Those who had been scattered by the persecution triggered by Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, but they were still only speaking and dealing with their fellow Jews.
Then some of the men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had come to Antioch started talking to Greeks, giving them the Message of the Master Jesus.
God was pleased with what they were doing and put his stamp of approval on it - quite a number of the Greeks believed and turned to the Master.
When the church in Jerusalem got wind of this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to check on things.
As soon as he arrived, he saw that God was behind and in it all. He threw himself in with them, got behind them, urging them to stay with it the rest of their lives.
He was a good man that way, enthusiastic and confident in the Holy Spirit's ways. The community grew large and strong in the Master.
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul.
He found him and brought him back to Antioch. They were there a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching a lot of people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
It was about this same time that some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem.
One of them named Agabus stood up one day and, prompted by the Spirit, warned that a severe famine was about to devastate the country. (The famine eventually came during the rule of Claudius.)
So the disciples decided that each of them would send whatever they could to their fellow Christians in Judea to help out.
They sent Barnabas and Saul to deliver the collection to the leaders in Jerusalem.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)