Acts 11:19

It is interesting to see how God works in many ways toward one end, and how, from the first day of the Christian era, he has been acting on the world and on the Church, making all things to move toward one glorious issue.

I. THE MANY WAYS OF GOD'S WORKING. We may be reminded:

1. How he defeats his enemies. "They which were scattered abroad upon the persecution... traveled... preaching the Word," etc. (ver. 19). If the enemies of the truth had been its best friends, they could not possibly have taken a course more favorable to its circulation and establishment than the one they took. God overrules the designs of his foes, and turns their attacks upon his kingdom into actual support. Again and again has the enmity, the cruelty, the violence, the cunning of sin been compelled to subserve the interests of righteousness. Mischief smites down the standing corn of truth, but, so doing, it sows living seed from which a large harvest will rise.

2. How he teaches his 'fiends. Those who were scattered abroad went "preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only" (ver. 19). They did not understand that the gospel was intended for mankind: this was an enlargement of view which the Christian Church had then to gain. Its Divine Master had to teach it this most necessary lesson. How should he do this? He might have done so

(1) by the direct inspiration of his Holy Spirit; or

(2) by manifesting himself to some one of the apostles and conveying through him his mind on the matter. But he chose to do this

(3) by the teaching of his providence. "Some of them" - we do not know who, some whose names are lost and will never be discovered - some men from Cyprus and Cyrene, "when they were come to Antioch, spake, unto the Greeks [not 'Grecians'], preaching, the Lord Jesus." And this unpremeditated, irregular work proved to be marvelously successful (see ver. 21). When the Church at Jerusalem heard of these unauthorized proceedings, they dispatched Barnabas to inquire into the matter (see ver. 22). The nobility of his character and excellency of his spirit triumphed over the narrowness of his views, and, instead of disowning and discouraging the work, he acknowledged its Divine origin and furthered it to the height of his power. And thus the seal of apostolic sanction was set to the broader aim and the larger hope. Thus God leads us into his kingdom of truth. He places us in such circumstances that we take right steps without realizing all the consequences therein involved, and then our convictions rise to the height of our actions.

3. How God uses his servants. "Then departed Barnabas... to seek Saul" (ver. 25). Barnabas served God and his race in one way, Saul in another. Barnabas was not the man to do what Paul afterwards did. He had not the evangelizing, organizing, literary faculty in anything like the same degree in which his illustrious colleague possessed it. But he served the Church and the world in his own way. It was a valuable contribution to the cause of Christ and of the kingdom of God to introduce the distrusted convert to the confidence of the Church (Acts 9:27), and to give him such an opening for the exercise and training of his varied powers as that he now enjoyed at Antioch; it was an eminent and precious service thus to place on a firm footing and to bring into the foreground the man who was to be the means of doing such work as Paul accomplished for mankind. What immeasurable service have the fathers and mothers and teachers of our great reformers, evangelists, preachers, etc., rendered their race! Other men have other spheres to fill; that of Paul was the sphere of abounding activity. We may be sure that he had a great deal to do during those twelve months at Antioch, in "teaching many people" (ver. 26). Some in quieter, others in more active scenes; some in virtue of intellectual, others by means of moral and spiritual gifts; some by their influence on a few influential men, others by their action on the multitude; some by impressing their convictions on men by direct personal appeal, others by organizing and arranging; all in the way chosen of God and pleasing to him, play their part and do their work in their hour of opportunity.

II. THE ONE WORK OF GOD. At Antioch it became convenient to distinguish the converts to the new faith by some name which marked them off from the Jews; they were called "Christians." It is a mark which speaks of the rising tide of truth. It reminds us that God was working out a grand design, far, far beyond the elevation of a favored nation, viz. the redemption of the whole race of man by faith in Jesus Christ; he was and is engaged in "reconciling the world unto himself in Christ." - C.

Now they which were scattered abroad...travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch.
I. ITS ENTRANCE INTO ANTIOCH. Here (ver. 19) we discover —

1. Evil overruled for good. The very efforts to crush the gospel gave it new vigour and a wider sweep. Thus it has ever been.

2. The invincibility of Christian courage. The fugitives did not flee from the cause they had espoused, nor relax their efforts to advance it. While true courage does not consist in callous indifference to danger, it demands at all risks eternal fealty to principle and duty.

