N the heels of Peter's encounter with Cornelius, the Jewish believers in Jerusalem learned about that event and about the salvation of many Gentiles in Antioch. This marked another step in the shift of the emphasis of evangelism. It was a surprise, but it was real. It was legitimate. It was a God thing. And, along with the continued expansion of the gospel also came the rise in prominence of two men whom we have already met in the book of Acts: Barnabas and Saul.
Peter answered well for his ministry to Cornelius and to those non-Jews who had been in Cornelius' house. And, to the credit of the church in Jerusalem, they accepted Peter's report willingly (Acts 11:18). It was apparent that salvation had been extended to the uncircumcised, and that the gift of the Spirit of Christ had been granted to them just as He had already been given to thousands of Jews (Acts 11:14-15 & 17). So, Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch to be an influence on the new multicultural church which was growing there (Acts 11:22). Barnabas then retrieved Saul of Tarsus and brought him to Antioch as well. He and Barnabas had a tremendous impact in Antioch, even leading to the beginning of the use of a new name for Christ's disciples. Believers in Antioch came to be known as Christians: followers of Christ (Acts 11: 26).