Acts 9:32 – 11:30

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 11, 2007


The Holy Spirit came upon the church.  But it wasn’t until persecution began that they gospel began to be spread outside of Jerusalem.  We’ve seen the gospel spread out to the Samaritans through Philip.  Last week we saw how the Lord met Saul on the road to Damascus and turned this hateful persecutor of Christians into a believer.

Now we’re going to spend some time picking up the story of Peter.

After Saul’s conversion there was a period of peace and growth for the church in the land of Israel.

9:32-35 Peter heals Aeneas

:32 Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.

Lydda is a town on the road from Jerusalem to Joppa (or, modern Tel Aviv), about 23 miles northwest of Jerusalem, and another 11 miles from Joppa.

:33 There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed.

:34 And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed." Then he arose immediately.

I think Aeneas’ mother was happy for Peter’s ministry.  She had been trying to get him to make his bed for years.  J  Of course, if you want to be technical, it doesn’t say that Aeneas made his bed, just that he got up immediately.  J

:35 So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

Sharon – apparently a reference to the coastal plain that runs the length of Israel from the port of Joppa to Mt. Carmel (about 50 miles north).

Aeneas apparently let people know about how he was healed. 

Note how Peter said “Jesus Christ heals you”, and now as a result people are turning to Jesus, not Peter.  I like that.

:36-43 Peter raises Dorcas

:36 At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.

Tabitha is Aramaic for “gazelle”.  Dorcas is Greek for “gazelle”.  I think the next time someone calls me a “dork” I just might say “thank you”.

charitable deedseleemosune – this is the word usually translated “alms”, but the real meaning of the word is “mercy, pity”.  It’s doing things out of mercy for others.  We’ll see in a second what some of those things were that she did.

:37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room.

In Israel the custom is to bury the dead immediately.  But for some reason the believers weren’t ready to bury her.

:38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them.

Peter was about 11 miles away.

:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

Apparently some of Dorcas’ “mercy” involved making garments for the widows.

In my Tuesday morning discipleship group we were working our way through 1Tim.5 where Paul is dealing with the issue of how the church helps the poor, specifically how it takes care of widows.  Contrary to what some folks think, Paul did not teach that the church should take care of every need.  When it came to the subject of taking care of widows, Paul laid out quite a lot of criteria before a widow was supported:

(1 Tim 5:16 NKJV)  If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.
So what does a “real” widow look like?  Among some of the qualifications:
(1 Tim 5:10 NKJV)  well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

My point?  We aren’t told that Dorcas was actually one of these “widows”, but she sure seemed to have some of the qualifications – she was a good woman who did good things for many others.

:40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up.

:41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

:42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.

Notice the similarities between what has just happened with Peter and Dorcas and a miracle that the Lord did:

(Mark 5:35-43 NKJV)  While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue's house who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" {36} As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not be afraid; only believe." {37} And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James.

Note that Peter was one of the few present when the Lord would perform this miracle.

{38} Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. {39} When He came in, He said to them, "Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping."

I wonder if the same atmosphere of weeping and wailing for Dorcas reminded Peter of this earlier time.

{40} And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying.

Jesus had put all the others outside and only a few were there to see what would happen, just like Peter would do.

{41} Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, arise."

Jesus’ words were a little different, but the similarities between “Talitha” and “Tabitha” are pretty close.  It’s almost as if Peter was copying what he had seen Jesus do.  It also makes me wonder if hearing Tabitha’s name helped remind Peter of what the Lord had done with the little girl.

{42} Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. {43} But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.


Copy Jesus and leave an example to follow

Jesus said that the disciples would do the same things He had done.
(John 14:12 NKJV)  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
Part of being a Christian is learning to follow the example that Jesus gave us.  We will also leave an example for others to follow.  Paul wrote,
(1 Cor 11:1 NKJV)  Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
The example we leave is not just about the kinds of good things we do, but how we live, even how we suffer.  Peter would write,
(1 Pet 2:21 NKJV)  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

What would Jesus do?

:43 So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.

tanner – this is a guy who works with animal skins, turning something that came from a dead animal into something useful like leather.  Ancient tanning methods made for pretty stinky work.  The skins were soaked and scraped to remove any dead flesh or fat.  Then the skins were soaked in urine to remove the hair.  Then the skin would be pounded with dung until they became flexible but not too soft.

