The First Missionary Journey and the Apostolic Council
Acts 11:27 to 12:25
After a time of rapid growth in the Antioch church, a prophet, Agabus by name, came down from Jerusalem and prophesied a famine. The disciples determined to send relief to their brethren in Jerusalem. This they did by the instrumentality of Barnabas and Paul. Acts 11:27-30.
Meanwhile the Jerusalem church had been suffering renewed persecution under Herod Agrippa I, who, as a vassal of Rome, ruled over all Palestine from a.d. 41 to 44. James the son of Zebedee, one of the apostles, had been put to death, and Peter had escaped only by a wonderful interposition of God, Acts, ch. 12.
Acts, Chapters 13, 14
After Barnabas and Paul had returned to Antioch from their labor of love in Jerusalem, they were sent out, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, upon a mission to the Gentiles, which is called the first missionary journey. Acts, chs. 13, 14. This missionary journey led first through the island of Cyprus, then, by way of Perga in Pamphylia to Pisidian Antioch on the central plateau of Asia Minor.
At Pisidian Antioch, as regularly in the cities that he visited, Paul entered first into the synagogue. In accordance with the liberal Jewish custom of that day, he was given opportunity to speak, as a visiting teacher. The congregation was composed not only of Jews but also of Gentiles who had become interested in the God of Israel and in the lofty morality of the Old Testament without definitely uniting themselves with the people of Israel — the class of persons who are called in the book of The Acts "they that feared God" or the like. These "God-fearers" constituted a picked audience; they were just the Gentiles who were most apt to be won by the new preaching, because in their case much of the preliminary instruction had been given. But the Jews themselves, at Pisidian Antioch as well as elsewhere, were jealous of the new mission to the Gentiles, which was proving so much more successful than their own. Paul and Barnabas, therefore, were obliged to give up the work in the synagogue and address themselves directly