Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall cover 11:19-30. In this section of Acts we have the spread of the gospel to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch through the scattered disciples (vv. 19-26) and the communication between the church in Antioch and the churches in Judea (vv. 27-30). First we shall consider these verses in a general way. Then we shall pay particular attention to the Lord’s further preparation of Saul.
Acts 11:19 says, “Those then who were scattered by the tribulation which took place over Stephen passed through as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.” It was sovereign of God that the scattering of the believers from Jerusalem to other localities through the persecution (8:4) should carry out the spreading of the gospel for the fulfillment of the Lord’s word in 1:8.
According to 11:19, those who went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch spoke the word only to Jews. This indicates how strong the Jewish believers were in keeping their traditions. They would not approach the Gentiles (10:28). This condition continued even after Peter’s preaching to Cornelius, an Italian. It surely restricted the Lord’s move in spreading His gospel according to God’s New Testament economy.
Acts 11:20 continues, “But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and spoke also to the Greeks, bringing the good news of the Lord Jesus.” These men of Cyprus and Cyrene must have been the Jewish believers in dispersion (see 1 Pet. 1:1). Their speaking to the Greeks was a further step of the Lord’s move in spreading His gospel to the Gentiles following what happened in the house of Cornelius in chapter ten and before Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles began in chapter thirteen. Acts 11:21 says, “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”
Acts 11:22 tells us that “the account concerning them was heard in the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas as far as Antioch.” Literally, the Greek word rendered “sent out” means to be sent out on a mission as an authoritative representative. Barnabas was sent out from Jerusalem to visit the believers in other places with authority from the apostles, not from the church, because the apostles were there.
Saul was saved by the Lord directly without any preaching channel (9:3-6), and he was brought into identification with the Body of Christ through Ananias, a member of the Body (9:10-19). However, Saul was introduced to practical fellowship with the disciples in Jerusalem through Barnabas (9:26-28). Now Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to go as far as Antioch to encourage the believers, and he went to Tarsus to bring Saul to Antioch (11:25-26). This was a big step. It initiated Saul into the Lord’s move in spreading the gospel of His kingdom to the Gentile world (13:1-3).
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