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Summary: Several years, perhaps as many as ten years after the gospel was first preached in Antioch, men from Cyprus and Cyrene came preaching the gospel to Jews and Gentiles. Antioch’s Gentile mission came to the attention of the Jerusalem church, which sent....

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May 18, 2014

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson: III.E.2: The Church Sanctioned by Jerusalem (11:22-24)

Scripture (Acts 11:22-24; KJV)

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.

Introduction

Several years, perhaps as many as ten years after the gospel was first preached in Antioch, men from Cyprus and Cyrene came preaching the gospel to Jews and Gentiles. Antioch’s Gentile mission came to the attention of the Jerusalem church, which sent Barnabas to check it out. Barnabas quickly determined its authenticity, and joined in the outreach himself.

Commentary

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.

Jerusalem was the “mother church” for all Christians in those days. It was the church of the apostles and the link to Jesus. It was only natural for the church to show an interest in missionary efforts wherever they were being carried out. This concern had already expressed itself in their sending Peter and John to Philip’s mission in Samaria (8:14-17{11]), and their enquiring of Peter about his witness to Cornelius (11:1-18). It would also appear when Paul and Barnabas reported to Jerusalem on their successful Gentile mission (15:1-35). Although this could be seen as a sort of “supervision” by Jerusalem, in each case the Christians of Jerusalem enthusiastically endorsed the new work and gave it their stamp of approval. We learned in the previous lesson that in Antioch “. . . a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord” (11:21). Gentiles were being saved in large numbers and joining the church, because men of Cyprus and Cyrene began to preach the gospel to Greeks. These were simple men, unnamed pioneers, who when traveling, found themselves in magnificent, voluptuous, and sinful Antioch; and they determined, without consultation with anyone, to preach the gospel not merely to the Jew, but to the Greek also. The movement began in earnest in Antioch, and such an important movement on the part of the church could not escape the attention of the mother church in Jerusalem. In this instance when Jerusalem heard of the Gentile mission in Antioch, the church did not send apostles, as it did when Philip preached to Samaritans. Instead, they sent a non-apostolic delegate but a wise choice indeed—Barnabas, “the son of encouragement” (4:36{1]). Barnabas was a wise choice for several reasons. First, he, like some of these Christian ambassadors, was from Cypress (4:36{1]; 11:20{12]). Second, he was a generous man (4:37{2]) and therefore thoughtful of others. Third, he was a gracious gentleman as attested by his nickname (4:36{1]) and Luke’s testimony about him (11:24{13]).


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