There are characteristics about the Christian faith that are not truly found anywhere else on earth. Two of them from this section, are waiting on the Holy Spirit’s directions, and doing without directions while waiting. Here the leaders in the Antioch Syrian church ministered while waiting for direction and received the command to send out Barnabas and Saul to a specific work. Once they gained confirmation they acted. Too often we act in our own wisdom and timetable because we have neglected these two distinctives.
Herod Agrippa I, the one who had James the apostle killed, and also sought to do the same to the apostle Peter, traveled to Tyre and Sidon to address a political matter and during his speech to the people they chanted that his was the voice of god, and since he relished in this God struck him with judgment. But the church grew. The one who persecuted the church not only failed to destroy Christianity but was struck dead.
As Peter sleeps in jail, chained to two guards the church is praying for him, his execution is scheduled after daybreak. But unbeknownst to the praying Christians God has sent an angel to miraculously deliver Peter from his captors. As Peter arrives at a house where they are praying for him, they scoff at initial reports that God has answered their prayers, but to their great joy they finally meet with Peter, then he relocates.
Another of the Herod’s sends his henchmen to murder; to arrest the righteous and kill them. This Herod is the grandson of the Herod who slaughtered the innocent boys in Bethlehem. This Herod is also the nephew of the Herod who had John the Baptist beheaded. This Herod now orders the beheading of the apostle James, it was a prophetic death for Jesus prophesied that James would drink from such a cup. Then Peter was arrested with intention of beheading him too, so the church, rattled by James’ death, rallied in prayer.
The ancient city of Antioch, then in Syria, but today belongs to Turkey, was the epicenter for Jews evangelizing Gentiles without Judaism. It was here that the term Christian originated. Though given by the unsaved souls of the world, it was and is a very suitable term. All of this in Antioch was began by the Holy Spirit through Cyrenian and Cypriot Jews, the developed by Barnabas getting Saul from Cilicia and the two teaching the in the church at Antioch.