Part XI

The Holy Spirit’s Unifying Ministry

Other Jewish believers learned what had happened at the home of Cornelius, and they were not happy with what had taken place. So, when they met with Peter, they began to question him on that event, as we can read in Acts 11:1-3

The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

Peter then told them about the vision the Lord had given him, and how God had used that vision to help him understand he was to go to the home of a Gentile and preach the gospel to him and those with him, as we can read in Acts 11:4-14 

Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened. “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. Then I heard a voice telling me, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat.” I replied, “Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” The voice spoke from heaven a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”

Peter also explained that the Holy Spirit had come on the people in that home in the same way that He had come on them, as we can read in Acts 11:15-16 

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as He had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: "John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit." 

Peter’s recollection of events of that day helped the Jewish believers to understand that God loved these Gentiles as much as He loved them, and they praised God for it. 

Believers continued to share the gospel with other Jews in places such as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, but some of the believers began to share the gospel with Gentiles in Antioch, as we can read in Acts 11:20 

Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.

So the believers in Jerusalem sent a man named Barnabas to Antioch, to make sure that the work was blessed of the Lord, as we can read in Acts 11:22 

News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

Barnabas was very encouraged by what he saw happening in Antioch, as we can read in Acts 11:23 

When he arrived and saw the evidence of he grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

The Holy Spirit made the church aware of future issues so that she could prepare for it in advance, as we can read in Acts 11:28-30 

One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his own ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. 

So we can clearly see how the Holy Spirit was leading the believers on an individual basis as well as leading the church corporately in various ways.

Part XII