Daily Devotional: Sunday 29th Marchby William Moody
The Church in Antioch
19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists1 also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 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.
Or Greeks (that is, Greek-speaking non-Jews)
The persecution at the time of Stephen’s death spread the church far and wide, but it also spread the Gospel far and wide (v1). Initially the Gospel spread among scattered Jews, but in Antioch, a city about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, there was a deliberate decision to share the Gospel with non-Jewish Greeks (v20).
The church was breaking out of its narrow Jewish background and many Gentiles were brought into the church at Antioch (v21). Will you be welcoming to people of a very different background coming into the church?
The church’s response to the new believers in Antioch, was to send Barnabas to help teach in this church (v22-23). We have previously met Barnabas in the book of Acts, selling a field to support the poor (Acts 4 v36-37) and then bringing Saul into the fellowship of believers (Acts 9 v27). Barnabas is one of the great figures in the book of Acts and he is described here as a ‘good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’ (v24).
How do you match that description? It is when we are like Barnabas, that it is so easy for the Lord to use us in the building and strengthening of the church. It particularly takes warm hearts to encourage new believers.
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