Video Transcript: Acts 10-11

Announcer - Hi this is Dr. Craig Keener. In his teaching and the book of Acts,  this is session number 13. Acts 10 and 11.  

Dr. Keener - In Acts 10, we come to the narrative about Cornelius the first and  lengthiest time that it speaks up Cornelius. In the previous session we  introduced some introductory material about Acts 10:1 about Caesarea and  about Roman military service, and about Centurions As background for  Cornelius. So now we are coming to chapter 10:2. He was appreciated by the  other Jewish by the Jewish people who knew him because of his almsgiving.  And that's interesting because, you remember in Luke 7, you have a centurion,  who had supported the local synagogue, and Jewish people came and spoke on his behalf. Well, in this case, it expresses devotion to God, it also expresses  humbling himself culturally, because following Jewish customs was considered,  sometimes looked down upon by some other people groups. We also see here  God's interest in in seekers. And there's a sense in which none of us seeks after God. But there's also a sense in which God has moved our hearts to, to seek  after him. I, when I was an atheist, I, I actually began thinking, what if I'm wrong? What if? What if there is a God? And one of the things that prompted me in that  direction? Or already when I was 13, I was I was reading Plato, and thinking  about what he said about the immortality of the soul, and his arguments for it,  especially the innate knowledge, because of the pre existence of the soul. I  didn't buy. But although I didn't buy his idea of the pre existence of the soul, the  questions that he asked about immortality really disturbed me. Because I had to  recognize I was finite, I was mortal, and I was going to die. And the only way  that I could have life that would last forever, was if there was somebody who is  infinite, who would choose to bestow that on me. But if there was such a being,  why would that being care about me? Only if that being were perfectly loving?  That would be the best of all possible things. But if that being were perfectly  loving, why would that being loved me, because I certainly was not perfectly  loving, I knew I was very selfish. And the only reason that I would want to know  that being was that I wanted to live forever. Well, that was the main reason that I didn't know that being. And when I heard the gospel, the Holy Spirit touched me. And I had an encounter with Christ and was converted. And I'm grateful to God,  who reached out to a seeker who had no claims on him. I didn't come from a  Christian home, or anything like that. This man was a God fearers, he was much further along than I was, he was he was attending, probably attending the  synagogue. He was very interested in the one true God. He recognized that this  was the true God or at least the greatest God. He was not circumcised he was  not in the category of a proselyte. He was in the category of what some Jewish  people called righteous Gentiles. Those who recognize their God, they didn't  follow idols, and they didn't practice sexual immorality. But he hadn't become  part of the covenant people he hadn't been circumcised. This group that God 

fearers, whether by that title or by others, that's attested in Josephus and Philo,  very often in inscriptions, particularly in Aphrodisias, in Asia Minor. Cornelius  wasn't yet a full convert to Judaism. We know that many soldiers were  interested in religion, and you can understand why that would be. They were  interested in various religions, Cornelius was interested in the Jewish religion.  Now, it also talks in verse 2 about his household. It couldn't marry, per se. At  least not a According to official Roman law, he could unofficially marry, that  would be considered a concubine under Roman law, but during during your 20  years of military service, and perhaps longer if he, if he had stayed in longer is a Centurion. During your 20 years of military service, or longer, you could not  marry officially, often what was done was that after you retired, they would grant  that your concubine would count as a wife, provided you have only one. So  soldiers that got moved around, a lot of centurions, even more probably, who got moved around a lot had to normally marry the most recent concubine that they  had had. Because they couldn't take their concubines with them. When the army moved into Caesarea however, we know that the troops begged not to be  moved when they were being punished later on. So they were very attached to  their local area, as many troops in areas where there wasn't a war going on,  were we don't know if he was married or not, or had a concubine or not. And  some people think that he was, he was also retired Centurion. And that's why he has that's, that's why he has an official Roman name, even though it's an  auxiliary unit. But then again, as a Centurion, he may have been lent from the  Legion, and he may have been a Roman citizen already. Because he does, he is able to send a soldier as well as servants. So he's probably still got some  influence. Then again, we also know that the discipline was lax around  Caesarea. And so perhaps as a former centurion, he could hire an off duty  soldier, we don't know a lot of the details. But in any case, he does seem to  have had some relatives there, maybe because he was recruited locally. Or  maybe because he had a concubine. And these were his relatives, maybe a  wife, if he was retired, and these were his relatives, verse 24, it speaks of  relatives. And the term there, in contrast to the term household, means those  were related to him genetically or related to his wife, genetically, not, not simply  servants, who could be considered part of the household. wives were supposed  to share their husband's religion. So didn't always happen. But often when when the husband would convert, the, the wife would convert the household would  convert too, we don't know what the household here meant. Maybe it could  mean servants. Maybe it could mean freed persons. In verse 7, you could have,  you could have that as well, because once a servant was freed, the former slave holder owed social obligations to the to the freed person to help them advance  in society and so forth. And the freed person owed certain social obligations to  the former slave holder, as part of the slaveholders extended family. Well, the  most inexpensive of slaves, was about 1/3 of a regular soldiers annual pay, but 