3. The legitimacy of lay preaching. It is significant that the planting of Christianity here, and in numerous instances since, has been the work of private men holding no ecclesiastical office whatever: which shows —(1) That it is the duty of everyone who knows the gospel to proclaim it.(2) That those who would restrict preaching to the professionally ordained are opposed to the best interests of man and to the genius of the New Testament.

4. The universality of the gospel. It is a system as suited to the Greek as to the Hebrew mind, and equally essential to the highest interests of both.


1. Involved a Divine change in the characters of many (ver. 21). Observe —

(1)The Divine power which attended their ministry.

(2)The faith which their ministry generated.

(3)The revolution which their faith effected.

2. Attracted the attention of the mother Church (ver. 22). This was natural.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Persecution was the first means of propagating the gospel. Blow on the candle, and you extinguish the flame; blow on the fire in the grate, and you increase it. The reason is in the hold the fire has upon the combustible substance. If the hold is slight, blowing will put it out; if deep, will intensify it. Christ came to send fire on the earth; the fire ate its way down to the very depths of the disciples' spirits. Saul "breathed out threatenings," etc.; but the breathing only fanned the fire. Observe that this Church —

I. WAS ESTABLISHED BY LAY AGENCY. These men were not commissioned by any ecclesiastical authority to preach. They did it instinctively. The flowers do not require to be told to blossom; let the sun but shine, and they do it without being told. Birds do not need an almanack to remind them that May is come, and that the season for outdoor concerts has arrived. And as soon as a man has knowledge of the Saviour, he feels an impulse to tell others of Him. Some Churches object to what they call irregular teachers. They forget that there are two ordinations. Sometimes the human and the Divine meet in the same person; sometimes they diverge. If you can get the two, well; if not, give me the Divine, let who will have the human. The hand of an apostle had not been laid on the heads of these disciples. But what of that? "The hand of the Lord was with them." If that "hand" is with a man, surely the bishop's is not vitally essential.


1. It was the first Gentile Church. Ver. 19 tells us that they "preached the Word to Jews only." But the following verse tells us that the natives of Cyprus and Cyrene preached to the "Greeks" also. The text, therefore, marks a new epoch in the history of the kingdom of God. Christ had plainly intimated the admission of the Gentiles into the fold. But the disciples understood Him not, and for years confined their labours to "Jews only." And when Peter ventured to preach to Cornelius, he was put on his defence. We are prone to look upon the primitive Church as our pattern; but the infant Church cannot be a pattern to the Church in its maturity. Shame upon us if modern Churches are not much better than primitive! How narrow and bigoted was the Church of Jerusalem! How contentious and immoral the Church of Corinth! But life proved too much for prejudice; whilst they of the circumcision were contending the Church was instinctively extending its frontiers — it claimed the Gentiles also as its inheritance.

2. Three stages are traceable in the growth of this idea.(1) From the establishment of the Church in the wilderness down to the Babylonish captivity, it was strictly Jewish. Not but that there was provision made in the law for the stranger and the alien; but the system was more tolerant than the men, and born Jews only were allowed to participate in its manifold privileges.(2) But during the Captivity, Jews and Gentiles were brought into frequent contact, and better knowledge led to kindlier feelings. The Jews, therefore, on their return, attached to their temple a court of the Gentiles. Such a thought never entered the mind of Solomon or of his architects. Henceforth they displayed a missionary spirit, and compassed sea and land to make one proselyte. True, they did not pull down the wall; but they did put a few gates in it through which the Gentiles might be admitted. But mark — they were not received as Gentiles, but as Gentiles circumcised.(3) The third stage is that indicated in this chapter. The wall is being pulled down, and Greeks may become Christians without first becoming Jews. The Jewish Church was like the chrysalis containing life in an undeveloped state; the Christian Church is the chrysalis emerging in the winged butterfly. In Judaism the Word of the Lord was standing; in Christianity it is flying. "And I saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel."


1. When the Church at Jerusalem heard of the great things that had taken place at Antioch, "they sent forth Barnabas" mainly for his natural fitness (ver. 24). "Good" signifies more than mere moral worth; it means that he was a kind, genial, loving man. Many men — good, morally speaking — are stem and hard. But Barnabas was a man of a very gracious disposition — a very attractive man. A rash, haughty, domineering man, coming down upon a Church to which he was a stranger, would do more harm than good. But Barnabas — a son of sweetness and light — would disarm opposition, and secure confidence.

