As the church in Jerusalem was increasing in number and impact, they were persecuted and forced to flee the city for safety. What resulted was an immediate spread of Christianity all over the eastern Mediterranean world. One of the key centers of this relocation was Antioch in Syria, where Nicolas (one of the seven) was from. In Antioch, an amazing missional church community took root. We find the beginnings of the Syrian Antioch mentioned in Acts 11:19-24 (NLT– tomorrow I’ll focus on Acts 11:25-30):
19 Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the Good News, but only to Jews. 20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21 The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.
22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this proof of God’s favor, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And large numbers of people were brought to the Lord.
Some of the missional principles from this passage are listed below. Please feel free to contribute other aspects that you notice:
- Jesus Followers intentionally share about Jesus wherever they are.
- Life isn’t necessarily smooth for those who follow Jesus.
- Sometimes, persecution provides missional opportunity.
- A missional church remains focused on sharing Jesus no matter the circumstances.
- A missional church crosses geography, ethnicity and religious backgrounds.
- A missional church is networked and encouraged by other missional communities.
- The power of the Lord is upon missional people.
- Resulted in large numbers of people believing and turning to Jesus.
- Missional leaders, like Barnabas, are filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Missional leaders, like Barnabas, are sent to discern, teach and serve within missional communities.
- Missional churches reveal God’s favor and produce joy in missional people.
- Missional leaders encourage others to stay true to Jesus.