Acts 11

Acts 11:1

Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

The word of God is the good news of Jesus. See entry for Word of God.

Acts 11:14

and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’

You will be saved. The apostles preached for a verdict. Like Jesus who encouraged people to repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15), the apostles encouraged their listeners to repent, believe the good news, and be saved (Acts 4:12, 17:30, 1 Cor. 10:33, 1 Th. 2:16, 1 Tim. 2:4, 1 John 3:23).

Acts 11:16

“And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

(a) John; see entry for Mark 1:4.

(b) Baptized… baptized. The original word implies total immersion. See entry for Baptism.

(c) Water… Holy Spirit; John’s baptism of water prophetically foreshadowed the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See entry for Mark 1:8.

Acts 11:18

When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

(a) God has granted to the Gentiles also. Initially Peter understood that God had granted repentance only to Israel (Acts 5:31), but now he understood that God’s grace is for all.

(b) Granted… repentance. Repentance, like faith, is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). It is goodness of God revealed in Jesus the exalted Savior that leads us to change our unbelieving minds and repent (Rom. 2:4).

(c) To life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche– or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe– or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.

Acts 11:20

But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

Preaching. Announcing the good news. The original word for preaching (euaggelizo) is closely related to the word for gospel (euaggelion). This is one of three words that are commonly translated as “preaching” in the New Testament. See entry for Acts 5:42.

Acts 11:21

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.

Turned to the Lord. In the new covenant, repentance is often described as a return or turning to God (see entry for Acts 26:20).

Acts 11:22

The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch.

Barnabas; see entry for Acts 9:27.

Acts 11:23

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;

(a) Witnessed the grace of God. What did Barnabas see? He saw Jews and Gentiles doing church together and eating together (see Gal. 2:12). Such a thing had never before been seen and the sight of it would have struck Barnabas like a thunderbolt. Instead of discrimination, he saw acceptance. Instead of hostility, brotherly love. He realized that he was seeing the flavor of heaven.

(b) The grace of God refers to the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. See entry for Grace of God.

Acts 11:26

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; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Christians. This word, which appears only three times in the Bible, means a follower of Christ (Acts 11:26, 26:28, 1 Pet. 4:16). In a New Testament context, it does not mean a follower of a religion called Christianity. Josephus, in his Antiquities, records that Christ rose on the third day and the tribe of Christians were “so named from him.”

Acts 11:28

One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.

(a) Agabus was a prophet who came to the church in Antioch from Jerusalem (see previous verse). Years later, Agabus visited Paul in Caesarea to warn him that he would be bound by the Jews and delivered to the Gentiles if he went to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10–11).

(b) A great famine did indeed occur in AD46–47 and many suffered (Antiquities, 20.2). The suffering that was felt in Jerusalem was one of the reasons why Paul collected funds from other churches (e.g., 1 Cor. 16:1–4, Rom. 15:26–27).

(c) Took place. Luke wrote the book of Acts after the great famine.

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