2. No sooner did he arrive in Antioch than "he saw there the grace of God." If you have true religion in the heart, it is superfluous to declare it. If it is in the heart, it will be seen in the life. An ancient poet tells the painters of Greece, in a period of great art decadence, to write under their pictures the names of the animals they portrayed, implying that without the name it would be impossible to tell one animal from another — a very bitter satire upon the painters. And some men's religion is such that you would never suspect it unless they carried about them the label; they do not shine before men, that their good works may be seen, etc. But the moment Barnabas's eye caught the canvas, he could tell the picture. Nay, so decided was the likeness between them and Christ that the public recognised it, and there "the disciples were first called Christians."

3. "He exhorted the people that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." Barnabas is by interpretation the "son of consolation" or exhortation. From this word we can partly judge of the character of his preaching; his exhortation brimming over with comfort, full of cheer and encouragement. His preaching was fine and stimulating rather than deep and convincing. He had the good sense to know this, and therefore hastened to Tarsus to fetch Saul. Barnabas would be worthy of grateful remembrance were it only for this one act. Barnabas exhorted the people; but when Saul came to his help, the "exhorting" became "teaching"; deeper thoughtfulness characterised the ministry. The people were before growing in grace — they are now growing in knowledge. Man has both a heart and a head. And every true minister, if he cannot accomplish the two-fold work himself, will, like Barnabas, seek another to help him. The dahlia is a gorgeous flower, but it has no fragrance. The perfection of a flower consists in exquisiteness of colour combined with deliciousness of fragrance. And the perfection of Christians consists in the combination of grace and knowledge.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)


1. The season in which these words were spoken.

2. The persons addressed — Jews only.

3. The impediments in the way — prejudice, ignorance, unbelief.

4. The topics announced.

(1)The harmony between Christ and the Old Testament representations of Him.

(2)The certainty of His resurrection and ascension into heaven.

(3)The design of the whole in its adaptation to them as sinners.


1. The Divine authority and approbation.

2. Divine aid and support.

3. Power attending their ministry.

III. THE EFFECTS PRODUCED. "Many believed and turned to the Lord."

1. "They believed."

(1)They credited the facts relative to Christ.

(2)They entered into the spirit of the whole design.

2. "They turned unto the Lord."

(1)Renounced Jewish prejudices and ceremonies.

(2)They renounced justification by the law.

(3)Became holy in their lives, and manifested the fruits of the Spirit.Application:

1. God acts mysteriously in accomplishing His important designs.

2. God never wants means to fulfil His gracious intentions.

3. All instruments and means, though weak in themselves, are mighty through Divine power.

(W. Kent.)

1. It needed a vision to impel Peter to preach to Cornelius, but here some Cypriote and African Jews, with no vision, command, nor precedent, with nothing but the truth in their minds and Christ's love in their hearts, unconsciously do the thing about the propriety of which there had been such serious question in Jerusalem.

2. Ver. 19 is a repetition of words in an earlier chapter. The writer returns to take up another thread of his narrative contemporaneous with those already pursued. Three distinct lines of expansion appear to have started from the dispersion of the Jerusalem Church — Philip's mission to Samaria, Peter's to Cornelius, and this work in Antioch.

3. This, the effort of a handful of unnamed men, was the true "leader" — the shoot that grew. Philip's work, and Peter's, were side branches, which came to little; this led on to a Church at Antioch, and so to Paul's missionary work, and all that came of that. Notice —

I. THE SPONTANEOUS IMPULSE WHICH THESE MEN OBEYED. Wherever they went they took their faith with them, and, as a matter of course, spoke about it. The coals were scattered from the hearth, but that did not put the fire out, but only spread it. They had no special injunction "to preach the Lord Jesus." They believed, and therefore spoke. Such a spontaneous impulse is ever the natural result of —

1. A personal possession of Christ. In regard to worldly good the instinct is to keep the treasure. But even in the natural sphere there are possessions which to have is to long to impart, such as truth and knowledge. And in the spiritual sphere this is emphatically the case. The old prophet spoke a universal truth when he said: "Thy word was as a fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." Deep conviction and strong emotion demand expression. True, sometimes the deepest love can only "love and be silent," and there is a just suspicion of vehement protestations. But for all that, it remains true that a heart warmed with the love of Christ will give it forth, as certainly as light must radiate from its centre, or heat from a fire.

