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Bible Commentaries
Acts 11

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-30

  1. Intro:
    1. Reports of Caesarea make to down to headquarters in Jerusalem.
      1. Reports? – Well, Peter is going to retell the story, so let’s just hear it again from him.
    2. How is Peter going to tell them…“I went to Cornelius’s house & ate with Gentiles, because God told me to!”
      1. Have you ever found it difficult explaining something you believe God told you to do?
    1. (3) This is their issue.
    2. (14) And all your household – is known as “people movements” in missiology.
      1. When a whole family or a whole group makes a decision for Christ is a foreign concept to most of us.
      2. Do you think it’s valid when you hear of it happening today?
      3. Here is why it’s odd to us…Culture!
        1. ​​​​​​​In many communities the whole family does what dad does.
      4. A few years back they were talking about all the Dalit’s (untouchables) in India possibly coming to the Lord (250 million).
      5. Almost a whole village in Mindanao w/the Bailey’s ministry.
    3. Peter doesn’t try to figure out the theology here, instead just tells of his experience. (just an ordinary conversation)
      1. Not hearsay but their own experience. (like blind man, “whether he’s a sinner I don’t know. I was blind, now I see!”)
      2. Note what he explains why He knew it was God (12,15-17).
    4. One thing this teaches us is when God is doing a “new thing”…how to respond!
      1. ​​​​​​​Listen(get facts, not hearsay), sit quiet, test & hold fast!
      2. 1 Thes.5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
        1. Christians need to test what they hear and read, by comparing it with the Word of God.
        2. This is difficult, but it is possible for a spiritual believer.
        3. Each Christian has the responsibility and ability to do this.
        4. Some have more discernment than others.
        5. What is discovered to be good (in harmony with what has been given by the Holy Spirit in the Word) should be retained.
    5. Note Peters Trinitarian backup:
      1. H.S. came on them, just like us (15)
      2. Jesus said that John baptized w/water, but you should be baptize w/H.S. (16)
      3. God gave the gentiles the same gift (17).
    1. ​​​​​​​2 different churches play the primary role.
      1. 1st in Jerusalem led by the apostles comprised mainly of Jewish bel’s
      2. 2nd church in Antioch, established by Hellenist (Greek speaking Jews), who had to flee Jerusalem after the martyrdom of Stephen (see Acts 8:4).
    2. Antioch (Syria) – 300 miles north of Jerusalem on Med coast.
      1. 3rd largest city in Roman Empire (after Rome & Alexandria)
      2. Became home of many Jews during the Diaspora(dispersion).
    3. (19) Ralph Winter said, “The 1st 1000 miles are insignificant when compared to the last 3 feet.” (i.e. to the Jews only) [They obviously settled in the Jewish quarter]
      1. Still is fruitful. Modern parallel, Korean population in L.A. in 1980’s & 1990’s. So many came, a section of L.A. was designated Koreatown.
      2. Pastors & evangelist came from Korea to evangelize them w/outstanding success!
        1. In Korea(25% pop Christian); in L.A. # of Christians among 1st generation Korean-Americans is reportedly nearly 70%.
      3. You could say, they preached the word to none but Koreans only.
    4. They estimated 500,000 in Antioch at this time. 25,000 were Jews; no attempt yet to reach 475,000 Gentiles! (till verse 20!)
    5. (20) They share their faith(20), they are grace-filled(23), & they are generous(29).
      1. What a great definition for any who call themselves Christian!
    6. The Antioch church becomes the great beachhead for launching the mission to the Gentiles. {Paul adopts this church as his spiritual home}
    7. (22) Don’t you love to hear what God is doing in other churches?
      1. I guess it always looks different, but look at his assessment (23).
    8. (23) He witnessed the Grace of God there; He was happy for them; He encouraged them all (as was his name, & nature); & told them w/purpose of heart they should continue. (which means: he encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts) (NIV)
      1. I’m doing something odd this week. I’m switching pulpits with Pastor Gary from Revival. This Wed night he’ll be here & I’ll be there.
      2. Why? Well, God spoke to his heart to show unity in the valley by having diff pastors fill his pulpit. For me…not knowing anything about this, I felt the Lord telling me to switch pulpits one night. I didn’t say anything to anybody. 2 days later we got a call from Revival.
    9. (24) Not because of what he did, but who he was!
