Wednesday: The Gospel Goes to the Gentiles

Where was the first Gentile church established? What events caused the believers to go there? (Acts 11:19–21, 26). What does that remind you of from Old Testament times? (See Daniel 2.)  

The persecution that broke out in Jerusalem after Stephen’s death caused a number of Jewish believers to flee three hundred miles north to Antioch. As capital of the Roman province of Syria, Antioch was second only to Rome and Alexandria in significance. Its population, estimated at five hundred thousand, was extremely cosmopolitan, making it an ideal location not only for a Gentile church but as the starting base for the worldwide mission of the early church.

What occurred in Antioch that resulted in Barnabas’ visit to the city and his subsequent decision to invite Paul to join him in Antioch? What kind of picture is presented of the church there? (Acts 11:20–26).  

Constructing a chronology of Paul’s life is difficult, but it appears that some five years passed between his post-conversion visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:26–30) and the invitation by Barnabas to join him in Antioch. What was Paul doing all those years? It is hard to say for sure. But based on his comments in Galatians 1:21, he may have been preaching the gospel in the regions of Syria and Cilicia. Some have suggested that, perhaps, it was during this time that he was disinherited by his family (Phil. 3:8) and suffered a number of the hardships he describes in 2 Corinthians 11:23–28.The church in Antioch blossomed under the guidance of the Spirit. The description in Acts 13:1 indicates that the cosmopolitan nature of the city was soon reflected in the ethnic and cultural diversity of the church itself. (Barnabas was from Cyprus, Lucius from Cyrene, Paul from Cilicia, Simon presumably from Africa, and consider all the Gentile converts, too.) The Spirit now sought to take the gospel to even more Gentiles by using Antioch as the base for more far-reaching missionary activities, beyond Syria and Judea.

Read again Acts 11:19–26. What can we learn from the church at Antioch, a very culturally and ethnically diverse church, that could help churches today emulate the good that existed there?



Wednesday: The Gospel Goes to the Gentiles — 5 Comments

  1. In Corinthians we see the great hardships that Paul endured while working for the Lord. Could it be that those hardships were punishment for the persecutions he carried out?
    Also how can I apply this lesson so far to my ailing soul?

    • Oliver, your question indicates the same kind of understanding that Job's friends had -- that trials in life are God's punishment for sins committed. Yet, at the end of Job's trial, God said to his friends, "You have not spoken of me that which is right, as my servant Job has." (Job 42:7) God does not deal that way.

      Paul was persecuted and beset by hardships -- not because the Lord punished him, but because he was attacking the gates of hell, and Satan didn't like it.

      One lesson for us is that hardship is not a sign of God's disfavor. In fact, Paul himself suggests that living a godly life will bring on persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

      We can be assured that if we put our trust in God, He will give us the strength to go through whatever comes our way in the path of obedience.

  2. For me the lesson shows just how merciful and full of grace God is, just like Paul deserved punishment for how he was treating God's people ( the followers of Jesus the Messiah) we too deserve death (punishment) but God has show such mercy and love toward us that he forgives us and uses us to be his witnesses to others just like Paul.

  3. The problem with the church today is not too little diversity in culture, or ethnicity. The problem is too much diversity in commitment to God. Some are totally devoted, others are financially faithful, still others are just nominal SDA members.
    I think we need to look closely at what is happening in this lesson.
    These characters in the story of Antioch were veterans of a bloody war to destroy their relationship with Jesus.
    The question is; are we willing to leave our comfort zones and tell others of Jesus and His Righteousness?

  4. Great points and comments raised. As we look at the church in our times, we should consider ourselves and the role that we play in the mess (if it exist) and what we can do, starting with "me"...

    Paul looked, saw and then acted.

    But how similiar is the resultant of persecution then the same as the creation or let us say reformation of christian following 1798.

    It is truly interesting that when God's people were persecuted, God raise up men of great to act. Are we ready for the end time tribulation


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