He found Saul and brought him back to Antioch. The two of them spent an entire year there, meeting with the church and teaching huge numbers of people.It was there, in Antioch, where the term “Christian” was first used to identify disciples of Jesus.
Paul was a marvellous servant of God. His work, his travels, his writings form a huge chunk of the New Testament and history of the Early Church. Very soon the writer of Acts is going to be concentrating only on what Paul does and where he goes. Just reading this verse you might get the impression that he was responsible for generating the term ‘Christian’.
Read back a few verses.
19 The believers who were scattered from Judea because of the persecution following Stephen’s stoning kept moving out, reaching Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Until this time, they had only shared their message with Jews.
20 Then some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had become believers came to Antioch, and they began sharing the message of the Lord Jesus with some Greek converts to Judaism.
21 The Lord was at work through them, and a large number of these Greeks became believers and turned to the Lord Jesus.
These men are unnamed, all we know is that they are believers. They weren’t part of the original group from Jerusalem; they’d been converted by those fleeing from Jerusalem because of persecution. But we know they were on fire with the good news of the Gospel. The passion they had for this good news that had transformed their lives meant they couldn’t keep quiet about it and they were infectious. A large number of people became believers and this work set the stage for Paul (Saul) to come in and build on it.
Sometimes, I think, we have the idea that it has to be a big name evangelist or person with a ‘ministry’ who will come and hold a huge event that will miraculously convert people. Sometimes it is exactly that and we should rejoice that God anoints people and situations to spread the gospel. But the majority of the time it is you and me who do the work of the Kingdom. It’s you and me sharing our faith in the way we live our lives that impacts the people around us.
The gospel is simple. We are separated from God because of our sin. There is no way we can ever put it right. God put it right through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We can now be reconciled with God and have a new life that changes us and the world around us.
Do we forget that last part? The new life we have is supposed to change not just our personal relationship with God but also our external relationship with each other and with the world. When we are changed in the way we interact with others, when we allow God to transform us and make us like Him then people around us see and are driven to some kind of response.
God has placed you where you are and has people and situations for you to affect. Don’t wait for someone ‘more able’ to come and do your work. God equips you with all you need. He’s with you. Trust Him and keep your eyes open – you might be surprised by the opportunities that come up.