Acts 11:21-25
Acts 11:21 (KJB)
And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
The term “hand of the Lord” was used in the Old Testament to denote the power of God. (Josh 4:24 KJV) That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. It is used 36 times in 35 verses. The fact that it is being used here in the New Testament, was stating that the Lord was doing mighty miracles and mighty manifestations among the people that the Cypriot and Cyrenian Christians were preaching to. The result was a great number of people who became saved. Since Syria was also a place of idolatry, these would have turned from their idols and turned to the Lord. (Isa 60:2-3 KJV) For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. {3} And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. The prophecy of Isaiah was coming to pass as the Gentiles had passed from the darkness of the death of idolatry to the light of the true Gospel in Christ and Syria was seeing that come to pass at that time.
Acts 11:22 (KJB)
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
Since there seemed to be a great number of Gentiles being saved in Antioch, the Jerusalem church had dispatched Barnabas to Antioch to see what was really happening. Antioch was the third most important city in the entire Roman Empire, behind Alexandria and Rome itself. The Jerusalem church chose Barnabas to go to Antioch instead of one of the Apostles which showed that the church was now trusting others who held a good Christians witness. Barnabas was a native of Cyprus. Since Barnabas held a good witness, he was dispatched to help out the new assembly of believers in Antioch, to help get the new Christians established properly in the faith.
Acts 11:23 (KJB)
Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
When Barnabas arrived at Antioch, what he saw was real. There was true evangelism going on as many were being saved. This great scene of seeing many become saved had caused him to rejoice because a great work of God was happening right before his eyes. However, Barnabas knew that there was great joy but he also knew that there was going to come a time when the believers would face persecution. This is why he exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord, especially when the persecutions start to arise. If they lost heart, he knew that the Lord would strengthen them during those times. It is like today. In some churches people are only given the gospel of elation and when tough times come, they do not know how to deal with it and many fall into sin during tough times. This is why Christians need to study all aspects of the Bible and see the way Bible characters stood through tough times.
Acts 11:24 (KJB)
For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Since Barnabas was a true believer and had the ability, through the power of the Holy Ghost and faith, to bring the message of Christ, many people were saved through his ministry. This is why when believers play with sin, they become weakened but if they maintain a good testimony in their Christian walk, they will be used mightily of the Lord. In fact, Antioch had become the center of Christianity with as much as 100,000 Christians in that city.
Acts 11:25 (KJB)
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
Once Barnabas was satisfied that all was well and in order in Antioch, he then departed to go to Tarsus and look for Saul. If he walked, it would have been about 5 days journey but if he took a boast across, it would have been two days journey. Barnabas was probably bursting at the seams to tell Saul what was transpiring in Antioch and how the Gospel was now spreading far and wide across the Roman Empire.