Acts 11: 19-30

Written by kathleen on Jun 28, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 11:19-30

Who Are You?

19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.

At first, Christians scattered over the Roman Empire preached only to Jews. But they eventually began to preach Jesus Christ to Gentiles as well.

Phoenicia was located in the southern part of present-day Israel, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus was an island off the coast of present-day Syria.

The Christians were scattered—but still spoke of salvation only to Jews. In Antioch, that would all change, for it was in Antioch that a base was established for missionary work into Gentile territory.

Antioch, the third largest city in the Roman Empire behind Rome and Alexandria; it was founded about 300 BC by Seleucus I, one of the inheritors of Alexander the Great’s empire and was dedicated to the Greek goddess, Daphne, who had been seduced by the Greek god, Apollo. With the possible exception of Corinth, immorality was greater in the city of Antioch more so than in any other city of the empire. Back then it was a city of more than half a million; today it is a Turkish city with a population of about 3,500.

20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.  21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

When the believers in Jerusalem heard people were being saved in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to check it out for he was known to be a person full of the Holy Spirit.

I wonder how people could tell. And what does it mean to be spirit filled?

In short, being filled with the Spirit means to reflect what God is like; when people look at a person filled by the Holy Spirit they will see or sense the presence of God or the attitude and character of the Holy Spirit.

That person’s own personality and preferences have been put aside in favor of allowing God’s character to shine through.

There are some people who want to define spirit-filled in terms of being able to exercise certain gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the term Spirit-filled is equated with the demonstration of spiritual power or ability that is manifested in us or through us.

There is a measure of truth to that definition for those who invite or allow the Holy Spirit to have complete control of their lives are able to operate with a divine power that comes from the Holy Spirit.

But I think a more accurate description of being full of the Holy Spirit is the display of spiritual fruit. It was Jesus in Matthew 7:16 who said that you can tell the type of a tree by looking at the fruit that hangs on its branches. Good trees don’t produce bad fruit and bad trees cannot produce good fruit.

Therefore the person who is full of the Holy Spirit is someone whom is found with evidence of demonstrating Gods character in their lives. In Galatians 5:22 we have a clear description of what the fruit of the Holy Spirit actually is. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

That’s the clearest definition of spirit-filled that the Bible offers.

Being spirit-filled is less about what you can do for God by way of ability and power and much more about who you are as a person. It could be said that Being Spirit-filled is all about your character.When people thought of Barnabas it was his character and behavior that came to their minds for Barnabas was known for was being full of faith.

That being said; in this statement the original Greek word, pistis, meant “belief” as in having been persuaded that something was absolutely right or true.

Barnabas had been brought up as a Levite in the ways of the Jewish faith but had been absolutely and thoroughly convinced that Jesus was the Messiah or the Son of God and demonstrated his Belief by having “trust” or “confidence” in God.

This produced a “close personal relationship” and “intimacy” with God allowing him a way of seeing things from God’s angle and therefore you couldn’t separate the religious component of his life from the non-religious. His fullness of faith filled every part of his life.

Can people see the Spirit of God working in your life? Or do they see someone whose lifestyle has two different components; one following Christ and the other no different than an unbeliever’s lifestyle!

Your lifestyle will determine who people say you are!  So who are you?

25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Barnabas looked around and said, “Wow, here are all of these Hellenists, Grecians, and pagans being added to the church. Who can really speak to them effectively? I know! The guy I left at Tarsus seven or eight years ago—Saul!”

So as Barnabas remembers Saul, and how he had been sent out to Tarsus for his own protection (Acts 9:28-30 ) And literally went to hunt him up;

He finds him they return to Antioch and together Barnabas and Saul for a whole year assembled with the church and taught a great many people making the church in Antioch strong.

Barnabas focused on his main job as a leader of the church. He strengthened the church family itself, with the result that a great many people were added to the Lord.

This is the plan for church growth spoken of in Ephesians 4:11-16. Leaders in the church dedicate themselves to equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, so when they grow into maturity, and do their ministry, that it causes growth in and of the body of Christ.

Eph 4:11-16  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —  16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (How it’s supposed to work)

“Antioch was famous for its readiness to make fun and call names; it was known by its witty sayings.” But as the people of Antioch called the followers of Jesus “Jesus People” or Christians for the first time meaning “Little Christ.”; the believers appreciated the title so much that it stuck

Wouldn’t it be great if someone called you “Little Jesus” because you had so much of Him in you?

Eusebius, a famous early church historian, describes a believer named Sanctus from Lyons, France, who was tortured for Jesus.  As they tortured him cruelly, they hoped to get him to say something evil or blasphemous.

They asked his name, and he would only reply, “I am a Christian.” “What nation do you belong to?” He would answer, “I am a Christian.” “What city do you live in?” “I am a Christian.” His questioners began to get angry: “Are you a slave or a free man?” “I am a Christian” was the only reply. No matter what they asked about him, he would only answer, “I am a Christian.” This made his torturers all the more determined to break him, but they could not, and he died with the words “I am a Christian” on his lips. (Eusebius, Church History)

27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. 30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul

Into this atmosphere of teaching, exhortation, and preaching came a prophet named Agabus who, given opportunity to declare a prophetic word, said a drought would fall upon Jerusalem; the result of hearing something from the heart of the Lord as He spoke to the body through the body as He did here in Acts caused a unique reaction through out the church.

We don’t know exactly how Agabus was shown by the Spirit this famine was on the way. But the Christians took the word seriously, and generously begin preparations to meet the needs.

We know from other sources that Claudius Ceasar’s reign was marked by a succession of bad harvests and scarcity in various parts of the empire such as Rome, Greece, and Egypt as well as in Judaea.

You can tell these first century church goers were truly disciples that took their salvation very seriously because they gave generously to meet the need. They gave, each according to his ability

After hearing the word of prophecy, they didn’t say, “Wow, there’s going to be a drought; we better store our beans, buy guns, get gold, and build shelters.” No, they said, “There’s a drought? Let’s take an offering. Tough times? How can we help others?”

The Apostile Paul by the influence of the Holy Spirit writes in: 2 Cor 9:6-8 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.        

If a person does not determine to give, they often never do.It has been said that we make a living not by what we get. But we make a life by what we give. There was life in the early church because they gave!

So it was that Barnabas and Saul left Antioch to travel three hundred miles south to share with the body in Jerusalem. Their reputation (who they were) was in such high regard among all the people was evident by the fact that they were trusted with the relief fund.

Jesus said ; Matthew 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

This was a theme the Apostle Peter picked up on in the first of his pastoral letters. He acknowledged the fact that we as Christians are different to the people of this world who don’t follow Jesus; but he also said we have a responsibility to guard how we come across to them. 1 Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. You see who you are is important! It’s important because when we become a child of God our personality and character becomes intertwined with God’s, and people will often judge what God is like by what they see of him in us. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul compares a Christian to the role of an ambassador. We are ambassadors of Christ.

Therefore diplomats watch their own behavior and character very carefully because everything they do is regarded as a reflection of their home country’s government. Barnabas had a highly credible reputation amongst the people of his day. He was known as a good man and full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was a huge encouragement to many people. He was a person of integrity and because of his influence many people came to faith in Jesus. In the shadow of Barnabas the question we each need to ask is this:

What will they say about me when my time on earth is up. Will I be one known as being full of faith lead by the Holy Spirit.  Am  I living a separated life to where others could tell I was a follower of Jesus?