Centurions made 15 times the pay of rank and file soldiers. And the highest paid Centurion in in a legion, could make 60 times as much well as a Centurion.  Props prop, probably just a regular Centurion. He may make 15 times the pay  of, of rank and file soldiers. Verse 3, says that this happens he's praying at  around 3pm. Now, that was the time of Jewish evening prayer. So he's, he's  actually even praying during the regular hours of prayer. He has a vision. And  interestingly, Peter also has a vision. This is this is later but it's it's when it's the  next day apparently, but it's it's not when it's not simultaneous with Cornelius,  but it's also not dependent on Cornelius's vision. It's independent, it's divinely  coordinated. Well, in verse 9, they travel to reach Peter from Caeserea to Joppa. Caesarea was about 30 miles north of Joppa. So this, so even even if they leave immediately after 3pm, they would either have to travel all night on foot, or they  would have to travel on horses to be approaching Joppa by noon. So they view  this as an urgent mission. Imagine what would happen happened if Peter had,  had had to take a lot of time to figure out what to do, or if Peter had just sent  them away. But God who said to check with Peter, who was staying with Simon,  the tanner also arranged for Peter to know what he was supposed to do. Peter  went up on the rooftop to pray. Well, they had flat roof tops, they were often  used for drying vegetables, they could be used for private prayer or whatever. If  he was under a canopy. It could be cooler, even at midday, than most homes  were in Judea. But this isn't a regular hour prayer, Peter just likes to pray, or felt  like praying, that was a good thing. But in verse 10, we find out that he's, you  know, they're they're preparing food for him, but he's, he's hungry. Apparently,  noon was normal time for a meal, at least in some places, we know it was in  Rome. Well, then he has this vision, a vision in verses 14-16 of a very horrifying  diet, you can think of what food would be most horrifying to you in your culture  or your own palate. For Peter, culturally, there were certain things that he would  never eat. Chapter 10:12. You know, the, the, the animals that are let down in  this in the sheet, include clean animals, that that is those they were allowed to  eat. According to Leviticus 11, and also unclean animals. The problem is if they  were mixed together, and made them all unclean. And so, you know, virtually,  these are unclean animals. And Peter protests. And the scene is very much like  what you have in Ezekiel 4:13-15, where God tells Ezekiel to prepare this food  over over human dung, and he says, God that's unclean. And God hears this  protest and says, Okay, you can cook it over cow's dung instead? Well, in this  case, Peter says God had never eaten anything unclean. I mean, he's willing to  stay with a tanner, but you only go so far, the Maccabees were prepared to die,  rather than to eat unclean food. So this was one of the boundary markers, as  scholars often say, of Jewish ethnicity, there were certain things that became  crucial distinctives of Judaism, in part, because these were things that their  ancestors had had to die, to resist. But God is the one who declared the things  unclean to begin with, and God can declare anything clean, including, as we see

