- Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews.
- However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus.
- The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
- When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
- When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
- Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
- Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul.
- When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)
- During this time some prophets traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch.
- One of them named Agabus stood up in one of the meetings and predicted by the Spirit that a great famine was coming upon the entire Roman world. (This was fulfilled during the reign of Claudius.)
- So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.
- This they did, entrusting their gifts to Barnabas and Saul to take to the elders of the church in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:19-30)
- About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church.
- He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword.
- When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.)
- Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.
- But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.
- The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate.
- Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists.
- Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
- So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening.
- They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.
- Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent His angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”
- When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.
- He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it.
- When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”
- “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”
- Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.
- He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers what happened,” he said. And then he went to another place.
- At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter.
- Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while.
- Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant,
- and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them.
- The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”
- Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
- Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.
- When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.
- Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul.
- One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.”
- So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.
- So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit. They went down to the seaport of Seleucia and then sailed for the island of Cyprus. (Acts 11:19-13:4)
Ian what are you doing to us? Why have you put all these unrelated things together? Why have you added Chapter 12 and the beginning of 13 to the end of Chapter 11? It’s all too much.
That may be but before we can navigate our way ahead we need to get our bearings. As I commented in the last Gem, the base of operation seems to be moving to Antioch. At the same time we seem to have a change of the major players. Peter has been in focus with respect to breaking new ground among the Gentiles. Then we had the summary statement with the beginning of a new move to Antioch and now suddenly in the very next verse we have a dispersion of everyone to everywhere, a switch in the focus on different players, a curious story about Peter in prison and the introduction of team Barnabas and Saul. Just what is going on here? Notice too that Saul is still being called Saul and not Paul. (I haven’t forgotten that earlier question about Saul becoming Paul).
We need time to take our bearings and get our GPS working in order to navigate our way around all that Luke is serving up for us. I have deliberately given you a major chunk of the action looming on the horizon. Any general in battle will take stock of their position and check in with headquarters regarding any new intelligence that has come to hand to make sense of the challenge before them. So that is what we need to do. Even more so when we are aware that chapter boundaries are not necessarily going to do it for us and so we need to keep our wits about us. Hence some time out to prepare and map our way ahead. It is time to take a step back and take in the panorama before we get bogged down in the details again.
As there is a lot to take in I will give you the time to take in the view and prepare to move forward again in the midst of all the detail ahead. So because of all that we need some Time Out To Take It In.
Slow and methodical is more productive than rushed and unprepared.Ian Vail
It is time to take a step back and take in the panorama before we get bogged down in the details again.Ian Vail
You cannot make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice.T D Jakes
Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you’re effective! You never stop to notice that you’re not gaining ground!Anon