What does Acts 11:19 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews.
NASB: So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone.
CSB: Now those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.
NLT: Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews.
KJV: Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
NKJV: Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.
Verse Commentary:
Through this point in the book of Act, Luke (Acts 1:1) has focused on Jerusalem with a few forays into Judea and Samaria. Now, the action starts to move north. There are fourteen minor and two major cities named "Antioch." The other mentioned in Scripture is in the district of Pisidia in the middle of modern-day Asia Minor. This one is in Syria, just south of the northeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea. At the time described in this passage, Syrian Antioch is the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. It is a good place for traders from the east to find a ship and avoid the mountain ranges that litter the land route to the west. And it has a large population of Jews.

Phoenicia is the coastal area that includes the city-states Tyre and Sidon. It is north of Galilee, in the thin strip between the Mediterranean and the coastal range. Cyprus is still Cyprus—the large island west of Syria and south of Asia-Minor. It is the home of Barnabas (Acts 4:36–37) and the first stop on Barnabas and Paul's upcoming missionary trip (Acts 13:4–12).

The persecution started with the deacon Stephen. He learned about Jesus in Jerusalem but was apparently a "Hellenist:" a devout Jew who lived somewhere else in the Roman empire, lived a Greek lifestyle, and probably spoke more Greek than Hebrew or Aramaic. Note that "Hellenists" in the following verse will be used slightly differently, referring more broadly to Greek-speakers and in context to Gentiles. Stephen was a powerful apologist and debated the other Hellenists in Jerusalem (Acts 6:8–15). He was so influential, in fact, that he enraged his opponents and they killed him (Acts 7:54–60).

After Stephen's death, a young Pharisee student, Saul, got permission from the Sanhedrin to persecute the Jesus-followers in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 3). As the believers fled, they shared Jesus' story and more people came to faith. Saul followed the Jesus-followers north to Damascus, but along the way he met Jesus. He became a believer and eventually returned to Jerusalem. Paul preached boldly and disputed with the Hellenists as Stephen had done, and the Hellenists sought to kill Sau, so the disciples sent him back home to Tarsus, west of Syrian Antioch on the southern coast of modern-day Asia Minor (Acts 9).
Verse Context:
Acts 11:19–26 continues the inauguration of the international church. While Peter is in Caesarea Maritima leading a houseful of Gentiles to faith in Jesus (Acts 10) and then in Jerusalem explaining that Jesus has come to the Gentiles (Acts 11:1–18), the church has already spread far north to Syrian Antioch. The Jesus-followers who fled Saul's persecution in Jerusalem took Jesus' story with them (Acts 8:1–4). Some, from Cyprus and Cyrene, taught Gentiles. If they, Jews who lived within the Greco/Roman culture, could worship Jesus, why couldn't their Gentile friends? This is exactly what Jesus intended in Acts 1:8.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 11 accelerates the journey of the message of Jesus into the Gentile world. Peter returns to Jerusalem and explains to the church leaders how the Holy Spirit has fallen on a group of Gentiles in Caesarea Maritima (Acts 11:1–18). Then the church hears how Gentiles are coming to faith far north in Syrian Antioch; they send Barnabas to investigate and Barnabas brings in Saul (Acts 11:19–26). Finally, prophets travel from Jerusalem to Antioch to request aid for the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:27–30). The scene is almost set for Paul's extensive evangelism career to begin.
Chapter Context:
Until the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:54–60), the story of Jesus' followers remained mostly in Jerusalem. Saul started persecuting the church and the members fled, taking Jesus' story with them. This included Philip who shared Jesus' story with Samaritans and an Ethiopian official (Acts 8). Saul's persecution even led to his own conversion (Acts 9). And Peter brought the gospel to a group of Gentiles (Acts 10). After one more story about Peter and rising persecution by the Roman government, the book of Acts will turn to Saul, who will use the Greek variation of his name, Paul, and his missionary journeys to southeast Europe.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 6/13/2024 12:41:30 PM
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