2. True kindliness of heart. We cannot truly possess the treasure for ourselves without pity for those who have it not. What kind of Christians must they be who think of Christ as "a Saviour for me," and take no care to set Him forth as "a Saviour for you"? What should we think of men in a shipwreck who were content to get into the lifeboat, and let everybody else drown? What should we think of people in a famine feasting sumptuously on their private stores?

3. Loyalty to Christ. If we are true to our Lord, we shall feel that we cannot but speak up and out for Him. He who lives among rebels and is afraid to show his colours is already a coward, and is on the way to be a traitor. Our Master has placed in our hands the honour of His name, and the carrying out of the purposes on which His heart is set. How can we be loyal to Him if we are not constrained to respond to His trust in us, and if we know nothing of the "Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!"


1. In these early days the Church had a very loose organisation. But these fugitives had among them none even of the humble office bearers of primitive times. Neither had they any commission from Jerusalem. Whatever functions may be committed to Church officers the work of telling Christ's love to men belongs to everyone who has found it for himself or herself. "This honour have all the saints."

2. Whatever may be our differences as to Church order and offices, they need not interfere with our firm grasp of this truth. "Preaching Christ" implies no special method of proclaiming the glad tidings. A letter to a friend, a sentence in casual conversation, a lesson to a child on a mother's lap, or any other way by which the great story of the Cross is told, is as truly preaching Christ as the set discourse which has usurped the name.

3. We profess to believe in the priesthood of all believers, in opposition to sacerdotal assumptions. Are we as ready to recognise it as laying a very real responsibility upon us, and involving a very practical inference as to our own conduct? Every Christian is solemnly bound to take heed to this: "Freely ye have received, freely give."


1. "Preaching Jesus as Lord." Their message was a proclamation of the person and dignity of their Master, the story of the life of the Man, of the Divine sacrifice by which He had bought the right of supreme rule over every heart; and the urging of His claims on all who heard of His love. And this, their message, was but the proclamation of their own personal experience. They had found Jesus for themselves to be lover and Lord, and the joy they had received they sought to share with these Greeks. All have not the gifts which would fit for public speech, but all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious can tell somehow how gracious He is. The first Christian sermon was very short, and it was very efficacious, for it "brought to Jesus" the whole congregation. "He first findeth his brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias." Surely we can all say that, and shall long to say it, if we are glad that we have found Him, and if we love our brother.

2. Notice, too, how simple the form of the message. "They spake." It was no set address, but familiar, natural talk to ones and twos, as opportunity offered. What we want is that Christian people should speak anyhow. What does the shape of the cup matter? What does it matter whether it be gold or clay? The main thing is that it shall bear the water of life to some thirsty lip. All Christians have to do is to tell the good news —(1) Simply and faithfully, as one who only cares to repeat what he has had given to him.(2) Confidently, as having proved it true.(3) Beseechingly, as loving the souls to whom they bring it. Let His mighty salvation, experienced by yourselves, be the substance of your message, and let the form of it be guided by the old words, "It shall be, when the Spirit of the Lord is come upon thee, that thou shalt do as occasion shall serve thee."

IV. THE MIGHTY HELPER WHO PROSPERED THEIR WORK. "The hand of the Lord was with them." However feeble our hands, that mighty hand is laid on them to direct their movements and to lend strength to their weakness. It is not our speech, but His presence with our words by which a great number shall believe and turn to the Lord.(1) There is our encouragement when we are despondent. There is our rebuke when we are self-confident.(2) There is our stimulus when we are indolent.(3) There is our quietness when we are impatient.(4) If ever we are tempted to think our task heavy, let us not forget that He who set it helps us to do it.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Wearied of manifold errors and corruptions, we listen gladly when we hear of this. But, alas! those who are most ready to adopt the name are the most ready to abuse it. They boldly set out in search of it, but they lose their way in the Dark Ages, and never emerge into the Scriptural light that shines beyond. Three things appear at this point.

