Friday, 22 April 2016

Acts 11 continued - Called Christians

Map showing believers scattered

Acts 11 continues
19 Meanwhile, those who had been dispersed owing to the persecution that was raised over Stephen had travelled as far away as Phoenice and Cyprus and Antioch, without preaching the word to anyone except the Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they found their way to Antioch, spoke to the Greeks as well, preaching the Lord Jesus to them. 21 And the Lord’s power went with them, so that a great number learned to believe, and turned to the Lord.
19 Et illi quidem qui dispersi fuerant a tribulatione quæ facta fuerat sub Stephano, perambulaverunt usque Phœnicen, et Cyprum, et Antiochiam, nemini loquentes verbum, nisi solis Judæis. 20 Erant autem quidam ex eis viri Cyprii et Cyrenæi, qui cum introissent Antiochiam, loquebantur et ad Græcos, annuntiantes Dominum Jesum. 21 Et erat manus Domini cum eis: multusque numerus credentium conversus est ad Dominum. 
 Chrysostom (Homily 24): The persecution turned out to be no slight benefit as to them that love God all things work together for good.  If they had made it their express study how best to establish the Church, they would have done no other thing than this— they dispersed the teachers...

Do you mark how even in the tribulation instead of falling to lamentations and tears, as we do, they give themselves up to a great and good work? Travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, and there with more security preached the word...trusting in the grace of God, they applied themselves to the work of teaching, nor did these (Gentiles) themselves think scorn to learn anything of them.
22 The story of this came to the ears of the Church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas on a mission to Antioch. 23 When he came there and saw what grace God was bestowing on them, he was full of joy, and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with steady purpose of heart, 24 like the good man he was, full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith; a great multitude was thus won over to the Lord.25 He went on to Tarsus, to look for Saul, and when he found him, brought him back to Antioch. 26 For a whole year after this they were made welcome in the Church there, teaching a great multitude. And Antioch was the first place in which the disciples were called Christians.
 22 Pervenit autem sermo ad aures ecclesiæ quæ erat Jerosolymis super istis: et miserunt Barnabam usque ad Antiochiam. 23 Qui cum pervenisset, et vidisset gratiam Dei, gavisus est: et hortabatur omnes in proposito cordis permanere in Domino: 24 quia erat vir bonus, et plenus Spiritu Sancto, et fide. Et apposita est multa turba Domino. 25 Profectus est autem Barnabas Tarsum, ut quæreret Saulum: quem cum invenisset, perduxit Antiochiam. 26 Et annum totum conversati sunt ibi in ecclesia: et docuerunt turbam multam, ita ut cognominarentur primum Antiochiæ discipuli, christiani.
Chrysostom: Mark how by small means all is brought about: mark the preaching how it spreads: mark those in Jerusalem, having like care for all, holding the whole world as one house. They heard that Samaria had received the word, and to Samaria they send the Apostles: they heard what had befallen at Antioch, and to Antioch they send Barnabas: they also send again, and (these) prophets. For the distance was great, and it was not meet the Apostles at present should separate from thence, that they might not be thought to be fugitives, and to have fled from their own people.

But then, almost precisely, is the time of their parting from Jerusalem, when the state (of the Jews) was shown to be past remedy, when the war was close at hand, and they must needs perish: when the sentence was made absolute.
27 At this time, some prophets from Jerusalem visited Antioch; 28 and one of these, Agabus by name, stood up and prophesied through the Spirit that a great famine was to come upon the whole world, as it did in the reign of the emperor Claudius. 29 Thereupon it was decided that each of the disciples should contribute according to his means, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judaea. 30 And so they did; and in sending it to the presbyters they entrusted it to the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
27 In his autem diebus supervenerunt ab Jerosolymis prophetæ Antiochiam: 28 et surgens unus ex eis nomine Agabus, significabat per spiritum famem magnam futuram in universo orbe terrarum, quæ facta est sub Claudio. 29 Discipuli autem, prout quis habebat, proposuerunt singuli in ministerium mittere habitantibus in Judæa fratribus: 30 quod et fecerunt, mittentes ad seniores per manus Barnabæ et Sauli.
 Chrysostom: It was need that the fruit of alms should also be planted there...Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea.  Mark how the famine becomes to them the means of salvation, an occasion of almsgiving, a harbinger of many blessing. And (so it might have been) to you, one may say, if you were so minded, but you would not... Do you mark them, that no sooner do they believe than they bring forth fruit, not only for their own but for those afar off?

Meditation on almsgiving from St John: 

 ...There is no sin, which alms cannot cleanse, none, which alms cannot quench: all sin is beneath this: it is a medicine adapted for every wound. What worse than a publican? The very matter (ὑ πόθεσις) (of his occupation) is altogether one of injustice: and yet Zaccheus washed away all these (sins). Mark how even Christ shows this, by the care taken to have a purse, and to bear the contributions put into it. And Paul also says, Only that we remember the poor: and everywhere the Scripture has much discourse concerning this matter. The ransom, it says, of a man's soul is his own wealth: and with reason: for, says (Christ), if you would be perfect, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me.  This may well be part of perfection.

But alms may be done not only by money, but by acts. For example: one may kindly stand (προστἥναι) by a person (to succor and defend him), one may reach to him a helping hand: the service rendered (προστασία) by acts has often done more good even than money. Let us set to work all the different kinds of almsgiving. Can you do alms by money? Be not slack. Can you by good offices? Say not, Because I have no money, this is nothing. This is a very great point: look upon it as if you had given gold. Can you do it by kind attentions (θεραπείας)? Do this also. For instance, if you be a physician, (give) your skill: for this also is a great matter. Can you by counsel? This (service) is much greater than all: this (alms) is better than all, or it is also more, by how much the gain it has is greater... 

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