Relief to Jerusalem

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God did not suffer his own coverted Christians in Judea and Jerusalem, probably the poorest and certainly the most disregarded in that country, to perish in a soon to arrive famine. Relief would be sent their way.

While Barnabas and Paul were evangelizing the Syrian capital of Antioch, and gathering in the spiritual harvest, the first seeds of which had been sown by "men of Cyprus and Cyrene," certain prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of these men, named Agabus, announced that a time of famine was coming soon.

And one from among them, named Agabus, stood up and signified by the Spirit that there would be a great famine throughout the whole world, which also came to pass under Claudius Caesar.

And each of the disciples, everyone according as he had prospered, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea (Acts 11:28 - 29, HBFV).

Picture of the Judean wilderness
Picture of Antioch in Pisidia
Map of ancient Jerusalem

The Gentile disciples felt that they were bound by the closest link to those Jewish brethren in Jerusalem whom, though they had never seen, they loved. No time was lost in preparing for the coming distress. All the members of the Christian community, according to their means, determined to plant food and send relief in the spring of 42 A.D.

Two years later, in the spring of 44 A.D., Paul and Barnabas, with Mark tagging along, were chosen to take food and relief from Antioch in Syria to Jerusalem for distribution (Acts 11:29 - 30).

When Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch after their relief journey, they were again attended by Mark (Acts 12:25).

We are told that there were, in the Church at Antioch, "prophets and teachers" (Acts 13:1). Those considered such were Barnabas, as well as Simeon (surnamed Niger), Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen (the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch). Paul, still referred to as Saul in Acts, is also named among the prophets and teachers.

The above were the most conspicuous persons in the Church of Antioch when a revelation of God was received of the utmost importance. The occasion on which the revelation was made seems to have been a fit preparation for it.

The Christians at Antioch were engaged in religious services of peculiar solemnity. The Holy Spirit spoke to their hearts as they ministered unto the Lord and fasted. These religious services might have had a special reference to the means which were to be adopted for the spread of the Gospel now evidently intended for all.

And as they were ministering and fasting to the Lord, the Holy Spirit said, 'Separate both Barnabas and Saul to Me for the work to which I have called them.' (Acts 13:2).

How this revelation was made, whether by the mouth of some of the prophets who were present, or by the impulse of a simultaneous and general inspiration, it is useless to inquire. A definite work was pointed out, as now about to be begun under the counsel of God with the sanction of the church in Antioch.

The group of believers in Antioch laid hands of both Barnabas and Saul (Paul) to set them apart for the work God would have them do. They soon went down to the port city of Seleucia, with John Mark, to begin what would be Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13:3 - 4).

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