January 8th, 2007
Everyone assumed that the church’s core mission was to reach the Jewish people. After all, Jesus himself had said, “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel.” But some of the Jewish believers in Antioch started leaking details of the good news to some non-Jewish people, and the church at Antioch started to get swamped with Gentiles who wanted to become Christians. It’s amazing how Christians often have a definite idea about what they’re supposed to be doing and who they’re supposed to be serving on God’s behalf, but God has a completely different idea. And so the good news became good news for all people, not just for Jewish people.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 11
11:1 The apostles and believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the message of God. 11:2 When Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, those who considered circumcision to be essential argued with him, 11:3 saying, “You went into the home of uncircumcised people and ate with them!”
11:4 So Peter explained to them in detail what had happened, 11:5 “I was in the town of Joppa praying, and while in a trance I saw a vision: something like a large sheet was lowered down from heaven by its four corners to where I was. 11:6 I looked into it and saw four-legged animals, wild animals, reptiles and birds. 11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat!’ 11:8 But I said, ‘No, Lord, I have never eaten anything that is unholy or unclean.’ 11:9 But a voice spoke to me out of heaven a second time, ‘You must not call unclean something that God has made clean.’ 11:10 This happened three times, then everything went back into heaven. 11:11 At once three men were standing in front of the house where I was staying. They had been sent to me from Caesarea. 11:12 The Spirit told me to go with them, without hesitating. These six brothers came with me, and we went into the man’s house. 11:13 He told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, telling him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa to get Simon, surnamed Peter. 11:14 He will tell you how you and your household can be saved.’ 11:15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as it happened with us at the beginning. 11:16 I remembered the words of the Lord when he said, ‘John baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ 11:17 So if God gave them the same gift as we received when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to argue with God?” 11:18 When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, “So God has also given the Gentiles repentance leading to life!”
11:19 The believers who had been scattered abroad by the oppression that arose after Stephen, travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 11:20 But some of them who were from Cyprus and Cyrene spoke also to the Greeks when they arrived in Antioch, preaching the Lord Jesus. 11:21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number believed and turned to the Lord. 11:22 News about this reached the church in Jerusalem. They sent Barnabas to Antioch, 11:23 and he was filled with joy when he arrived and saw the grace which God had given them. He encouraged them all to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. 11:24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and many people came to the Lord.
11:25 Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. 11:26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they attended the church and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
11:27 Around this time, some prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 11:28 One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a great famine all over the world. This happened in the days of Claudius. 11:29 So those of the disciples who were prosperous decided to send relief to the believers in Judea. 11:30 They did this by sending it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.