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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Acts: Chapter 11)

11:1 {In Judea} (\kata tēn Ioudaian\). Throughout Judea (probably
all Palestine)
, distributive use of \kata\. The news from
Casearea spread like wildfire among the Jewish Christians. The
case of the Samaritans was different, for they were half Jews,
though disliked. But here were real Romans even if with Jewish
affinities. {Had received} (\edexanto\). First aorist middle
indicative. The English idiom requires "had" received, the Greek
has simply "received."

11:2 {They that were of the circumcision} (\hoi ek peritomēs\).
Literally, those of circumcision (on the side of circumcision, of
the circumcision party)
. The phrase in 10:46 is confined to the
six brethren with Peter in Caesarea (11:12). That can hardly be
the meaning here for it would mean that they were the ones who
brought the charge against Peter though Hort takes this view. All
the disciples in Jerusalem were Jews so that it can hardly mean
the whole body. In Ga 2:12 the phrase has the narrower sense of
the Judaizing or Pharisaic wing of the disciples (Ac 15:5) who
made circumcision necessary for all Gentile converts. Probably
here by anticipation Luke so describes the beginning of that
great controversy. The objectors probably did not know of Peter's
vision at Joppa, but only of the revolutionary conduct of Peter
in Caesarea. These extremists who spoke probably had abundant
sympathy in their protest. The apostles are mentioned in verse
1, but are not referred to in verse 2. Apparently they are in
contrast with the circumcision party in the church. {Contended}
(\diekrinonto\). Imperfect middle of the common verb \diakrinō\,
to {separate}. Here to separate oneself apart (\dia\), to take
sides against, to make a cleavage (\dia\, two, in two) as in
Jude 1:9. So Peter is at once put on the defensive as the
contention went on. It is plain that Peter was not regarded as
any kind of pope or overlord.

11:3 {Thou wentest in} (\eisēlthes\). Direct form, but Westcott
and Hort have it \eisēlthen\ (he went in), indirect form. So with
\sunephages\ (didst eat) and \sunephagen\ (did eat). The direct
is more vivid. {Men uncircumcised} (\andras akrobustian
. "Men having uncircumcision." It is a contemptuous
expression. They did not object to Peter's preaching to the
Gentiles, but to his going into the house of Cornelius and eating
with them, violating his supposed obligations as a Jew (Hackett).
It was the same complaint in principle that the Pharisees had
made against Jesus when he ate with publicans and sinners (Lu
. The Jews had not merely the Mosaic regulations about
clean and unclean food, but also the fact that at a Gentile table
some of the meat may have been an idol sacrifice. And Peter
himself had similar scruples when the vision came to him at Joppa
and when he entered the house of Cornelius in Caesarea 10:28).
Peter had been led beyond the circumcision party.

11:4 {Began} (\arxamenos\). Not pleonastic here, but graphically
showing how Peter began at the beginning and gave the full story
of God's dealings with him in Joppa and Caesarea. {Expounded}
(\exetitheto\). Imperfect middle of \ektithēmi\, to set forth,
old verb, but in the N.T. only in Acts (7:21; 11:4; 18:26;
, a deliberate and detailed narrative "in order"
(\kathexēs\). Old word for in succession. In the N.T. only in Lu
1:2; 8:1; Ac 3:24; 11:14; 18:23. Luke evidently considered this
defence of Peter important and he preserves the marks of
authenticity. It came originally from Peter himself (verses
. "The case of Cornelius was a test case of primary
importance" (Page), "the first great difficulty of the early
Church." Part of the story Luke gives three times (10:3-6,30-32;
. See the discussion chapter 10 for details given here.

11:5 {Let down} (\kathiemenēn\). Here agreeing with the "sheet"
(\othonēn\, feminine), not with "vessel" (\skeuos\, neuter) as in
10:11. {Even unto me} (\achri emou\). Vivid detail added here
by Peter.

11:6 {When I had fastened my eyes} (\atenisas\). This personal
touch Peter adds from his own experience. See on Lu 4:20; Ac
3:4,12 for this striking verb \atenizō\, to stretch the eyes
towards, first aorist active participle here. {I considered}
(\katanoeō\). Imperfect active of \kataneoō\ to put the mind down
on, to ponder, I was pondering. {And saw} (\kai eidon\). Second
aorist active indicative, saw in a flash.

