Acts 11

Chapter eleven records Peter’s account of the events of chapter ten as he told them to the Jews back in Jerusalem, so Acts 11:1-18 is essentially a repeat of the previous chapter. One specific point to note is Peter’s choice of words in Acts 11:15-16. Charismatics and non-charismatics often debate whether the events of chapter two count as “Spirit baptism,” because those words are not there. However, here Peter identified the Spirit’s coming on Cornelius the same “AS HE DID ON US AT THE BEGINNING.” “THE BEGINNING” has to refer to Pentecost in chapter two, making that the apostles’ “Spirit baptism” The group concluded that this truly was the work of God, even among the Gentiles (similar to what Peter concluded in Acts 10:34).

Luke took this opportunity to introduce the foundational Gentile church in Antioch, so he could transition to that story in chapter thirteen. Referencing the persecution he already mentioned in Acts 8:1, Luke said that the scattered Jews preached only to other Jews (Acts 11:19-26). However, some proselytes began to expand that message to the Gentiles as well, with the result that “THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS WITH THEM, AND A GREAT NUMBER WHO BELIEVED TURNED TO THE LORD” (Acts 11:21). This caught the attention of the Jerusalem church, which responded by sending Barnabas to investigate. Recognizing the ministry possibilities there, Barnabas tracked down Saul to help him teach the people. 1 In reality, Antioch became the first Gentile church and Christian seminary. There was such a faithful response to the teaching that the name “Christian” was applied to them there. 2 Acts 11:27-30 record the prophecy of a severe famine that would hit the world. Thus began Saul’s ongoing ministry of collecting funds from Gentile churches to support the believers in Israel.

Notes:

  1. After leaving Damascus and some other events, Saul/Paul spent about ten years preaching in and around his home city of Tarsus (see Galatians 1:13-17). This probably formed the foundation of his work in southern Galatia.
  2. Interestingly, the term “Christian” is very rare in Scripture, occurring only here, Acts 26:28, and 1 Peter 4:16.

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