Acts 11:26-30
Acts 11:26 (KJB)
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Barnabas had gone to Tarsus to look for Paul because as the church was beginning to grow, teachers were needed to help guide the new converts. When Barnabas finally found Saul, they had become the chief teachers in Antioch. It was here that the followers of Jesus were called “Christians.” It has long been believed that the term “Christian” was used as a term of derision but there is really no hard evidence to support that. What is supported by history is the way the name came about. In the Roman army when soldiers were in the army of a certain General, they would add the ending “ian” to it. In Latin it was “iani” and in Greek it was “ianos.” For example, if one was in the army of Pompey, the soldiers in that army would be called “Pompeiani.” Since the Christian is in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ, they bear the name “Christ - ian” or “Christian.” It is more of a name of identification than one of derision.
Acts 11:27 (KJB)
And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
Since Antioch was a burgeoning center of Christianity, Saul and Barnabas would not have been able to handle the immense amount of new converts. To help alleviate this situation, the Jerusalem church began to send prophets to help in the duties. Now these were prophets who would bring a prophecy or a teaching for edification. (1 Cor 14:3 KJV) But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. They were not like the Old Testament Prophets. These came and stayed to help with the teaching and spiritual growth of the new believers. The Holy Spirit would teach the new believers through these men. The New Testament Prophets were those who declared God’s word verbally since at this time there was no written Scriptures except the Hebrew Scriptures.
Acts 11:28 (KJB)
And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Every now and then the Holy Spirit would give a prophecy that would foretell an event. This was one way that the Lord kept confirming the word to the young church. Claudius Caesar had ruled Rome from 41-54 A.D. and it was about 41 A.D. when Saul and Barnabas went to Antioch, which means that Claudius was already reigning. There were two Roman historians, Tacitus and Suetonius, who recorded the fact that there were several local famines during the time of Claudius. Another Roman Historian named Dion Cassius had also wrote about the famine but he states that it went throughout the entire Roman Empire about 45 A.D. or four years into the reign of Claudius. This famine also reached to Greece and to Judaea and extended to at least 52 A.D. In total, there were four separate famines during his reign.
Acts 11:29 (KJB)
Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
The Christians in Antioch had responded to the need of the Christians in the Jerusalem church and sent what they could to relieve the famine in Judaea. If you notice, they sent according to their ability, that is, they sent what they could according to what they had. Nobody was compelled to borrow money or anything but they gave out of what they had. This tradition continues today. When there is a disaster somewhere in the world, the first ones on the scene are normally Christians like the Salvation Army or Mennonite Disaster Service. The atheists condemn Christians for believing in God, yet when a disaster strikes I have yet to see an atheist organization rush to help anyone. I have been saved for 31 years and have yet to see any disaster relief organization under the banner of atheists. They don’t exist!
Acts 11:30 (KJB)
Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
Then the believers took the offering and entrusted it to Barnabas and Saul who took it to Jerusalem. Then the funds were turned over to the leaders of the Jerusalem church to help relieve the situation.