11:7 {A voice saying} (\phōnēs legousēs\). Genitive case after
\ēkousa\ (cf. 9:7 and accusative 9:4 which see for
. Participle \legousēs\ (present active of \legō\)
agreeing with \phōnēs\, a kind of indirect discourse use of the

11:8 {Came into my mouth} (\eisēlthen eis to stoma mou\). Instead
of \ephagon\ (I ate) in 10:14. Different phrase for the same

11:10 {Was drawn up} (\anespasthē\). Instead of \anelēmpthē\ (was
taken up)
in 10:16. First aorist passive indicative of
\anaspaō\, old verb, but in N.T. only in Lu 14:5 and here.

11:12 {Making no distinction} (\mēden diakrinanta\). So Westcott
and Hort (first aorist active participle) instead of \mēden
diakrinomenon\ "nothing doubting" (present middle participle)
like 10:20. The difference in voice shows the distinction in
meaning. {We entered into the man's house} (\eisēlthomen eis ton
oikon tou andros\)
. Peter confesses it, but shows that the other
six went in also. He avoids mention of Cornelius's name and

11:13 {Standing and saying} (\stathenta kai eiponta\). More
precisely, "stand and say" (punctiliar act, first aorist passive
and second aorist active participles)
. {Fetch Simon}
(\metapempsai Simōna\). First aorist middle imperative. Third
time mentioned (10:5,22; 11:13). Perhaps Peter is anxious to
make it plain that he did not go of his own initiative into the
house of Cornelius. He went under God's direct orders.

11:14 {Whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house} (\en
hois sōthēsēi su kai pās ho oikos sou\)
. Future passive
indicative of \sōzō\, to save. Clearly Cornelius was unsaved in
spite of his interest in Jewish worship. Clearly also the
household of Cornelius would likewise be won to Christ by the
words of Simon Peter. This is household conversion before the
household baptism (10:48; 11:17).

11:15 {As I began to speak} (\en tōi arxasthai me lalein\). \En\
with the locative of the articular aorist infinitive \arxasthai\
(punctiliar action simply) and the accusative of general
reference. The second infinitive \lalein\ (to speak) is dependent
on \arxasthai\, "In the beginning to speak as to me." {Even as on
us at the beginning}
(\hōsper kai eph' hēmās en archēi\). Peter
recalls vividly the events at Pentecost, the speaking with
tongues and all. It is noteworthy that Peter does not here repeat
his sermon. "He rests his defence, not on what he said, but on
what God did" (Furneaux).

11:16 {I remembered} (\emnēsthēn\). First aorist passive
indicative of the common verb \mimnēskō\, to remind. Peter
recalls the very words of Jesus as reported in Ac 1:5. Peter
now understands this saying of Jesus as he had not done before.
That is a common experience with us all as new experiences of
grace open richer veins in God's truth (Joh 12:16). Peter
clearly sees that the water baptism is merely the symbol or
picture of the spiritual baptism in the heart.

11:17 {The like gift} (\tēn isēn dōrean\). The equal gift, equal
in quality, rank, or measure. Common word. {When we believed}
(\pisteusasin\). First aorist active participle of \pisteuō\ in
the dative case. It agrees both with \hēmin\ (unto us) and with
\autois\ (unto them), "having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ."
Both classes (Gentiles and Jews) trusted in Christ, and both
received the Holy Spirit. {Who was I} (\egō tis ēmēn\). Note
order, "_I_, who was I." "{That I could withstand God}" (\dunatos
kōl–sai ton theon\)
. Literally, "able to withstand or hinder
God." It is a rhetorical question, really two questions. Who was
I ? Was I able to hinder God? Peter's statement of the facts made
an unanswerable defence. And yet Peter (Ga 2:11) will later in
Antioch play the coward before emissaries from Jerusalem on this
very point of eating with Gentile Christians.

11:18 {Held their peace} (\hēsuchasan\). Ingressive aorist active
indicative of \hēsuchazō\, old verb to be quiet, to keep quiet.
The wrangling (verse 2) ceased. The critics even "glorified
God" (\edoxasan\, ingressive aorist again). {Then to the Gentiles
(\Ara kai tois ethnesin\). \Ergo\ as in Lu 11:20,48 and
like \ara oun\ in Ro 5:18. In ancient Greek inferential \ara\
cannot come at the beginning of a clause as here. It was
reluctant acquiescence in the undoubted fact that God had
"granted repentance unto life" to these Gentiles in Caesarea, but
the circumcision party undoubtedly looked on it as an exceptional
case and not to be regarded as a precedent to follow with other
Gentiles. Peter will see in this incident (Ac 15:8) the same
principle for which Paul contends at the Jerusalem Conference.
Furneaux suggests that this conduct of Peter in Caesarea, though
grudgingly acquiesced in after his skilful defence, decreased his
influence in Jerusalem where he had been leader and helped open
the way for the leadership of James the Lord's brother.

