Acts 11 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Acts 11)

Verse 5

[5] I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

Being in a trance — Which suspends the use of the outward senses.

Verse 14

[14] Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

Saved — With the full Christian salvation, in this world and the world to come.

Verse 17

[17] Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

To us, when we believed — The sense is, because we believed, not because we were circumcised, was the Holy Ghost given to us.

What was I — A mere instrument in God's hand. They had inquired only concerning his eating with the Gentiles. He satisfies them likewise concerning his baptizing them, and shows that he had done right in going to Cornelius, not only by the command of God, but also by the event, the descent of the Holy Ghost. And who are we that we should withstand God? Particularly by laying down rules of Christian communion which exclude any whom he has admitted into the Church of the first born, from worshipping God together. O that all Church governors would consider how bold an usurpation this is on the authority of the supreme Lord of the Church! O that the sin of thus withstanding God may not be laid to the charge of those, who perhaps with a good intention, but in an over fondness for their own forms, have done it, and are continually doing it.

Verse 18

[18] When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

They glorified God — Being thoroughly satisfied.

Repentance unto life — True repentance is a change from spiritual death to spiritual life, and leads to life everlasting.

Verse 19

[19] Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

They who had been dispersed — St. Luke here resumes the thread of his narration, in the very words wherewith he broke it off, Acts 8:6. As far as Phenicia to the north, Cyprus to the west, and Antioch to the east.

Verse 20

[20] And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.

Some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene — Who were more accustomed to converse with the Gentiles.

Who coming into Antioch — Then the capital of Syria, and, next to Rome and Alexandria, the most considerable city of the empire.

Spake to the Greeks — As the Greeks were the most celebrated of the Gentile nations near Judea, the Jews called all the Gentiles by that name. Here we have the first account of the preaching the Gospel to the idolatrous Gentiles. All those to whom it had been preached before, did at least worship one God, the God of Israel.

Verse 21

[21] And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

And the hand of the Lord — That is, the power of his Spirit.

Verse 26

[26] And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch — Here it was that they first received this standing appellation. They were before termed Nazarenes and Galileans.

Verse 28

[28] And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.

Agabus rising up — In the congregation.

All the world — The word frequently signifies all the Roman empire. And so it is doubtless to be taken here.

Verse 29

[29] Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:

Then — Understanding the distress they would otherwise be in on that account, the disciples determined to send relief to the brethren in Judea - Who herein received a manifest proof of the reality of their conversion.

Verse 30

[30] Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Sending it to the elders — Who gave it to the deacons, to be distributed by them, as every one had need.