Malcolm Cox, Thames Valley churches of Christ

“How to be an Antioch church”, Acts 11.19-30

Introduction, vv19-21

  • Third largest city in Roman Empire at the time (after Rome and Alexandria). Pop around 500,000.
  • Centre for admin of Syria.
  • Famous for lax morals
  • At centre of events from here to Acts 14.28.
  • Cosmopolitan city: many Jews and Gentiles.

1. sPeak words of encouragement, vv22-24

Gentiles already converted, but individuals (Ethiopian; Cornelius). What’s new is the scale of Gentile conversions.

A. Observe/listen what God is doing
Barnabas had the spiritual insight to recognise that God’s plan was being fulfilled at Antioch.

B. Speak words of encouragement
If we cannot speak words of encouragement recognising, noticing what God is doing in each other’s lives, it means we don’t know each other well enough yet.

C. God brings increase trust/faith
Making disciples
The effect of Barnabas’ encouragement was to pour petrol on the fires of their faith and zeal.

2. Partner with a friend, vv25-26

2 x 2 was the method of Jesus
“To look” – Word implies it was hard.

A. Find a partner not a problem
When task overwhelming
When lonely
Take initiative, not wait for someone else

B. Someone different from you
Realisation that one reason I do not do this is because I now know people’s problems!

C. Active in service together
Making/maturing disciples together.
Creates unity

3. Provide practical help vv27-30

  • Successive poor harvests in various parts of the Roman Empire at this time.
  • Claudius, 41-54 AD
  • The famine was not just in Judea, but could effect the Antiochean disciples too. Their heart is to help others not to worry about their own vulnerability.
  • The Antiochan disciples take up money in faith that the prophecy will be fulfilled and send the money in advance of the famine so that the Judean disciples can buy up food in advance.
  • That is a significant step of faith and trust (especially since the prophet had come from Jerusalem in the first place).

A. Listen to needs
Emotional; spiritual; material

B. Respond

C. Sacrifice


Life living like this
Church like this
Impact on neighbourhood

  • sPeak words of encouragement
  • Partner in the Gospel
  • Provide practical help

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John