Acts 11: Be Where God is Moving

This week we find ourselves in Acts 11.


Take a second to be in prayer with the Lord.

Asking Him to guide your time in His word.

Asking Him to make His spirit known to you.

Asking Him to remove distractions, to remove anxieties, to remove temptations to misuse this time.


Now, go on and flip open your Bible and read Acts 11.


As we looked at the scripture on Sunday morning, Rob offered us a helpful way to help work through the truths and takeaways from any passage of scripture we are trying to study.

We focused on the following within this chapter of Acts:

(1) S e t t i n g

How can knowing where and when the scripture takes place help in understanding the context for us today?

(2) C h a r a c t e r s

Who is involved in the story and how do we fit into the story now? What is said about each person?

(3) P o i n t  o f   V i e w

From whom is this story written? Who is speaking? What can this help us understand? What can we infer they were thinking/feeling at the time of the scripture?

(4) T u r n i n g  P o i n t 

What seems to be a change in tone? Where is there a shift in action?

(5) T h e o l o g i c a l   T h e m e s

Ex: How does this fit into the theme of salvation? How does this fit into previous prophecies? What questions does this passage raise in your head?

(6) T e r m s   o f   i n t e r e s t

What are some phrases that stand out? What words repeat? Why do the actual words used matter?


Now, go on and try to work your way through these 5 questions. Using this as a kind of mapping exercise for the section of scripture we are in this week (yes, even if you joined us for our Sunday Morning bible study, go back and answer these for yourself)

***You might need to use what we have studied thus far in Acts as well as the passage in Acts 11. It’s so helpful to try to sort through some of these thoughts for yourself before simply scrolling to see the answers. 


Did you come up with some interesting things? Awesome!


Now here is an example of what this process looks like. We have been blessed with Rob’s work-through of the above exercise. Read through the following and see what you were able to get from the scripture and what Rob found from it. Take notes on parts that interest you and things you want to go back and look at later.


Setting: Jerusalem – from Joppa to Caesarea to Jerusalem

Characters: Peter, brethren at Jerusalem, church at Antioch, men of Cyrene and Cyprus, Barnabas and Saul

Point of View: Luke, omniscient 3rd person


(1) Peter’s report at Jerusalem

  • Peter tells the story of gentile conversion to Jerusalem brethren
  • Brethren are initially mad about Peter associating with gentiles
  • Peter recounts story about vision, preaching event to the household and their receiving of the HS
  • Peter says how he is convinced by their receiving the HS that God has included the gentiles in his plan
  • The brethren are convinced and glorify God

(2) The Church at Antioch

  • The church that was scattered in the persecution of Stephen resettled in Phoenician, Cyprus and Antioch
  • After they settled in those places that shared the gospel to Jews alone
  • The men in Antioch who were from Cyprus and Cyrene, began preaching Jesus
  • Jesus blessed their preaching and a large number who believed turned to the Lord
  • The Church heard about God’s activity and sent Barnabas to Antioch
  • Barnabas rejoiced and encouraged the men of Antioch to remain true to the Lord as he witnessed God’s grace
  • Barnabas is described as: a good man, full of the HS and of faith
  • Barnabas traveled to Tarsus to find Saul
  • Barnabas and Saul came to Antioch and spent a year teaching many in the Church
  • The disciples were first called Christians here in Antioch
  • Some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem and one named Agabus prophesied about a famine 
  • In response to the famine the disciples who could sent money through Saul and Barnabas

Peripeteia “Turning-point moment”

  • Report in Jerusalem
    • Verses: 15-17 – the story of the Gentile Household Receiving the HS
  • The Church in Antioch
    • Verses: 20-21 – the story of those in Antioch receiving the Lord in large numbers

Theological Themes

  • Informing the church about ministry verses keeping it to ourselves
  • The church voicing its issues with one another only and not resolving conflict vs working through the issue looking for God/Jesus’ activity and word
  • Being lead by Jesus vs being beholden by traditions

Terms of Interest

  • Gospel sharing
    • “speak to words to you by which you will be saved…” (11:14)
    • “Speak the word” (11:19)
    • “Preaching the Lord Jesus” (11:20)
  • Gospel Response
    • “received the word of God” (11:1
    • “Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ” (11:17)
    • “a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (11:21)

Using both what you have come up with during your study of Acts 11 and with what Rob informed us with in the scripture, seek to answer the following questions:

vv. 1-3 "Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
  • Why was Peter back in Jerusalem? On what account do we find Peter coming back to the church?
  • What is the brethren’s attitudes initially to what Peter recounts? (you did what? with who?)


vv. 4-13 "But Peter began and explained it to them in order: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea.12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter"
  • Why was Peter able to speak with confidence about his actions in Caesarea? Was he following his own direction or that of the Spirit?
  • Have you ever felt the Spirit leading you in a certain way and been too afraid to actually follow? (much like Peter needed to be told 3 times to do something)


vv. 14-18 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?”18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
  • What do vv. 14-18 reveal about Peter’s encounter with the Spirit that we didn’t see in Acts 10? (hint: look for the red letters)
  • How have you been able to hear the calling of the Lord thus far in your life? Have you been able to discern His voice? 
  • How have you taken the gift of the Holy Spirit for granted in the past?
  • Have you ever tried to stand in God’s way in your life?
  • What would it look like to ask yourself “Where is God moving and how can I be a part of that?”
  • How does your confidence in choices/ direction of your life increase when you allow your life to be directed by the Spirit and not your own thoughts/opinions?
  • How can we better have a curiosity when it comes to the Spirit moving in others’ lives instead of an attitude of judgement?


verses 19-30 "19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers[d] living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul."


  • What did Barnabas’s do that encouraged the church at Antioch? 
  • How can you encourage those doing the work of the Lord? (Ex: when on mission trips we are easing their load, we are there to be extensions of their current work for the kingdom)
  • How did Barnabas’s actions show that the church needs training and teaching, not just additional numbers of those saved?
  • What is different in being called a follower of God verses being called a “christian”? (hint: Christian literally means little Christ)
  • Why is it important to not just follow tradition, but to follow a Savior?



v. 23 “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose”


Remain faithful to the Lord friends. We are praying for you!

Rob Nicholes
Rob Nicholes