Of the Party of Christ

Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists (Greek speaking non- Jews), preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  Acts 11:19-26

What is a Christian? Here in our text we find the term used for the very first time in the Bible. Let’s have a closer look. Phoenicia, a coastal region directly North of Judea, containing trading ports of Tyre and Sidon. Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. Now Antioch, located some 200 mi. N of Sidon. Antioch was a major pagan metropolis, the third largest in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandra. And their worship was very licentious. And the people of the city of Antioch were known for living a very loose and licentious lifestyles.  So for starters, based on the geography there wouldn’t have been very many examples of Christianity until these disciples happened to come into their cities. Interesting isn’t, that the Gospel of Christ gained such a strong grip on the hearts of the people living there. And it was from the this church of Antioch that the Gospel really spread to the Gentile world, and the converted missionaries would come back and report all that was happening to the church in Antioch.

And the hand of the Lord was with them—Here is “The Great Commission” And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20) This what the disciples were instructed before Jesus ascended to heaven. And it is clear to us that it is a work of the Holy Spirit that is taking place at Antioch. God using ordinary men to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection to forgive men of their sin and trespasses against God. The results were extraordinary as the Spirit is moving amongst them, conviction and repentance are the result, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

Now Barnabas was really the ideal man to send, because his ministry was that of reconciling within the body of Christ. He was the one who, when the church in Jerusalem would have nothing to do with Paul after his conversion, brought Paul to the brethren and said, “Look, he is a brother now! Receive him as a brother.” And so Barnabas was the one that brought Saul whom the Lord changed his name to Paul, brought him into the fellowship with the church in Jerusalem. The son of consolation” is what the name Barnabas means. And so here is a man living up to what his name means, reconciling opposing parties to Christ’s unified body of believer’s. So he was the right man to send to Antioch when this revival broke out among the Gentiles. A good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. So here is a mark of a true Christian, a person who seeks to reconcile others first to Christ, then to one another. He was a man who has great grace and understanding and was able to accept the work that God was doing there in Antioch.

When he came and seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord—To just cleave to the Lord, or abide in Him. And that their commitment was to be with their whole heart. God wants us to count the cost to be His followers today. Should a person confess to be a Christian today, it is not proven until it has been tested by the fiery trials that come to all true believer’s. Bumper stickers, Christian tee-shirts, or even going to church does not constitute you are a Christian. It is being convicted of your sins when confronted by the Gospel of Christ, then in true repentance and godly sorrow, turning from your sinful life and turning to the Lord. Then it’s a relationship that grows in Christ through the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit who inhabits all true converted Christians in what is called Sanctification. That is to be set apart to the Lord. This is what Barnabas was exhorting them to do.

Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul—Barnabas recognized that here is a work of the Holy Spirit being wrought in this Roman culture, that was also steeped in the Grecian culture, and was a major city in the ancient world. He realized that ministry here would take a certain special kind of person, one who had be liberated by the Holy Spirit, one who understood the Grecian culture, and yet, one who was strong in the Word of God. Now Paul the apostle, at this time was still called Saul, when he left Jerusalem, and went back to his home in Tarsus, some eight years later. As a tentmaker, I’m sure was sharing his new found faith in Jesus Christ, and God was preparing him for this work that He wanted for him to do. I think it is a mistake to put or allow a recently converted Christian right into ministry the moment they have received Christ. It is important that one allows the Holy Spirit ample room to move among us, to reveal to us His will, and purposed gifts of the Spirit that are given to the believer, and allowed to grow in our lives.  It is important that we be rooted and grounded in the Word of God, and in the work of God. We can add up that it was eleven years before Paul had entered into ministry. He spent the first three years down in Arabia, then eight more years of silence in Tarsus before Barnabas, seeing the work of the Lord in Antioch, realized Paul would be the ideal person for this ministry, went to Tarsus to look for him.

And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch—A term of derision meaning of the party of Christ imagine that, being called a “Christian” was meant to be in the same vernacular as being called a “pagan.” It was given in a derisive way to the church but that all changed through the teaching ministry of both Paul and Barnabas to the church at Antioch. The more knowledge of Christ was taught, the more they could relate to what God meant being a Christian.

Beloved friend, Christianity today is still not clearly understood by most of our world. The absence of suffering is still the way most people want to live by in the church. But progress and faith in the life of believer does not come apart from trials and testing. The building up of the body of Christ in part, is to exhort one another through all of the adverse conditions one might find themselves in, reminding them that God is faithful, who gives more grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. We want to be effective and genuine in reflecting the love of Christ to others, so it is meant for us to be completely transparent that this all surpassing power comes from Christ, and not from us. Let us be encouragers of God’s Word, and His love for us, they will have reward one day!

May the Lord bless your walk!




Author: rontrujillo

Married 37 years We have six children. All of whom are adult. Three are married one of them blessed us with three beautiful grandchildren. Retired Firefighter @ Boeing Aircraft 37 years (Formally McDonnell Douglas) Born Again Summer of 1981

One thought on “Of the Party of Christ”

  1. I do consider all of the ideas you have introduced for your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for starters. Could you please lengthen them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

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