later on as the is the lesson of this in 10:28, and 59, including Gentiles. God can cleanse Gentiles, he can make them clean. Well, Peter gets this vision. And  meanwhile, the messengers of Cornelius are on their way to him in 10:17-23a,  Peter and Simon's household receive Gentiles. Well, how did they find Peter in  verse 17? Joppa was a large town, but they'd been told to find him. Simon the  tanner. Well, Tanner's would normally be near water, and they would be in the  tanning district, because that was the district that stank. One of the districts that  stank most and so people would be together to do that, rather than scattered  throughout the town. Well, once you get there, you just ask for directions. That's  what people did. Where is Simon, the tanner? Simon was a common name. But  apparently there weren't a whole lot of Tanner's named Simon there. So it says  that they come to the outer gate. Well, if he has an outer gate, he's a he's a man of some means. Yes, he has some wealth, which helps him to have room to  have Peter staying with him. Then in verses 18 through 22. Well, they call out,  why do they call out and not just go into the gate? Well, one thing it's a matter of propriety, but for another thing, they're unclean. They're not allowed to enter a  Jewish home. And Simon, maybe a tanner, but he's, he's surely Jewish. I mean,  given the fact that Peter has some problems claiming to Gentile homes, clearly  this is Simon, the Tanner is Jewish. We see here the role of the Holy Spirit. First  of all, we see Peter's vision. But secondly, and 10:19 We're always trying to  think about what this vision could mean. The Holy Spirit says there is some  Some men that I've sent to you go with them. It's very similar to what we see in  chapter 8:29, where the Spirit says to Philip, go join yourself to this chariot, after  an angel has already given him some direction, the Spirit gives him the  immediate direction. The Spirit, you know, we can trust the Spirit to lead us in  our lives. But there are some things that the spirit especially likes to speak  about. And Luke especially likes to emphasize this crossing of barriers how the  Spirit leads us to reach other people groups into into reached into a so Luke  likes to emphasizes the role of the Spirit in this particular way. And sometimes  the spirit will do dramatic things. I remember one time I was walking in, there  was a, there was a young man in front of me, maybe a block in front of me. And  the Spirit urged me call out his name and gave me his name. And I was I was  like, is that really his name? I should have called out to him. I just ran up to him.  And I said, Hi, I'm Craig. And he said his name, which was the name, the Holy  Spirit said, and I said, Oh, I should have called it out. But anyway, that was my  first try. But Peter, and Philip, fortunately, obeyed and the first time I did get to  share Christ with him, and I did tell him that the Holy Spirit told me that he did  believe me. But in any case, so Peter went down, this would probably be down  and outside staircase leading from the flat roof. Sometimes they had ladders,  but remember, this guy is navigating surely as a staircase. Verse 23a, well, they  let the Gentile stay with them overnight. Pharisees were concerned about  impure table fellowship. But they show proper hospitality. They feed them, and 

they lodge them overnight. The tanner may be less concerned with strict rules,  and Joppa was a mixed town. So he probably was knew Gentiles and so on,  especially if the tanning district it's not just Jewish tanners. But other tanners  may all be in the area, rather than most of the time they'd be segregated. But in  any case, but this was a problem, especially for the stricter members, we'll see  that when we get to chapter 15:5 at some Pharisees have also become  believers, and they still adhere to their strict policies. And this becomes an issue  for them. So at this point, it's not an issue because word hasn't gotten around.  But word will soon get around. What's about to happen next 10:23b-33.  Cornelius receives Peter. So the hospitality is going to go both ways. 10:23b.  Peter takes extra companions he takes he takes six men with him. So there's  seven of them that that's we've seen that number before. But why does he take  six men with him? Well, he wants to have witnesses, for whatever happens that  they didn't do anything wrong. Deuteronomy 17:6 in 19:15, you have to have at  least two or three witnesses, and Peter is going to have double the full number.  But in 10:24, they left around sunrise, it's 30 miles. The fact that the text says  they arrived the following day, apparently means that they stayed overnight  along the way, verse 30. They probably stayed in a in a mixed town, perhaps  Apollonia, which was just under half the way there. And then we come to verses  25 and 26. Now, Cornelius may be a God fearer, but he gives homage to to  Peter, as if he were divine. Pagans offered this to others we see. And  fortunately,that people from Lissandra tried to do that to Barnabas and Paul. In  chapter 28:6, we see that some of the local residents in Malta think that Paul is  is a God. So he offers this homage he may not mean it as divine, he may just  mean it is the way to greet a representative of someone who's divine or or a  king. In the east, people would often bow before kings, although it depended on  what people group you were from. Some people wouldn't wouldn't be willing to  do that. But in 10:27-29, we we read Peter's response, devout Peter  discouraged sorry Peter first discourages Cornelius is bowing down to him. He  refuses divine homage, which was considered the appropriate behavior even by  Even by Gentiles that was the appropriate behavior. Unless you were the  Emperor, you were supposed to discourage people from bowing down before  you. Well, in 27-29. Peter explains, devout Jews would not enter idolatrous  homes. And even though Cornelius is probably not an idolator, this apparently  extended to any Gentile home. And as far as you would know, in advance, I  mean, this may be this may be an idolator, although, by the time Peter has been talking with the people who were sent along the way, he would probably know  that that's not the case. But it was unclean to eat their food, or to drink their  wine. Cornelius may not be an idolator, but he did bow down to him. But But  Peter says, you know, you know, this is this is considered unclean. They were  this This prevented dining together banquets. So normally Jewish people and  Gentiles didn't banquet together. And for that reason, Gentiles thought Jewish 

