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Acts Chapter 11

Distributed by:  Internet Bible Studies

Memory verses for this week:  Eph 1:18  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, Eph 1:19  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

Introduction:     In Chapter 10, we witnessed the conversion of Cornelius and his family as Peter was given a directive from God to go and to preach unto the Gentiles.  We saw that after they were saved, they were baptized.   We know today that there is no difference between the Jew or the Greek.  Praise God that he has allowed the Gentiles to partake of the wondrous gospel of Jesus Christ.  All who will come to Christ may be saved.   Acts 2:21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.



I.                    Peterís Defense of His Gentile Ministry

Acts 11:1  And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

Acts 11:2  And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

Acts 11:3  Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

 As happens many times, when we are doing the exact will of God in our lives, we may face opposition.  And sometimes that comes from our own brethren.  Peter returns to Jerusalem and they of the circumcision (the Jews), begin to contend with Peter about this.  They accuse him of going in to men uncircumcised and eating with them.  We know the old traditions forbid a Jew from going into the home of a Gentile.   The Jews truly had nothing to do with those who were not Jews.  But praise be to God, things changed.   Now all men, of all nationalities and backgrounds, were given the same equal opportunity to come and worship God in the church.  The key was to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.


John 4:9  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

 We know the Samaritan woman at the well marvelled that Jesus even spoke to her.   Jesus was radically different from the those who had come up with the traditions of the fathers.  The Jews accused Peter of eating with the Gentiles, and if you remember, they accused Christ for eating with publicans and sinners.  Be sure that someone will not like what you are doing if you are fired up for God and really working for Him.

Mat 9:10  And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Mat 9:11  And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?


Acts 11:4  But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

Acts 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:

Acts 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.

Acts 11:7  And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

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

Acts 11:9  But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Acts 11:10  And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.


Peter goes into the complete explanation and tells them all the things that had transpired, beginning here with his vision of the sheet let down from heaven by the four corners.   By telling the whole story, those in Jerusalem could make up their own minds whether this was of God, or something that Peter had decided to do on his own.  This was not something Peter had chosen to do, but it was something from God.   As you remember from last weekís account and also here in verse 8, we see that Peter vehemently argued to not partake of eating of these ďuncleanĒ animals.  He was simply trying to do what was right and follow the law to every extent.


Acts 11:11  And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.

Acts 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:

Acts 11:13  And he showed 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;

Acts 11:14  Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

Acts 11:15  And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.

Acts 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.

Acts 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?


Peter points out that it was not he alone that went to Corneliusí house, but six other brethren also went along.   The bible teaches that there is wisdom in counsel, and sometimes it is good to have multiple brethren around to validate things are happening exactly as they are.  This was wise on Peterís part because he was going to do something that had never been done before.  God was opening up a new and different way, and these brethren were witnesses that he was doing what God instructed him to do.


Acts 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.


We know that after Peter was given the opportunity to preach the Gospel, the Gentiles accepted the message, and God granted them repentance unto life.  I am so glad he did, because most of us who are studying these scriptures are not Jews.  There are some, who like Paul, were saved out of their due time.  But the vast majority of Jews still are looking for the Messiah to come and have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior.   It is important to know that even though this officially opened the Gospel to the Gentiles in the New Testament, Gentiles were part of Godís plan and people all through time.  You will notice that Rahab was a Gentile, and God saved her.  She was the one used to hide the spies and her fatherís house was all left alive when they came in and took Jericho.  We know God allowed Rahab to be in the ancestry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 Josh 2:1  And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there.

Josh 2:2  And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.

Josh 2:3  And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country.

Josh 2:4  And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 

Some other verses concerning Rahab.  Rahab became the wife of Salmon.


James 2:25  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?


Mat 1:5  And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;



II.                  The Church at Antioch (Disciples first called Christians here)

 Acts 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.


After the Lord gave the church the great commission, at first they preached only to the Jews.  The persecution that came upon the church scattered them abroad after the stoning of Stephen.  God used this persecution to spread the gospel into all the countries.

 Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

Acts 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.

Acts 11:21  And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 

We see that when the disciples came to Antioch, that they preached Christ and the gospel to the Greek speaking Jews, and a great number of them were saved. Why were they successful?  Because in verse 21 we see that the hand of the Lord was with them.  They were preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified and resurrected.   That is the message that God wants proclaimed from his pulpits, back then, and also today. 

2 Cor 4:3  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Cor 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Cor 4:5  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

2 Cor 4:6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Acts 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.


It was sort of unusual how the church there in Jerusalem always seemed to send someone to check out things after they heard that people were saved in another city.  Perhaps it was to be sure that the record was true, and to be sure that the pure gospel was being preached.  For whatever reason, Barnabas was sent to check out what was happening in Antioch.   

Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

 Barnabas was an excellent choice to go.  He had an outstanding reputation in the church at Jerusalem. 

Acts 4:36  And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

Acts 4:37  Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

 Acts 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.

 He found things to be as he had heard, and that many were saved, and he witnessed the Grace of God being shown to those in Antioch.  No doubt he saw lives being changed.  We are never the same after we are saved.

2 Cor 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Cor 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Cor 5:19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

 Acts 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.

Acts 11:25  Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

Acts 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. 

We see from verse 24 that Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and faith.   These are the kind of men that Paul told young Timothy to seek out to teach others.

 2 Tim 2:1  Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Tim 2:2  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Tim 2:3  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 

We see that after Barnabas left Antioch, he went to Tarsus to seek Saul. (the apostle Paul after being saved.)  We see from verse 25 that after some had sought to kill Paul, the disciples sent him to Tarsus, which was his home town.  Since Barnabas was involved in helping Paul escape those who sought to kill him in Damascus, he knew where to go to get him to help teach.   Note the term Christians was first used here in Antioch to describe those followers of Jesus Christ.  A Christian is one who is saved and is following Christ.


Acts 9:27  But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.


Paul and Barnabas stayed a year at Antioch and taught them doctrine in the church.    Iím sure this was a great blessing to those young disciples there in Antioch.


III.  The Church at Antioch Sends Relief to     Jerusalem 

Acts 11:27  And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.

Acts 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.


We see that God used this prophet to for tell some future events.  In the old testament times (and early on in the New Testament), God used men to pen down words of events that were going to happen in the future.  Agabus also was used to tell what was going to happen to Paul at Jerusalem.


Acts 21:10  And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.

Acts 21:11  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.


Agabus declared that there was going to be a dearth (or famine) throughout all the world.   God signified this with His Spirit.


 1 Cor 13:8  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

1 Cor 13:9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

1 Cor 13:10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.


We see that God told us that there would come a time when these things that were done in part would be done away.  This signifies the completion of the Word of God, which we now have.  Prophecies, tongues, and knowledge without a human tutor would be done away with.


 Acts 11:29  Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

Acts 11:30  Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

 We see that the disciples at Antioch determined to send relief to their fellow brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.  This is the first time we read of a people of another country coming to the aid of someone else.  This offering was sent back by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.   It is wonderful when Godís people have a loving heart and want to give to help others. 

2 Cor 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

2 Cor 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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