In the persecution that arose after Stephen’s murder, witnesses for Jesus traveled to places such as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and the Syrian city of Antioch (259). But they were preaching the good news about Jesus only to people who were Jews by birth.
Later, however, others came from Cyprus & Cyrene to Antioch, and they preached Jesus to Gentiles who had become Jews. God blessed their efforts and many of these former Gentiles believed in Jesus & surrendered their lives to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When news of this was heard by the church in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to check out the situation. Barnabas – who was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit & of faith — was glad when he saw the grace of God among the body of believers in Antioch.
Barnabas encouraged them to continue following Jesus with all their heart. And the body of Christ continued to grow in Antioch.
Then Barnabas went to the nearby city of Tarsus to find Saul. When he had found him, Barnabas brought Saul to Antioch.
For an entire year, Saul & Barnabas served the church in Antioch. It was in that city that believers were first called “Christians” – to indicate that they were living as Jesus intended, showing their love for God by loving other people.
Prophets came periodically from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, Agabus, was inspired by the Spirit to show the church in Antioch that there was going to be a great famine throughout that part of the world.
In response, the Christians in Antioch decided to send relief to the believers dwelling in Judea, each according to his ability. When they had prepared their relief offering, they sent it with Barnabas & Saul to the elders of the Jerusalem church – which would bring Saul to Jerusalem as a Christian for only the second time.
(259) Acts 11:19-30