Acts 11:19-30 – Believers First Called “Christians” in Antioch


Acts 11:19-30


After the death of Stephen many Greek-speaking believers flee Jerusalem for Antioch in Syria, where they establish a growing community of new Christ followers. Barnabas and Saul (Paul) come to this new congregation as prophets and teachers (11:25‒26; 13:1). “In Antioch . . . the disciples were first called ‘Christians’” (11:26). 


After the death of Stephen, many Greek-speaking believers in Jerusalem flee to other Mediterranean cities. Those who go to Antioch in Syria, called by one ancient writer the “third among the cities of the Roman world,” have God-given success in drawing many people to belief in Jesus. Antioch had a large and well-established Jewish population as well as a predominantly Gentile population. Beyond Jerusalem, in this great and diverse cosmopolitan city, believers are first identified as “Christians” or “Christ-ones” by those outside the Christ community. In Acts, the most common self-designation for the Christ-believing fellowship is “the Way” (9:2; 18:25‒26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).