people to be antisocial wasn't the Jewish people's fault. It just was, you know,  God had set up those rules in Leviticus 11 Partly says, so that he could keep  them separate from the nations. But now God is transcending that because he's  sending them to the nations, the Jewish believers in Jesus is witnesses. Well,  10:34-43, we read about Peter's message. Are we as ready to preach as Peter  was, if if we want to, if we want to be as sensitive the Holy Spirit is Peter is, as  Peter was, we need to be willing to get over our own prejudices. In verse 38. He  talks about Jesus doing good, that is being a benefactor, the Greek wording  there is what was used for benefactors we talked about that earlier, that  language was often used for rulers, it was often used for deities. And, and Jesus had been just doing good for people. It says, How God anointed Jesus of  Nazareth. And in Luke 4, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61, with reference to him being  anointed with the Holy Spirit, to fulfill this mission, which of course, as we noted,  next chapter 2 Acts 1 and 2 is also a model for the church. Although it doesn't  use the language of anointing, we're not the Christ. Some other parts of the New Testament do do use that language. But we are empowered by the Spirit. In  10:42, in most of Judaism, God Himself is the judge. But here, Jesus is the  supreme judge. And also in verse 36, Lord of all, that was certainly divine  terminology, although it was also used for the Emperor. And now Peter is  preaching to somebody who is in the service of the Emperor. In verse 43, all the  prophets have testified to forgiveness, through God's grace in the Messiah.  Well, probably he's, he's meaning that in the general sense of the prophets  talking about the Messianic restoration in the in the in the era that come the time of salvation. And so he, he reads the prophets in the same way, sort of that  Stephen did in Acts 7. And that Luke does throughout Luke Acts, that is,  understanding is Jesus was explaining the road to Emmaus. And as Jesus was  explaining to his disciples later on in Luke 24, that, that all the Law and the  Prophets talk about him, because the principles point to him they're ultimately  fulfilled in him. 10:44-48, we encounter saved Gentiles, which is really going to  shake up the church in Jerusalem. Are we ready to learn, not just from the  example of Peter and others, but from God's own activity? Well, Peter had to  learn from that. In verse 44, his sermon is interrupted. That was a common  literary device. If the person had finished saying everything that needed to be  said, as far as the author was concerned, it could be interrupted. However, it  was also a common device, or common feature of real life, people regularly  interrupted speakers. In this case, it's not the person interrupting the speaker,  though. It's the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to  Peter. And we read in verses 45-47 about the response of Peter and those who  were with him well, and the prophets, the outpouring of the Spirit was for Israel  only, while the Samaritans they weren't really considered part of the people of  Israel, but the disciples were able to get over that. I mean, you know, they were,  they worship the one God and so on. And they were sort of Israel. They were 

like halfway in between Israel and the Gentiles. But this eschatological promise  of the outpouring of the Spirit, that was for Israel, Ezekiel 36, Isaiah 44, and so  on. Peter had quoted Joel, about the spirit being poured out on all flesh. But  Peter undoubtedly assumed that that meant on all Jewish flesh, I mean, the  context of the passage is about the restoration of God's people. So here, they're shocked. God is pouring out the Spirit on these Gentiles, treating them as if  they're God's people. Most Jewish teachers in this in this period, thought that if  the Spirit was available at all, in the current time, this is not the Dead Sea  Scrolls. But other Jewish teachers. Most Jewish teachers felt that the spirit  would be available only to the very most pious and usually not even to them. It  was said that of Hillel's generation, Hillel was worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit.  But the spirit still didn't come upon him because his generation was not worthy  of having someone who had the spirit. Well, obviously, the Christians had been  experiencing something very different. They've been experiencing the  outpouring of the Spirit, but they did not expect this to happen to the Gentiles.  And they note, well, this, this is the same gift that was given to us. It says, for  they heard them speaking in other tongues. Now, does that mean that tongues  is always happening when people receive the Spirit? Let's not mention in  chapter 8:15. And that's why people have argued it both ways. But it in this case, it does confirm that these people have received the Spirit in the same way that  they did in the day of Pentecost. In other words, well, this is what happened to  us when we receive the Spirit, the same thing has happened to them. So it also  would signify the same thing that it did on the day of Pentecost, that these  people are now empowered to cross cultural barriers as witnesses for Christ,  which means that these Gentiles will now become partners in ministry, these  Gentiles will also carry forth the word of the Lord. And this is the proper way to  do mission. We share the good news with people. But once they hear the good  news, we don't Minister them in a paternalistic way. But we minister together as  as God's servants all of us together. Tongues is mentioned in chapter 19:6 plus  prophecy which makes sense. Both Praise and prophecy together in the Old  Testament often reflected the Spirit's inspiration. So as as is often in Luke Acts,  starting with with Luke 1, in Luke 2, with with Simeon, with Zechariah, with a  prophecy about John the Baptist, the spirit often inspires prophetic speech. And  of course, that's how Peter speaks of it in Acts 2:17-18. It's not always  expressed in the same way in every passage in Luke Acts, but most often it's  expressed in some sort of inspired speech, which makes sense because the  particular emphasis Luke is laying on the spirit and Luke Acts, especially, is the  outpouring of the Spirit to enable us to speak for God. And if that's going to be  the ultimate expression of it, well, at least often we may expect it to happen,  even when we initially experienced this empowerment. But sooner or later,  obviously we will, because that's the point of this empowerment of spirit 10:48.  Baptism is a in our culture was a public declaration of conversion. But they don't 

