Acts 11

Listen to Acts 11

Peter Reports to the Church

1 Now the apostles and 1the brothers[a] who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, 2the circumcision party criticized him, saying,
3 3"You went to uncircumcised men and 4ate with them."
4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order:
5 5"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me.
6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air.
7 And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'
8 But I said, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, 'What God has made clean, do not call common.'
10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.
11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea.
12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, 6making no distinction. 7These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.
13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, 'Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter;
14 8he will declare to you a message by which 9you will be saved, you and all your household.'
15 As I began to speak, 10the Holy Spirit fell on them 11just as on us at the beginning.
16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 12'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
17 If then 13God gave 14the same gift to them as he gave to us 15when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, 16who was I 17that I could stand in God's way?"
18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they 18glorified God, saying, 19"Then to the Gentiles also God has 20granted 21repentance that leads to life."

The Church in Antioch

19 22Now 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 Hellenists[b] also, 23preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And 24the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed 25turned 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 26the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord 27with steadfast purpose,
24 for he was a good man, 28full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people 29were added to the Lord.
25 So Barnabas went to 30Tarsus to look for Saul,
26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called 31Christians.
27 Now in these days 32prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.
28 And one of them named 33Agabus stood up and foretold 34by the Spirit that there would be a great 35famine over all the world (this took place in the days of 36Claudius).
29 So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, 37to send relief to 38the brothers[c] living in Judea.
30 39And they did so, sending it to 40the elders by the hand of 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 40

  • 1. ver. 29; See John 21:23
  • 2. Acts 10:45; Galatians 2:12; Colossians 4:11; Titus 1:10; [Romans 4:12]
  • 3. Galatians 2:12, 14; [Acts 10:28]
  • 4. [Luke 15:2]
  • 5. For ver. 5-14, see Acts 10:9-32
  • 6. Acts 15:9
  • 7. Acts 10:23, 45
  • 8. Acts 10:22
  • 9. Acts 10:2; Acts 16:15, 31-34; Acts 18:8; John 4:53
  • 10. Acts 10:44
  • 11. Acts 2:4
  • 12. Acts 1:5; [Acts 19:2]; See Matthew 3:11
  • 13. See Acts 10:47
  • 14. See Acts 2:38
  • 15. Ephesians 1:13; See Acts 10:43
  • 16. [Romans 9:20]
  • 17. Acts 10:47; See Acts 5:39
  • 18. Acts 21:20
  • 19. [Acts 13:47; Matthew 8:11]; See Acts 10:34, 35
  • 20. See Acts 5:31
  • 21. [2 Corinthians 7:10]
  • 22. Acts 8:1, 4
  • 23. See John 7:35; See Acts 5:42
  • 24. Acts 13:11; Luke 1:66; [Psalms 80:17; Psalms 89:21]
  • 25. Acts 9:35
  • 26. Acts 13:43; Acts 14:26; Acts 20:24, 32; Romans 5:15; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Ephesians 3:2, 7; Colossians 1:6; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 12:15; 1 Peter 5:12; [Acts 4:33; Acts 15:40]
  • 27. 2 Timothy 3:10
  • 28. Acts 6:5
  • 29. Acts 5:14; [ver. 26]
  • 30. Acts 9:30
  • 31. Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16
  • 32. See Acts 13:1
  • 33. Acts 21:10
  • 34. See Acts 2:18; Acts 8:29
  • 35. Matthew 24:7
  • 36. Acts 18:2
  • 37. [Acts 24:17; Romans 15:26]
  • 38. ver. 1
  • 39. Acts 12:25
  • 40. Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2, 4, 6; Acts 16:4; Acts 20:17; Acts 21:18; 1 Timothy 5:17, 19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 2 John 1; 3 John 1

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or brothers and sisters
  • [b]. Or Greeks (that is, Greek-speaking non-Jews)
  • [c]. Or brothers and sisters

Acts 11 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.