Antioch Believers Send Encouragement to Jerusalem

Philip Brooks was once asked what he would do to encourage and revive a dead church. His reply was, “I would take up a missionary offering.” (Source Unknown).

Encouragement

The church at Jerusalem could no longer ignore what was happening at Antioch. In this passage we find believers, with the gift of prophecy, coming down from Jerusalem to Antioch (v. 27). This New Testament gift of prophecy was unique to the early church. Their function is to be seen in their name. Prophet means both a fore-teller and a forth-teller. They “foretold” the future; but even more they “forthtold” the will of God. They had no settled sphere; they were not attached to any one church. They were held in the highest honor.

Agabus, one of these prophets, prophesied that a severe famine would come and spread over the entire Roman world. (This actually did happen during the reign of Claudius Caesar A.D. 41-54) (v. 28).  When the church at Antioch heard about this, they not only believed the prophecy, but decided to do something about it. They collected an offering for the believers in Jerusalem (v. 29). The Jewish believers in Jerusalem had brought the Gospel to Antioch and also sent Barnabas to encourage them. Now it was only right that these Gentiles in Antioch respond, by sending material help to their Jewish brothers and sisters in Judea. So they had Barnabas and Saul take their gifts to the church leaders in Jerusalem (v. 30).

This incident is very significant, for it shows that these early men of the Church had realized the unity of the Church. When there was famine in Palestine the first instinct of the Church at Antioch was to help. It was unthinkable that one part of the Church should be in trouble, and that another should do nothing about it. They had vision which saw the Church as a whole.An important spiritual principle is demonstrated here. If people have been a blessing to us, we should minister to them out of our material possessions. “Let him who is taught in the word share in all good things with him who teaches” (Galatians 6:6).

Application

Lord, help me to think of some people who have helped me in my spiritual life and now could use some encouragement. What could I do to help meet a need in their life at this time? Maybe I could take on the support of another missionary!

Acts 11:27-30 (English Standard Version)

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

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