circumcise them first. Why? Because they don't. They recognize that if God has  already accepted these people, as members of the Covenant community, as is  part of the people of God, because that was that was promised in the Old  Testament prophets, God would pour out His Spirit. Well, if they've already  received the greater BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT, how much more ought they to  receive merely the water baptism that pointed to the baptism in the spirit so they give them that as far as circumcision, they don't need to circumcise them  because God has already welcomed them. They, they ended up lodging with  these Gentiles. That would compound the offense. But it would also reinforce  the lesson that they were crossing these, these barriers and that God had  declared them clean. Now in chapter 11:1-18, Peter gets called on the carpet.  Yes, he was the chief apostle. But still, he was part of the leadership team. He  wasn't the only one. And so he gets called on the, on the carpet by apostles and  elders back in Jerusalem. When he when he returns, obviously, news would  spread quickly from Caesarea to Jerusalem, people were often traveling God's  way is different from our way. For God, people. People are the priority. And  sometimes that may offend the church traditions, just like it offended the  Pharisees. Here, it's going to offend the religious sensibilities of the Christians.  So chapter 11:2-3, circumcision was necessary to fully convert to Judaism, not  not everybody thought you needed it to be saved. Only the most conservative  Jewish people thought you needed it to be saved, although some, some did  think that. But for most Jewish people, it was necessary. Well, virtually all Jewish people believed it was necessary if you wanted to convert to Judaism, if you  wanted to be come part of the people of God. So for Peter to lodge with these  Gentiles, and to eat with these Gentiles, offended the religious sensibilities of  the more conservative members of the community, and that was a natural  influence inference from Genesis 17. Remember, Genesis 17, you have to  circumcise your household, circumcised all the servants. Everybody has to be  circumcised if they were to be part of this of this people. Anybody who wasn't  circumcised would be cut off. But what if circumcision is a mark of the Covenant  was only a mark pointing to the real meaning of the covenant. And if God had  spiritually circumcised people in such a way, that the marker became  superfluous, because God had shown that he had accepted these as members  of his covenant people by giving them his own spirit. Eschatologically, that  promise of the Spirit had now been fulfilled. So they were charging you ate with  ritually unclean Gentiles. And Peter himself had had a problem with that back in  10:28. Later on, so as not to offend the more conservative members of the  community in Galatians 2:12. We read the Peter didn't eat with uncircumcised  Gentiles. He was willing to do it on his own, but not when some some other  Christians came, who were sent by James, and were concerned with being a  witness within their more conservative Jewish community. And he didn't want to  offend them. He didn't want to cause them to stumble. But Paul said, You know, 

