|Acts Chapter 11|
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey
(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
|1) Now the apostles and the [other] brothers in Judea heard that the Gentiles had responded to the message of God.||The word was out about the conversion of Gentiles even before Peter returned to Jerusalem. This radical news traveled fast.|
|2) And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those [believers] of Jewish descent began to argue with him,||– The Jerusalem Church had a more limited view of Peter's inspiration and authority than we do now. His conduct was challenged. He certainly was not a pope.|
|3) saying, "You went in and ate with non-Jewish people, did you not?"||– Eating may have had a wider implication than simply meals. The focus was on breaking traditional Jewish practices rather than on the immersion of the Gentiles.|
|4) Then Peter began to explain the whole matter to them, step by step, saying,||– It was necessary for Peter to give much detail here and Luke also records it, showing the importance of this incident.|
|5) "I was in the city of Joppa and [one day], while praying, I fell into a trance [i.e., a semi-conscious, vision-like state] and saw a huge sheet-like container being lowered down from the sky by its four corners. As it came into view||– If Peter had to see a vision and be told directly by the Spirit to accompany Gentiles, it is reasonable that without this guidance, the brothers at Jerusalem would have some questions. This was a crisis event in the development of the church.|
|6) I gazed at it and wondered [about it], as I saw [it full of] four-legged [domestic] animals, wild animals, crawling [reptiles] and birds of the sky.||– Wild beasts had not been mentioned in Acts 10.|
|7) I also heard a voice telling me to get up and kill and eat [one of them].|| – General Comment on 7-10:
Peter was led directly by the Spirit of God into new truth. A visual aid was employed and he "also heard a voice" directly from the Lord. The other Apostles did not have this information, but through Peter, they are here being led into that same truth. John 16:13.
It was not necessary for them to rely on Peter alone because the six Jewish brethren were present to see the Spirit descend and to hear the non-Jews speak in tongues.
|8) But I said, 'O no, Lord, for I have never even tasted anything ordinary or [ceremonially] unfit [for Jews to eat].'|
|9) Then the voice spoke from the sky again, saying, 'Do not consider something [to be] ordinary that God has made acceptable.'|
|10) And this was done three times before it was all lifted back up into the sky.|
|11) "Then, just about that time, three men sent from Caesarea to get me, walked up to the house where we were [staying].||– Peter saw the timing as significant. God's dealings with mankind frequently center on the timing of events.|
|12) The Holy Spirit directed me to go with them, without showing any discrimination. With these six brothers accompanying me, we went into Cornelius' house||– There were six independent Jewish witnesses traveling with Peter and they were present now.|
|13) and he told us about seeing an angel standing in his house and saying [to him] 'Send to Joppa for Simon Peter and bring him [here]|
|14) so he can speak words to you that will bring salvation to you and your household.'||– Cornelius' prayers and benevolence had not saved him — but they had played a part in his being selected for hearing the message.|
|15) "And while I was speaking, [the power of] the Holy Spirit descended on them [i.e., Cornelius' Gentile household] just like [it fell] on us [Jewish apostles] at the beginning [i.e., the day of Pentecost, See chapter 2].|| – Peter calls attention to the timing again.
- Descended: the miracle-working measure is meant.
- The coming of the Spirit without human intervention had not happened since Pentecost. In all subsequent cases, the Apostles had laid their hands on those who received the gifts.
|16) Then I remembered what the Lord had said [See 1:4-5]: 'John immersed you [people] in water but you [apostles] will be immersed in the Holy Spirit.'|| – The words of the Lord are recorded in Acts 1:4-5 and identified with the measure of the Spirit given to the Apostles on Pentecost.
- This event at Cornelius' house is correctly called an immersion (baptism) in the Holy Spirit.
|17) [Therefore], if God gave to them [i.e., the Gentiles] the same gift as He gave to us [Jews] when we [apostles, See chapter 1-2] believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, how could I stand against [the will of] God [by refusing to immerse them]?'|| –
Peter's knowledge of God's will was progressive.
- To not proceed with immersion would have been to oppose God.
|18) So, when the apostles and the brothers from Judea heard these things, they stopped arguing [See verse 2] and gave honor to God, saying, "[This means] that God has permitted the Gentiles also [as well as the Jews] to repent [i.e., change their hearts and lives] so they, too, could have [the promise of never ending] life."|| – Another crisis had been averted. The inspired apostles accepted the new truth from Peter and accepted the expansion of the gospel message to non-Jewish people.