According to the Levitical law, the “tanner” would be a guy who was considered “unclean” (Lev. 11:40).  Tanners usually lived and worked on the outskirts of town (can you imagine why?).

What an interesting place for Peter to be staying.  We’re going to see Peter being used to reach out to the “unclean” Gentiles.  But first Peter will be up on Simon’s rooftop having a vision of animals being lowered on a sheet and the Lord commanding him to “kill and eat”.  And Peter says he doesn’t eat “unclean” things.  Interesting…

Acts 10

:1-8 Cornelius seeks God

:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,

Caesarea – the Roman political capital over the land of Palestine.  While Jerusalem was considered by the Jews as their capital, the occupying Roman forces considered Caesarea the seat of power.  This is where the Roman governors lived and ruled.  It was a seaport town 30 miles north of Joppa.

Caesarea is also the city that Philip the evangelist has settled in.

(Acts 8:40 NKJV)  But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
Yet we’re going to see that God is not going to use Philip this time.  God is going to use Peter.

centurion – a Roman officer in charge of 100 men.

Italian Regiment – a regiment was 1/10 of a Legion, or 600 men.  These men were Italian Romans.  They would be an important part of the governor’s rule since he would need soldiers loyal to Rome to help him rule over the restless Jews.

:2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Cornelius was a godly man who apparently respected the Jews’ religion but had not become circumcised himself.

:3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!"

ninth hour3:00pm; this also just happens to be the “hour of prayer”, the time of the evening sacrifice for the Jews, the same time that Peter and John went into the temple and healed the lame man (Acts 3).

:4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.

almseleemosune – mercy, pity; esp. as exhibited in giving alms, charity; the benefaction itself, a donation to the poor, alms

God was paying attention to Cornelius.

:5 "Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter.

:6 "He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do."

:7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.

:8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.

:9-16 Peter’s vision

:9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.

Up on an upstairs patio overlooking the beach?

sixth hournoon, lunch time

:10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance

:11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.

:12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.

:13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."

:14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."

unclean – the Levitical law (Lev. 11) had all sorts of regulations about what a Jewish person was allowed to eat.  Beef was in, shrimp was not.  Chicken was good, rabbit was not.

:15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."

cleansedkatharizo – to make clean, cleanse

commonkoinoo – to make common; to make (Levitically) unclean, render unhallowed, defile, profane

This is a message from God.  But Peter isn’t sure exactly what the point is.

:16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, it was significant that the theme of the two dreams was repeated.

(Gen 41:32 NKJV)  "And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

Peter’s dream is repeated three times.  It’s time to pay attention.

:17-23 Peter invited to Caesarea

:17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate.

:18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

surnameepikaleomai (“upon” + “to call”) – to put a name upon, to surname. Our English word “surname” refers to your “last name”.  Here it refers to the fact that Simon had another name that people “called upon” him with.

:19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you.

:20 "Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."

:21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, "Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?"

:22 And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you."

:23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

some brethren – some of the Jewish believers from Joppa will accompany Peter.  He’s not going to be alone when the events take place.  We’ll see (11:12) that there were six of them.  It will be important that the events have a significant number of brothers witnessing it.


Divine appointments

You can see God orchestrating this entire thing.  While God is working in Cornelius’ life through this angel, Peter is having a vision and the Spirit lets him know he’s got company.

:24-33 Peter meets Cornelius

:24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.

Nicodemus came to Jesus alone by night.

Cornelius wants everyone to hear what Peter has to say.  He’s been gathering friends and relatives to hear this special man.

We might think that Cornelius was a little goofy.  “Want to come to my house today?”  “What for Cornelius?” “To hear what this guy has to say”  “What guy?”  “A guy named Peter I’ve never met or heard of”.

:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.

Cornelius thinks this guy must be pretty neat if an angel told him about Peter.

:26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."

Peter has the humility and presence of mind to correct Cornelius.


Remember who gets credit

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that we’re the brains behind the operation.
David N. Dinkins, then the mayor of New York, was riding through the city in his limousine with his wife, Joyce.  Looking out the window, they recognized a man doing manual labor on the roadside as “John,” a former suitor of Mrs Dinkins’.  Seeing him, the mayor smiled a bit smugly at his wife.    “You must be so glad,” he said, “to be married to the powerful mayor in the limo rather than to poor John shoveling alongside the road.”    His wife smiled.  “If I’d married John, he’d be with me in the mayor’s limo.”
Peter is quick to remember that he’s just an average guy.  It’s the Lord who gets the credit for everything.

