The Church in Antioch
 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. (ESV)
- An imperfect Church
While the majority of this text is about faithful and obedient Christians loving and serving others, Luke does mention those Jewish believers who refused to share their lives with non-Jews. This issue was among the biggest issues the Church in Acts faced. This isn’t the first time Luke has mentioned it, and it’s not the last. Being a historian, Luke is not interested in painting the prettiest picture of the Church. Instead, he speaks the truth. And the truth is that the 1st century Church, like every other Church, was an imperfect Church. We need not be afraid to acknowledge the sin and brokenness in our history. We are not the heroes, Jesus is.
- Doctrine matters
When the Jerusalem Church heard of conversion in Antioch, they didn’t just celebrate the news; they sent Barnabas to observe the reports of conversions. Certainly part of Barnabas’ mission was to verify that these people had actually come to faith in Jesus and had not just been caught up in some new religious fervor. Barnabas also brought Paul in so that he might teach and instruct these new believers. Why? Because providing faithful biblical teaching and instruction is a practical way of caring for and loving Christians. Doctrine matters.
- Financial generosity
Upon hearing about the forthcoming famine, the Church in Antioch mobilized to provide financial support for their brothers in Judea. Financial generosity is one of the repeating themes throughout Acts. As recipients of God’s generosity in Christ, Christians are eager to share with those in need. This is especially true when it comes to sharing with other Christians in need (Galatians 6:10). Financial generosity is a practical expression of God’s love and care for others and is a natural expression of godly gratitude.
- Does Luke’s honesty about the moral issues and sin in the early Church build or erode your confidence in the truthfulness of his account? Why?
- Ongoing teaching and instruction is essential to Christian growth and maturity. In addition to weekly worship, how do you pursue doctrinal and theological instruction? Is this an area of strength or weakness for you?
- Have you ever been the recipient of financial generosity? How did it affect you? How can you grow in financial generosity?
Call to Worship
The LORD Surrounds His People
A Song of Ascents.
 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people,
from this time forth and forevermore.
 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
on the land allotted to the righteous,
lest the righteous stretch out
their hands to do wrong.
 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good,
and to those who are upright in their hearts!
 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways
the LORD will lead away with evildoers!
Peace be upon Israel! (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Gracious Lord, you alone are righteous and holy, and in your presence, no one can stand. Your gracious mercy is our only hope and we ask for your forgiveness. We pray for your cleansing touch to wash away our corruption, clothe us in righteousness, and for your hands to rework our lives anew. We pray these things in Jesus Christ's holy name. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.