Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Acts 11:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Men of - Cyrene - The metropolis of the Cyrenaica; a country of Africa, bounded on the east by Marmarica, on the west by the Regio Syrtica, on the north by the Mediterranean, and on the south by the Sahara. Cyrene is now called Cairoan. This city, according to Eusebius, was built in the 37th Olympiad, about 630 years before Christ. In consequence of a revolt of its inhabitants, it was destroyed by the Romans; but they afterwards rebuilt it. It was for a long time subject to the Arabs, but is now in the hands of the Turks.

Spake unto the Grecians - ἙλληνιϚας, The Hellenists. Who these were, we have already seen Acts 6:1-15; and Acts 9:29, viz. Jews living in Greek cities and speaking the Greek language. But, instead of ἙλληνιϚας, Grecians, Ἑλληνας, Greeks, is the reading of AD*, Syriac, all the Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, some copies of the Itala, Eusebius, Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Oecumenius. On this evidence, Griesbach has admitted it into the text; and few critics entertain any doubt of the genuineness of the reading. This intimates that, besides preaching the Gospel to the Hellenistic Jews, some of them preached it to heathen Greeks; for, were we to adopt the common reading, it would be a sort of actum agere; for it is certain that the Hellenistic Jews had already received the Gospel. See Acts 6:1. And it is likely that these Cyprians and Cyrenians had heard of Peter's mission to Caesarea, and they followed his example by offering the Christian faith to the heathen. It is worthy of remark that the Jews generally called all nations of the world Greeks; as the Asiatics, to the present day, call all the nations of Europe Franks.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Were men of Cyprus and Cyrene - Were natives of Cyprus and Cyrene. Cyrene was a province and city of Libya in Africa. It is at present called Cairoan, and is situated in the kingdom of Barca. In Cyprus the Greek language was spoken; and from the vicinity of Cyrene to Alexandria, it is probable that the Greek language was spoken there also. From this circumstance it might have happened that they were led more particularly to address the Grecians who were in Antioch. It is possible, however, that they might have heard of the vision which Peter saw, and felt themselves called on to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.

Spake unto the Grecians - πρὸς τοὺς Ἑλληνιστὰς pros tous HellēnistasTo the Hellenists. This word usually denotes in the New Testament “those Jews residing in foreign lands, who spoke the Greek language.” See the notes on Acts 6:1. But to them the gospel had been already preached; and yet in this place it is evidently the intention of Luke to affirm that the people of Cyprus and Cyrene preached to those who were not Jews, and that thus their conduct was distinguished from those (Acts 11:19) who preached to the Jews only. It is thus manifest that we are here required to understand the Gentiles as those who were addressed by the people of Cyprus and Cyrene. In many mss. the word used here is Ἕλληνας Hellēnas“Greeks,” instead of “Hellenists.” This reading has been adopted by Griesbach, and is found in the Syriac, the Arabic, the Vulgate, and in many of the early fathers. The Aethiopic version reads “to the Gentiles.” There is no doubt that this is the true reading; and that the sacred writer means to say that the gospel was here preached to. Those who were not Jews, for all were called “Greeks” by them who were not Jews, Romans 1:16. The connection would lead us to suppose that they had heard of what had been done by Peter, and that, imitating his example, they preached the gospel now to the Gentiles also.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution; thus what was meant to hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man is made to praise God. What should the ministers of Christ preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. It was the fruit of their faith; all who sincerely believe, will turn to the Lord, When the Lord Jesus is preached in simplicity, and according to the Scriptures, he will give success; and when sinners are thus brought to the Lord, really good men, who are full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, will admire and rejoice in the grace of God bestowed on them. Barnabas was full of faith; full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith that works by love.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 166

This chapter is based on Acts 13:4-52.

“Sent forth by the Holy Ghost,” Paul and Barnabas, after their ordination by the brethren in Antioch, “departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.” Thus the apostles began their first missionary journey. AA 166.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 155-7

This chapter is based on Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3.

After the disciples had been driven from Jerusalem by persecution, the gospel message spread rapidly through the regions lying beyond the limits of Palestine; and many small companies of believers were formed in important centers. Some of the disciples “traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word.” Their labors were usually confined to the Hebrew and Greek Jews, large colonies of whom were at this time to be found in nearly all the cities of the world. AA 155.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 330

Those who have gained an experience in this work have a special duty to perform in teaching others. Educate, educate, educate young men and women to sell the books which the Lord by His Holy Spirit has stirred His servants to write. God desires us to be faithful in educating those who accept the truth, that they may believe to a purpose and work intelligently in the Lord's way. Let inexperienced persons be connected with experienced workers, that they may learn how to work. Let them seek God most earnestly. These may do a good work in canvassing if they will obey the words: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine.” 1 Timothy 4:16. Those who give evidence that they are truly converted, and who take up the canvassing work, will see that it is the best preparation for other lines of missionary labor. 6T 330.1

If those who know the truth would practice it, methods would be devised for meeting the people where they are. It was the providence of God which in the beginning of the Christian church scattered the saints abroad, sending them out of Jerusalem into many parts of the world. The disciples of Christ did not stay in Jerusalem or in the cities near by, but they went beyond the limits of their own country into the great thoroughfares of travel, seeking for the lost that they might bring them to God. Today the Lord desires to see His work carried forward in many places. We must not confine our labors to a few localities. 6T 330.2

We must not discourage our brethren, weakening their hands so that the work which God desires to accomplish through them shall not be done. Let not too much time be occupied in fitting up men to do missionary work. Instruction is necessary, but let all remember that Christ is the Great Teacher and the Source of all true wisdom. Let young and old consecrate themselves to God, take up the work, and go forward, laboring in humility under the control of the Holy Spirit. Let those who have been in school go out into the field and put to a practical use the knowledge they have gained. If canvassers will do this, using the ability which God has given them, seeking counsel from Him, and combining the work of selling books with personal labor for the people, their talents will increase by exercise, and they will learn many practical lessons which they could not possibly learn in school. The education obtained in this practical way may properly be termed higher education. 6T 330.3

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Expansion of the Early Church in Palestine
Paul's Conversion and Early Ministry