:27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.

:28 Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

commonkoinos – common; common i.e. ordinary, belonging to generality; by the Jews, unhallowed, profane, Levitically unclean

uncleanakathartos – not cleansed, unclean


Getting it

Peter has put the pieces together.
Back in verse 15 he had been told the principle:

(Acts 10:15 NKJV)  …"What God has cleansed you must not call common."

But in verse 17 Peter was still wondering just how this principle worked.  What was it for?
Now Peter gets it.
It often works that way in our lives.
We get little pieces of the puzzle.  We wonder what it all means.  Then one day the pieces all come together.
Don’t rush it.  Don’t force the pieces into place.

:29 "Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?"

:30 So Cornelius said, "Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

:31 "and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.

:32 'Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.'

:33 "So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."

:34-43 Peter preaches at Cornelius’ house

:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.

partialityprosopoleptes – (“face” + “receive”) an acceptor of persons; one who discriminates

This is a truth that the Bible already has been clear about:

(Deu 10:17 NKJV)  "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.

But just how far do you take it?  Up to this point Peter would not have even thought it possible that a Gentile person could come to know God.



It’s not easy to deal with prejudice.  We have the silliest ideas behind some of our prejudices.
A Chinese man and a Jewish man were eating lunch together. Suddenly, without warning the Jewish man gets up, walks over to the Chinese fellow and smashes him in the mouth, sending him sprawling. The Chinese man picks himself up, rubs his jaw and asks, “What in the world did you do that for?” And the answer comes back: “For Pearl Harbor!” His response is total astonishment: “Pearl Harbor? I didn’t have anything to with Pearl Harbor. It was the Japanese that bombed Pearl Harbor!” The Jewish man responds, “Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese—they’re all the same to me. With that they both sit down again, and before too long the Chinese man gets up, walks over to the Jewish man and sends him flying with a hard slap to the jaw. The Jewish man yells out, “What did you do that for?” And the answer comes back: “The Titanic.” “The Titanic? Why, I didn’t have anything to do with the Titanic!” Whereupon the Chinese man replies, “Goldberg, Feinberg, Iceberg—they’re all the same to me!”
God is not a respecter of persons.  God wants us to be the same.
(James 2:1-4 NKJV)  My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. {2} For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, {3} and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," {4} have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
Peter is learning that since God shows no partiality, he should do the same.

:35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

I think Peter is responding to the fact that Cornelius was a man of “prayers” and “alms”.

:36 "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ; He is Lord of all;

The message of the gospel came through the Jews.  Jesus is Lord even of the Gentiles.

:37 "that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

that word you know – Cornelius had heard about Jesus.

:38 "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

:39 "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.

:40 "Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,

:41 "not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

:42 "And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.

:43 "To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."

Jesus died.  He rose again.  Jesus is the judge.  If you want to be forgiven, you need to believe in Jesus.

:44-48 Spirit filled Gentiles

:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

I’ve always loved this – Peter has simply been talking about Jesus, and is apparently interrupted by the Spirit falling on the Gentiles.


No formula with the Holy Spirit.

We've seen Luke record six places when the Holy Spirit has been poured out.  Each time God poured out His Spirit, it came in a little different manner –
Waiting and prayer (Acts 1:4, 14; 2:1-4)
Prayer (Acts 4:31)
Persecution (Acts 7:55)
Prayer and Laying on of hands (Acts 8:15,17)
Laying on of hands by a non-apostle (Acts 9:17)
In the middle of a Bible Study (Acts 10:44)
These are all valid ways that God will use to fill us with the Spirit.
Jesus summed up the basic requirements for the filling of the Holy Spirit like this –

(John 7:37-38 NKJV)  …"If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

You need to have a need, a thirst for the Holy Spirit, and you need to believe and open up your heart to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

A. W. Tozer (1897–1963) wrote – Before we can be filled with the Spirit, the desire to be filled must be all-consuming. It must be for the time the biggest thing in the life, so acute, so intrusive as to crowd out everything else. The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire. We have as much of God as we actually want.

:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

the gift of the Holy Spirit – this is one of the terms that had been used to describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,

This was what clued them in that the Holy Spirit had fallen on these Gentiles.

