Fifty Days of Prayer | Day 19

Chapter 11 introduces us to the church in Antioch. It is a port city in modern-day NW Syria. It would also become a central church in Paul's missionary work. After Stephen's death the church was scattered (8:4) and Philip was sent to Samaria. At the same time other men traveled to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch (11:19) "and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord" (11:21). In response to this news the church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas to Antioch. He affirms their faith and for a second time we're told that "a great many people were added to the Lord" (11:24). So, once again we pray for the Lord to send us to a particular place in Houston where the hand of the Lord would be with us and a great number would believe in the Lord.

Barnabas made the short trip to Tarsus from Antioch in order to retrieve Saul and bring him back to Antioch. Together they spent a whole year in Antioch to help establish the church by discipling the people. Sometime after this a famine was prophesied in Judea (Luke then reminds us that this did take place in the days of Claudius). The church in Antioch determined "to send relief to the brothers living in Judea" (11:27-30). They became a generous church determined to meet the physical and social needs of those around them. So, we pray that the Lord would make us a generous church committed to social justice in our neighborhood.

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also,preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

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, every one 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.
— Acts 11:19-30