I. NOW THEY WHICH WERE SCATTERED ABROAD UPON THE PERSECUTION THAT AROSE ABOUT STEPHEN TRAVELED AS FAR AS PHONICIA, AND CYPRUS, AND ANTIOCH.
A. Note how the Lord used persecution to spread the church.
1. They would have been content to just remain in Jerusalem and enjoy the blessings of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
2. There was no real incentive to leave.
3. Sort of the mind set of Peter when on the Mount of Transfiguration who said, "Let's build three tents and stay right here."
B. In Acts 8:1
, we see that immediately upon the persecution that resulted from the witness of Stephen we read that there was great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
C. Satan learned that a frontal attack against the church did not work, so he decided to join the church and weaken it from within.
1. The outside attacks from the world do little to hurt the work of the ministry, it is those from within that do the greatest damage.
2. We sent our daughter Cheryl to Westmont College because it was touted to be a Christian college.
3. After her first year there, she did not want to return, because it was so difficult to maintain her dynamic Christian witness there. The other students would make fun of her for not getting drunk and going out and having sex.
4. Her second year she went to UC Irvine, and found that it was much easier to live for the Lord there because though they did not agree with her convictions they respected them.
5. How hard it is when the attacks against the Bible come from the pulpits.
D. Note that up to this point they were going to the Jews only.
II. SOME WHICH WERE FROM CYPRUS AND CYRENE WHEN THEY CAME TO ANTIOCH SPOKE TO THE GRECIANS, PREACHING THE LORD JESUS.
A. This is a momentous occasion when certain men from Cypress and Cyrene began to preach to the Greeks.
1. Philip had gone to the Samaritans, but they were half-Jews.
2. Peter had gone to the house of Cornelius, but this was initiated by Cornelius. Peter went only in obedience to the command of the the Lord.
3. Here in Antioch, it seems that these men initiated the reaching out to the Greeks.
4. This is the first time the gospel has really been taken to the Gentiles.
5. It is interesting that we do not even know the names of these men.
6. Like so many true heroes of the faith, they are unnamed.
B. Antioch was in Syria, it was the third most important city in the world at that time, only Rome and Alexandria were greater.
1. It was on the banks of the Orontes River, and was the center of the worship of the goddess Daphne, who according to legend was a beautiful maiden whom Apollo fell in love and turned her into a Laurel tree. Her temple was in a grove of Laurel trees about five miles out of town, and the temple priestesses were prostitutes who nightly would reenact with the worshippers the affair of Apollo and Daphne under the laurel trees. The phrase "The morals of Daphne" was used to describe a person of loose living.
2. In this environment God choose to develop a strong witness for Jesus Christ.
3. In time, Antioch will become the center for getting the gospel out to the world.
C. Notice they were preaching the Lord, Jesus.
1. Jesus is Lord.
2. When He returns to set up the Kingdom of God, on His vesture will be written, "King of kings, and Lord of lords."
3. Every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father.
III. THE HAND OF THE LORD WAS WITH THEM.
A. Mark closes his gospel with these words, "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word with signs following. Amen"
B. The key to success in the ministry is found in the words, "The hand of the Lord was with them."
C. They had great success. For a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
D. Word of the success got back to the church in Jerusalem.
1. They decided to send Barnabas to check out the stories.
2. We were first introduced to Barnabas back in chapter four.
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, [and] of the country of Cyprus,
Having land, sold [it], and brought the money, and laid [it] at the apostles' feet.
a. His given name was Joses, but the apostles renamed him Barnabas which means son of consolation.
b. He was of the tribe of Levi.
c. He was from the island of Cyprus.
3. We again find him in chapter nine and understand when he was called by the Apostles the son of consolation.
And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he tried to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
4. When Barnabas came to Antioch he was thrilled when he saw the grace of God. The reports of the great revival were true.
5. He exhorted the new believers that they should purpose in their hearts to stick to the Lord.