Acts Eleven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

Acts 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

they that were of the circumcision. This is a reference to the early Jewish converts and church leaders in Jerusalem, where Jewish practices were strong and had been carried over in good measure into the church. Peter's explanation of his involvement with Gentiles was accepted (Acts 11:18), but this issue continued to fester, until eventually the “Judaizers” in the church became a real problem, especially in Paul's ministry.

Acts 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

Acts 11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

Acts 11:5 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:

Acts 11:6 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.

Acts 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

Acts 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

Acts 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Acts 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

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

Acts 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:

Acts 11:13 And he showed 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;

Acts 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

Acts 11:16 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.

Acts 11:17 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?

Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Acts 11:19 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.

Antioch. Antioch was the capital of Syria, and in the Roman Empire only Rome and Alexandria were larger. It was a very busy and beautiful city, located on the river Orontes. It was also cosmopolitan and very immoral. With a large colony of Jews, it was natural that many of the scattering Hellenistic Jews would come there, arriving by water first from the Phoenician coastlands as they traveled north, with some turning aside to sail to the isle of Cyprus. The preaching of these Hellenistic Jews from Jerusalem soon resulted in the conversion of many Jews in the synagogues at Antioch, and the establishment of a church at Antioch.

Acts 11:20 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.

Acts 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

great number believed. Many of these new converts were undoubtedly Hellenistic Jews, but probably some were real Greeks as well, for soon the Antioch church did include many Gentile members (note Acts 15:23). In any case, the establishment of this thriving new church in Antioch was not marked by a miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as had happened at Jerusalem and Caesarea. The latter were unique, not-to-be-repeated divine testimonials to the coming of the Holy Spirit, on Jewish and Gentile believers, respectively. Since that time, the regular ministry of the Spirit has been in operation, convicting the unsaved, baptizing each new believer into the body of Christ, and bestowing individual gifts of the Spirit according to His will (see notes on 1 Corinthians 12:4-13).

Acts 11:22 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.

Barnabas. Barnabas, whose name meant “son of encouragement,” was truly “a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith” (Acts 11:24), an ideal person to send to encourage and strengthen the new church in Antioch. He was a wealthy but unselfish Levite (Acts 4:36-37) and had helped Paul become accepted by the skeptical Jewish believers at Jerusalem (Acts 9:27). At Antioch, he was instrumental in winning so many to the Lord that the teaching work became greater than he could handle alone. He decided that the best teacher he could get was Paul.

Acts 11:23 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.

Acts 11:24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Acts 11:25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

to seek Saul. Saul (soon to be known as Paul—Acts 13:9) had been sent away from Jerusalem several years earlier (Acts 9:30), and Barnabas had lost touch with him, so that he had to “seek” him when he went to Tarsus to get him. Tarsus was Paul's home town, but he may have been disinherited by his family when he returned there as a Christian (he testified that he had “suffered the loss of all things” because of his conversion—Philippians 3:8).

Acts 11:26 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.

Christians. To the Jews in Jerusalem, the name “Christ” was a title, meaning “the anointed one,” the Jewish Messiah. However, the Greek-speaking believers in Antioch soon became known as followers of Christ, or Christians, and this has been customary ever since.

Acts 11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

prophets. Before the New Testament was written, the Spirit endowed certain men with the gift of prophecy, providing Spirit-inspired teachings to help in the guidance of the early church. This special ability was gradually withdrawn as the need lessened (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Acts 11:28 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.

Acts 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

Acts 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.