Paul himself didn't want people to stumble. But in this case, this was a matter of  the gospel, showing that we receive these people as full brothers and sisters.  Chapter 11:16-17, receiving somebody's full brothers and sisters, table  fellowship was a form of covenant relationship. 11:16-17. Peter says, Look, God  told me to go, and also God baptize them in the Holy Spirit, the same way as he  did with us. This is the the eschatological covenant reality, to which outward  circumcision really pointed. So that's why we did baptism is an act of  conversion, because God had already accepted their conversion. You know, one of the convincing rhetorical arguments that orator symptoms used in antiquity  was the argument from necessity. And one of the strongest arguments from  necessity, were where it was, I had to do this. I had no other choice was divine  necessity. A God told me to do it. Well, basically, that's what that's what Peter  says here. No, many of us have heard that abused, God told me to do it isn't  really true. But in this case, Peter has the evidence. He has the witnesses. God  told me to do it. And God accepted their conversion by pouring out His Spirit.  The same spirit that moved them to cross cultural barriers, is the same spirit  who confirmed that this was His mission, and that he was in it and that he was  welcoming Gentiles without requiring them to be circumcised without requiring  them to become ethnically Jewish. Now, many believed that righteous Gentiles  who kept the the seven laws given to Noah, or in earlier tradition that may not  have been seven. But in earlier tradition, in any case, these these basic laws  given all the Gentiles, no idolatry, no sexual immorality, and so on, many  believed that they were saved. But nobody believed this made Gentiles member of the covenant people. And yet we can see how conservative the church in  Jerusalem was. Because they respond in verse 18. Wow. Even the Gentiles  God is giving them eternal life, even the Gentiles, God allows them to be saved.  At this point, Luke transitions to the ministry in Antioch. And he, he introduces  this fairly briefly, we see that there are a lot of people actually involved in  reaching the Gentiles. But Luke is focused in the major figures. So he doesn't  spend a lot of time talking about the individuals here. But the ministry of Antioch  the church has now moved from rural Galilee, urban Jerusalem, to  Cosmopolitan, Antioch multicultural Antioch. So very quickly, the church is  transitioning culturally and socially, in a wide variety of ways. Partly this was  because they were scattered from persecution. Partly, I believe this is because  the Holy Spirit was enabling them to do this, where God often moves us into  unexpected situations, situations that we weren't actually culturally prepared for  to begin with. But he gives us the preparation. You can think of Jackie Ponder in  Hong Kong or David Wilkerson going from rural Pennsylvania to New York City,  you can think of Adoniram Judson or others, Hudson Taylor, others who, who,  culturally William Carey, who, although he didn't he didn't go as far maybe it's  Hudson Taylor, but identifying with a local culture and becoming part of the local  culture and today's missions movements. In India, and Africa, where in other 

places were Christian Christians are transitioning from, from their own culture to  other cultures as the as they share the gospel sometimes from urban settings to  rural settings, as well. Well, rapid transition was rare in terms of cultural  transition. And so this shows great flexibility most movements didn't didn't move  from rural to urban and cosmopolitan this quickly. But Judaism had already  adapted to these various settings over the centuries, you had Jewish culture in  Gentile cities, they still have their own communities within these Gentile cities,  but they had adapted. They had learned how to speak the cultural language that surrounded them to a great extent. And that provided a conduit for the  Christians. There already some some ways that help them to learn the new  culture. Do we feel comfortable moving into new ministry settings, when God  moves us, we need to be ready to move and we also need to exercise cultural  flexibility and learn from the people among whom we move, so that we can best  Minister among them and minister with them if they're already believers. 11:19  there were large Jewish communities in Phoenicia in Cyprus and Antioch. And  as the diaspera. Jewish believers are scattered through Saul's persecution, they go to these different places. This probably includes Barnabas initially, although  he can go back to Jerusalem after the persecution has died down in fact, we  know that Barnabas was there to introduce Saul to the apostles, some of the  apostles. So these were natural places for them to settle after being spread  abroad in chapter 8:1-4. In chapter 11:20-21. You have some of these Jewish  believers in Jesus who are already from the diaspora, who begin to make a new  kind of transition. He says believers from Cyprus and Cyrene, this would include people like Barnabas, Lucius of Cyrene, probably Simon of Cyrene was was  also one of them is his sons are known to the church probably in Rome. Were in Mark 15. Simon of Cyrene is introduced as the father of Alexander and Rufus.  So Mark's audience already knows his his children and Rufus might be the  same Rufus that we have listed in Romans 16. That's not for sure. But it's a it's  a legitimate possibility. In any case, these believers are spread abroad, and  particularly the ones from Cyprus and Cyrene begin speaking also the  Hellenists. Well, we read earlier about Hellenists to mean these these Jewish  believers themselves, were Helllenistst so what does it mean that we're  speaking to Hellenists? It's contrasted with Jews. So in this case, it doesn't  mean Hellenistic Jews. But it means Greeks or Hellenized Syrians who had  adopted Greek culture, they shared a larger language and culture through  Hellenism, and that provided the point of a bridge point through which they could reach them. Hellenistic Judaism formed a natural bridge for reaching these  people. And they began reaching Gentiles. That may have been before Peter,  we don't know. Because the narrative was following Peter already at that point,  but certainly it was, it was spreading it more widely than than what Peter had  done. In Peter's case, the Jerusalem church could view it as an exception. In the case of Antioch, Antioch was pretty far away from Jerusalem. They may have 

