Antioch Church: a Model for Local Church Ministry — Part 4
In our study of the Antioch Church, we have seen the priority of gospel centred local church ministry. Barnabas searched for Saul and brought him to Antioch in order to further his training in Antioch Church. One important lesson we noticed was the importance of discipleship within the local church. We turn now to the end of the chapter and discover a powerful lesson from Antioch Church.
Antioch Church Sending Support
27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
28 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.
29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
It is significant that we observe a continued relationship between Jerusalem Church and Antioch Church. Remember, it was Jerusalem Church that sent one of their own, Barnabas, to encourage, teach and minister to Antioch Church in verse 22. This proved to be a great help and support to Antioch Church as they grew and matured. In this section of the passage, we also see that other prophets had come down from Jerusalem Church to Antioch in order to proclaim God’s Word.
One prophet named Agabus proclaimed the danger of a coming famine. We know that this famine occurred during the reign of Claudius Caesar during the years AD 45-46. Antioch Church realised the significant threat such famine would be to the believers in Judea. Therefore, the leadership of the church organised for a relief gift to be raised and sent from their local church to minister to the needs of the believers and churches in Judea. The primary church of Judea being Jerusalem Church! What a fantastic example for churches today. The local church looked to meet needs within its midst (Acts 4:32-37; 6:1-7), but when a need was presented in another region, they looked to raise support to send from their church to the church in another region (Acts 12:25). Thus we see the accountability and responsibility of properly handling such gifts and administering them to those in need.
Another fascinating aspect of these verses is the fact that the leadership of Antioch Church selected Barnabas and Saul as their representatives to bring relief to the Jerusalem Church. What an exciting step for these two who would one day travel through many dangers together as they proclaimed the gospel and established more local churches. It is exciting to look back and see so many important lessons that Saul learned during these formative years in Antioch Church as he experiences his first taste of being sent out of his local church to minister.
Once again we discover lessons for today as we consider the examples given to us in the book of Acts. We see a wonderful example in Acts 11 of a well-established church in Jerusalem sending help to a younger church plant in Antioch. We then see the Antioch Church hearing of a physical need in the region surrounding Jerusalem Church. They take action to help with the needs by sending representatives under the accountability and authority of the local church to bring relief to the Jerusalem Church so that it can be distributed to surrounding areas. What a great example for churches today! We ought to look to meet needs in our own church and community but as we are able we certainly ought to send encouragement and support to other Gospel centred churches! This is certainly true in Ireland and the UK. There are many well-established churches which have been a great support to churches in need across these Isles. May we continue to support and help one another in Gospel centred local church ministry in our region!