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The Church in Antioch July 26, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Acts 11:19-30.

Summary: In this passage, some believers from Cyprus and Cyrene preached the Gospel message to Gentiles in Antioch. Many of them accepted it; thus, the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to support this fledgling church. He worked with Saul to teach and encourage these Christians – who would later provide financial support to their poor brethren in Judea, as the Lord had warned them of an impending famine in that area.

Thoughts: This passage highlights the virtues of Barnabas. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 25:

For a second time Barnabas’ simplicity is commended: he could have taken the leading part in Antioch, but he went to Cilicia to fetch Paul, who he knew would be given the more prominent place. He forgot himself, thinking only of Christ as the most important; he aimed only at building up the church. He was content that the Gospel should prosper, and so he was not at all afraid of Paul diminishing him, so long as Christ was glorified.

I must admit that I struggle with feelings of envy and rivalry towards other Christians – especially when it is evident that we have the same gifts. My sinful nature craves acclaim and acknowledgement of my supremacy in terms of those gifts. The actions of Barnabas, though, serve as a stinging rebuke to my sinful nature; he “forgot himself” and focused on the best interests of Christ and the church in Antioch. Thus, I must:

  • celebrate the gifts that others possess
  • give thanks to God for His sovereignty in that regard
  • focus on how others can benefit from the exercise of these gifts
  • focus on how God can be praised when gifts are exercised.

In verses 29 and 30, we see that the new believers in Antioch blessed their poor brethren in Judea with their financial resources. This is an awesome illustration of believers successfully meshing Christian theory and practice:

  • they heard the Gospel message from the brothers from Cyprus and Cyrene, and they were taught and encouraged by Barnabas and Saul
  • being full of the Word of God, they exercised their spiritual muscles by meeting the needs of others.

As modern-day believers, we should continually ask: if we are receiving sound instruction in the Word of God, then how can we use those lessons to bless others?

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