The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
God turned the trouble of persecution to a positive result by empowering his people to witness as they scattered far from Jerusalem. (See Acts 7-8.) The message of Jesus spread as refugees traveled trading routes and busy roads around the Mediterranean coast. Most spoke of Christ only to Jews like themselves. Then there was a breakthrough! In Antioch some of them spoke to Greek people, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. A great number believed.
The Antioch church became a powerhouse of evangelism and a springboard for mission. The Antioch disciples not only witnessed outside of their own group but also were hungry for more teaching. When Barnabas and Saul (Paul) came to encourage them, they listened and learned for a whole year.
Meanwhile they kept on sharing Christ and living by his teachings. They were called Christians—followers of Jesus Christ. This may have been a nickname given by others because people saw Jesus in them. The Antioch story gets even better: the believers aided famine victims back in Jerusalem. Their church was blessed with leaders from several cultures. They also commissioned Barnabas and Saul to go and teach people in other places.
As in Antioch, may people see Jesus in us, and come to call him Lord.
Lord, may my life and speech and the life and ministry of my church bring people all around to the Savior. Thank you for Antioch. Thank you for the Spirit’s power. In Jesus, Amen.
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