They were first called Christians at Antioch – Acts 11:19-30

They were first called Christians at Antioch – Acts 11:19-30

Recap of Acts 11:19-30

Acts 11 Bible study

When the persecution of the church at Jerusalem began, disciples all over Judea fled to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Acts 11:19-24 says that “those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” And the Way was spreading at a rapid pace among the Jews but they were not yet preaching the gospel to the Gentiles until certain men of Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and began preaching the gospel to the Greeks. Then a large number of even Gentiles came to the Lord.

The Jerusalem church hears of how the gospel is spreading among the Gentiles there, so they send Barnabas to Antioch.

Acts 11 Cyprus was one of the cities persecuted believers fled into
Ruins at Cyprus

In Acts 11:22 When he arrived, Barnabas witnessed the grace of God among them and rejoiced, and he began encouraging them to remain true to the Lord. He was a good man filled with the Holy Spirit, and much people were brought to the Lord.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul (Paul) and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year Saul and Barnabas taught the Word of God at Antioch to a considerable number of people.

Prophets arrived in Antioch from Jerusalem.

Agabus the prophet came to Antioch and he prophesies of a future famine that would effect the world and especially Judea during the reign of Claudius Caesar.

To the extent that the disciples had the means to contribute to the needs of the body of Christ during the famine, they sent relief to the brethren living in Judea.

They were first called Christians at Antioch.

The term Christian was adopted by Jesus’s disciples after it had been used derogatorily as a way to insult followers of the Way.

The Greek word for Christ is Christós (Χριστός), which derives from the Hebrew term Mashiach for Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ).

The prevailing definition for Christian has popularly become that His disciples are Christ-like, but at this time in history, the Christian label was the Roman way of declaring the sect of the Way as being part of the party of Jesus.

An apostle fleeing persecution like the people in Acts 11
Christian disciples fleeing persecution like in Acts 11

The apostle Peter would later exhort us to glorify God for suffering for Christ as Christians:

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you… (1 Peter 4:14 NASB95)

But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. (1 Peter 4:16 NASB95)

Follow along in Acts 11

Acts 11:19-30

19 So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks as well, preaching the good news of the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And considerable numbers were added to the Lord. 25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers of people; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

27 Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and indicated by the Spirit that there would definitely be a severe famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. 29 And to the extent that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 And they did this, sending it with Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.


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