Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition. “III. The Acts of Peter and Beginnings of Gentile Christianity (9:32-12:25)” “D. Antioch Becomes a Christian Base (11:19-30)” pp. 223-231.
Bruce, commenting on Acts 11:19, finds a parallel to 8:4. Luke is here making his second narrative based on the outcome of persecution after Stephen’s death (Bruce 1988, 223) He briefly describes the history of Antioch on Orontes, which was “the seat of administration of the Roman province of Syria (Bruce 1988, 224). This was a large and important city. There was a thriving Jewish community there. Now, in Acts, Antioch becomes the seat of Gentile Christianity (Bruce 1988, 225). The Gospel spread explosively in Antioch.
The spread of the Gospel among Gentiles was a surprising development. News of it came to Jerusalem quickly. This spurred a response from Barnabas, who came to investigate (Bruce 1988, 226). Barnabas acted as an encourager to the Christians. However, due to the spread of the Gospel, Barnabas was unable to care for all the church. He therefore sought help from Saul of Tarsus (Bruce 1988, 227).
Bruce notes that in Antioch, unlike other areas, the Christians did not separate from each other based on ethnicity. He considers this to be characteristic of Antioch, which was a very diverse city (Bruce 1988, 228). Being called “Christians” here first may or may not have been an insult. Bruce comments that the word “Christos” sounds very similar to “Chrestos,” meaning “serviceable.”
Verses 27-30 digress slightly. They speak about prophets predicting a famine and urging charitable plans. Bruce observes that prophecy was similar tot ongues because of divine inspiration. However, prophecy was in a clearly ordinary language (Bruce 1988, 228). Bruce assigns this prophecy to apply to a famine in Judea sometime between 45 and 48 (Bruce 1988, 230). We notice Paul here is making a second visit to Jerusalem. This may be the visit from Galatians 2:1-10. However, many suggest the Galatians 2 passage refers to Acts 15. Bruce will take this up later.