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The Acts of the Apostles: Chapter 11

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1Now the apostles and the believers a Gk brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers b Gk lacks believers criticized him, 3saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” 4Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6As I looked at it closely I saw four‐footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. c Or not to hesitate These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists a Other ancient authorities read Greeks also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with b Or were guests of the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

27At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. 29The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers c Gk brothers living in Judea; 30this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.


a Gk brothers

b Gk lacks believers

c Or not to hesitate

a Other ancient authorities read Greeks

b Or were guests of

c Gk brothers

Text Commentary view alone

11.1–18 : Peter's defense.

The Jerusalem church requires an explanation for the baptism of Gentiles.

1 :

News of the new development reaches Jerusalem, cf. 8.14; 11.22 .

2 :

Up to this point all believers were circumcised (see note b; at 10.45 the text says “circumcised believers,” but the meaning is the same, as v. 18 makes clear).

3 :

The question is framed in terms of association with Gentiles, not their entry into the church; cf. Gal 2.12 .

4–17 :

Peter answers by retelling 10.1–48 in abbreviated fashion.

12 :

Not to make a distinction, clarifies “go … without hesitation” in 10.20 . Six, replaces “some” in 10.23 .

14 :

Unlike 10.33 , here it is made clear that Cornelius is expecting a message of salvation ( 4.12 ).

16 :

See 1.5n.

17–18 :

The “Gentile Pentecost” (v. 15; 10.47; 15.8 ) was an act of God. Although the issue of Gentile inclusion seems to be decisively settled, controversy will resurface in ch 15 .

11.19–26 : Mission to the Greeks in Antioch.

The narrative now rejoins the mission initiated by the persecution following Stephen's death ( 8.1,4 ).

19 :

Antioch on the Orontes River, capital of the Roman province of Syria, which included Galilee and Judea, and according to Josephus (War 3.29 ), the third largest city (after Rome and Alexandria) in the Roman Empire. Antioch was a popular city name in Syria and Asia Minor, reflecting the rule of Antiochus I (whose cult2010;name was “savior”), son of Seleucus I, one of the successors of Alexander the Great.

20 :

Cyrene, a great North African city ( 2.10; 6.9; 13.1; Lk 23.26 ), had a large Jewish colony. Hellenists (unlike 6.1 and 9.29 ) here apparently refers to non‐Jewish, Greek‐speaking residents of Antioch.

22–24 :

Barnabas came from Cyprus ( 4.36 ), and there were Cypriots in Antioch (v. 20 ). He investigates and expresses approval over the latest developments on behalf of Jerusalem (cf. 8.14–17; 11.1–18 ). Compare his description (v. 24 ) with that of Stephen ( 6.5 ).

25–26 :

Saul was in Tarsus (9.30), cf. Gal 1.21 . An extended collaboration with Barnabas is initiated (see Gal 2.1,9,13; 1 Cor 9.6 ). Christians, a Latin word meaning “partisans of Christ,” perhaps at first a term of reproach. It occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only at 26.28 and 1 Pet 4.16 .

11.27–30 : Antioch aids Jerusalem.

27 :

Prophets ( 13.1; 15.32 ) were numerous in the early church and in Acts characterize the last days ( 2.17–18 ). Here they predict the future (see 21.10 ). According to 1 Cor 14.3–4,31 they teach and build up the church.

28 :

Agabus, 21.10–11 . The famine … during the reign of Claudius ( 41–54 CE) probably occurred in 47 CE; it was not worldwide (see Josephus, Ant. 20.51–53,101 ).

29 :

The relief operation resembles the arrangements for Paul's collection ( 20.4n.; 1 Cor 16.2; 2 Cor 9.7 ); the days of selling all ( 2.44–45; 4.32–35 ) are gone.

30 :

Elders, as leaders are first mentioned here (“old men” in 2.17 translates the same Gk word); their emergence may reflect synagogue practice. According to Gal 2.1–10 , Paul's second visit to Jerusalem coincided with the discussion portrayed in Acts 15.1–29 .

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