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Bible Commentaries
Acts 11

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verses 1-2


When Peter went up to Jerusalem. The Jewish Christians who made up the “group” at Jerusalem [who still “kept” the Tradition (Acts 21:20)] and the Samaritan Christians were all circumcised. Cornelius and the other Christians at Caesarea were the first uncircumcised Christians. Some thought Gentiles had to convert to Judaism and be circumcised in addition to obeying Christ. Compare Acts 15:0.

Verse 3


In the home of uncircumcised Gentiles. This violated their Tradition! Notice that in the case of Peter himself, it took: (1) the vision; (2) God’s command; (3) Cornelius’ request; (4) the “coming down” of the Holy Spirit – to convince him that God did intend the Gentiles to come into the kingdom. No wonder then, that Peter was criticized for what he had done.

Verses 4-17


So Peter gave them a full account. To show that he had done what God has authorized him to do. Compare notes on chapter 10.

Verse 12

12. These six brothers from Joppa. Peter had taken them with him to Jerusalem to be “witnesses” of all that had happened. This shows Peter expected to be criticized.

Verse 14


He will speak words to you. Cornelius could not have faith until he heard the message about Christ and believed it (Romans 10:17). Will be saved. (1) Cornelius, a religious man, was not yet saved. (2) God’s grace brought the Good News of Jesus Christ to him through a human agent, Peter. (3) This is the first mention of a family being baptized. Were there any young children included? Note: relatives and close friends (Acts 10:24); waiting to hear (Acts 10:33); the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening (Acts 10:44); and these same ones were baptized into Christ (Acts 10:47-48).

Verse 15

15. Just as on us at the beginning. Peter refers back to the birth-day of the church.

Verse 16

16. But you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5 and note. Peter calls this: “baptism with the Holy Spirit.” Every Christian has the “Holy Spirit as a gift,” along with the fruits of this gift (Galatians 5:22-23). The gifts of the Spirit (baptism with the Holy Spirit) were unusual and not every Christian had them. See notes on Acts 8:15 to Acts 17:17. Who was I, then? If God accepted Gentiles, as he showed Peter that he did, how could Peter try to stop what God was doing???

Verse 18


When they heard this. “Facts are stubborn things.” Notice they are willing to stop their criticism and praise God!

Verse 19


The believers were scattered. Acts 8:4-5. Phoenicia. A long, fertile area between the mountains of Lebanon and the sea. Tyre and Sidon were cities of this area. Cyprus. A large island in the Mediterranean Sea. Antioch. Capital of the entire province of Syria, including Palestine. Only Rome and Alexandria were more important cities. To Jews only. They were scattered before they knew that God would save Gentiles as well.

Verses 20-21


Cyrene. A Greek city in North Africa, which had a large Jewish population. Proclaimed the message to Gentiles also. [“Greek” often means “Gentile.”] These preachers were Jews who spoke the Greek language. Led by the Spirit, they preached the Good News to these Gentiles (see notes on Acts 10:2); and a great number of them turned to the Lord (compare note on Acts 3:19-20).

Verses 22-24


So they sent Barnabas to Antioch. Barnabas was a “Greek-speaking Jew” (Acts 4:36), who was the friend of another “Greek-speaking Jew” named Paul (Acts 9:27). He was sent to evaluate what was happening there. And saw how God had blessed the people. This is the first “group” [messianic community, church] outside the borders of Palestine. It soon became the “center of missions” to fill the Gentile world with the Good News of God’s act in Christ to set men free!!!

Verses 25-26


To look for Saul. Compare note on Acts 9:30. Paul is thought to have come to Antioch in 43 A.D. [by the corrected calendar]. An “apostle” was needed at Antioch to “pass on” spiritual gifts and bring “instant maturity” to the community of believers there. Compare notes on 1 Corinthians 12:27-31. First called Christians. The Jews called them “Nazarenes,” and “Galileans.” They called themselves “disciples,” “brothers” [which includes sisters], “God’s people” [HAGIOS: saint, chosen, holy (sanctified)]. What spiritual POWER must these disciples have had, to be called “Christians!” Christian means “one who belongs to Christ.” See also Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.

Verses 27-28


About that time some prophets. See note on Acts 2:17. Named Agabus. We meet him again in Acts 21:10. A great famine. Eusebius writes: “In his reign there was a famine that prevailed over the whole world; an event, indeed, which has been handed down by historians very far from our doctrine; and by which the prediction of the prophet Agabus, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, respecting the impending famine over the whole world, received its fulfillment.” This would be about 46 A.D., and is probably not the famine mentioned by Josephus [or the famine may have started in Palestine about 44 A.D. and lasted for three or four years].

Verses 29-30


To help their brothers who lived in Judea. This marks the beginning of a new “spirit” which was to radically change the Gentile world! The Gentiles of Antioch “reach out in love” to their Jewish brothers in Judea!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Acts 11". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/acts-11.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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