8-15, Acts 11

Good Morning!

Acts 11:19-30

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.

Luke transitions from the story of Peter’s presentation to the apostles in Jerusalem, moving again to the spread of the church. Those scattered by the persecution were traveling as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch; but in these places they were speaking only in the synagogues, and only to the Jews. But some of those came from Cyprus and Cyrene – these would have been Jews who were “Hellenized”, in other words, who spoke Greek, which was the common language around the Mediterranean at the time, and understood the customs of these people. Those Greek speaking disciples began to speak to the Greeks (Gentiles) in Antioch, and a great movement began – many people became believers and turned to the Lord. They heard about this in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he saw what was happening, Barnabas rejoiced! But seeing the scope of the work to be done, he went to Tarsus to find Paul to help him there. For an entire year Barnabas and Paul taught in Antioch, and it was there that the followers of Christ were first called ‘Christians’.

It was also there that they began to take a collection for the believers remaining in Jerusalem, who were persecuted and poor. A prophet predicted that a great famine was coming, and they all knew that Jerusalem would be most affected. And Barnabas and Paul took their gifts to Jerusalem. These early Christians learned the importance of having hearts that were generous.

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