Acts 11:16-20
Acts 11:16 (KJB)
Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
(Luke 3:16 KJV) John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Peter then remembers, and of course, it is the Holy Ghost who brings these things to remembrance, that the Lord had told them before He went back to Heaven that John baptized with water but the Disciples would be baptized with the Holy Ghost, which was the eternal baptism. (Acts 1:5 KJV) For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 11:17 (KJB)
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
Peter was now explaining to these Jews that God had given the same gift of the Holy Spirit to them, since He is not a respecter of persons, the Gentiles who have become saved will also receive the Holy Spirit in like manner. In other words, what Peter is getting across is that there is equality of everyone in the Kingdom of God. There is no such thing as one race better than another. (Gal 3:28 KJV) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Today the saved Jews still try to remain separate from Gentile Christians. Instead of joining churches they have formed their own Messianic congregations. Many still believe they are superior to the Gentiles and their exclusivism portrays that mindset.
Acts 11:18 (KJB)
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Those who were hearing Peter were now becoming convinced that not only they, but the Gentiles that God saved received repentance which is a synonym for salvation. At this time, Peter did not receive any opposition because he was speaking to those who had become saved plus the six witnesses would have been sufficient to corroborate his story. These things had to be explained to them because at this time there was a heavy transition going on, from 1500 years of keeping the Mosaic Law to salvation by Grace alone. People were not saved under the law but they had thought they obtained salvation because they were given the law and were to keep separate from the surrounding nations. (Rom 3:2 KJV) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. They were given the Hebrew Scriptures but now those Scriptures would be for the entire world, not just them and this was something new plus they were always taught that the Gentiles were unclean.
Acts 11:19 (KJB)
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
(Acts 8:1 KJV) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. The Jewish Christians who were scattered abroad after the stoning of Stephen and the following persecution had begun to spread the word, however, they were still of the mindset that it was only to the Jews and not the Gentiles. Since they were scattered in different directions, they would not have known yet about Cornelius and the fact that the Gentiles were now receiving salvation. The three places mentioned above are Phenice, also known as Phoenix, is located on the southwest side of the Island of Crete. Cyprus is a small island located in the Mediterranean Sea about 100 miles due west of Laodicea. Antioch was located in Syria which was about 300 miles north of Jerusalem. These Christians really fled far when the persecution began.
Acts 11:20 (KJB)
And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
These may have possibly been part of the 3,000 which were saved on Pentecost in Jerusalem but departed when the persecution arose because of the stoning of Stephen. Since these men were Gentiles, they had gone to Antioch, and begun to start preaching the Gospel unto the Greeks who were living there. The preaching of the Gospel to these Gentiles had begun the evangelism of Syria. While the Jewish Christians were preaching to the Jews, the Gentile Christians had begun to evangelize the Gentiles. The eternal church of God was beginning to grow.