:47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"

:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

With Cornelius and his house, they believe and receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time.  When they began to speak with tongues, Peter realized that they had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Because they had believed and God had followed their belief by baptizing them in the Holy Spirit, Peter realized that these people had become saved, and so he baptizes them in water as a result.

Note:  Baptism follows salvation.  Baptism is an outward demonstration of what God has already done on the inside.

Note:  The Spirit’s baptism happened all by itself.  Peter wasn’t even talking about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but he was simply sharing the gospel.  Peter didn’t even seem to be finished talking when it happened.

Acts 11

:1-18 Peter defends the Gentile believers

:1 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

:2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,

:3 saying, "You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!"

You see, up to this point, the church consisted only of good Jewish boys and girls.

The church was still under the impression that Gentiles were good for nothing but the fuel for the fires of hell.

It was totally outrageous to think that a Gentile could be part of God’s kingdom.

:4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying:

In verse 5-14 Peter simply tells the story of what happened…

:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.

Peter remembered how the Holy Spirit fell on the believers at Pentecost.

:16 "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'

:17 "If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"

:18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."

The Jewish church in Jerusalem has come to the conclusion that Gentiles are now getting saved.  It will be a few years later for some of the implications of this to be worked out.  Questions will arise over whether these Gentiles will now need to become circumcised and be law-abiding Jews as well as believers.  That question will be dealt with when we get to chapter 15.

:19-26 Christians in Antioch

:19 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 the Jews only.

Phoenicia – the Phoenicians were centered in the cities of Tyre and Sidon on the coast to the north of Israel in modern Lebanon, 100 miles north of Jerusalem.

Cyprus – the island in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean, 250m from Jerusalem.

Antioch – a city in Syria (actually today the city is in modern Turkey, close to Syria) 300 miles north of Jerusalem. It was the third largest city in the empire, with a population of about 500,000. Antioch was one of the cosmopolitan centers of the world of that day and a center of commerce.  It would eventually replace Jerusalem as the center of Christianity through its missionary activity.

These believers who had been scattered by the persecution are only preaching the gospel to Jews.

:20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.

Hellenists – Jews who had adopted the Greek culture over the Jewish culture.

:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

:22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

Barnabas, the “son of encouragement”.  He is sent to strengthen this church in distant Antioch.

:23 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.

:24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

The church continued to grow under Barnabas’ encouragement.


Continue to encourage

The writer to the Hebrews was concerned about his readers quitting and giving up.  Throughout the book he is encouraging them (like a Barnabas) to keep going.
(Heb 3:12-14 NKJV)  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; {13} but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. {14} For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
The problem is that sometimes we don’t get a lot of encouragement with each other.

A wealthy businessman hosted a spectacular party in which he had filled his swimming pool with sharks, barracuda, and other assorted dangerous fish. He announced to his guests that he would like to challenge any of them to try swimming across the pool, and he would offer a first prize of either a new home in the mountains, a trip around the world for two, or a piece of his business. No sooner had he made the announcement than there was a splash and a man swam rapidly across the infested waters and bounded up out on the other side. The millionaire said to the dripping man, “That was a stunning performance. What prize do you want?” He answered tersely, “Right now I really don’t care about the prize. I just want to get the name of the turkey who pushed me in.”

Encourage.  Don’t push.
The difference between an eastern and western shepherd.  Western shepherds “drive” or push their flocks.  The shepherds in the middle east “lead” their flocks.  They develop a relationship with them, they name the sheep, the sheep follow.

:25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.

Tarsus is 95 miles northwest of Antioch.

:26 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.

ChristiansChristianos – Christian, a follower of Christ; “Christ’s people”.

Apparently Barnabas felt he needed some help.  He didn’t think he could do this work by himself.  It’s been about five years since Barnabas has seen Saul. It’s about 44 AD.

:27-30 Judean Famine relief

:27 And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.

:28 Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.

Josephus records a famine occurring in 46 AD.

Church tradition has it that Agabus was one of the “seventy” disciples that Jesus sent out in Luke 10.

We’ll see Agabus again, many years later in Caesarea, when Paul is on his last trip to Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-15)

:29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.

:30 This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

The church in Antioch felt compelled to help out the people in Judea, so they took up a collection and sent it south with Barnabas and Saul.