gotten away with a few things that the Jerusalem church may have looked  askance out if they were a bit closer. But in any case, Antioch on the Orontes. In Syria, it was often called Antioch on the Orantes because there were a number  of Kings named Antiochus who liked to start cities named after themselves or to  names existing cities after themselves even so there are a lot of Antiochs we'll  read about another Antioch later on in chapter 13. But this was the big Antioch.  This was probably the third largest urban center of antiquity, after Mediterranean antiquity anyway, after Rome, and Alexandria. The number of residents is  usually estimated between 100,000 and 600,000, probably somewhere toward  the higher end of that 3, 3 or 400,000, at least third, or some, some say possibly the fourth largest city in the empire, probably third. It was the headquarters of  Rome's Syrian Legion. So you had 6000 troops quartered there. It was a brief  river journey from there to Selucia, which was its Mediterranean port city. And  sailing from there, Cyprus was the closest place you could go religiously, Antioch was it within walking distance of the famous cult center of Apollo. So there are a  lot of Jews there. But it also was a predominantly pagan city that had many  mystery cults there. It was known for its pagan religious diversity. It was very  pluralistic, upwardly mobile, many upwardly mobile people, and many upwardly  mobile Jewish people who were usually accepted. There was a bit of prejudice  against Jews in Antioch after the Judean Roman war. But the Jewish community there didn't get massacred, like in some other places. Further south closer to  Judea. There were a lot of God fearers there, a lot of proselytes. There. We read about one earlier in Acts, it was far less segregated than Alexandria, Alexandria,  you had Egyptians, Greeks and Jews living in usually separate parts of the city,  with Greeks wanting to be the only ones who were truly citizens of the city.  Antioch was more cosmopolitan. There was more acceptance of different  cultures there. Some more liberal, diaspera Jews use the best and pagan  philosophy to witness they'd already been making those cultural adaptations.  Circumcision was a lesser issue. In some of these places, including Antioch, we  read about another location where the king of Adiabene, the person who led him to believe in Judaism, didn't think he needed to be circumcised said no, that  would probably be too offensive to your people don't do it. Then another person  came along and said, You hypocrite, if you're really going to convert to Judaism,  you have to go all the way and be circumcised. And he did it. And the other  Jewish people who were around him were scared that it was going to create a  backlash, and it did offend a lot of people. But, you know, there wasn't a revolt or anything. But not everybody insisted on everybody being circumcised but to be  fully part of the people of God. traditional Jewish people would insist on that.  Chapter 11:22-24. Now we're coming back to one of the main characters.  Barnabas, who was actually introduced back in chapter 4. Luke likes to  introduce people in advance when he has the opportunity. Barnabas trusted  God's working people. He did that with Saul. In chapter 9:27, when he took him 

and introduced him to the apostles are gathering from Galatians some of the  apostles and in 15:37-39 when he and Paul split up, because Barnabas wants to take Mark with him and give him a second chance. Barnabas trusted God's  working people. And that was something that the Judaism had a tradition of  valuing as well. They talked about Hillel, who was one of the major sages, Hillel  and Shamai. were leaders of the two schools of Phariseeism. And the Hillelites  who prevailed after Jerusalem's destruction, looked back on Hillel as somebody  who was very Gentile, and took Gentiles where they were at and help them to  follow Jewish ways. Paul was more critical. God used Paul and Paul's  personality in dramatic ways too we have different personalities, and God can  use our different personalities. That's not an excuse to be too hard edged with  the wrong parts of our personalities. Martin Luther, God used him greatly. But  sometimes he he spoke very harshly, especially in his later years, in ways that  most Protestants wouldn't agree with today, most Lutherans today wouldn't  agree with. And Luther said, Well, you know, God made me a weapon. God  made me this way. Well, that may be true. He needed to be somebody who  could stand firm. But sometimes he went too far, like burned down their  synagogues and things like that. That was, that was a bit extreme. Most of us  have those weaknesses, we need to watch out for them. But in any case,  Barnabas his strength. One of his strengths was that he trusted God's working  people, and he welcomed people. And this provides a good example for us. In  11:25, he realizes he needs somebody to help. They're, they're winning so many people to Christ in Antioch, they're winning Gentiles to Christ now, and who can I get to help? Well, Jerusalem was a long way off, remember, but Tarsus was 100  miles to the north, that's a long way off, but it's not nearly as far off as Jerusalem at this point. And he knows that Paul was sent off the Tarsus. He was there back in Acts 9. And he also knows what God did for for Paul, he knows Paul's calling, ah, this is to be an agent to reach the Gentiles. Who better to get than  somebody who already had this calling. So he goes north to Tarsus, and finds  Paul, and brings him back to just this this key place where the very thing God  had called Paul to do, is is happening. Barnabas is good at connecting people  like connected Paul with with Peter and James 11:26. But Christian, the  disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. I keep using the name Christian,  but actually in the New Testament, that's not a very common name for followers  of Jesus. It's a nickname here, the other place where it appears. Well, it appears later on in Acts also one time, it appears as a legal charge in I Peter 4:16. If any  of you is charged as a Christian, how did they get this nickname? Well, it seems  to have been on the analogy with the way people describe to political parties.  partisans of Caesar were called Caesareans, partisans of Herod were  Herodians partisans of Pompeii, were Pompeiians people, the people of Antioch  were known for making fun of people. Christians in the second century, however, adopted this, this label with with pride. So it originally started as nickname, but 