11:19 {They therefore that were scattered abroad} (\hoi men oun
. Precisely the same words used in 8:4 about
those scattered by Saul (which see) and a direct reference to it
is made by the next words, "upon the tribulation that arose about
Stephen" (\apo tēs thlipseōs tēs genomenēs epi Stephanōi\). As a
result of (\apo\), in the case of (\epi\) Stephen. From that
event Luke followed Saul through his conversion and back to
Jerusalem and to Tarsus. Then he showed the activity of Peter
outside of Jerusalem as a result of the cessation of the
persecution from the conversion of Saul with the Gentile
Pentecost in Caesarea and the outcome in Jerusalem. Now Luke
starts over again from the same persecution by Saul and runs a
new line of events up to Antioch parallel to the other, probably
partly following. {Except to Jews only} (\ei mē monon
. Clearly these disciples did not know anything about
the events in Caesarea and at first their flight preceded that
time. But it was a wonderful episode, the eager and loyal
preaching of the fleeing disciples. The culmination in Antioch
was probably after the report of Peter about Caesarea. This
Antioch by the Orontes was founded 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator
and was one of five cities so named by the Seleucides. It became
the metropolis of Syria though the Arabs held Damascus first.
Antioch ranked next to Rome and Alexandria in size, wealth,
power, and vice. There were many Jews in the cosmopolitan
population of half a million. It was destined to supplant
Jerusalem as the centre of Christian activity.

11:20 {Spake} (\elaloun\). Inchoative imperfect active, began to
speak. For them it was an experiment. {Unto the Greeks also}
(\kai pros tous Hellēnas\). This is undoubtedly the correct
reading in spite of Hellenists (\Hellēnistas\) or Grecian Jews in
B E H L P. \Hellēnas\ is read by A and D and a corrector of
Aleph. The presence of "also" or "even" (\kai\) in Aleph A B
makes no sense unless "Greeks" is correct. Hellenists or Grecian
Jews as Christians were common enough as is seen in Ac 2; 6.
Saul also had preached to the Hellenists in Jerusalem (9:29).
Hellenists were merely one kind of Jews in contrast with those
who spoke Aramaic (Ac 6). It is true that the case of Cornelius
was first in importance, but it is not clear that it was before
the work in Antioch. Probably the report of the work among the
Greeks in Antioch reached Jerusalem after Peter's defence in
11:1-18. That explains the calm tone about it and also why
Barnabas and not Peter was sent to investigate. Peter and John
(Ac 8) had condoned Philip's work in Samaria and Peter was the
agent in the work among the Romans in Caesarea. His position was
now well-known and his services discounted for this new crisis.
These Greeks in Antioch were apparently in part pure heathen and
not "God-fearers" like Cornelius. A man of wisdom was called for.
These preachers were themselves Hellenists (verse 19) and open
to the lessons from their environment without a vision such as
Peter had at Joppa. "It was a departure of startling boldness"
(Furneaux) by laymen outside of the circle of official leaders.

11:21 {The hand of the Lord was with them} (\ēn cheir kuriou met'
. This O.T. phrase (Ex 9:3; Isa 59:1) is used by Luke
(Lu 1:66; Ac 4:28,30; 13:11). It was proof of God's approval of
their course in preaching the Lord Jesus to Greeks. {Turned unto
the Lord}
(\epestrepsen epi ton kurion\). First aorist active
indicative of \epistrephō\, common verb to turn. The usual
expression for Gentiles turning to the true God (14:15; 15:3,19;
26:18,20; 1Th 1:9)
. Here "Lord" refers to "the Lord Jesus" as in
verse 20, though "the hand of the Lord" is the hand of Jehovah,
clearly showing that the early disciples put Jesus on a par with
Jehovah. His deity was not a late development read back into the
early history.

11:22 {Came to the ears} (\ēkousthē eis ta ōta\). First aorist
passive indicative of \akouō\, was heard in the ears. {Of the
church which was in Jerusalem}
(\tēs ekklēsias tēs en
. Not yet was the term "church" applied to the group
of disciples in Antioch as it is in 11:26; 13:1. {They sent
(\exapesteilan\). First aorist active indicative of the
double compound verb \ex-apo-stellō\, to send out and away. The
choice of Barnabas was eminently wise. He already had a position
of leadership in Jerusalem because of his generosity (4:36f.)
and his championship of Saul after his conversion (9:27). He
was originally from Cyprus and probably had personal friends
among some of the leaders in this new movement. He was to
investigate the work of the travelling preachers (verse 19) all
the way to Antioch (\heōs Antiocheias\).