I. THE MINISTRY OF MEN. These evangelists kept back their own names, but put forward their Lord's; their only record is the multitude they brought to the Saviour. Persecution was the blast which spread the living seed. Being themselves Jews they preached at first to Jews only. The first opening into the wider world was made by Peter, but being made the crevasse widened rapidly. The theme of these evangelists was "the Lord Jesus." Doctrines cannot arrest and control men: they are like spirits not embodied: they elude us. But when the soul of doctrine is embodied in a person we can apprehend it, and when that Person is Jesus faith looks and lives. Primitive preaching is to tell the story of Jesus until hearts of stone give way and flow down like water.

II. THE HAND OF THE LORD. The instrument human, the power Divine (1 Corinthians 3:9), just as in the cultivation of fields. Man breaks up the ground, watches, weeds, drains. The God of nature does nothing which man can do for himself. He gives rain, sun, and air. So in the cultivation of souls, as here, after man has done all he must wait for the hand of the Lord to give the increase.

III. THE FRUIT THAT FOLLOWED. "Believing" and "turning to the Lord" stand in interesting relation to each other — the one the root, the other the fruit. The root of a tree lies out of sight, but the fruit can be both seen and tasted, and by it we know the tree. To believe is the secret act of the soul; to turn, etc., is the visible course of the disciple's life.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

I. EXTENSION. Ver. 19 is a condensation of vers. 1-18.

1. To the amazement of the early Christians the Word took effect upon others besides Jews. In this way the gospel became quite as much a revelation to Jews as to Gentiles. They saw that Christianity was not a local lamp, but a sun, and as its glory brightened the distant hills and made the far-off valleys sing with new joy, they were glad; they felt themselves invested with a new responsibility, and stirred with a new hope. Some such passions should fill our hearts when we see far-off men touched by the power of Christ. Herein is a proof of the Divine origin of Christianity. All other religions remain at home. Christianity is an aggressive religion. If its professors are non-militant they give the lie to their own faith. In the universality of the Christian offer I see its Godhood. Luxuries are only here and there, but necessaries are everywhere. Wines do not grow everywhere. But men need water, not wine. Some of God's gifts are local and individual, but whatever is necessary to salvation is to be spoken in every language of earth.

2. There are two typical instances in the narrative. Christianity touched the mind of the centurion. Let him represent Roman strength, sternness, law, dignity. Christianity touched the Grecian mind. Let that stand for refinement, elegance, philosophy, for the completing line of human thought and service. Christianity becomes Roman to the Roman, Grecian to the Grecian — a great rock to the rocky man, a rainbow to the dreaming genius, a summer light to the poet's fancy. No other religion does this.

II. RECOGNITION. What was the effect of the news upon the Church? At once they sent Barnabas to inquire.

1. When he came he saw the grace of God. There is no mistaking it. It is like nothing else. Imitations perish under scrutiny, but the real grace of God grows upon examination. He did not find a number of technical theologians, skilful disputants. He found men praying, with eager minds, with forgiving souls, more on high than below.

2. When Barnabas saw this he was glad. Is the farmer glad when he sees corn growing upon land on which it never grew before? It is so the Christian feels when he sees strange men turning to the faith. Are we glad when we see men converted? Do newly-converted men find a warm, cordial, comforting atmosphere in the Church when they come in?

3. Having made this recognition, Barnabas said, "Now with full purpose of heart you must cleave unto the Lord!" Exhortation will do more than suspicion. A word of encouragement is what young beginners in the Christian race require. You who gave your heart to Christ a week ago or a month since — persevere.

4. Why did Barnabas take so much interest in these new converts? Because "he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." Good men see goodness in other men. Evil be to him who evil thinks. The good man comes to be made glad. With a charitable spirit, and benign and hopeful heart, he looks upon the work, and it must be very bad if he does not see in it something to quicken his own faith, and deepen his own grace, and heighten his own love to God.

5. What was the consequence? "Much people was added unto the Lord." Barnabas did not go to Antioch for nothing — the work grew upon him, and now he said, "Saul must come." So he brought him to the Syrian capital, and there for a whole year they taught much people. Thus are spheres found for men, and thus have men sometimes to tarry at Tarsus till their proper Antioch is found. But God will find it.

