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Christians In Antioch - Scott Richardson


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Bible Study   9:00
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Jackson Drive's Address:

1110 Jackson Drive Athens, Alabama 35611



Scott Richardson



Malcolm Andrews

Owen Griggs



Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive


February 21, 2010


(Acts 11:1926)

Many cities were named Antioch, but none other was as large and important in the first century as Antioch of Syria. To distinguish this location from other “Antiochs,” it is also known as “Antioch on the Orontes” or “Antioch by Daphne.” The city was about three hundred miles north of Jerusalem, and it was a city of about 200,000 by this time. It had been growing for nearly three hundred years.

Like so many other cities by the name of Antioch, this one was founded by the Seleucid ruler, Seleucus Nicator, and named for his father, Antiochus. He founded the city about 300301 bc. From the founding, Antioch was a supremely important city. He founded the city with the intent of having it as his capital; after the battle of Ipsus, he had become sole master of Syria. He also founded and fortified Seleucia to be the port for his new capital.

He settled many Jews in this city from the start. They were governed by their own ethnarch and allowed to have the same political privileges with the Greeks. The early inhabitants of the city of Antioch were these Jews, Syrians, and Greeks from the Seleucid monarchy. Each brought elements of their culture and religious background. As the Romans took control and moved into the city, they likewise brought in elements of their religion.

Politically speaking, the city declared for Caesar after Pompey fell and then for Augustus after the battle of Actium. Romans then began to move in to Antioch and the Roman emperors put the city on a path to growth and adornment once again. The city became the capital of the Roman province of Syria and the third largest city in all of the empire. It became known as “The First City of the East” or “Queen of the East.”

The mixed religious background actually fostered the spread of the Gospel of Christ. The large and flourishing Jewish community offered a prime place for the teaching of the gospel as it spread from Jerusalem. The interest of the gentile population in things “religious” as well as their acceptance of diverse religious ideas, gained an even wider audience for the spread of the Word.


The Church in Antioch

Some of those of the Jerusalem church who had been scattered abroad, as found in Acts 8:4, had gone to Antioch (Acts 11:19). These had spread the gospel among the Jews who were already there (Acts 11:19). From verse twenty, it seems that some from Cyprus and Cyrene came at a later date and preached to the Greeks (Acts 11:20). A most remarkable thing is next stated: “And a number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:21). This church at Antioch became a great church. At about this time, or soon after, the hub of Christianity seems to shift from Jerusalem to Antioch. Eventually, all three of the recorded missionary tours of the apostle Paul had their beginning here.


What Made the Church in Antioch Great?

This church was great for a number of reasons. It was great because of the great instructions which took place there. We don’t know the names of those who did the groundwork here (Acts 11:19,20). Barnabas later went there. Many people were added unto the Lord (Acts 11:24). Later Barnabas brought Saul of Tarsus here (Acts 11:25,26). Both of these stayed here a year and taught many people (Acts 11:26). There were many other teachers and preachers here, also (Acts 13:1). Peter even made a trip up here at one time (Gal. 2:11). The teaching here was strong.

The church was great because of the kind of people who were here. They were willing to hear and believe (Acts 11:21,24). Furthermore, these people wanted to be right. When the circumcision problem came to Antioch they wanted to be right. They did not want to be involved in sinful things (Acts 15:2). When they found that which was right, they were content with the message (Acts 15:31).

The church was also great because of her works (Acts 13:13). Is it any wonder that the Lord chose these people to be the first called Christians?


Three Things to Make any Local Church Great

Is it possible for a church of God’s people in any given location to be great today? Not only is it possible, it is expected! The same things that made the group at Antioch great will make any group great today. Any group of Christians who are actively engaged in the study and spread of the gospel will be great — just like in Antioch. Any group of Christians composed of those willing and ready to listen and make application of God’s message will be great — just like in Antioch. Any group of Christians who are active in the works outlined by the Lord will be great — just like in Antioch. Will we study, make application, and work as did those at Antioch?

— S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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