Verse 23 says Barnabas exhorted those believers to cleave to the Lord “for” he was a good man (v. 24) who cleaved to the Lord himself, despite the disappointment he must have felt when he wasn’t picked to replace Judas. He was filled with the Spirit ever since Acts 2:4, which shows that that filling lasted more than just a day. It must have ended by Galatians 2:11 though, or else Peter wouldn’t have needed rebuking.
But if you don’t know that it lasted for a few years, and that John wrote his first epistle during that time when the disciples were filled with the Spirit and couldn’t sin, you’ll change I John 3:9 to mean something else to try to make it fit believers today who can sin. And once you start changing the Bible to fit your understanding of the Bible, they can stick a fork in you, for you’re done, spiritually speaking!
Barnabas was also full of “faith” (11:24) or faithfulness (cf. Ro. 3:3), so “much people” got saved. That made him send for Saul to help teach all those people (Acts 11:25).
But why send for Saul, and not one of the twelve? Well, be-fore Barnabas risked exposing the twelve to Saul (Acts 9:26, 27) he would have talked with Saul extensively, of course. That means he would have known that Saul had been given a new ministry among the Gentiles, and that he would need a base of operations, just as Jerusalem was the headquarters for the ministry of the twelve among the Jews. And what better base for a ministry to Gentiles than among these Grecians in Antioch who spoke the language of the Gentiles?
Grace believers who know that Peter called kingdom saints “Christians” (I Pe. 4:16) often ask if that’s what we should be called (cf. Acts 11:26). But Paul didn’t respond to Agrippa by saying, “I’m not trying to make you a Christian” (Acts 26:29), which suggests he accepted the term. And Paul said we are “named” of Christ (Eph. 3:14,15). I don’t know what that name would be if not Christian. Don’t over-rightly divide the Word or believers will dismiss right division altogether when they see you trying to point out dispensational distinctions between us and Israel that don’t exist.
We’re not told why some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem (Acts 11:27), but when verse 28 says they prophesied that a “dearth” or famine (cf. Gen. 41:54) was about to fall, that seems to hint that those prophets traveled the 300 miles to Antioch to suggest that those Grecian saints should send those saints in Jerusalem some “relief.” Those saints didn’t lack for a thing after they sold all their investment properties to be saved, as the Lord told them they had to do to be saved (Luke 18:18, 22; Acts 4:34). But the pooling of their resources was only meant to help them get through the 42 months of the Tribulation. That’s also why the Lord told them to not worry about having clothing to wear or where their next meal would come from (Mt. 6:31-33), for living with all things in common like that would supply their needs.
But when God postponed the Tribulation and introduced the dispensation of grace, the saints who lacked for nothing soon ran out of money and became the “poor saints” at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26). Of course, if you don’t understand that the dispensation of the mystery interrupted God’s prophetic program, you’re going to think He gave poor financial advice in telling them to liquidate their investment properties —or worse yet, you’ll try to follow that undispensational advice and become poor yourself!
Now the reason the saints in Antioch had the “ability” to send relief to Jerusalem was that the Lord’s “sell all” policy only applied to Judaea. God had a separate plan to feed Tribulation Jews in outlying areas. He planned to feed them with manna (Ex. 16:14 cf. Micah 7:14) for one thing. And when James 5:17 associates Elijah with the three and a half year of time covered by the Great Tribulation, that suggests that God will also command the ravens to feed them (I Ki. 17:1-6) and the Gentiles as well (I Kings 17:7).
God has always wanted His people to help others “according to their ability” and not by overextending themselves (II Cor. 8:13). But under grace we can choose to respond to God’s grace by giving financially to others and the Lord’s work beyond our ability to give (II Cor.8:1-4). What makes believers choose to do that? They “first” decide to give themselves to the Lord (II Cor. 8:5). Have you?
Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: A Man Who Wasn’t Full of Baloney – Acts 11:24-30