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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 11 - Verse 19
Verse 19. Now they, etc. This verse introduces a new train of historical remark; and from this point the course of the history of the Acts of the Apostles takes a new direction. Thus far, the history had recorded chiefly the preaching of the gospel to the Jews only. From this point the history records the efforts made to convert the Gentiles. It begins with the labours put forth in the important city of Antioch, Ac 11:19,20 and as, during the work of grace that occurred in that city, the labours of the apostle Paul were especially sought, Ac 11:25,26, the sacred writer thenceforward confines the history mainly to his travels and labours.
Which were scattered abroad. See Ac 8:1.
As far as Phenice. Phoenice, or Phoenicia, was a province of Syria, which in its largest sense comprehended a narrow strip of country lying on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and extending from Antioch to the borders of Egypt. But Phoenice Proper extended only from the cities of Laodicea to Tyre, and included only the territories of Tyre and Sidon. This country was called sometimes simply Canaan. See Barnes "Mt 15:22".
And Antioch. There were two cities of this name, one situated in Pisidia in Asia Minor, see Ac 13:14; the other, referred to here, was situated on the river Orontes, and was long the capital of Syria. It was built by Seleucus Nicanor, and was called Antioch, in honour of his father Antiochus. It was founded three hundred and one years before Christ. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but is several times mentioned in the Apocrypha, and in the New Testament. It was long the most powerful city of the East, and was inferior only to Seleucia and Alexandria. It was famous for the fact that the right of citizenship was conferred by Seleucus on the Jews, as well as the Greeks and Macedonians, so that here they had the privilege of worship in their own way without molestation. It is probable that the Christians would be regarded merely as a sect of Jews, and would be here suffered to celebrate their worship without interruption. On this account it may have been that the early Christians regarded this city as of such particular importance, because here they could find a refuge from persecution, and be permitted to worship God without molestation. This city was honoured as a Roman colony, a metropolis, and an asylum. It was large; was almost square; had many gates; was adorned with fountains; and was a city of great opulence. It was, however, subject to earthquakes, and was several times nearly destroyed. In the year 588 it experienced an earthquake, in which 60,000 persons were destroyed. It was taken by the Saracens in A. D. 638; and, after some changes and revolutions, it was taken during the crusades, after a long and bloody siege; by Godfrey of Bouillon, June 3, A. D. 1098. In 1268, it was taken by the sultan of Egypt, who demolished it, and placed it under the dominion of the Turk. Antioch is now called Antakia, and contains about 10,000 inhabitants. (Robinson's Calmet.)
Preaching the word. The word of God, the gospel.
To none but unto the Jews only. They had the common prejudices of the Jews, that the offers of salvation were to be made only to Jews.
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