Acts 11

This chapter recapitulates Peter’s encounter with Cornelius, but with some notable variations. In Acts 11, Peter says that included among the animals in the sheet were wild beasts. In Acts 11, Peter intensifies his claim in Acts 10 that he has never eaten anything impure or unclean to a claim that nothing impure or unclean has entered his mouth [1]. In Acts 11, the number of Joppa brothers who accompany Peter on the trip to Caesarea is specified from “some” to “six.” In Acts 11, Peter explains why he felt that baptism could not be held back, quoting his thought as “I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” Acts 10 mentions speaking in tongues, while Acts 11 does not.

The chapter separately describes what happened to the church diaspora, saying that those who were scattered transmitted the message to Jews in Phoenicia [2], Cyprus [3], and Antioch [4]. Those from Cyprus and Cyrene [5], however, preached to the Greeks of Antioch. Barnabas [6] was sent to encourage the Antioch congregation, and he brought Saul from Tarsus. A prophet from Jerusalem, Agabus [7] came to Antioch to predict a famine during the time of Emperor Claudius [9]. The converts sent contributions to the elders in Jerusalem, in effect treating the Church as the new Temple. Since the contributions were sent via Saul and Barnabas, these must have traveled to Jerusalem.

1. According to the Blue Letter Bible, the Greek word “stoma” can also mean a double-edged sword.
2. Phoenicia was a coastal, seafaring empire stretching from Dor in Israel through Tyre and Tripolis in Lebanon to north of Arwad in Syria. The Greek word “phoinix” (phoinike in the present text) refers to purple, though Strong’s says it means “land of palm trees.”
3. Cyprus is 100 miles west of the Syrian coast and 50 miles south of Turkey. The word Cyprus means “copper,” though the Blue Letter Bible says it means “love: a blossom” and it apparently is also a unit of measure.
4. Antioch means “universal,” although the Blue Letter Bible says it means “driven against.” The Antioch referred to here is in Syria, but there is also an Antioch in Pisidia (Central Turkey) which is mentioned later in Acts.
5. Cyrene was a Greek colony in Libya. Simon the Cyrene bore the cross in Mat. 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23. Cyrenians disputed with Stephen in Acts 6. Lucius of Cyrene is listed among the teachers and prophets of Antioch in Acts 13.
6. Barnabus means “son of encouragement.”
7. According to the Blue Letter Bible, Agabus means “locust.” Agabus appears again in Acts 21 to warn Paul that he will be hogtied by the Jews and turned over to the Gentiles (presumably the Romans)
8. Tarsus means “flat basket.” It is a commercial center, presently in Turkey, though then in Cilicia, to the east of Pamphylia.
9. The reign of Claudius was AD 41-54.

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