Acts 11:21
And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
11:19-24 The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution; thus what was meant to hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man is made to praise God. What should the ministers of Christ preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. It was the fruit of their faith; all who sincerely believe, will turn to the Lord, When the Lord Jesus is preached in simplicity, and according to the Scriptures, he will give success; and when sinners are thus brought to the Lord, really good men, who are full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, will admire and rejoice in the grace of God bestowed on them. Barnabas was full of faith; full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith that works by love.And the hand of the Lord - See the notes on Luke 1:66. Compare Psalm 80:17. The meaning is, that God showed them favor, and evinced his power in the conversion of their hearers. 21. a great number believed—Thus the accession of Cornelius and his party was not the first admission of uncircumcised Gentiles into the Church. (See on [1994]Ac 10:1.) Nay, we read of no influence which the accession of Cornelius and his house had on the further progress of the Gospel among the Gentiles; whereas there here open upon us operations upon the Gentiles from quite a different quarter, and attended with ever growing success. The only great object served by the case of Cornelius was the formal recognition of the principles which that case afterwards secured. (See on [1995]Ac 15:19-29.) The hand of the Lord; the power, assistance, and working of God, expressed by the hand, which is the organ or instrument men use in working. This hand or work of God was manifest, first, In the miracles which they wrought. Secondly, In the conversion of any by these miracles. For these alone cannot soften a heart; as appeared in Pharaoh, whose heart was hardened by them.

A great number believed, and turned unto the Lord; faith and conversion are wrought by the hand of the Lord, and are his work. But in vain is faith pretended unto, when there is no change in heart and life. What God hath put together, none may put asunder.

And the hand of the Lord was with them,.... Not only his hand of providence, which brought them thither, and protected them; and his hand of love, grace and mercy, which was upon them, and supplied them with gifts and grace, and everything necessary for them; and his hand of wisdom, which guided and directed them; but his hand of power, the same with the arm of the Lord, which when revealed, and made bare, the report of the Gospel is believed: but if that is not put forth, or efficacious grace is not exerted, no work is done, none are brought to believe, or are converted; ministers labour in vain, and spend their strength for nought: but this was not the case here, it was otherwise with these preachers; though they had travelled many miles, and were come into strange places, they were not left of God, nor without success, the power of God attended their ministry; so that the Gospel preached by them came not in word only, but in power, and it was the power of God unto salvation: hence it follows,

and a great number believed; not the Gospel only, but in Christ preached in it, Acts 11:20 which was not owing to the force of moral persuasion in the ministers, nor to the power of free will in the people, but to the hand or power of the Lord; for the work of faith is not a work of man's will, but of God's almighty power and grace; and when that is displayed, multitudes believe in Christ for righteousness and life: and turned to the Lord; and obeyed his commands; see Psalm 119:59 as a fruit, effect, and consequence of believing in Christ; for not first conversion is here intended, which is not man's work, but God's, and in which God is the agent, and man is passive; but obedience to the ordinances of Christ, as the fruit of faith, is meant.

And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 11:21-26. Χεὶρ κυρίου] See on Luke 1:66; Acts 4:30. Bengel well remarks: “potentia spirituals per evangelium se exserens.”

αὐτῶν] these preachers to the Gentiles.

Acts 11:22. εἰς τὰ ὦτα] Comp. on Luke 4:21.

ὁ λόγος] the word, i.e. the narrative of it; see on Mark 1:45.

Acts 11:23. χάριν τ. Θεοῦ] as it was manifested in the converted Gentiles.

τῇ προθέσει τῆς καρδ. προσμέν. τῷ κυρίῳ] with the purpose of their heart to abide by the Lord, i.e. not again to abandon Christ, to whom their hearts had resolved to belong, but to be faithful to Him with this resolution. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:10.

Acts 11:24. ὅτι ἦνπίστεως] contains the reason, not why Barnabas had been sent to Antioch (Kuinoel), but of the immediately preceding ἐχάρηκυρίῳ.

ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός] quite generally: an excellent man, a man of worth, whose noble character, and, moreover, whose fulness of the Spirit and of faith completely qualified him to gain and to follow the right point of view, in accordance with the divine counsel, as to the conversion of the Gentiles here beheld. Most arbitrarily Heinrichs holds that it denotes gentleness and mildness, which Baumgarten has also assumed, although such a meaning must have arisen, as in Matthew 20:5, from the context (comp. on Romans 5:7), into which Baumgarten imports the idea, that Barnabas had not allowed himself to be stirred to censure by the strangeness of the new phenomenon.

Acts 11:25. εἰς Ταρσόν] See Acts 9:30.

Acts 11:26. According to the corrected reading ἐγένετο δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐνιαυτὸν κ.τ.λ. (see the critical remarks), it is to be explained: it happened to them (comp. Acts 20:16; Galatians 6:14), to be associated even yet (καί) a whole year in the church, and to instruct a considerable multitude of people, and that the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. With χρηματίσαι the construction passes into the accusative with the infinitive, because the subject becomes different (τοὺς μαθητ.). But it is logically correct that χρηματίσαι κ.τ.λ. should still be dependent on ἐγένετο αὐτοῖς, just because the reported appellation, which was first given to the disciples at Antioch, was causally connected with the lengthened and successful labours of the two men in that city. It was their merit, that here the name of Christians first arose.

On the climactic καί, etiam, in the sense of yet, or yet further, comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 133 f.

συναχθῆναι] to be brought together, i.e. to join themselves for common work. They had been since Acts 9:26 ff. separated from each other.

χρηματίσαι to bear the name; see on Romans 7:3.

Χριστιανούς] This name decidedly originated not in, but outside of, the church, seeing that the Christians in the N. T. never use it of themselves, but designate themselves by μαθηταί, ἀδελφοί, believers, etc.; and seeing that, in the two other passages where Χριστιανοί occurs, this appellation distinctly appears as extrinsic to the church, Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16. But it certainly did not proceed from the Jews, because Χριστός was known to them as the interpretation of מָשִׁיחַ, and they would not therefore have transferred so sacred a name to the hated apostates. Hence the origin of the name must be derived from the Gentiles in Antioch.[267] By these the name of the Head of the new religious society, “Christ,” was not regarded as an official name, which it already was among the Christians themselves ever more and more becoming; and hence they formed according to the wonted mode the party-name: Christiani (Tac. Ann. xv. 44: “auctor nominis ejus Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat”). At Antioch, the seat of the mother-church of Gentile Christianity, this took place at that time (for this follows from the reading ἐγέν. δὲ αὐτοῖς), because in that year the joint labours of Paul and Barnabas occasioned so considerable an enlargement of the church, and therewith naturally its increase in social and public consideration. And it was at Antioch that this name was borne first, earlier than anywhere else (πρῶτον, or, according to B א, πρώτως, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 311 f.), because here the Christians, in consequence of the predominant Gentile-Christian element, asserted themselves for the first time not as a sect of Judaism, but as an independent community. There is nothing to support the view that the name was at first a title of ridicule (de Wette, Baumgarten, after Wetstein and older interpreters). The conjecture of Baur, that the origin of the name was referred to Antioch, because that was the first Gentile city in which there were Christians (Zeller also mistrusts the account before us), cannot be justified by the Latin form of the word (see “Wetstein, ad Matthew 22:17).

[267] Ewald, p. 441 f., conjectures that it proceeded from the Roman authorities.

Acts 11:21. χεὶρ Κ., cf. Acts 4:28; Acts 4:30, Acts 13:11, Luke 1:66; frequent in O.T. τε closely connects the two clauses, showing that the result of “the hand of the Lord” was that a great number, etc. (Weiss).

21. And the hand of the Lord was with them] The expression is a common one in the O. T. to express the direct interposition of God in the affairs of the world. Cp. Exodus 14:31, “And Israel saw that great work [Heb. hand] which the Lord did upon the Egyptians.” So the Egyptian magicians (Exodus 8:19), “This is the finger of God.”

Acts 11:21. Χεὶρ Κυρίου, the hand of the Lord) His spiritual power, putting itself forth by the Gospel. So the arm of the Lord, John 12:38.

Verse 21. - That believed turned for believed and turned, A.V. and T.R. The hand of the Lord; i.e. his power working with them and through them. Compare the frequent phrase in the Old Testament, "with a mighty hand and a stretched out arm" (see too Acts 4:30; Luke 1:66). Acts 11:21
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