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11. Church in Antioch

And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 5I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 6Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 7And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 8But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 9But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 12And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: 13And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

19Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

22Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

27And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. 29Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: 30Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

23. When he had seen the grace of God. By these words Luke teacheth, first, that the gospel which they had received was true; secondly, that Barnabas sought nothing else but the glory of Christ. For, when he saith that he saw the grace of God, and that he exhorted them to go forward, hereby we gather that they were well taught. And the joy is a testimony of sincere godliness. Ambition is evermore envious and malicious; so that we see many seek for praise by reproving other men, because they are more desirous of their own glory than of the glory of Christ. But the faithful servants of Christ must rejoice (as did Barnabas) when they see the gospel increase, by whomsoever God shall make his name known. And assuredly those which help one another, so that they acknowledge that all the effect which springeth thence is the work of God, will never envy one another, neither will they seek to carp [at] one another, but will, with one mouth and mind, praise the power of God.

Again, this is worth the noting, that Luke doth attribute the faith of the men of Antioch, and whatsoever was worthy [of] praise there, to the grace of God. He might have reckoned up all those virtues which might make for the commendation of men; but he comprehendeth what excellence soever was in that Church under this word grace. Lastly, we must note Barnabas’ exhortation. We have already said that Barnabas did subscribe to the former doctrine which they had embraced; but lest doctrine fall away, it is most requisite that it be thoroughly imprinted in the minds of the faithful by continual exhortations. For seeing that we have to encounter continually with so many and such strong adversaries, and our minds are so slippery, unless every man arm himself diligently, it will by and by fall away, which thing infinite numbers do show to be true by their falling away. Whereas he setteth down this manner of perseverance, that they continue with purpose of heart we are hereby taught that faith hath taken deep root then when it hath a place in the heart. Wherefore it is no marvel, if scarce one of ten of those who profess faith do stand unto the end, seeing that very few know what the affection and purpose of heart meaneth.

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