Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:…
I. WHEN it was given.
1. Not until twelve years, apparently, of most intense life, persecution, growth, did the Christians receive any abiding name, which serves to show us that God cares for things, not names. God makes the things, man gives the names; yet how much controversy is merely about names.
2. Not until after the disciples had become known among the Gentiles. The Jews would never have given us this holy name.
II. WHERE. In Antioch. Which was —
1. Beautiful. Situate on the Orontes, where it breaks through between Lebanon and Taurus; the scenery magnificent, itself splendidly adorned, and surrounded with groves and gardens.
2. Rich. The capital of Syria and the third city of the world; centre of traffic between east and west.
3. Pleasure-loving. The meeting place between the lively Greek and self-indulgent Eastern, with every inducement and advantage for enjoyment.
4. Wicked. Antioch was exceptionally depraved. Borne was horribly bad; but when the satirist wished to say that Rome was made tenfold more corrupt, he wrote that Orontes had emptied itself into the Tiber.
5. Heathen. Here were the notorious groves of Daphne, where Apollo was worshipped with all magnificence and vice.
III. WHY. That is not quite so certain; but we may safely say that it came about thus: The Antiochenes noticed some among them who differed from others. The beauty of the place they regarded with sober admiration; its riches and business they cared little for: they were industrious, used no trickery, abandoned many trades altogether, and did not grieve much if they lost their money; its amusements they shunned, and as for the sins of the place, they both avoided and rebuked them. Then the heathen were astonished, and asked, "Who has taught you this? Who has given you this new-fangled view of the beauty, wealth, pleasure, and sin (as you call it) of Antioch? Who has forbidden you to worship our gods?" To this the answer was ever,Christ has told us that the world and its beauty pass away; but He has told us of a new heaven and earth far better. He has taught us to think but little of the world's wealth, for He has given us treasure in heaven. He has taught us to look for higher pleasures, and to beware of yours, lest they lead us to sin and death. He has taught us above all to know and hate sin, and not to give to your gods that which is His due. So," the Antiochenes would say, "this is your God." "Yes," they would reply, "we are His, and cannot take the absorbing interest you do in the beauty, wealth, pleasure, sin, and idolatry of Antioch." Some among the heathen would believe, the rest would scoff and call them "Christians."
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: