The Early Christian Church - Vol. 1

By Philip Carrington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
ANTIOCH AND GALATIA

The Gospel in Antioch, p.66. Prophets from Jerusalem, p.67. King Herod Agrippa I, p.70. Caligula's image, A.D. 39-40, p.71. The Christian prophets, p.72. King Agrippa's persecution, A.D. 44, p.75. The rule of the procurators, p.77. The famine in Jerusalem, A.D. 45-46, p.78. The mission to Galatia, p.80. The Pauline gospel, p.82. The Galatian church, p.84. The end of the mission, p.85.


THE GOSPEL IN ANTIOCH

The power and purpose pent up in the apostolic church were so great that it was bound to break through its Jewish confines and pour out into the Gentile world; all the more because it had been unable to induce the Jewish people to accept Jesus as their promised Messiah. Paul distinctly states that the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people provided the stimulus which brought in the Gentiles. Luke has strangely little to tell us about the way it happened; but he makes it clear that it was not the work of Paul; or of Paul alone.

The impetus was supplied by the persecution in which Stephen was put to death. There were enthusiasts in his party whose original home had been in Cyprus and Cyrene, a region of Africa to the west of Egypt, where Jews were numerous. These men fled for refuge to Phoenicia and Cyprus, and some of them found their way to Antioch on the Orontes, where they addressed themselves to the 'Greeks', that is to say non-Jews, speaking the Greek language and enjoying the Greco-Roman culture.

Antioch had been the capital of the old Seleucid empire, and was the third greatest city in the Roman world. It was the place of residence of the 'legate' of Syria, who was sent by the Roman senate to govern their oriental dominions, and to watch over the frontier defences on the River Euphrates. He exercised a general supervision over southern Syria and Judaea, as we have already seen. He had authority over the procurator at Caesarea.

Luke had little source-material about the foundation of this important church; no story of heavenly guidance or spectacular conversions; no miracles; no inspired kerugmata; and what he had not got, he could

-66-

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