11:23 {The grace of God, was glad} (\tēn charin tēn tou theou
. Note repetition of the article, "the grace that of
God." The verb (second aorist passive indicative of \chairō\) has
the same root as \charis\. See the same _suavis paronomasia_ in
Lu 1:28. "Grace brings gladness" (Page). "A smaller man would
have raised difficulties as to circumcision or baptism"
(Furneaux). {He exhorted} (\parekalei\). Imperfect active,
picturing the continuous encouragement from Barnabas. {With
purpose of heart}
(\tēi prothesei tēs kardias\). Placing before
(from \pro-tithēmi\), old word for set plan as in Ac 27:13; Ro
8:28. The glow of the first enthusiasm might pass as often
happens after a revival. Barnabas had a special gift (4:36) for
work like this. {Cleave unto the Lord} (\prosmenein [en] tōi
. Dative case (locative if \en\ is genuine) of \kurios\
(here Jesus again) after \prosemenein\ to keep on remaining loyal
to (present active infinitive). Persistence was needed in such a
pagan city.

11:24 {For} (\hoti\). Because. This is the explanation of the
conduct of Barnabas. The facts were opposed to the natural
prejudices of a Jew like Barnabas, but he rose above such racial
narrowness. He was a really good man (\agathos\). See Ro 5:7
for distinction between \agathos\ and \dikaios\, righteous, where
\agathos\ ranks higher than \dikaios\. Besides, Barnabas was full
of the Holy Spirit (like Peter) and of faith and so willing to
follow the leading of God's Spirit and take some risks. This is a
noble tribute paid by Luke. One wonders if Barnabas was still
living when he wrote this. Certainly he was not prejudiced
against Barnabas though he will follow the fortunes of Paul after
the separation (15:36; 41). {Was added unto the Lord}
(\prosetethē tōi kuriōi\). First aorist passive indicative of
\prostithēmi\, common verb to add to. These people were added to
the Lord Jesus before they were added to the church. If that were
always true, what a difference it would make in our churches.

11:25 {To seek for Saul} (\anazētēsai Saulon\). First aorist
(effective) active infinitive of purpose. \Anazēteō\ is a common
verb since Plato, but in the N.T. only here and Lu 2:44,45, to
seek up and down (\ana\), back and forth, to hunt up, to make a
thorough search till success comes. It is plain from Ga 1:21
that Saul had not been idle in Cilicia. Tarsus was not very far
from Antioch. Barnabas probably knew that Saul was a vessel of
choice (Ac 9:15) by Christ for the work among the Gentiles. He
knew, of course, of Saul's work with the Hellenists in Jerusalem
(9:29) and echoes of his work in Cilicia and Syria had probably
come to him. So to Tarsus he goes when he saw the need for help.
"He had none of the littleness which cannot bear the presence of
a possible rival" (Furneaux). Barnabas knew his own limitations
and knew where the man of destiny for this crisis was, the man
who already had the seal of God upon him. The hour and the man
met when Barnabas brought Saul to Antioch. The door was open and
the man was ready, far more ready than when Jesus called him on
the road to Damascus. The years in Cilicia and Syria were not
wasted for they had not been idle. If we only knew the facts, it
is probable that Saul also had been preaching to Hellenes as well
as to Hellenists. Jesus had definitely called him to work among
the Gentiles (9:15). In his own way he had come to the same
place that Peter reached in Caesarea and that Barnabas now holds
in Antioch. God always has a man prepared for a great emergency
in the kingdom. The call of Barnabas was simply the repetition of
the call of Christ. So Saul came.

