Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 13, 2 Cor. 4:7-10, Rom. 10:1-4, Rom. 3:19, Acts 14:1-26, Romans 9-11.
Memory Text: ”Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through [H]im everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38, 39, NIV).
Most certainly, the gospel was to go to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. This was a message that, slowly but surely, the early Jewish Christians were starting to grasp.
Our first explicit report of Gentiles joining the faith in large scale relates to Antioch. In other words, it was in Antioch that the first Gentile church was founded, even if it also had a substantial contingent of Jewish believers (Gal. 2:11-13). Due to the missionary zeal of its founders and the new impetus provided by the arrival of Barnabas and Paul, the church there grew rapidly, and it became the first important Christian center outside Judea. In fact, in some aspects it even surpassed the church in Jerusalem.
With the apostles still stationed in Jerusalem, Antioch became the birthplace of Christian missions. It was from there, and with the initial support of the local believers, that Paul left on all three of his missionary journeys. It was because of their commitment that Christianity became what Jesus had intended: a world religion, one in which the gospel would be spread to “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6, NKJV).