Summary: A look at the church in Antioch of Syria and what made it a great church


TEXT: ACTS 11:19-29; 12:25-13:3; 14:26-28; 15:1-3

TITLE: “AN EXAMPLE OF A GREAT CHURCH: 9 Marks of a Great Church as Exemplified in the Church at Antioch”

INTRODUCTION: A. What does being “great” mean?

1. The dictionary definition is “markedly superior in character, quality, or skill”

2. Have to admit: I’ve been in some really great churches and I’ve been in some

really sorry ones

B. Jesus taught us what true greatness was all about

1. Lk. 9:48 – “…for he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.”

2. Mt. 18:4 – “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the

kingdom of heaven.”

3. Mt. 20

a. Mother of James and John came to ask the favor that here tow sons would sit on

Jesus’ right and left.

b. Mt. 20:25-28 – “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers

of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over

them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you

must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as

the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a

ransom for many.’”

C. Winston Churchill, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”

1. That’s a dirty word in our society

--We don’t like that word

2. Responsibility is liability to answer for one’s acts or deeds; the ability to fill one’s

obligations; accountability”

D. What Jesus was saying about greatness is that true greatness is very dependent on our

desire and our dedication to be servants

1. Are we willing to take responsibility to be the body of Christ in the midst of a lost

and dying world?

2. Are we dedicated to serving the needs of others or are we dedicated to serving

our own personal desires?

3. By Jesus’ definition and example, greatness is putting aside what makes us feel

comfortable so that we can provide what is necessary to reach a lost and dying


4. Let’s look at nine significant things that made the church at Antioch of Syria a

great church


--Acts 11:23 – “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged

them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”

A. Consider the character of Antioch as a city:

1. 3rd most influential town in Roman empire

2. Chariot racing/gambling

3. Groves of Daphne

4. Some historians have even suggested that Rome became corrupt beyond control because of the

influence of Antioch

B. Evidence of God’s grace was in the changed lives of those in the church at Antioch

1. “Grace” – God’s undeserved loving favor

2. George Chapman: “They are only truly great who are truly good.

a. Only way to be good by biblical definition is through the blood of Christ

--It washes and cleanses our filthiness of sin and it is through Christ that we are made righteous and


b. A church that is not different from the world will make no impact on the world

--People have to see a difference in the lives, speech, and attitude of the individual members of the


3. Somebody: “A church is not influential because of the number of its members, the size of its buildings,

or the balance in its budget… a church is influential because of the character of its people.”

--Antioch was the place where the followers of Christ were called by the divinely given name of



--Acts 11:25-26 – “Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought

him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of

people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

A. A disciple by biblical definition is someone who has pledged him/herself to be a student

B. A church cannot be a great church unless it’s individual members are dedicating to learning

1. Individual members can’t learn without being faithful to the process of learning

2. Individual members won’t learn unless the leadership is committed to the task of learning


--Acts 11:27-29 – “During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them,

named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the

entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his

ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the

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