III. PROOF (vers. 27-30). Were the men at Antioch really converted? Read in ver. 29 the proof. These men have received the Lord Jesus; and instantly on hearing that men who are partakers of the same faith are in prospect of want, they send to such men under the name of "brethren," according to their ability. This is how Christianity works. Here is the communism of the Church. The formal communism of chap. Acts 2. soon broke down, but the spiritual communism must continue forever. Wherever there is Christian need, Christian brotherhood must be acknowledged. The Cross broke down the middle wall of partition, and made the human family one. Conclusion: "And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." This name stands above all other names today. Of no man is so much expected as the Christian. The man who despises your faith expects from you on its account what he expects from no other man. So he answers himself. After having traduced your Lord, and disproved your documents, and cast scorn on your theology, if you do anything that calls down his displeasure he is the first to accuse of treason to the faith you profess. I ask for no higher intellectual and moral recognition of the purity of the religion of Jesus Christ. From no atheist is so much expected as from the weakest Christian. By Christians I understand Christ-ones, and were we what we ought to be there should be no other designation.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Sermons by the Monday Club.
Here we trace a series of providences —

I. IN THE INSTRUMENTALITIES. As the gospel was to be first preached to the Jews, it was fitting that Jews should be the first to proclaim it. Between that people, however, and all other nations, there existed formidable barriers. When, therefore, the time was come for them to be broken down, some medium must be found less hampered than the Jews by prejudice, and at the same time so far Jewish as to have received from the Jews the gospel. Such a medium was afforded here (ver. 19) by Greeks who had become Jewish proselytes. Belonging to a class "who sometime were afar off," to whom should they turn so naturally as to their kindred, the Greeks? As, when the fulness of time was come for Christ to be born, God had prepared Gentile watchers to be looking for His star, so when the gospel was ready for the world the same Providence had prearranged that messengers fitted for the work should be ready to be to it as wings to bear it on its worldwide flight. It is ever thus. He who has prepared the gospel for the race, prepares means for its extension. In this God has often been in advance of His Church. When she has faltered He has opened ways into regions beyond, where His preordained messengers might plant Christian standards.

II. THE PLACE. Antioch was a centre of commanding influence. If the new religion could be planted in this queen of Gentile cities, with her wealth, her culture, her sources of widespread influence, her teeming thousands, then the followers of Christ would stand on vantage ground unequalled. And this was substantially accomplished. Antioch became a Christian city. In the time of Theodosius it is alleged that one half of her population were professed followers of Christ. Between the years 252 and 380 A.D., ten Christian assemblies were here convened. Here Paul exercised his first systematic ministerial work, and from this point he started on all his missionary journeys. Here was born, and here Ignatius wielded his mighty power for the Christian faith. Thus, this city, where the first Gentile Church was gathered, exerted for centuries a controlling influence in spreading the new religion. From this let us, who are now entrusted with the gospel, learn —

1. To be bold. Christ calls for no timorous messengers. Christianity is in this world to conquer, and it will.

2. To plant the gospel in centres of influence. There were other cities than Antioch, but none of so extended and controlling influence.


1. The name by which, for all ages, the followers of Christ are to be known (ver. 26). To the formation of this word each of the three leading nations of earth made a contribution. The thought is Jewish, denoting "The Anointed One"; the root, Χριστ, is Greek; the termination, ιανοὶ, is Latin. Thus, in the providence of God, the same three nations whose differing dialects proclaimed above the Cross, "Jesus, the King of the Jews," now unite in forming a word which for all time shall be applied to those who follow Christ.

2. The breaking down of jealousies between Jewish and Gentile converts, as seen in

(1)The mission of Barnabas.

(2)The generosity evoked by the prophecy of Agabus.

(Sermons by the Monday Club.)

I. BELIEVING IN CHRIST'S NAME. In this story three forces are to be noted.

1. Persecution (ver. 19). The devil made nothing when he stirred this up. The blood of the martyred Stephen was the seed of many Churches.

2. Conservatism. "Speaking the Word to none save only to Jews." Conscientiously seeking "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Unlike Peter, they had had no vision. They were acting under the impulse of hereditary bigotry and natural affiliations.