11:26 {Even for a whole year} (\kai eniauton holon\). Accusative
of extent of time, probably the year A.D. 44, the year preceding
the visit to Jerusalem (11:30), the year of the famine. The
preceding years with Tarsus as headquarters covered A.D. 37 (39)
to 44. {They were gathered together with the church}
(\sunachthēnai en tēi ekklēsiāi\). First aorist passive
infinitive of \sunagō\, old verb, probably here to meet together
as in Mt 28:12. In Ac 14:27 the verb is used of gathering
together the church, but here \en tēi ekklēsiāi\ excludes that
idea. Barnabas met together "in the church" (note first use of
the word for the disciples at Antioch)
. This peculiar phrase
accents the leadership and co-operation of Barnabas and Saul in
teaching (\didaxai\, first aorist active infinitive) much people.
Both infinitives are in the nominative case, the subject of
\egeneto\ (it came to pass). {And that the disciples were called
Christians first in Antioch}
(\chrēmatisai te prōtōs en
Antiocheiāi tous mathētas Christianous\)
. This first active
infinitive \chrēmatisai\ is also a subject of \egeneto\ and is
added as a separate item by the use of \te\ rather than \kai\.
For the word itself in the sense of divine command see on ¯Mt
2:12,22; Lu 2:26; Ac 10:22. Here and in Ro 7:3 it means to be
called or named (assuming a name from one's business, \chrēma\,
from \chraomai\, to use or to do business)
. Polybius uses it in
this sense as here. \Tous mathētas\ (the disciples) is in the
accusative of general reference with the infinitive.
\Christianous\ (Christians) is simply predicate accusative. This
word is made after the pattern of \Herodianus\ (Mt 22:16,
\Herōidianoi\, followers of Herod)
, \Caesarianus\, a follower of
Caesar (Deissmann, _Light from the Ancient East_, p. 377, gives
papyri examples of the genitive \Kaisaros\ meaning also
"belonging to Caesar" like the common adjective \Caesarianus\)
It is made thus like a Latin adjective, though it is a Greek
word, and it refers to the Hebrew belief in a Messiah (Page). The
name was evidently given to the followers of Christ by the
Gentiles to distinguish them from the Jews since they were
Greeks, not Grecian Jews. The Jews would not call them Christians
because of their own use of \Christos\ the Messiah. The Jews
termed them Galileans or Nazarenes. The followers of Christ
called themselves disciples (learners), believers, brethren,
saints, those of the Way. The three uses of Christian in the N.T.
are from the heathen standpoint (here), Ac 26:28 (a term of
contempt in the mouth of Agrippa)
, and 1Pe 4:16 (persecution
from the Roman government)
. It is a clear distinction from both
Jews and Gentiles and it is not strange that it came into use
first here in Antioch when the large Greek church gave occasion
for it. Later Ignatius was bishop in Antioch and was given to the
lions in Rome, and John Chrysostom preached here his wonderful

11:27 {Prophets} (\prophētai\). Christian prophets these were
(cf. 13:1) who came from Jerusalem (the headquarters, 8:15).
Judas and Silas are called prophets (14:4; 15:32). They were
not just fore-tellers, but forth-tellers. The prophet had
inspiration and was superior to the speaker with tongues (1Co
. John was a prophet (Lu 7:26). We need prophets in the
ministry today.

11:28 {Signified} (\esēmainen\). Imperfect active in Westcott and
Hort, but aorist active \esēmānen\ in the margin. The verb is an
old one from \sēma\ (\sēmeion\) a sign (cf. the symbolic sign in
. Here Agabus (also in 21:10) does predict a famine
through the Holy Spirit. {Should be} (\mellein esesthai\).
\Mellō\ occurs either with the present infinitive (16:27), the
aorist infinitive (12:6), or the future as here and 24:15;
27:10. {Over all the world} (\eph' holēn tēn oikoumenēn\). Over
all the inhabited earth (\gēn\, understood). Probably a common
hyperbole for the Roman empire as in Lu 2:1. Josephus (_Ant_.
VIII. 13, 4)
appears to restrict it to Palestine. {In the days of
(\epi Klaudiou\). He was Roman Emperor A.D. 41-44. The
Roman writers (Suetonius, Dio Cassius, Tacitus) all tell of
dearths (_assiduae sterilitates_) during the brief reign of
Claudius who was preceded by Caligula and followed by Nero.

11:29 {Every man according to his ability} (\kathōs euporeito
. Imperfect middle of \euporeō\, to be well off (from
, old verb, but here alone in the N.T., "as any one was
well off." The sentence is a bit tangled in the Greek from Luke's
rush of ideas. Literally, "Of the disciples, as any one was able
(or well off), they determined (\hōrisan\, marked off the
each of them to send relief (\eis diakonian\, for
to the brethren who dwelt in Judaea." The worst of the
famine came A.D. 45. The warning by Agabus stirred the brethren
in Antioch to send the collection on ahead.

11:30 {Sending} (\aposteilantes\). First aorist active participle
of \apostellō\, coincident action with \epoiēsan\ (did). {To the
(\pros tous presbuterous\). The first use of that term
for the Christian preachers. In 20:17,28 "elders" and "bishops"
are used interchangeably as in Tit 1:5,7. The term probably
arose gradually and holds a position in the church similar to the
same term in the synagogue. The apostles were apparently absent
from Jerusalem at this time and they were no longer concerned
with serving tables. In 21:18 Paul presented the later
collection also to the elders. Since Peter and James (till his
were in Jerusalem during the persecution in chapter 12 it
is probable that the visit of Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem came
really after that persecution for Peter left Jerusalem (12:17).
The elders here mentioned may include the preachers in Judea also
outside of Jerusalem (26:20).

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Acts: Chapter 11)