The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 11:25-26 has yet another important development within Christianity. Just prior to this passage, we saw that Barnabas, not one of the Twelve, was sent to visit the new congregation in Antioch. The move from the Twelve to others who they would recognize as fellow leaders is very important. But what Baranabas does in these verses is even more surprising. He goes from Antioch to the city of Tarsus, where he finds Saul. Barnabas involves Saul in his work in Antioch. They spend a good amount of time working together and teaching the people.
It is popular these days to see early Christianity as some sort of a power play. The usual narrative says that power hungry leaders made sure that all opposing points of view were oppressed and that they prevented recruitment of people who wouldn’t follow them lockstep. It is usually portrayed as something very political in nature.
The biblical narrative shows us something strikingly different. The apostles, selected by Jesus, send someone who isn’t an apostle to check up on the health of a new congregation. That person takes initiative and does something not directed by the leaders in Jerusalem. He gathers someone who is a relative newcomer to the Christian faith but who will be a good and accurate teacher. Together they work to bring the genuine message of Jesus to the people of Antioch.
Apparently this method works just fine. The congregation is referred to as “a crowd” and it stirs up enough attention that in Antioch the people are called “Christian,” which means “little Christs.” God can work through a multitude of circumstances to train and mobilize leaders in His Church. The content of the teaching remains the same. Messengers may vary.
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