Antioch a Mission-Minded Church
The disciples were called “Christians” for the first time at Antioch of Syria, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy that God would give His people a new name (Acts 11:26; Isaiah 62:2). The faithful disciples in Antioch lived up to this name by doing several important things. They spoke to Hellenists (Greeks) about salvation through Christ. “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (11:21). They also sent money to poor Christians in Judea. Each Christian at Antioch did what he could to serve God.
The church of Christ at Antioch is best known for its support of three major missionary efforts to teach Gentiles (see Acts 13:1-3). The brethren at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey, which resulted in new congregations in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. Paul and Barnabas went back to Antioch, reported on their missionary efforts, and remained there and preached for a time.
Then, the church sent Paul and Silas on the second mission campaign, during which they encouraged the new Christians in the places where Paul had worked during the first journey (Acts 15:36-18:22). Paul and Silas (with Timothy and Luke) also established new congregations in Philippi and Corinth before Paul returned to Antioch. Paul’s third missionary journey from Antioch was his longest. For four or five years, Paul, Timothy, Erastus, and Luke ministered to young congregations and started new ones (19:1-21:14). Paul also dealt with Jewish teachers who were distorting the truth of the Gospel, and wrote letters to address problems in the church. For nearly three years, Paul worked in Ephesus, but was unable to return to Antioch.
We should imitate the Christians at Antioch by teaching our friends and neighbors, and by supporting faithful missionaries to go to distant places. These good people will help lost souls and encourage Christians, just as Paul and his traveling companions did about 2,000 years ago.