3. Progression. "Some of them...spake unto the Greeks also." Notice —(1) That it was only "some of them." When an old bondage is to be thrown off, emancipation comes to individuals before it comes to the many.(2) That it was not native Jews. Men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who had associated with Greeks as well as with Jews, it was as easy for them to speak to the one as to the other, and, not blinded by Jewish prejudice, they could see their equal right to the benefit of the sacrifice upon Calvary.(3) That they were unknown men. In the time of about 100,000 were reputed to be Christian — here truly a great result from the efforts of a few obscure men.(4) That their work was a simple one. They held up Jesus as Saviour and Lord — that which any other earnest disciple of Christ can do, and must do if the world is to be evangelised.(5) That their work was immediately attested. "The hand of the Lord was with them."

II. KNOWN BY CHRIST'S NAME. Let us see how this came about.

1. The work reported (ver. 22).

2. The work approved.(1) The sending. The case of Cornelius had prepared the Church at Jerusalem for such tidings. Perhaps they were afraid that the workers might do some things ill-advised, but they showed their sympathy with the work by sending such a man as Barnabas.(2) The rejoicing. The joy of Barnabas was the best sort of approval. Barnabas knew the Lord's handiwork when he saw it.(3) The exhortation. Barnabas believed in the perseverance of the saints — not in putting the hand to the plough, and then looking back. God wants no ninety-day recruits in His service. His enlistment roll is for life. Note, that continued fidelity to Him comes from "purpose of heart," rather than purpose of the will or conviction of the head.(4) The man. "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith." This statement is given as the reason why Barnabas so instantly showed his sympathy with the work among the Gentiles.

3. The work assisted.(1) By the countenance that Barnabas gave to it. "And much people was added to the Lord." As a representative of the Church at Jerusalem his approval would give the work a new impetus, as being done under the sanction of the Church. To this was added the force of his own personality, made potential by his goodness and possession of faith and the Holy Spirit.(2) By the united efforts of Barnabas and Saul. The work too great for one. The glory of much of Paul's career is due to the man who believed in Paul, and gave to him his opportunity. Many a man who is no Paul himself may set a Paul to work. The revival, as such, appears to have been over, and they devoted themselves to instructing these converts in the new faith they had professed.

4. The new name. "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."

III. HELPING BELIEVERS IS CHRIST'S NAME (vers. 27-30). The starving Jewish believers at Jerusalem learned how good it was to have brethren not of the direct seed of Abraham. The Gentiles and Jews indeed had become "one flock, one Shepherd."

(M. C. Hazard.)

As there is in all living objects a reproductive capacity, so the gospel has in it a certain vitality which ensures its diffusion. Our Lord illustrates this in His parables of the wheat and the mustard seed. The incident of the text is a singular illustration of this wonderful potency. Note, here —


1. These men of Cyprus and Cyrene continued without the least abatement of zeal to preach the gospel whilst in the very act of fleeing for their life. The storm of persecution seemed rather to fan the flame of their holy enthusiasm.

2. This enthusiasm is the Christian's normal condition. The religion of Jesus is a religion of love and gratitude, and where these emotions abound they never fail to kindle enthusiasm. In the face of this, an apathetic, unimpassioned Christian is an anomaly as incongruous in conception as a frozen sunbeam or a petrified flame. The sun floats in an atmosphere of flame, which is the source of its marvellous influence over scores of worlds, of its power to quicken their myriad forms of life. The true Christian is a moral sun surrounded by an atmosphere of enthusiasm.

3. This enthusiasm, born of love and gratitude, constitutes the gospel's most effective guarantee for its diffusion. For in nothing is this enthusiasm more assiduously manifested than in efforts to spread the story of the love which kindled it.

4. This enthusiasm the gospel is ever capable of awakening. So long as its power of benefiting men remains, so long will its power of awakening gratitude remain, and where this gratitude exists there will be enthusiasm ever impelling men to self-sacrificing labours for Christ.

5. This spirit should, however, be manifested not in the ministry alone, nor in the more official walks of Christian service, but should permeate equally all its humbler forms. Wherever present it illumines the most commonplace things, and invests the humblest service of God's house with sublime dignity.

II. ITS ASSIMILATIVE POWER — its power of raising men's minds into loving unison with its own spirit and aim. This comes out in relation to these men in the fact that they preached the gospel to the Greeks — uncircumcised heathen.

