Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 11

Peter's defence. (1-18) The success of the Gospel at Antioch.
(19-24) The disciples named Christians, Relief sent to Judea.

1-18 The imperfect state of human nature strongly appears, when
godly persons are displeased even to hear that the Word of God
has been received, because their own system has not been
attended to. And we are too apt to despair of doing good to
those who yet, when tried, prove very teachable. It is the bane
and damage of the Church, to shut out those from it, and from
the benefit of the Means of Grace, who are not in every thing as
we are. Peter stated the whole affair. We should at all times
Bear with the infirmities of our brethren; and instead of taking
Offence, or answering with warmth, we should explain our
motives, and show the nature of our proceedings. That preaching
is certainly right, with which the Holy Ghost is given. While
men are very zealous for their own regulations, they should take
care that they do not withstand God; and those who Love the Lord
will Glorify him, when made sure that he has given Repentance to
Life to any fellow-sinners. Repentance is God's Gift; not only
his free Grace accepts it, but his mighty Grace Works it in us,
Grace takes away the Heart of Stone, and gives us a Heart of
Flesh. The Sacrifice of God is a broken Spirit.

19-24 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.

25-30 Hitherto the followers of Christ were called disciples,
that is, learners, scholars; but from that time they were called
Christians. The proper meaning of this name is, a follower of
Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the
religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his
chief care to shape his Life By Christ's precepts and Example.
Hence it is Plain that multitudes take the name of Christian to
whom it does not rightly belong. But the name without the
reality will only add to our guilt. While the bare profession
will bestow neither profit nor delight, the possession of it
will give both the promise of the Life that now is, and of that
which is to come. Grant, Lord, that Christians may forget other
names and distinctions, and Love one another as the followers of
Christ ought to do. True Christians will feel for their brethren
under Afflictions. Thus will Fruit be brought forth to the
praise and Glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians,
how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole Earth
would be like one large family, every member of which would
strive to be dutiful and kind.