      1. A man of character, all from within.
      2. The source of character, all of grace.
    10. We are so apt to associate Pentecost w/miracles & marvels that we fail to realize its power for ordinary life!
      1. I was thinking this week, what if it’s “more spiritual” to hear from the Lord & obey, than to “do a miracle”.
        1. We ask, “why isn’t God working in such in such way in the church anymore, when He might be trying in ordinary life.”
    11. He was a good man, full of H.S., full of faith.
      1. The need today is not so much for clever men as for good men!
      2. The need today is not men full of themselves but full of the H.S.!
      3. The need today is not for those who will just take God but those who will take God at His Word.
    12. (25,26) Barnabas needed help – Paul was near the area, in Cilicia.
    13. (26) Christian - Suffix –ian = “belonging to, coming from, being involved in, or being like something”.
    14. Why not by His personal name, Jesus-ians? [He shall save his people from their sins]
      1. ​​​​​​​He desires not just pardoned criminals but privileged children!
      2. Christ = anointed one. [this anointing which you have received from Him abides in you. 1 Jn.2:27]
    15. Names so far have been: Believers(Faith is foundation for all other relationships w/God); Children(Our relationship - we become children/sons of God thru faith; it states our standing/position); Disciples(learners, teachable, under instruction); Saints(Separation from uncleanness & ordinary life…to God; consecrated to God for His use; all true members R called this); servants(His possession, His slaves); Faithful(Reliance on God, devoted); Brethren(One Father, common life, common interest, common love); Friends(Friend of God - 1 man called this in OT, Abraham; now applied to all Christians); Beloved(Special personal affection); Heirs(Includes possession of all Jesus owns is ours); His Own(Special possession by God, protection by God, affection from God); Christians(8x’s in NT – some say used in derision; others say divinely given by God).
      1. If you were asked “are you a Christian” could you answer… “I am a believer in Christ, a child of God, a disciple learning of Christ. A saint consecrated to God, a servant working for Christ. I am faithful to God, one of the brethren & lover of the brethren. One of God’s friends, his beloved, His heir, His very own!”
    16. Christian –
      1. Unfortunately words take on other meanings over time.
      2. Example: Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Place in refrig to attract odors. Same happens with words, they attract odors over the years.
      3. Example: When a coin has been used so long, its impression is almost effaced.
        1. ​​​​​​​Words are like coins.
      4. Christian? A Jew might think of Hitler (claimed Christianity at one time)
      5. Christian? A Muslim might think of the Crusades.
      6. Christian? A Foreigner might think of Bill Clinton or Madonna (pre-Kabala days) because they are from America. [true story]
      7. Christian? An unbeliever might think of a bad example he/she saw in a name-only Christian.
      8. Joseph Parker said, “By Christians I understand Christ followers, Christ lovers, Christ worshippers, Christ ones.”
    17. If derogatory, then would be like:
      1. Moonies - referring to the disciples of Sun Myung Moon.
      2. Quakers – officially called "The Society of Friends". When George Fox (founder) was arrested he told the magistrate he should be "Quaking before the Lord." Then Justice Bennett responded "Get this quaker out of here!"
      3. Methodists - The term "Methodist" was a pejorative term given to a small society of students at Oxford(like the Wesley’s) who met together & focused on Bible study and a methodical approach to scriptures and Christian living.
    18. NT idea of a Christian:
      1. Every Christian a convert, no compromisers; Every convert an active, aggressive agent, no substitutes; Every agent a fully consecrated, intensely vitalized worker, no lukewarm ones;Every worker endued with power from on high.
    19. How do you like the term Christian today? What term do you like/use now?
      1. I’ve always liked, “Follower of Jesus” instead of the title Christian, because it states “you’re going somewhere, & following someone”. (Greg Kokel used this many years ago.)
  4. RELIEF IN JUDEA! (27-30)
    1. ​​​​​​​(27) A group of prophets (like OT “school of prophets”)
    2. (28) Agabus – predicts a famine, which did occur.
      1. Confirmed by a # of ancient sources including the Roman historian Suetonius.
      2. Even dates it correctly with the chronology of the Roman Empire.
    3. But verse 29 is why Luke puts this in here. To show that the Gentile Christians in Antioch participated in the famine relief effort.
      1. They were generous givers!
    4. They shared their faith, they were grace-filled, & they are generous.
      1. A church well taught is a church that lives well, works well, gives well.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Acts 11". "Bell's Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/acts-11.html. 2017.
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