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Saturday, June 11 2016

Acts 11: Where Believers Were First Called Christians

"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch"

After the martyrdom of Stephen (see The Stoning Of Stephen - Why Are Witnesses Called Martyrs?), the Messiah's people were scattered far and wide from Jerusalem and Judea. Rather than a defeat or a setback, the dispersion of all of those people into other nations (see also Why Was The South A Dangerous Place?) provided for the great growth of what soon thereafter became known as "Christianity" (see also The Gospel By The Greek and The Baptism Of The Ethiopian).

Amazingly, one of the men who was most-responsible for that scattering, and then the subsequent growth, the Pharisee Saul, himself was made a Christian while on his way to Syria to hunt Christians (see Paul's Conversion In Syria and The Rising Of Tabitha). Saul thereafter became known as the apostle Paul, and it was at Antioch in Syria where the believers, including Saul/Paul, were first called "Christians."

At that same time, Peter, who himself had just learned the lesson about how the Gospel is to all nations (see Peter's Lesson With Cornelius The Centurion), helped his fellow believers in Judea to realize that the Messiah's Work was not just a petty matter of their nationalized religion, as they had made it for themselves. It was not new knowledge - Abraham, and Noah before him, knew it long before Israelites and Jews even existed (see The LORD's Seed Covenants With The Two Men Of Iraq).

Antioch In Syria

"11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:1-18 KJV)

It was in and from Syria that Saul / Paul began his Christian life. He went to Syria as a Christian killer, but returned to Jerusalem as a Christian himself (see the Fact Finder question below).

"11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 11:20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

11:22 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. 11:23 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. 11:24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

11:25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

11:27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 11:29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 11:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." (Acts 11:19-30 KJV)

Fact Finder: How did the apostle Paul's ministry begin as the ministry of "Barnabas and Saul"?
See The Meeting Of Paul And Barnabas and The Ministry Of Paul And Barnabas

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This Day In History, June 11

1184 BC: According to calculations by Eratosthenes, Troy was sacked and burned on this date during the Trojan War.

173: During the Marcomannic Wars, the Roman army in Moravia was encircled by the Quadi (a Germanic tribe), however during a severe thunderstorm the Romans under Marcus Aurelius broke the lines and defeated them.

The Roman Empire

The Divided Roman Empire

631: Chinese Emperor Taizong of Tang dispatched ambassadors to the Xueyantuo with gold and silk for the release of enslaved Chinese prisoners captured during the transition from Sui to Tang from the northern frontier. The mission resulted in freeing 80,000 Chinese people.

1346: Charles IV of Luxembourg was elected Holy Roman Emperor in Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

1488: King James III of Scotland was murdered after his defeat at the Battle of Sauchieburn. He was succeeded by his son, James IV.

1509: King Henry VIII of England married the first of his six wives, Catherine of Aragon (the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, the employers of Christopher Columbus). It was Henry's later divorce of Catherine that triggered the break from the Church of Rome and the creation of the Church of England.

1727: King George I, the first Hanoverian king of Britain, died and was succeeded by his son George II.

1788: Russian explorer Gerasim Izmailov arrived in Alaska. The area remained in Russian possession until the mid-twentieth century.

1770: English explorer Captain James Cook ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

1847: John Franklin, British explorer, died in the Arctic after his ships became frozen in the ice. The details of his death were in a note found by a search party in 1859.

1903: King Alexander and Queen Draga of Belgrade were assassinated by members of the Serbian army.

1920: During the Republican National Convention in Chicago, party leaders gathered in a hotel to decide on their candidate for the presidential election. As first written by the Associated Press, it produced the political term "smoke-filled room."

1963: Quang Duc, 66, a Buddhist monk, committed suicide by burning himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest treatment of Buddhists by the U.S.-backed Diem regime. The picture was front-page news around the world the next day, and was followed by other monks in the weeks afterward.

1967: Israel and Syria accepted the terms of a U.N. cease fire.

1987: Margaret Thatcher won her third consecutive term as British Prime Minister.

1997: An official Italian commission approved a move to allow Vittorio Emanuele, son of Italy's last king, to return home after 50 years of exile.

2001: Timothy McVeigh, 32, was executed at a U.S. Federal prison at Terre Haute, Indiana. The U.S.-born terrorist confessed to the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19 1995 that killed 168 men, women and children. It was the most deadly act of terrorism in the U.S. prior to the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington.



Copyright © Wayne Blank