-Peter has to defend the work of the Holy Spirit among the Jewish brethren back in Jerusalem upon his arrival because they took issue with breaking the Law to go into a Gentile’s home to eat. Peter’s conclusion was that he could not stand in God’s way because it was the Lord who gave the visions and the Holy Spirit to them according to His will. When the Jewish brethren heard this, they quieted down and glorified God for opening up the door for Gentiles to come into the Kingdom of God through the “repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18).”
-Luke describes how the gospel was now going out to regions beyond Israel. He lists Phoenicia, to the north, Cyprus, an island to the west in the Mediterranean, and Antioch, even further north. This again happened as a result of the persecution that broke out in Jerusalem over the martyrdom of Stephen. Even Greeks were becoming obedient to the faith and the word was spreading. As word spread about what was going on in these places, Barnabas was sent out from Jerusalem to Antioch, and he strengthened the work there being full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was an encourager with resolute heart and diligently worked to help these new believers remain true to the Lord with steadfast purpose (Acts 11:23). *Application* The world desperately needs people like Barnabas who are willing to leave their comfort and go to a new place to encourage, exhort, and strengthen brethren in the Lord. This spirit should be evident in all Christians. Is it in us?
-At some point Barnabas left for Tarsus to find Saul. Tarsus was just west of where he was in Antioch and was not too long of a journey. He found him and brought him back to Antioch, where for an entire year they met with the church and taught them in considerable numbers. It was at this time and in this place that the disciples were first called Christians. Up to that point they had been known as the Way (John 14:6, Acts 9:2).
-Also at this time some prophets came down Jerusalem (Jerusalem’s high elevation and spiritual center point metaphorically speaking causes everything to descend from it. We often would think of going north as going up but this is a different figure of speech here used in the Scripture). Agabus prophesied that there would be a drought and great famine in all the world. This happened a short time later in the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius. It was determined here that any proportion that the disciples had as far as means should be shared with brethren in Jerusalem and Judea for their relief. So they sent Barnabas and Saul to the elders in Jerusalem with this gift. *Application* The giving spirit is again manifested in the early church as anyone had need. The same should apply in our lives. If we have the power and ability to do good, we should not withhold it (Proverbs 3:27). Let generosity pervade our Christian lives!
Verses to Memorize: Acts 11:17