The Baptism of the Gentiles Explained.#The Jewish Christians of Jerusalem were scandalized to learn of Peter’s sojourn in the house of the Gentile Cornelius. Nonetheless, they had to accept the divine directions given to both Peter and Cornelius. They concluded that the setting aside of the legal barriers between Jew and Gentile was an exceptional ordinance of God to indicate that the apostolic kerygma was also to be directed to the Gentiles. Only in Acts 15 at the “Council” in Jerusalem does the evangelization of the Gentiles become the official position of the church leadership in Jerusalem. 1Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. 2So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers confronted him, 3saying, “You entered#You entered
: alternatively, this could be punctuated as a question. the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.” 4Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying, 5#10:11–20. “I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. 6Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. 7I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’ 8But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9But a second time a voice from heaven answered, ‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ 10This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky. 11Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea. 12The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers#These six brothers: companions from the Christian community of Joppa (see Acts 10:23). also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13He related to us how he had seen [the] angel standing in his house, saying, ‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,#10:3–5, 22, 30–32. 14who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15As I began to speak, the holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning,#10:44. 16and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.’#1:5; 19:4; Lk 3:16. 17If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?”#15:8–9. 18When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”
The Church at Antioch.#The Jewish Christian antipathy to the mixed community was reflected by the early missionaries generally. The few among them who entertained a different view succeeded in introducing Gentiles into the community at Antioch (in Syria). When the disconcerted Jerusalem community sent Barnabas to investigate, he was so favorably impressed by what he observed that he persuaded his friend Saul to participate in the Antioch mission. 19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews.#8:1–4. 20There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas [to go] to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, 24for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. 25Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.#Christians: “Christians” is first applied to the members of the community at Antioch because the Gentile members of the community enable it to stand out clearly from Judaism.
The Prediction of Agabus.#It is not clear whether the prophets from Jerusalem came to Antioch to request help in view of the coming famine or whether they received this insight during their visit there. The former supposition seems more likely. Suetonius and Tacitus speak of famines during the reign of Claudius (A.D. 41–54), while the Jewish historian Josephus mentions a famine in Judea in A.D. 46–48. Luke is interested, rather, in showing the charity of the Antiochene community toward the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem despite their differences on mixed communities. 27At that time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch, 28and one of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine all over the world, and it happened under Claudius.#21:10. 29So the disciples determined that, according to ability,#12:25. each should send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea. 30#Presbyters: this is the same Greek word that elsewhere is translated “elders,” primarily in reference to the Jewish community. This they did, sending it to the presbyters in care of Barnabas and Saul.