May 27th Acts 11 Peter reports back to Jerusalem
1: And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2: And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3: Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4: But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 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: 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. 7: And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 8: But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 9: But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10: And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11: And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 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: 13: And he shewed 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; 14: Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15: And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 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. 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? 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.
The Antioch church
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. 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. 21: And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 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. 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. 24: For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25: Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 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. 27: And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 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. 29: Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The conversion of Cornelius caused a great upset in the thinking of the Jews at Jerusalem. They felt that Christianity was their exclusive thing and they were not going to share it with Gentiles. They found fault mostly with Peter because he had go in to a Gentile home to eat food with them. Peter recounted the whole story from the beginning and he introduced the six Jews that accompanied him to verify the whole thing. He said the angels message was that Peter will tell you words whereby you will be saved. v14 (Clearly he was unsaved before Peter came even though he was devote man who feared God and his charity acts were recognised by the Lord) And then the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming on them was evidence of their conversion. Peter asked because they received the Holy Spirit when they believed how am l to resist GOD? The Jews of Jerusalem were silent and they glorified God.1 The disciples that had escaped persecution travelled as far as Phenice Crete now called Lutro, Cyprus and Antioch (southern Turkey) and Cyrene (Libya in North Africa). They were only preaching to Jews because they thought that their message was only for them. However some of these preachers preached to the Greeks of Antioch and there were many Greeks converted there. When this news got out Barnabas was sent to investigate. Barnabas was pleased with what he found and he encouraged them to slay close to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and faith. Eventually because Antioch was near Tarsus Barnabas set out to bring Saul back to Antioch to teach the new believers. For a year Barnabas and Saul taught the believers in Antioch. It was at this time and place that believers were first called Christians. At this time a prophet called Agabus prophesied that there would be a failure of the crops due to lack of rain throughout the Roman world. This happened in the days of Claudius. So these Greek Christians send money to their fellow Christians in Judea and Barnabas and Saul delivered it to the Apostles in Jerusalem. This would unite in heart and mind the whole church.
- In what way was the conversion of Cornelius a significant event?
- How did Peter explain himself to the Jerusalem church?
- How far did the Gospel spread?
- How did the gentile christians respond to the famine in Jerusalem?
1 The company of the disciples were all Jews, apart from Cornelius, so the church at this time was wholey Jewish and the message preached was the same as had been preached by John and Christ - The Gospel of the kingdom, which was a general call on Israel to turn back to their God and added to that was Christs life death and resurrection. It is difficult to say when the church emerged as the Gentile church that we know today. Certainly until Paul had the revelation of the Mystery of the Church as the body of Christ. The concept of a church made up of believers of every nation was unknown. These things were not written in scripture until after Pauls missionary journeys and while he was imprisoned. The Church during the life of the Apostles took on a great harvest of souls from the heathen nations. In Acts 15 we have the possibility of a split between Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity this was avoided by the Council of Jerusalem. During the Acts of the Apostles the Apostles continue to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to Jews wherever they are scattered. However in AD 70 the Roman legions move into Palestine and 1,100,000 Jews are killed and the Jewish state destroyed as Christ predicted. With the martyrdom of the Apostles closes 40 years in which the Gospel of the coming Messianic kingdom was preached to Israel. And what was left was a church gathered from every nation, mature and having the scriptures. Many years later the Jewish synagogues declare that the Messiah is still to come thus refusing the Jesus of Nazareth and so the Synagogues move into the dark ages.