Antioch – a missional example 2

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 (NLTtomorrow 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.


  1. cool. I cant remember where, but didnt Jesus say that the world would hate us as it hated him? How do you fit that in? Not intending to be rude or sarcastic, just curious.

  2. That’s a cool connection with your class, Andrew.
    I think people can be missional prior to experiencing persecution for their faith. But it could be precisely their missional action and faith that stirs up persecution. I think it’s been rare through history for a truly missional follower of Jesus to make it through a long life without it.
    Hebrews 11:32-38 clears it up for me a bit. Some who were faithful prospered and were blessed on earth. Others, who were just as faithful, were sawed in half. But each was willing and ready to testify for God in the face of whatever turmoil came their way.

  3. It is funny that you should be discussing the missional qualitites of the church in this passage as this was the focus of my lecture today. I just learned that this time was the beginning of the churches movement away from the Jewish background in which it was developed. The Jewish followers of Jesus, to this point, had remained in the temples serving God through all of the previously understood methods that the Jews followed. They obeyed the sabbath, went to the temple for scheduled times of prayer and prayer the selected prayers for the Jews. They felt no need to dissociate from Judaism because they now believed in Jesus.
    Stephen was a Jew from the diaspora, a Jew who is not in contact with the temple due to distance, but his speech to the sanhedrin was the first time any follower of Jesus had scorned the Jewish iconic Temple. It was after his death that the followers dispersed and led to the outreach into communities beyond the Jewish ones. Tertullian, who is from Antioch, much later is quoted saying that a martyr’s blood is the seed of the church. Just thought it was interesting. The very first missional church is the first church, born out of persecution. Makes me wonder if persecution is a needed quality for a missional church to exist? Can we, in North America, really be missional without truly devastating persecution?

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