- Repentance is the way to life.
|19) Those who were scattered everywhere as a result of the persecution [being waged against the church] because of Stephen's [death], traveled as far away as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, declaring the message to Jews only.|| – Luke is picking another strand from Acts 8:4 and summarizing what had been happening aside from the stories of Saul and Peter. Those scattered from Jerusalem had preached to Jews only.
- Phoenicia is modern Lebanon. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire and well-positioned on travel routes. Josephus Wars 3.2.4
|20) But when some men from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch, they preached [about] the Lord Jesus to the Greeks [i.e., Gentiles] also.|| – Probably at this point the news about Cornelius was being heard everywhere. Now the message of salvation was spreading to Greeks as well and this is the main focus of Luke in the rest of Acts.
- Notice they spoke of Jesus as Lord, not the Christ (Messiah) the Jews were looking for.
|21) The power of the Lord was upon their efforts so that a large number of people who believed [the message] turned to the Lord [in faithful obedience].|| – The Lord gave special blessing to this.
- This church soon became the center of world evangelism. A shift is beginning from the cradle of Jerusalem to the gymnasium of Antioch.
|22) And the news about [what was being done by] these people reached the church in Jerusalem, so that they sent Barnabas to Antioch [in Syria].|| – Barnabas was sent in good faith by the church in Jerusalem. They had accepted Peter's revelation.
- The Jerusalem church sent their exhorter. He had been born in Cyprus (4:36) and could easily relate to those preachers coming from there. Verse 20.
|23) When he got there and saw how God was favoring the people [with salvation] he was very happy and [stayed on to] encourage everyone to remain close to the Lord with a heartfelt purpose.|| – Lives were being changed and observers could see it.
- Barnabas means "Son of Encouragement."
- Salvation is God's gift, but remaining saved takes effort.
|24) [Now] Barnabas was a good man who was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith [in the Lord], and many people were added to the [church of the] Lord.|| – He showed the fruit of the Spirit in many ways. Galatians 5:22-23. His faith may have been in seeing the hand of the Lord in events where others would see only coincidence.
- This is church growth at its best. It even exceeded the previous report in verse 21.
|25) Then he went on to Tarsus to look for Saul [Note: Tarsus was the home town of Saul, who was later called Paul],|| – Barnabas remembered the events of Acts 9:27 ff.
- He must have seen the task of teaching new converts as needing more manpower than he could supply alone.
|26) and when he found him, he brought him [back] to Antioch. So, for an entire year Saul and Barnabas gathered the church together and taught many people. [It was] here in Antioch that the disciples were first [divinely] called Christians.|| – God had His new man Saul prepared. Acts 9:15.
- Now they are in on-the-job training for international evangelism. Reese calculates this as A.D. 43.
- These new believers may not have understood the Old Testament and so much teaching was required.
- called is "divinely called." Luke just used the term in 10:22. Probably either Barnabas or Saul had the revelation.
- The individuals were called by the new name Christian.
Isaiah had predicted a new name for God's people in Isaiah 56:5-6. It was connected there with the conversion of Gentiles. God did not give the new name Christian at Pentecost or during the time the church was evangelizing among Jewish-related people. But now Peter has ushered a Gentile family into the Kingdom and God has prepared his specialist Saul for winning Gentiles and has him doing on-the-job training at Antioch. The name Christian was reserved for a mission-minded church that is ready to reach out to the world.
|27) During those days some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.||– This is the first mention of prophets in the church although this is not the first prophecy. A prophecy is implied in verse 26.|
|28) One of them, a man named Agabus, stood up and indicated by [the direction of] the Holy Spirit that there was going to be a severe worldwide famine, which [actually] took place during the time that Claudius ruled.|| – Luke is clear that the prophet was speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit. The famine mentioned by Josephus may have been the one predicted. Josephus Antiquities 20.5.1.
- Luke, writing some years later, also notes that it happened.
|29) [In response to this prediction], the disciples decided to send as much relief as they could to help the brothers living in Judea.|| – The new Gentile Christians determined to help their Jewish brethren that had sent Barnabas to teach them.
- Such emerging love for unseen brethren!
- Judea was dependent on rainfall for income while these Antioch Christians depended more on international trade.
|30) So, they sent [what was donated] to the elders [of the Judean churches] by Barnabas and Saul.||– This is the first mention of elders in the church.|