we can use it. We are partisans of Jesus, who is the true king. And even if  people meant it to make fun of us, we can own that title. We belong to Jesus the true King 11:27 Well, Paul and Barnabas are ministering in Antioch. Prophets  come from Jerusalem. Now, early Christianity was very distinctive in this regard  you had Greek Oracle's that cultic centers, but you don't have any other  prophetic movements, like what we find in the New Testament. What what we  see in the New Testament is more like what you see maybe in I Samuel 19,  where you have the prophets prophesying, and Samuel presiding over them, or  in II Kings 2:4, where you have the sons of the prophets sent, and Elisha is  helping to disciple them, probably Elijah had discipled, many of the earlier  prophets, we we have entire prophetic movements so that here, in the case of  Acts, we read about these prophets who traveled together, who come from  Jerusalem to Antioch, which was a long distance. Some people have spoken of  wandering prophets, but mobility was frequent in antiquity. So what is really  distinctive about this is just that you have groups of prophets. And even, of  course, Acts 2:17-18, where the Spirit of Prophecy empowers us all, to declare  the word of the Lord about Jesus. This is distinctive. It speaks of an outpouring  of the Spirit that nobody else in antiquity actually expected in their own time. To  this, to this degree, the Essenes came closest and it wasn't anything close to  this degree. Chapter 11:28. Well, what are the prophets talk about? One of the  main things that they talk about is a famine. And this came to pass Luke says in  the time of Claudius, well, actually, it was a series of famines it was it was very  serious, that devastated agriculture. During Claudius's reign, there were high  grain prices attested in the year 46. By 51. You have a green shortage in Rome,  so that the Emperor Claudius is mobbed in the streets. During this period. Some Jewish people are sympathizers with Judaism wanted to help the poor in  Jerusalem because famine was very severe in Judea, especially around the  years 45 and 46. So Queen Helena of Adiabene is from The Next Generation  these are we talked about the king of Adiabene becoming a believer in Judaism, Queen Helena od Adiabene bought Egyptian grain for large sums because it  was very expensive due to the famine. People in Egypt were hungry too. She  bought large sums of food to help people in Judea. Well, the believers in Antioch hear that this famine is going to be happening around the world. And they  realized that the believers in Judea are many of them are poor. in Antioch,  people tended Well, at least many of the believers tended to be more upwardly  mobile. And so they said they send relief. Now, keep in mind that the prophecy  said that this would be a famine throughout the world. So the famine was going  to affect Antioch too. So even though they had more resources, this was this  was an act of sacrifice. And it tells us something. It tells us that the believers  didn't just respect their fellow believers and care for their fellow believers locally  as an Acts 2:44-45. Or in Acts 4:32-35. That also this can be cross cultural  famine relief, this can be Famine, Famine Relief abroad. Today, we often have 

situations like that where famine strikes particular areas, God has given enough  resources in the church worldwide, that the church somewhere can help the  church somewhere else, and in their time of need. Maybe the church elsewhere  will also help them. We are one body in Christ, and we must work together. And  Paul brings out all these points in II Corinthians 8 and 9. Paul also was  particularly raising funds for the church in Judea. Part of the reason is, as he  says they were poor. Another part of the reason that he also gave us that you  said we Gentiles owe it to them, they gave us the gospel. And he was working  for ethnic reconciliation, because there was a bit of tension between the the  Judean churches and the churches of the Diaspora over certain issues,  particularly the circumcision of Gentiles. Well, most Jewish relief efforts were  local except for for what Helena did. So this was an exceptional idea. but it's it's  one again, we find elsewhere in the New Testament, multi provincial  organizations were suspect in the empire. So it didn't go over too well, with the  Empire to have have people sharing things from one place to another. But but  that's what the church did. They were prepared in advance for this famine  through prophecy. We may remember Genesis 41, that God warned in advance  of the coming famine on the world of that day, Egypt and Canaan, the  surrounding region. And God used Joseph to to prepare them. And in the same  way, there were these prophets and the church in Antioch responded with  wisdom to that in chapter 12. We will look at Peter's deliverance in the next  lesson.  

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener. In his teaching and the book of Acts. This  is session number 13. Acts 10 and 11. 

Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2023, 1:15 PM