Paper was rare and expensive when Luke penned Acts. He was intelligent, well learned, and sharp with history, which serves to color the importance of chapter 11. The chapter is a partial repeat of chapter 10, and that is no accident. Some are acting as God’s self appointed #1 fans, claiming to speak for him, and in superior knowledge of his word. But the truth is rather different, they were in error and unable to allow God’s plan of salvation to unfold.
You would think a testimony as wonderful “the Gentiles also received the word of God,” would be cause for celebration, but it was not. A large group of people Luke calls the “circumcision party” were not happy about what God had done, and were calling Peter out for it.
The word Luke used for “criticized,” in Greek means “to withdraw with hostility.” An appropriate description of their mood.
Peter is accused of eating with those uncircumcised people, it’s an accusation against Peter for losing his religion. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact this self appointed group of accusers missed out on the intention of circumcision, as Paul clarifies in Romans 2:29-30, circumcision if of the heart, and those who accused Peter could not see this truth.
Peter describes his experience with God as being in a “trance,” the word “trance” in Greek is “ekstatis.” The word is fascinating to consider, “ek” means “out,” and “statis,” means stability” it’s a word often used in biology to describe the stability of a cell. Peter is alluding to his supernatural mind as beyond the natural stability of things, his trance was out of the natural and into the supernatural.
How To Have A Supernatural Mind
- Be quiet
- Accept divine disruption
The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.
Peter recounts for his accusers the great deeds of God. At the end of this section, those contentious folks from the “circumcision party” finally gave in to the plan of God saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” And in admitting this, they “glorified God.”
The rest of the chapter moves to the great city of Antioch found just north of Jerusalem. It was considered at that time the third greatest city in all of Rome. Believers arrived with hearts to minister in the city, and to see God establish a ministry center in their hearts, so they could create a Jesus ministry HQ in Antioch. And it worked.
With persecution came a scattering of God’s people, some of them arrived in Antioch and chose to evangelize only the Jews, this in all likelihood seemed safer to them.
But others came and chose to evangelize the “Hellenists,” the “Greeks” in the city, and they saw God honor their step of faith and, “a great number turned to the Lord.”
Jerusalem heard about the great news and sent Barnabas to inquire. He is described in the most lofty of terms, “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” I can think of no sweeter words to describe a man of God. While not a complementary name intially, Christians are first called “Christians” in Antioch.
With so much fruit Barnabas needed help and chose the man we know as the Apostle Paul to help. At this time Paul, still known as Saul, was a bit of an outcast and possible ministry failure. And yet God waited for the right time and sent the right man to grab him. Paul listened and went to Antioch with Barnabas, and enjoyed tremendous ministry fruit, it would be another major turning point in his life.