Acts 11

Peter Explains His Actions

1 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him
3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
4 Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story:
5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.
6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds.
7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’
10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying.
12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.
13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.
14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’
15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.
16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a] water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’
17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

The Church in Antioch

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.
20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.
23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)
29 The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.
30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 11 Commentary

Chapter 11

Peter's defence. (1-18) The success of the gospel at Antioch. (19-24) The disciples named Christians, Relief sent to Judea. (25-30)

Verses 1-18 The imperfect state of human nature strongly appears, when godly persons are displeased even to hear that the word of God has been received, because their own system has not been attended to. And we are too apt to despair of doing good to those who yet, when tried, prove very teachable. It is the bane and damage of the church, to shut out those from it, and from the benefit of the means of grace, who are not in every thing as we are. Peter stated the whole affair. We should at all times bear with the infirmities of our brethren; and instead of taking offence, or answering with warmth, we should explain our motives, and show the nature of our proceedings. That preaching is certainly right, with which the Holy Ghost is given. While men are very zealous for their own regulations, they should take care that they do not withstand God; and those who love the Lord will glorify him, when made sure that he has given repentance to life to any fellow-sinners. Repentance is God's gift; not only his free grace accepts it, but his mighty grace works it in us, grace takes away the heart of stone, and gives us a heart of flesh. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.

Verses 19-24 The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution; thus what was meant to hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man is made to praise God. What should the ministers of Christ preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. It was the fruit of their faith; all who sincerely believe, will turn to the Lord, When the Lord Jesus is preached in simplicity, and according to the Scriptures, he will give success; and when sinners are thus brought to the Lord, really good men, who are full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, will admire and rejoice in the grace of God bestowed on them. Barnabas was full of faith; full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith that works by love.

Verses 25-30 Hitherto the followers of Christ were called disciples, that is, learners, scholars; but from that time they were called Christians. The proper meaning of this name is, a follower of Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his chief care to shape his life by Christ's precepts and example. Hence it is plain that multitudes take the name of Christian to whom it does not rightly belong. But the name without the reality will only add to our guilt. While the bare profession will bestow neither profit nor delight, the possession of it will give both the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Grant, Lord, that Christians may forget other names and distinctions, and love one another as the followers of Christ ought to do. True Christians will feel for their brethren under afflictions. Thus will fruit be brought forth to the praise and glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians, how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole earth would be like one large family, every member of which would strive to be dutiful and kind.

Cross References 46

  • 1. S Acts 1:16
  • 2. S Hebrews 4:12
  • 3. Acts 10:45
  • 4. Acts 10:25,28; Galatians 2:12
  • 5. S Acts 9:10; Acts 10:9-32
  • 6. S Acts 10:15
  • 7. S Acts 8:40
  • 8. S Acts 8:29
  • 9. Acts 15:9; Romans 3:22
  • 10. ver 1,29; S Acts 1:16
  • 11. S Acts 5:19
  • 12. Acts 10:36
  • 13. John 4:53; Ac 16:15,31-34; Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:11,16
  • 14. S Acts 10:44
  • 15. Acts 2:4
  • 16. S Mark 1:4
  • 17. S Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5
  • 18. Acts 2:38
  • 19. Acts 10:45,47
  • 20. Romans 10:12,13; 2 Corinthians 7:10
  • 21. Acts 8:1,4
  • 22. ver 26,27; Acts 13:1; Acts 14:26; Acts 18:22; Galatians 2:11
  • 23. Acts 4:36
  • 24. S Matthew 27:32
  • 25. S ver 19
  • 26. S Acts 13:32
  • 27. Luke 1:66
  • 28. S Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47
  • 29. S Acts 4:36
  • 30. Acts 13:43; Acts 14:26; Acts 15:40; Acts 20:24
  • 31. Acts 14:22
  • 32. S Luke 1:15
  • 33. S Acts 2:41; ver 21; Acts 5:14
  • 34. S Acts 9:11
  • 35. ver 29; Acts 6:1,2; Acts 9:19,26,38; Acts 13:52
  • 36. Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16
  • 37. Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; 1 Corinthians 11:4; 1 Corinthians 12:28,29; 1 Corinthians 14:29,32,37; S Ephesians 4:11
  • 38. Acts 21:10
  • 39. S Matthew 24:14
  • 40. Acts 18:2
  • 41. S ver 26
  • 42. Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4; 2 Corinthians 9:2
  • 43. ver 1,12; S Acts 1:16
  • 44. Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2,22; Acts 20:17; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 John 1
  • 45. S Acts 4:36
  • 46. Acts 12:25

Footnotes 2

Acts 11 Commentaries