Disciples Persecuted – Persecution Arose About Stephen
Owing to the persecution “that arose about Stephen” many of the disciples of the Church were scattered “abroad.” Although the disciples were dispersed as far as Phenice, Cyprus and Antioch, they only preached to Jews, Acts 11:19.
The power and sovereignty of the Lord God is obvious in all things. The Lord’s last commandment to his disciples was, to preach to everyone, Acts 1:8. When some of the disciples arrived in Antioch, they preached Jesus to the Greeks, Acts 11:20. Now both Greeks and Jews are receiving the Word of God.
“And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord, “ Acts 11:21.
The Church in Jerusalem heard of the mighty works of God in Antioch, and sent Barnabas to them, Acts 11:22. Barnabas one of the disciples, of the Church in Jerusalem full of faith, full of the Holy Ghost and encouragement. The Apostles in Jerusalem instructed Barnabas not to go beyond Antioch, Acts 11:22. Why did the Church send Barnabas to Antioch and not another disciple?
When Barnabas got to Antioch he “exhorted them all” to remain Christians with determination. He encouraged these disciples to “cleave unto the Lord”, Acts 11:23.
Owing to Barnabas’ passion, faith and anointing of the Holy Ghost, many people believed on the Lord and many became disciples of Christ, Acts 11:24. Then he disobeyed the Apostles and went to Tarsus about one hundred miles (as the crow flies) west of Antioch, to “seek” for “Saul”, Acts 11:25.
When Barnabas found Saul both returned to Antioch. Together they stayed a year in Antioch teaching many people about Jesus Christ, who became disciples, Acts 11:26. Many more disciples were added to the church because of Barnabas and Saul’s teaching in Antioch.
Disciples were Called Christians First in Antioch
“And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,” Acts 11:26.
Finally, because of the persecution the disciples of the Church were scattered in the region. Because the Jews seek Saul to kill him, he escaped to Tarsus, Acts 9:30.
Barnabas knew Saul was in Tarsus. Recall, he was the disciple who introduced Saul to the Apostles in Jerusalem, Acts 9:27. Additionally, Barnabas is from Cyprus, Acts 4:36. Cyprus is an island situated South of Tarsus in the Mediterranean Sea.
Barnabas knew the power and anointing of the Lord that was on Saul for he had seen him preached, therefore, he went and got Saul. Together, they taught many people about Christ and did many mighty works in the name of Jesus.
In closing, Saul persecuted the disciples of Jesus Christ. Then he became a disciple and he was persecuted because of the name of Jesus. Saul was among the disciples who were first called Christians in Antioch.
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