25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and 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.
The narrative in Acts 11 is a crucial hinge in the Acts account. For the first time, the church actively evangelized Gentiles. The Samaritans of chapter 8 were partly Jewish; the Ethiopian eunuch on his own was reading Isaiah 53 on his return from Jerusalem, and even Cornelius took the initiative in seeking the gospel from Peter. But here the church took the first steps to take the message to uncircumcised Greeks. The number of believers grew so much that Barnabas asked Saul (also known as Paul) to help. But the reason for the growth was due to the persecution that followed after Stephan’s martyrdom in Acts 8:1-2.
Two main points can be gleaned from this account: (1) persecution is often a catalyst and motive for growth and evangelism; and (2) it’s because of persecution that gentiles got the opportunity to hear the gospel.
Take heart and be encouraged and perhaps re-examine your understanding of persecution.
Thoughts for the day
- What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
- What does this passage tell you about humanity?
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
- Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.
Pray for the persecuted Church, our brothers and sisters across the world who are made to suffer because they are Christian. For more information about who is being persecuted and how to pray, visit www.opendoorsuk.org.