ACTS 11 - PROBLEMS OF THE EARLY CHURCH

Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., Pastor, Grace Bible Church of Costa Mesa, California

Copyright 1995-2014 Rev. Thomas Tyree, Jr., All Rights Reserved


Acts 10-12 deals with a period of transition. Acts 11 is about some of the problems faced in this critical period.

The Problem of Traditionalism

A. The opposition of the traditionalists - Acts 11:1-3

Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, "You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them." (Acts 11:1-3)

B. The explanations of Peter

1. the vision - Acts 11:4-10

But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, a certain object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze upon it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. "And I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Arise, Peter; kill and eat.' "But I said, 'By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' "But a voice from heaven answered a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' "And this happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. (Acts 11:4-10)

2. the circumstances - Acts 11:11-15

"And behold, at that moment three men appeared before the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. "And the Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. And these six brethren also went with me, and we entered the man's house. "And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, 'Send to Joppa, and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he shall speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.' "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, just as He did upon us at the beginning. (Acts 11:11-15)

3. the Scriptural authority - Acts 11:16

"And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' (Acts 11:16)

4. the results - Acts 11:17. These four things were evidence that they were being led by the Holy Spirit in their decisions.

"If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?" (Acts 11:17)

C. The satisfaction of the people - Acts 11:18

And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:18)

The Problems of Growth

A. The scattered church - Acts 11:19

So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. (Acts 11:19)

B. The witnessing church - Acts 11:20-21

But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:20-21)

C. The missionary church - Acts 11:22-26

And the news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And it came about that for an entire year they met with the church, and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:22-26)

The Problem of Poverty

A. The prophesy of Agabus - Acts 11:27. The name Agabus means "grasshopper." He traveled to several different places with his warnings.

Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. (Acts 11:27)

B. The provision for the needy

Study Questions

1. Why did the traditionalists contend with Peter? - Acts 11:2

And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, (Acts 11:2)

2. Did the traditionalists show the right spirit after Peter spoke to them? - Acts 11:18

And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." (Acts 11:18)

3. Did Barnabus deal kindly with the new Gentile Christians? - Acts 11:22-24

And the news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Then when he had come and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24)

4. What were two fine qualities of Barnabas? - Acts 11:24

for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:24)

5. Who had Barnabus been quick to receive previously? - Acts 9:26-27

And when he had come to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26-27)

6. Are there any other references to Agabus in Acts other than Acts 11:28?

And one of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius. (Acts 11:28)

7. Did the predictions of Agabus usually come true?

8. How did the early church deal with poverty? - Acts 11:29

And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea. (Acts 11:29)


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