1. It was a course of action for which they had no precedent, and was opposed to all their previous notions. Such views came even to apostles only as the result of extraordinary training. Could it come to them otherwise than by the broadening and heart-expanding influence of the gospel itself? They rightly apprehended that a scheme so rich in grace and wisdom must comprehend all nations. As with the ancient Jews, so is it with many modern Christians. There is a tendency to regard the grace of God as the special monopoly of a sect. Such feeling will cramp every effort to extend its operations. The gospel must be viewed as a thing destined for humanity, and it is only in the measure that Christians rise to this conception that their hearts will receive that breadth which will bring them into sympathy with every institution having for its object the realisation of its world-embracing aims.

2. But this new departure involved considerably more than the breaking away from Jewish traditions. In preaching to the Jews, the utmost that they had had to encounter were Jewish prejudices regarding the Messiah. They both believed in the Scriptures; but in presenting the gospel to the Greeks they were brought face to face with idolatry — a foe which enlisted every element likely to secure the sympathy of corrupt human nature. They had also to confront philosophies commended by the highest culture. Before these men could have ventured to initiate such a stupendous campaign, they must have had the most unfaltering conviction that the gospel was fully adequate to grapple with every form of opposition that the heathen world could furnish. Have we not in the firm, unwavering faith of these men in the gospel a most fitting lesson for the times? There are still to be encountered prejudices as strong as Jewish intolerance, abominations as foul as ever characterised ancient heathendom, assumptions of science and philosophy far more daring and arrogant than those of apostolic times. Like these men, we must not only believe that the gospel is for all men, but, also, that it is a power capable of overcoming every opposition standing in the way of it reaching all men.

III. ITS UTILISING POWER. These persons were not recognised preachers, but men constrained to engage in the work by force of circumstances. Had they been persons of official standing their names would have been given. Philip, who was a deacon, is mentioned by name when his evangelistic labours are referred to. The lessons are —

1. That efforts to promote the spread of the gospel are not to be confined to those formally set apart. Offices are necessary. Christ has ordained them. This was essential to ensure order and steady systematic labour. Unofficial labour is subject to ebbs and flows, and hence the need of a duly appointed class to ensure regular and unbroken efforts. In countries subject to long droughts extensive systems of irrigation are provided to ensure a steady supply of moisture. But the falling rain, however intermittent, is no less welcome. Similarly the irregular services of voluntary workers are peculiarly acceptable to Christ, and He has not only sanctioned but enjoined such.

2. It is a great defect that ordinary Church members have come to regard all efforts to promote the cause of Christ as an obligation resting solely upon the official portion of the Church. Consequently —(1) They make no personal effort to promote the salvation of their fellow men, and manifest the utmost indifference with regard to Sabbath school work and the operations of kindred agencies.(2) The effect of this notion upon the official section of the Church is no less disastrous. It becomes the prolific source of some of the worst evils of priestism. The ministry becomes isolated from the people, and is lifted up with an undue sense of its authority, and surrounds itself with an air of cool official propriety.

3. The highest ideal of a Christian Church, and the one which is most in harmony with the primitive type, is that in which both official and voluntary agencies are found skilfully blended and wisely cooperating.(1) Those spiritual energies and aspirations awakened by the influence of the gospel in the breast of every Christian would by voluntary labours obtain a proper channel for development and usefulness. Personal piety would gain considerably in breadth and depth by being called upon to act and interest itself on behalf of souls; and officers, looking on the results, would be "glad," and would work with redoubled ardour, and so many would be turned to the Lord.(2) By these efforts Christianity becomes clearly recognised. "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch."(3) Generous sympathies are evoked (vers. 27-30).(4) Gifts are multiplied. This Church abounded in prophets and teachers.(5) Spheres of usefulness are indefinitely widened. To this Church was allotted the great honour of being made the centre of the first systematic efforts to evangelise the world. It seemed fitting that a Church, thus composed of Gentile converts, should become the principal channel for communicating the blessings of the gospel to their own brethren in the flesh (chap. Acts 13:3).

(A. J. Parry.)

1. Those who are received as guests give the gospel as a present in return (vers. 19-21):

2. Those who possess the Word in abundance impart it to those who are in the first beginnings (vers. 22-28).

3. Those who are blessed with earthly wealth assist those who have nothing (vers. 29-30).


1. Undaunted courage in opposition to the world (ver. 19).

2. Docile attention to the Divine intimations (ver. 22).

3. Brotherly concord among the labourers.

(K. Gerok.)





(K. Gerok.)

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